Saturday, August 30, 2008


This is a picture of and Spirit loving on each other. And the good news is we have years of love to look forward to. YAY! Okay, but let me back up a moment. We picked up Spirit from the vet yesterday and she has a very arthritic joint, not bone cancer, as the vet had feared. So she is going to get some surgery to fuse the joint and that should remedy the pain. (for the low, low price of $850) Kelly is also going to try to learn some doggie acupuncture for her pain management in the mean time. (And she has some drugs to take.)He has a book called Four Paws, Five Elements (How cute is that?) It is about Five Element theory of Chinese Medicine applied to the four-legged. So more on that as it proceeds. Spirit is obviously in some pain but I am happy to know that it is not a systemic illness- she is just an aging athlete!

So we began a new Immersion Cycle today in Austin. We have an all-star cast- Yoga Yoga teachers like Liz Belile, Jenn Wooten, Brienne, Gundega and Caitlin are all in the house. We have folks coming form Lubbock, Tyler, from San Antonio and lots of folks new to the area who have studied Anusara Yoga elsewhere. It is so fun to get started with a new group. We spent a bit of time in "Orientation" and then we did an asana practice. Mark came and gave us an anatomy lesson and we finished up with some pranayama introduction. All in all, a great day.

I came home and Kelly had made a great dinner of rice and vegetables for us. Now I am watching The Sound of Music and Kelly is laughing at me because I keep singing along and I know the words to every song. I guess I am conitnuing to surprise him even after all this time. (Yes, I admit it, I love The Sound of Music. Is that so wrong?)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday Night

Wow- fun times last night. I continued work on the Shiva Shakti theme- in many ways highlighting the Shakti aspect of things. One of the teachings that John gives us in Anusara Yoga regarding Shakti is that if you want to increase or magnify Shakti and your relationship to it, one of the things you can do is to praise Her. By talking about it, by praising it, the Shakti expands.

(This, as a side note, is one of the reasons why we are asked as Anusara Yoga teachers to speak directly about Grace. John teaches us that The Secret, The Source of Anusara's success (and therefore ours as Anusara teachers) is the Shakti and so we must not forget to praise it directly. Like any woman, She responds favorably to praise and adoration. So if you ever want to piss John Friend off in a Teacher Training, ask a question that goes like this: "John, it seems to me that yoga poses are so powerful by themselves that they can transmit the power of Grace and so isn't it really unnecessary to use a heart theme or to speak about Grace directly?" Then watch his face grow red, his eyes bulge and his words come stammering out about why you must use a heart theme if it is to be called Anusara Yoga. But I digress.)

Now here is the cool thing. We, each one of us, is a form that the Shakti has taken and so if we praise ourselves, and praise one another then we are actually praising the Divine, magnifying Her and growing Her through these acts of self-honor and self-acknowledgement. Like Douglas Brooks is so fond of saying, "You are the point the Universe is trying to make."

Extrapolate this a bit further and you can make the point that by making small changes to refine our asana-so that our energy become clearer in its expression and the lines of the poses become more beautiful- is an act of praise. Refining asana is saying, this pose, this effort, this moment matters to me so fully that I am going to make it as beautiful as possible, as Shri as possible. I want my pose to be the highest expression of Shakti that it can be so I am going to straighten my leg, stretch through my finger nails and attend to every detail that I can because I AM the Shakti that has taken this form right here and right now.

So like that. And to that end we worked on back bends at 4:30 with an emphasis on keeping the legs really active and worked with twists at 6:00. Both classes were nice and full of fantastic students My little rant last week about not necessarily wanting the biggest classes but wanting the best students seem to call to me two classes this week of some of the hardest working, most attentive and open students yet! I was so impressed by the quality of studentship in both classes.

Anne, Kelly, Mike, Susan, Jesse, Meg, Susan, Pammy, Terry, Kim S. and Brigitte all double dipped.

Off to the vet for Spirit's x-ray. I hope it is only a broken foot.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spirit's Visit to the Vet

So Spirit went to the vet yesterday who said she may have bone cancer. Tomorrow she goes to get an x-ray to be sure. She might have just broken her paw. They cannot tell without the x-ray. So that is potentially very sad news. Also, Kelly went to the eye doctor yesterday to get his prescription renewed and found out that he will have to get surgery for a detached retina situation. It should be pretty straight forward to fix although, not fun at all and if it were to rupture he could go blind in that eye. But it is not that extreme yet so long as he does not get a sudden blow to the head! (And while I am prone to sarcastic comments I am not so likely to commit an act of outright violence and he has no plans to take up sparring in the next few months so he should be fine on that front.)

I spent an hour on the phone with some Anusara Yoga friends talking about the Teacher Training Curriculum that we are developing. That is an exciting process to be a part of and such a joy because I so respect the other people on the committee. It is really good company and then to get together to brainstorm and create from our shared knowledge and experience is really fantastic.

I also did a lot of prep work for the Immersion yesterday. We start a new group this weekend which I am really excited about. I think our group this time is much smaller which will be a different kind of thing all together. That is a fun thing about the Immersion process- it is the same but different every time. This last cycle was so profound for me that I am just now realizing that we are really and truly starting up again. Crazy.

Then I did a long practice and Kelly and I had dinner and watched part of a movie called Jumper. I really like the movie although it did very little to calm either of us down for sleep!

Okay,now off to practice before coming to Austin today. I set a goal this week to practice 3 hours each day and so far I have made it. Well, one day was 2 1/2 but I figure it still counts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shiva Shakti

So Kelly and I have been talking a lot about the Masculine and Feminine as they relate to relationships between men and women, men and men, women and women, and so on. He has been reading a great book on the topic and sharing some insights with me from his reading and his own musings. The Masculine and the Feminine definitely transcend "man" and "woman" but are not unrelated to gender either. Each of us has both Masculine and feminine inside of us and they must be brought into a dynamic relationship within us for our relationship with ourselves to be healthy and whole. (When we know these aspects fully, we can express them skillfully in our lives. Chit-ananda baby, it is all chit-ananda.)

So also in asana, every pose is a dynamic relationship of Masculine and Feminine. In Anusara Yoga we call the masculine quality Shiva and the feminine quality Shakti. Even our principles exist in a pulsation of these qualities- Open to Grace (Feminine, expanding, open, receptive), Muscle Energy (Masculine, firm, stable, supportive, unwavering) Expanding Spiral (Feminine), Contracting Spiral (Masculine), Organic Energy (Feminine). Like that. And on a side note, in general, while we see the dynamic of Shiva Shakti as equal we are primarily Shakta's --meaning that we worship through celebration of the Shakti- manifestation, form, participation not transcendence and so forth which is why we begin and end in the feminine. But I digress.

So last night I worked with those themes. At 4:30 we did a gentle back bending flow (gentle for me- I talked nice and soft for the most part and kept the poses more basic and fluid and we even had some music on for fun) and then at 6:00 we worked deep in the hips for padmasana and eka pada sirsasana. It was a fun night of really deep work.

Mike, Susan, Anne, Kelly, Meg and Jason all double dipped.

Today I have a curriculum committee conference call, a visit to the vet and a long practice scheduled. I had hoped to get up to Austin for Alice's and Matt's classes this afternoon but I think I am going to stay home. Spirit really hurt her foot and so we want to be home to make sure she does not run around and trash it further. She came home from the pet resort with a little limp but when we got home from being gone all day yesterday she was not putting any weight on it at all. Of course, she was all excited and running around 3-legged which makes me think that is what she did the whole time we were gone which is why she couldn't walk after us being gone for 6 hours. The joys of being owned by a dog...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Morning

I had a really lovely day yesterday.

After my morning meditation, tea and email check-in, I picked up the dogs from the kennel. They seemed to do fine there. So fine, in fact, that they did not even recognize me when I came to get them. They were like, "Oh, its you...I vaguely remember you... Well, I am sniffing over here... Hang on and I 'll be right with you..."

I did a nice long 3-hour practice which was great. I got really deep into my back bends which was fun and had plenty of time for some long forward bends and inversions at the end. Then Kelly came home, we went to Target, made dinner and hung out together for the evening. Kelly is on a break between semesters at school. He has officially made it through his first semester of TCM school, which is pretty exciting.

Here is a fun thing- I was invited to teach at Yoga Month. Evidently some famous yoga teacher who was supposed to teach there had to cancel her attendance and so they asked me- a not so famous but local teacher to teach in her place. I am excited about it so if you can make it, it would be great to see some familiar faces. It looks like a great event and I am pretty psyched to see Austin on the line up of cities hosting a Yoga Month event. (Remember my World Domination plan? Just another milestone along the way...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A weekend at the Oceanside

Kelly and I spent the weekend at Port Aransas this weekend which was really fun. We got up Friday morning and walked the dogs, did some asana and then drove to the coast. We rented a condo, spent a lot of time walking the beach, talking and swimming in the ocean which was super great. We made some great meals and spent a lot of time talking with each other.Kelly and I have both been dealing with a lot of things- individually and in our relationship and getting away together was an awesome chance to get a new perspective on some issues. The weather was better than I had thought it would be. We both got a bit sunburned but nothing too bad.

One funny story is that we were swimming in the ocean and doing our best to boogie board in the not-so-strong surf. I was able to ride a lot more waves than Kelly because of my size. But at one point we were riding these waves and I fell off my board and this wave knocked me in the face and kind of pushed me on my back. I was already kind of squatting low in the water and so I just fell under the water. And then another wave crashed over me. So Kelly gets up to try to "save me" and then we both realize that we are in water that is only about 6 inches deep. Even though the wave knocked me from kneeling to my back I was hardly in any danger although it kind of seemed like I was about to drown for a moment. We laughed really hard when we realized all we had to do was stand up and then when we stood up the water was up to the middle of our shins. There must be a metaphor in that somewhere!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Too Much Fun

Well, its a beautiful sunny morning here today. I am enjoying a lovely cup of black tea with cream and honey while I update this blog.

I had a great meeting with Lori J. last night. Lori is the teacher coordinator at YogaYoga. In the course of our meeting we got to discussing my classes and attendance and so forth. I said, "You know, I do not anticipate that I will ever have the biggest classes at YogaYoga." She looked at me.

I explained, "I have been to some other well-attended classes with twice the number of people in them than come to mine. What I am doing is really different than that and not everyone is going to like it. I ask a lot more out of my students then a lot teachers do. The way I teach will probably not attract the masses. You should know that I do not want the biggest classes, I want the best students." (I happen to think this is already happening, by the way. You guys rock! And best isn't just people who can do fancy poses- it is people who work hard, ask intelligent questions, practice a lot, study a lot and are committed to one another and are actively growing and changing on and off their mats.)

She said agreed that not everyone would like my classes and then added, "You know, we actually did get a complaint about your class. Someone complained that you were having too much fun and so were your students. That level the of joy you demonstrated was inappropirate." There was a silence between the two of us. And then we laughed hysterically. I am thinking, "That is perfect. I am so using that as my theme tonight."

And so I did. At 4: 30 we talked about the role of enjoyment on the tantric path and how that notion turned certain yogic ideals upside down and so we spent a lot of upside down. Handstand variations and arm balances from sirasana 2. Time went much too fast as I had more in mind. One person did walk out but I couldn't really blame her. Meeting me for the first time in advanced class on a night like that is hardly the best introduction.

(And a small rant about advanced classes- they are advanced. Meaning hard. hard work, hard poses. On the YogaYoga schedule they say they are for those with at least 6 months of experience but I completely disagree with this and think they should have a much different set of criteria. And as a general rule, before going to someone's advanced class, check out their normal hatha class to see how that is and to see if you really want or need more. Everyone teacher is different but in my case there is a huge leap between the hatha and advanced in terms of how I teach and what I teach. More on that another time.)

At 6:00 we worked with theme of enjoyment and the heart being the source of enjoyment and so we worked with some shoulder alignment and back bends. It went really well. Lots of people pushed up to urdhva danurasana for the first time and many reports of pain-free ustrasanas came in.

Kim S. Anne, Jeff, (both back from Iyengar Yoga Land and wearing their Anusara Yoga t-shirts), Jesse and Pamela all double dipped.

Now as a side not of accountability I can imagine that this person was trying to say that the level of exuberant glee we were all expressing was distracting from her own inner experience. I can appreciate that. I really can. As teachers we do need to provide a range of experience for our students and the deep introspective classes are as important as the upbeat wild ones. Truly. I get that. But as Karuna said after the 4:30 class yesterday, "Yes, but strict classes where everyone is serious are not so hard to find."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We had a lot of fun last night in classes. Gary Kraftsow is in town teaching and so my 4:30 flow class was held in the little kundalini room. I have been enjoying playing music in my flow classes lately and since enjoyment and fun were my themes for the evening I went with the music thing. The class was a pretty tough sequence of standing poses and arm balances which, coupled with the fact I could not get the AC to work, made for a pretty sweaty practice. The class, I thought, was really great, although not a model Anusara Yoga class. I emphasized fun and enjoyment over and above presenting the alignment in a linear way or demanding a lot of precise form or even making a lot of adjustments.

At 6:00 we had a back bending extravaganza- we used a lot of the same principles we worked with in Thursday nights advanced class. We actually made it to handstand to urdhva danurasana which was really fun. A few people made it back over to handstand with help. So we are setting the stage for viparita chakrasana. That will be something to look forward to.

I chose the theme of fun because it is a theme in my life right now. I am a reasonably intense person, if you hadn't noticed. While I am casual about a few things- like housekeeping and yard work- the list of things I feel casual about is actually kind of short. For years I thought all this yoga and meditation would mellow me out, make me laid back and able to just go with the flow and that sort of thing. Well, I have been practicing a while now and it just hasn't happened. I am who I am.

There are a lot of great things about being intense. I have accomplished some awesome things like writing a book (or two), I have met a lot of fabulous people, I ahve travelled to some neat places and I have even made a fair amount of progress in my asana practice over the years because of it. But there are also some pitfalls to the intensity. I can forget to enjoy myself. I can get so intense about certain practices that I can become somewhat austere. And then the pleasure seeps out of life. And then life is just not the same proposition any more. On many levels.

So I have been focusing on "upping the pleasure" and "upping the fun quotient" lately. In my asana practice, in my diet, in my marriage and so, of course, in my teaching. Now, I know many of you who were there last night are thinking- "that is her idea of fun?" Well, yes, in fact it is. (I told you. I am who I am.)

And the whole thing with Anusara Yoga philosophy is that pleasure is a part of our path. Lose the pleasure, lose the enjoyment and you are doing another kind of yoga altogether.

Terry, Meg, Jesse, Brigitte, Kimberly J all double dipped. Oh, and someone else whose name I cannot quite remember but is a very nice guy who worked super hard in both classes. But anyway, the real questions is, "Did you folks have use of your arms today?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Morning

I had a very relaxing day at home and lounging around in the Red Tent. Genevieve and I drank tea and had a long conversation- love, romance, yoga, tantra, our India trip, her upcoming India trip, Life dreams and 5-year plans and so forth. (Add in a mani-pedi or a facial and that is about as good as girl-time gets!) We really had a nice visit.

Not to much to report on the day really- I had a nice lunch of roasted veggies and baba ganoush, a mellow practice, I spent some time reading about tantra and lining some things up with Craig and Mark to teach in the next Immersion and I even reorganized my clothes drawers. Those of you repeating the Immersion --I am bringing Craig and Mark in on the first section not the second section so if you are on the fence about repeating Part One it is going to be pretty different. No pressure, just keep that in mind.

Another fun thing is that Labor Day is approaching. Remember last year we did a long Labor of Love practice? Well, I got a very sweet request for a repeat performance this year. So, if you are around on Labor Day then we are going to have a practice from 11-2:30 down here in San Marcos. If you are buy during the day or do not wish to spend the day in a long practice or if you are a total yoga animal you can also come to my class at Westgate at 6pm later that night! The class in Austin is free and the practice down here will be by donation. I will put a bowl out on the Ganesh puja and leave it to you to decide how much to contribute. Plan on back bends for sure. Which ones to focus on is to be determined. But please email me if you plan to come so I know who to expect. Everyone is welcome but it is a practice not a class so if you do not know how to take care of yourself, come to class instead please.

Okay- I have some things to do before I teach this evening. And speaking of back bends, I think tonights advanced class is a backbend night, isn't it? We did our M-4 foray in there last week so this week must be backbends. Unless I get another bright idea! Which could always happen. I hope to see you guys there. I have really enjoyed being back teaching on Tuesdays.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Morning

Okay- so I am up and waiting for Genevieve to come over for a visit. She leaves for a trip to India this week so we are trying to cram in a fair amount of girl time before she goes. Our trip to India is coming up at the first of the year. Two more slots open so if you want to go with us, now is the time to sign up!

I did go back to Gabriella's class on Saturday. It was a great back bending class. Nothing crazy, just good solid work on Urdhva Danurasana with special attention to keeping the work in the legs. In Anusara Yoga Land we do so much work in getting the heart open. She was not so interested in this on Saturday. She was more interested in keeping the pelvis stabilized and (keeping the pelvic focal point active, in our lingo) and extending into the legs. (Well actually she was teaching the dual action of muscularly engaging the legs while actively extending them. Muscle Energy and Organic Energy from the focal point in the pelvis, in our language.) My back bends felt great and roomy.

After class Anne and I went for a gelato lunch at Whole Foods. (This is one of my favorite things to eat on a yoga workshop break. It is tasty and rich without being filling. ) Of course, I could have had a pizza or anything I wanted since I was not planning on going to the afternoon session anyway. I went home practice my inversions and had a great dinner out with Kelly.

I woke up the next day in the Red Tent and decided to drape myself over a bolster at home rather than go to Gabriella's final session. (Which I heard was a "fun with arm balances" kind of class.) Kelly and I had a mellow day at home yesterday. I did a lot of cooking and Kelly did his homework. I finished the day watching the Olympics and marvelling at how totally cute the gymnasts butts are. Really, does a human butt get much cuter than that? I think not.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New from Iyengar Yoga Land

So this Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher named Gabriella is in town giving a workshop. Anne has, for years, told me how much I would enjoy her classes and how great a teacher she is. I happen to be free this weekend and so I decided to go with Anne to her workshop. (Plus I was excited because my recent foray into Iyengar Yoga Land at Feathered Pipe was so fantastic. )

As far as workshops and classes go, I never like to be in the front row. I used to like it but I do not anymore. I prefer to dwell on the fringes or in the back row. Anne, however loves to be in the front row. I was running late and Anne was already there because she did the earlier session. So Anne saves me a spot in the front row. Right in the center.

Let’s just say I got a lot of feedback.

At one point during the trikonasana work, Gabriella sighs and stops talking altogether. Then she remarks, “I have paused because I just do not know where to begin. Let’s see. Hmm. Come watch her pose.” (Plus you have to imagine an Italian accent with this.) She grabs my arm and has me demo trikonasana making clear to the group that every mistake she has witnessed in the entire room could also be seen quite clearly in my pose! At the end of the demo she looks at me and says, “Do you have all that? There were so many things.”

Throughout the remainder of the class she regularly visited my mat to tell me the ways that I do not know how to work, the things I obviously do not understand and the lack of integrity my body reflects. (I am thinking- “Honey, if you only knew the half of it. I have "integrity issues" right now creating a split within myself that is bigger than the Grand Canyon. My torso’s inability to act as a unit is the least of it!”)

At the end of class Anne comes up to me and says, “Two sisters walk into an Iyengar Yoga class, guess which one gets singled out?” She also said, “Well if it is any consolation, you are definitely not making it up.” (The back story on this is that for over twelve years now Anne and I have gone to workshops together and without fail, every time, if one of us is going to get singled out, yelled at, made an instrument of "the teaching" for the benefit of the group, it is me. Every time. No exceptions.)

Then Heide (My new best yoga friend) comes up to me and we laugh about it some more and she says, “Well she wouldn’t have given you such a hard time if there were not so many things that were going wrong!” This struck me as relatively hilarious.

So the news from Iyengar Yoga Land evidently is that my yoga sucks. Luckily my trikonasana is not high on the list of things I feel bad about or willing to get worked up about in my life right now. (Some other things have priority. Things that actually matter, for instance.) In general, I maintained a pretty good humor about it. She really was trying to help me and I really do believe she saw these "tips" as ways to help me improve in my practice. That was really obvious to me- she was sincerely trying to assist me. But sometimes the way help can come! Wow.

It is an interesting study in teaching methodology, isn't it? It seems to me that in Iyengar Yoga they are not so much about giving real direction about how to improve as much they are into giving a long list of what is not going well. Then as a student you are supposed to take all of these "don't do that's" and "this is not enough's" and sort through them on your own to come up with whatever is actually "right" or "optimal". It is kind of strange way to go about things, really.

Even stranger is that I am going back for more this morning. (This must be why I am back in therapy.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Morning

Well, a fun night last night. I had a great therapy appointment yesterday followed by my two favorite classes. Of course on Tuesday nights I always feel like those are my favorite classes but really, the Thursday 4:30 advanced class is such a long-standing class that I just love it. I always feel like it is "home" in a certain way. I did feel a little sorry for the newcomers yesterday as I had a definite mission in mind and we worked super hard and deep. I had hoped to get us to viparita chakrasana yesterday but we ran out of time and so we only got to do like oh-ten urdhva danurasanas or something.

I keep saying it but the advanced class at 4:30 is really insane. Somehow the way that I teach it, the focus that people bring to it and the caliber of practitioner in the group creates this kind of atmosphere where things are possible that should not be. We were deep into back bends in about 40 minutes yesterday with people saying they felt great. We do stuff in that class we have no business doing in the amount of time we are allotted but still it works somehow. The funniest thing I thought was at the end when I was saying how this was "not a balanced practice" and "if we only had a little more time" then we would have used it for more back bending! I was going to say that if we had more time I would have used it to give counter balancing poses and so forth but then I thought to myself- who am I kidding??? I would have just used the extra time to take the back bends deeper.

I worked with them of authenticity at 4:30 and the paradox that while we do yoga to discover our authentic self, we use techniques to guide that inquiry.

At 6:00 we made a foray into some basic standing poses and arm balances and refined up dog some. It was a zany class that was hardly my most professional effort but it was a lot of fun. I think the sequence was great, the instruction was great and people had breakthroughs but my presentation was hardly the "calm centered yoga teacher" . I was really on a roll and on a rant about things and then my long-time students were kind of egging me on and so the train really went off the tracks at a few junctures. (I will probably get a comment card or two filled out on that one!) But wow- we had a good time!

I used the theme of inner strength at 6:00 since I was introducing some hard poses like eka hasta bhujasana and eka pada koundinyasana. We use the demands of asana to cultivate not just physical strength but strength of will, of purpose and so on to meet the demands of life. And also we have to balance that with discernment as we go along so that we know how best to apply that strength in any situation.

Thanks to the Double Dippers- Kelly, Anne, Tabatha, Jesse, Catherine, Pamela, Susan. Thanks to everyone who came to class. Can't wait for more next week.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Morning

I went in to town yesterday and took Jenn Wooten's 4:30 Flow class and Matt's Ashtanga class at 6:00. Ashtanga is so much easier after warming up in a flow class. And it was interesting to see what Jenn is up to these days. Matt, Hannah and I had a great talk about Muscluar Energy which I should probably relay here for public record but perhpas in another post. I had something else in mind for this morning's entry.

A week or so ago, I got an email from a friend of mine who has been a long-time Ashtanga Yoga practitioner at a studio that has been shifting its focus to Anusara Yoga. She asked me for some yoga advice but I decided to answer her question on my blog since it has issues that might be relevant in some way to us all as teachers, students and practitioners.

The emial went something like this-

"My dilemma is w/ashtanga - it's injuring me. My hamstring will not heal unless I stop it completely, or ignore all fwd bends. My right S.I. always goes out whenever I backbend which is frustrating as you may imagine. However, I really enjoy the workout I get from primary, particularly the vinyasa flow. Can I get the same degree of physical exertion from Anusara yoga?

So far my personal issue w/Anusara is that there is not enough workout, the practice is different every practice thus negating postural advancement through repetition so I don't feel like I progress. Without question - the few classes of yours I have attended kicked my butt. My body needs that to be happy. Any thoughts?"

And so of course, as we all know- I do have lots of thoughts and opinions on such matters. SO my answer goes something like this:

First, there is the issue of injury. (My personal opinion is that Ashtanga Yoga does not injure people. People injure themselves practicing Ashtanga Yoga. Same with any yoga, in fact.)When we are injured the only way for the body to heal is to abstain from what aggravates the injury and replace it with what heals. In this case, in order for the hamstring to heal, some rest, PT or bodywork and therapeutic application of the alignment principles is the only answer. (With major emphasis on the lateral broadening of Inner Spiral.) Left unattended, hamstring tears do not go away on their own, they only get worse. Much worse. Therapeutic yoga is super intense, tedious and slow and will in no way be gratifying in the way that Ashtanga Vinyasa is gratifying. Do not expect it to be.

This calls us into one of John Friend's great teachings about satisfaction and gratification. What may be immediately gratifying- the sweat and workout you get from today's ashtanga practice - may work against the long term satisfaction of being injury free and being able to walk and practice without pain. This is the law of it. No way around it. There is going to be a sacrifice. Like it or not, that is how it works. (But it doesn't mean that you cannot go to a spinning class and sweat your ass off or go swimming until your lungs are ready to burst.)

Now my personal pet peeve is when anybody says something about Anusara Yoga as a system when what they are really doing is talking about their experience with the classes they are taking. Many times people think the problem with Anusara Yoga is the method itself when sometimes it is just with a new teacher or a not very good teacher or the nature of the certain studio. Studio to studio, class level and intensity varies depending on the teachers and the clientele. In all likelihood, you are practicing Anusara Yoga at a studio where the intensity for the rest of the group will never be what you are looking for because 90% of the people who are paying to be there need a slower pace. One of the distinguishing features of Anusara Yoga is that it can be adapted to all levels, abilities and so on. So whether it is an intense workout or not is not what makes it Anusara Yoga. It is defined by different parameters.

When Anusara Yoga is practiced well and taught well, you should find that all categories of your poses are improving whether you are working on them or not. This is my experience of the method as a teacher and as a practitioner. A forward bending class is improving your back bends ideally. (And certainly we do get better at the things we repeat regularly but the principle remains the same.) For instance, I recently started practicing Ashtanga Yoga some again and after not doing the primary sequence for like 5 years and practicing Anusara Yoga with an occasional foray into Iyengar Yoga, I was way better at Ashtanga. I hadn't visited M-D for years and was able to clasp after a few honest attempts at it. It improved through other means than repeating the pose itself. This is particularly true about poses like lotus. The best way to work on your lotus pose is out of lotus. But I digress.

(And, of course, there are exceptions- like only doing Ashtanga without a few good back bending practices will not improve your back bends. That is obvious to me. But that is a different story. But it will improve your strength so that when you do go after your backbends you have some endurance to really go deeper.)

In fact, progress in practice is what we are all about in Anusara Yoga. It is one of the main criteria John gives us to evaluate the efficacy of our teaching. One thing I know for sure is that my regular students- not students I see once a month when it is convenient to their schedule to drop into my class- but my regular students who are committed, get better. WAY BETTER. They do things in two years they never dreamed they could do. Within one year, in fact. This is my consistent experience of our method. (Anyone reading out there want to testify on this one?)
And I hardly repeat a sequence.

So the other thing is that for me I am really clear about the distinction about practice and about class. The great thing about Ashtanga is that you know exactly what you are going to get in every class- a good sweaty practice. But that is not our exclusive aim in Anusara Yoga. We a trying to accomplish more than that. I want to teach people tools to open and strengthen themselves so that they can generate intensity for themselves in their own practice. In general, best is to go to class to learn and go to your own mat to practice. That way if you want intense, you are in charge of it, not the teacher. However, I rarely get a complaint that my classes are not intense. Someone once told me that I am able to make holding your arms over your head into a grueling experience. (Of course she said this affectionately. And you should see what she can do now.)

So whether or not the Anusara Yoga classes in your area will ever feel intense enough is hard to know, but can you practice Anusara Yoga in a way that makes you drip in sweat, progress in your practice and makes your body happy? Of course, the method can provide that. The certified teachers that I came up in the method with have some of the most intense and deep practices I have ever encountered. We practice really hard. A lot. Do not mistake the fun for a lack of focus and drive. Ours is not a casual path. We believe in bring supreme effort to grace in order to change and transform. On the mat. Off the mat. It is our way.

SO there is my tough love answer for the morning. Anyone else out there have a question?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good Morning

Okay- so what a lot of fun my classes were last night.

I remember when I first really started teaching yoga my favorite thing about it was that no matter how I felt going into teach, once I was teaching I would kind of forget about myself and be swept away in the teaching and it would always be like a vacation from my life. At the time Kelly and I were in the early days of running a coffee shop together and I was super-stressed all the time. We were working really long hours (Like 100-hour work weeks each) and we were hardly sleeping and we were on a really steep learning curve with the business and each other. I would go to teach and all of that wold melt away. All I had to focus on for an hour was just teaching the poses and so on.

Last night was kind of like that for me. I have a full plate in some ways relative to my inner life but when I got to YY last night to teach, I was happy to see all the familiar faces and some new ones and once I got into the teaching I really had a lot of fun. It was really a break from myself in a lot of ways. I used the theme of support at 4:30 and we did a class where I worked with 12 basic poses and revolved them. I am thinking a lot about support because really, in the midst of some of my recent personal upheaval, I have really reached out to people and have received an outpouring of love and affection that is quite astounding. And the cool thing is, the support has been there all along, I just wasn't accessing it. It is like Grace, in that way- ever present, always there for us and our yoga and our life's circumstances can help us tune into it and access it so that it feeds us more deeply. Like friends.

At 6:00 we made the long intense journey to Maricyasana 4. (I was so out of control with the time- we went ridiculously, unforgivably late. OOPS.) After class, Jason said to me, "I do not know how you do it but you have attracted a group of people that no matter how intense you make it they want more of it!" I was like , "Yes, I have met my people, haven't I?" It was a great class with long holds in hard poses and everyone worked with such focus and clarity it was a pleasure. I used strength as my theme.

We had some double dippers- Anne, Jeremiah, Katherine, who else... Seems like I am forgetting one or two. I often write people's names down in savasana but yesterday since we only had 30 seconds of savasana in that class I didn't do it. Chime in and let me know if you were there and I didn't mention you.

After class, Pammy and I went to Central Market. (She bought me dinner and we talked a long time. See the support in action, buying food to strengthen me! Just working a theme here, guys.)

Anyway- I have a long practice scheduled for myself at home today and some mundane household chores to catch up on.

Also, as a shameless bit of self-promotion here on the blog, I am going to teach an 8-week series at Seventh street yoga during September and October. Wednesday nights from 5:30-7:00. Two Wednesdays I am going to be gone and either Mark or Hannah will be teaching for me. Seventh Street Yoga is a great studio with a super enthusiastic owner who really wants to grow an Anusara Yoga community. So if you can make it, come help me spread the love and continue with my plan for world domination. (If your world is Austin, Texas, that is.) I am not sure of pricing and so forth so call them up and get all the info. We are going to start with an all-levels kind of thing but from what I understand they have a pretty young and fit clientele so we ought to be able to provide some advanced variations without too much difficulty.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good morning

A few more pics from the weekend to share. Folks definitely have the shakti glow, huh?
Feeling the love...
Hannah and Mark... (more love)
Me and Pammy...(So much love)
J-Man (He might be too sexy for this blog...)
Part of the group...

The Austin Gang

I had an okay day yesterday. Anne and I went to Matt's ashtanga class at noon which was fun, even though I felt a little off and had had some vertigo earlier in the day. Then I had lunch at Central Market with my friend Joe following which Kelly and I had a counseling appointment. I then came home to a lovely bowl of fruit and some time catching up on my computer and one of the most supportive conversations with my parents that I think I have ever had. (You guys are awesome.)
Today I am meeting Anne and Heide to practice before teaching my classes at Westgate. It is a forward bend/hip emphasis in the 4:30 class so perhaps we can make a foray into Maricyasana 4 (Or D, depending on the tradition you follow!) We shall see, but that is what I am rolling around in my head. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Weekend

So- we had a great weekend.

I just cannot say enough- and I said plenty over the weekend- about how much I love my friend Darren. He did such a great job teaching and I was so inspired, not just by what he can do, but by his approach to his practice and his love of asana and its intricacies and demands. And I thought his teaching was fantastic. "By the book" yet authentic, creative, inspiring, clear and fun. And wow- I have not met another Anusara Yoga teacher who likes Light on Yoga as much as me. If this weekend did not inspire you to run out by a copy of that book and study it, then you missed what I consider to be a primary teaching of the weekend.

There is lots going on for me personally right now so it was really great to be with everybody this weekend. I got a lot of personal support from the gang which I really needed. Thanks to everyone for making the workshop so successful. It really felt like it ran itself. (And the blankets were folded so neatly at the end that I almost cried! They do care... they are listening...)

One of the things Darren and I talked a lot about together is how far this community has come in the last two years and how down-to-earth everything still is here. There are not a lot of big egos, no major cliques, not a lot of politicking. We are mostly just a group of people who like to practice, have fun (not always in that order either, right?) and who really love each other. My intention is to keep growing this community and to maintain this atmosphere of support and authenticity that is alive right now. That is the vision.

Opening Prayers
Reach for the highest-(With Desire!) Triangle pose
Chelsea, going deeper- lip to heel! (Who knew?)
Anne- Hip Opening at its finest

Jessie, well into things. Note the focus.
Note the ananda.
Going for it. (She had been working for-oh, like 4 minutes at this point. She is a bad ass.)
Anne and Jeff

Me, rockin' the scorpion demo.

Also, check out Pammy's blog for more pics and a report!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Gold

"The Gold is found in the shit." -Carl Jung

Evidently, he actually said this in Latin but I cannot find the Latin for it anywhere so any of you Latin geniuses out there who can send me the information about the quote, I would be ever-so-appreciative. Anyway, it is a perfect quote to run across on the week of concealment and revelation. Carl Jung's idea (Well, one of his ideas, of which he had many!) was that he ego is like a small boat floating on the ocean of the unconscious. And the water of the unconscious is often muddy, murky and seemingly foul. But hidden (concealed, if you will) in those murky waters is the gold of our True Self, the answers for our happiness, the source of highest expression. Additionally he believed that the truest form of religious praise and worship was for each of us to be that True Self. (Revelation) Very cool, huh?

Many traditional yogic practices try to help us rise above the murky water of the unconscious and renounce the darker forces within us. Obviously this has some value, particularly if we are acting out those forces in destructive ways. But from the Jungian perspective (Which is decidedly Tantric, don't you think?) we would actually go into the darker realms because that is where the Gold really is. Most religions and societal norms and injunctions just give us a set of rules to follow and so what is "right" is defined externally. And this can be a trap because it skips the step of inner inquiry where we get to find out "What is my right?"

Tantra, invites us to dive into the muddy water to find our "right" from the inside out, not from a set of imposed rules. It is wilder, it is uncertain, it is most certainly messier, but I am figuring it is a more exciting way to live. I had a therapist once who told me a story that when she began Jungian analysis, her therapist looked at her and asked, "Do you want to be good or do you want to be whole?" So like that.

Yesterday was a fun day. Anne and me met with our new friend Heide. Heide is an Iyengar Yoga teacher who teaches at Castle Hill (Check her out!) and we met in Montana. How great is that? Take a trip to Montana to met a friend who lives in Austin. We did a practice, then I went to a therapy appointment and then I taught my classes. So fun.

We did a back bend-forward bend sequence (Conceal the heart, reveal the heart) at 4:30 and then we worked on Vira 2 at 6:00. (By the way, everyone in the room was down to a 90 degree angle in the front leg by the end of class so please stop telling me this cannot be done in an average class! Fine, your seniors classes can have a pass, but in the average hatha class, really, NO EXCUSES!)

Kelly, Susan, Kim, Jessie, and Karuna all double- dipped which was great.

Then Kelly and I went on a date to the Clay Pit (thanks Lisa for the gift certificate I finally used up! We got two meals out of it!) and ran into Mark and Susan while we waiting. So we invited them to eat with us since we got seated before them which was really delightful. I think Susan and I managed not to totally dominate the conversation with yoga-geek talk. At least for awhile!

Okay, so off to walk the dogs, get a practice in and get ready for the weekend with Darren. Bring a swimsuit and ring food to eat and bring a few changes of clothes. It is going to be hot and sweaty and packed full of people. I cannot wait!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tuesday Night Classes

So- What fun it was to be back in action on Tuesdays! Thanks so much to everyone who was in attendance to welcome me back. I had thought that there would be like 4 people there but lo and behold, both classes were full of people and laughter and well, let's tell the truth- hard work. (Even Anne sweated!)

My theme for the week is concealment and revelation- the 4th and 5th Acts of Shiva. (This really tells you something- it has taken me all summer to get though the 5 Acts and finally, now in August I am at the final two. This means I have been away a lot. Thanks for hanging in there everyone.) Anyway, it is an appropriate theme for me as many things were revealed to me during my week and Feathered Pipe- some great, some more difficult. And that is just how revelation works. We can be going along just fine and ignorant to certain truths (Concealment) and then BAM! in one moment everything can be different. (Revelation)

One of my favorite modern philosophers is a guy named Ken Wilbur. Most of his work is SUPER HEADY but he wrote this great, very accessible book called A Brief History of Everything. In this book he goes on this whole rant (Well, he actually goes on a lot of rants. In fact, the book is kind of one big rant which is one of the reasons I love it. But I digress...) So he goes on this rant about how he does not believe in the theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest as it is usually explained. He believes that change happens in quantum leaps, not in gradual stages. He says, that, for instance, a creature that was part amphibian and gradually growing legs would not be fit to survive, it would be roadkill. Makes sense to me.

Now I know that a case can be made for the "small changes over a long period of time model" as well- so feel free to disagree with me and Ken silently in your head. In fact, some day soon I will probably post some musing about how change happens gradually. But for the purposes of this consideration of concealment and revelation and my recent experience. It felt more like an all-at-once "wake up and smell the coffee" kind of revelation.

One of the things Patricia said at our retreat is that it is the teacher's job is to wake you up. And she said, that can sound really great but one's experience of it can really depend on what it is that we are waking up to. Like I said in class last night I am sure most of us have woken up to really great things about ourselves through our practice. (Wow, I actually am lovable, talented, capable, strong and connected to something bigger.) And if we are honest, each one of us has also woken up to things that are difficult to face in our life of practice. (Wow, I am selfish, conceited, critical, sad and angry.) The cool thing is that that whether or not we are enjoying the ramifications of the revelation, it is just that- Grace at work revealing to us who we truly are in the moment. And Grace has our Highest Interests in mind.

Mostly we back bended yesterday and wow- how great were the drop backs in the 6pm class? Pretty darn impressive. One of the things I loved was all you Immersion graduates helping me help everyone and keeping the energy alive in both classes. On my way into the studio, I ran into Jesse. He welcomed be back to Tuesday night and said something to the effect of "The flock is reconvening," to which I replied, "Isn't it great? I really need the flock right now."

What a blessing it is to have each other.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back at Home

Well, I am settling back into home and tending to the home fires a bit, so to speak. I am really inspired by the week at Feathered Pipe in so many ways. I did a great practice yesterday and added some of the new pranayama information into my seated practice this morning. I do not have lots to write about this morning. I am going into Austin today to take a few classes and then to meet Kelly for lunch. He has a long break in the middle of his day today. So mostly today is settling in and getting some things in order now that I am home. More later.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A lot

There is a lot to write about or at least a lot that could be written about but well, it is now time to go. The week has been absolutely fantastic on so many levels and left me with plenty to work with on and off my mat. The shuttle is going to be leaving the Feathered Pipe Ranch in a few minutes so I am going to keep this brief. Every aspect of the retreat had its own perfection. The centre, the asana, the instruction, the people, the weather, the hiking, the conversation, etc. The only thing that might have improved on the experience would have been better food. But then again, I might be coming home unable to fit in my clothes if the food had been better!

And the parting blessing from Patricia to me was fabulous. She looked at me and said, "You are a very talented practitioner. Keep your fire up. These are your years, you know."

So with that (and more) in mind, I am returning home with new friends, new ideas and a renewed dedication to this thing called yoga and all that it asks of me.