How Traveling Yogi Adam Whiting Built a Business Through Seeking His Dharma
Adam Whiting, now a well-known yoga teacher around the world for his smart sequencing and anatomical focus in class, was at one time just trying to understand what was going wrong in his body. After seeing doctor after doctor in Manhattan, trying to diagnose massive dizzy spells, headaches and seemingly random spouts of numbness throughout his body, he was told by all accounts that his body was "fine."
"I was diagnosed with having anxiety disorder and panic attacks," Whiting told me. "And it didn't fit for me, because it wasn't presenting itself as anxiety. I wasn't stressed. I wasn't depressed. And in my mind, at that point, my knowledge about anxiety disorder was so limited that I was sort of in denial."
At that time, Whiting was working in New York as a musician. But in order to pay the bills, he worked nine-to-five at an insurance agency - a job which, he describes, was a major catalyst for his anxiety disorder and also the catalyst for him finding what he was truly meant to be doing.
"A friend introduced me to asana, to postural yoga. After several months of just doing yoga...I could feel the anxiety start to unwrap itself. It was just the most amazing feeling of actually feeling safe in my own skin again."
After feeling how yoga helped and healed him, he knew it was something he wanted to teach. From that point forward, he launched into his first teacher training. He began teaching right away, supplemented that with playing music, and didn't look back.
And even though it became a greater hustle to make ends meet, it was all building towards a greater purpose, or Dharma, as you'll hear Whiting describe in the episode.
He started teaching more and more classes, then began traveling for workshops, and then started running trainings and retreats, all in addition to playing music on the side and weaving it into his teaching repertoire.
He describes it as all part of a tapestry in "whatever this career is."
Whiting sums it up nicely, but his tapestry is composed of many moving pieces that all move him in the direction where he wants to take his career and his life. From moving to Australia to lead trainings alongside owner of Power Living Duncan Peak, to hosting retreats across the world, to moving back to the U.S. to lead his first 200-hour yoga teacher training on his own, Whiting lets meditation be his guide in setting goals for his future.
And rather than setting traditional, tangible goals, Whiting is focused on following his Dharma. He sees those action items to achieve more as the logistics to align in order to go after something bigger.
"I absolutely do have goals of running more teacher trainings, of having my advanced 300-hour training up and running, of having a tour in Australia and running retreats in Australia and Bali. But in my mind, I sort of think of them as logistical things to align so that I can look out past that and set my sails towards that journey with the knowledge that the winds are going to blow me somewhere completely unexpected, but also with the the trust that wherever I end up is where I'm supposed to be."
Listen to Adam Whiting’s episode of the #WeGotGoals podcast to hear more about how he views Dharma, his purpose and duty in life, and the way he views goals that ladder up to that. Thanks to Cody Hughes for the photo used in this post.
You can listen anywhere you get your podcasts (including Spotify!) and if you like what you hear, please leave us a rating or a review. And stick around until the end of the episode, where you’ll hear a goal from one of you, our listeners. (Want to be featured on a future episode? Send a voice memo with a goal you’ve crushed, a goal you’re eyeing, or your best goal-getting tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Jeana: Welcome to We Got Goals, a podcast by asweatlife.com, on which we talk to high achievers about their goals. I'm Jeana Anderson Cohen with me I have Maggie Umberger and Cindy Kuzma.
Cindy: Good morning Jeana.
Maggie: Morning Jeana.
Jeana: Good morning. Maggie, this week you spoke to Adam Whiting. And you actually got to do that interview from home.
Maggie: I did. I talked to Adam who is a yoga instructor. Who I think started teaching in Charlotte, North Carolina. Where I am from. And then has since moved to Australia and then back to North Carolina. But he continues to lead trainings and retreats and experiences across the world. In Bali. In Sri Lanka. In throughout Australia. He's taught at Wanderlust. He teaches in a lot of places. I've always just really respected his classes. I have loved them and I wanted to know a little more about his journey to yoga. How he got to the idea of wanting to teach internationally. Because that is a whole other track of teaching that I don't know a lot about. So I was really excited to get to talk to him and then I was home. So I got to do it in person before taking one of his awesome classes.
Cindy: Oh, that's so great and it sounds like not just what he said but how he said it left an impact on you.
Maggie: It did. And I didn't even say this to him after. So if he listens to this episode he'll be like, "Oh, she didn't tell me that." But I was noticing how mindful he was as he was answering any of the questions that I asked. Or response to something he would say. And thinking about that a little bit more. And even like closing his eyes. Taking time to answer mindfully. I don't do that always. And so I think we don't always love silence and we kind of mumble through things until we get to the point. But he was just really thoughtful about what he wanted to say. And then speaking to that versus talking around the point at all. So I thought that was probably a testament to, in general, his journey toward mindfulness as a teacher. He didn't begin teaching yoga with this meditation center. He actually talks about this in the episode of being very anxious and having anxiety attacks and not really sure of what was going on in his body. He was a musician in New York. Doing that grind of working other jobs. Sitting at a desk while he was trying to have gigs at night and make it as a musician in New York. He was getting beat down through that grind. And so meditation actually, when he was introduced to it just had him sitting with his thoughts more. And he didn't really like that. And so the Asana practice, the movement piece of yoga was what keyed him into a different way of life. Or a different kind of thought pattern. And that he could get out of that anxiousness mode. So the meditation piece came later as I learned. But it really is like a stronghold to his practice and how he teaches now.
Jeana: And Maggie, Adam almost didn't do this interview at all, right? And this isn't the first time this has happened to us. Can you talk a little bit about why he sort of has trouble with the concept of goals?
Maggie: Yeah, he asked me like, "Is it okay if I don't really have goals. If we do this interview?" And I always think any input on how people view goals is beneficial. However, you see it. Whether you notice or, you know, want to kind of go down the path that one of these goal-getters goes down. Or you kind of take that at face value and choose something different. That's what's cool about this podcast is there's so many different viewpoints. And he said that he's worked with brands and at companies where setting goals has been a central piece of the puzzle. And so he understands it. And he knows that there's benefits to setting a ten-year vision and going after it. And then really executing on your one-year goals to make that ten-year vision a reality. But for him, what's he's found along the way is that he is much more in tune with the idea of dharma. Dharma he says is widely known as your calling but really it's more like your duty. Like your purpose. Why are you put on this earth? And you've got to find that. You've got to search for that. And then you've got to do it. And so that's really what leads him. And that seems ambiguous. And that can be scary. Like that's scary for me to think about. Just, oh my god, what is the one reason I'm here on this earth. But that doesn't really scare him. That's more of like what lights him up. And I think when he speaks about that you'll hear just how much of a guiding force that is for and all of the teachers he has learned from and how teaches now.
Jeana: Well what a mindful way to think about goals and we're so excited to hear this interview with Maggie and Adam. Keep those earpods in goal-getters. There's more to this episode at the end. We'll hear from people just like you out there achieving big goals or trying new things or maybe just setting big goals.
Maggie: So I'm here with Adam Whiting. Who I have had the pleasure of taking class from many times before he moved to Australia. He's a yoga instructor traveling around the world teaching yoga. Also a musician. You're many things Adam and I'm really, really excited to get to talk to you about your journey as not just a yoga teacher but I mean really as a teacher. For a lot of different people across the world. It's a pleasure to have you on our podcast. So thank you for joining us.
Adam: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me. It is completely my pleasure.
Maggie: So I did take your class probably first six years ago. Before you moved. And I remember it was like a Wednesday night, 8-9pm or something. And it was a class that I felt like changed my life. I loved it.
Adam: Oh wow.
Maggie: Yeah, it was just like the transitions were so interesting and you had such a unique perspective. And I remember the savasana was like 15 minutes long. And I had never had that before. And I so appreciated it. So before we jump into talking all about goals. I would love for the listeners at home to just get to hear your journey to yoga, just really briefly.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. The story sort of starts in New York City. And I was living there. I moved up there in 2001. And lived up there for a few years. While I was up there I started getting some pretty massive dizzy spells. Some pretty massive headaches. Some random parts of my body, my arm, my face, my legs, were going numb at random times. And I really wasn't sure what was happening. And after taking a tour around several medical professionals, neurologists, doctors, general doctors, MRIs, spinal taps, blood tests. They basically all came to the conclusion that my body was fine. And I was diagnosed with having anxiety disorder and panic attacks. And it didn't fit for me because it wasn't presenting itself as anxiety. Like I wasn't stressed. I wasn't depressed. And in my mind at that point, my knowledge about anxiety disorder was so limited that for me I was sort of in denial. Saying no these are physical symptoms. These are symptoms that I'm getting headaches, I'm getting dizzy. This is physical things. Something has to be physically wrong with me. And it took this really compassionate doctor speaking to me about. Well, she actually made a bargain with me. She's like listen. I understand where you're coming from but let's put you on these anti-anxiety medications for just a little bit. And if your symptoms go away then we can talk, right. Then if you come in believing that this is actually what's going on with you then we can work around different ways to sort of treat the symptoms. So I agreed. And lo and behold she was right. And immediately, I started sort of seeking different ways to address the issues. Medication worked wonderfully for me but I also knew that it wasn't something that I wanted to be reliant on long-term. And I knew that there were other answers out there for me. So I started looking at meditation as the means to heal and to move on from this. And to be completely honest with you, meditation in and of itself actually made it worse. Because I was at that point, just in this state of just. I didn't realize how stressed I was. I didn't realize how just overflowing with anxiety I was. This was just post September 11th and the city was in turmoil. And the world was in turmoil. And to be there during that time. I didn't really realize how deeply those rivers of anxiety were flowing. So when I was asked to sit in the stillness of meditation it actually triggered more anxiety. And it triggered more panic attacks. So I moved away from that. And then finally, you know, a dear friend of mine introduced me to Asana, to a postural yoga. And after several months of just doing postural yoga I could finally start to feel that sort of barbed wire of anxiety, you know, start to unwrap itself from my being. And it was just the most amazing feeling of actually feeling safe in my own skin again. But like I said, not realizing how unsafe I felt. And then I started exploring more meditation with the postural yoga. And immediately when I felt how amazing this practice was. And how much it served to help me and heal me. I knew it was something that I wanted to teach. Pretty immediately, I knew that this was calling out to me to share. So after getting my first yoga teacher training certification. I just jumped into teaching right away. And, you know, I was young and fresh and so passionate about it. It's funny looking back on those first classes those, you know, six, seven, eight years ago. I sort of shake my head a little bit. Of like, oh my god those classes must have been awful. But I think that's sort of true in any sort of medium you care so much about. And as you grow and evolve and mature, your teaching and your skill and your craft evolves and matures. So hopefully, eight years from now when I look back at the classes I'm teaching now I'll be appalled because I've learned that much more in the eight years. So after teaching. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina for a few years teaching. And I got this amazing opportunity to teach in Australia. This wonderful man, teacher, business owner. His name is Duncan Peak, owns Power Living Australia Yoga. And that is a group of nine studios around Australia and New Zealand. And after some sort of back-and-forth and a wonderful trip to Australia. I agreed to move out to Sydney and help coach their teachers and lead their teacher trainings. And travel around to the cities in Australia where they have studios. And teach classes, run workshops, run teacher trainings and, you know, also run retreats in Bali for our teacher trainings. So it was an amazing few years of really quick growth. Really rapid education on my part. And just to be in that part of the world was unbelievable. It's still some of the most beautiful places I've ever been are there. So I lived there for a few years and it was absolutely amazing. But towards the end of those few years, I could feel these little strings pulling my heart back to America. My family's here and we'd always been really, really tight. And in Australia, just being able to come back once a year was amazing but it wasn't quite enough. And there were some issues with family stuff that were really pulling me back to be home. To be closer with family. And it also sort of aligned really beautifully with my desire to be an independent yoga teacher. Working out in Australia was absolutely amazing but I was also working for another brand. And it was an amazing brand but it was a brand that wasn't Adam Whiting or Adam Whiting Yoga. It was another brand. And there's always been a craving inside of my journey and my career to just speak from my own voice and teach my own trainings in the way that I've learned. And the way that I want to share. Without really, it might sound blunt, but without really having to answer to anybody else. So in moving back to America and back to Charlotte. And running my first teacher training here which is an independent Adam Whiting Yoga Teacher Training. It feels amazing to be able to, you know, put my stamp on the certificates. And say that, you know, these students learned from me. And to be able to craft my own calendar and run my own events. And just sort of again, it sounds blunt, but not to have to answer to anybody else. To be able to craft my own future in the way that I want it is really encouraging and I'm really excited about the next few years.
Maggie: I hear probably something that a lot of people would nod their head at and say that they want to be in charge of their own destinies too.
Maggie: And that's a huge, like. I can imagine that feeling, that calling inside you. Cause I feel it in me. And I feel like so many people. Especially now, that there are so many avenues to create your own path. That it isn't the 9-5 structure of jobs as much as it used to be. Especially in the recent years. So I wonder, what for you was some of the helpful guides in pushing along this path. To create it for yourself. Because while I know a lot of people want it. It's another to actually go for it and do it.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. It's I think my journey is not quite a typical journey. My journey started playing the guitar. As you said, I'm a musician. And I started playing the guitar when I was eleven or twelve. And I was only playing it for a couple of years. And just by sort of coincidence and I think we'll talk a little bit more about coincidences later. The guitar teacher that I had was graduating from college. And he said, "Okay. I'm leaving you. I can't teach you anymore. But there's this amazing school. And I want you to go down for a summer session." So and that was University of North Carolina School of the Arts. And it was between my eighth and ninth grade year. And I studied there for a few weeks. And it was my first sort of time away from home. And I remember I was really homesick. And I think I cried a lot on the phone with my mom. It was terrifying being away from home that young for me. But then basically by the time I got back home from the training or the summer session, the guitar teacher at this university had called my mother. And said that he wanted me to study there full-time. So I studied at this university, at this conservatory for seven years. Through high school, through my undergrad. And immediately that's when I moved up to New York City. And when I got to New York was the first time I ever had that real 9-5 job. And, you know, like any musician in New York, especially. You're a musician which means you're unloading trucks. Or you're a waiter. Or you're, you know, working data entry at an insurance agency. Which is what I was doing in a cubicle from 9-5. And I think that working that job was one of the catalysts for one. One of the catalysts for my anxiety disorder and my stress because I was so deeply unhappy there. But because of that was the catalyst for me getting out. You know, and I remember the day that I quit and it was. I remember walking around. It was in downtown New York, in Manhattan. And I remember walking around after I had resigned. And I was sort of like halfway smiling, halfway crying, like halfway like I don't know how I'm going to make a living now. But I had no choice. It was one of those things that comes up with me quite often is I don't have a choice right now. So this is the path that I'm going to walk down. So from there on out, I pretty much just started hoofing it as a musician. I started teaching lessons. I started performing as much as I could. I recorded an album. And I was still unloading trucks at a Crate & Barrel in midtown at the same time. So I was still working jobs to pay my rent. But there was always this sort of, just this hustle, of you've got to do this. Because you don't really have a choice. And then I moved back to Charlotte. And when I moved back to Charlotte from New York. One, the cost of living was significantly less. So I was really surprised that I could make a living as a musician at that point. You know, gigging on the weekends and teaching lessons. And then teaching yoga. And all of a sudden teaching yoga so sort of started to take precedence. And I started teaching more and more classes. And then I started traveling for workshops. And then I started running trainings. And then retreats. And it was sort of this beautiful crescendo where more and more yoga opportunities were coming and the music opportunities were sort of fading away. And what's beautiful now is that they've both sort of come together. Like I'm still playing music, we're running Kirtans. This, you know, traditional chants in yoga. And recording a cd. And it's sort of come together in this beautiful tapestry of whatever this career is. But I think what you said is really important. Is that I think the definition of career is really changing. That the idea of that 9-5 job that my dad had where he worked for Federal Express from out of college until the day he died. Really it still exists but it's not. I don't think it's really the stronghold that it used to be. And now there's sort of this freedom of creating what you want to create for your life, for your job, for your career. And it still terrifies me. Because I'm sitting here. You know, meandering into my late thirties. And really happy with my career and really happy with where everything is right now. But I'm also thinking about retirement funds and do I want to be teaching yoga when I'm in my fifties. Or what's going to happen and how am I going to create this financial stability that. You know, if I did follow the path of my father or my grandfather that they had the retirement funds and the IRAs and all of this stuff set up which I don't have. And part of me gets really terrified about that and then part of me also is just sort of trusting, right? Part of me just sort of thinks. Okay, well here we are. And this is the path that I'm moving through in this lifetime. And, you know, these first few decades I've figured it out. So hopefully I'll continue to figure it out.
Maggie: I think it's a good mentality. I mean if your past is any track record for the future, you will figure it out. So let's talk about big goals. The biggest question that we ask on the podcast is what's one big goal that you've accomplished that you're proud to say that you did and how you got there?
Adam: It's interesting. I knew that you were going to ask this question and I've spent some time these past couple of days sort of hovering around that question. And I really didn't come up with one goal. Because I'm not really the type of person that sort of makes a goal list. Or a vision chart. And, you know, through my teaching and yoga I've interacted with several brands who have put me through that sort of, you know, vision statements and ten-year goals and five-year goals and one-year goals. And I think that's very helpful and I think there's a lot to be said for that. But at the same time even when I was doing it. It wasn't really lighting me up. Like it wasn't inspiring me for the future. For creating something that moved me closer towards whatever those goals are. It actually sort of intimidated me a little bit. So I was like well I don't know. I don't want to set this goal that I'm not sure of this house or this family or this career. Like I want these goals and I want these visions but I also want to be able to flow. And if I didn't have that idea of flow in my life. I wouldn't have ended up in Australia or Bali or back here. And I don't think I'd be where I was right now. So there's something to be said for. In yoga, we call it Sankalpa and Sankalpa means intention. In yoga, we speak towards the word dharma a lot. I think it's softly and steadily turning into a phrase that might be a bit overused these days. Or maybe mistranslated is a better way of saying it. But in dharma, a lot of people think of dharma as being your calling. But the more accurate translation actually means your duty. I think that's a little bit more accurate because it's not just what am I inspired to do. It's like what do I have to do? Like why was I put here on this earth? And I have to with everything that I have and with my entire being and with my entire life I have to find that. I have to find my calling. Why I'm here. It's my duty. And for me, instead of charting out ten-year, five-year, one-year. The way that I've sort of navigated through it is more silence. More meditation. More introspection. And when I sort of back away and take those times of stillness and of meditation. I feel like I'm shedding away the layers of the external thought patterns. Of my doubts and of my worry. And of that constant negative chatter that lives in my head and a lot of other people's heads. To just sort of sit in my center. To sit in my being for a little while. And to actually listen. And to listen to what my heart truly wants. And it's in that listening that my compass sort of sets itself. And what the yogic tradition believes is that once you find that connection to your source. That connection to your calling. And you notice, we could several words here. We could use the word the universe, we could use the word divinity, we could use the word grace. But when you start to notice the essences of that force, that power, that energy resonating in your life. That energy starts to notice you noticing her. And she begins to unfold for you. And what I mean by that. One of my favorite quotes which may or may not be tattooed somewhere on my body in some way. Is an Emerson quote which is, "The world makes way for the man who knows which way he is going." It really resonates with the Vedic knowledge, with the yogic knowledge of once you have discovered your dharma. Your path down this life and you set your sails and you start moving in that direction. The world has a beautiful way of creating the path for you. And it's not going to be the path that you think it is. You know, it's not going to be the route that you think you should be going down. But it is a path that if you trust it, it will lead you to somewhere beyond your wildest expectations. So in goals, I absolutely do have goals. Goals of, you know, in 2019 running some more teacher trainings. Of having my advanced 300-hour training up and running. Of having a tour in Australia. And running retreats in Australia and Bali. And these are sort of, I guess we can consider them short-term, one-year goals. But in my mind I sort of think of them as logistical things to align. So that I can sort of look out past that. And like I said set my sails towards that journey with the knowledge and the expectations that the winds are going to blow me somewhere completely unexpected. But also with the trust that wherever I end up is where I'm supposed to be.
Maggie: I have a two-part question. Or maybe two separate questions.
Maggie: First, do you know what your duty is now?
Adam: Okay, interesting. So good. I'm leading a teacher training here in Charlotte. And we just, and I think a couple weekends ago we just had this conversation. There's this beautiful book. It's called The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope. And it's this modern sort of retelling. Not necessarily retelling but a modern analysis of the Bhagavad Gita. And it talks about all of these characters who've found their calling. And they pursued it. And we had this big conversation with our trainees. And some of them knew and some of them didn't. And some of them were really stressed out that they didn't know. And some of them were really disappointed that they didn't. And some of them weren't sure that it was right. And it was really revealing. And we have a retreat coming up in a couple of weeks where we will go through a process of finding their dharma. Or I don't know that puts a lot of pressure on the retreat. Let's say getting closer to discovering it. In my journey in discovering it and what I've found. And this is through working with an amazing book called the Four Desires written by an amazing yoga teacher named Rod Stryker. He puts you through several writing exercises. In several different manners which pulls away sort of this layered thought of what dharma really is. And I think in Western wrapping we often think of dharma as your career, like your job. And if not that, maybe it's your family. And if not that, maybe it's something along those lines. And when I went through this, these exercises through this book and through working with Rod Stryker. I came upon what he calls your dharma code. And it takes several sort of drafts. And several pages of writing and crossing out and editing and writing and crossing out and editing. And I came upon one, and the person I was working with had me read it out loud. And as soon as I read it out loud. I looked and she looked at me. And she said, "Nope, that's not it." And my feelings were really hurt. And I was like what do you mean, this is it? And she asked me, "Were you editing yourself along the way when you were writing? Were you trying to steer the ship in a different direction? Were you editing along the way?" And I was like "No...yes." And I looked back at what I was writing and I was like totally I was. Because I thought I knew the answer already. And I wasn't leading myself into being vulnerable and open. So we tore it up. We started over again. Rewrote it all over again. And then at the end of this process. She said, "Okay, read it to me again." And the dharma code that I wrote was, "I share my story with the world without hesitation or doubt." And as soon as I said that I saw her face light up. And my face lit up. And she said, "Did you feel that?" And I was like, "I don't know what it was but I felt it." And it was just as soon as I read it, it was this surge of energy running through every cell in my body. You know an energy that we call alignment. And I was like oh, it totally redefined this idea of dharma for me. It's that I've always been a storyteller. As a musician, as a songwriter, as a yoga teacher or a workshop and a training facilitator. It's always been about a story. And sharing a story. And when this dharma code came about saying I share my story with the world without doubt or hesitation. It landed in a way that it didn't define me. In a way of putting boundaries around me. But it defined me in a way of lifting me up and giving myself permission to pursue these dreams with everything that I have. And that's the second teaching of the Bhagavad Gita which we said before. You know, the first teaching is find your dharma. Find why you were put here. Because you being in a body that is breathing and alive right now is nothing short of a miracle. And there's a reason for it. So step one is to find that. And then step number two is to pursue it with everything that you have. With absolutely every cell of your body. And in finding this dharma code. That little, short little sentence. It was, it felt like somebody put a match to my fuse. And all of a sudden just this rocket was about to go off. It felt unreal.
Maggie: Like you could almost get out of your own way.
Adam: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. And I was in my way more than I wasn't. And I still am, right? It still happens where I'm just like tripping over myself. Because my mind and my chatter and my doubt gets in the way. But, you know, all it takes is that, those moments of daily meditation and coming back to that dharma code. Which is like, oh yeah. I get it now.
Maggie: That actually is a good segway to my other piece of the question. Because I'm interested in hearing you talk about the space in between where you went from being anxious by sitting with yourself and trying to meditate. And then to having such solace with meditation and really cherishing that time. How did you find that? Or how did that progression in your life happen?
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. For the first several years of my yoga practice, it was really predominantly a postural yoga practice. It was an Asana practice. And meditation was an off and on thing. You know, I would do meditation when I was in teacher training or when I was studying or when I was on a retreat with my teacher. And it was something that I always knew the benefit of. But never committed to a daily practice. And then several years ago, I made a trip to India during a pilgrimage called the Kumbh Mela. And the Kumbh Mela is every twelve years. It's this pilgrimage at the banks of the Ganges River. In a little town Allahabad. Not that little. But it is the biggest gathering of human beings in the planet. I think it's some 80 million people make the pilgrimage to what's known as the Sangam. And the Sangam is the confluence, the joining together of the Ganges River, the Jamuna River and the mystical Sarasvati River. And every twelve years, it's the alignment of the planets is said that that spot in the planet is the third eye of the planet. And every twelve years, the third eye opens. So if you are lucky enough to bathe yourself in the Ganges at this time. It's said it's so holy that your sins are forgiven, your children's sins are forgiven and your grandchildren's sins are forgiven. It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was one of those pilgrimages that words can't really capture. We were staying, our campgrounds for this pilgrimage was about a kilometer downriver from the actual Kumbh Mela. But there were millions and millions and millions of people in this festival ground, pilgrimage grounds and there were 24-hour chants happening. Fires burning. Just millions and millions of people. And that energy was just rolling down the Ganges. The smoke was rolling down the Ganges. You could hear the chants. And it just sounded, in the middle of the night you would wake up and you would just hear [...]. Of just these chants happening and the energy was palpable. It was amazing. And I was there with Rod Stryker and another great teacher. His teacher, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. And it was there that I really found my meditation practice. We worked a lot with mantra. We worked a lot with different sort of meditation techniques. That finally just sang. You know, it felt like music to me. It felt like a song. And I think, you know, in the years prior when I was working in yoga and trying to find this meditation practice. I couldn't really find it because I didn't really have a teacher. Like I didn't have someone to teach me the technique. You know, it's like trying to do a handstand but you're just alone in your room. And you're just flinging yourself up and down. And there is nobody there to tell you the technique to get into it. Meditation was the same way. So I finally had found a teacher. I had found somebody to lead me into the technique and to guide me and to answer my questions and to relieve my doubt. And so for years after that, I was meditating in this japa mantra practice. Which is a repetition of a mantra. And it's the practice that I've relied on heavily throughout these last several years. And then when I was in Australia I met another amazing yoga teacher, meditation teacher. And his name is Jonni Pollard. And his organization is called One Giant Mind. And his manner and his way of speaking about meditation and teaching mediation is profound in it's simplicity. What he is doing now is he working to strip away all of the pretenses, all of the structure on meditation. That for a lot of people can seem really daunting and really intimidating. And his technique is so simple but it's so refined. So I've started studying with him. And I'm actually right now moving through his teacher training to become a certified meditation teacher in One Giant Mind. And it's this very simple mantra. It's this very simple beautiful process. That you just sit down for twenty minutes twice a day. And right now, that's the practice for me that's having the most profound effects. You know, I will always be a fan of postural yoga. I will always be a fan of moving my body and finding freedom through that movement. But right now, in this sort of journey through the meditation practice which is now spanning a couple decades. Meditation is where I find the clarity, the peace, and the reconnection to myself that I'm so often missing. And in trying to teach others now. In my teacher trainings and in the retreats, the skill and the craft of meditation. It really is learning a new practice and it's creating and cultivating these new habits. But without fail if I can get one of my students to sit down for 30 days straight of meditation, then they're in it. They're in it for life. Because within those 30 days they have noticed such a profound shift in their connection to joy, in their calmness, in their balance, in just their way of being. The way that Jonni Pollack often says it, "You know those points in your life where, you find yourself just happy for no reason. Like you're sitting and watching a sunset. Or you're walking your dog. Or something beautiful happens and just this like really gentle wave of contentment and happiness sort of waves over you, washes over you." He says that's your natural way of being, right? That should not be an anomaly. That should be your regular state of being. And connecting to a meditation practice lets you access that state of being with such ease. And it's been a practice that has saved me several times. And like I've said, I love Asana and I love moving my body and I love sweating. But for me now, the postural yoga practice and the meditation practice are two sides of the same coin that I don't really want to live without either of them.
Maggie: So the last question which you sort of touched on. And I think maybe it wraps up a lot of the things that we're talking about of kind of getting out of your own way. Or being able to sit to really know where you want to go and where you can live out your duty or your dharma. Maybe that kind of comes up in this question of what's a big goal that you see for the future, that you want and why do you want it? Or how do you plan on getting there?
Adam: Yeah. About a year ago. Or it's been a little bit more now. A year and a half to two years ago. I had a pretty catastrophic injury. My L4/L5 disc blew and the extruded disc actually wrapped around one of my spinal nerves. And I lost function of my left leg and I lost feeling in my left leg. And coming from a state of yoga aware and movement where I really define myself as a mover. As a postural yoga practitioner. To have that taken away from me was heartbreaking. I mean the pain was excruciating. But it also forced me to redefine where I stand as a teacher in this practice. And after the surgery. And after the rehab. And reintroducing my body into this movement practice was so enlightening. One in terms of what my body was capable of doing. Or more accurately what it's no longer capable of doing. How to be okay with that. But also looking back over the past ten years of moving my body in Asana and being able to see really clearly with. Hindsight is 20/20. Being able to see really clearly the movements that I shouldn't have been doing. The transitions that I shouldn't have been doing. The fighting my body to try to get deeper mobility. To try to get a deeper forward fold. To try to get the legs behind my head. That, you know, in hindsight really was just ego. It was really me just fighting to prove something that was really pointless in the first place. And what I find now that I'm back on the mat, back in my practice. Is that I'm still so inspired by the movement. I'm still so inspired by the Asana. And it is an exploration and it is a joy to find new ways to move. It's an art. It's just like music. It's like songwriting. It's creating a sequence and moving your body through the sequence. It's dance. It's songwriting. It's poetry. But what I've found is that there needs to be science behind the art. There needs to be knowledge behind the art. And in all bluntness and in all openness. I think that is lacking, that knowledge is lacking. Especially in the new yoga teachers around today. Which we were all there. I was a new yoga teacher. And I was just sort of making it up as I went along. But one of my goals now is to. Number one always keep refining the way that I teach. And to keep building my knowledge base so that my knowledge of anatomy, of the biomechanics of the body, of how bodies are supposed to move and how to keep people safe is always growing. But now on top of that. Now that I've become. I've been teaching teachers how to teach. My goal is to educate yoga teachers in how to keep people safe. In how to try to in as many instances as possible avoid the injuries that we all get so often. I mean, yoga is movement and in movement, there is inherent risk. Right, there is inherent risk in hamstring pulls or wrist injuries or shoulder injuries. Like it's going to happen. And, you know, if you compare yoga to American football the risk level is quite low. But what I see is that the level of injuries in this practice is much higher than it should be. And it's much higher than it should be because I think there are inherent flaws in the structure of how we train and certify teachers. Which is a really long conversation probably for another day. But I think it's really important to, number one allow the people who are so passionate about yoga and who really want to teach the yoga to allow them to teach. But I want to in my trainings guide them to teach in a way that is knowledgeable and educated and is capable of moving people through their practice in a safe and empowering way. So in creating my 200-hour program and in 2019 unveiling my advanced 300-hour program. That's really the goal of it. Number one, get people meditating. And as always learn about the philosophy, the vedas, the mantra, learn about the heart of the yoga. But at the same time heavily immerse them in anatomy, in functional anatomy, in alignment. In getting people to understand what safe movements are. What aren't safe movements. What transitions we shouldn't be combining. And how we can continue to watch this beautiful methodology of yoga grow in the amazing expansive way that it has been growing. But to ensure that it's growing in a mindful and responsible way.
Maggie: So Adam, how can people find you and listen to you through your new cd? And keep up with where you are and where you're going?
Adam: Yeah. So the website is adamwhitingyoga.com and everything on social media. Well, Instagram and Facebook is Adam Whiting Yoga as well. So Adam Whiting Yoga and you can find me anywhere. And the new cd is hopefully coming out sometime in 2019. Fingers crossed. I'm really excited about that. But the partners that I'm working at are touring musicians in Australia. So we have just a little bit to go. So hopefully the stars will align and we'll be able to get that sooner rather than later.
Maggie: Thank you so much for joining me on this podcast, We Got Goals. And it was an honor to have you.
Adam: The pleasure was all mine. Thanks so much.
Cindy: He goal-getters. It's Cindy Kuzma. Just checking in to let you know that we're about to play another goal from one of you, our listeners! If you would like to be featured on an upcoming episode of We Got Goals here on A Sweat Life. You can record a voice memo with a goal you've set, a goal you've achieved, just maybe your dharma, your purpose. Whatever you want to tell us about that's related to goals. Record that, send it to Cindy@aSweatLife.com. And we could feature you on an upcoming episode. Thanks for listening and here is one of your goals.
Britney: I am Britney and I am from Southern Indiana. One goal getting strategy that's worked very well for me is keeping my goals to myself. Which is a little different then what some people do. But I've found that it helps me because it helps me make more attainable goals rather than goals I share on social media that maybe are a little more grandious then they should be or aren't quite as fleshed out as they should be. You know, we're in the age where we want to share everything with everyone on social media. And sometimes in my experience, it's worked best for me to just keep it between me and myself. A really good example was when I was finding my new job. I kept it kind of vague when I talked to people about it. And I just said you know I'm hunting. And I wrote down everything I wanted out of my job. I wanted very specific benefits and I wanted a very specific atmosphere and culture. And I just kind of went after it and found it. And it was nice because I wasn't cluttering it with other people's kind of input. And it was just me and my goal.
Cindy: This podcast is asweatlife.com production and it’s another thing that’s better with friends. So please, share it with yours. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts including on Spotify. And while you’re there if you could leave us a rating or a review we would be so grateful. Special thanks to Jay Mono, for our theme music, to our guest this week, Adam Whiting, to TechNexus for the recording studio, and to Kathy Lai for editing. And of course to you, our listeners.