Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy, Healthy & Peaceful Holiday

Well, another holiday season is upon us...yet this one seems different somehow. Obviously there are a lot of things happening in this world that are having significant impact on many people.

Usually we want to think of the holidays as a time of joy and happiness, however, more often than not the holidays can stir up quite a lot of stress. Combine this with a general uncertainty about the future and we can find ourselves a little overwhelmed.

Fortunately, just as it feels as if things are unravelling, there is also something quite amazing taking place. We are beginning to sense a shift in consciousness. No longer are the old patterns working for us and many people are starting to look for answers deeper within.

Obviously this is a long process, but there can be no doubt that things are accelerating.

It would serve all of us this holiday season to try to be a little more forgiving and humble in our thoughts and actions. We always have a choice as to how we react in any given situation. Everyone has felt the energy change when an angry person walks into a room. Everyone gets a little on edge. Remember…this dynamic works both ways. If we can find a calm center within ourselves, then we give others a reference point to find calmness within their own selves. The holidays really need to be about cultivating peace and harmony in the world. Finding faults in others or laying blame for things elsewhere simply creates friction and unease.

Like dropping a pebble into a pool of water and watching the ripples spread out, we determine the ripples we send to the people around us. Let it then be positive and loving.

I wish you happiness, health and peace for this holiday season

…and as always…

Aaron Hoopes

The next Zen Yoga Online Course will begin January 15th.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Start from Zero

A fit, healthy body and a calm, clear mind lay the fertile ground for our spiritual nature to grow and develop --zin

One of the biggest hurdles we face when making life changes in body fitness is starting from a negative.

The first step is to approve of the body you have right at this moment - NOT the body you want, NOT the body you are going to have in six months after you work out, NOT the body you had last year or ten years ago, but the body you have right NOW.

Oh no! say...OH YES!...that body with the belly that pops over the belt buckle or the thighs that rub together, or with the yellow stained teeth, or whatever you think is wrong with you.

Regardless of all the faults, real or imagined, it is the only body you have.
And here you are...alive.

If you have to live with it, you might as well come to terms with it instead of fighting it.

Acceptance of that fact is like opening a door to a new world.

Imagine a line of numbers

-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Zero is the center point..the place to begin so you can go up into positive numbers.

Instead, if you begin with a negative number, you spend all of your time trying to get to zero, so you can begin.

Your body…right now…exactly as it is….is zero.
From zero...go up.

How strong, how fit, how healthy you are is how strong, fit and healthy you are.

Start from there.

Everyone can do some sort of breath and movement practice in order to start the process of getting the body feeling better.

Monday, October 13, 2008


We are certainly beginning to see the scope of the changes that are ahead of us. The next few years are going to challenge us beyond anything we can imagine. It is at times like this that it is best to go back to the basics. Often when it feels like things are spinning out of our control it helps to practice that which grounds and empowers us. Breathing is such a practice. Taking a deep breath when we are stressed or worried is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It boosts oxygen levels, opens constricted energy pathways and provides more oxygen to our brains.

There is an old adage that says:
If the only tool you have is a hammer, all of your problems begin to look like nails...

If we realize that deep breathing is also a tool it becomes available to us when we need it. And we can start to look at our problems differently.

There are going to be plenty more challenges ahead of us in the days, weeks and months to come. When things start to get a bit crazy please Remember to Breathe!

wishing you much peace,
Aaron Hoopes

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Zen Anti-Diet

Aaron Hoopes and Zen Yoga are happy to announce the publication of the new ebook

This little book is a daring approach to eating and losing weight, except that it is not a diet book. Instead, it is an application in the context of Zen about healthy food and eating habits that should be part of everyone’s life. It provides anyone the framework for achieving their ideal weight.Eat Smart starts with the basic proposition that most of the diets we are bombarded with daily on television, in books and other media just don’t work! They just don’t. And the dieters who appear to benefit generally gain all the lost weight right back.

The Zen Anti-Diet is a practice of learning to be mindful of what you are putting into your body and allowing your body to reach a natural state of peace and contentment.Fundamental point of this book is about Zen and becoming attuned to the present moment. Practicing the Zen Anti-Diet is a recipe for happiness, health and long life.

Aaron Hoopes’ book Eat Smart is a holistic approach to eating which follows the precepts of Zen in its emphasis on experiencing the present moment and on connecting with the core of one’s being.Starting at the most basic levels, Mr. Hoopes counsels a slowing down of the food consumption process and underlines the importance of water in the human circulatory system. He suggests maintaining a peaceful and happy environment for eating and urges you to pay attention to the usually unheralded nutritional value of chewing longer. He also recommends you try to avoid achieving sensations of fullness by being mindful of the timing and the size of your meals.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the book is to refrain from consuming the many additives, chemicals and poisons found in processed foods.Hoopes provides a number of exercises to help imprint the Zen Anti-Diet concept in your mind and offers tools to enhance the beneficial habits of food consumption.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chasing Happiness

We seem to be chasing happiness. Modern life tends to be barely controlled hysteria as everyone is hurrying towards the future. We believe that if we acquire the newest fashion or buy the latest CD it will give us the happiness we are seeking. It is like a new, modern disease “I’ll be happy when…” We take holidays in search of happiness only to find ourselves worrying about all the stuff we left behind. Happiness always seems just around the corner, if we can just get there.
The truth is that this is an illusion. There is no happiness but in the present moment. Seeking happiness is like a dog chasing its own tail. Around and around we go, never quite reaching our goal. Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. It is the experience of living every moment with full awareness and awe at the beauty and grace of life. Happiness is not next week.
It is now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Creating Reality

A wave is not separate from the ocean. Every wave on the ocean is the whole ocean. Yet as an individual wave it displays its own uniqueness. In the same manner each of us is an individual, yet we are a part of something much greater. We are part of the whole of creation. Most of us feel our individuality strongly. The idea of a web of life turns that feeling inside out. It is a feeling in which we, as individuals, are connected and a part of everything else there is.

In other words, the fundamental reality of the self is not only something inside the skin but it is everything outside the skin as well. We are simply part of the whole of existence as, in the same way, is the ocean wave. At this moment, in this present reality, we are a playing a particular role but that personality is superficial because the real self is actually all that there is. When we realize that our individuality is superficial, then there is nothing to oppose us in seeking self-realization within the framework of all existence. When there is no opposition, there is nothing to fight against and we can begin to make progress.

It is important to believe that we create our own reality. For good or for bad, the thoughts that you have influence the events that take place in your life. How often do you hear people say “just my luck” or something equally negative when unfortunate circumstances arise? Whether you believe you can do something or whether you believe you can’t, you are absolutely correct. It all begins with your belief. When you begin to believe in positive things, positive things start to happen. The thoughts that you generate in your mind have a tangible effect on the world around you. When you are sure that your thoughts can change your life, then your life begins to change. You can live in a garden of beautiful flowers or you can live in a garbage dump.

The choice is yours and begins with your attitude towards yourself. Happiness creates happiness in the world, just as misery creates more misery. If you make a conscious effort to tap into the energy of the universe and send it in positive directions, you open yourself to positive change and the energy of the universe will be able to flow in that direction. If you cultivate the negative aspects of life, that negative energy will grow in intensity around you.
in peace,

Monday, September 1, 2008

Connection To Nature

Book Recommendation - The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Buhner

I wanted to share this book. The Secret Teachings of Plants is a book that does much more than remind us of the importance of Nature in our lives. It provides simple skills to help us make a much deeper connection to the natural world and bring our lives back into balance. Too often we get so caught up in the busyness of the human world that we become numb to ourselves. It is at times like this when we need a sage like Stephen Buhner to guide us back to the wisdom the other living beings of this planet have for us.

The book is based on a wonderfully insightful concept of the “intelligence of the heart.” Recent discoveries in neuroscience have proven that more than 50% of the heart is comprised of neural cells. It is from our hearts that we process our energetic connection to everything we come in contact with. The problem is that we have cut ourselves off from this connection by allowing ourselves to be caught up in our rational, analytical minds.

Buhner explains that the knowledge of plant medicines that ancient and indigenous peoples have, comes, not through trial and error experimentation, but is directly transmitted from the plants themselves. And while this may seem like a stretch to the rational, analytical mind caught up in the post-industrial, television-based world, deep within all of us this truth awaits rediscovery.

The first part of the book contains scientific explanations and linear analysis. The second part is a stream of consciousness, full of quotes and practices for enhancing our relationship with plants. When I first started the book I loved the first part and was a bit skeptical of the 2nd half. But once I began reading that part, I realized that the first half was merely setting the stage and the second part is where the real understanding lies.

The consciousness of plants may be vastly different from our understanding of consciousness. Interacting with plants is not simply about talking to them. It is much more about opening the lines of communication with them on an energetic level and sharing our lifeforce. By opening our hearts and experiencing nature in its fullness we can begin to realize this connection.

Personally, as part of my Zen Yoga training, I have been cultivating my relationship with plants for many years, yet while reading this book I found my experience reaching a deeper level of understanding, to the point of profound wonder at this world we live in. See for yourself….read the book.

in peace,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Essence of Quality

The attitude we take towards any task or undertaking reflects on how we view our self. The completed task is the outward reflection of what is going on within. A task done with quality and completeness suggests a quality and completeness inside our being. A task half-finished or done sloppily reflects sloppiness within us. The actual importance of the task is irrelevant with regard to the quality and completeness with which we undertake it. Whether we are doing life-saving surgery, writing a book, washing a car, or tying our shoes, we need to focus all of our attention and concentration on that action. In effect, we want to enter into the essence of it.

Entering into the essence of something means becoming one with the action we are performing. In Japan there is a word shoshin which means “beginner’s mind.” As a beginner, the first time you do something you have to concentrate on it in order to do it correctly, but as you become adept at it you soon stop paying attention to the doing of it. The idea of shoshin is to retain the mindfulness of the beginner even as the task becomes routine. In this manner you are able to enter into the essence of what you are doing and that makes all the difference. Doing anything without entering into its essence is pointless and empty. However, the more fully you enter into something, keeping mindful of it, the more point or meaning it has and the more alive you feel by doing it.

Musicians, dancers, or artists who are able to enter into the essence of their art, become their art - they transcend the doing and are just being. By entering into the essence of your daily tasks you can begin to wake up to the great secret of life – living. The quality of living that results from entering into the essence of everyday life is profound. But only by actually being mindful of what we are doing can we experience it.

In Zen Yoga training we seek to cultivate this practice through simple breathing and movement exercises which help to circulate the energy through the meridians of the body. Just as with tai chi and qigong, Zen Yoga is a spiritual discipline that brings an awareness of the self.

wishing you much peace...


I will have some photos of the Zen Warrior Training Retreat up soon...

Thursday, August 7, 2008


We certainly are living in times of dramatic change. And it would seem that there is much more to come. Part of the problem stems from the fact that we are always trying to change things to serve our purposes. Genetic food modifications, chemical preservatives, clear cutting of old-growth forests, diverting rivers for irrigation are all examples of humans trying to control the natural way of the world. But the simple truth is that the world is not something to be controlled or put in order. We are the one’s that must harmonize with it. Fighting against the natural flow of things is what has led us to the predicaments we are facing. We have lost our connection to the energy of the world. The plants and animals have become resources to be exploited and used as we march along a path that has only one inevitable outcome. The current structure is unsustainable.
It will take a miracle to turn things around…
If you want to see the miracle…
Be the miracle.

We are the one’s we have been waiting for.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Slow Down

Many of us living modern society live life at a frenetic pace. The measured lifestyle and close contact with nature that characterizes more traditional societies is being lost. People today gobble up experiences, swallow them whole, and then stuff more in. As these undigested experiences accumulate, existence becomes more superficial. Watching television has become a substitute for real experience and even that rarely holds our attention for long –we click to the next channel. Vicariously living through the stimulus overload of television has dulled the senses to the magic of real life. The rapid pace of technological advances creates a sense of urgency while the high-speed transfer of data through the internet and telephone systems brings an immediacy to everything. When we finally do go out and do something, we often feel driven by an urge to get through it as fast as possible. There is a compulsion for instant satisfaction, a pervasive “been there, done that” attitude. Completion has become the goal. Actually experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells has become secondary to the result. All of this leaves people with little time for themselves, or more exactly, for discovering the self.

Things such as fast food, newsbreaks, email and text messaging all contribute to this to a sense of urgency. We cannot escape it. We only slow down to pay attention when something we think extraordinary appears, and even then it rarely holds our attention for very long. Eventually we hurry on to something we think is more important. But when we get there we rush through that as well, since we feel compelled to get to the next experience and the next after that. Our attention span has been narrowed drastically, laying a deadly trap, because we begin to sacrifice the present to the future – which never comes. Unless we are able to fully experience the present, the future is merely an illusion. Without fully living in the present, we will never know just who we are. We will only continue to chase things into the future in the vain hope something will finally satisfy us.

This trap was set long ago by our parents and our schooling and our culture. The striving toward an undefined goal – success – always lies in the future and calls for planning. Thus, when we actually do reach some sort of success, it turns out not to be as satisfying as we thought it would be and we get caught up in planning for the next success. For vast numbers of people the future never arrives while, at the same time, they take little notice or enjoyment in what they have accomplished in the present. In the end, however, it is in the present, not the future, that life is deeply experienced and where one discovers one’s true self.

Of course there are things we all need to do to secure our future, but if we sacrifice the present for some obscure future success, chances are that when we get there we will still be no closer to what we are searching for. If we can slow the pace at which we live and enjoy what we are doing in the present, then no matter what the future brings we will be prepared to experience it fully. We need to bring a sense of peace to daily life by becoming aware of time, of the need to slow down.

By slowing the pace of life and quieting the noise of the world, we can let a little more peace and serenity into our lives.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Remember to Breathe

I think it is important to keep reminding people of this.
Breathing is a fundamental action of our physical body. But it is also the connection between the mind and body. Staying conscious and aware of the breathing is very beneficial to our lives.
There are so many distractions these days. Everything seems geared to fragmenting our attention and keeping us oblivious to our personal well-being. The work we are doing with Zen Yoga is designed to bring us back to our center and connect with ourselves.
It is very easy to dismiss awareness of breathing as silly or trivial, but the more you become aware of it and put it to use the more it becomes a valuable tool you can use any time it is needed.
wishing you much peace...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Earth Changes

There has been a lot of speculation as to what is going to occur during the winter solstice of 2012. The ancient Mayans determined it was the end of their long count calendar. The Vedic texts tell of the end of the Kali Yuga, or great age. Experts in cosmology say the Earth will come into alignment with the galactic center. Some assume it is the end of the world. Others believe it is the beginning of a new one. It could be just about anything from the next step in evolution to the extinction of the human race.

Everyone has heard a lot of talk about climate change. Most people can understand the basic concept of overpopulation. It is quite easy to realize the consequences of the diminishing natural resources of the planet. Some people even have heard of the gyre, a giant whirlpool of plastic in the Northern Pacific ocean the size of Texas. In the past few years these things have all come into sharper focus for a lot of people. At the very least there is an awareness of the rising cost of food and gasoline that seems to be heading towards heights we cannot begin to comprehend.

A result of this growing understanding is a sense of increasing stress and worry in daily life over events that we have no control over. We react to it in a number of different ways. Many people choose to remain oblivious to the changes by concentrating on all of the stuff we have created in our society to distract us from what is important.

The truth is that we are living in a precarious interconnected society that has the potential to collapse at any time. The longer we continue to distract our attention from these issues the quicker we travel headlong over the cliff. The time has come to pay attention. In order to carry on our existence we need to prepare ourselves for change; dramatic, society-encompassing, life-altering change.

Surviving whatever happens is going to be a challenge no matter who you are or where you live. However, there area number of things that each of us can do to be in a better position to deal with the coming Earth Changes more effectively. This primarily involves working on the self.

It stands to reason that given the continuing headlong rush towards destruction there is going to come a time when situations develop during which we will need to make quick decisions and then act on those decisions. If we are able to react and execute appropriately, we stand a better chance of making it through whatever challenges we are faced with.

The question here is – How are people to deal with the coming changes with bodies that are overweight and out of shape and minds that are stressed, distracted and medicated?

The short answer is that they can’t.

Instead we need to change the question – How can people get their bodies fit and healthy and their minds relaxed, focused and clear so that they can deal with the coming changes effectively?

It has to start with simple and practical ideas that can be put to use immediately. Learning to breathe properly and remembering to practice it as much as possible is usually a good place to begin. Next, moving the body in order to get the blood and energy circulating is very helpful. Taking time out to sit quietly and allow the hectic thoughts to settle is vital to keeping the stress of the world in check. These basic practices are available to anyone regardless of age, fitness level or health status. We just need to allocate the time for them. In the end, a body that is working properly combined with a mind that is calm and clear will provide us with the best opportunity to deal with the coming changes.

A place to start...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Two wild dogs inside us dwell
Eternally at war
A good dog and another one
Rotten to the core
We ponder which might win the fight
And occupy the host
The answer simply has to be
The one you feed the most
Original poetry by Aaron Hoopes, inspired by an old Native American tale.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Key

Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of living in a state of happiness and peace. The world is a hectic and stressful place and if we don’t allow ourselves time to cultivate our inner calm we set ourselves up for conflict and pain. When there is too much anger and unhappiness things fall out of balance. In order to restore the balance we need to start by looking inward.

How do we do this?

Imagine a door. This door is deep within us. Behind that door lies the potentiality of perfection. It is based in love and formed out of joy and happiness for all things. When the door is open we glimpse the vistas of unending possibilities based on living in the present moment. Sadly, for many people this door is often locked. The weight of obligations, stresses of life and a lack of care for personal wellbeing conspire to keep it sealed tight. We find ourselves banging on the door with no way to open it.

Now, imagine a key. This key is also within us. It is the key that fits the lock on the door. This key is the vital energy of the universe. We can use this key to unlock the door. Unfortunately, access to the key can be a problem. As with real life, keys can be lost or misplaced. Sometimes the key becomes so rusty that it won’t even fit into the lock. Maybe we have too many keys and spend all our time trying to figure out which one fits the lock. In frustration, as a last resort, we might use a paperclip to try and pick the lock.

What we really need to do is to take better care of our key. If we can put the key in a safe place and keep it free of rust and grime we can then use it whenever we need it to open the door and reach that place of happiness and joy.

How do we do this?

As with most things, it starts with breathing. (You really didn’t think I was talking about anything else, did you?) Every so often we need to slow down and take a deep breath. Not a big puff into the chest, but a deep abdominal breath that fills the body up from the belly. The breath is our connection to the energy. It brings us into the present moment and aligns our mind with our body. From there we can begin to explore the other things we need to do to connect with our selves.

Remember to Breathe!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Flow

The flow of life can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. Like trying to sail upon a tumultuous ocean, we can get caught up in the torrent, unable to navigate effectively. We end up getting tossed about this way and that. At times we feel as if we are about to capsize while other times we may seem adrift in the world, lost in the vastness of existence. Too often we fight against the flow. We attempt to stop it or seek to change its direction, yet all we end up doing is flailing about looking for an alternative to drowning.

Fighting against the flow is not the answer. Instead of looking around for a way to stop or redirect the current, the key is to turn inwards and adjust our rudder. If we allow ourselves to be carried along with the flow we can eventually reach our destination. If we view everything that happens to us as an opportunity to learn and grow then we begin to generate positive energy. It is possible to go where we want to go but it requires harmony within the body and a calm presence of mind.

When we start to take care of ourselves we become aware of the flow and eventually realize that the flow was going in the right direction the whole time. When we aren’t taking care of the body or the mind is full of hectic thoughts we tend to try to force things to happen. We fight against the natural movement of the universe. We seek answers everywhere but within. This is a sure way to confusion and difficulty. Let us learn to move with the current, adjusting our rudder as necessary.

Life should be a dancing adventure.

Breathe the energy.
Move the body.
Calm the mind.

Adjust your rudder and go with the flow.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Zen Yoga Vermont Retreat

Breathe - Move - Relax
Meditate by a waterfall in the peaceful mountains of Vermont
May 30th - June 1st, 2008

Deep Journey - Shanti Yoga: Tuning into the rhythms of the body and stretching deeper and more fully. Opening the hips, shoulders and back.

Moving Meditation - Tai Chi: Introduction to the basics of Tai Chi movement. Flowing energy movement and mindful awareness.

Dynamic Energy - Zen Crane Qigong: Introduction to the basic Zen Crane breathing & moving forms. Raising energy levels in the body and circulation.

Touching Nature- Meditation: Exploration of various methods of meditation in a variety of special settings

Shamanic Drumming Circle & Traditional Releasing Ceremony: (with Michael Denmeade Shaman of Lakota & Yama Bushi Traditions)

Prepare to feel wonderful!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Annoying People

Great spiritual masters often recommend that their students embrace the presence of those who they find annoying. The theory being that the annoying person reflects their own short comings and gives them an opportunity to look deeper at their own lives.

Easy to say, however the ability to remain centered and aware when we feel uncomfortable with someone is much more difficult than doing so when we are in the presence of those who we feel at ease with. But the truth is that we have an opportunity to cultivate both patience and acceptance when we are around people we find annoying. These qualities are vital to our spiritual growth. Annoyance can be an important teacher and our way of dealing with it can be an indicator of the progress we are making on our journey.

There are always going to be people and situations that we cannot control. The way we respond to these experiences reflects our spiritual development and mastery over our own lives.

Try to be a little more accepting of those around you. It smoothes the edges of life. When someone is really getting on your nerves...breathe deep and long until you settle back into yourself and can deal with the situation with mindful awareness.

in peace,

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Zen Yoga OnFitness

Check out the new issue of OnFitness Magazine. (march/april)

Zen Yoga: Get Your Energy Flowing is on the cover!

I've got four pages with my article The Long Stretch and a whole series of great photos.

OnFitness is considered the #1 magazine for personal trainers. Available at Barnes & Noble, Borders and other bookstores.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Hoitsugan Seminars III

Well, I've finally been able to process all of the photos from the Hoitsugan Seminars III. The gallery of photos I've put up is here.
The Seminars were a fantastic experience. They took place on the campus of De Anza College in Silicon Valley, California. We had over 115 attendees with 45 different classes to participate in, taught by some of the best karate instructors in the world. The Hoitsugan Seminars are truly blazing a new path in traditional karate training.
Bringing Zen Yoga to the Seminars has been very gratifying. The response to the breathing & movement practice as a supplement to hard-style training is fantastic. The philosophy is perfectly suited to people looking to deepen their martial arts study.
in peace,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Whole Health & Hoitsugan

It feels as if I haven't stopped since I got back from Australia and Japan.

We had a booth at the Whole Health Expo in Northampton, MA ( )this past weekend and taught a couple of workshops. It was very well attended. I got the sense that people are really looking for something that will help them feel better. The problem is that we tend to look everywhere but inside ourselves for the answer. All the crystals, magnets, detoxifying foot baths and health drinks are wonderful, but without a body that is moving and breathing combined with a mind that is calm and undistracted, they are not really going to be of any real help other than to trick us into thinking we are fine...more on this later.

Need to switch gears this week. Thursday I'm off to San Francisco for the 3rd Hoitsugan Seminars. This is a series 47 karate seminars taught by some of the best martial artists in the world. I am honored to be a part of it and bring Zen Yoga to the program. I will be teaching 5 seminars over the weekend. Should be a great time!
more information is here:

The new Zen Yoga Online Course starts this week and we are happy to have a good group of new instructors joining us. Always looking for people who want to explore things a little deeper.

in peace,

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Photo Gallery - Australia & Japan

I've finally had a chance to put up some photos of my travels to Australia and Japan. You can see them here:
I'd love to hear your comments on these, please leave your comments here....
many thanks,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

three days in Tokyo

Tokyo was intense. It never ceases to amaze me how many people there are. You literally cannot go anywhere in the city without there being 50 other people in the same place. It actually seems more crowded than it did last time I was there in 2003. Which probably isn't a news flash, but back then I thought there were already too many people.

The biggest difficulty I found was that most restaurants still permit smoking and there is nothing that ruins a good meal more than a mouthfull of smoke as you eat your sushi.

We held a Zen Yoga workshop at the Sun & Moon Yoga studio in Meguro. Leza Lowitz was the host and we had a full house. I taught the new 5-Elements 10 Zen Qigong form I have been perfecting.
The next evening I gave a lecture and book signing at Good Day Books in Ebisu. Ebisu is where I did most of my Shotokan karate training back in the 1980's when the headquarters of the Japan Karate Association was located there. It is still the location of the Hoitsugan, the private dojo of Sensei Nakayama, though he passed away in 1987. Speaking of the Hoitsugan, I will be attending the 3rd Hoitsugan Seminars in the Silicon Valley or Northern California - March 12-16, 2008
More information here:

The final day of my time in Tokyo was spent at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan in Yurakucho. I met with Barry Lancet, Senior Editor of Kodansha International. We were joined by Sophie Hardach a journalist from Reuters news service and Kim Kyunghoon a photographer. They conducted an interview and photoshoot to be posted on their lifestyles site and made available to news agencies around the world.
Here is the link:

More soon, once I recover from my trip home.....

Monday, February 18, 2008

Land of Oz

The weather has been quite nice for most of my stay. The sun is so hot you can really only spend short periods in the sun before you burn.

Zen Yoga on the beach at sunrise is a wonderful way to start the day. I've had a lot of opportunity to reflect on a number of things.

I think that many people have a desire to be fit and healthy. The problem is that just having a desire is too vague. We tend to get caught up in living unconsciously and time passes. We then realize we haven't been living in a healthy manner. At this stage doing something for fitness becomes a chore. If we can keep ourselves in a mindful place and make mindful choices about how we treat our bodies we have a much better chance of getting to the place we really want to be.

Always start with conscious breathing and take it from there. once the body gets more oxygen into it there is a much better impetus for movement. Make your fitness routine a habit...not an appointment.

Off to Tokyo on Thursday....

in peace,

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Walkabout in Australia

After a 24-hour trip, I made it to the land Down Under. It is summer here and about 84 degrees and sunny. I spent the first 4 days climbing in the outback mountains of the Great Dividing Range with my long-time friend and Zen Yoga instructor Paul Carney. I was lucky to swim in a couple of absolutely stunning rock pools beneath magnificient waterfalls. On one day we hiked and climbed for 7 hours and never saw another person. We did see hundreds of kangaroos however. Of course, I took lots of photos, but they will have to wait until my return to post them.

Most of the time was spent breathing in the amazing energy of the land and taking time to find that calm center within. It is really amazing what you can discover when you can disconnect from all of the distracting buzz of modern society. We really don't give ourselves enough time to do this.

Internet access is spotty, but I'll try to post again soon.

more soon,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chinese New Year 2008

On February 7th 2008 we enter the Chinese Year of the Rat.

The Rat is the most opportunistic of all animals in the Chinese philosophical tradition. It is the first sign of the 12 animal cycle and signifies a time of new beginnings. It is a time of hard work, activity, and renewal. It is an opportunity for new ideas, directions and ways of doing things. However, things that are begun during this year are likely to have long term consequences, so it is advisable for us to choose our actions wisely and focus on things that enrich the world instead of destroying it.

This Rat year is modified by the Earth element. The past two years have been Fire years (Boar & Dog) which have stirred things up a bit. The Earth element tends to bring a calming stability to things this year, just at a point when we need it. Unfortunately, the Rat has an affinity for the Water element which maintains a destructive relationship with the Earth element. All of this means that some dangers may lie ahead.

The problem with the Rat is that there is a selfish tendency to its nature that can undermine good intentions. The Rat can symbolize an aggressive, yet calculating, motivation towards money and status. In addition, this year will be a time of nervous energy and stress and we need to take responsibility to be aware of this. It will be easy to blame others for our own problems.
Another factor is that Earth is a sedentary element. We need to realize that inactivity can lead to problems. Be sure to get enough exercise and be on the alert for unwanted weight gains. Remember to Breathe!

The good news is that, being the beginning of a new cycle, this year offers a chance to begin walking a different path. Performing work that is spiritual in nature can have far reaching effect. We are getting close to a time when self-awareness is imperative for the evolution of our species. If you have been waiting for the moment to make some fundamental changes in your life, now is the time.

I wish you blessings of happiness and health along your journey…

Happy New Year!

Aaron Hoopes – February 2008

Author of Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment through Breathing, Movement and Meditation

You are welcome to reprint this or pass it on.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Australia & Japan

I'm leaving for Australia on Wednesday Feb 6th. It is about a 19 hour trip and I will be arriving in Brisbane on Feb 8th (australia time). Then I'm off on a 5-day walkabout in the tropical rainforest with an old friend. No phone, no computer......!

February 22-25th I'll be in Japan and will be holding a Zen Yoga workshop at Sun & Moon Yoga in Tokyo on Saturday Feb 23 8:00-10:00am.

I will also be giving a talk and book signing at
Good Day Books
in Tokyo on Sunday Feb 24 6:00-8:00pm.

In addition I'm going to be interviewed by Reuters at the Tokyo Press Club while I'm there.

I haven't been back in either Australia or Japan for about 4 years and I'm quite excited about it.
Lot's of friends to catch up with.

I'll try and post some of my adventures here when I get a chance.

In peace....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gathering Energy

In the middle of the winter it is often the case that our energy reserves can get quite depleted. The ending of the holiday season can sometimes leave a vague feeling of emptiness, while 2008 brings with it some uncertainty in just what sort of changes we might be facing as we move forward.

Keeping our energy levels up is always a good idea, and now it is even more important. The simplest way to do this is to become more aware of our breathing habits. Just taking a deeper breath whenever we can remember brings more oxygen into the body. This oxygen becomes energy as is enters the blood stream. Deeper breathing gathers energy reserves in the body and helps us deal with difficulties when they arise.

Returning to the breath whenever we are dealing with the challenges of life allows us to center ourselves and focus our attention within.

in Peace,
Aaron Hoopes
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