On Monday night at The San Marcos School of Yoga the Level 2 class began a foray into the Niyamas with a brief discussion of sauca, cleanliness or purity. We practiced making good, clean lines of energy, revisiting Vira One, Parsvottanasana from the Beginning Syllabus, parivritta trikonasana from the Level 1 syllabus and dandasana, parivritta balasana, janu sirsasana, pascimottanasana and halasana from the Level 2 syllabus. We have one more week of classes before this class becomes a Level 3 and continues with shoulder stand and more back bending postures. We didn't make it through all of the Niyamas in Level 2 so we will continue with them in Level 3. Obviously, the curriculum is fluid!
The Level 1 class worked on Vira 3 and the actions that inform that crowd-pleasing posture. (not!) We worked with the theme of inner (virya) and outer strength (bala). This class will become a level 1&2, working on the one-legged balancing and revolved standing postures with the addition to some of the seated floor poses and halasana that make up the Level 2 curriculum.
I used the them of "Expanding the Middle" from The Splendor of Recognition for my Tuesday night classes which led into a discussion (me talking, people practicing) of contracting and expanding in the overall movement toward Expansion. This idea is a crucial philosophical underpinning of Anusara Yoga and is embodied in our Universal Principles of Alignment. In the overall task of Expanding one's consciousness through yoga, we are engaged in a series of contractions and expansions. Open to Grace (expand), muscle energy (contract), expanding spiral (expand), contracting spiral (contract), organic energy (expand). Over and over and all at once it goes.
The Tuesday afternoon flow class in Austin was a good strong group of people again. We had a nice big class and focused on a good, sweaty standing pose flow with some fun "dog flipping" and twist and turns.
Speaking of twists and turns I keep thinking that our advanced class should be called "Upside Down and Inside Out." We had a super-fun time practicing back bends and after working toward them for weeks, we finally did sirsasana (headstand) drop-overs to dwipada viparita dandasana to urdhva danurasana to tadasana. (With some help from our friends, of course, but what fun it was. It will not be long before many of the people there will be doing the sequence unassisted, they were that close.) The whole thing with learning advanced poses is to be consistent and patient and to measure your progress incrementally so that you can recognize that you are building toward the advanced poses at each step of the way.
It is interesting to watch people who have been coming to that advanced class for a long time implementing my technical instructions so easily and people new to the class look overwhelmed and frustrated. The only difference between the two states is practice and time. People doing the alignment "easily" now were confused initially. I know the newer people, if they stay with it will start to make sense of the process because all we do over and over again is clarify the basics and keep applying them to harder poses. (Inside Out, Upside Down, remember?) I hate to think of people not sticking with the class because the instructions didn't make sense to them once or twice because I know it just takes time and practice for the "revelation" to happen. Anyway- I mean that consideration as encouragement because really you cannot win if you do not play and you cannot play if you are not there.
It is kind of like how Patanjali defines practice. For something to be considered a practice it must have three components: 1) constancy, done without interruption 2) done over a long period of time and 3) done with devotion. And speaking of practice, it is time for me to roll out my own mat for some forward bends and inversions.