Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Okay- well, today I can do my Thanksgiving Post, I suppose. I am going to Winnipeg tomorrow and since that is an early flight out of town Kelly and I decided to make our Thanksgiving meal yesterday. We threw caution to the wind and instead of a traditional Thanksgiving meal or even a tofurkey we decided to make calzones. Yummy. We made the whole thing from scratch-Kelly made the dough, I made the sauce and the filling (porcini and portabella mushrooms, garlic and spinach) and we added some fresh mozzarella cheese. (Okay, we did not make the cheese ourselves but we did get it from a local dairy.) Bake for 15 minutes and voila- a meal to be grateful for.

So today we slept in and now I am finishing up a cup of coffee that Kelly roasted and then brewed. (Something else to be grateful for- freshly roasted Ethiopian Harrar coffee and made to perfection by someone else.) We are going to walk the dogs and then he is going to go on a bike ride and I am going to practice asana and finish packing. We have a kale soup we are going to have later with some fresh baked bread. Yum. All in all, a relaxing day doing things we like to do.

Well, gratitude. You know, I actually do cultivate this virtue a lot in my life. Many years ago whenever I would get depressed or in a funk, my counselors would say, "Make a gratitude list." The gratitude list is a simple thing to do. Really, you just list out the things you are grateful for and then lo and behold, you can see whatever small-minded, self-centered things you were focusing on get subsumed in the larger force of gratitude. It is a useful tool. (I am not saying that every negative feeling or funk can be summed up as small-minded or self-centered. Certainly sometime we just need to grieve, be mad, etc. and deal with it head on like that. But anyway.)

So even though the last few months have had some personal challenges for me and a certain measure of difficulty, I do feel very grateful for my life. I have work I love, friends across the globe, a yoga practice to strengthen me in body, mind and heart, my sister lives close, my parents are coming to visit for three months this winter, I am married to someone I love and who loves me and so on and on the list goes.

So I think Thanksgiving is a great time to remember the Bigger Picture. Certainly every one of us has a list of things we might like to be different or that might need tweaking in our inner and outer lives to be "happier" and by all means we should be addressing those things. But taking the time to remember our blessings is about seeing those small imperfections within a larger context and that can make all the difference.

Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


So- I am sitting at home today waiting for Fed Ex to deliver me my passport. I realized last week that I could not find my passport anywhere and the last time I had it was in June when I went to Tofino. So I tore the house apart and still, no passport. Anyway, long story short, I have a new one coming via Fed Ex today so I cannot leave the house lest I miss the delivery. I leave the country on Friday and since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, today is the only window of opportunity. If I miss the delivery I am a bit, shall we say, screwed. I did check its tracking and about 30 minutes ago it was put on a truck in New Braunfels. So I am hopeful.

But this means I am probably not going to be at the practice at South Studio today although it is still happening with the lovely and talented Mandy Eubanks leading the fun.

A brief note about my schedule-

Friday Nov. 28-I am headed to Winnipeg on Friday morning. I am teaching there over the weekend. (BRRR!!!)

Monday, Dec. 1- I go to Tuscon on Monday and teach Immersion Part Two with Darren Rhodes on Tuesday through Sunday.

Saturday Dec.6-Sunday Dec. 7- Carlos Pomeda will be teaching here in San Marcos over the weekend. Kelly is going to host that here so that I can stay with my group in Arizona and be there for Paul Muller Ortega's weekend workshop. (Really, you know you are living right when you are choosing between Paul Muller Ortega and Carlos Pomeda on the same weekend.)

Sunday, December 7- I am going to go to Prescott for some personal R&R and to visit my guru and friends up there.

Thursday Dec. 11- I travel back home, land in Austin after lunch and will be at Westgate for my classes that night.

All right then- last night was a lot of fun for me. We had a great group at 4:30 and at 6:00 although I think the 6:00 class was the smallest class I have ever taught at YogaYoga. At 4;30 we worked a lot with the Primary Flows of Energy and my theme was on Goodness.

I have been thinking a lot about practicing yoga. And why I do it. And apart from all kinds of lofty philosophical reasons, I practice because I like it and because it feel really good to me. I practice because I feel better when I do than when I don't. It is kind of a simple thing, really. I also think that, in general, most people's reasons for practicing boil down to "I want to do something good for myself" be it on the physical, emotional, spiritual, social level of being.

But lately I have been thinking a lot about "Why do something good for myself?" Like really, what motivates that?

And it seems to me that there are two basic reasons to do do something good for myself. The first reason I might want to do something good for myself is that I think I am somehow flawed and in need of some kind of "whipping into shape" or that by doing something good for myself I can offset this feeling of being less than. Somehow, through enough work, this perspective tells me, I could earn the experience of worth, etc. Like- "I am basically not very nice but yoga helps me be nicer." (Or fill in the blank with any trait you chose.)

The second reason is that I might recognize that I am, intrinsically good and doing things that are good for myself are ways I might align myself with that truth. Like- "I am basically healthy, well, peaceful and Good. Practicing yoga helps me align with that state, recognize it fully and live in that truth more deliberately. (Chit-ananda, baby- there it is again!) Because of this recognition I deserve a practice that brings me happiness, wellness, joy and profound insight."

The outside actions of my life might look exactly the same. I might behave in an identical manner from the outside. I would eat the same food, I would still meditate, I would still do pranayama and I would still practice asana. The only difference is inside. One orientation would be based on Earning Goodness (And therefore always be a reminder of lack) and the other perspective would be be based on Aligning With My Already Present-State of Goodness. (And therefore always be a reminder of fullness)

Obviously it is not a black or white issue. In some ways, as always, it is a matter of perspective. From the Absolute perspective we are already Good. From the relative perspective, we need to cultivate ourselves. But its on my mind a lot- the idea of earning goodness, of earning Grace. Really, we cannot earn what is already ours. That is the thing about gifts. We do not earn them. They are given. What we can do is cherish the gifts we are given, take care of them, put them to good use, praise them, share them with others, and so forth.

So practice is kind of like that,I think. What if it is simply a way we might cherish the gift of grace, a way to take care of our own goodness and put our gifts to good use?

If I wanted to, in just one more paragraph I could segue into a Thanksgiving rap with all of this, but not today. I have been living off the Hallmark Calendar for many years now and so I will leave the gratitude consideration alone for now. Perhaps tomorrow.

OH WAIT-FED EX IS HERE!!!! Yippee. My passport arrived. Now that is something to be grateful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Morning

Family Legend- Once upon a time in the wilds of The Bronx, New York lived a small family of three. MFF, ACF and their daughter AMF, who later become known as AMB, and sometimes as Anzy to those who know her well. The family, while very happy, all acknowledged a certain emptiness knowing that they, while a great family unit were still missing a certain spicy element to the family system. (I was not born yet, in other words! Okay kidding. This story is not about me. Joke.)

So-MFF was a biochemist involved in very important experiments and research, many of which involved poisoning rats and learning how toxic gases affected them. During one particularly grueling night of research, one of his rat subjects bit MFF. (Kind of an instant karma sort of thing, perhaps.) Anyway, MFF was struck down with rat bite fever and was very sick for a long time. Toward the end of his convalescence the very young and precocious AMF asked her father, "Are you most all well yet?"

Anyway- I am most all well. Still little lingering syptoms of a cold/allergy but WOW, I actually feel like my body is a good place to be again. Yippee. Out of the hut, out of cold/allergy hell and I even have a day of nothing scheduled but a visit to go deal with some passort fiasco I am in the middle of and if I do not get resolved will not be able to go to Winnipeg on Friday. I am sure it will get worked out.

The Immersion went well yesterday. Craig Williams came and gave a talk on The lower Tattvas. It is so great to have him introduce them that way because in the next segment we work with them further and talk about the additional 11 tattvas that the tradition of Kashmir Shaivsim added to what the Samkya philosophers had already delineated. I was happy, after teaching most of the weekend in my sub-par state, for him to talk for the last two hours, rather than me. It was informative, thought-provoking and entertaining as usual. (A Shameless Plug for February in Corpus, me and Craig are doing a full weekend of philosophy and asana together called Living the Yoga Tradition. We will cover basics from the Upanishads, the Gita, the Sutras and Vedanta with asana and pranayama practice in each session,. It is part of the Immersion that I am doing there but that weekend is open to the public, as are all morning asana classes of each Immersion weekend, BTW. If you want info, drop me a line and I will send you the information.It will a be a great way to review and or learn the basics of each of those systems with the asana to help embody the teachings. Very fun stuff.)

I came home,we ate vegan tamales and guacamole, watched Arrested Development and then went to bed. Okay, off to the Post Office.

Oh- we have an advanced group practice scheduled for Wednesday at 1:30 at South Studio. Bring an Attitude of Gratitude and come ready to rock it out. Friday I go to Winnipeg, then straight to Tucson and then home on Dec.4. Still not sure whether or not the workshop with Carlos is a go. If you want to come and haven't told me yet, please let me know soon. I will make decision before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Morning

Several things have happened recently that have called my attention to the "fun and danger" of a blog. I am thinking about some kind of disclaimer at the top of the page that reads-"The following are the day-to-day, moment-to-moment opinions, experiences and perspectives of Christina Sell. She is known to be quick-witted, sharp-tongued, insightful, opinionated and occasionally inspiring. She fails miserably at political correctness and try as she might she does not wait before publishing these posts to consider their implications. Read at your own risk and with a sense of humor." But it probably wouldn't help!

My teacher sometimes says the internet is the Anti-Christ. I wonder sometimes. There can be so much good and bad accomplished, it seems. But anyway...

There is lots to write about these days. In the haze of my cold- which is much better today which makes me wonder if it is actually allergies and we had some rain last night which may have washed away some pollen and I may not be better just the pollen might be temporarily cleansed- I taught the Immersion yesterday. We were very reduced in numbers but had a great practice reviewing a lot of the fundamental principles and working particularly in opening the front groins without straining the psoas. That took us to some solid work on standing up from urdhva danurasana. We spent the last part of the afternoon with Patanjali's sutras which was great. I feel like we got a pretty good sense of the first two padas in this Immersion.

I came home and Kelly had made Indian-style chick peas and greens and rice which was fantastic. We watched a few Arrested Developments- my new favorite show- and then I went to bed early.

I woke up feeling a lot better today and I can hardly believe that today completes Part Two of this cycle of Immersion. It has gone by pretty darn fast.

Since it came up in the Immersion yesterday I thought I would mention it here also. There are a few Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Opportunities with me in 2009 here in Texas.

April 1-5, 2009- (30-hour Level One Teacher Training at YogaYoga)
April 23-28, 2009 (30-hour Asana Intensive/ Teacher Development with Christina Sell and Noah Maze in San Marcos, TX)
Sep. 18-20, Oct. 16-18, Nov. 13-15, Dec. 11-13- (Teacher Training Program in Corpus Christi,TX. Must be taken together.)

All right- I am going to go practice a little asana before teaching and see if I cannot clear the rest of this sinus stuff with some inversions and chest openers. Have a great day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Morning

Okay, I am tired of feeling sick. Plain tired of it. After my whole ovarian fiasco, my digestion was still off and now I have a cold (or perhpas it is an allergy thing. I am not sure.)and I am in the menstrual hut. When this little phase passes and I feel great again, you better believe I will appreciate it. Nothing like an exercises in contrast.

Yesterday was a pretty fun day. I went to a Nia class, then had lunch at a Cuban place on South Congress with Kelly (not a lot for vegetarian types there but we had a great veggie sandwich and they make their own fries and I had a few bites of Kelly's tres leches cake which was out of this world.) Then I hung out with Anne and Milo a little, went to therapy and then taught yoga. Classes were pretty fun last night (making me oh-so-bummed to be giving up the Thursday afternoon slot, which has become kind of like an institution in some ways. But I am gone 13 of 16 Thursdays on the next schedule so that just makes no sense. Plus I travel out most Friday mornings and so being home Thursday night is smarter for me.)

We worked with backbends in the 4:30 advanced class, more on backbending poses like ardha chandra chapasana and so forth and culminated in some work in kapotasana. The 6:00 Flow class (where I put on both music and my alter ego teaching self and pretend to be less picky, demanding and critical-) went well also. We did a really strong standing pose sequence that people seemed to enjoy. I know I would have liked it if I walked into that flow class. But well, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Anyway, it was fun.

Not a lot of double dippers anymore on Thursdays. I think flow after advanced is more than many can face. Susan however stayed for both classes and so did one other person but I cannot remember her name right now.

Kelly and I came home after classes and had a date night at home. We made a yummy meal and had a good bottle of wine and stayed up too late for two people with colds but it was a really good thing in other ways. Today is sort of a day off. I will prep for my Immersion this weekend and try to actually get some order in my office. Also I have a certification video to watch and Arrested Development came yesterday from netflix. (I love that show.)

OH- I do need your help. My friend James just had hip surgery and he wrote me asking for recommendations for movies that are uplifting and inspiring. I thought I could put the question out here and solicit some help from the you all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Morning

We worked on a lotus sequence last night in class at 7th Street. I really love teaching at Seventh Street Yoga. The studio is so nice and the students are so well trained and so attentive. Last night I would give an instruction, look up, and watch all these bodies move into position. It was pretty fabulous! And it was fun to see so many people there who had been at John's workshop over the weekend.

I am on the brink of a cold but it seems not to be moving in- I have unleashed a veritable arsenal of natural remedies toward that end, including a mantra to make me a less hospitable host to any germ that is near and so far so good.

Kelly and I drove into Austin last night for my class and I asked him what his theme would be if he was teaching that night. We ended up having a nice discussion about how change and transformation has a lot to do with dealing with discomfort but how it is really worth it. His theme, he said, would have been about going inward, seeing yourself and then bringing certain changes outward.

It dovetailed nicely into a consideration I am mulling around these days regarding yoga and how deeply paradoxical it can seem at times. There is this idea that we are already that which we seek, there is no way to "earn" grace- it is already ours. And yet, it is a process of radical change and transformation since what we have to discern experientially is who we really are separate from who we think we are or who we think we should be. Really it is both a kind of deep acceptance process as well as a process of change.

I am finding these days that a lot of my suffering comes from my wanting something to be one way or the other. In my life, within myself, in my relationships, etc. But life is rarely one thing or the other. It is not black and white. Most things are shades of grey or maybe even better yet- life comes in a spectrum of color. Many times I can get a little relief- or a little breathing room- when I can remember that seemingly contradictory things can coexist, if I can allow all the shades of the rainbow to be present in whatever thing I am dealing with.

This may come to some people naturally but for me, not so. It is something I have to cultivate. And the cool thing is that Anusara Yoga is a path of "both, and" not "either,or". I find the whole yoga thing to be tedious along these lines a lot. How many times to we decide or have to endure someone who has decided about us that "because we do yoga we should____________ or we shouldn't __________." Fill in the blanks for yourself because they are endless and each one of us may be tortured by different expectations and so forth.

My thinking on this lately is that all that, while it has something to do with yoga, is not really what the path is offering at all. Sure there are guidelines, structures, protocols and so forth for our life and practice--but really, what yoga is inviting us to is so far beyond the realm of do's, don'ts, should's and shouldn'ts. It is an invitation to a world of color and then I suppose to the essence of light itself but that is a bit too far out for me to grasp this morning.

I know some of this might sound a little vague this morning but its what's on my mind. Hope your day is well, colorful!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday Morning- Business Stuff

Wow, it is a gorgeous day today here in San Marcos, Texas. I had a fantastic night of sleep, marred only by a slight scratchy sore throat upon awakening. But I used the neti pot and drank some warm tea and that seemed to help a lot. Kelly has had a cold for the last few days which started with a sore throat so I am hoping this is not that.

Okay- so more business-- Many people have asked me what my teaching schedule looks like at the beginning of the year. Starting in January I am going to be teaching only on Tuesday nights at YogaYoga and only for a few weeks. Then I hit the road for a whirlwind tour between January 15-March 6. I go to Vancouver to teach an Immersion Part 2 and weekend workshop, then come home and finish our Immersion Series here, then off to India for 2 1/2 weeks, then to Tucson for a week for Part Three of our Immersion there and then to Corpus Christi for a Workshop and Immersion weekend and then I am home a few days before the Advanced Intensive with John Friend and the 5-day training following that weekend. So, I will be on the schedule for Tuesdays yet hardly here.

The spring after that point is busy but not quite so busy and will include some great Teacher Training opportunities at YogaYoga and here in San Marcos with my friend Noah and I who are teaming up for a long weekend of fun. More on all of that later but I will be teaching Tuesdays at least after I get home from the travel extravaganza. I will be updating my website soon with these details so keep an eye out for that.

So it was fun seeing everyone back in class last night. I felt a little off and my energy is definitely not back but the classes were well attended and seemed to go well. One thing I want to go on record about since it came up again is that in general, I like the room to be slightly warm for practice. If this bothers you, I suggest that you wear fewer clothes to class. I am not kidding. I mean it. Really. I like the room somewhere between 78 and 80 degrees, especially at YogaYoga where we have only 1 hour and 15 minutes to really get into some advanced postures. A thin layer of sweat is going to be helpful to that end. Believe me, I am not comfortable in the room teaching with it that warm. I am sweating also.

And to continue on the personal note of this issue, just so we are all clear that I am owning it as "mine." I have been teaching yoga over ten years and fitness classes for over 20. There is no way to keep everyone in the room happy regarding temperature. The average yoga student is a woman between the age of 30 and 60 and so hormonally speaking, agreeing on a comfortable temperature is IMPOSSIBLE. Period. Fact.

Then there is the personal preference issue. Some prefer hotter. Some prefer colder. And each of those people is in the same class. Keep it cold for some, others will be uncomfortable and vice versa.

But the real issue is that it is my class. I would never ever in a million years go to my teacher's class and ask him to adjust the thermostat for my personal comfort. Never. I go to his class, I go to his world and it is that simple for me. If I am too cold, I put on a shirt. If I am too hot, I take it off. And I take that same studentship to any one's class that I go to. Period. (I may bitch silently in my head about it, but never in my out loud voice to him. Never.)

I have been teaching yoga and dealing with this particular issue a long time. I have tried to be good natured about it. I have tried to "let it go." I have tried to have a sense of humor about it. I have tried to not let it bother me when someone in my class walks over and adjusts the thermostat or makes a comment. I really want our classes together to be full of fun, enjoyment and a certain kind of ease. I really do. But I cannot get over this and I have decided to stop trying. Consider it a strange quirk of mine if you must. Consider it just the small price you pay to come to my class. Consider me controlling, bossy, and inflexible, if you must, but please, I am begging, stop commenting on the temperature of the room. Think about it- I have been teaching with it like this as long as I have been in Austin. Chances are that is not haphazard on my part. Chances are, I am aware that certain people would prefer it to be different. Chances are, I am not going to change.

And as a side note, if you go to John's Friend's class (Or any one's class for that matter) and ask him to adjust the thermostat, then please say you are someone else's student because I have trained you better than that!

Thus ends the rant. Now I am going next door to practice. Interestingly enough, I have had the heater on for an hour so that the temp would come up to 80. It should be there by now.

Have a most excellent day. I hope to see a bunch of you at Seventh Street Yoga tonight.

Monday, November 17, 2008

John Friend- A Come As You are Party

So the weekend was fantastic. I made it to class on Saturday afternoon and it was so heart-warming to be in the midst of the gang and to see everyone so thoroughly enjoying a weekend with John Friend here in Austin, Texas. I realized I have been organizing my life around John Friend workshops for almost ten years now and it was so fun to have one right here in town and to watch some of my most favorite and dedicated students meet him for the first time and get bit by the bug as well.

I almost didn't go because I was pretty weak, still nauseated a bit and feeling so fragile and then it hit me- I can just go as I am. And so I did. And it really was great. It was profoundly, transformatively great.

I have a certain psychological pattern- for all kinds of reasons- that basically inform me a lot of the time that who I am is not okay, that I need to be somehow different in order to be lovable. And the reason why I know it is a pattern is I observed it for so long now and seen the incredible brilliance of its many facets and manifestations. You can fill in any blank about how to be different, this pattern does not discriminate and seems to be able to make just about anything wrong and into something that I should go about changing or improving upon. For instance, depending on the day and the situation I find myself in, the pattern might tell me I should be thinner, more voluptuous, smarter, nicer, funnier (although that one is hard to imagine. I mean, really!) quieter, more understanding, less opinionated, more direct, less outspoken, more disciplined, less rigid, more educated, more successful, richer, more frugal, more conservative, more liberal, more natural, more manicured and so on it goes. I mean really, it is a kind of brutal thing to live with especially when I fall into believing that what it says is true as opposed to observing it as a pattern that does not need a lot of attention from me. (This is where meditation is a life-saver. We really can learn not to believe everything we think.)

You would think therapy would help with this. You might even think yoga would help with this. And, yes, I think they have except I have come to the startling revelation that for me, I just added all those therapeutic self-help standards to the list of things that I was or was not doing right and that I needed to change as well. And then yoga, talk about a list of do's and don't and things to fall short of and so on! My god, a perfectionist nightmare extraordinaire!

So I had a real insight with this this weekend as I was coming off of really being stressed and sick and feeling so overwhelmed and spun out for a lot of reasons. I had several talks with some long-time friends of mine which helped a lot (Love you, meg and rakini!). And I decided to just go and be with everyone I have come to know and love here and to see my teacher and also to see my teacher teach my students and so on. In that decision, something inside me really relaxed about a bunch of stuff that I had been putting pressure on myself about and that pattern just moved to the background and lost some of its urgency. What a blessing to just go as I am as opposed to go as I think I have to be.

So while I think therapy could help (and has helped.) And I think yoga could help (and has helped.) I think the only thing that really confronts these deep patterns of doubting our worth and lovable-ness is BEING LOVED. And to take it a step further to recognize that we are being loved. And for that, we really need each other. I mean we really do. Yes, we have to learn to love ourselves and all that. But if your particular pattern doesn't assert its ugly head when you are alone, then you are going to need it confronted in relationship. In the face of feeling "I am unlovable because of ____________" to have people love you because of it, in spite of it and so on is really the best medicine. It is the magic of the kula. It is the transformational path of relationship.

So, Saturday's class was super profound for me. I practiced in both the morning and the afternoon sessions on Sunday. I had a blast. I was still not really at 100% but I managed to do do a decent viparita chakrasana demo when John called on me. And the immense delight I felt in watching my students demo things so brilliantly and competently and shout out CHIT ANANDA when John asked something was priceless. I had so many inner shifts, to numerous to name here but well, I was as always reminded of what I love about being with John.

For me, it is not that John is a brilliant hatha yoga teacher although I personally think that he is. I can do things I never imagined being able to do from his help and his method. He is awesome at therapeutics and he is incredibly well-studied and well-versed in all kinds of yogic philosophy. But it is not that that has kept me following him around and dedicating a lot of my life to teaching this method of yoga. It is that without fail, when I am with John, I feel like anything is possible. I feel un-limited by the things that I often allow to limit me. I feel the passion for serving, for learning, for growing, for listening to the secret language of grace. Time and again, I have the direct experience of my own goodness. It is really that simple. The rest...well, details.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

on the road to recovery

I am definitely feeling better. Yesterday, Kelly and I drove a bunch of boxes up to the One World Theatre so that the Anusara Yoga Shri-Tail Boutique could be in full swing at this weekend's workshop. Tiffany, the retail manager was there and so was Deborah and Jesse, who is really the greatest organizer and workshop host ever. I think I did my job as a host very well by finding someone who was much better at the task than me and appointing him to the job! That someone is Jesse. Of course, there are scores of other people helping out known as Jesse's Girls. And really, Thank God everyone was in place and so competent, as I was still quite nauseated yesterday.
Given my state of "I might puke at any minute" we went back home after unloading the boxes, Kelly did some acupuncture on me and I watched some Desperate Housewives episodes while he studied. By dinnertime I was actually pretty hungry and so I ate a small amount and that actually settled with no problems. First thing in 5 days that has actually seemed to digest so I take that as a very positive sign.
The workshop began this morning and while I am signed up for the morning class I did not go. I figured getting up really early to try to be there for the first session just might not be the wisest thing for me. So I slept in, am catching up on email and my blog, etc. and trying to determine if this tension in my chest and throat is a cold, leftover from the week of vomiting and so forth or if I am just tired or what. Kelly has a pretty bad cold-- caused by no sleep, life in a hospital and the stress of caring for me this last week, I would assume-- so it could be the same thing that is threatening to move into my system. I am employing my arsenal of natural remedies to the symptoms. We shall see. Depending on how the next few hours go I may make my way to the workshop venue for the afternoon session.
Laura Forsyth sent me these pictures from last nights kirtan with Dave Stringer. John gave a talk and then there was a kirtan which I heard was pretty fun. I was not there but how cool is that I can still post a few pictures for everyone to enjoy? (Thanks, Laura!)
As I have been writing this I have been reflecting on how my friend Pamela has a personal blog policy of not sharing the mundane details of her life on her blog but of actually writing useful things to help make people's lives better and to stimulate deeper inquiry into life and its challenges. Me, I just told everyone about the state of my digestive tract but well, that is the beauty of a blog, isn't it? It really can be anything. I assume that I will have some other things to report on once this little health crisis passes but well, I have pretty much been in a self-centered world of me and my health so it is what I have to write about!

Friday, November 14, 2008

"What is living if I can't be free? What is freedom if I can't be me?"

I am listening to a mix I made for a flow class and this line is in a song that Bonnie Raiit sings on her Souls Alike album, I Will Not Be Broken. It is a really great song. Other great lines, include, "You can hold me but you cannot hold what's within..."

Anyway- I am definitely feeling a lot better today although by no means do I feel my normal perky self. My digestion is off, my energy is pretty low and my emotions might best be described as fragile. I am kind of on the brink of crying all the time. This makes sense-I had hardly any sleep, I was poked and prodded in all kinds of ways by all kinds of strangers for 72 hours, I was in intense pain and also on all kinds of drugs I am now detoxing from and well, I was in a pretty darn fragile state physically there for a while. (In addition to my afore mentioned emotional fragility I am working up a pretty good rant about medical insurance and our health care system but that can wait for another time.)

So, okay- on a happier note, John Friend is in town this weekend and the really cool thing about all of this is that while I am technically his "Local Host" for the weekend, the event is pretty much being organized by the local kula who stepped in several weeks ago to help me out under the extreme organizational prowess of one Jesse Owens. It is odd because I have been excited about John coming here to teach ever since I moved here and it is finally here and well, I may hardly be a part of things. And in a weird way, it feels pretty fine with me. In some ways, I figure I did my job here if there is a big group of people who can handle it without me.

I am hoping to be part of the day tomorrow as much as I can be and soak in the love. I am not sure if I am going to be up to practicing although right now I do feel so much better than yesterday that I think perhaps.... Anyway, tonight is John's talk and a kirtan with Dave Stringer and then tomorrow and Sunday are the workshops. It is really going to be great. I talked to John twice over the last two days and all systems seem ready to go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Health Crisis

Okay so I woke up on Monday morning and everything seemed just fine but within an hour of waking I was doubled over in agonizing pain. I was witting and vomiting for the next three hours. Then Kelly came home, took me to the Urgent Care center where they drugged me up, took x-rays and blood tests and sent me home saying they did not know what was wrong. After that round of drugs wore off I was once again in crippling pain and so Kelly and I went to the ER around 10 at night.

More tests and treatments over the next 12 hours- blood test, urine tests, x-rays, CT scans, ultra sounds, a catheter and few bag of fluids for hydration and 3 shifts of doctors later, I was sent home with a still uncertain diagnosis. They did find evidence of a slight urinary tract infection, of a burst ovarian cyst, and some gastroenteritis but every doctor had a slightly different take on the situation.

After the ER dismissal, I was home for a few hours when we realized my bladder was still not voiding and so we went back to the hospital. They sent me home that time with a catheter and an appointment with the urologist for the next day. So I did go to the urologist today who thinks I had a cyst that burst along with gastroenteritis which led to a bladder inflammation which shut that down and created all the pain and vomiting and so forth.

So anyway- I still feel lousy but am planning to be better by the weekend for the John Friend festivities. We shall see. I figured it was a good sign tonight that I was actually hungry.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Morning

Well, neither Anne or I (or is it me or Anne... hmm... I never know and this is why I have an editor for lasting written works... anyway) decided to have children. But today is an exciting day because last night Anne got a puppy. So today, Auntie Christina and Uncle Kelly get to go meet the nephew puppy for the first time. The greyhound cousins will stay home because an 8-week old golden retriever might easily be mistaken for a bunny and that would not be a good thing for so many reasons.

We decided to combine our puppy visit with a bike ride around Town Lake and a day enjoying Austin and then with a meal with Anne and Jeff and their furry family. So after my tea settles and I finish up here I will do some asana and then we will clean up and head into town. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at McKinney Falls State Park hiking around. It was pretty fun except the water was low and the trail map sucked so we wandered around a lot more than I enjoyed. (I like to find a trail and stay on it so that I feel like I actually did something. Wandering around, well, it just aggravates me. I am sure this is not surprising to anyone. In fact I am the same way about my asana practice. I always like to have a plan. It never settles me the same way if I just "do whatever I feel like" compared to when I make a plan and then work through my sequence. It is probably some pitta thing.)

Okay, well a few promotional things while I have your attention- I know that everyone here knows that John Friend is in town this weekend but please come to his talk on Friday night at the Sri Atmananda School. There will be a kirtan with Dave Stringer also and it really will be a great night. You can sign up for this through

Also I have a few registrations for Carlos Pomeda's visit here but at this point, it is going to be a very small gathering. If you are planning to come and you have not told me, please tell me so that I can soothe my anxiety that I will not be covering his minimum fees out of my own pocket. It will be a great chance to work with him, to hang out together and to learn about the Bhagavad Gita from an expert. Really, please come. And while it is highly encouraged for people to attend the whole thing, if you need an exception made because of family, teaching, etc. just let me know.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday Morning

Wow- I have just been busy and away from a schedule of sitting and writing on my blog. I cannot believe it has been since Wednesday when last I updated this.

Thursday was a busy day in Austin. I had acupuncture, then met Anne for a stroll around Town Lake with the greyhounds and then we went for soup at Mr. Natural. We parted ways- I went to therapy, she had a meeting and then there the Thursday night classes at Westgate. I really had a good time teaching on Thursday. (I almost always have a pretty good time teaching. Have you noticed?) I taught a padmasana class at 4:30 that peaked in padmasana in sarvangasana, which was fun. And then in the 6:00 flow class we did a basic flow to music. I am actually enjoying teaching one class a week like that- a lot less technical, focused highly on moving with the breath and a heart theme. That type of practice definitely has its place in the scheme of things.

Yesterday, Mark came down and we practiced. We used a sequence from Patricia Walden, which was pretty fun. I am pretty darn sore today though. We worked a lot on drop backs, headstand drop overs and ekapda viparita dandasana which was good. I do enjoy using Iyengar sequwnces for deep backends and seeing how differntly and simliarly they preapre the body for the poses in comparison ot the way we do it Anusara Yoga. When we got to urdhva danurasana we both felt great but when we got to headstand dropeovers we didn't quite feel as open as we do in an Ansuara-style sequence. Strange. But in general the prep is way more sattvic in Iyengar Yoga Land. In general.

But then that is kind of interesting. Because in those classes the work is grueling and rajasic in a way Anusara Yoga isn't because of the atmosphere, the intensity of the average Iyengar Yoga teacher, the demand for exacting precision clarity and the impending confrontation that is always lurking around the the corner...(yes I know that I am not being politically correct this morning. Oh well, it is my blog, after all!) But just looking at the sequence and doing them without alone in a practice the actual progression of poses is way more sattvic.

After that I cleaned up ate some food and went up to Breath and Body to teach as a guest teacher in their teacher training program. It is a great studio and the trainees were all excellent students and practitioners and I got to talk about my favorite thing which is teaching yoga. Okay- well, I do like practicing yoga better than teaching it, but I love discussing all that is involved- inside and out-- in teaching yoga and being a yoga teacher. I never tire of talking about that so given an opportunity to talk to teacher trainees is my idea of a fun night. And Desirae, the owner of Breath and Body is such a kind, generous and fun person. She sent me home with kombucha, a hoodie, a check and a big dose of inspiration. Does it get much better than that? I think not.

This morning I slept in, did my morning practices and am catching up on some computer work. This afternoon Kelly and I are planning on doing something outside since it is an unbelieveably gorgeous day. As fun as it was to practice yesterday I was a little bummed to have spent 3 hours inside on a day as fabulous as yesterday was. Well, today is equally as gorgeous and so something in nature is definitely on the agenda.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday Evening

I slept in and then did a long session of my morning practices this morning and then finished up a lot of marketing materials for Corpus Christi this morning. All of which was great, but did not allow time for me to write on my blog about our fun Tuesday night classes. We had a great turn out for the hatha class at 4:30. I think I counted over 35 people there. I worked with the theme of "casting your vote for peace inside the nation that is your own being."

Being that it was election day and all, I went with the vote theme. But I was also inspired by something Johnny Kest said in his class at the Southwest Yoga Conference. He said, our choices, every day, are our votes. We can, when shopping for food, for instance, vote for slaughterhouses or vote for gardens, vote for slave labor or ethical standards of employment. And so forth. But it got me thinking that every time we practice yoga we can make a vote for the change we want to see in the small nation that is our very being. We can choose how we want the world inside us to be. We can work for non violence, for deep, soulful communication, for levity, for transformation, for peace. We really can.

And we can join together with our fellow practitioners as a federation of nations united in the process and practice of yoga to support change and harmony among us. SO that is a vision of yoga. And the cool thing is we do not need every aspect of us to agree with the yogic vision. We need a majority vote. That is all. And yoga can help us with that. Time and time again we can assert our vision and cultivate the change we wish to be and we can tip the scales of justice within us. How cool is that?

Like I said, this morning I worked in business stuff, did a practice and then ate lunch and went into Austin. I hung out with Anne for a while, taught at 7th Street and then spent some time with Jeff and Anne at their place. It was a nice evening. It really was. The class tonight at 7th Street Yoga had a lot of new people in the room and we did some challenging stuff but I was happy with where we got to. There were a few "hiccups" of people not realizing my protocols for "no really, come and watch the demo" and so forth but nothing to absurd or unmanageable. Plus I think think some of the therapy I did in California has helped me feel less reactive. So that is always a good thing when you are me.

Anyway, tomorrow I spend the day in town. Acupuncture, mani/pedis and some sisterly bonding. Can't wait. Anyway, there is, of course, more that could be said, but that is the update for this evening. Tomorrow comes early so I am headed to bed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday Morning

So many things to write about today as it has been a full few days since last I checked in. I had a great day on Sunday with the Immersion group. The group is now 5 weekends in, which is officially more than half way through. There is now a deep bonding and relaxation among the participants and with me that is quite fun to be part of. This is my favorite aspect of Immersions. Well, and maybe teaching yoga in general. At some point, groups become communities. And this aspect is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching yoga for me.

I mean, I love asana. I really do. And meditation, pranayama and mantra anchor me psychologically in some pretty profound ways. They really do. But why I love my job is not that I find "teaching poses" highly stimulating. Don't get me wrong, anyone who has worked with me over time knows I get pretty darn psyched when I or one of my students "gets a new pose." Really, I am into it. Big time. And as much as I love that (which is a lot) what I really love is being part of a group of people who come together to support one another in becoming real, genuine, authentic human beings on a crazy, unpredictable planet in demanding, challenging times. That is the thrill of it. (It is also the challenge of it, by the way, but that is another entry. I think Satre said "Hell is other people," right? More on that later.)

So in long term classes and in trainings that last more than one weekend, I am always watching for those moments when the group gels and becomes a place of enjoyment, of sanctuary, and support beyond just "Each one of us is here to learn Anusara Yoga's loops and spirals from Christina so we can become certified one day." It almost always shifts to a focus of "being together, taking refuge together and learning with one another." We start to know each other's quirks and talents and humor and trust moves in. It is very cool, this shift from the individual's goals and concerns, to the bonded organism that is community. To me, that shift is really everything.

And, like I wrote on my last entry, growth- be it individual or community- cannot be forced. We just plant seeds, tend to them and watch how it goes. I do think as a teacher we can foster community but I also know we cannot force it. If we start talking about "the kula" before it has happened, it will feel false and phony and our students will not believe its true value because they are not actually experiencing it. At the same time if we never talk about it, if we never speak to as it is happening, we might not notice the very water in which we are swimming.

So we did lots of asana on Sunday, we had a great talk about Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and a nice period of meditation to close with. I came home had dinner and a very challengin discussion with Kelly and then spent yesterday at home working on marketing materials for my 2009 Immersion and Teacher Training in Corpus Christi that begins in January. I will be sending some details out about that but those of you in Austin who have done an Immersion before can come for indiviual weekends of just for the Teacher Training portion. Also of note is that Craig and I are teaming up for two of the weekends- one in February and one in September. The first weekend will be a History of Yoga Intensive called Living the Yoga Tradition. He will teach the philosophy and I will teach asana to support and help us "embody" the teachings. The second weekend will be on Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy called Agni Yoga and The Fire of Transformation. Plus Corpus is fun, Michelle's place is awesome, her students are super nice. So plan on joining in for those very special events. (And yes, he and I are planning on bringing them to Austin at some point also.)

There is more to write about, for sure but the day is calling me. I am home teaching this week and next. In fact, I am even home this weekend! What fun.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Morning

Unfortunately, I forgot that it was Daylight Saving's Time this morning. But fortunately that gives me a little time for my morning routine and to update my blog.

Our trip to California was good. Kelly and I spent a lot of time doing some counseling together which was good for us both and then we found a fantastic Italian restaurant that we went to almost every night for some fantastic meals and conversations. I also enjoyed having some time to let down a bit and to reflect on my life and what I want and need right now. I have been working a lot and been so busy that I have kind of lost contact with my inner self in a way and getting some time away without work was just what I needed. I got some much needed clarity on some issues and some acceptance for other areas that are not clear.

I have learned that I really suck at "not knowing" or "letting things grow in the dark", so to speak. Learning to trust that things will be revealed in their own time is not an easy thing for me. I am more of the personality type that would plant a seed, see it sprouting and then try to yank on it to pull it out of the ground and get it to grow faster! (I think this is a pitta thing.) I have to cultivate a kind of patience with my Inner Life and not pull on my Inner Sprouts but trust them to grow at their own rate so long as I give them sunshine and water. So, this week away did help me harvest a few things but mostly gave me a sense of spaciousness around the sprouting process that I really needed. In that way nothing changes and yet everything changes.

Kelly and I got home on Friday and settled in and now this weekend is an Immersion Weekend.

Yesterday was a great session. I taught a long asana practice that worked with the theme of stability and freedom and culminated in eka pada raja kapotasana back bends. That was fantastic. We spent a lot of time upside down and working on balancing in handstand and pinca mayurasana. We worked on sirsasana for a while also which seemed productive. After a break we spent some time in sutra study and closed with a short meditation.

I spent the evening at a YogaYoga staff gathering at YogaYoga 360- the new facility that YogaYoga has acquired. After an opening greeting and meditation, Craig Williams gave a talk and then there was general merry-making (dancing, mingling, chatting, etc.). It was a nice time and inspiring in a lot of ways.

Well, there is more to consider and write about but I am going to go practice some asana before I teach today.