Dan Houston: Renew to Get Stronger!

by KIPP Houston on Jul 18, 2015

What exactly is yoga? Let’s just say there’s MUCH more to yoga than a sweaty, physical workout! Whether you’re a participant in the KIPP Teacher Wellness & Presence Program, or you never intend to step onto a yoga mat, my intention is that you access greater clarity of body and mind through this piece.

My contention is that these practices, when integrated passionately, can positively impact your ability to thrive as a teacher, administrator, or KIPP leader. More than that, though, my intention is that these recommendations empower you to experience your life more vibrantly!

One of yoga’s oldest texts, The Yoga Sutras, describes yoga as an inner technology that one uses to spontaneously inhibit the fluctuations of the mind. In short, being mindful can empower each and every one of us to consciously slow down the barrage on worries, anxiety, concerns or straight-up distractions we experience on a daily basis.

Answer this question: “What would be possible if you could turn down the volume of your thoughts?” Greater clarity? Renewal? Strength? Ease? Space? Write down 5-10 possibilities you are discovering or see for yourself right now.

The technology of yoga aims to restore and renew balance in our bodies by first clearing the mind of nonessential, toxic thought processes that can keep us stuck. This toxicity of mind can keep us locked into a state of “DIS-ease”, and the recommendations below are practices we all can use to renew our bodies and our minds. 

Make a physical connection with the (actual) soil of the earth on a daily basis.

There are two main components to this approach. First, add at least one new leafy green vegetable to your food regime. Secondly, take time in each day to spread your toes out on the earth. Yes! You’ll have to remove your dress shoes (a.k.a. personalized foot coffins) in order to make this possible.

Mindfully store and drink water on a daily basis.

Ancient Ayurvedic yoga texts speak mention of storing water in copper pots as a method for killing off micro-organisms including virus and bacteria. While a copper container isn’t absolutely necessary, purchasing and using a high-quality hydro-flask to contain your water on the go, or at your desk, will allow you to flush out toxins and hydrate the tissues of your body.

Walk or stand when possible.

It may seem odd that the “yoga expert” isn’t recommending a sweaty physical yoga practice, but new science is emerging to demonstrate that copious amounts of sitting is killing us. One strategy you can use is to schedule “walk/stand appointments” in your smartphone to encourage regular weight bearing, mobility and to cultivate greater circulation.

Sit still for (at least) 5 mins daily.

Lao Tzu is famously quoted as saying, “To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” When I’ve created the time and effort to be still, this has always been my personal experience - on my yoga mat, in my business endeavors, and in my relationships. When you commit yourself to getting quiet you begin to tap the wellspring of potential that usually lies dormant.

With these newly-integrated habits, whatever form of physical activity you choose will yield greater benefits because your mind will have a clear, connected stage to work from. If you’re choosing to take on a physical form of yoga, my highest recommendation is that you find an experienced yoga teacher that can create a fun, energizing and safe experience.

For more information about Dan’s yoga and mindfulness immersions, workshops and retreats, email dan@mind-tribes.com or visit www.mind-tribes.com.

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Dan is a leader and innovator in the world of yoga, empowering individuals to reach their fullest potential through his dual endeavors, Mind Tribes and In-Powered by One Significant Act. Through his extensive training in kinesiology, yoga, and meditation, Dan ushers students into deep, embodied experiences to cause transformation. He is proud to be implementing the KIPP Teacher Wellness & Presence Program in partnership with three KIPP leaders (Bekah Stone, Michelle Baum, and Lauren Simon). This program offers KIPP teachers and leaders from three separate campuses (KHHS, Legacy, and Courage), as well as the Regional Services Team (RST) at CONNECT, access to yoga and mindfulness practices to help them renew and strengthen mind-body connections and to reduce stressors associated with their daily work.