Sunday, May 18, 2008


So- I had another fun day at home yesterday. Kelly and I made yummy veggie sandwiches for lunch and splurged by eating them with some fantastic Kettle Chips and Ginger Brews. (I know, pretty radical- potato chips and ginger ale! We are pretty wild here in the Sell household.)

Then we walked downtown where there was a Western Swing Festival going on which was kind of fun to see and to listen to. I restrained myself from buying a very nice turquoise necklace that I wanted. (I mean really, ANOTHER necklace?!) It was a really mellow scene with some pretty impressive musicians.

Then I did a long yoga practice while Kelly went on a bike ride.

At the end of my practice, when he returned from riding, Kelly came into the studio to work on his handstand and pinca mayurasana. He does this a few times a week, partly as shoulder therapy for his separated shoulder and also because he got frustrated with not being able to do these poses in class. So anyway- he did a free-balancing pinca mayurasana for the first time yesterday- just kicked up to it without ever touching the wall. It won't be long now before he doesn't even use the wall as a safety net. That was cool to see. And he even balanced a bit in handstand.

One of the things that I have learned in Anusara Yoga and why I love teaching yoga is that I get as excited to see someone else "get something" as I am when I can do something new. I just love it. It always thrills me. (I know, I know, I know, perhaps "thrill" seems like a strong word for such a thing but really, it's the little things that do it for me...) But this is the whole thing about yoga that is fantastic. Through the body we really get to make the unknown known to us in an obvious and immediate way. We use the means that we "know" (our body and our principles) to take us into the unknown (like how in the world to balance in pinca). Then with devoted practice over a long period of time the unknown becomes known to us. We glimpse larger domains of Possiblity.

And so while balancing in pinca mayurasana is an obvious and relatively mundane example, the implications are really huge. Given the teaching of the Tantra, the body is a microcosm of the Absolute. The invitation of self-knowledge and self-study (through asana, relationship, meditation, self-observation, etc.) is that we become more known to our selves and from this knowledge we enter into Self-Knowledge and Self-Study. How many times have you heard some concept or ideal or principle explained and thought to yourself -" Oh, that is just like in yoga when we....(Fill in the blank)." Happens to me all the time. We begin to navigate between domains more skillfully.

My friend DK and I were talking at the Certified Teacher's Gathering and he said that to him the whole thing is about mastery. He told me that if you master one subject, then you realize that the principles of mastery apply to all subjects. He was a professional surfer and he has an exquisite understanding of yoga- not because of his study and practice of yoga (although he has that for sure) but because of his time spent mastering surfing. (DK is an awesome guy and I invited him to come to Darren's workshop since he and Darren are friends so maybe you will meet him then. Oh yes, a commercial- sign up for Darren's workshop. It's gonna be great.)

So anyway- we are not just doing yoga is my point. We are learning principles of mastery through yoga. All right then. More later.


Leanne said...

You really summed it up.

I just finished my two hour backbend practice in Narita- I call it the divine jet lag practice. I didn't have my strap with me so I used a facecloth between my toes to pull my foot for rajakopatasana. That extra one inch seems to let me rotate my shoulder. I just kept thinking "baby steps" one foot after the other and slowly but surely you wind up there.
I wanted to ask you what you think of King Arthurs pose as a building pose towards rajakopatasana? Any other goodies that you recommend in a building sequence towards that pose?
Lots of love from Japan!
Leanne :>)
ps- now I am craving chips...

Christina Sell said...

I have no idea what King Arthur's pose is. Not one clue. Did they do yoga in Camelot? :)

And I think you are talking about Eka pada rajakapotasana, right? (EPRK, as my friend James calls it.) Rajakapotasana is like up dog only bringing your feet to the back of your head.

But anyway- the Divine jet lag practice sounds fun. Maybe we will work on that in our practice here tomorrow and I will post a sequence. Maybe-

In general, I think poses like headstand dropover and dwi pada viparita dandasana and gomukasana all come before EPRK. Taking the chest to the wall and beyond in urdhva is not going to hurt.

The thing is for that pose (and for you in particular because your shoulders have such a strong slope) is that you cannot underestimate the amount of length you need to get in the side body and the amount of lift in the inner body you need to have before you try to take the armbone back. Then you must take the pallete back AND the armbone back before you turn the arm. Very common is that we leave the head behind and focus on the arm. And the work of the legs feeds all of this work in the torso and inner body so the legs have to be super-charged.

I do a lot of deep lunge/anjaneyasana work as prep focusing on getting my upper back to coil and reaching my finger tips to the floor in that pose. Generally speaking if you can reach the floor in that pose without shortening the side body, your upper back is going to be open enough to do EPRK. (And your quads will be prepared.)

Anyway- a few thoughts of the top of my head. Probably there is more involved but this was kind of stream of consciousness.


Leanne said...

I did mean eprk- see divine jet lag! King Arthur is what YJournal called it- it's a lunge at the wall with the back leg doing bekasana against the wall. I then work on side body long and stretching my finder tips towards the floor. I also work my shoulder by streching arm out and plugging the shoulder back in and then pushing my head into my hand. (Forgive me if you cannot picture this..) It is kind of like having someone stablize your back leg for you when there is no one around.

The dwi pada would be good- I didn't think of that one before eprk. Thinking back on my practice today i can see what you mean about the arm and head relationship- there is def. work to do in that department for me- I do tend to leave my head behind.
Great advice.
love Leanne :>)

Dale said...

Congratulations Kelly !!!!!

Pincha was a very transformational pose for me. Headstand, too, but mainly pincha. When I used to get upside down, I completely lost my awareness of my alignment. It was weird, but simply being upside down prevented me from being able to feel the position of my spine &such - especially my spine/sacrum/leg alignment. Apparently having to keep one or both feet on the wall was somehow blocking my kinesthetic awareness.

Then when my pincha got more stable, I got off of the wall, & was able to start feeling my alignment again. Now I feel that I can pretty well control my alignment upside down, & I think that I gained that awareness through working on pincha several times a week.

Anyway, congratulations :-), and I hope that your next step is as satisfying as mine has been :-).

Christina :-)

It makes complete sense to me that you feel joy and satisfaction when your students have an epiphany. that is a characteristic of someone who _is_ a teacher, as opposed to someone who teaches. In my theology, the Divine occasionally gives a teaching gift to someone, & that person eventually begins to identify herself as a teacher - "teacher" becomes part of her identity. So her intellectual and emotional life begins to align with this sense of being a teacher. The theology is a little unclear on this point, but I think that you have this gift.