April 10th Update – Ventura, Dog Sprints And Interviews

Another beautiful day in Ventura

A post shared by James ūüéľMusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on

Hey everybody. Greetings from Ventura, California aka “the whitest place on earth.” Sorry I’ve been lax in writing. I’ll do better.

Since I left Atlanta so much has happened.

Our cross-country trip exceeded all expectations. We couldn’t have planned a more beautiful, amazing, once in a lifetime trip. Lowrie and I drove from Atlanta to New Orleans, New Orleans to Fort Worth, Fort Worth to Austin, Austin to Las Cruces, Las Cruces to the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree, Joshua Tree to San Diego, and San Diego to Ventura. We stayed with some phenomenal friends along the way. We drove 3,500 miles.

We saw so many beautiful landscapes and experienced so many unique adventures. I’m going to put together a video of our trip soon.

I’m staying with my friend Kelly in Ventura while I get settled out here. I’ve become friends with Kelly’s two great dogs, Chelsea and Chloe. We go to the park and run sprints together.

Since I arrived on March 11th I’ve hardly been idle. In the mornings I’ve searched for jobs and leveraged my connections for opportunities. I’ve had meetings with some folks in pro audio, advertising, and marketing. It’s going well and I’m hopeful I’ll find a great situation.

After eating all the amazing fat food on the road trip I had to get my exercise discipline back in action. I was getting robust. Thankfully there is a gym and pool at Kelly’s place. Many days I’ll read by the pool, lift some weights, and swim some laps. I’ve found a great $5 yoga class at the Ventura Buddhist Study Center. I’m also focused on giving up sugar. Working on day 3.

That’s it for now. I’ll do better about posting. How are you?

10 Things I’ve Learned From Yoga

Tony Horton, putting all of his lame jokes aside, is a great teacher.¬†Horton introduced me to yoga when I completed¬†P90X back in 2010. Since then I’ve done yoga off and on, finding¬†a YouTube video, and sometimes revisiting Yoga X.¬†After an amazing vacation in Paris in August, I felt a strong urge to get serious about yoga, and to get to some classes. I got a really good mat and found a studio. I’m so glad I did. Since October I’ve practiced anywhere from three to five times a week at Mystic Lotus¬†in Cabbagetown.¬†I’ve fallen in love with this ancient, beneficial and beautiful practice.

Here are 10 things (among many) I’ve learned so far:

1. Yoga benefits all aspects of life

My friend Drew, who teaches at Mystic Lotus, reminds me¬†that, “yoga is a tool that uses the body to train the mind.” Yoga is challenging and requires a lot of mental focus. Balance postures force my mind to hone in on a specific point and to let go of control. Learning to activate specific muscles makes me aware of¬†how¬†I sit and walk. This focus and awareness is useful¬†in all aspects of life. I’m constantly finding way to apply the¬†skills I develop in my practice.

2.Yoga reduces stress, depression and anxiety

The release of tension, anxiety, and worry, which result from yoga, is like nothing else. During practice I can feel my body and mind releasing negative energy that does not serve me. Yoga allows me to move through life with more ease and relaxation. Studies even show that yoga helps with depression and can increase overall feelings of well-being.

3. Yoga is especially helpful for musicians

All that mind training I mentioned? I’ve found I can apply it specifically¬†when playing music. Tension, anxiety, and incorrect breathing such as holding one’s breath, are enemies¬†to a musician. Playing music in a relaxed and aware state, allow the music to flow. The awareness and activation of specific parts of my body, cultivated through yoga, show me where I’m tense, and where I need to relax. I also get more awareness of where my mind is, while playing. Am I hearing the music or merely going through the motions? Yoga has made me a better player.

4. Yoga first thing in the morning is an outstanding way to start the day

I recently completed a 5 week early bird challenge with the extraordinary teacher, Maggie Benoit, at Mystic Lotus. For 5 straight weeks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I woke up at 6 am for the 630 am class. I paid in advance for the series which gave me a lot of accountability to not miss a single class. There are numerous benefits to starting the day with yoga. Your stomach is empty. Your mind is clear. The world is quiet. The day begins with a good intention. The benefit of this challenge was starting my day open, fully awake, and energized.

5. There are so many ways to breathe

Recently I watched Awake¬†and one statement stuck with me. Yogananda remarks, “I don’t see how you Americans are living, you’re all breathing so improperly.” Breathing, and moving with breath, is one of the most important¬†aspects¬†of yoga. From Nadi Shodhana, Lion’s Breath, to Ujayii¬†breathing, all of these exercises release tension and help me relax. That’s just scratching the surface of breathing exercises!

6. Yoga gives an unequaled natural high

Running, biking, and lifting weights, sure they all release endorphins, but nothing equals the natural high from yoga.

7. Good teachers make a big difference

I began my practice at Mystic Lotus because my friend Drew teaches¬†there, and because it’s right in my neighborhood. This isn’t a paid advertisement for the studio! However, I’ve been consistently impressed with each teacher there. Essentially I am a beginner at yoga, so finding a place where I could practice without judgment and fear¬†was crucial. I’ve learned so much from all the teachers there. They earnestly care about my practice and well-being. They make small, but very necessary, adjustments to my poses, and help me find my best expression of the pose. They show me how to press into the earth, grounding myself, and¬†are helping me get more open with each class.

8. Comparison is futile

I love to compete and win but that doesn’t work in yoga. I’m glad I learned early on that comparing myself to the teachers and more advanced yogis doesn’t serve me. It’s ok to want to progress and achieve my fullest expression of a pose, but berating myself because I can’t do Trikonasana¬†without a block, is dumb. My practice is about me and my growth, no one else’s.

9. There are lots of books on yoga

I’ve already got 3 books stacked up and ready to read on yoga.¬†Autobiography of a Yogi, Light on Yoga, and Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.¬†That is only a smidgen of what’s out there.

10. It’s about the journey

Right now my practice is focused on¬†getting open. It will take time to get there and I need to practice patience with myself. I’m early in my practice but I’m so excited to continue this journey. I’m eager to learn poses, to gradually increase my flexibility, and to train my mind to be quiet, and relax.

Have you done yoga? What’s been your experience? Have you thought about doing yoga? What’s stopped you from getting started?