Chasing Tigers, Poking Cobras - A Yoga Blog

The Radical Life

My teacher says that yoga practice is radical.  And so it is. 

I did a quick Google search:  radical (the adjective) relates to or affects the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching and thorough.  Some of its synonyms are:  complete, exhaustive, extensive, profound, and rigorous

Yes, yoga is radical.  Yoga requires the rigorous study of your own mind – the thoughts, emotions, personality, sense of individuality, and conscience.  Through its various techniques it aims to clarify the mental field so that one can look at the world objectively rather than subjectively.  By seeing clearly compassion wins out over anger, hate, and indifference.

Compassion:  a feeling of sympathy coupled with a desire to alleviate suffering.

We all suffer, every single last one of us.  In fact, we all make the choice to suffer.  We could all make the choice not to suffer.  It is such an easy thing to say, and such a difficult thing to do.



Fear is a basic building block of the human experience.  It comes in so many forms and intensities.  All fear boils down to a loss of individuation; a loss of what is mine verses what belongs to another.  Fear is the threat of loss; whether it be my corporeal body, my free will, my possessions, my personality, my way of life, or anything that I have decided is mine (including the I in mine).  Yoga asks us to go beyond fear, in essence to become super-human.

My happiness is my responsibility.

No one except me can make me happy.  The shining jewel of bliss lies within, but it is covered with dirt.  While I’ve done some cleaning in my time here as Michael, The Human, I’ve also added some dirt.  My radical goal, the goal of my yoga practice, is to remove more dirt than I add to allow the light of bliss to shine through just a bit more.  No one can do this cleaning for me, with the possible exception of God, and in the case of God I would need to politely request it and then (more difficult) acquiesce to the process (not likely given my fear of losing my free will and way of life).  So I must engage in the radical practice of yoga, the thoroughly extreme practice of going back to the fundamental root of being. 

Working with what I’ve got.


I have a body, which houses my mind.  The best chance for my mind to become clear, insightful, and content is with a healthy body.  I live in a society, which influences my mind.  The best chance for my mind to remain calm, collected, and free of pain is to help others in society better themselves, thereby uplifting society in general.  I make choices constantly and those choices affect me, all of me.  I will study my choices and listen to the advice of those that I trust and those with more experience than me, with the aim of always improving my own condition.  I will be patient and compassionate with myself.

What is the next step on this radical journey?

Every journey is made up of a multitude of tiny steps.  Each step counts, whether it be forward, backward, or sideways.  We can choose to move quickly or slowly, or some combination of the two.  I’m about to go cook for myself with ingredients that are wholesome and sourced to my satisfaction.  What step are you taking?   

Michael the Unicorn

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

This is the story of Michael the Unicorn.

Michael the Unicorn enjoyed sweets as much as any magical equine. On one fine day he followed his desire towards the most scrumptious of decadents – the cupcake.

The sweetness of the spongy cake topped with fluffy frosting assuaged Michael the Unicorn’s feelings of doubt, worry, and discomfort. There was nothing wrong with these feelings, they are part of every unicorn’s life, but the cushiony cloud-like insulation provided by his indulgence was a welcome change from his normal day to day.

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

After the cupcake's luscious nectar had run its course Michael the Unicorn’s heartbeat slowed, returning to its steady thump thump, the electricity coursing from tip of horn to end of tail calmed its frenetic whirling, and his comet shooting gaze resumed its starlit twinkle. The ho-hum of his very ordinary unicorn life crashed in on him. This was unacceptable. Thankfully, there were always more cupcakes and with a chomp chomp of his mother of pearl teeth the surge of lightning and glitter returned. 

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

The second time is never as good as the first.  With each subsequent frosting laden joy dainty Michael the Unicorn’s pleasure seeking arrow strayed further and further from the bull’s eye.  More and more cupcakes were needed to satiate his sparkling rainbow of dark desires.

The awareness struck him like a thunderbolt. There would never be enough cupcakes to bring him everlasting happiness. He spiraled through the void of endless space, the shining starbursts of hope winking out one by one, until the last light was extinguished. Michael the Unicorn had met his end.

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

Post-it art by @miaow_or_never

Let this be a lesson to you:  cupcakes can never bring you true happiness.  No sugary delight will travel your veins for eternity.  No obsession, no matter how intense, will solve the problems inherent in this changeable world. Turn inwards towards the effulgence that burns without fuel. Though the path may appear fraught with peril, the light will always be there. This enduring light will never disappoint you, never cause you pain. Do not fear, step bravely into the sun and open your eyes.