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Yoga Journal's Makeover Blogs : Mark Webb

March 22, 2007

A Lesson in Detachment

Still craving 4 hours of yoga a day, I went to try Sivananda in Grass Valley, California and also practiced in a few other places that didn't work out for me. Jason encouraged me to try new things, a lesson in detachment. It was like he knew I would return to the simplicity and truth of his teaching. Of course, I did.

In other news, I recently found myself back in court. It was another jury trial. This time I was scared, but I knew I had nothing to lose. It was a tough case, unlike the easy one I lost against Wal-mart. This time I won—the jury goes 12-0 for me and my injured client, who had a back fracture from a cab driver allowing his passenger to carelessly open the door into traffic.

The jury gave me what I asked for, but I asked for it in a strange, new, detached way. Is this how a yogi would try a case to a jury in court? I think so.

February 27, 2007

The Lone Yogi

Hara Mara, Mexico is an hour east of my favorite Mexican resort—Puerto Vallarta—but it might as well by in the rainforest. There is no electricity, but an abundance of scorpions and crabs.

And I’m was there without a partner, even though everybody else has one.

Not only is the four hours per day of yoga hard, but then I also have to pretend to have fun and with all these couples over a gourmet vegetarian meal three times a day. This drops me into my sadness and aloneness after a 20 year marriage that failed.

I didn’t know how sad and alone I was till I confronted it head–on like looking down the barrel of the wrong end of a gun.

However, I made it to 10 of 11 sessions and made the best out of it. Believe it or not, I was uplifted by the end and more committed to my yoga practice than ever.

February 12, 2007

Too Soon to Retreat?

After all my searching, finally, a woman named Gail from Unique Yoga Retreats in San Jose took pity on me and suggested I meet a young yoga teacher in San Francisco named Jason

I check my mind at the door and go with her to beginners’ class. Jason seemed like a regular guy, so I went with it. I took his class and then agreed to some private lessons. A few weeks in, I can at least emulate a feeble Downward-Facing Dog.

Jason, it so happens, said he plans on taking his first group on a retreat to Mexico the next month. I asked him if I should go—if I could even fake it. He said I could give it a try.

Inside I feel he is challenging me—or laughing at me—which I don’t know. I think I might be up for the challenge.

January 22, 2007

A Siesta and So Much More

Earlier this year, I took a vacation in Mexico with my 17-year-old daughter. I wandered into a sundries store where I found a book in English: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. I flipped to the back. It describes the life of a high-profile trial lawyer who has a heart attack and almost dies in the middle of a closing argument in a packed courtroom. Then, he decides to leave the law and goes to India to study yoga and meditation. Was this God talking to me?

I read the book in two days, and decided it couldn't be anything else.

When I returned to San Francisco, I read every book and magazine about yoga I could find. I was searching for a group to go to India with, but at the time, India was unbearably hot—120 degrees (not to mention unsanitary.) It became clear that I wouldn't be able go—but I knew I could not wait for the weather to change for my own, personal transformation. Death was perched on my shoulder and I knew it.

That’s when I finally decided to act.

January 05, 2007

Stressed to the Max

I had just finished a nine-week jury trial—the longest and darkest of my career. I represented nine children from all areas of America each of whom suffered serious injuries because they were riding Wal-mart purchased bikes that had front wheel quick releases. In each case, while the bicycles were being ridden, the front wheels spontaneously fell off. The children, all boys ranging from 6-13 years old, were catapulted over the handle bars onto their head, face, and shoulders. Three had claims of permanent brain injuries, the others physical scarring, broken noses, and an on-going fear of bicycles.

I brought this case in San Rafael, CA (Marin County), because Wal-mart’s distributor is in San Rafael, thus providing a local forum. A previous similar case I handled for a boy from Phoenix, AZ was settled out of court just before trial for a confidential figure.

Because of the evidence that this had happened many times, with Wal-mart’s knowledge, I was driven to take this case to trial, believing there was no way I could lose.

Wal-mart had the same thought, apparently, since they hired one of the biggest law firms in Texas and also two large firms in San Francisco, just to fight little old me, a sole practitioner in San Francisco.

I didn’t worry that there were 15 lawyers in court against me—after all, I thought, only one could talk at a time! Cocky? Arrogant? Absolutely.

I thought it would be a three-week, slam-bam-thank-you-Ma'am trial. Wrong!

They managed to stretch it out to nine weeks, draining all of my energy, not to mention my spirit. The case was covered regularly by the press, and mentioned in the national news, including the Today Show, and Good Morning America.

I felt I was winning the case until the end. The jury was against me completely.

The composite force of those A-Team lawyers was too much for the judge and for me. Little did I know that two of the six Texas lawyers were world-class. It was a stake though the heart that left me thinking, "What now?"

It was one of the turning points that eventually led me to yoga.

December 18, 2006

Rocket Fuel for the Soul

I was born in Milan, Italy and came to America on a boat with my parents. We settled in Boston, where I grew up and attended some of the finest schools, including Harvard. After college I realized that San Francisco was where I belonged.

When I was in school I was thin and athletic. I played basketball, and ran track against some of the finest athletes in the world—several of whom went on to the Olympics.

After a few years hiatus post-college, during which I spent some time in Mexico and picked up a passable usage of the Spanish language, I decided on law as a career. I thought it would be something that would hold my interest for a lifetime. Also, I was a frustrated actor and needed an audience that couldn’t leave.

I worked for a year for the late, great Melvin Belli (King of Torts and King of Egos) and then attended Golden Gate Law School. I finished first in my class at Golden Gate Law School, then was accepted as a U. S. Department of Justice Honors Graduate and went to Washington D.C. I was in the organized crime and racketeering program in the hey day of the Mafia. I worked with the FBI to prosecute high level Mafia capos—bigger even than Tony Soprano. We used wiretaps, bugs, and anything else the Attorney General approved.

As interesting as it was working in Washington, I wanted to be in the courtroom, so I returned to San Francisco as a federal prosecutor. This is where the action got heavy! I tried 15 conspiracy cases in a row—mostly large scale international drug dealers as well as the first RICO case ever tried in this area.

In 1981, I began my own law practice and started specializing in taking on big, greedy corporations and stingy insurance companies.

I got married and had two beautiful daughters (who both now practice yoga). Then, about three and a half years ago, crashed and burned in a divorce.

During the latter stages of my marriage, I developed a steady—3-4 times a week Bikram practice, but then popped my knee in Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose). Surgery on my knee was unsuccessful. The doctor said the cartilage was removed, but now I had bone-on-bone! I had to figure out how to walk again—no way was I going to undergo a knee replacement! I swam, lifted weights, rowed, and then, in early 2006, after the most grueling and frustrating jury trial of my life against Wal-mart and an army of lawyers, finally decided that my health had to be first on my list of priorities.

The grace of God led me to Jason and that is how I began to renew the use of my knee. I know now the knee is merely the catalyst for the development of my inner spirit.

All the other stuff was just the beginning. Now, I feel like I am younger (with a bad knee) and I have great hope for the future! I’m almost ready to leave the law profession and become a full time yogi, but still need the money and, after all, how many Downward Dogs can you do in one day?

I should also mention that my Zazen practice has been integral to my life for the past 25 years. I think Zazen and yoga together are a phenomenal combination, which I intend to stay with until I drop. These two arts work like rocket fuel for the soul.

December 13, 2006

Mark's Story

Mark was on top of the world. He had started his own law practice, which allowed him to take on big, greedy corporations and stingy insurance companies. He was married with two beautiful daughters. And he took pride in his consistent yoga practice (3-4 Bikram sessions a week).

Unfortunately, things started looking down when he injured his knee in an enthusiastic attempt at Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose). Surgery to have his cartilage removed&mash;and other attempts at rehabilitation—proved unsuccessful. He had to learn how to walk again. His marriage dissolved. He lost one of the most grueling and frustrating jury trials of his life.

Suddenly, things started to come into perspecitve for Mark. He realized his health had to be his first priority. Mark began working with yoga teacher Jason Crandell as an effort to nurse his knee, and his emotions, back to health. Can a kinder, gentler approach to yoga help him heal? Keep reading to find out.

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