Growing up with a grandfather who taught (and at age 81, still teaches) yoga, I was exposed to the teachings of yoga and meditation at an early age. Back then, I remember feeling so bored during the meditation parts of class and thinking that everyone was just taking a nap. I was too young for the purpose of meditation to resonate in my mind. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to learn that the poses and meditation are only two aspects of yoga. It’s a way of life that has the power to permeate into every aspect of your world. As Bhava Ram, the yoga guru whose book, Warrior Pose: How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life, exclaimed as we spoke last week, “Yoga is the greatest science ever created on how to be a human being.”
Enjoying the book at the beach one day
Warrior Pose is the story of Brad Willis (whose taken on the yoga name Bhava Ram), an ambitious journalist whose career took him to the middle of major conflicts and events in places like Afghanistan, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan and Hong Kong. In the book, Willis talks about his experiences as a reporter and the sometimes heartbreaking things he witnessed. I found this aspect of the book to be educational, giving me a sort of inside look to events that happened when I was either not born yet or just a kid. In reading about his travels and work, I could sense that Bhava is a unique person who was really motivated to make a positive difference in the world through his journalism.
Warrior Pose is also the story of Brad Willis’ pharmaceutical-induced nightmare, gradually brought on after a fall that caused a mildly broken back. After years of ignoring the injury and covering the pain up with alcohol and pills, Willis’ unwillingness to put his life on hold to take time to heal his back leads to a majorly broken back. He soon also learns of another medical horror – that he has stage IV thyroid cancer. Fallen into a deep abyss, the chronic pain and illness consumes Willis until one day, his loved ones stage an intervention and Willis agrees to get help. Constantly motivated by the phrase Get Up, Daddy!, something his young son said to him one day when Willis was far from able to easily jump up out of his chair, Willis embarks on a journey to try to get his life back.
Willis finds hope at an unconventional treatment program that focuses on mind-body medicine such as biofeedback and Jin Shin Jyutsu. It’s through this program that he is introduced to yoga, which he truly believes will be the key to helping him heal. Willis wholeheartedly devotes most of his time and energy into yoga to remove the toxins in his body and mind. Remarkably, Willis eventually heals his back – which could not be fixed with fusion surgery and Western medicine – and rids himself of the cancer that he once believed would claim his life within a few years. It’s almost too miraculous to believe it to be true, but Bhava, whose yoga name translates to “Pure State of Being in the Heart,” is living, breathing proof of the healing power of positive thinking, and how resilient the human body can be when the mind makes a positive shift.
**Interested in reading the fascinating story of Warrior Pose? Today I’m hosting a giveaway of the book to one reader! How to enter: Simply leave a comment below telling me why you’re interested in reading the book. Are you into yoga? A lover of autobiographies? Fascinated by the power of positivity? A history buff who wants to read a journalist’s tale during some of the major conflicts of the world in the 1980s and 90s? All of the above? Tell me below, and I’ll randomly pick a winner next Monday, July 1.**
I was lucky enough to get to chat with Bhava last week and ask him some questions. He seemed as lovely a person as I’d imagined him to be while reading about his journey. I wanted to share a couple highlights of our conversation:
ME: When you talk about the chronic pain consuming your life and causing you to be cranky, snappy, and having no tolerance for anything, you say, “I don’t like myself this way, but I can’t figure out how to turn it around.” For anyone out there, whether they’re suffering from an illness or injury or not, who feels like they’re stuck in a negative place, what would you say should be their first step to getting out of their mental funk?
BHAVA: I’d say that learning to truly believe in themselves is the first step, to realize that there’s always a way out. Miracles do happen. I’ve found that when you look deep inside and start to make positive changes, the whole world sort of rises up to support you in that effort. Having faith in yourself and knowing that you were born with a great power for transformation is life changing.
ME: What are the greatest misconceptions about yoga?
BHAVA: Most people think that yoga is just poses and postures, but there are so many aspects to it. There’s a philosophical piece, a medical piece, a nutritional piece, a breath work aspect, a nutritional piece, meditation, and poses and postures. Yoga is the greatest science ever created on how to be a human being. People also think that yoga is a religion, but it’s really about unifying the deeper inner being, regardless or religion or spiritual belief. The word yoga means unification, so it’s about harmony, not exclusivity of any kind.
ME: If you could give people one healthy living tip, what would it be?
BHAVA: I’d say to connect more with nature – being in nature more often, eating what nature produces, and unplugging from mass media and allowing only more natural impressions into your mind. It’s really just about finding that which is more natural and harmonious.
Being such a quote lover and believer in the power of positivity, I highlighted some thoughts throughout the book that resonated with me. I’ll leave you with two of my favorite paragraphs from Warrior Pose:
“I’ve learned that humility and softness are far more powerful than the sharp edges of bravado and hubris of my earlier years. That accepting what is takes more courage than forcing what I think should be. That judgments, opinions, and the need to be right cant be great hindrances. That it’s always better to give rather than to receive. Affirm rather than criticize. Serve rather than be served. I’ve also learned to be grateful for the smallest, more ordinary things. The morning light. A sip of water. A breath of fresh air. The privilege of being alive.
Yoga has taught me that a fundamental principle of life is that energy follows intention. When we create a strong intention and really believe in it, the world magically seeks to support us. People who think positively and have faith in something are vastly more likely to manifest it than those who feel doubtful and negative. It still takes great devotion and hard work, but it always starts with the mind. One of the great ancient texts of Yoga puts it well: ‘Your thoughts determine your actions. Your actions create your habits. Your habits form your character. Your character determines your destiny.'”
Now leave a comment below to win the book! 🙂