In His Own Words

mk5I am raised on a dairy farm in central California,  the youngest of ten children in a conservative Catholic family.  Although I am immersed in church doctrine, it’s not  long before what I am told to believe and what I experience come into conflict.  The result is a life-long search for practical truth.

Serious involvement in yoga begins only after I finish my studies at UCLA and receive serious head injuries in a cycling accident.  As I am being wheeled into the operating room, I realize this is the first time in my life that I have a choice to surrender to something outside myself.

Sometimes it takes a big hit to wake a person up.  This is it.  The doctors feel the result of my injuries is equivalent to a stroke and I fear my body is irreversibly damaged.  When I get out of the hospital, I cry.  I am terrified I will never be the same again and, in retrospect, am glad to report it is true.

In recovery, it becomes very clear that when it comes to head and brain injuries, doctors know how to triage, cut, paste and fix  but “healing” is uncharted territory.  That is left up to me.  In the hospital, several nurses come and go, performing the same routine checks and procedures, but one nurse is different.  She is noticeably brighter.  I know I felt better and am going to heal whenever she is around.  That is the first time I become aware of how profoundly healing it is to be near someone who is lit from within,  and how their presence in and of itself makes a difference.  I aspire to do that too.  A path opens up for me, and is very quickly expedited by getting into yoga.

mk6I work intensively with Ana Forrest for many years.  After the first four years, I then commit to teaching.  When opportunities to instruct began rolling in, I know I have made the right decision.  While I have not gone through any formal training program, I am hired based on the work I have done with Ana, and her reputation.  Other individuals that influence me along the way include Mark Whitwell, Angela Farmer, Roslyn Bruyere and Morris Netherton.

It is through Ana and Roslyn that I learn about Native American ways,  healing, and power animals.  One’s power or medicine animal is the animal nature of that individual.  Consider it an earth-based Myers-Briggs personality test.  An individual can have one or more and the animal nature can be fixed or flexible.  When I begin doing yoga, I am adamant that I am not doing it for spiritual reasons but instead to continue a physical practice that intuitively feels right after my accident.  I quickly learn that engaging my body in the way yoga requires makes the spiritual aspect natural.  This is my first experience of yoga being a portal.  I think,  “If this is the continent I was born on, wouldn’t it make sense that I have an understanding of a spirituality that is unique to this continent?”  Yoga is not of this continent but movement is global and the movement I am drawn to made me feel good, sane, healthy, and comfortable being in my own skin.  I’m a body guy who is farm-raised so an earth-based spirituality appeals to me.  My power animal comes to me in a dream,  and I feel that both the dream and the animal inform what happens when I teach yoga.

More on Maurice…

About Maurice
My Power Animal Dream
FAQs about Swami O’Bryan
About Portal Yoga
FAQs about Portal Yoga
Ten Guiding Principles of Portal Yoga
Press and Media

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