I have been an outdoor and fitness enthusiast for as long as I can remember — certainly traits instilled in me by both my parents. I have a fairly serious intellectual side, which most certainly came from my dad, as well as a sappy emotional side — yes, I often cry at movies — which without question came from my mom.
Like a lot of naturally athletic types, I never had a problem staying in shape through high school; plus, my parents lived half a mile from Pinnacle Mountain State Park, where I probably climbed the 1,000-foot peak three times a week for years as a teen. In addition to this physicality, I was intellectually too curious to accept much of what was taught at the local Southern Baptist Church to which my family belonged at the time. I helped run activities at their Vacation Bible School, and attended Sunday services, while simultaneously reading The Tao Te Ching, The Three Pillars of Zen, and other books holding foreign ideas. I have always maintained I got the best of both my parents: the love of outdoors they share, the intellectual curiosity of my dad, and the emotional sensitivity of my mother.
The end result of this amalgam is now a web designer/developer and videographer during the day, and a personal trainer, yoga teacher, and integral theorist and blogger by night. In 2008 I obtained two certifications: one as an ISSA-Certified Fitness Trainer (which I happily let lapse this summer), and the other as a Level 1 Prasara Yoga Instructor (which I am happily seeking to renew this fall). I created and maintained the blog at BrickhouseBodymind.com, where I wrote actively about integral fitness for 18 months from 2008-2009. I worked with personal clients during that time, but I eventually became discouraged by the deluge of conflicting information regarding physical fitness and nutrition available on the web. My integral fitness philosophy was solid, but it seemed like there was no way to get a definitive answer when it came to physical wellness.
About this time my son, Ian was born, and I completely dropped off the face of the blogosphere, where I was admittedly only a blip on a few folks’ radar screens, but the handful of positive feedback I did receive while there solidified my desire to return one day. During the roughly year-and-a-half after my son’s birth, I completely quit writing and gained then lost close to 20 pounds of useless bodyfat. During the whole process — in addition to longing for anything that resembled free time — I searched desperately for something that made real sense to me in terms of physical fitness. For so long all I found was one contradictory, sensationalized product pitch after another, and all the while I seemed to be “letting myself go.” My belts were cinching one or two notches fewer as time passed, and I was in danger of having to purchase a new wardrobe … all this for a guy who had maintained a 32-inch waist for 15 years.
My physical downward spiral ended in January of 2010. My son was then beginning to sleep longer hours, which meant I felt like more like a real human being than I had in months. Unfortunately, I also weighed more than I had my entire life — about 195 lbs, with upwards of 20% bodyfat. At that point, though, my research had shown me much, taking me from Art DeVany to Scott Sonnon to Mark Sisson to Brad Pilon to Kurt Harris, and I had a pretty solid idea, thanks to their steadfast scientific and practical research, of what needed to be done. So I went for it. In about eight months — following 90% of Kurt’s 12 Steps to Paleo Nutrition 90% of the time — I lost the 20 pounds I had gained, my son started sleeping nearly 11 hours every night, and I then felt ready to start blogging again.
Instead of starting things back up at my old site, I wanted to start fresh and join forces with my longtime yoga teacher and friend, Matt Krepps to build on some ideas that came out of our more recent collaborations. So here we are: Matt and I, working together. We hope you enjoy!
I have always been constitutionally disposed to enjoy discipline, uniqueness, philosophy, and art – – in particular music. As a teen aged boy growing up in a small Arkansas town, I somehow encountered the ideas of the Buddha and could not shake the feeling that the East held something crucial for my destiny. I soon became a vegetarian, began to learn cooking – – as my dear mother was not sure what to make of these culinary changes – – started racing bicycles, distance running, and dreaming of moving to Kyoto to live in a Zen monastery.
By the time I attended college, I had ditched road racing and taken up what would become a life long love affair with drumming. I studied literature and continental philosophy in school and was fortunate enough to encounter two teachers of unusual quality, both of whom told me to promptly leave school upon graduation and move – – for a time at least – – away from academia. (thank you Conrad and Charlie.) I spent the next three years playing in a rock-n-roll band, traveling the southwest region of the country, reading Nietzsche, Heidegger, Thomas Mann, Nikos Kazantzakis, Dostoyevsky, and developing a wicked case of carpel tunnel syndrome from a subtle flaw in my drumming technique.
After the band imploded, I landed in Austin Texas, where all of my loves would finally coalesce into the beginning of a single direction. With no travel in the picture I got a job in a local restaurant and apprenticed under a remarkable human being (thank you Paul, I’ll always love you) and was trained in the cooking profession. I studied with a percussion teacher who corrected my hand technique, and decided to take up Yoga as a way to naturally address the problems in my wrists.
Now, fast forward through ten years of formal kitchen work, maintaining a steady yoga practice through the kitchen madness, neurotic levels of reading and study (thank you Patanjali, Darwin, and Nisargadatta Maharaj), falling head over heels in love with my smokin’ hot wife, meeting my yoga teacher on an island off the coast of Barcelona (thank you Godfrey, I’ll always love you), owning a yoga studio (after swearing to never work in a kitchen again), teaching publicly and privately, training yoga teachers, and becoming disenchanted with all of it – – except my wife (thank you Hollydevi) . . . Whew!
Two years ago, Holly and I and a couple of close friends decided to buy a working homestead in the Ozarks, intent on developing a retreat center. Enter Circle Yoga Shala, where folks come to be immersed in nature, to train in classical yoga and other forward thinking modalities, to eat the food we raise on the property, and to drink living water from a local spring: basically to heal and realize their highest potential. The shala is the embodiment of everything that has been and still is important to me: food, philosophy, activity, and inquiry. It is our example of what it means to live a life that is intent on thriving. It is an offering to our fellow students, teachers, friends, and Mother Earth, in service of the possibility that humans can evolve consciously. Enter finally . . . the blog.
After meeting Philip Walter at our old Yoga studio, making an instructional DVD under his guidance, and developing a friendship that includes constant geeking on evolutionary theory, the human genome, integral theory, neurology, and their consequences for spiritual practice, we decided to make something out of all this and start a blog. So here it is. I, like Philip, hope you enjoy it.
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What We Do
Discuss and demonstrate techniques for modern, balanced human development in the light of evolutionary science and spiritual tradition -- lots of scientific discussion and practical application, with a bit of poetry and theoretical musing mixed in.
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- Interview with Paul Smith, Author of Integral Christianity: The Spirit’s Call to Evolve
- Integrating Asana, Vinyasa, and Prasara in Yoga Posture Practice
- The Highly Played Game of As If – Episode One: The Miracle at the Pool of Bethesda
- Introducing “The Highly Played Game of As If”
- From Asana to Vinyasa to Prasara: The Evolution of a Modern Yoga Practice