My journey into Yoga & Superfoods
I began my yoga journey over 15 years ago while battling a deep depression. I had recently come out of the closet, while struggling with my personal identity and self acceptance. There were so many factors that contributed to my depression. As a young adult, it was all so confusing to process. My parents divorced when I was very young and it was hard to know where I belonged. I was also a part of a religious community, where I made lots of amazing friends, but didn’t exactly feel accepted for my sexuality. When I graduated high school, I moved from Arkansas back to California hoping to get a fresh start and figure out what I was going through. It was definitely a bumpy start. I got involved in drugs, partying, and fought with suicidal thoughts. My lowest moment was being admitted to the hospital for a night for threatening to kill myself. I was so angry with my friends at the time for calling 911 on me, but thank God they did.
When I really hit rock bottom, my sister suggested I try some yoga and meditation. I started reading every book that I could. One in particular really stood out to me, “The Art of Happiness”, by the Dalai Llama. Hearing his story, the challenges he faced being responsible for the people of Tibet, and his commitment to relieving the suffering of all beings, inspired me to look at life differently. I was inspired to come out of my depression, use my story to help others realize we are not alone and that life is worth living fully.
When I began my yoga and meditation practice, I knew from the start that I wanted to teach. I was always inspired by the Buddhist teaching of the Bodhisattva vow to free others from suffering. This was one of the main lessons I took that helped me come out of my depression. For years, I’ve studied nonstop. I’ve read as many books as I could get my hands on, took as many trainings as I could handle, and practiced continuously.
I’ve been teaching full time for almost ten years now. I love it. I’m so passionate about this practice and how it can truly help people. I’ve been inspired by both my teachers and students to keep on trekking. But, let’s be honest, teaching full time in the San Francisco Bay Area is not as easy as one may think. The competition is high and the cost of living is insane. Currently, I teach 16 classes a week along with other offerings such as workshops and retreats. As much as I love my profession, burn out is real. It’s something I’ve had to manage over the years, at times more successfully than others. I know I’m not alone, many other teachers go through the same struggle. In fact, it’s not even limited to yoga teachers! So many of us suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression living within our high paced and intense environment.
I’ve found that more often than not, the first thing to get sacrificed when we are stressed and in a position of helping others is our own self care. When I am stretched thin, my practice falls apart, I don’t get the rest and downtime I need, and I make poor food choices. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, it makes a lot of sense that one would turn to food to stabilize when stressed and anxious. From a lack of proper rest, many of us turn towards stimulants to make up the difference. I love coffee as much as the next person; but, too much caffeine is like borrowing energy on credit, we will have to pay it back eventually. This creates a vicious cycle so many of us have dealt with. Poor food choices, a lack of rest, addiction to stimulants to wake us up and possibly alcohol to bring us back down. It’s no wonder that so many Americans suffer from so many preventable illnesses.
Teaching over the last ten years has had it’s challenges, but the benefits have totally outweighed the difficulties. I’m committed to staying on my path because I believe in the power of Yoga so much. I believe that Yoga and meditation have the power to change lives. But, I’m also committed to finding ways to make this path more sustainable for not only myself, but also for others. In the grand scheme of things, Yoga in America is still in it’s infancy. Teaching yoga as a full time profession is even more new to scene. So, many of us are learning as we go!
Just last month, I began another almost year long training program with my teacher. I find that remaining a student has been one of the most important aspects in both self-care and being a responsible teacher. I also began last month an amazing 40 day organic, non-GMO, superfood transformation and cleanse that I’m already feeling the benefits of! I really believe that diet and nutrition go hand-in-hand with Yoga. Mitahara, regulating one’s diet, is often translated as limiting one’s food intake. But, it’s far more than that. Mitahara is also about making skillful food choices that promote ahimsa, nonviolence, both towards one’s Self and all others, including our planet. I believe that Yoga and skillful diet make powerful allies!
I have grown so much over these last 15 years and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. Even when I’ve made poor decisions over these years, I’ve learned from many of my mistakes. I’m super excited for what’s to come and I’m committed to sharing my journey with you! I’m committed to continuing my own self growth so that I can be of service to my highest Self and to all other. If you are interested in joining me on this great adventure, please feel free to comment below!
It’s quite obvious that our society is becoming increasingly more sedentary. Many in Western society rely on jobs that require long hours of sitting at a desk, a chair, or even a plane. We experience higher levels of mental/emotional stress and less physical stress. People try to combat this by doing regular exercise, such as cardio or weight training; however, some studies suggest that exercise doesn’t necessarily nullify the effects of long hours of sitting. In fact, some even say that sitting is the new smoking!
Modern Yoga has a wonderful solution for all our sitting with it’s myriad of standing postures, lunges, stances, and squats. Simply categorized, anything on the feet we can call a standing pose. It’s interesting to note that the standing postures aren’t really documented in the classical texts. It’s suggested that they were really a Western development within the last 100 years or so. I like to think of the standing postures more as a Western prescription for our increasingly sedentary society. It’s also been suggested that the standing postures have been borrowed from the internal martial and dance arts of South India. Whatever their origin, these postures are instrumental in helping us reclaim our health and wellbeing.
As human beings on planet Earth, we have evolved to stand on our two feet. We have a very unique structure compared to any other creature on our planet. Our legs have the ability to move us through the world, bear weight, and assume many interesting shapes depending on the structural integrity of our lower limbs. In much of the world, squatting is still very much a part of daily life- whether waiting for the bus, cooking in the kitchen, or even answering to the calls of nature! Sitting on the ground is also very much normal activity. However, many of us have lost what my teacher often calls our birthright- our natural ability for the body to assume it’s many shapes whether sitting, squatting, or standing.
Sitting in a chair, especially slouched, for many hours is not your body’s natural state. However, the body is excellent at learning behavior, setting muscular patterns into our tissue, for the sake of efficiency. The problem with this is the tension that is built up in the tissue to help maintain that shape. The muscles are essentially pulling the bones out of alignment with the skeletal structure. So the real alignment of yoga is not of the posture, but with our own unique skeletal alignment. When we train the muscles of our body to follow the lines of our bones, this is a far more efficient posture for the body to assume. We can finally let go of unnecessary tension and gripping and the body can finally return back to it’s more natural state of being.
The alignment of our skeleton really starts from the ground up, starting at our feet. The feet really are the secret to opening the hips and eventually the spine. The feet, as they connect to the stability of the Earth, give you the traction necessary to leverage your hips while stabilizing your knees. If our foundation isn’t properly set, there is a high risk of damaging the knees while we try to open our hips. This is easiest to find in stance work and considerably more difficult from a seated position.
Standing positions are also important for improving blood flow and circulation. When the blood exits the heart, it must come full circle traversing the entire length of our body, before it enters back in. This means the blood must be pumped through the legs. The most effective way to increase blood flow through the legs is to use them! Too much of a sedentary lifestyle will cause a lack of circulation which can potentially tax the heart and other organs. It also warrants mention that blood grows in the marrow of our bones. The legs are home to the biggest bones in your body. By stressing the bones in your legs, particularly the thighs, this not only strengthens the bones but also the blood!
There is also an energetic benefit to waking up our legs. My teacher often likes to say that when our legs are strong, the breath will be strong. When we have a strong and stable base, our ability to pull our breath deep into our body is also strengthened. Think of long distance runners! Long deep breath has all kinds of benefits for the health of your organs and nervous system. But, what the yogis were primarily interested in was accessing the mind. Many of us know that when our breath is smooth and steady, our mind becomes steady as well. There is a correlation between the energetic layer of our breath and the quality of our attention.
Since the standing postures prepare the legs by increasing our strength and configurability, our ability to assume a stable and comfortable seat suitable for the more internal practices is enhanced. In addition to assuming a correct seat, when we feel grounded in our base and steady in our breath, our mind is more likely to become quiet. If you have ever tried to sit and meditate without a stable and comfortable base, it makes for a rather distracting experience. This is why the yogis knew it was crucial to set up a proper foundation.
The origins of the standing postures may be debatable; however, the goal of the practice is quite clear, to stabilize our consciousness and the removal of suffering. In our developing and quickly changing world, I believe the standing postures to be absolutely necessary in our journey of Yoga.
In/Out of Sight, In/Out of Mind
Last week I completed a one week Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse. Which means for one week I survived on a mono diet of kitchari- a simple dish of rice, mung dal, and spices to aid digestion. To make it more exciting, you can add a couple seasonal veggies or top it with some homemade chutney (although I got a little bit more creative with some of the toppings!). It’s not terribly exciting, but it does leave you satiated and helps reduce cravings. During the week, it’s also helpful to slow down, cut back on technology, and maintain a daily routine.
The day after the cleanse finished, my mom gifted me with a Costco pumpkin pie. Now, I must confess, I have a deep love of all things Fall, including pumpkin pie. Our house is currently decorated with an obscene number of cute little scarecrows, harvest themed dishtowels, and yes, pumpkins. Saying no to the pumpkin pie was challenging and I’m not going to lie, there is no more pie left (I didn’t eat the whole thing by myself!).
I mentioned that morning to my spouse, Michael, that I find an “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” attitude most helpful in maintaining discipline, especially when discipline can be challenging. In other words, if you are struggling to maintain a particular diet, having a gigantic pumpkin pie in the fridge is really going to push your boundaries. If you want to cultivate a certain quality of life, it’s important not to surround yourself with the things that create challenges, at least in the early stages of development. Instead, try surrounding yourself with the things you DO want to encourage, like healthy options in the fridge!
Recently, I’ve spoken to classes about Yoga being a discipline. This may be hard to understand, especially in the beginning when it feels really novel and exciting. There is oftentimes a bit of a “honeymoon” phase with the practice when learning feels quick and you see a lot of changes taking place. It’s easy to create an attitude of expectation that Yoga is all sunshine and rainbows. However, if you stick with the practice long enough, it is bound to be a bit confrontational. When the rubber really hits the road, that’s when you start to understand the discipline aspect of Yoga.
When things become difficult on your yoga mat or maybe you just hit a plateau, when the excitement begins to shift, you really have two choices; you can quit or you can stick with it. Now, of course it may not be a dramatic break-up with the practice. Although, sometimes that does happen, especially when we’ve injured ourselves or life circumstances have changed. However, ‘quitting or sticking’ with it is really a daily choice. We have a choice either to show up or to choose something else. That choice is really determined by our habits.
In Yoga, we call these habits “samskaras”. I like to think of samskaras as little grooves. If you’ve ever been to the top of a mountain, like Mt. Diablo, you can see these little grooves in the dirt where the rain water runs downhill. Every time it rains, the water takes the path of least resistance and travels down those very same grooves. Our habits essentially move down these very same grooves through our life. We are essentially the sum total of our life’s habits.
This essentially means that our Yoga practice and our lifestyle must support one another. If you really wish to take Yoga seriously and stay consistent, your life must be supportive of your practice. This is all under the assumption that you see the value of making Yoga an integral part of your life. This is much like our diet analogy. If you really want to take your diet seriously, then you would best make your life supportive of your diet.
Some things you can do to make your life supportive of your practice; for starters, carve out some space weekly for consistent practice. If you have a home practice, carve it out into your day and week beforehand. Same thing with attending a public class, make a plan to attend the same way you would plan anything else. You probably wouldn’t flake out on an appointment with your dentist or with a friend, right? Think of your yoga practice as an appointment with yourself. You are certainly as value if not more than any of the other appointments in your life.
Make sure that you get plenty of rest. The best way to rest easy at night is to be more prepared for the next day. Our day really begins the night before. Take some time to consciously organize your next day the night before. This way when you go to sleep, you feel prepared to take on whatever comes the next day. This will also prevent you from making excuses when it comes time to show up on your mat.
Be consistent with your eating habits. Ayurveda suggests that we eat three meals per day and that we make our lunch the biggest meal of the day. It’s often suggested that when you practice Yoga, you want to be as empty as possible. Generally, you wait 2-4 hours before you practice after a meal. This is not to say that if you ate recently, it’s an excuse not to practice! However, the more empty you can be before you practice, the more comfortable you will feel on the mat.
Ashtanga teacher, Richard Freeman, says that our yoga mat is the microcosm of the macrocosm of our life. Every time you step on your mat, you bring the sum total of all your life’s experiences with you on the mat. This will greatly impact how effective your yoga practice is. So, if you really want to make your practice effective, make an effort to make a life supportive of your practice. In turn, Yoga will greatly influence your life for the better! Patanjali defines Yoga as the process of stilling all Self-defeating, Self-limiting thoughts. Abiding in our Truest Self not only empowers us to live a life of meaning and happiness, but it allows us to then reflect that back into the world. I really believe that will make the world a better place, one person at a time.
I must admit, I'm at a bit of a loss of what to say right now. I log onto social media and there just seems to be so much available opinion and information, I really don't know what to believe. Honestly, I'm a bit overwhelmed. I certainly don't want to add to the chaos. When I started this blog, I decided that I had no intention of trying to reach the masses or gain millions of followers. I simply wanted to create a platform in which I could stay connected with my local yoga community in more ways than just on the mat. Social media can be a wonderful tool for this, but it also exposes us to so much more "stuff" out there. It's very easy to get a bit lost in news articles, blog posts, and videos. Social media also has a wonderful way of calibrating with its sophisticated algorithms to show you exactly what you (or "it") want to see. Law of Attraction maybe? We keep getting more and more of what we THINK we want, as individuals, as a community, and even as a nation.
With the elections, it's been a very interesting couple of weeks teaching hatha yoga. Everyone seems a bit on edge. I've walked into class with students saying "Alright Wes! Make us feel better!". The truth of the matter is, it is not my right nor responsibility to tell anyone what to think or believe. Sure, I have my ideas on what I think is right or wrong. However, when I step into the role as teacher, my goal is to create the necessary space for Awareness to take hold. Something quite magical happens when we allow our minds to become quiet and our body and breath to take the lead. Sometimes the practice we do is called a "moving meditation", which isn't exactly accurate but it does convey the message that our mind is given an opportunity to take a break.
Sometimes yoga is described as the process of moving from the gross to the subtle. It increases our inner sensitivity. We gain an internal reference point and a feeling of centeredness. Quite frankly, if done well, it makes us less reactive and more responsive. Information is constantly coming into our being from the outside via the five senses. Our ability to process and assimilate this information is greatly impacted by the quality of our physical, mental, and emotional health. With yoga, we improve our health and thus our processing power. More importantly, we gain the ability to discern what comes in and what goes out. My teacher compares this to building a castle with a moat built around it. We develop the discipline and will power to decide when to raise and lower the drawbridge. We develop a healthier relationship with the "outside" world and a clearer understanding of who we are as individuals in relationship to that world. The word for this in yoga is "viveka-khyati", the power to discern who we really are.
So, who are we? Strangely, it may be better to begin from who we are not. The simple answer according to classical Yoga philosophy, is everything and anything subject to change. It's kind of like playing a game of elimination. Some things are rather easy, like "am I my cute outfit?" Or "am I my car?" Some things become more difficult as we have identified with them for so long, like "am I a mother or daughter? A father or son?" "Am I a decent and moral person?" "Am I right and that person wrong?" The list can really go on indefinitely. What Yoga teaches us is that this mistake of misidentification is the root cause of all our suffering. It's the cause of all discord within ourselves and with everyone not in agreement with us. The practice of yoga essentially aims at removing this very misidentification.
Sometimes this misidentification can veil itself as moral superiority. It is a very dangerous game when we start to think of ourselves as being more "right" than somebody else or even more "open and accepting" in our views than another. I am in no way claiming to have a full grasp of this yogic teaching, but the teachings are there for us to grow from! It's also important to note that one may actually be correct in one's idea about something, but the very notion that "I am right and you are wrong" is where we start to get in trouble. This is important because it does not mean that we should not take action in the world to do what we feel is just and good. In the Bhagavad Gita, a very important yogic text that takes place on a battlefield of all places, we are reminded to perform our dharma, our duty in the world. We cannot just sit back and be passive. We must take up our sword and fight! But, this can be done skillfully. A blade in the hand of a murderer will do great harm, yet in the hand of a surgeon can heal. The Bhagavad Gita reminds us that "Yoga is skill in action" (BG 2.50). Through yoga, we learn to be skillful in the world around us. Simply because we have a better understanding of who we truly are.
It's probably reasonable to ask why having a clearer understanding of who we are as individuals would change anything. If we are not all the things that are subject to change, the very things that make us different from somebody else, then who are we? This is not so easy to put into words; however, yoga practice gives us an opportunity to feel and discover it for ourselves. One thing that has become really clear to me with practice is how very similar we all are as human beings. The very identities that we so strongly cling to can be quite divisive. It's important to remember that all beings want to reduce pain and suffering in their lives, all beings strive towards happiness.
Again, the teachings make it clear not to sit by the sidelines and refuse taking action in the world. Most of the people I know who practice yoga are living in the mundane world. We have jobs, responsibilities, families and friends, communities we identify with. None of this is going to change unless you decide to become a renunciate and move to the mountains. However, we can certainly live our lives in the context of spirituality. We can act in the world from a place that sees the bigger picture. This is certainly not easy, it's actually very challenging! But, that is why we practice yoga.
Life as Practice, Practic as Life
What does it mean to be a practitioner of Yoga? More importantly, what does it mean to be a GOOD practitioner? And in modern yoga speak, what does it mean to be "advanced"? I don't think most people feel comfortable calling themselves advanced, but many have a lofty idea that that is somehow the goal without really even knowing what that means. For some, this may mean wrapping your leg behind your head, balancing on your hands, or even doing every chaturanga demanded of you in a class. For others, it may mean somehow going beyond asana as if one could graduate from the petty physical practice to "living your yoga".
It will help for us to clarify what Yoga is to begin with. For the average Western practitioner, it refers to the modern postural practice we see in studios and gyms across America. In the East, Yoga refers to steadying the mind. If you were to tell most unassuming people in the West that you do yoga they will tell you how flexible you are! In India, they will tell you how calm and peaceful you must be. There is clearly some discrepancy. However, I do think that it's safe to say that even though most Westerners equate yoga with Vinyasa Flow, people inherently know that Yoga has something to do with making you more calm and peaceful. In a survey put out by Yoga Journal, 7 out of 10 people put down that the primary reason they practice yoga is for stress reduction. That's astonishing!
There are actually many ways outside of our Westernized modern postural practice that Yoga is traditionally accomplished. We could actually turn just about any activity into a yogic activity with the right mindset and technique because every moment is an opportunity for awakening. As stated by the authority of classical Yoga in his text the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines the practice as yogah chitta vrtti nirodhah, "Yoga is the stopping of the fluctuations of the mind" (YS 1.2). He goes on to say the goal as tadah drashtuh svarupe avastanam, "Then the seer abides in one's own true nature." (YS 1.3).
There is a Japanese Zen saying that what's important is not what we do, but how we do it. The attitude, right mindset, and focus will help to determine if what we are practicing is really Yoga. If Yoga is described as the practice of stopping the fluctuations of the mind, we can also say it is the practice of focusing the mind. A fair question we may ask ourselves is if our practice is leading to greater mental focus?
So, what exactly gets in the way of our ability to stay focused on our mat, or even our daily life for that matter. The truth is nobody shows up to their yoga mat with a clean slate. We show up with the sum total of all our life's habits and experiences. These very habits are the things that distract us both on and off the mat. The way we practice on the mat is a reflection of how we do everything in life. BKS Iyengar had said that Yoga does not create injury, our habits do.
If your goal is to continue practicing Hatha Yoga, or what is sometimes called modern postural yoga by scholars, will help to adapt the right mindset and internal technique to lead the mind towards greater calm and focus. It is said that setting the right intention at the start of practice is the most important step. This can be something quite specific, knowing that whatever your goal is requires focus. You can also simply make the intention to be more focused and present during your practice. With time and by regularly reassessing why you practice yoga, your intention will clarify itself.
Now in regards to how we practice, the importance of the breath cannot be overestimated. Think of the breath as your own personal mantra, your tool that keeps you anchored in the immediate moment. For, where else can your breath be other than in the here and now. Not only does focusing on the breath keep you anchored in real time, but the quality of your breathing has a profound effect on your mind. There is plenty of scientific evidence to prove the validity of how long slow breath effects your nervous system. The breath also shares a very special relationship with the Prana(vital energy of the subtle body). Without going into too much detail on Prana today, we can say that the Prana of the subtle body has a very strong relationship with the mind.
Now where does alignment come into the picture? I would like to replace the word alignment with "correct positioning". As Eddie Modestini is fond of saying, "Asanas do not have alignment. Human bodies have alignment". Positioning ourselves well on our bones in asana has a very profound impact on how we breath and feel the pose on a pranic level. If we position ourselves well in an asana, the pose gains the qualities of being "stable and comfortable" as defined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras (YS 2.46). Understanding that the body is not necessarily independent of the mind, we understand that how we position the body will impact our mental focus. More importantly, when we are well positioned on our bones, it is much easier to feel ourselves from the inside. The inner body comes alive because we are no longer being pulled off center.
Through correct breathing and positioning, we are more able to feel our center within the pose. This is where we direct our attention to. The mind becomes quiet when we are centered. This is not something to be imagined or visualized, it is to be felt. There is an inner sensitivity that is gained and a natural drawing in. When the body is well positioned and our breath is allowed to deepen, we find that our breath moves much deeper than the upper regions of our chest. This place is said to be in the low belly and is precisely where our gravitational and energetic center resides. I believe this to be one of the biggest gifts that can be gained through a physical practice like Hatha or Modern Postural Yoga. But, it will only come alive if we allow it to. If we continue to practice yoga letting our habits run the show, we will only continue to get more of the same thing. If we practice yoga in such a way where we allow our body and breath to draw the mind in, we will feel more centered not only on our mat, but in daily life.
The title of this article is "Life as Practice, Practice as Life". Life and Practice are not mutually exclusive. Our life comes onto our mat. We must make a conscious choice to practice our yoga with intention and purpose. In turn, our practice will start to leak into our daily life affecting how we interact with ourselves and everyone else.
Summertime is usually a fun time spent outside with family and friends, with lots of extra activities like vacations and outdoor sports. It can be easy for our yoga practice to take a bit of a vacation as well! Now that school is back in and the kids are away, this is a wonderful time of year to recommit to our practice and get back on the mat! Now it becomes necessary to create a regular routine because before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us. As the year comes to an end, it is usually filled with fun and festivities, which can also sometimes create additional stress. During this transitional time, it is especially important for us to get back on the mat!
In September, we also celebrate the Autumnal Equinox. Traditionally, this time of year is considered a great time to detox and prepare for the coming winter months. As we start to make the transition to shorter days and colder weather, it is necessary to make some changes in our own daily and seasonal routines. According to Ayurveda, the traditional holistic medical system of India, the Fall season is associated with Vata, which is composed of the elements of ether and air which promote movement and expansion. As we experience the external changes in our environment and witness the creative transition of nature's beauty, we can also be left in a state of flux and anxious energy. It is especially important that we do things that ground us down and help us feel more stable.
Ayurveda suggests that one of the most effective ways to regulate the accumulation of excess Vata is a regular daily routine, or Dinacharya in Sanskrit. For starters, make a habit of waking up and going to bed about the same time daily. If possible, waking up before sunrise and being in bed by 10pm. Upon waking up, one would perform a series of morning routines to prepare you for the day. An example can be found at: http://www.ayurveda.com/online_resource/daily_routine.html. Also, Ayurveda takes into consideration one's diet as a primary influencer of our well-being. To get started, follow the principle of "big lunch/small supper". Ayurveda also lays importance on seasonal eating. Be mindful of what's in season at your local farmer's market.
In regards to yoga, a consistent practice is an amazing boon to mediating the accumulation of excess Vata and stress on the system. It is certainly not necessary to come to a 90 minute public yoga class every day to keep your practice going. Certainly, coming to a public class can leave you feeling inspired and motivated, as well as educate you on the subtle nuances of the practice; however, even just doing a couple things on your own at home, such as the dreaded Vajrasana series (aka "Toe Torture" according to Patty!), some Sun Salutations, as well as some conscious breathing can leave you feeling a bit more grounded and connected to your Center on a daily basis.
Find a happy medium between doing things that inspire you such as community classes, retreats, wine (courtesy of Michael) and even a good yoga book paired with your own daily routine that helps you feel more balanced in your daily life! Remember that yoga is designed to serve you in Your own growth and potential. Yoga is far more than just what happens on the mat, but that's where it starts!
Wes Linch was introduced to Yoga and Eastern philosophy over 8 years ago in a desire to know more about himself. He quickly discovered the benefits of Yoga far exceed open hips. Wes is a Vinyasa Flow instructor, having received over 700 hours of training through Yogaworks and Yoga Sol. He completed a 6 month mentorship with Mynx Inatsugu and continued to assist her for a year. In 2011, Wes received Shaktipat by Shri Anandi Ma and began studying a traditional tantric lineage called Kundalini Maha Yoga.