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The New Discipline of Yoga

Posted on 1/30/2017 by Adam Hocke in Adam Hocke Yoga Practice Discipline New Discipline of Yoga Clarity Intention commitments

What is discipline, really? Discipline is a tricky little devil. Ideally, it can be the fire that gets us on the mat so that we can strip away the illusions and misidentifications that cause us to suffer. As Iyengar explains, “wood must be heated to ignite it and bring out the hidden fire within.” Not so ideally, it can also be a confusing agent of self-hatred and punishment. When we commit ourselves to a disciplined daily practice (and since there is no need to preach to the converted, we know this has benefits) we can also be mistakenly committing ourselves to a desire to achieve aesthetically based fitness goals and an addiction to the ability to perform complicated party-trick asana. When I miss a practice or feel that I’ve just sort of lazily stretched for an hour, a niggle in the back of my mind warns that perhaps I’ll soon slip back into adolescent pudginess and its maelstrom of related emotional entanglements if I don’t step up and get myself back into shape. I have to remember that there is a balance of health to be maintained between body, mind, and heart – which of course are fundamentally intertwined – while on the sometimes difficult and circuitous path of yoga. A path that we hope leads us through a life liberated from cycles of suffering.

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New To Yoga? No Worries!

Posted on 1/2/2017 by Adam Hocke in Adam Hocke Yoga for Beginners Yoga Practice Journey of Yoga reflection

My first yoga class was in the NYU gym. I was 18 and on the bagel, pizza and cereal diet of a student. Holistic wellness wasn't necessarily on my radar and I went to class mostly because I wanted a bohemian experience that would fuel my assumed New York artiste persona. That was the same year I pierced my ear, wore yellow tinted glasses, and sported a beret on occasion. Yoga was to be another fashionable accessory.

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Poses to Help You Energize

Posted on 12/5/2016 by Adam Hocke in Prana Adam Hocke Practice Backbends Energizing Poses

How do you energize? There isn’t a shortage of energizing yoga classes or sequences, but I often wonder what we are actually asking of our students and ourselves when we practice with this goal. Often an energizing yoga class is just fast and hard. When done a bit more mindfully, it can focus on poses or breath patterns that stimulate and excite the nervous system into a more focused, instead of frantic state. My essential energizing poses, which find their way into my energizing classes, tell the chest to expand and invite an empowered inhalation. They connect me to the ground but suggest a rise of vital energy or prana upwards.

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Essential Reads

Posted on 10/9/2016 by Adam Hocke in Adam Hocke Inspiration Essential Reads Yoga Books Yoga Practice Spiritual Guide

A confession: I’m a book worm. I was recently asked by a teacher during a guided meditation, “Where do you find refuge?”. In other words, where do I go for support, reassurance, and inspiration? Where is my safe harbour? I immediately thought of my books! My library of spiritual guides and how-tos of yoga practice and meditation shout pretty loud and clear to me “You are not alone. Many have walked this path.” I take refuge in this great tradition of teaching and go to it when my spirits are low or if I need a good kick in the bum. Whenever I am lost in this big world of yoga, I recall Joan Didion’s directive from The Year of Magical Thinking: “Read, learn, work it up, go to the literature.” Here are my essentials.

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Wrists, Yoga & Pain-free Practice

Posted on 6/22/2016 by Adam Hocke in Adam Hocke Anatomy vinyasa flow technique Wrists Katja B

If you practice vinyasa flow yoga, the reality is you’re going to spend a lot of time bearing weight on the delicate structures of your hands and wrists. The problem is that this is not their intended function. For example, when was the last time, save a social media campaign, you walked to the grocery store on your hands? As the action of weight bearing through the hands is a bit unnatural, it can potentially introduce discomfort, pain, and even injury into your yoga practice.

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Practicing Kindness

Posted on 5/11/2016 by Adam Hocke in yoga Adam Hocke self-improvement physical disciplines challenges

Befriend yourself If we are concerned with self-improvement or cultivating physical disciplines, we can be quite hard on ourselves, especially when things aren’t going as well as we’ve hoped or planned. Off the mat, there are sure to be times we disappoint ourselves, failing to live up to some ideal expectations. Instead of chastising or punishing yourself, or suppressing behaviours that you think are beneath you, can you instead be kind to whatever it is inside of you that is calling out for help? Can your kindness be unconditional? When your thoughts dive into dark places, instead of wishing you were feeling something else, can you listen, befriend yourself, and see what you may need to feel better?

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Prepare for Bigger Backbends

Posted on 4/27/2016 by Adam Hocke in yoga Adam Hocke Yoga Poses Backbends Props Yoga Props

Backbends are demanding and invigorating. They require a combination of flexibility and strength that can vary from person to person. They require patience and preparation. Often our ability to backbend in big and deep ways can be limited by muscular and soft tissue tightness across the front of the hips, around the numerous connections of the spine itself, and across the front and back of the shoulders. Here are three warm ups focused on stretch and release of these regions to help you deepen your backbends.

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Why I Love Sun Salutations

Posted on 4/13/2016 by Adam Hocke in Meditation Adam Hocke vinyasa flow technique Chaturanga Strap Trick Strap Trick Sun Salutations

Am I full of it? I love Sun Salutations. I love doing them exactly the same way every day. I don’t need to be creative with them. But why is this? When asked about keeping up a yoga practice, I often say “consistency is what really matters. don’t worry about duration or intensity, just do something every day.” When asked about sequencing one’s practice for home or a classroom environment, I’ll defend the power of simple movements repeated several times with breath taught over many classes over complicated choreography that’s shifting and changing from one moment to the next and never repeated again from one class to another. If asked why, I’ll say “repetition of simple movements with breath is what will help the nervous system and mind relax, too much new and complicated will just stimulate and potentially lead to new stress.” I say these things, know them intuitively to be true, but beyond tradition (yoga sutras definitely emphasize repetition and consistency, and the movements of sun salutes are very much present in Eastern prayer tradition) really haven’t had much to back it up. But I think I’m beginning to get a clearer picture.

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Establishment Politics in Yoga

Posted on 3/9/2016 by J. Brown in yoga Adam Hocke Yoga Alliance Regulation of Yoga

Last month, the Yoga Alliance announced a new policy regarding “yoga therapy terminology” that creates a significant new precedent. A lack of any public debate and transparency in the process has made it difficult to discern why exactly this was needed and what purpose it serves. Perhaps this explains why there has been almost no response from yoga teachers thus far. Or, more likely, people are just too turned off by the politics involved to care.

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Combat Work Stress with These Simple Yoga Poses

Posted on 2/16/2016 by Adam Hocke in yoga Adam Hocke Jason Crandell Yoga Poses Combat Workplace Stress Combat Work Stress

In this post, yoga teacher Adam Hocke shares his coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and gives advice on simple tricks you can do to chill out when work gets on top of you, either at home or on the go.

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On the Close of Practice

Posted on 1/29/2016 by Adam Hocke in Adam Hocke Namaste Discipline Supportive Breath Practicing Yoga

How I close my yoga practice I don’t ‘om.’ It’s not that I have anything against it; it’s just not part of my secular world view or self-practice. I also don’t say ‘namaste’ – I’m from Florida and grew up saying “hi,” “bye,” and “thank you”, and for me it just doesn’t seem genuine (to me! for other teachers of course it can come from their heart and soul) to adopt someone else’s greeting. But I do treat the close of practice pretty seriously and over the years have refined how I close the practice for myself and for my students in class. This is where it stands lately.

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Improve Your Chaturanga

Posted on 1/19/2016 by Adam Hocke in Adam Hocke vinyasa flow technique Chaturanga Dandasana practice techniques

Chaturanga Dandasana is hugely common in vinyasa flow classes and often vilified or blamed for all sorts of injuries. Some of that may be true, especially if done quickly, forcefully, and without any concern for alignment. I prefer to think positively about what chaturanga delivers, although extolling its virtues may fall on deaf ears and tired arms. With sincerity, I believe it is an efficient and effective transition from plank into upward-facing dog, priming the strength of the arms and shoulders to deliver the backbend energetically as well as giving an opportunity for rhythmic breath and movement.

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On the Daily Slog

Posted on 12/21/2015 by Adam Hocke in yoga Vinyasa Practice Energy Diary Discipline Adam Hocke

You are not one big backbend away from enlightenment. I hate to break it to you, but it is really the unglamorous work of getting up a bit earlier to do a daily practice, most of which probably isn’t instagram-worthy, that will keep you sane and healthy. It’s the accumulation of consistent practice over months and years that puts you on a path towards joy and freedom and not just one rockin’ class with a Coldplay soundtrack. If the experience of subtle energetics is part of your practice, then of course big poses have the possibility to connect you to transcendental states. But they can equally throw you off balance and out of the continual practice of balancing the energies that compose your physical, emotional, and spiritual states.

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HamString Strengtheners

Posted on 12/3/2015 by Adam Hocke in yoga Hamstring Glutes tendons Dancer Pose Adam Hocke

We stretch our hamstrings in yoga A LOT, but we don’t necessarily work on strengthening them. If you’re familiar with the ‘yoga butt’ injury, you know that injuries at the hamstring tendon located, well, in your butt, are more and more common with regular practitioners.

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Find Your Stance

Posted on 10/7/2015 by Adam Hocke in balance Stability yoga Practice Find Your Stance Adam Hocke

As a beginner, among the many confusions of learning yoga, is figuring out your stance for standing poses (meaning Warrior II, Side Angle, Triangle, etc.). How long from the front foot to the back foot? How much width between the heels? What are the angles the feet are turned? Is there an absolute right way? And it’s also highly probable you haven’t given this a second thought and just step your feet apart and do your best to make the shape. Here’s a step by step guide to keep it simple and increase the power of your postures.

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Practice Diary: Sukha Begins now

Posted on 9/20/2015 by Adam Hocke in Joy yoga enlightenment YogaDownload.com Sukhasana Dukha Suffering Adam Hocke

Sukhasana, or easy pose, or cross-legged sitting, is one of the fundamental poses I teach in my beginner’s courses. I usually make some remark about how the title ‘easy pose’ used to piss me off because it’s not necessarily an easy pose. For me as a beginner it was hard, uncomfortable, and eventually painful to sit cross-legged on the ground. But I think, in a way, I’ve been missing the point.

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Survival tips for beginners

Posted on 8/16/2015 by Adam Hocke in yoga Adam Hocke Practice beginner breath

I love teaching beginners. Here are seven easy tips to help you survive your first yoga classes.

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Yoga is absolutely ordinary

Posted on 7/31/2015 by Adam Hocke in yoga Postures Mat joyful speed intensity Adam Hocke

My daily yoga practice is absolutely ordinary. It is as ordinary and common place as brushing my teeth.

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Why I Move

Posted on 7/2/2015 by Adam Hocke in Meditation Savasana Adam Hocke Downward-facing dog basic goodness

I continually ask myself and reconsider what I’m actually doing and teaching others to do in asana. I often refer back to the great teachers on what they have to say. Beyond the mechanics of making shapes, there is, for me, a profound process under way.

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What is Asana?

Posted on 6/3/2015 by Adam Hocke in Asana Adam Hocke Experience Potential Power Variety

For most of us, the fundamental supposition of modern posture practice is that what we’re doing is more than just exercise or physical therapy, that it is something deeply meaningful and perhaps spiritual. I know when I practice, I’m a better person because of it. But what exactly is going on? To help organize my thoughts, I’ve turned again to the books on my shelf to discover what other teachers and scholars have to say about it. This is an admittedly limited and biased towards the modern survey, but a beginning into insight.

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What are You Willing to Sacrifice?

Posted on 5/27/2015 by Adam Hocke in Adam Hocke Practice Meditation Postures Flow Study

The absolute pressing question to me right now is “What am I willing to sacrifice?” This isn’t about some self righteous asceticism but rather about prioritising my yoga practice. I’ve been at it long enough to know that yoga, which for me means postures, flow, study, and meditation, makes me feel sane and happy. But I also work a lot, try to have an active social life, and need some sleep somewhere between all that. My schedule is often irregular. I say all this not because I think I’m exceptional, but rather because I think I’m just like everyone else.

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