Friday, December 14, 2007

The Woodlands

So I made it to the party last night. It was a really low-key gathering. Charly, Paige and Julian as well as Larissa were there representing Austin, Texas. Larissa is preparing for a stint on the road with John as a photographer which is very exciting. I saw some other long-time Anusara Yoga acquaintances like Peter Goodman and Becky Klett. Also, it is always fun to see the folks who run the office. Wendy is still there but the rest of the staff I had not met. So that was a treat, since I talk to them on the phone so often. I always like connecting names with faces. I also got a chance to see some of the other Teas-area teachers and students, which was fun.

After the party was over, John and I sat down with a long list of my technical questions which was great for me. Those of you who study with me who attended Noah's workshopwill be happy to know that your teacher IS NOT ON AN OLD OPERATING SYSTEM as Noah suggested! I did Noah's variation of "Crescent Pose" for John and said, "What do we call this?" He said, "Vira One with the heel up off the floor. " So- think back to what I said it was called, scroll back in your memory.... oh yes, there it is.. I said it is called what? Oh, right- "Vira One with the heel off the floor." Then to make matters even more fun, John got up and did "the right" crescent pose and said, "This is what I call crescent pose." There you have it straight from the Boss's mouth and through his body. (As a side note, I am happy to keep learning and happy to admit when I am wrong but well, I wasn't.)

Also, I got some clarity for us all on:

1.The Inner Body - Like I thought- we talk about it inclusively although it has subdivsions infinitely beyond even koshas. But, like I suggested, on a practical level, the inner body is more about our connection with the bigger picture and larger flow.

2. The broadening of the pelvis issue that came up in the last immersion (group 2, session3)-the placement of the femurs determine the breadth of the pelvis not its anterior or posterior tilt. Someone like me for instance with lordosis (anterior pelvic tilt) still has their thighs forward and therefore the floor of the pelvis is closed.

3. The misprint in the TT manual about the muscular energy in the arms in the 9th edition that had me in a snit- The book says that the order is - to the bone, to the periphery and then to the midline- I was not wrong there either, the book is. Typo. The Principles do not change. Period.

4. Also- we had a long talk about classic form vs. variations, vs. "this is just the way I do it" regarding the asana practice. And lo and behold, yet, again, I am not mistaken on this issue of classic form. He took me over to Darren's poster and said, "If we honor the form then when one person says trikonasana, all of us know what that means and how it looks and what the standard is. (see crescent story for case in point.) He said that we have to agree that even though the name is somewhat arbitrary and in many ways so is the form, once we have established the form, we follow it, aspire to it and line ourselves up with it.
Where the hips face is any given pose, for instance, makes it said pose.Forms can be varied but not changed.For instance to have the hips facing down with your legs stepped apart is what make it a high lunge. To have the hips facing open is what makes it parsvakonasana. And on that point I asked him specifically, and we definitely want the hips open in parsvakonasana, not facing down. And the back leg like I said in the Immersion, is doing the action of inner spiral while facing straight ahead- it does not roll in in the form.

So sure we may not have the capacity to achieve optimal but in Anusara Yoga we do not change the form- we learn, through practice and the applications of the UPA how to change ourselves to achieve the form.

(Laura F.- you, if all else fails, he says, can step your feet an inch or so apart from classical form in Vira One, if you feel you must. You have John's permission. But not hip width, mind you!)

5. Taking the head back in Backbends (remember this came up last spring down at my place when Charly and I had a "discussion" about this in class.) Like I said, according to John, we definitely take the head back, once the hyoid bone is moved back. In fact John said, "We call that "backbend neck", Christina." He want on to tell me that he learned that alignment from Mr. Iyengar and that Iyengar gets his head very far back and was never satisfied with John's ability to get his head far enough back. He said, "Watch Iyengar sometime and see how far he goes back eventually."

6. Warm ups- Mandy, you will be happy to know that you can warm a class up with ANYTHING, depending on what you want to achieve. Again, the guideline is "simple, repetitive action, in the sagital plane, in coordination with the breath." But the principle is balance. If a group is uptight, get them grounded, calmed. If they are lethargic, get them moving. I said that I almost always start with Child's Pose, Down Dog and uttanasana to get people inward, to settle the vata and to bring people in relationship with me, my voice and so on. He said, "Yes, that is perfect." So Mandy, you do not have to stand there and make everybody wave their arms for it to be a viable Anusara Yoga class. In fact, he said, "You can even start with Savasana if you do it right and you know why you are doing it."

7. Rules, Guidelines, Principles- here is the thing- Anusara Yoga, as it grows, is getting more guidelines and more things explicated and outlined, but the point is that one has learn,not just to follow its rules, but to think according to its principles. If you know what you are trying to accomplish and why you are implementing different strategies and that inquiry is grounded in helping people experience their intrinsic goodness, then you are pointed in the right direction. He said that he has to write more stuff down and now people are getting more and more dogmatic. And then he looked at me with a big grin and with twinkling eyes and said, "Isn't it great Christina, that it is the same as it always has been, since the first day you met me? The principles do not change."

8. Less is More- he said, particularly with philosophy, PLEASE KEEP IT SIMPLE. If your students are confused, then you attempted too much. Most of the richness that informs "our way" is outside the scope of what we should be attempting to bring to class. He said, "The theme should be easy to relate to and that the best chance anyone has at grasping philosophy is through the body so get them up and moving. " It should take no more than 7 minutes to set themes and chant and even in a 3- hour class, over 15 minutes is indulgence!

After this lovely and stimulating talk, we (me, John, Peter and Larissa) watched a video of the Crossroads concert that John went to in Chicago. Some of the clips were just awesome and inspiring. Then we went to John's house for a visit at John's Puja, which is always kind of like John's show and tell. We found all these pics of John in India in the late 80's and early 90's and that was so much fun to see. There were some very funny pics of John dressed up in ridiculous costumes at Feathered Pipe for a talent night when he was there with George Purvis. (Having been in talent night at Feathered Pipe with George myself-I was actually in George's skit where I worked on the Iyengar Yoga chain gang- I found this particularly fun.)

So- I have some work on my writing project to do. Then we meet up for practice with John at 11:30. Can't wait. More later.


Trip said...

i am glad you are getting the low down for us. It is great to have a representative of the kula with direct access to the information. Thanks for going with so many questions...questions I didn't know I had at times. Your studentship is so solid and inspiring.

-mark franke

Jeremiah Wallace said...

Damn, now I got lottsa questions!

Christina Sell said...

Ask away!

ari said...

Why do I have this mental picture of you unfurling this huge scroll of questions for John? heh.

I googled crescent moon pose, and it comes up more often as the lunge. So it's an honest mistake. To add to the confusion, I've been calling the lunges "variations on anjaneyasana." Time to reprogram my leetle brain.

The warmup answer is immediately relevant too, so thanks for that.

On a much broader note, I am fascinated and inspired by the commitment to classic form. Some methods approach the forms as if they have no inherent value, which is kind of a slippery slope, IMO. At what point does it stop being yoga, then?

Thanks for asking these. It is nice to be only two degrees away from Mr. Friend.

Christina Sell said...

Actually, it was an email scroll but pretty much that's how it went. Yes, the classic pose isse- that is worth another post. At least one!

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