Friday, February 29, 2008

Thursday Evening Classes

As I was driving into Austin yesterday to teach I noticed the sign of one of the homeless men who were begging that said "Keep the Faith". And then I got behind a car on Oltorf that had a bumper sticker that read "Keep the Faith." So I kept with faith as my theme for Thursday nights classes.

One thing that is so cool about being in a well-attended class is that you can look out into a room and see that somehow, you manifested being part of a great community of people. That somehow you have been called into a group of people who all want to practice yoga at 4:30 on Thursday afternoon. To me, this should strengthen our faith because it shows us that not only do we have the interest in practice but we have the strength and support of community backing us up.

At 4:30 we worked as much as we could from the back body in remembrance of a faith and community that backs us up. We focused on the back leg of standing poses, the back body initiating our twists, placing the shoulder blade more firmly on the back, etc. And we played around with a fun pinca mayurasana variation- one arm in pinca and the other arm placed as though it is doing sirsasana 2 and then you add a twist toward the Sirsasana 2 arm. Some people enjoyed it!

At 6:00 we continued on the faith theme (Placing the heart, placing the attention in the heart, placing the shoulder blades around the back of the heart) and worked on shoulder principles, vasisthasana and urdhva danurasana. We had great success with a group variation of parsva utthita hasta padangusthasana. That was fun. So who attends the 6:00 class tends to vary a lot. Sometimes we get beginners in there but last night's group was a very strong group of practitioners so I pushed the Hatha envelope a little bit.

The thing about levels in classes is that there tends to be a big jump between levels. For instance the jump between my hatha class and my advanced class tends to be significant. You might go from a generally standing pose-oriented class to a class where I say things like "kick up to handstand and then..." or "5 urdhva danurasanas and then we go deeper..." So at some point you have to learn how to do all the things that you are expected to know how to do in an advanced class. Last night was one of those classes- where we got a bit off the basic syllabus because the majority of the people in the room were ready. I figure that if no one ever shows you how to approach more advanced poses, then you might never learn how to do them But the cool thing is the advanced postures are not mysterious. They are build from the basics and you can approach them with the same kind of methodical system that we apply to learning from the beginning.

It was a fun class and everyone worked really hard and they didn't even complain about how hot it was. (Of course, when I asked, "Is it too hot?", there was a resounding yes! Such studentship- the no whining posts must be working!!!)

We had lots of double dippers last night- Svetha, Anne, Tabatha, Mandy, Susan, and Susan. It was fun to see everyone again after being gone- double dipping or not!

Okay- a busy day- we have to clean our house, walk the dogs, prepare for the immersion (YIPPEE) and get a practice in. So I am off. Enjoy your day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Faith and Hope

We worked "faithfully" on trikonasana, ardha chandrasana and parsvakonasana last night and took that into standing balance work and also vasisthasana variations at 5:30. We finished the Beginning Series, reduced in numbers but with a few people who completed the Beginning Series Challenge with perfect attendance. The Beginning Series class learned the loops last night and were introduced to ardha halasana so when they continue on in the other classes they will not be shocked to see halasana! Both classes are really making a lot of progress so that is awesome.

Ari commented last night on the relationship between faith and hope. So, I looked them up. (Shocking right? But really- Anusara Yoga Teacher Training tip for free- learn about and use it to look up definitions, synonyms and etymologies and your themes will deepen and so will your vocabulary and understanding of concepts. Plus it is fun!)

HOPE- a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen; desire accompanied by expectation. One of its roots implies "to leap up in expectation."
FAITH- unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence, belief in God. It has etymology similar to confidence and trust.

So in some ways they seem similar but at first perusal it seems that perhaps faith is a higher form of hope. Faith seems to imply a quality of trust in the Divine where as hope seems linked to expectations on a personal level of desire and want. From my days of 12-step recovery I remember a big teaching about expecations being the number one way to ruin one's serenity. Something in the Big Book says something about "serenity being inversely proportional to one's expectations" or something like that. So, as spiritual practioners it seems to me like cultivating faith in the Divine's Plan for us rather than hope for our own desires is the task to which we are called.

But really, no need to mince words. Hope is so important when we are down and feeling that dark cloud of despair, whose primary message seems to be "It has always been like this, it will always be like this." So in those cases hope, faith, etc. must be cultivated so that we have some inner ammunition against what I like to call "The Downward Spiral". When we are up against those inner demons what we call the thing that makes us persevere and tread the road of practice matters very little so long as it helps us stay in place, apply the principles and not quit "5 minutes before the miracle". (another 12-step slogan!)

Interestingly enough, someone who had been very close to my family for many years recently committed suicide. I think that the sad part of this was realizing how hopeless he must have felt and how bleak his life was to him to make such a choice. He was really dealing with a lot of challenges and I know hope had eluded him for a long time. Faith was not his gig either. So an interesting thing to think about this morning. It must be in the air.

May each one of be blessed with both hope and faith. May we have the strength to cultivate ourselves so that our hopes are in alignment with the Divine Plan.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


So we worked more last night with shraddha and faith. To me, when we are discussing faith we are not looking to cultivate some kind of blind allegiance to dogma or doctrine but to develop a sense of faith and trust in ourselves, in our connection to Grace and to find that delicate balance of effort and surrender that is at the foundation of faith. When placing our hearts, when aligning ourselves through the practice of asana, we do need guidelines, methods and outside guidance. We will be lost without boundaries and lost if we are left solely to our own devices and ideas. (Like my teacher said long ago, "Do you really trust your ego so much that you think it alone can get you out of the mess that it put you in?)

And yet, the outside assistance is there to point us to the place of clarity and wisdom within ourselves. We have to trust our help to help us get to the place where we trust ourselves and where we are actually trustworthy. True faith can bear questions, can bear scrutiny, can bear moments of doubt and uncertainty along the way. When our heart is place optimally, then we are able to withstand the ups and downs that come our way in a life of practice.

It was so fun to be back in Austin teaching. Thanks everyone for such a warm welcome back. And thanks to my subs (Kimberly J. and Anne) who covered my classes and also to Kim S. who jumped in to cover the flow class when there was a communication snafu between the pre-arranged subs. Really, it takes a community to take a trip! I am lucky to be part of such a great community of practitioners. It is truly inspiring. In fact, it gives me a lot of faith!

Both classes were full and well attended and the everyone's attention was at an all time high. Just looking out at everyone listening and following instructions was so fabulous. Poses like cobra just kept growing, improving and getting more and more beautiful as the class went on. Both classes worked on back bends. Lisa was back at 4:30 so order has been restored to that universe. Susan, Mike and Susan all double-dipped so that was fun.

Got up early for a "Virtual Classroom" meeting with Carlos Pomeda. I am in his philosophy training course. I enjoyed the homework and the meeting although I am not so sure of the wisdom of the timing now that I have a new deadline on my book. (part of the reason we pushed the date up is to have the book ready by the September Yoga Journal Conference. The featured style for the pre-conference is Anusara Yoga and so we want to launch the book then.) So anyway, my plate is a bit full right now. I have a date for practice in an hour and need to get some writing done before that.

Signing off. Love.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Busy Days

The trip to the dentist was totally non traumatic. It was only a consultation. Thursday I go back for a longer visit to get going on the crown I am going to need. Hopefully, there will be a minimal amount of drilling.

I spend most of the day writing yesterday. Then Kelly and I walked the dogs before class. We had nice full classes last night. It was fun to see everyone again and fun to be teaching again after a two week break from it. We are working on the 20th verse of the Yoga Sutra. "Practice should be pursued with trust, confidence, vigor keen memory and focus..." So this week we are working with the theme of trust and faith- shradda. Shraddha is made up of two parts. The first part of the work "shra" means heart. "ddha" means to place. Faith, then, means to place one's heart. Our faith is really defined by where our heart is placed. Great theme.

The 5:30 class learned sirsasana for the first time, which went remarkably well. They also practiced eka hasta bhujasana, astavakrasana and learned the "wild thing" back bend variation. That class has come a long way. We had a really good time even though it was super hot in the room because mean Christina did not want the air conditioning on. But they are such good students they did not complain. Gotta love that- such discipline of the mouth.

The 7:00 class worked on some standing poses and also some seated forward bends. They made great progress in both. Their standing poses are quite solid now, which is great to see. Seeing how well everyone is doing in both classes really gives me faith in the method and in what regular practice over a long period of time can really yield. At one point I asked Kelly if he had worked with the Level 1 class on cobra a lot because their poses were so improved since I last taught them. Most excellent.

Okay- I have a busy day today- walk the dogs, write, practice asana, study and then teach. Wow. Have a great one wherever you are.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Home Again

So I am home and procrastinating getting going on a huge pile of laundry. What better way to procrastinate than with a blog entry? I had hoped to spend the mroning writing but I have to go ot the dentist. On my way down to Tucson last week I was eating some Smartfood. (Confessions of the yoga teacher- My favorite road trip food is Smart Food popcorn.) It is terrible for my constitution (drying) and it also turns out that it is terrible for my teeth. I bit down on a kernel and broke a tooth. So, I have to go to the dentist today. And I hate dentists.

Okay, not the people who are dentists, obviously- but I do not like what they do. Okay, let's be more clear- I do not like what they have done to me in the past. (I have some pretty painful dental experiences from childhood creating these negative samskaras which to this day make me pretty resistant to dentists.) Although as I write I am thinking that I would probably not like world without dentists either. In fact, that would probably be much worse. Anyway- Candace and Cassie- two of my studnets here in San Marcos- have a father who is dentist who specializes in whimpy patients like myself. So I am going to him today. Perhaps it wil be a corrective experience!

All right then- it is great to be home. Now, the laundry.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Last Day in Tucson

So it has been a while. Friday I left class to go up to Prescott for the night. A friend of mine there is very sick and so I went to visit him. He found out he had throat cancer and so I drove up there for the afternoon and evening to be with him. I got up early Saturday mroning to drive back down to Tucson for the weekend intensive.

I always try to stay for the weekend intensives following trainings like the Master Immersion because after all the talking and intellectual info downlaod that occcurs in trainings, I love to just move and there is no one better to be in an asana class with (in my opinion )than John Friend.

Yesterdays was no excpetion. We had a great backbend practice in the morning with lots of energy and some great nuggest of alignment. He helped me grab my ankles in chakra bandasana which was great and now I have some insight into how to really approach that pose more fully in the future. Chakra bandasna is from dwi pada cipartiat dandasana only you lift your head up off the floor, walk your feet into hands and clasp your ankles. Very deep. He gave some great teachings on the primary and secondary flows and in general it was just fun to be practicing asana and not analyzing the dharma.

I had lunch with a firend of mine down here and then we went into the afgternoon session for awesome forward bends and the deepes svasasna Ihave had the whole trip.

I went home, ate some soup and went to bed. I was pretty tired because I had hardly slept Friday night and then did all of that driving.

Today I will be in the morning session, then grab some lunch and then head to the airport and make my way home to the Great Republic of Texas. It has been a great trip for me. Quite potent on a lot of levels and clarifying as well. I am looking forwward to seeing everyone in classes this week back home. And believe it or not, we have the Immersion this weekend so that is going to be great also. It will be our last weekend of Part Two. Wow. Also Mom and Dad are coming for a brief visit and will arrive in one week. So many fun things.

All right- hopefully I will see many of you in the next two weeks bscasue after that I am gone for another two weeks. It will be fun to catch up with everyone.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Immersion Day Four

John started the morning talking about how the days of the week correspond with different planets according to Vedic Astrology. Sunday is the Sun's Day, Monday is the Moon's Day, Tuesday is Mar's Day, Wednesday is Mercury's Day, Thursday is Jupiter's Day, Friday is Venus' Day and Saturday is Saturn's Day. Since today is Thursday we talked about Jupiter. Jupiter is alos known as Guru, or the heavy one. So we talked a lot about the Guru Principle today. It was fabulous day to reflect on studnetship and on our teachers and on the function of being a teacher.

John attempted to lead a strong backbending class this morning but he kept stopping to download other information- mch of it very useful and relvelant and technically delicious but not conducive to backbending like he had planned. It was kind of an interesting lesson in that he became a student of where the group's energy and needs were and he just followed that instead of going where he originally thought he was going to take us.

Many years ago he told me the secret to being a good teacher. He explained to me that every group has an implicit quesiton and an explicit question. He said that a good teacher is able to find out what the implicit questions of the group is and teach to that. I think that is what he did today. He gave lots of details and demos and really clarified some points and people were feverishly taking notes which makes me think that they were hungry for that type of nuts and bolts information.

John is also stressing that he is changing the way he is thinking about the certificaiton process. He used to say that everyone who entered the process would eventually pass and make it to certification. He flat out said that is no longer the case. He said, "Harvard gets 21,000 applicants a year and accepts less than 10%. We are the Harvard of teacher traning. Not everyone will get in." Direct quote. (So you Immersion people who I am making work really hard- just know that I am being so intense is because you need high SAT scores for this really will thank me for it one day! That is, if you live to tell the tale. Kidding.)

Okay then- I practiced with him and the gang at lunch which was fun. (More backbends!) He told some great stories about his healing process over the last year and the clarity that has come to him since. He is really at a kind of different frequency than I have ever seen him. In one way, he is the same as always, but in another way, his focus is quite different and his interest within the same material seems to have shifted. Same stuff but he is presenting it with a different emphasis. So that is cool to just watch and roll with.

Also, Mira, from the Tucson kula was at our practice for a little while getting some help with her psoas and she told this story of John healing her from Valley Fever last year at the intensive. Really it was a remarkable story. I looked at John and said, "Is anyone writing this stuff down?" 30 years from now, this is the stuff of legends so if anyone is out there with a similiar kind of story make sure you are documenting it. (Or do like me-write a book!) Anyway.

The afternoon kind of sped by with a lecture on Ganesh and some forward bends and some Q&A. One cool thing was my friend James who lives in Tucson came by. He was a student of mine years ago in Prescott and is part of the Yoga Oasis family of practitioners now. It was awesome to see him and hear about the direction that his life is taking. There are so many people I am talking to whose dreams are jsut coming true right now. It is really a most excellent thing to watch.

Had a brief talk with hubby and with Anne and now I must post this so I can do some work before bed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Immersion Day Three

Okay- so here we are finished with Day Three.

John talked a lot this morning about studentship and about the fundamentals of practice. he talked about the author Tom Robbins who always writes at exactly the same time every day. "That way, " he supposedly says, "my muse knows exactly where to find me." This is how regularity of practice can be for us. If we have the ability and the life where we can arrange it so that we practice at the same time and place every day then we create a supportive matrix, almost a conditioned response where we become predisposed to the effects of practice- be it meditation, asana, or writing. (And in a previous post I explained exactly why I am not talking about the project in detail so you will just have to deal with your curiosities and so on. I will give you a hint. I am writing a book about yoga.) But anyway, since the book project deadline has been moved up, this piece about the muse was really inspiring. Writing has to move to the fore front of my practice life for a few months.

We talked also about Gunas and did a nice asana pracice with some fun arm balances woven intosome standing poses. Darren's wife Bronwyn sang a lovely chant to the Divine Mother and then we had a break. I practiced with the gang again at lunch which was a very nice forward bend practice which felt super grounding. I managed to get some time in sirsasana and halasana as well which was awesome.

The afternoon was a long Q&A session and a discussion on the five faces of Hanuman which was illuminating. I got a question of mine answered about the tattvas which was super and we made a foray into the rasas. We practiced some forward bends as a group and ended with a long savasana. A great day.

Rachel, Meg and Maple (Meg's little girl who is quite a sweetie) and I went out to dinner at a great Japanese place we used to go together when we came to workshops in Tucson so that was fun. It is so neat to be with them here. Meg is married and a mom and Rachel is now the owner of Prescott Yoga and married and so on. We have all come so far in our lives over these last 9 years we have known each other. Meg was in college when I met her and now she is this fabulous mother. Crazy. Rachel had just met Dan when I met her and now they have been married several years. And so on. Very cool. Growing up is really fun.

I am tired and my throat feels a little sore which usually indicates that I need to rest.

It is great to be here and to be hearing John's presentation this year and to see where his focus is right now. The biggest teaching of the day for me is this piece about the muse. Make sure your muse knows where to find you. That to me is the point of practice. A friend of mine who is a very experienced meditator said that sadhana is a way to stay put so that the Divine can find you. He said, for isntance, if you are at a shopping mall and you get separated from your party, the thing to do, once you realize that you are lost, is to sit down and stay still so that you can be found. He said meditation is is sitting down so that the Divine who is looking for you can find you. So any disciplined practice- asana, diet, mediation, study, music, art,etc. are those ways that we can reliably stay still so our muse can know where to find us. Love that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Master Immersion

Master Immersion Day One
John started the morning off going over the basics of the History of Yoga—Classical Yoga, Advaita Vedanta and Tantra and we discussed the tattvas at length. We practiced asana some, then he had us discuss the attributes of the Supreme- (Write them down. In fact, as an Anusara Yoga teacher one thing you need to perk your ears up for is any kind of list that comes out of John’s mouth like that. Whenever you hear something like "there are five acts of Shiva" or "there are six attirubutes of the Divine", write it down and memorize it. It is important and at sometime you will need to know it. So the 6 attributes of the Supreme are (In no particular order) are 1. Shiva- Auspicious Goodness, 2. Chit- Self- knowing/Conscious 3. Ananda- Blissful 4. Purna- full perfection 5. Swatantriya- Freedom and 6. Spanda- pulsation.)

Then some more asana, then some talking then some sharing. The asana was so mellow and interspersed within the talking that I decided to stay at lunch to practice. And then John invited me to practice with him and his staff so that was fun. We did some basic backbends and laughed a lot. It was a very chatty practice, but quite enjoyable.

The afternoon started with a Q & A that went about 45 minutes too long for my taste, although some good points were made, I thought. (Some of which came out of my own mouth which I just could not keep shut. Although, what I said was actually a mere fraction of what I wanted to say, so I did exercise some yogic restraint of the mouth!!!) It was a nice afternoon all in all. He had me demo ardha chandrasana for almost 5 minutes. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration-- but seriously, we are talking well over 3 minutes on the same side. That was pretty funny. Mostly, I got to be a prop for his antics which is kind of a fun thing.

Today was fun because Rachel from Prescott was here and Meg is still here and so is Mary Kate. And Mandy Eubanks and Tia from Texas joined our row. So that was great for me to have my yoga worlds and communities join. Carol from BC is here (I tried to get her to come up with us but she was hanging with the other Canadians in the back row!) She and I did get to connect a little after the class about her knee and the many faces of Inner spiral- in pigeon, in janu sirsasana and so on.

I have a lot of thoughts after the first day but mostly they center around a supreme kind of gratitude for the way I was “brought up” in the method and for some of the fantastic learning opportunities I had along the way. I got to really see how important it is, the work we do as teachers of this method, and how necessary it is to present the method clearly and accurately and what a great fortune it is to have small groups and intimate times together like our classes, immersions and practices to sort out the fine details of things. I am now even more committed than I was before to that process because if you do not know the material by the time you get to one of these workshops, it is going to get harder and harder to get the important nuances and details because John is focused in the big picture so much of the time. And he is so good at making that big picture accessible, interesting, inspiring and fresh so we wouldn’t want him to change what he is doing one bit. Our job as teachers and students is to get the details cleared up before getting to him so that we can ride in the wave of the bigger flow when we are with him.

Okay, so enough of all of that for now.

Master Immersion Day Two

John spent the first part of the morning discussing how important it is to have a clear intention when we practice and for our lives. Then he talkjed about studentship and the elements as they realte to adhikara. These kind of talks are right up my alley- I love talking about studentship as you know.

Then we did a nice strong asana practice with 35 sun salutations to celebrate Patrik's birthday and ending in some urdhva danurasanas. Then we did a journal assignment about the elements as they apply to our personal strengths and weaknesses.

I continued the backbending fun with John and his staff at lunch and then the afternoon began with a consideration of the Five Acts of Shiva. (Write them down, remember- they are: 1. Creation 2. Sustenance 3. Dissolution 4. Concelament 5. Revelation) Mansoush who is selling murtis in the Shri-tail Boutique (Anusara-ese for retail is Shri-tail.) told a great sotry about Shiva and his dance of ecstasy and how it related to Patanjali and the different schools of yoga. That story is for another time.

We did a nice forward bending class. At one point we were doing baradvajasana 2 and Tia asked if it was okay if the back hip came up. He said, "Well, if you let the back hip up Christina is going to come over there and write you a ticket." I thought this was hilarious as my teacher was teasing me for my love of technical details in front of 100 people! (And really, someone has to hold down the technical end of things. It might as well be me!) But he did answer exactly how I answered whenever that question last came up when I was teaching that that pose. (Or perhaps we should say that I answered the way he answered...Yes, that is the right relationship.) I think it was maybe at the Carlos weekend? (Anne can you remember when that whole thing came up?)

Anyway, the great thing about that pose is inherent in the form is the grounding of the front hip which tends to lift in other seated twists. So we can, in beginning, let the back hip come up. He agreed with me however, that it can have the action of rooting regardless of form. (Also as a side note in Pune this summer they encouraged us to let that back hip come way up in one class to really get the twist more developed.)

So then we concluded with a consideration of gratitude and offering our efforts back to the source. All in all a great day.

I am going to post this before blogger kicks me off again. Tonight I have a certification video to review before hitting the sack. Oh, I had a meeting with John about my book. We have a deadline in mind so if I am out of pocket a bit over the next few months, that is why. I am going to have to chain myself to my computer! We shaved two months off my timetable. EEKS! (But it will be worth it.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Advanced Intensive Day Three

So-I am a bit tired out tonight. It is a good kind of tired after a most excellent day. We had a long class this morning- it was scheduled to go to 12 but John went until like 1:15. We did a lot of backbends and some fun pinca maryasana variations and handstand things. It was pretty fun. We practiced mandalasana which went very well for me. So mandalasana is when you go from headstand over to dwi pada viparita dandasana. Then keeping your head on the floor, you walk your feet around in a big circle around yourself, thus becoming a mandala. Then after you complete the circling in each direction you go back up to headstand from dwi pada. Which I managed to do by myself which I had only glimpsed for the first time yesterday. So that was fun.

Back when I used to do a lot of backpacking there was this thing called "peak bagging". People would try to do as many peaks as they could and when you climb to the top of a moutain you might say that you "bagged the peak". You might bag peaks over a certain elevation or within a certain geographic region and so on. So the outdoor purists always looked down on peak baggers because they were not in it for the real expereince that the outdoors had to offer, they were just checking something off a list.

So whenever I am able to do a pose for the first time I always think think about this. There is a kind of initial thrill of "getting a pose".

There is also a great sense of empowerment that comes from doing something for the first time. On a very real level, the unknown becomes the known and there is a tremendous learning that one can experience in that process. For isn't that all we are doing with yoga? Encountering those unknown aspects of ourselves and making them known until we know all of ourselves as most truly are?

Or we can just be bagging poses. I see this attitude a lot as well. In fact, that was a lot of the intital thrill of Anusara Yoga for me for many years. Yes, a lot of great heart-oriented things were happening but I was enthralled because I was suddenly able to do all kinds of things I could never do before. Within the first two years of my Ansuara Yoga studies my practice went to a whole new level. It was crazy, really. Then after a while, the learning curve slowed down and there were other things to get interested in and to become aware of. Like, now that I can do all these poses that seemed so elusive for so long, now what? Oh right! Even though you can do scorpion pose or make the clasp in some twist, there is still self observation, repetitious practice of the basics and hours and hours of ongoing refinement.

So- today I did bag another pose which is fun. But tomorrow, that thrill is over and I will have to to add the new pose to the list of what needs work. Funny, isn't it? One should never get bored if they are doing yoga.

One of the funnest thing about the weekend was seeing some people who I have known for a long time. As much as I love practicing asana with John and as inspiring as I find him and as entertaining as he can be, what stood out for me this yrear was the realization that some of us have been doing this together for a long time. My friends Martin and Jordan Kirk who are both ceritifed teachers and who are from Scottsdale mentioned that they have been married nine years. I realized that I knew them before they got married.

My friend Scott Lewiski, a certified teacher from California, was talking about how most people in the room have never had The Inner Harmony Experience. Lots of us used to spend several weeks up at this retreat center in Utah every summer called Inner Harmony. Back then we complained when 50 people were there that it was crowded!

Like I said, some history has started to accumulate and that is kind of neat thing to be in the middle of. I also got to meet some folks I worked with in the certification process who I did not know personally but whose videos I reviewed. So that was fun to meet them in person.

Other great things were that everyone loved my hair. (Thanks, Ana, the best hair person of all time.) So that was kind of a silly reoccuring thing this weekend. But many people knew me with long hair and bangs and so this is different. And several people told me I seemed a lot happier than I used to and you know, it is true. The changes we put into place over the last few years have been great for me in so many ways and it was really neat to get that kind of feedback.

So, the Master Immersion begins tomorrow. That should be fun. Lots of people are staying and a bunch of new people will join in the fun. Yahoo.

Note From Kelly: I am posting this for Christina a day late. She is having internet issues. (not good ones) We are working a system out in case the problems continue. She is after all a slave to the blog...

and now so am I.....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Advanced Intensive Day Two

So another day of fun and frolicking in Anusara Yoga Land. We are discussing the Spanda Karikas over the weekend. It is a nice kind of re-visit. The talks are not in any way as deep as they were in our weekend with Carlos but then again we are not spending near the amount of time on them as we did with Carlos. John did a great translation and commentary of the text and so we are working from that. Well, we will be working more from that tomorrow as they were at the printers until late afternoon today. But ayway, we had a few copies in our small gorups and so that is going to be a great resource.

It has been a pretty fun workshop so far. These advanced intensives are so different from how they used to be. First of all they used to have like 40 people. But mostly, John used to spend a lot of time teaching us how to do all of these poses and now he just calls them out and you just go for it. I do not know what people do who have never been taught how to approach these poses- I do see a few people sitting stuff out. But anyway- its a fun time and the comapny is good. I have had a chance to see a lot of people I haven't seen in a few years. So that is fun.

Here is a scene from the morning practice. I was kind of absorbed in the activity of everything and missed some great phot ops but Meg took these. This is our visit to gandha bherandasana (mispelled probably and spell check in this case will be of not help at all.)

Here we all are...

Here I am going deeper...

And deeper still- Yes, that is me on my hands and on my chin with my feet touching my head. Not too bad for a mornings' work. That, in fact, was one of the early backbends of the morning. We did some crazy variations of things as the morning went on. Most of it was fun.
The other fun thing from today is that I got to have dinner with one of my friends from Prescott College named Mary Kate. She and I were roomates one year post college, in fact. Mary Kate is now in the final stages of Ansuara Yoga certification and will be here for the whole ten days as well. We ate Indian food and caught up on our lives as it has been several years since we spent time together. So that was fun.

Well, time for bed. I have some definite muscle soreness arising.... Rachel gets here on Monday and will have room at a hotel where there is a hot tub. I plan to exploit that connection rather shamelessly. She will understand. She knows me very well.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Advanced Intensive Day One

Day One of the Advanced Intensive is quickly drawing to a close. I am making a cup of tea and looking forward to resting. I got a chance to talk to John a little about my book. I have given him the first tow sections I have completed in rough draft and he liked it so far. He and I will talk more as the week goes on but he said good things about it and was very supportive, which is good because the plan is for him to publish it. Great that his intital feedback was positive. He had some good suggestions about how to improve it and so that is awesome also.

The day was fun. John's teaching was strong but softer and deeper than it has been in other years. Alot less pushing and more focused on the inner experiennce which is great. I got some insight about going from dwipada viaparita dandasana back to sirsasana and so that was good. I need to practice it some more but I have some hope for it that I have not had in the past.

After the afternoon session Noah and I went out to dinner and schemed about some projects to work on together in '09 so that was fun. Look forward to the two of teaming up together on a feew weekends. Maybe some Teacher Training seminars as well.

And now a few scenes from the day:

Here is Darren introducing John.

Closer up. Darren and John.
My friend, Noah.
My new friend Todd from Berlin, formally from Los Angeles.
My friend Jordan Bloom. (he is like 7 feet tall.)
Meg and I were practicing next to one another and we thought it was worthy of note that over a hundred people were in the room doing supta virasana with no props. (However, that woman in the purple pants really needs some! If she were in my class I would so be bringing her a blanket or two!)
This kind of thing is really a sight to see at any advanced intensive. The same hundred or more people are now all doing eka pada raja kapotasana 1. No instructions, no major build up, no "get a strap and get a partner." Just "Okay now, let's do eka pada rajakapotasana- please grab your foot." Crazy. This is just not something you see every day in the average yoga class. Oh, right- its the Anusara Yoga Advanced Intensive...that explains it!
All right- tomorrow I will write more. For now, I must tend to some other things.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Brief Check-in

A brief check in before hitting the road to Tucson. I was going to hang out in Preescott today and have dinner on the ashram and then head down but it has started to snow so I am a bit anxious to get out of the high elevation so I am oging to leave earlier.

Dinner last night with my friend Allison was fantastic. Do you know those people who you have not talked to in a long time but then can sit down and start as though no time has passed? Well, it was one of those dinners.

After that I went back to the ashram and hung out with the gang there for the evening. I said my good byes this morning which was a bit sad and then met my friend Rakini for a cup of tea and a brief email check in at Starbucks. So 28 messages later and a brief blog entry and then I am off.

Like I mentioned yesterday visiting here is a mixed bag for me. I actually do not miss being here at all while I am in Texas. I totally love my life in Texas. I find my students there awesome and interesting, and my work there to be consuming (in a good way). And in my travels I have the good fortune to visit people all over the country and into Canada and make relationships and friendships that nourish and uplift me. I am so in love with all that I am doing and getting to experience that I really never miss what I left in Prescott.

But when I am here these is so much a feeling of familiarity and home and history that I miss it once I am here. I have been involved in Prescott in some way since 1989 when I first came to college here so a lot of my life history is connected to this palce and the people here. Anyway- that is just what that is. Both happy and sad. I come back to teach in April and will probably extend my stay to visit a little. That is the plan at any rate.

Okay then- that is about it for now. John Friend and The Merry Band await at the Advanced Intensive. Time to Light the Sky!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


So I got into Tuscon late on Sunday night, rented a car and drove to the hotel where my friends were staying. My "friends" included Lee, my guru and a small entourage of his students. We met in the hotel lobby and spent all day Monday in Tucson at the Gem and Mineral Show. So many nice things- it is quite a scene. Mostly us devotees just tagged along behind Lee watching him shop and make deals with the different vendors. It was fun day and made even more delightful because my friend and fellow Anusara Yoga teacher, Darren Rhodes met up with us and spent the morning with our group. (He is coming for a Yoga Summer Camp weekend in San MArcos in August- Don't miss it. He is a great person, an awesome yogi, and an excellent teacher. He told me that he is actually going to be featured in Yoga Journal soon!! See all these famous people I am bringing into our midst!!)

So then Monday night we drove up from Prescott which is about 4 hours away to the ashram where I have been for a few days with no access to the internet. (My guru actually believes the internet is the anti-christ and so, well no internet onsite. ) I am enjoying being there and having a different rythm and focus for a while. I love what I do and the way I spendthe majority of my time but the truth is that periods of rest, reflection and change of scenery usually makes me more able to work effectively.

Yesterday I got to write and study most of the day. Then Lee cooked dinner for everyone and gave a talk that evening. He talked a lot about trusting the Universe and about the importance of self-observation. So that was inspiring. It is always a bit weird for me to be here. I was so involved in the daily life of the ashram when I lived here and now, while my inner life is still very active with the teachings I am not involved externally in the same way. One part of me always feels like I have never left, another part feels like I am very far away. Both can be true, I suppose.

After meditation this morning I had a light breakfast, practiced asana and then cooked lunch for the ashram residents. When I lived in Prescott I cooked on the ashram several times a week and so it was fun to be seving again in that way. Then I came into town for a cup of tea with my best friend Rakini who I have known since I Was a Prescott College student in 1989. So that was fun.

Tonight I am meeting my friend Allison for dinner. She was a mentor/fairy god-mother/friend/yoga student/ landlord of Prescott Yoga for many years. She is this amazing woman who offerred me so much support in my time in Prescott that much of what I am able to do in terms of teaching can be directly traced to her guidance, support and cheerleading. Plus she is smart, funny and thinks a lot like I do so we have the funnest time together. I cannot wait to see her.

I am at a Starbucks now catching up on some things before meeting her for dinner.

I am not really in the frame of mind to continue on with my most I started on Sunday so I will table that for another time.

Those of you who enjoyed Craig's presentation at the Immerison and wanted him to have a blog will be sad to know he flatly declined, saying "That will never happen." However, and this is the good news-- he did agree to make a weekly contribution on my blog! So how cool is that? A guest blogger here! So that will be fun.

All right- that is about it. Tomorrow I head down to Tucson- a boring 4 hour drive throught the desert. And then 10 days of yoga with John Friend. I think it is like 55 hours in 10 days or something tremendous like that.

I am staying at a friend of a friend's house down there and I am hoping that the internet thing will be easy. If it is, you will hear from me a lot. If not, well, not!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Immersion Weekend #5

Can you believe it? We are more than half way through the Immersion program? I can believe it because something had really shifted this weekend. I could see people making connections, getting the principles, articulating the philosophy, enjoying one another more fully. During Saturday's asana practice I looked up and everyone was so focused, attentive and in such good form- it was really incredible to see. Like I exclaimed during the practice, everyone looked like Anusara Yoga practitioners. It was very cool.

So we started the weekend with some questions and review about the previous weekend. People asked good, thoughtful, clear questions and as I listened to the group input in repsonse I was really struck by how people are assimliating the principles for themselves and making them their own. So that was fun. We did some experiential analysis of cobra and down dog which proved radically transformational. Just watching the effects of those efforts in the asana class later was stunning.

Then we had a sutra discussion, which was really cool because once people dove into the text and the discussion in their small groups a real momentum took ahold and I couldn't get people to stop talking about Patanjlai's sutras! So that was cool. Like I told the group, the point is, that each one if us is qualified for scriptural study. How you do it, at least in part, is you dive in. Question, think, struggle, suffer and chew on it all and hoefully our understnading keeps gorwing and changing.

Then we had an asana class with some arm balances and some rousing backbends before calling it a day. So that was Saturday. One other inportant thing that came up on Saturday had to do with the question of where the lines between "yoga philosophy" and our own beliefs and teaching yoga all are. Really my opinion is that Anusara Yoga, while not a religion as such, is certainly informed by traditions that are most certainly religious in nature. So we have to walk a kind of razor's edge at times in order to navigate that edge and remain authentic. We need to learn to study a philosphy without feeling that we need to be converted to it and we need to be able to present a philosophy as teachers without feeling that we need to convert anyone to it.

I had hoped to get through more of this but the plane is beginning to board. Stay tuned I will try to continue with some of these thoughts tomorrow. I think my hotel has a wireless connection. Let's hope. Love.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thursday Night, in brief

Double Dippers last night -- Mandy, Tabatha, Anne, Ari, Katherine, Kelly, Susan, Svetha, Mike and Susan. What fun!

At 4:30 we worked on Backbends. After lots of prepratory back bends like bhujangasana, ustrasana and danurasana we did four urdhva danurasana's and then worked on coming up to kneeling and then to standing and then dropping back. So many people are really close to doing this on their own- it is very exciting. It was a fun class with lots of the great energy that back bends and helping one another usually breeds.

At 6:00 we worked on hip openers toward lotus pose. Susan asked me for the sequence. This is one very simliar to what I taught last night that I have on file. Not exactly what I did last night but very close and this one saves me from typing one in this morning. Have at it.
Straight leg lunge (R,L) to uttanasana
Bent leg lunges with leg to floor to AMS
Bent leg lunge, twisted
Pigeon prep
Pigeon prep (Sternum over foot) to AMS
Gomukhasana (Wide feet)
Gomukhasana ( classic pose)
Janu sirsasana
Ardha matsyendrasana
Parsva uppavista konasana
Baddha konasana
Supta padangusthasana 2, prep
Supta padangusthasana 2
Baby cradle
Reclined baby cradle
Triang mukhaikapada pascimottanasana
Parsva sukhasana
Baradvajasana 2

So the main focus is Inner and Outer Spiral while maintaining muscular energy in the shins. Enjoy.

I have a lot to do today- I have my final Immersion preparations for this weekend, lots of business to stuff to square away before being gone, packing and getting organized around what work I am going to take with me to Tucson. I spent a lot of time last night pulling my different maps off of Mapquest and making sure that I have my plane ticket, my rental car info, my hotel arrangements all together. Usually when I travel I make a folder for the trip. (I think I got this from my Mom as I remember lots of these folders in her hands over the years.) So as soon as I make a plan to go somewhere I start a folder. Then as I get things like tickets and reservations for the trip, I just put them in said folder. Then a few days before I leave, I have to organize the folder, get my directions and so forth together and so Istarted that last night. Just one more set of directions I have to track down and a few phone numbers to put in there.

Anyway-I am making paneer today for a lovely feast this evening. I have a new recipe that I am going to try and Kelly is going to make naan. YUM.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Good Morning

We had a fun time in San Marcos last night. The Level 2 class worked on chataranga some (always a favorite), jathara parivartonnasana and on partivritta parsvakonasana.

This weeks sutra is more on practice-
1.13 Practice is the steadfast effort to still the fluctuations of the mind.

One of the ways that Douglas Brooks translates "Citta vritti" is instead of saying "Stilling the mindstuff" he says "harmoniously align." Therefore, yoga is the means by which we harmoniously align ourselves.) The idea is that the choice to stop one thing- to say "no" to the vrittis in this case- is the affirmation of something else. (Yes, to stillness, for instance). At any rate hidden in every "no" is a "yes" and within every "yes" is a "no" and that process of choosing one or the other is a process of yogic alignment. (He spins a better yarn about this than what I am able to do right now, but you get my point, I hope. ) At any rate, practice is the steadfast effort to align ourselves. Not bad, huh?

The beginners learned Outer Spiral last night, continuing with the discussion of spanda and balanced action being that which delivers us to the place of the middle, the place of the heart. So now they have learned the five Unviersal Principles of Alignment. (Five weeks, Five Principles. Like that. We start with Open to Grace, then Muscle Energy, then Organic Energy, then Inner Spiral, then Outer Spiral. Kelly will continue to work with them on putting the principles all together and applying them to new poses over the next two weeks and when I return I will teach the students The Loops. Voila! The Method in Eight Weeks. (Of course, as we all know there is a lifetime of refining, but nothing beats a Beginning Series to learn the basics in an organized, straightforward way.) Hopefully these folks will transition into the other classes and keep going.

Our plan is to do one more Beginning Series this spring and then resume with another one in the fall. We will keep classes going this summer but we may combine some of them and run a reduced session. Kind of depends what folks are planning on for the summer and how many people will be away. I myself am gone a lot this summer so Kelly will be handling a lot of the teaching over the summer.

Okay- lots to do today. Must get on with it. See you guys soon. Love.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Up to my Eyes

I have been up to my eyes in work this week since my return -- getting my book to my editor, preparing for the imersion, packing for my upcoming trip and looking ahead to the intensive up in BC at the end of March as well as researching some ideas that Michelle and I discussed. So I have not been writing on this blog with my usual diligence. And now I find myself a bit too tired to dive into a typical recap of the evening's fun.

One thing that just totally stands out for me about tonight was how nice it was to see my "usual folks" many of whom had read my blog and were just so supportive about the whole injury thing that happened in Corpus. It felt great to be back with "my peeps". The group in Corpus was awesome, I really loved meeting them all, so it is not that. I just had a feeling of "home base" sweep over me tonight in the 6:00 class. (Which, by the way, was another visit to the land of Maricyasana 4- the flavor of the month, so to speak.)

Well, they say the thing about writing is that once you start it often gets easier and so there you have it. I now feel up to the recap-

Monday night at the 5:30 class in San Marcos, we celebrated Bri's birthday with 23 sun salutations, followed by pinca, some standing psoes and urdhva danurasana. She even brought cupcakes (green tea and with pomegranateicing which I thought was very Martha Stewart.) Anyway- the group worked super hard, asked great questions and is defintely moving right a long. At one point I remarked that it is hard to believe that one year ago we started classes here with a beginning series and now most everyone in the group is pushing up to backbend. Very cool.

We worked a lot on cobra in the 7:00 class and on opening the upper back with some work on the chair which was crowd pleasing. (not.) We practiced halasana and took a brief foray into shoulderstand.

This afternoon in Austin we did a back bending flow practice at 4:30 and concluded with some pranayama in honor of the air element. And like I mentioned previously the 6:00 class was another visit to M-4. Alice, who was in last Thursday's class where we pracitced with a similiar sequence, remarked that she had already made progress from the last time. So that is inspiring. I have personally enjoyed having a pose to analyze and explore so the M-4 challenge is quite a lot of fun for me.

All right- so I will be gone for two weeks after this weekend. I have Wednesday night here, Thursday night in Austin, the Immersion in Austin and then I get on a plane and to spend two weeks in Arizona. I am going to visit Prescott and then spend 10 days in Ansuara Yoga land with Juan Amigo. Cannot wait-- First the three-day Advanced Intensive, then a 5-day Master Immersion and then a weekend workshop. Then home for two weeks and then away again for two weeks- Advnaced intensive with John in Costa Rica and then seven days of teaching up in BC.

So Kelly will teach my classes in San Marcos. The lovely Amanda Daly will be subbing my Tuesday 4:30 classes, Kim J. will sub the 6:00 and Anne will teach both classes both Thursdays so everything will be in good hands.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Home Again

(So a warning in advance, the spell check is not working on the post so if you notice more mistakes than usual, just cut me some slack and read on!)

I am home from the weekend in Corpus Christi. I had a really fun time with Michelle and Jen Robinson and the rest of the gang in attendance. It was fun to see some familiar faces from YYTT and also to meet so many new folks. We had a really fun time together and a great turnout for a first time event, I thought. Michelle, of course, was a fabulous hostesss.

We did have a few strange things happen during the weekend, though.

On Friday night we went to get dinner after the session and the first place we went told us they would not seat us. We all kind of stood there a bit dumbfounded thinking, "Is this for real?" We could not remember a time that we had been told, "No, we will not serve you tonight." Certainly we have been told, "Go sit in the bar and wait for an hour" or some variation on that theme but none of us could remember a time in our experience where we were flat out told "No". (And as you can imagine, this was not a group of women who like to be told "No"!)

So we went to another place and we had to wait there but eventually we were seated. Getting service was another thing. We had a waiter who was kind of an amalgamation of Bill and Tedd (with no excellent adventure, mind you) with a little Dumb and Dumber thrown in. On top of that we had a cook (It was one of those Japanese cook-at-the-table-kind of places) who was reasonably hostile and who required a lot more interaction than most of us cared to put out at that point in the evening. He threw fried rice at me, blew steam at Salinda and pretty much hazed each of us in some way throughout his little stint as our "personal chef." Weird. Kind of funny. Kind of painful.

So by the time we even got home from that it was close to midnight. Then the next morning in class, we were practicing standing Baby Cradle. And on the second time through it, Cornelia put her foot down on the floor and remarked that she had lost feeling and movement in the foot. (We later came to find out that she tweaked the peroneal nerve and she will be okay.) But she had to lay down and eventually leave class, go to the hospital and have an MRI, CAT scan and so on since no one knew what the cause of the symptoms were. So that was very exciting. (Not in a good way. ) I was so worried for her and also for the other students and for Michelle. SO that was hard for all of us.

I called John Friend on the break and got a hold of him later in the evening. He was very supportive and he said that in all of his years teaching he has never even heard of anything like that happening in such a basic pose. So I will be doing some research into that. But he was so supportive, helpful and concerned. While we were talking someone came into the room (he was in Seattle) and he said, "I cannot talk now, someone got hurt in Christina's workshop and I have to help her with it." He told me what he thought would help and made sure that I promised to call him the next day and keep him updated about her progress.

Another cool thing is that on the break Anne called from Dallas where she was taking a workshop with her teachers and so I got a chance to talk with them about it and they gave me excellent advice and support. So, while I was so worried about Cornelia there was also this little story playing out that was demonstrating the web of support we really have with our community and how even Senior Teachers from another method in another place would rally to help us in Corpus. That is a what I love about yoga. Also, Jen was a rock during the day with good sane reminders to breathe, trust and so on.

Okay, so that was Saturday. Sunday was a fun day of back bends and inversions and I left feeling like the folks there, so well trained by Michelle, got a taste of the Ansuara Yoga magic so I feel like my job was done well. We are scheming for a way to make an ongoing studies program there so I am looking forward to that. Thanks to Michelle's promotional talent we sold 13 copies of my book and I reigstered 5 people on the spot for Desiree's workshop. (Which is now over 25% full, so if you are waiting to register, don't.)

And on top of it all, Michelle has the best yoga boutique of any studio I have visited so I came home with a new necklace, a great hoodie, a tank top for Kelly and a fabulous outfit for myself. (Evidently, I need a business card that says, "I work for clothes.")
I mostly walked away with a feeling that Corpus Christi is ripe for Ansuara Yoga and that the teachings and principles might really unify the already growing community there. I do have a great feeling about it. Thanks to everyone who made the weekend happen- Michelle for organizing and hosting, all of the the students for participating and for the very tangible web of support that, to me, is Grace made manifest. I can't wait to go to the next level together.

So today, I need to finish the bibliography on the second section of my book and send it off to my editor, who so far has overwhelmingly positive feedback about the project. So, a day on the computer for Christina. Time to get to work.
Here are some pics that Michelle took. Enjoy!