Sunday, January 27, 2008

Eye of the Tiger

So, if I could move, I would write more... Kidding. Although I am pretty darn sore- what from yesterday's back bends and today's, well, everything. So, a few pics and a brief synopsis is what I can accomplish before a hot bath!
I met with John Friend in Austin this morning. He was in town for a wedding, called me up last night to go to dinner with him and Charly but I was already eating and so we made a coffee date for this morning. It was an awesome meeting, full of great inspiration and direction. We talked some about my recent trauma/drama, a lot about my book, our view of samadhi and enlightenment, synchronicity and serendipity and about the future for Teacher Training in Anusara Yoga.
He is very excited about the new changes for the Anusara-Inspired status because the new requirements elevate the standards beyond what the affiliated status used to be. This is good for all of us because when you get that designation it will really have a standard associated with it that you can take pride in and that it hasn't had before now.
So, the meeting was awesome but, of course, I was late for the practice because we were just chatting away. But I was not terribly late and walking in the room was just so fantastic for me. I was really happy to see everyone and so grateful for what we are creating here together. John is coming in '08 so do not worry, we will have official info soon.
I had good time today and from what I could tell so did most people. Eye of the Tiger Practice can be as much a social event for some as a yoga practice. Once people get to their physical edge, they tend to slip into talking and just enjoying one another's company. This is not a criticism, more like a phenomenon I have watched over the years. And really, there we are together for 5- hours in small, sweaty room so it is a totally natural thing to want to chat and just enjoy being with one another. I did have to "Shush" the "trouble makers" in the corner at one point so that we would actually have a hope of getting the soothing effect of forward bends. (Mean Christina...)But even George Purvis told me that when he and John Friend and Sam Dworkis used to do these long 6-hour practices, there was a lot of talking in and amongst the asana practice. So there you have it.
So since it is Dad's 70th birthday I gave the theme about earthly love teaching us about heavenly love. My Dad's favorite scripture is from Paul's letter to Romans where Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. Not war, not sickness, not anything. And so, as some of you know, my Dad used to tell me, during my very turbulent adolescence (when I was not feeling very lovable and I was certainly not acting in a way that was very lovable) that his love for me was like that. There was nothing that could destroy it.
And that is exactly what the philosophies of Anusara Yoga say about Grace. It is ever present. It if full of peace. It exists no matter what is happening as the essence of light itself. It cannot be destroyed. And further more, each domain- the earthly domain and the heavenly domain- teach us about the other. We can understand the heavens through our experience on earth and we can understand this earthly life by learning about the cosmos and its laws. A father's love can teach us about God's love. What a cool thing.
So, Happy Birthday, Dad. Thanks for loving me, teaching me and challenging me to be who I am.
And now the pictures.


Anne-Marie Bowery said...

well, I'm mostly just commenting to comment. EOT deserves at least one comment in 24 hours post happening..

It rocked. there's a lot of mental focus required just to stay at it that long. basically, to do all the poses you know all at one time...

would never do that on my own and that's what's great about calling upon the power of the kula, you do more than you would do on your own.

love, anzy of the black bloomers, purple be present pants.

Christina Sell said...

That is sisterly devotion- I think the 5-hour epic practice deserved at least one comment. (but maybe people are like me and are just too sore to write. Like "I would post if I could move...")

Anyway, the practice is really almost every pose in Light on Yoga, I think. Weird.(Mercifully the awful horse one is not included.) Who in the world came up with this??? (Oh right! John Friend!) and what compels us to even try to do any of it??

Anyway- I was thinking that the practice is not really meant to be Mastered, just engaged. It is meant to serve as a challenge, to cultivate will, fire, and so forth. Just putting oneself in the fray is a huge accomplishment. Really.

Okay then. Love you guys.

Dale said...

Christina said: "I was thinking that the practice is not really meant to be Mastered, just engaged. It is meant to serve as a challenge, to cultivate will, fire, and so forth. Just putting oneself in the fray is a huge accomplishment. Really."

Ahh, a subversive, eh? As usual, you have the heart of it :-). Time for to share some of my personal Zen.

To my thinking, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, and dharana are fingers pointing at the moon. Yoga is, in short, a useful tool or practice, as opposed to an end in itself. To me, the benefit of a particular pose or sequence is not in perfecting the outward form, or even in perfectly applying the inward alignment principles - to me, the essential use of the pose - that which brings me the most benefit - is using the pose to do the work that I intend to do - to make the changes that I intend to make.

The more I have walked this way the past few years, the more profound a difference it has made in my practice. I am no longer controlled by what anyone else thinks is important in the practice, because I now own my practice.

This does not mean that traditional yogic values are not important - for example, now that I have purpose in my practice, being skillful in applying the Universal Principles of Alignment is very important to me, because it allows me to use the practice more effectively - to make the changes that I intend more easily & with less damage to me.

So, how "deeply" I can get into a pose is irrelevent to me per se. What I value is the opportunity that a carefully/skillfully/devotedly/joyfully taken pose affords me to do internal work such as stretch & strengthen the mechanics of the body, tune my breath & awareness & prana, enjoy the sensation of the pose, and of course, lean into the Divine with heart-felt gratitude. So, the pose is a way to do the work that i want to do.

Which inversions I can do is irrelevent to me per se. But inversions are a practice that thrills me :-). So my practice of inversions is partly a tool to bring me fun. And handstand pushups are fun to use to inspire my kid's friends, which is also fun :-). So the pose is about the fun, not the pose itself.

Why is this significant to me? A couple of years ago, I was researching the details of the correct placement of the foot in lotus. There was not much agreement on this, with notable differences of opinion. And then I read in Light on Yoga (I think - it was definitely an Iyengar book) that it could take a decade to make the changes in the knees and ankles that it would take to easily wit in padmasana for long periods. Aha!!!!!!! Epiphany :-). Why in the world would I _want_ to make those changes? I was studying up on this because excess lotus was causing my knees to hurt - more lotus => more knee pain. So why was I hurting my knees? So I could sit in lotus!?!?!?! Why was I damaging myself to do this pose? Anybody? And so I began integrating this apparently difficult to understand principle into my practice - have a reason for the changes that you are making to your body.


There are many masteries. But everything moves. What is the perfect pose? The other day I saw Madeline do a mind-blowing parivrtta ardha chandrasana. Her lines were incredible, you could practically see the energy crackling out of the points of her pose, her heart was open & glowing, and you could see the joy of the practice on her face. Both of us had a wonderful moment - she in her pose, & I in adoration of what I was seeing.

But will that same pose, executed in the same way, be the same amazing thiing in 10 years? No. Everything moves. Madeline will have moved on in spirit, mind, & body. Knowing her, next year this pose will have lost its intensity, & she will be doing half moon on point of something :-).

The slightly obscure point is that as the scuplture changes, the thoughtful sculptor chooses different tools, and uses the tools in different ways.

Indeed, the whole of the purpose of the practice is to "serve as a challenge, to cultivate will, fire, and so forth. Just putting oneself in the fray is a huge accomplishment. Really."

Really :-).

Cheers...............a finger :-)

Christina Sell said...

AMEN. And can I use some of this for my book, Dale?

Dale said...

Sure!! I would be honored :-). Bears some serious editing though. And a bit of "completing the thought".

Christina Sell said...

Not to worry. I have a good editor. How do you think I end up sounding so good?