Monday, June 30, 2008


I am Los Angeles with some time to kill and the need to charge up my laptop so I am in Starbucks sitting with some peppermint tea and a very expensive bottle of water stealing some electricity.

I went to Annick's Ashtanga class this morning which was kind of interesting. We made a brief foray into the second series through ardha matsyendrasana and then she just gave everyone the last 30 minutes to do whatever they wanted and finish however we wanted. I was a bit disappointed by the ending because everything was so tight and orderly up to that point and I was there for guidance (or so I thought!) and I really felt the benefit of the structure this morning. More importantly is that I do not know the second series very well. Had she turned me loose in the primary series it would have been no big deal I could could have performed a reasonable semblance of things. (And seems like they do finish up the same way but it was so abrupt of a shift it really caught me off guard. I am thinking to myself "Somewhere in there there is a scorpion and some arm balances...." At one point she looked at me and said, "You know, drop back, do whatever you want." I am thinking, "Whatever I want relative to the Ashtanga Second Series or just whatever I want?? Obviously I know how to practice alone and I know how to take class and follow instructions but I am not so good at the in-between aspect of things. Different mindset for me.) So I busted out some back bends which really felt awesome. (That is the beauty of the 2nd series evidently! My back bends on the day I went to Primary Series class felt like shit. I was however in the zone with everything else that day!)

Anyhoo- it was sweaty, enjoyable and fun which was pretty much want I wanted. And she seems like a wealth of knowledge and experience. And because of how I am you better believe I am going to do a bit of study and memorizing of the second series. Flailing is suh motivation for me!

Then I went to Anne's to shower (She is right the furniture I gave her looks great in her house!) and then I met Kelly for a veggie burger at Central Market. While we were sitting there Jessie came in and so he sat down for a while with us and I really enjoyed visiting with him. (And he was really was still glowing and clear-eyed from the weekend.)

Kelly went back to class and Anne and I went and got Mani/Pedis. I branched out of red and went with an orange and peach theme. I think I like red better but the change is kind of fun. And really nail polish is a great place to deal with impermanence and the transitory nature of phenomena.

Anne took me to the airport and then all the United Flights were delayed so my itinerary was changed. So now instead of getting to Vancouver at 8pm I get in around 11:30. Ugh. The good news is I got upgraded to First Class for free. Tomorrow morning we start at 9 which might be a bit brutal but most likely will catch up with me more like Wednesday! I called Shelley and said "This might call for Lattes tomorrow morning" to which my consummate host replied, "I know just the place!" Chances are I wil be able to sleep on the plane though. At least some.

I guess that is about it for now. More to come.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Evening

Well, it was an absolutely fabulous weekend, I thought. At the end of the training I asked people to reflect on a few questions:

1. What are the 3 most important things did you learned this weekend?
2. What will you continue to work on?
3. What is your greatest strength as a teacher?

My answers:

1. I learned was how much I enjoy the people in this group. Now this is not new or anything, just the depth of my realization struck me repeatedly. This group is just full of caring, comitted, funny, fun, smart, sassy, intense, compassionate and wise people who are great to be around. For instance we all sat outside at lunch laughing hysterically and then just walked inside and immediately switched gears into Teacher Traning without missing a beat. It was seamless. This is because of the caliber of student and person in attendance and the deep bonding that has happened. 2. I learned that the efficacy of breaking things down into super-simple conceptual chunks should not be underestimated. 3. I learned that there is no better work for me to be doing than teaching people to practice and teach Anusara Yoga. This work asks me to be my best self and to purify those things that interfere with that expression. One thing that really struck me along those lines is how incredible it is to have a job that is about creating communities of people that are dedicated to suppporting and uplifting one another. I mean does it get better than that?

I want to continue to work on softening, trusting myself and refining the teaching excercises so they are as effective as possible.

I think my greatest strength as a teacher is my passion and clarity. (Okay that is two things. Passionate clarity. How is that?) But really, I am and have been for quite some time now- like 20 years- passionate about education. And I love yoga with a passion. So to be involved in yoga education and in the process of helping people to educate others in yoga is a dream life.

I am totally on fire about it all. (Must be the red and orange outfit I had on today!!!) But really, it was a really potent weekend for me. The content, the context, the company... All of it. Thanks to those who were a part of it.

Picutres from Ari can be viewed here:

I am going to spend the morning in Austin and the catch a plane to Vancouver. Another fun thing awaits.

Sunday Morning

The great thing about frustration is that it can motivate you to clarify and improve. Like Imentioned in the previous post I was a bit frustrated- not by the students but by my answer that I felt fell a bit short of great and useful. So the frustration spurred me to get very clear at explaining the components of teaching Anusara Yoga and applying those components to different levels and populations and then demonstrating experientially what I meant.

Manouso Manos, a Senior Iyengar Teacher (they really do have a Senior Teacher designation, unlike Anusara Yoga who has only "Self-proclaimed Senior Teachers" but many of you know this rant already and if you do not know it, it isn't pretty, let me tell you...) once told the group that he and a handful of his peers once asked Mr. Iyengar to teach them as though they were beginners. BKS evidently replied that that was impossible, he could only teach them as they were- he teaches to what is in front of him. He then told the teachers to go out into the street and get him some raw beginners. Then he taught those people right off the street to demonstrate exactly how he would teach Iyengar Yoga to a raw beginner. (And of course, he hit it out of the park.)

So trying to tell and show experienced students how I would teach beginners without beginners there is a bit false but I think it went really well in general. But now I am ahead of myself. First we had a talk about YOGA IS LIKE BAKING. Anusara Yoga is baking a cake. Level One teacher training is making a pound cake. Your certification video is a pound cake with chocolate chips. Teaching Pregnant Ladies is a german chocolate cake. Teaching Seniors is a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Teaching Beginners is devil's food cake. Now it is all cake and therefore, it all has to have the essential ingredients in a certain proportion- some kind of fat, a sweetener, flour and a leavening agent and so on. At a certain point, not enough flour and you have cookies, which is another kind of yoga all together. (Still yummy. Still sweet. Still worthwhile. Still enjoyable.) Leave out the sweetener and you have crackers. (Still yummy, still nourishing. etc. but a different kind of yoga because we are making cake.)

So TT can teach trainees how what the necessary ingredients are for pound cake, we can help trainees assemble the ingredients, we can give folks a chance to practice creaming the butter and sugar together or sifting the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda together and we can even discuss optimal batter consistency and so on. But in TT we do not even put the pound cake in the oven!

The cool thing is that all of the "Principles of Baking a Pound Cake" can be applied to "making a pound cake with chocolate chips" and "Making a chocolate cake" and so on. That application process is really something that is the fun of teaching Anusara Yoga. I can give suggestions, I can certainly share what I have learned but what we most want as teacher trainers is to give you the ingredients, the principles and the permission to confidently and humbly go forth and make cake. If we make it too narrow in terms of "What is Anusara Yoga" we would limit your creative potential and expression and even the growth of the method. If there are not guidelines and it is too wide open people will be out there calling cookies cake and confusing people.

So- it has to be cake to be Anusara Yoga. And even though you might be making a certification video kind of cake never discount that chocolate cake can also be damn fine eating. I think there is more that I covered but mostly we worked with the art of humbly making a cake.

I walked everybody through the "mind of Christina Sell when planning a class" using the Class Planning Worksheet I developed as our guide. I took the same theme (HUMILITY), the same UPA (KIDNEY LOOP), the same set of poses (Basic standing poses) with a few additions and exceptions and taught two sample classes. One class was geared to Carrot Cake- an experienced yoga student who does not know Anusara Yoga. The other one geared to chocolate cake- the new yoga student who is new to yoga and also new to Ansuara Yoga. Then we compared and contrasted the difference.

The permutations are endless but the point is that as long as you are making cake it is Anusara Yoga. The type of cake is going to depend on who is actually in front of you, where you are teaching, etc. and so forth. And regardless you need the same basic ingredients, cake baking skills, an oven, a timer (!!) and so on.

We ended the class with a class planing exercise and some practice teaching. This group has some really great teachers and really awesome wisdom among it. No train wrecks. Lots of progress. Great confidence. Great humility. More later.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Morning

I wrote this this morning and then posted it and went on with my day. When I got home the screen said ERROR and so the post did not happen like I thought it had. OOOPS. Here is what I said this morning about yesterday. Tomorrow morning I will post again about today.

The second day of training went well. (You know it is a good day by the glazing over that was happening by 4:45! Can you say overload?! I do have this fantasy of a Teacher Training group that would met for 2 hours a week over several months rather than 30-hours in 4 days, but that is a different story.)

These trainings are intense by nature. It takes a lot for the students to have to go from listening to me, writing their own ideas, processing the information for a pose in the own bodies, articulating it to someone else, switching partners continually, and saying the same things in different ways and then going back to try out a concept in their own experience and reflecting on it. Each thing I mentioned requires a different kind of brain activity and so you have to constantly switch between certain 'intelligences". Not easy. Definitely tiring after 6 hours. And we took one lunch break midday and only one catch-a-breath break. WOW. The ability of the group to stay present and focused has increased 100-fold since the Immersions began.

We worked a lot with Instructing with the Breath and with articulating the Primary Flows yesterday. We had a brief foray into the ever-present-question of "how to teach this to people who are not young and able." I think this question gets asked in every teacher training I have ever taught and in every teacher training I have ever been in. I have yet to answer it to my own satisfaction or heard another teacher answer it very well. And in some of the videos I have seen over the years, this is a weak area of knowledge within a lot of aspiring Anusara Yoga teachers.

I actually think I am very good at breaking this stuff down and teaching it to the older, the stiffer and the not-so-young-and-able but it is hard to communicate all of what is involved with that in a few short sentences or in a brief summary. So I often get frustrated- not because people want to know this information or because they asked. That makes sense to me and I want them to know and I want them to ask. I get frustrated because I feel like my answer always is short of actually being helpful or in anyway preparing people to actually shift into really understanding "how to keep this basic, simple, safe and accessible."

Partly I think it is because the forum of TT is a limited forum to convey all that is involved. And most of what I have learned about that aspect of teaching and continue to learn has been taught to me a little at a time in classes (largely in the Iyengar Yoga School) and workshops and through trial and error with my own students, seeing what works and what doesn't work. It is a funny thing because a lot of that is outside the scope of a Level One Teacher Training and yet it is the questions that everyone has when they come to Level One Teacher Training and what they need to know to begin teaching Anusara Yoga.

So I want to do a lot of that in our Sequencing workshop in July. How to explore sequencing and class planning for different levels and populations. But also the thing is that Level One is still really about making a good basic Pound Cake. Good articulation is like the butter. You have to have that completely "in your mixing bowl" no matter how you are going to apply the method to any population. And it is these articulation skills that we practice in Level One. So there is more that could be said on all of that (And will continue to be said.) Also I think this is why John is making the standard for Level One TT curriculum 100 hours rather than 30 hours at this point! There is just a lot that needs to be covered.

One fun thing this weekend that I have done is take a few yoga classes after we are done. Mopac is so busy at 6:00 that if I was to drive home right after class I would easily sit in traffic for over an hour. So I decided to take Sanieh's 6:00 Flow on Thursday and I took Eriko's 6:00 Ashtanga class last night. I enjoyed both classes a lot. (And I clasped in M-4 last night that and garbha pindasana is a whole other pose when you are drenched in sweat. I have never been able to do it and I realized last night is it not because my leg muscles are so bulky like I have always thought but because I have never been sweaty enough!) I particularly enjoyed both teacher's teaching presence and obvious dedication to their method. It was fun going from deep Anusara Yoga Land into these other classes and systems. Nice exercise in contrast. And thanks to Brent last night for coming with me to class and Kim, Jill and Brent for coming on Thursday.

Okay then- see everyone soon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Morning

The first day of our Teacher Training was really incredible. We have a really great group. There are 19 people in the group- 3 people who were not in out Immersion (Brent from Arizona/Vancouver, Darren from San Antonio, and Jerry from Louisianna) and it is really great to have them in the group. The fit right in and add great new energy which is not always the case when you add new people to a mix after 100-hours and more of study and group bonding.

The first day is a lot of "Context" and setting the stage for the more experiential work that will follow. We spent the morning with some "getting to know you" stuff, reviewing Anusara Yoga Philosophy and Anusara Yoga Methodology. I spent sometime reviewing the Video Assessment Form that we use on the Certification Committee because I am using that as a guide for the "Anusara Yoga Standard". It is a tricky thing because there are so many things that you can do in a class that are still "Good Teaching" and "Effective Teaching" but are not on that list. There are just as many things that are necessary to get the job of teaching Ansuara Yoga done that, if evaluated for certification on a video would not pass, but oh well. And there is the whole tendency of preparing so much to pass a video that you are not preparing to teach a class itself but still it is good to know that the basics of the standard and the expectations for passing the test, so to speak. And if you do all the things on the video assessment form regularly and get used to evaluating your class along those lines, you are going to be teaching good, solid classes. My point is that it is not the whole ball of wax.

Teacher Training Level One is about learning the basics of what I call "the recipe." It is like making a good pound cake. No chocolate chips, no icing, not a marbled variety. Just a good basic pound cake. I happen to love pound cake so this is not a criticism. I shared with the group today that I have taken Level One teacher training wit John about 5 times and that while everyone gets excited for Level Two and "more advanced" things, the truth of the matter is that people never fail their videos for Level Two problems. They fail them for basic Level One problems like their pound cake was not sweet enough or it had no leavening agent. (Think observation and verbal adjustments or not keeping a heart theme alive.) And fail is to strong a word, but for the sake of making a point I am using it anyway.

We spent a lot of time talking about Intrinsic Goodness and with how to create heart-based themes. And the group praticed presenting themes in partners and small groups. We talked about how to go from Univeral to Personal and from PEersonal to Universal and the encessity of really establishing very clearly a few words that you are going to use to bring the themalive. Verbs, adjectives and so on.

Well, ther ismore to share but I ahve to get in the shower since I ahve a long drive up to Nroth Austin in rush hour. More to come.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Scenes from Wednesday

First of a big shout out to Marjorie Nass whose certification video got the "thumbs up" from Christina Sell yesterday. (And who has just joined our blogroll. Marjorie you did not tell me you had a blog or I would have added you sooner.) She has a few more hoops to jump through but her video has passed. And she was a model assessee- she took feedback well, made the appropriate adjustments in her teaching without any grumbling, whining, defensiveness, etc. She remained open, receptive and enthusiastic throughout. She and I had the great fortune to actually meet and discuss her first video in person while we were at the Teacher's Gathering which was awesome to speak face to face. It can be kind of nerve-wracking for both parties if you have never met and then you have to go over a video tape while talking on the phone and so on. Anyway- kudos for making it to the end (which is really just another beginning!) of a very intensive process. Yea for you.

Later in the evening last night and early in the morning the emails of cancellation came pouring in...I seems like practice was not in the cards for lots of folks today. Me, Anne, Jeff, Kelly, and Ian got together,however and had a really great time.

The Sequence if you are interested:
Child's pose
Adho mukha svanasana
prasarita padottanasana
baddha konasana
supta padangusthasana -4 variations
supta virasana
padmasana in handstand
pinca mayurasana
trikonasana-ardhachandrasana-urdhvaprasarita ekapadasana-vira 1
parsvottanasana (concave back)- urdhvaprasarita ekapadasana- parvottanasana chin to shin(FEEL THE FREEDOM!!)
ardha bhekasana
pinca backbends at the wall
upper back chair work
gandha bherandasana work at the wall (See pics below)
urdhva danurasana
dwi pada viparita dandasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
jathara parivartonasana
viparita karani

After practice Anne, Jeff, Kelly and I ate some homemade ice cream that we made. We used fresh organic cream and milk from our local dairy, organic cane sugar, Newman O's for a delicious cookie's and cream taste treat. YUMMMY!

Then we all went down to the river for a short frolic in the cool water. I did some work and then we made dinner (pasta primavera with our organic fresh veggies, fresh herbs, and whole wheat pasta. )

So- I have a few things to catch up on in preparation for the weekend of TT which I am really excited about and will write more about as the weekend is underway. Since several people have asked me, I am not teaching my 4:30 and 6:00 classes tomorrow night due to teaching the TT all day and weekend. Then the next week I am teaching an Immerison in Vancouver and then the week after that I am vacationing on the coast of BC. Anne is teaching for two weeks and then on July 10th Jeremiah (4:30) and Jess G. (6:00). I will back teaching that class on July 17th. Please do come and support the class and the subs and keep the love alive.

Picture Gallery:

Anne, whose hair is looking full of body

Jeff, looking quite handsome
Anne and Moshi nuzzling her
More dog-love
Christina busting out this pose she has not done in a long long time. (Meg, I kept thinking of you on these. Remember how we used to scrape up our chins? It all came back to me.) Anyway, I think I owe this pose today to the bloomers. I am pretty sure they made it all possible. And you cannot tell form this pose because it was taken right after, but I did get my toes all the way to my head.)
All of us trying...
kapinjalasana which felt SO GREAT after the gandha bherandasana...
Ian and Moshie- look at that poonam...
Again, more dog-love...
Love you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Home Again

Wow, Wisconsin was just great!

I had never been there before and from what I am told, going to Viroqua is not exactly like going to most any other place in Wisconsin. Viroqua is this little haven of organic farming, back-to-the-earth lifestyles, Waldorf Education and Theosophy, good food, great company and fabulous Anusara Yoga taught by Meg Abene Newlin!

We had a great group for the workshop whose studentship was just absolutely stellar. Meg has been a student, friend and practice buddy of mine for almost ten years now and so teaching her students was special treat. She has done such a good job at conveying the heart, spirit and technique of the method to her group so teaching them was real pleasure for me. They were open, receptive, hard working, inquisitive and super capable.

We worked a lot with the basic principles but it is always amazing how rich the basics are and how demanding it can be to do them correctly in each pose. Alignment-wise, I placed a lot of emphasis on getting clarity between pelvic loop and outer spiral in the lateral standing poses and externally rotated hip openers. (scoop your tailbone and lift your low belly AND rotate your leg deeply in the socket and really turn it all the way down to your foot.) This work took us to some fun hanumanasana work, some deep opening in ekapadarajakapotasana ("No lazy pigeons!! EVER!!" Imagine a kind Mommy Dearest fiendishnish to go along with these words...) and some great arm balances.

In the shoulders we looked a lot at the arm working independently of the shoulder socket and opening the shoulder versus opening the upper back which took us to some brilliant urdhva danurasanas on Sunday Morning. Somewhere in all of it I think we ironed some good things out with headstand and shoulder stand as well.

I had fun staying with Meg and Chris and their daughter Maple who is no longer a baby but a real-life walking and talking 2 1/2 year old now with lots of ideas, opinions and verve. Particularly profound is my memory of Maple prancing around the house in her new red patent leather shoes, the hard tail baby yoga-T I brought for her and a completely bare bottom. Very cute indeed. Not to mention the two cats, the two goats, and Meg's dog Dixie Taco. (She wants chickens also ...) Grandma and her dog Hershey were also in the mix for added fun and support. Really, we all had a good time.

Meg and I indulged ourselves in two awesome practices together- one of our favorite things to do together I believe. I think we would be really rich if we had a dollar for every hour we have rolled out yoga mats together- between the classes, workshops and practices... but it was super fun to spend time like that for me because we have such similar ideas and approaches to yoga and compatible abilities that I found it quite delightful and familiar. And also it is so great if on a weekend of teaching I can actually practice enough to get sore. And in this case, we made ourselves nice and sore without getting tweaked. And so that is bliss to me. Sore but not tweaked.

So - I got home around 9:45 last night and went to bed after a up of vata soothing tea. We got up early this morning and did our sitting practices, walked the dogs, I did some yoga while Kelly went on a ride and then we made lunch -- yummy kale and coconut milk concoction inspired by Meg's recipe and our wilting kale- and now I am catching up on all things computer based and prepping for the Teacher Training and Vancouver Immersion. Yippee. Fun stretch of teaching coming up for me.

okay- more later. I have to read everyone's blogs to find out all that is going on!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday Night

I had a really great day yesterday. Kelly and I got some new chairs for our living room, I did a short practice, ate a great lunch of noodles (inspired by Kung Fu Panda), got my hair cut, had tea with my friend Joe and taught two really great classes. We are on the second of the Five Acts of Shiva this week- Sustaining. The Absolute creates (that was last week) and sustains.

And because our physical bodies hold all of the clues we need for the metaphysical journey, we can look in our very physicality for clues about the nature of what sustains and how. For instance our heart beat and our breath- each of these functions so very important to sustain life exist in a -- everybody say it all together now- SPANDA, in a pulsation. (Go back to the attributes of the absolute from a month or so ago...) And because asana is a way that we can, if we choose to, practice "acting like Shiva" as a means to embody the sacred, as a means to "Align with the Divine" we can consciously participate in this spanda in our poses and the alignment becomes the means by which we sustain the pose. Whew!

At 4:30 we worked wit balanced action- the pulsation of opposites in the poses in long holds. People were pretty amazing. 2 minutes in vira 1 and so forth which led us down the primrose back bending path to urdhva danurasana, dwi pada viparita dandasana and headstand dropovers.

6:00 was a hanumanasana class brought to you by inner and outer spiral in a very crowded room. I think I counted 31 people in the little room at South. (PLEASE someone get me a bigger room on Thursday nights or get those plants out of there- the are taking up space!) Someone made a joke about limiting the double dippers (Which by the way is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and the worst possible way to "solve the problem" of a crowded classroom that I can imagine. After, all we had 11 double dippers-Anne, Jeff, Meg, Jesse, Svetha, Tabatha, Katherine, Susan, Mike, Susan ... Jeff got off work early to be there forth classes, Mike and Susan drive all the way from Round Rock to come to both classes, Jesse changed his work schedule to be there, Ari arranged her custody and divorce settlement around these classes... I could go on but when people have arranged their life for over a year to come on Thursday nights the thought of limiting their attendance is not exactly what comes to my mind. But anyway, I am missing one other double dipper from my list-- I am sorry I did not write them down last night so I cannot remember who else came at this moment...)

A few people left because it was crowded which, I can understand, just does not make sense to my way of thinking. I never think- "It is so crowded, I am not going to go." I think, "Why is it so crowded? I have got to go find out!" But that is me. And the coolest thing is that by the end of the class- after everyone did the partner work together and made such valiant attempts at hanumanasana, the room literally felt more spacious. Something in the space-time continuum was definitely shifted by simply opening our hearts and "making some room" and dealing with the discomfort in the name of practicing yoga together.

So thanks to all who came to either or both clases last night and who helped to make last night great. I am off to Wisconsin to teach this weekend. Yippee!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pictures from Practice

I am starting this pictures of with one of Spirit becuase she features prominently in the rest of the shots. WEe had a good practice today. Lots of backbends but we didn't push the warm up being as it was so hot. We skipped surya namaskar all together and worked with longer holds and really getting the quads opened. I think the tone was nicely mellow even though we got into some deep stuff.

Here is Spirit...

Jason- before this he had done a very lovely arm balance, I was just not quick enough with the camera.Hannah and MoshieMark, resting betwen pinca mayurasanas...

Kelly prepping for pinca... Kelly in eka pada koundinyasana for the first time!Jason and Spirit

Kelly and Spirit

Hannah and Spririt
Kelly in ekapada rajakapotasanaSvetha without the strap for the first time ever!
Me in natrajasana but slipping on my sweaty toes!
Kelly, ready for savasana and ready for me to put the freakin' camera down!

Here is our sequence:
Child's Pose- 2 minutes
Down Dog- 2 minutes
Uttanasana- 2 minutes
Sirsasana- 5 minutes
Handstands- 5 minutes
pinca mayurasana- 5 minutes
Supta padangustahsana (4 main variations)- 1 minutes each
eka pada supta virasana variations- 1 minute each
Lunge with elbows down
twisted lunge
eprk prep
lunge with back leg in ardha bhekasana
twisted lunge with quad stretch
eprk prep with back leg in ardha bhekasana
supta virasana- 5 minutes
paryankasana with block in upper back- 2 minutes
kapotasana pushing up to straight arms
vira 2
vira 2, rev.
surya yantrasna
yogi dandasana
Vira One
revoloved parsvakonasana
eka pada koundinyasana
urdhva prasarita ekapadasana
lunge with shoulder under leg hip stretch
eka pada koundinyasana 2
arms waving and touching the floor ustrasana
urdhva danurasana
eka pada urdhva danurasana
eka hasta urdhva danurasana
dwipada viparita dandasana
eka pada viparita dandasana
eprk 1-4
down dog
childs pose
revolved childs pose
jathara parivartonasana
uppa vistha konasana
parvsa uppavistha konasana

Have at it. The practice was a really fun time for me. I was a bit low in energy and felt a little off balance at the beginning. The practice was just what I needed- got a nice dose of good company, a lot of heart opening poses and I am delightfully sore from the effort and I am not overly tired. I am really enjoying these casual group practices. It has always been something I have loved doing with experienced students and I feel really hapy that peple are coming down here to practice with me. Love it.

After practice Kelly and I made veggie sandwiches and then went to se Kung Fu Panda which was excellent. I think that is anohter post. Something along th lines of "There is no special ingredient." Perhaps my class theme for tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good morning!

Here are some pictures from the weekend in Corpus. Notice we are kind of prop intensive in most of the these shots. We dove pretty intensely into Inner and Outer Spiral during the weekend and did a lot of work in the hips!

Here is it is as a prep for Inner and Outer spiral in eka pada rajakapotasana...

And me selfishly enjoying the assistance....
Inner Spiral in the back leg of janu sirsasana...
The sisters...

Shins in/thighs out in Trikonasana- making room for the front leg to Outer Spiral..
Reviewing the flows of energy ...
A Chorus Line
The guys learning ardha chandra chapasana...
Urdhva Danurasana Me on the beach
Me on the beach again.

It was a really fun weekend.

Yesterday I spent some time finishing a Certification Video Review. (Marjorie, I just have to talk to Denise and then you and I will talk...) gathering the material for the appendices of my book, handling some correspondences and making a flyer for the 20-hour Teacher Training that I am going to have here in July. Sorry everyone for the late notice but Laura and I were not sure if YogaYoga would host it or not and how many people were really interested in the training so by the time a decision was made, it is now only a month out with a definite date.

July 18-20 here in San Marcos we will do a 20-hour Teacher Training on The Art of Sequencing. Also because I think it will be small group we can address whatever concerns, issues, questions,etc. arise and are relevant to the attendees. While we started this training with the Immersion grads who need 50-hours of TT for the Anusara-Inspired status requirements, Anyone who has done an immersion and a 30-hour Level One training is welcome to attend. If you want info about that just email me or call me and I can send you a flyer or answer any questions.

I did make it to the river yesterday to read and swim and that was fun and summery. Then I showered and did a nice practice on the bolsters. (The Goddesses if the Red Tent are smiling on me because had we had a group practice on Monday nothing in a back bending extravaganza would have been appropriate but by Wednesday I will be ready to go for it!)

All right then time to get on with the day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Home again

Okay- so I am home from a fun weekend in Corpus Christi. I really had a great time with Michelle and some of her lovely students. We had a small group which ended up being really great because I was able to go into some alignment details that are harder to cover in bigger groups. Also I was able to really focus in and help some students who had some injuries and limitations that they were dealing with and who needed some special attention. I left feeling really great about the weekend and what I was able to offer.

Sometimes teaching small groups can be really tiring because often there is not a lot of group energy to create momentum for 10-15 hours of teaching over a whole weekend. But everyone who came to the workshop was a really great student and they were just a pleasure to teach. They listened to my instructions, they really did what I asked, they asked great questions and many folks had breakthroughs in their poses. And that is the fun of teaching. (If you are me.)

Breakthroughs in poses to me is not just "bagging a pose" for the first time. It is about feeling more deeply or understanding more clearly or even jsut recognizing soemting beautiful within yourself. For instance, just really getting a handle on rooting to rise- really feeling it and its affects- is a profound breakthrough. It may not mean that you have a sexy picture of yourself in an advanced pose to post on your blog, it may just mean that your brought your awareness more fully into your practice. Or one woman who was there over the week has been in pain for 4 1/2 years and we worked with a lot of muscular energy all Friday night. She came in Sautrday morning to class and said, 'I woke up in less pain that I have had for 4 years this morning." That is a breakthrough.

Also- it is a testimony to muscular energy and its therapeutic affects. So often someone is in pain we think- "take it easy, be gentle" etc. But the truth is almost all injuries respond to more work (of the right kind and in the right way) not less. This woman was such a good student that I hardly had to give her the new action more than two or three times before she made it her own and she was able to do things without pain that she has been holding herself back from for 4 years. Plus she got injured from a strong hands-on adjustment (Another issue but you cannot cannot cannot give a strong adjustment to someone who is not engaged muscularly because it will very likely hurt them! Someone who is super stiff, who is muscular by type or who knows how to engage and is doing it, you can really crank on hard. But an "organic person" will many times suffer from a strong adjustment. ) Anyway- it was pretty remarkable to me that this woman would trust me since she had actually been hurt by a well-meaning yoga teacher in the past.

Michelle spent the month of May in New York at Omega doing a Jivamukti Teacher Training with the Jivamukti founders, David Life and Sharon Gannon. She had great stories about them, about her experience and about the training so I loved hearing about all of that. They are kind of modern-day yoga icons and so it was fun to get some of the inside scoop on what they are up to. (Warning: Do not go to one of their trainings if you want to keep eating meat, they are very big proponents of ahimsa as it relates to the food we eat. Michelle said they showed lots of videos regarding "The truth about meat" and so on. I remember reading their book along time ago and it said, "Not everyone should be a vegetarian- only caring, sensitive people." Or something like that!)

Not that I am up for a rant on vegetarianism this morning. I really am not.

Okay- I got a note from my editor that I have to send in some things for the appendices and so that is my next project. Michelle took some pictures and so when I get them I will post them.

Oh and on a mundane, householder note- our air conditioning broke and they cannot come until tomorrow so it is perhaps a day for me to go to the movies. We actually have two units and the one for the bedroom is still running so I will could just camp out in the back room in the heat of the day. Or maybe tube the river and contemplate life and other esoteric matters from an inner tube...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

5 Acts of Shiva

So, in Kashmir Shaivism they talk about The 5 Acts of Shiva. Or the 5 Functions of Grace (not to be confused with the 6 attributes of The Absolute that John Friend outlines in the Anusara Yoga philosophy) When we talk about Aligning with Grace we actually then have to enter into a consideration of what Grace actually is, how does it function and then how might we align with it. Well, these traditions suggest that there are 5 acts of Shiva and when we behave as the Divine behaves then we are in a process of aligning with Grace. This is so exciting to me because this is really at the source of heart-based themes and our incredible method that perfectly embodies this philosophy. (The Absolute pulsates in an ongoing movement of expansion. Our method is built on a series of expansions and contractions in an over-all movement toward expansion. Like that.)

Today we worked with the 1st act of Shiva as our theme: Creation. Out of the state of Ultimate Fullnes and unbounded freedom, Shiva creates. So to align with Grace in asana we can actually create asana as an expression of our fullness, as an expression of our Highest longings and aspirations. Each asana is a creative act, brought alive through expansion and contraction and through skillfully made choices. We worked on seated twists and forward bends at 4:30 and back bends at 6:00. I realized in the 4:30 class that we need to spend a lot of time on deep hip openers. By the end of the summer we need better success with yogi dandasana. (Grueling pose, huh?) Anyway, be ready for that. I liked the sequence I taught a lot so expect to see that again soon. I did it in my practice today and it continues on nicely into Maricyasana 4, which went very very well for me today. (Binding, both sides, no blanket. )

Also funny was to begin to break my habit of saying that everyone is doing "good" so much. I was talking with Kelly about how I had to really concentrate to not fall into my habit. He said, "Well, personally, I missed all the encouragement!" (Oh well. Christina's classes decimated by taking her teacher's advice! Funny.)

Kelly, Anne, Jeff, Tabatha, Bridgitte, Svetha, Meg, and Jesse all double-dipped.

All right then, time for bed. Off to Corpus Christi this weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


So it was a very mellow day for Christina. I woke up for a 7:00 conference call with Carlos and the gang to have our review on Tantra. As always, it was interesting and fun to learn from him and to hear the groups thoughts on the subject.

Then I worked on some thing with my book so that I could send it out to the people I quoted for their approval and to begin to ask for endorsements for the book jacket.

Anne came down from Austin and we did a lovely practice. It was one of the one's that Geeta taught last summer so that was fun to revisit.

Supta Padangusthasana 1-4 (2X)
supta swastikasana (2X)
supta baddha konasana
eka pada supta virasana variations
padmasana- right leg in first
Parvatasana in padmasana
parsva padmasana
urdhva hastasana in dandasana
parsva dandasana with arms in urdhva hastasana
Repeat from padmasana- with left leg in first
ardha padmasana with one leg in dandasana turning to the padmasana leg
supta virasana
simhasana 2X
matsyasana 2X
sirsasana - legs in baddha konasana, legs in uppa vistha konasana, one leg in baddha konasana-one leg in uppa vistha, legs in virasana, padmasana
sarvangasana- legs in uppa vistha konasana, leg in baddha konasana, dropping over to setu bandhasana, parsva sarvangasana in padmasana

Then Anne and me and Kelly had lunch- everything on the plate was from our Greenling basket. The salad was great. I hardly eat salad anymore since I find it so hard to digest but we used some of the lettuce that we got in the basket. (And I made one of my favorite dressings- 2T sherry vinegar, 2T maple syrup, 2 T oil, 1T chopped shallots, salt, pepper. Yummy. And we got shallots in our basket!)

Then I realized I was tired and so I laid down, Kelly put some acupuncture needles in me and then after he took them out I rolled over, and slept for 3 hours! (I hardly ever nap! But what a great thing! And it was so awesome to have the time to rest after my trip to regroup because that trip to Park City, while fun, was not restful at all.)

Then Kelly and I got involved in making dinner and then we ate and now I am watching So You Think You Can Dance? which John Friend and Christy Nones got me into in Park City. I like this show. Right now, however, the judges are tearing down my favorite performers which is bumming me out a bit. Kelly keeps reminding me that if all the judges gave feedback like Anusara Yoga teachers it would not be a successfull reality show. Think about it- "Now your make-up was good, I liked your costume, I could really sense the love in your heart and the caring you had for all of us, and you have worked really hard to get here and I want to honor you for that- now if you could just dance a little better..."

Anyway- that's it for now. Oh- and some future practice opportunites. I think we are planning for the next two Wednesdays in San Marcos. 12-3. Let me know if you plan to come. Then I am out of town for two weeks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More pictures

Mark, going over from headstand. Nice melt, huh?
Hannah on the way over, Mark over Hannah over, working the feet
Chelsea, more
Chelsea, a lot more
Me, eka pada viparita dandasana

Me, on the way to scorpion . Jeremiah in savasana.
Me, in scorpion. Jeremiah, waking up.

These were taken with Katherine's camera. See, it really was fun. I am a bit sore and compounded with soreness from practice is the soreness I have from a day spent hunched over the computer. I am headed next door to practice now and try to unwind some of the "I am in agony from writing a book about yoga" soreness and the lactic acid from yesterdays blowout! I am going to do a lot of supta padangusthasana with weights on my bottom leg and some supported inversions.

On a happy note I sent my work off to my editor and so now it is in her hands except for a few decisions on my part regarding some finishing touches. Also I have to compile the document so I can send it to the people I quoted throughout for their approval. Not bad. Not bad at all. The end is in sight. Of this stage at least.
I am considering about going to the movies or something equally shallow.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Pics from Practice in San Marcos

Mark, dropping back

Jeremiah, revolved child's pose
J-Man again
Christina, eka pada viparita dandasana from sirsasana dropover
Pamela, lotus in handstand

Pamela, supta virasana
We had a really fun and productive practice today in San Marcos. Me, Anne, Jeff, Pamela, Lisa, Katherine, Hannah, Mark, Jeremiah, Chelsea and Ian all got together for a day of backbends. We used the sequence from John's practice that I posted as a springboard and had fun fun fun. I so enjoyed being with eveyone and sharing some of the techniques and principles we covered in therapy training, applied toward practice.
I will write more tomorrow. For now I want to get to work on my book project and finish up my laundry.