Friday, August 24, 2007

Another great week

I woke up early this morning feeling very happy and dare I say, content? It is hard to know exactly as I am not by nature, the content type. But I think this is a glimpse at what it must be like. Even yesterday when I was asked what I wanted from my practice ,(which is another story all together) I couldn't really say. I am really happy with what my practice is bringing me right now. I am even pleased with what I am bringing to my practice. I am not so much in a state of wanting more from it nor an I in the mood to demand much more of myself right now. My practice is so rich and full as it is. It is just brimming with learning on and off my mat, with great company that I am finding so inspiring, lots of laughter and the slow, steady opening within my body, mind and heart.

I had another great week teaching and connecting with all my yoga students and friends. Anne and I spent some time together yesterday and she came to visit Anusara Yoga Land in the evening. For those of you who do not know my sister, Anne, she is among other things, a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher. (She is also a philosophy professor, a lover of good food and drink, she is funny, smart, humble, an avid student, she is loyal which makes her a great friend and confidante and as Jeri noted on Anne's blog she is also strongly committed to caffeine in the form of high quality coffee. (Except in India where this standard lapsed and became subsumed by the exploration of cold,frothy, frappe-type coffee drinks. It was hot- you could not blame her.)So occasionally I go with her to visit Iyengar Yoga Land (IYL) (Sometimes, like for a month we even go all the way to India to visit IYL) And occasionally, she comes with me to Anusara Yoga Land.

So Thursday nights at YogaYoga have been really fun these last few weeks. I get to teach my 6:00 hatha class in the little room, which is my favorite room in all of YogaYoga to teach in. I love everyone being so close together because, for one thing, it makes my energy management as a teacher so much easier- I do not have to project myself into such a big space. Also, I can see everyone so well, make adjustments more easily and the feeling of us all "being in this together" is just inescapable. Last week we had 30 folks in the room; this week 27! (Maybe it was something I said to those three people...hmmmm...)

One of my first impressions of learning Anusara Yoga was how much fun it was. I remember commenting on that to Desiree and she said, "You know, people can work just as hard when they are laughing and enjoying themselves as they can in a very strict environment." So-obviously there is a balance with it, but consistenyl it becomes obvious to me that the very serious, austere yoga practitioner is just not that happy in our classes. After all, we laugh, tell jokes, make fun of ourselves and see enjoying one another as an essential part of our path in Anusara Yoga. So, if you do not want to play in your practice, best to steer clear of that little room at south studio at 6pm on Thursdays.

The advanced classes were great this week also. I am committed to really helping the people who come to that class move beyond the "Advanced Hatha is a flow class with a handstand thrown in" mentality so we are going to be diving into the deep hip openers, arm balances and back bends beyond urdhva danurasana. (That is if you all keep coming back because we have to build these things over time!) The thing about advanced postures is that they are built from the basic postures. So once you understand the basic postures, once you understand the alignment that informs the basic postures, then approaching the advanced poses becomes way less mysterious and whole lot of- you got it- FUN!

So- that's it for this morning. I am going to the river to kayak with Kelly before enjoying the rest of my "day off". Tomorrow I am teaching arm balances and inversions at NorthWest. Check it out- Please come if you can. If they tell you it is sold out, please come anyway. I rarely believe in "sold out"- I will make space for you. All levels are welcome so long as you have an open to learning and playing, will acknowledge your limits, are willing to laugh at yourself. (However if you have a shoulder injury or something like that, these are not the best classes for you.)


mandy said...

I love small little yoga rooms as well. I must say it has been a challange to teach in that big open Westgate room. It takes a lot of energy to hold the space and even more so to pull people out of the shadowy back corners. I tell them they must come forward so I won't have to whip out my microphone headset, ya know it's not so yogish. I am looking forward to playing some more in your Thursday advanced class. I hold the same vision as you for advanced classes at Yoga Yoga. It's such a great time to learn and play and go deep without feeling obligated to do 20 sun saluations and 10 standing poses and then a pigeon and then maybe if there is time one backbend. Okay this comment is long enough:) Oh tonight I am celebrating my b-day but I am signed up for your arm balance workshop. So hopefully I will get to bed early enough to make it.

Christina Sell said...

Happy Birthday and I hope to see you tomorrow for arm balances!

kathleen said...

Christina, i love you! you are so cute! i am so enjoying reading your blogs, both abroad and domestically. also, i'm re-reading your book, and that is really satisfying for me right now. i can't even tell you HOW EXCITED i am for the prescott and kate will be reppin, the mats side by side and some giggles...i am definitely not afraid to play in my practice!

Christina Sell said...

Kathleen, nice to hear from you! The Prescott workshop will be a blast. Please give Kate my love. It will be great to see you both.

Anne-Marie Bowery said...

IYL was fun, more details to follow on the aia blog. I increasingly think that Iyengar has a tantric reading of the sutras which is why I've had a bit of difficulty grocking the difference...

Laurie talked about santosha having to be something we practice along with all the other things....

love, anzy

Christina Sell said...

I would say tantra-ish. (For those of you reading this, this a larger ongoing discussion obviously.)

And certainly, like we said while in India, Iyengar is a radical in terms of the Sutras due to the heavy asana emphasis and application. He goes where no philosopher before him goes in terms of asserting the body's divine nature. He also is clearly outlining the way that the asana practice is the embodiment of the sutras, the embodiment of philosophy.

And of course, according to Georg Feurstein, hatha yoga is considered a tantric yoga because it uses the body. (But Iyengar himself says his yoga not hatha yoga but is Patanjali Yoga!)

Some of it is splitting hairs, perhaps, but it does come down to a fundamental viewpoint on the body, on incarnation and on practice that is different, largely in flavor and mood.

I think some of the differences come in terms of the tantras and their emphasis on Shaktipat and Grace where as Samkya Yoga/ Patanjali Yoga (they are not exactly the same thing but often considered to be very similiar) is more about self-effort.

And given all that Iyengar said at Guru Purnima, theirs is clearly a path of self-effort, not intitation and shaktipat which marks the tantric traditions, as does an attitide of "optimism." (again, from Fuerstein.)

And again, the fundamental view in Patanjali yoga is "getting off the wheel" and that is not the viewpoint of the tantras. They really are paths of involvement. Think about the Tantric Buddhist vehicle and the Boddhisattva Path. One vows to endlessly serve- to give up one's personal liberation, to stay incarnated, to participate in life ongoingly. It is a very different thing than personal liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Anyway- probably more could be said but that is all from me for now.