text and photos by steve ilg unless noted otherwise. click on pics to deepen the chi hit

What are the whispers shared by ducklings
as their feet paddle in frenzied manner
within the velveteen wake of their Mother?
Family Yoga might best be learned from the wild animals.

photo; Early morning last week; Red River Lake, NM.

When family comes to gather,
ilg advises;
buckle up thy Practice, Oh Noble Seeker Of Wholeness!
Cuz, inevitably, the fortresses of our mental composure
and emotional equanimity surely shall be tested by
an unequivocal barrage of interpersonal dynamics.

ilg knows you know what i mean.

Today’s Teaching is about that most difficult, advanced
Practice of all;
Family Yoga.

And Family Yoga is perhaps the highest litmus test of
the state of our Practice.

So, buckle up and bring it!

In this Teaching, i share with you my most-relied upon Yoga Sutra of Patanjali’s
to help my feeble Practice retain a degree of mastery while involved
in family gatherings.

photo by Joy; my dad and i designed this Family Gathering so we might be able to go fishing. The fact that it was my parents’ 55th Anniversary seemed secondary to my dad. Trout were the priority.

“Many men spend their entire lives fishing,
never realizing,
it’s not fish they’re after.”

– Thoreau

photo: my cabin porch wall detail

Joy, Dewa, and i hung in this cabin during our stay in Red River, New Mexico. A black bear, thinking he was a raccoon, was on nocturnal prowl for food scraps, so we kept all our food and garbage inside the cabin until midday pickup. Dewa was playing with Joy outside the cabin when they looked up and were face to face, well, face to belly, with three wapiti. We Recognized them in yogic way, and immediately named them; Shiva, Brahman, and Vishnu. Note our bicycles – the lifeblood of a WF Warrior – hallmarking our cabin as a WF cabin!

One day, we rode our bicycles into the town of Red River a few miles below us to attend a Chili Festival at the very cool Town Park (great playground for us kids!).

Shortly before lunch, my 6’4″ ‘little brother’ Craig, ran up to me,
“Two!” (that’s my nickname…his is also “Two”…long story)
“Yeah?” i replied from beneath Dewa’s skirt draped over my face as i carried her on top of my head.
“We’ve got some EASY MONEY for you to make!”

who’s “we” Kimosabe?

i guess the deal was that if anyone could climb to the top of this tower within 3 minutes using only specific hand and footholds, they would get $150.

how hard could THAT be?

of course, i took up the $10 entry fee challenge, knowing full well what evil lurked above me. i designed the first public climbing wall in America. i ain’t no dummy when it comes to climbing walls. regardless, i took off my shirt and shoes (no ‘professional’ rock climbing shoes were allowed) and stepped into the carnival harness as a surprisingly large throng gathered around to witness my ascent. flashbacks of the first World Sport Climbing Championships in Utah pinged my memory. we barely had a crowd larger than this, back then!

“Do i get $300 if i make it in a minute-and-a-half?” i asked the Carnival Guy.

Confidence is important when knowingly venturing into a scheme.

As i guessed, the top 5 moves were impossible. They were waxed and all facing downward with no purchase available on either the slick plastic sheath or the holds themselves. I should stayed at the cabin and gone fishin’.

photo by Joy.

“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”
– Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Pada 1, Sutra 33

This is the Sutra i use when traveling and when engaged in ‘gatherings.’ Least i try to. It’s bombproof. The above translation is by Swami Satchidananda. Patanjali has, in this one Sutra, given us the keys to dealing with family, friends, enemies, and all. So, our Yoga Practice boils down to four simple behaviors when dealing with others; Friendliness, Compassion, Delight, and Disregard. How hard could THAT be?

Well, at LEAST as hard as trying to climb a carnival climbing wall! In Sanscrit; Sukha (happy people), Duhka (unhappy people), Punya (virtuous people), and Apunya (wicked people).

Like the four directions of the Zia (see above photo), there are no other categories for people, are there? So if we, as yogis, can simply learn and remember to use the correct key for each category of people we encounter, our serenity remains calm, clear, and our state is of a peaceful countenance all-ways.

photo; i created this ‘stone mandala’ during an early morning meditation ritual. ilg loves New Mexico and this Zia – originally designed by the Natives of the Southwest – is integrated into my WF logo. Though associated as the State Symbol of New Mexico, the Zia refers to the Sacred Tribal Lands between the four Sacred Peaks of the Southwest. The first DL Reader that tells me the names – both English and Native – for those Peaks gets a $20 credit at the WF Tribal Catalog. Hint; i’ve Taught you them in DL at least three different times.

Whenever we see a happy person, we should use the “Friendliness” key. Usually, what happens however, is that Envy arises. If someone is richer, more famous, more fit than we, how do we respond? Often we gossip about their success instead of cultivating Friendliness.

photo; Evening Brahmamuhurti at my parents cabin…just down from ours. That’s my brother Craig, Dewa, and Joy on the porch.

Whenever we see an unhappy person, we should use the “Compassion” key. Compassion is the key quality of my Amitabha Buddha spiritual lineage. Ilg has been working on Compassion his whole life. All of WF is an act of Compassion from myself to try to help others feel happier and more sacredly in tune with themselves through balanced personal fitness. Still, each day, in hundreds of ways, ilg finds himself being more judgmental than compassionate towards those who do not Practice, who litter, who hurt Mother Earth and Father Sky, who prioritize making money instead of self cultivation…the list goes on and on. The Dalai Lama is my hero of Compassion along with Yogi Jesus. Perhaps if you reflect upon and study these two Teachers, They can help you as well.

photo by Joy; Dewa and “Naan.” Perhaps the greatest gift of this gathering of my family was finally the acceptance of my mom to Dewa. Dewa opened up to Grandma during our second night and they have been inseparable since. Dewa suddenly called Grandma “Naan”…her word for “Nana.” Now, we can’t seem to stop her from saying, “Naan!”

Whenever we see a virtuous person, we should feel delighted to be within their presence. They are our upa-gurus…our Teachers. My last two sentences of the above paragraph covered this as well. The point is not to bicker about a virtuous person’s behavior or try to pull he or her down. Take from Teachers what feels best to you about them and mimic that aspect of them. Even if you are faking the virtuous quality that you respect about them, do it.

Ilg has longed to be a beautiful, masterful teacher of yoga classes. After many years, i still have an enormous amount of Work to do to gain elegance and mastery as a Yoga Teacher. so i still do what i did when i stepped in front of a room full of yoga students for the first time; i fake it. i pretend i am the Teachers that are my heroes, and i fake it. “Fake it till you make it,” is my motto when it comes to performing virtuous actions.

photo by Joy; Daddy and Dewa trippin’ on the Duckies at Red River Lake.

The final encounter is kinda the easiest; dealing with the wicked. This is the highest mountain to climb, yet technically, pretty simple. The key is Disregard.

ilg does not hate that Carnival Guy for waxing up the final holds of the climbing tower so nobody can actually win the $150. Instead, i pull out the Detachment Key. Indifference. Disregard. Just let it go. Walk away and smile that i am still fit enough, have two arms and legs and a willing spirit enough to try such antics in the first place. The Carnival Guy has his own Karma to work out. Ilg has his. I certainly do not want to burden my already overflowing black karmic reservoir by deepening it more from being mean to Carnival Guy! Why let him assume such power over my spiritual practice?

When dealing with the wicked, walk away. Do not ruffle their already distraught feathers…the wicked will all-ways be around, so work toward your Enlightenment and sure enough, you’ll be able to help ALL Categories of Others from your Enlightened Radiance. In the meanwhile, do not lose your mula bandha or conscious breathing when dealing with the wicked.

photo: the mountain across the river from our cabins. Of course, i had to mountain bike up to the highest tower, pictured in the center on the photo. took me 30 minutes at high Zone 3. The summit view – sunset from nearly 10,000′ – was INCREDIBLE! i could see the highest peak in New Mexico; Wheeler Peak at over 14,000′ looming right behind our cabins, as well as Taos Mountain and the San Cristobal Peaks…oh how i feel for those who do not get out and SWEAT their vacations!

This DL has been my active Prayer for your serenity and strength of Practice while visiting family or traveling among others. Relationships are the clearest mirror for our own spiritual maturity. May your mirror continue to clear through the cleansing afforded by your Daily Sweat and Stillness which are the catalysts to your embrace of the Four WF Lifestyle Priniciples which keep ALL these keys shining and capable and near.

Photo; Dewa looking ‘wickedly cool’ at the Albuquerque Zoo where we stopped the morning before driving back to Flag. Living in the boondocks of Flag, requires a Big City hit to encounter the many delights of a big city to a child.

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