The Yoga Podcast Ep# 4 Matthew Sweeney - Making Yoga Work For You

You know that episode where you introduce your guest and you do it all wrong? And then he has to stop you -very politely- to make corrections?  Well, this is one of those episodes...

If you cannot see the big photo with the play button you can listen by clicking here. Or listen in I-tunes -  

[Also: please forgive the quality of the Skype audio that gave us a little echo here and there... Bali-NYC/Skype connections can be iffy sometimes]

But the good thing is that Matthew Sweeney is a really cool guy, he was not disappointed and he wanted to correct things because he has two partners on the beautiful yoga place they share in Ubud, in paradise Bali, and so he told me.  

And I left it on the podcast together with my "other" mistake because I think it is good that you hear the spontaneity of how it all went.

I met Matthew through a photograph.  And it is not as woo-woo as it sounds... 

I was in Mysore, it was 2008, and one night, during one of those frequent electricity cuts, my friend Martina and I started looking at his book "Ashtanga Yoga As It Is".

We looked specifically at the advanced postures, we were in a rush -back then- to see how we would be making our bodies into pretzels (NOT!)...

And so, we were looking at photos like, well, pick any of the photos in the sample page below... really, ANY...

Then we would look at each other, Martina and I, over the flickering candle light and go:  

"Noooooo... That is impossible!"

What I love about Matthew is that he works very hard at the practice, at teaching it and at keeping it real.

He has "beef" with the usual teacher trainings when they are impersonal and the teacher does not get to know the students (think those courses that teach more than a hundred at the time).

He also does not believe that one system can be good for "everyone", because he has seen the results...

People leave the practice when it is too rigid, when it won't adjust to the issues and the lifestyles and DNA of each individual person.

And that is sad.

He is also adamant about getting to know personally the people who will go in the world and teach what he teaches.  

His teacher trainings have many levels, but they are not there to annoy anyone, but rather to build a solid relationship, to do it right.

And, because his practice is so extensive and has happened over such a long period of time, he has created his own sequences, which you can download (see about Matthew section at the bottom of the email)

[Click here to start listening]

  • The restaurant he is opening in Bali, at the yoga retreat, and what they will serve (hint: I love dosas)
  • His experience with Pattabhi Jois (who received him before he even got out of the taxi cab)
Matthew's teaching space in Bali
  • The differences between the approaches of Iyengar and Jois
  • What happens we you practice yoga and you want to be "honest" about it
  • Matthew's personal definition of yoga today...  which has to do with what is happening to you now
  • How the issues of food and sex need to be resolved for a proper asana and yoga practice in full to work
  • The different levels of kindness
  • How he has become "uncool" (in certain areas) in front of his 16 year-old daughter
  • How we was inspired to create the posters that eventually became books by Dharma Mittra
  • Matthew's big beef with most yoga teacher trainings
  • How the "moon sequence" that he developed, helps bring some balance (satvic energy) to the extreme (rajasic) practices some of us do
  • How he teaches pranayama and when
  • What is the one thing that took him a long time to understand


Workshops and Retreats 2015 and 2016
Newsletter sign-up for updates from Matthew
DVDs books and posters (available for instant download as well)


Claudia Altucher:        Hello and welcome to the Yoga Podcast.  I am thrilled today to have Matthew Sweeney with me.  Matthew is the director of the Yoga Shala Bali in Ubud.  He is a yoga teacher, a Star Wars fan, and a twice black belt in martial arts.  Matthew has explored and practiced four, or even five I think, of the Ashtanga Yoga series of Sri Jois, who is the founder of Ashtanga Yoga, as well as the teachings of Krishnamacharya, Desikachar, BKS Iyengar, among many other teachers and trains of thoughts. 

                                    He started teaching yoga in 1996; at first Ashtanga Yoga, but as he went on he received thousands of students with unique challenges and he developed his own sequences.  He is the author of two books, Ashtanga Yoga As It Is, and Vinyasa Krama, in which he explores the sequences –

Matthew Sweeney:       I’m sorry.  We might need to interrupt that because I think a couple of things are incorrect there.  I might need to revisit.

Claudia Altucher:        Oh, please, please correct.  Tell me.

Matthew Sweeney:       Okay, just the start because I’m not the director of the Shala Bali here.  There are three shareholders, so if the other shareholders heard that they would probably be a bit upset with me.  So maybe we restart that one.  And the other one is – I remember this, I’ve just got to think about it – the year that I started.  I started teaching in 1992.

Claudia Altucher:        In 1992.  Would you mind if we leave this like this because I think it’s spontaneous and it’s good and then your partners hear how loyal you are, which is a great thing.  I’m sorry about this, that I didn’t have it right.

Matthew Sweeney:       No, no.  It’s not a problem, it’s just I don’t want to get in trouble. 

Claudia Altucher:        Of course.  I understand.  And it’s good to know you started in 1992, then.  I had that – I didn’t get that right so I’m glad you told me.  But I do know, and this perhaps you also have some DVD’s that can be downloaded with two sequences, Vinyasa Unlocked and the Moon Sequence.  Is that right?

Matthew Sweeney:       Yes, that’s correct.

Claudia Altucher:        Yes, and many posters of sequences that are quite impressive.

Matthew Sweeney:       Yes.

Claudia Altucher:        So I didn’t quite get the bio right, but Matthew is here to help which is a great thing.  So Matthew, welcome to the show.  Thank you for coming in.

Matthew Sweeney:       No, thanks for having me. 

Claudia Altucher:        So it’s 6:00 p.m. there in Bali?

Matthew Sweeney:       Yes, that’s right.

Claudia Altucher:        What did you do today?

Matthew Sweeney:       Oh, today we rode around looking for furniture and bits of – tables and chairs for a little Indian Dosa restaurant that we’re starting to create.

Claudia Altucher:        Nice.  Is that together with –

Matthew Sweeney:       A little Indian restaurant called Dosa Corner.

Claudia Altucher:        Very nice.  I love Dosa’s.

Matthew Sweeney:       Yes, I know.  So do I.  I love South Indian food, so yeah we thought we’d – there’s not good South Indian so much here in Bali so we thought we’d make a good little sort of, yeah, chi shop and Tiffin. 

Claudia Altucher:        Oh, how nice.  So this is in – this retreat where you’re teaching, which you share with other partners, and it looks amazing in the photographs.  It looks really nice overlooking rice fields and –

Matthew Sweeney:       Yeah.

Claudia Altucher:        That looks really, really nice.

Matthew Sweeney:       Yeah, it’s lovely.

Claudia Altucher:        And let me ask you, so what’s the weather like there?

Matthew Sweeney:       Ah, well hot and – hot and humid pretty much all year around, though at the moment it’s nice because it’s raining almost every afternoon so it cools off.

Claudia Altucher:        That’s good.  When was the last time you saw the snow?

Matthew Sweeney:       [Laughs]  That’s an odd question.  Oh, a long time ago.  I think the last time I really saw snow was probably in Germany in 1993 or ’94.

Claudia Altucher:        Yeah, because in all your pictures you look like there’s always sunshine around you and you inspire me because I thought if I follow Matthew’s teaching I’ll probably never see snow again, which –

Matthew Sweeney:       I mean I have to say, I’ve actually been talking to my partner, Lauren, about this.  She really wants to have a white Christmas somewhere so we’ll probably go and do the snow in one or two – well, not this Christmas but maybe the Christmas after that.

Claudia Altucher:        Oh, okay.  Well, you know –

Matthew Sweeney:       It’s not that I’m against the snow, it’s just that I love _____ -

Claudia Altucher:        Warm weather.

Matthew Sweeney:       And warm weather. 

Claudia Altucher:        Yeah, me too. 

Matthew Sweeney:       I like the snow.  I like the snow for one week of the year, but that’s all.

Claudia Altucher:        We’re exactly the same.  We have a nor’easter coming in here in New York, so it’s going to start snowing any time, so it’s a lot of fun.  And I have some good news for you.  You’re a big Star Wars fan and I understand this weekend the first trailer or the new movie is coming out.

Matthew Sweeney:       Oh, yeah.  I heard some rumors of this, so yeah, I’m very curious.  I loved the first three movies and the following three, they were okay.  They just scratched the Star Wars funny bone.  So yeah, we’ll see what the next are load are like.

Claudia Altucher:        That’s how you started into yoga, right, martial arts and Star Wars?  What was it about martial arts that got you thinking along these lines?

Matthew Sweeney:       Oh well, I love – I guess I love Bruce Lee and all of that kind of stuff.  I grew up wanting to be, I don’t know –

Claudia Altucher:        A Jedi master.

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11 Reasons Why Women Need To Become Idea Machines Now

We are at a point in history where we have to stop pretending we are not brilliant beings. 
We, as women, need to become idea machines, pronto.  

The power that comes through it is a gift we owe to the world. 

We have to own our talent and admit that we have something to bring to the table. 

We are in a magnificent position to affect change in the world in a feminine way.  There is no winning in playing small anymore.

I said that recently at Fei's podcast

And... Of course....

In true "Idea Machine style"... 

that conversation invited me to elaborate and come up with ten/eleven reasons why it is so important for women (and men, of course) but specifically, in this case, for women, to become idea machines.

Here are them:



Ideas are the currency of the 21st century 

Because the old job and the retirement, or even social security is rather "iffy" at best these days.

We don't exactly know how the money will come, but then again, in the past way of life, we also didn't exactly know, because if we did then we were at a "job", where the number was small and fixed...

And nobody ever generates wealth that way.... Because there is little value added at a fixed, "boring" job.

Thinking of wealth in terms of ideas levels the plain-filed.

Just like the Philharmonic orchestra got more women into their pool of talented musicians once they started auditioning by hearing music BUT with a screen covering the gender.

Just like that screen... ideas allow us to level the field.


I will tell you one thing that disheartened me while reading Lean In... 

Sheryl says that when she gives talks it is always men that raise their hands and ask questions.  Women rarely ask.

I am not saying we should be CEO's, or start companies, or run Facebook's operations, and I am also NOT saying we should be more like men...


I am just saying we need to start raising our hand and speaking up... And asking questions.

In the book "The Confidence Code" (see recommended reading below) I read that studies show that women will apply for a job (or ask a question) only if they feel 100% prepared.

Men will apply for a job if they feel they are 70% prepared!

And ask a question even when they don't have one.

This is something I've been sensing quite a bit, and that is why these days....

I ASK QUESTIONS.  Every time.

[Keep calm image from here]

Even if I don't know know what I am about to ask... 

Just as I did in the last conference where as I lifted my hand I had no idea what I was going to ask.  But I did have a question!

So yes, the question was formulated between the moment the hand started going up and the moment the speaker said: "yes"?

It is evolutionary for us to raise our hands, to ask, to take risks, to be bold.  

Because our voice is missing from the conversation otherwise.

LISTING TEN IDEAS A DAY gets the idea muscle ready, flexible, in good shape, and trained to look for questions, to look for answers, to look for the "gaps".  

Then it is easier to ask questions.


Some people have began listing ideas together with me since the book launch, and many are sharing them (sometimes daily in Twitter)

I heard of someone who sent 10 ideas to a music festival, and now that festival has him help them with their croudsourcing efforts.

I sent 10 ideas to 99Designs because I used their services three times in three months and I had enough experience to know where they could improve.

The CEO Wrote me a letter this week:

Hi. I'm the CEO of 99designs and I just wanted to let you know that we really appreciate your thoughtful feedback.  We actioning items immediately that we can address around better communication/messaging and we are actively recruiting additional customer support representatives to ensure that everyone sees a chat window when needed (peak times sometimes makes chat unavailable to some users).   

Are you happy with your final design for your book cover?  Is there anything else that I could do for you?  Really happy to help in anyway and thanks again for the tough love...  We are always striving to get better and feedback like yours helps make that possible. Kind regards

We had some follow up conversations, I thanked him for listening.

[Tortoise image from here]

He told me that he was going to talk to his staff and share the list with them...

Now, the point of this is to show how it is deceivingly sow...

You may say me: "C'mon, a letter is nothing that is not money!"

And you would be right.  

But this is the way the world works these days.

We send ideas....

We add "real, actionable, and good" value to others and...

It starts with a thank you letter... 

It may continue with an invitation to come over and talk to the staff (as it happened to James with Amazon where they flew him to Seattle)... and then...

Relationships are built, you meet new people, you get new ideas, you get BETTER ideas...

We don't need to see the end result, we just need to list ten ideas today.

It does compound fast...  

For example James got his book Choose Yourself, and his next book "The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth" in hard cover (which Amazon never does for self published authors)  --- BECAUSE OF HIS SENDING OF IDEAS

He was able to make a deal with a list to sell Choose Yourself... in hard cover.

That is now the "POWERFULLY POTENT" part appears... it is a compounding, not a staight line... it is an endless...giggly spiral and curvy up and down-ish sort of gibberish doodle... that is how a trajectory in the real world looks like now.


Last summer I went to Thailand and I was suffering from one of those bursts of depression I get often.

I was shocked when, after taking my pulse, Paul Dallaghan gave me a pranayama prescription that encouraged more solar breathing (right nostril)

I don't want to go into details on that because I believe a prescription is that, something personal, but I did see the "RESULTS"

We as women are more "receptive, lunar, open to communication, wanting to be liked" and on and on

NOT ALL OF US, of course...I don't want to generalize... And I know some women have a lot of sun energy in them...

[Leaving depression image from here]

I am just saying that as per ME, and in my own experience,  my feminine energy is more earth while men's is more sky...

Female is moon (ritual, nurturing)  man is sun (possessive, abrasive)

Of course we all have both.

But I feel, at least in MY CASE, that I need to activate my solar energy a bit more.


It is all nice for me to write my morning pages, journal and do collage, but...

THE 10 IDEAS A DAY engages my mind in a completely different way.

It gets me going in a way that is foreign to my basic nature of silent receptivity and listening and praying...

LISTING TEN IDEAS A DAY connects me with the "how can I help" energy in a more practical, go-get-it... sun way


When coming up with ten ideas a day we will have days in which it simply is impossible.  

Life is incredibly difficult, and things happen.  

As women we tend to want to help, soothe, and give.  

This is a wonderful feminine quality but it is also important to remember that our own soothing, helping ourselves, and giving to ourselves is critical.  

So we may skip a day of doing the ten ideas if the world goes upside down.  But we can take it again the next morning.  Because our ideas are important.

Because our contribution, the way we see the world, our thoughts, translated through a fine-tuned intuition of ideas IS IMPORTANT.

Whenever I find myself upset now-a-days I immediatelly think of listing 10 things I could do.

I start with the most ridiculous ideas (because there are no ridiculous ideas, they are just ideas, I don't judge)...

It is usually through those that I give myself permission to actually get out some pretty good ones...

Ideas can save lives.

Ideas can save our stressed out days.

Ideas can save relationships.

Ideas can help us.  


This is a tricky one for us women...  

There is an imbalance in how we are perceived weather we admit it or not...

A Harvard study had two groups of women take a math test.

The first group had to identify their GENDER before the test, the second one had to identify their ETHNICITY

There were Asian women in both as I understand....

Guess what group did better?

The one that identified themselves as "Asian" rather than "women", because " Asian women are good at math" right?  We all know thaaaaaaaaat..... riiiiigggghttttt?

These stereotypes DO EXIST. Denying them gives us no favors

Acknowledging them is better because then at least we know what we are dealing with.

How does that play out in "confidence"?

Have you ever had an idea and then you said it and then later someone else (perhaps a man) took it and used it as if it was his?

This happened to me not once, but many, many times...

I find it to be my responsibility to point out that that was MY idea... not because I want to be better than but to reassure MYSELF, to regain my own sense of self-confidence.

I find that coming up with ten ideas a day gives me the confidence necessary to trust the words that come out of my mouth.

[Confidence fish photo from here]

By the way, this does not mean I turn into an *as&*.  If I say something that is out of line I still can acknowledge I was wrong. 

I am wrong many times... And I have no problem saying I am sorry.

But being an idea machine helps me identify when I am sure, in my bones, that what I am saying is the right thing ...

And when you have that kind of confidence, when you know that is something is the right thing for you, in your soul, then nobody can stop you.


I laugh when I hear people in Quora ask "how can I know what my life purpose is"?

Nobody can know that...

Since I was born I have had at least 8 different "lives"... 

[Today image from here]

There is no way at 15 I could've said "I will be a writer" forever...

It just does not work that way.  

I am currently a podcast host, and author, a partner at a private publishing firm, a blogger, a yoga teacher, an idea machine....

And with the idea machine, the PURPOSE changes every six months or so....

Because as we start coming with lists of what we are interested on today, our lives change.

When we pay attention to what is igniting our inner fire today, then life has no evolutionary choice but to lead us in the direction of what we feel passionate about... TODAY


Last week I overheard a beautiful young woman with four kids say that she does not push herself enough.  

She had just finished two hours of yoga asana.  

I HAD to ask her: "Do you hear yourself speak?" 

I was not mean, I was encouraging, I think any woman with four kids is a super hero period.

So, speaking of cutting ourselves some slack.  

Let’s remember that most of the time we do everything that men do, feel all the same stresses, and still make the bed and cook breakfast, thank you very much.

Ideas help us recognize our brain power, our dedication, our power of transformation, and the results we bring into the world.

And if you are ever in need of some padding in the back do this:

List your "I DID LIST"  for today

List all the things you DID, TODAY

You WILL BE SHOCKED.  Guaranteed...


When things fall apart, as they do, having a toned idea muscle allows the wisdom of the feminine energy to change perspective, to notice where our strength lies.

Heck! We are showing up for our daily practice!, 

It helps us to reassure ourselves that this, too, shall pass.

And there is nothing like going 10-ideas on a problem...  Because it shows different ways of looking at it, and in doing so we shift our perception


I am married to a strong man and I can see what happens when I play as if I am less, or not as important, and also, what happens when I act from my full power, as an equal, and sometimes even as a wise-teacher. 

It is much more productive and leading to peace and balance when I stand in the fire-center of my power and own it.  

When I speak what I know to be truth, when I say what I mean because I know it in my bones to be truth, when I trust the words that come out of my mouth and yet have the humility to recognize if at some  point they were not so wise.

I don’t know everything, or anything.  

I am not a genius, but as a female I am as powerful -if not more sometimes-  than the male energy.

My energy as female is needed in the world, badly.  

And if we don’t return to nurturing this part of our energy, if we don’t bring to the front the feminine energy that births wisdom we are doomed.

This is the time for all of us as women to bring our voices to the front, to speak up, to let our ideas count, and to do what we know we have to do.

We can elevate the conversation.

We can bring up a notch, from silly gossip ot what really counts...

To how can we own our power?

How can we be more honest with ourselves?

How can we help each other, woman to woman (and men too... I love men)

How can we make sure when a woman is interrupted, that we say "excuse me, I would like for her to finish her thought"

How can we be more kind to one another?

How can we get out of the way of our feminine wisdom?

Listing ten ideas a day seems to be working for me.

11)  FUNNY

A few weeks ago I got another of those bursts of depression.

I bought an audio book... Ellen... "Seriously I'm Kidding"

It made me feel better.

We women are GREAT at a sense of humor because we have to.

I noticed one thing listening to Ellen, she has a phrase going somewhere and suddenly it will turn crazy...

For example: she will say:

No woman is perfect... Except for Penelope Cruz

There is always that twist, that funny turn.

I've never laughed more than when in a group of women who trust each other...

We are witty people...

[Ellen image from here]

This is why I am recommending the book (audio better really), because we can bring our brilliant sense of humor to the world too...

One list I am going to be doing is "sentences that end in a funny twist..."

For example:

Amy Schummer:  "I went to LA last week... Have you ever had your self esteem lowered?"

See the "twist"? We are great at it, and you KNOW IT !


Lean In
Seriously I'm Kidding
Become An Idea Machine
The Confidence Code

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