Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I have been on the computer and deep into future planning, marketing for the workshop with me and Noah and class planning for the TT that starts tomorrow at YogaYoga. I am pretty excited about it. Each time I do a Level One TT I think it gets better. I get more streamlined and more clear in how to present the material because each group teaches me so much. That is something I love about teaching. I really get to be a student of my own teaching methods and to learn what works and what does not work and how to improve each time.
Last night I had the opportunity to take a portion of Hannah's class at Castle Hill since she is applying to become and Anusara-Inspired teacher. That was really fun. Hannah is a thoughtful, caring, clear and inspiring teacher. It was really a delight to be in her class and to see how well her students responded to her and how well she communicated her direct experience of the Anusara method. She is really a great teacher. I recommend her class to everyone.
Then I got to substitute for Jeremiah's 7:30 class which was also really fun because I could tell he has been doing great work in there. His students followed my instructions well and had such a strong foundation and understanding of what I was saying. I might even have been too basic for them! It wasn't till the end I realized it was a hatha intermediate class and so I probably could have pushed them a little harder. Oh well. We worked with the primary flows in the standing poses and used the secondary flows to refine cobra and ustrasana. People made a lot of progress and seemed to take in the information I was giving so it was fun for me.
Several folks asked me about my immersion after class last night and since this cycle will be at Breath and Body, I didn't say a lot about it while we were all at YogaYoga. (My hesitancy in discussing it last night after class was not a lack of enthusiasm about your attendance but a sense of respect for professional boundaries and such!) So here is the link to the information. I am pretty excited about it. http://www.breathandbodyyoga.com/workshops.asp. Immersions are really an excellent way to dive into the method, to deepen your practice and understanding and to share an amazing journey with other awesome folks. We do have tentative dates outlined for Part 2 and Part 3 which will take us through the year so if you want to plan ahead , ask about those also.
Speaking of Breath and Body, I am starting my Wednesday night classes there April 8. 4:30-6:00.
I spent the morning practicing asana and prepping for this evenings classes which was great. I am finally not sore from Saturday anymore! All right, well the blog break is now over. Time to g back to class planning mode.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I have been thinking about group practice a lot lately. I even talked to my friend Noah about it recently who pointed out very clearly that there are differences between classes, workshops, practicing alone and group practice. For me, there are even differences between leading a group practice and attending one, but more on that another time. The thing about group practice for me- more than any other format- is that it is not an ordinary time for me. For me I always treat them as a chance to go to a new level, to make a breakthrough, to try harder, to go deeper, to engage more fully.
There you are, in a group practice, with 10-20 of your closest yoga buds and the opportunity to shift. Maybe the shift for some is not "pose oriented" but for me, asana practice is largely about the poses. (Eeek, gasp, oh God, she actually said it!) Yes, I said it because you know what? I do pranayama, I meditate, I write in a journal, I have a practice of karma yoga and seva, I have fantastic friends across the globe and a handful here that I like to hang out with for satsang and community, when I need it I go to therapy for my emotions, I go to philosophy talks for education and inspiration, I am an avid reader, I see my guru regularly for a blast of his transmission, I have a great health care practitioner to help me with my body's equilibrium, I practice mantra and devotional chanting and so asana for me is really about asana. I mean I when I roll out my mat, I want to work on my poses. I really do.
Now I know that the work on asana is not limited to the domain of asana. Believe me I have been at this a while and I know that once you go to work on asana, well asana goes to work on you and in my experience it leaves no stone unturned in your life. And as my friend Timothy once told me, the arrows of causation run both ways when we are talking about yoga and its therapeutic effects. Like you do yoga, you feel better, once you feel better you want to do more yoga. But really, when I have the opportunity to go for it in asana, I do not want to chant or just hang out with people no matter how much I like their company. I figure, let's rock out in practice and then go for dinner. Or if we are not going to really practice, we are just going to "be together" then let's dispense with the formality and just go to dinner.
So I started the practice yesterday talking about how we really can use this time to go to a new level and that I have no interest in deciding for people what that is for them but I did want to encourage everyone to know for themselves why they were there and what they wanted out of the time. What was their "next level?"
The truth is that we are just fine without changing at all. On one level. But we are also constantly being invited to increase our capacity, to expand our limits, to plumb our depths and to be more aware of the ever present truth within us. Really, this yoga is not just about acceptance and staying the same, it about a radical path of transformation of taking the risk to aim high and to continually fall short of our oh-so-high-intentions.
I mean really, what would be worse? Succeeding in meeting your low expectations or failing in meeting your highest aim. Chances are if you aim high and don't make it you are still going to end up higher than just aiming low or not even taking the risk to aim at all. And it is entirely within our own power not to turn on ourselves when we fail to meet a high aim. We DO NOT have to engage the downward spiral if we fall short of a goal! We really don't.
And for me, I am pretty much tired of apologizing about this view. Here it is. I am that kind of practitioner. I am that kind of teacher. Call it ambitious, call it pitta-deranged, call it what you will but I am into change, progress and THE POSES! I do know that not everyone agrees with me and that this point of view is not popular in all yoga circles and that is what is so cool- we all get to be who we are, teach who we are and what's important to us and to grow and change and create a unified garden of diversity that brings delight to ourselves and to one another. Talk about a high aim for community!
All that being said, I had a great practice. I got my heels in kapotasana which is part of my goal for the year. One side I got by myself, the other side I needed help (but not as much as a few months ago) and I was able to stay there, breath and explore which is new for me. So progress. Love it. Lots of folks had breakthroughs and also if not"getting the pose" getting some clarity about the path to the pose which is more than half of the work anyway.
Here are some scenes.
Check it out:YouTube - PrAna Revolution Mat: Joy!
Okay, the practice is still on for today. Several folks told me they have to leave early, which is totally fine. And here is something else. Kathryn, maker of the best kombucha ever will be there. I asked her to bring me a jug of her juice and to bring a few extras to sell so bring your $12 and buy some kombucha from her today. Really, its the best. And she often has very exotic flavors.
Oh and also, Jeremiah is going to be there making a documentary for his film class so make sure you look your best. No, I am kidding. if you are totally camera shy then we can stake out a corner of the room for "no camera footage" or something like that.
For those of you wanting a practice today with Live Music then Zoe is teaching at Castle Hill around the same time we are going to be at The Love Shack. So many good things to chose from. We really are so lucky. http://www.castlehillfitness.com/flyers/Rhythm-Soul.pdf
Also the Teacher Training at YogaYoga is on for this week. Yay. We are going to have a very lovely and intimate group assembled. I am really looking forward to it. Many folks in the training are quite new to teaching and so we will get a chance to really help them establish some foundational skills and everyone will have the opportunity to go deeper into the fundamentals of the Anusara Yoga teaching methods. I love teaching teacher trainings because my teaching always improves as a result.
For those of you not in the Teacher Training over next weekend, Craig is giving another talk at Castle Hill on Saturday. It is free and is called Yoga and The Art of Timing. Later in the week I'll post some more details on it but you can find info at Castle Hill's site:
We have moved the April Intermediate/Advanced Workshop with me and Noah to Austin so I will be distributing some new info about that soon because we not only change the venue but we changed the class times. So the classes will begin on Saturday April 25 and April 26 at 10:30-1:30 and then 3:00-6:00. Both days. And we are going to hold it at The Love Shack instead of in San Marcos. (yay, less driving for all!) Please plan on coming and please help me get the word out. Noah and I are very excited about working together and those of you in the workshop get two teachers for the price of one-- which is a great opportunity for getting help with special needs as well as adjustments that can take you to the next level in your practice.
And if you are planning on doing the TT with me and Noah and have yet to sign up and hand me money, please do so soon as we have a very limited number of spaces and they are filling up.
Well, that's the announcements for now.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
After that I taught for Kim where I lead a somewhat basic yet sweaty flow class. I made a joke that I was present in my alter ego as a flow teacher that night. There are so many ways to teach vinyasa but lately I have really enjoyed keeping the flows simple and moving with shorter holds and having some nice tunes playing to keep the group energy up. It wouldn't pass a certification video assessment even though I use a theme, I use the UPA's, I have great language skills and I make verbal and physical adjustments and so forth. So technically it qualifies but it is not by the book, I suppose. For me though, its fun to step out of "modeling perfect Anusara Yoga teaching methods" and just model being an Anusara Yoga teacher who is having fun being out of the box a bit. More on that another time.
Today I spent some time with Mom and Dad and then Anne and I did a great hip opening practice at my house before I went to South Studio for Craig's lecture. It was an inspiring talk, as usual. This was the last in a series on Yoga and Ayurveda and Psychology. The series has been full of tidbits of info about how yoga addresses psychology and how Ayurveda addresses it and how these sister sciences can be utilized to help us align with ourselves, with nature and with the Divine Flow in very practical and immediate ways.
I have only been able to make it to a few sessions of this course but what I have really enjoyed is how Craig has made clear distinctions in his presentations between what is in the domain of yoga and what is in the domain of Ayurveda. It is clear to me that many things that we say are yoga are more traditionally classified under the umbrella of Ayurveda. Like really, Ayurveda is for our bodies and minds and yoga is about consciousness and about accessing the deepest regions of who we are; the soul, so to speak. In asana classes we focus a lot on things for the body and call them "yoga" when really, that might be more technically Ayurveda. Anyway.
Tonight Craig talked about faith, ritual and devotion and how these three aspects must be combined in our lives in order to cultivate prana and to facilitate healing on any level. There were many nuggets of inspiration throughout the talk and somehow Craig's talks always put me in touch with my love for practice and my passion for the teachings of yoga. Really, I think he could talk about anything and I would feel inspired to continue along this path with more focus and dedication. I think part of it is just his conviction in its importance and his own dedication to the teachings.
I think that is the lesson of good company. Most spiritual traditions address this issue and remind us that we are, in many ways, the company we keep. For me, it is much easier to be steadfast in my practices and anchored in my faith when I am around people who are dedicated to the same principles in their lives. It creates such a positive momentum. Of course, hang out with a group of people who are solidly dedicated to the principles of what I call The Sleeping World and that can be inspiration for practice as well, if you do not get lulled to sleep yourself. I mean really, for how long is news, weather, sports, celebrity gossip and so on that interesting?
Speaking of sleep, it is time to prepare for some.
Just a reminder that we are having a group practice at The Love Yoga Coop (aka The Love Shack) on Saturday from 2:00-5:00. I think in a previous posting I wrote 2:30 but it is 2:00 so spread the word! Please come and join the gang for the practice. Come ready to work and play. Modifications and advanced variations will be offered so all levels are welcome so long as you know and honor your limits.
Also tomorrow night is Sanieh's Trance Dance. I am going and it promises to be a rollicking good time to, as she once told me, "let your crazy out of the bag!"
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"Can you put aside all your problems in a corner, and remember my Father on this finest day? Then alone can this beggar do something for you." Yogi Ramsuratkumar was speaking to an old devotee, a man who had visited him regularly for nearly ten years. The man's problematic orientation to life was so deeply ingrained that even as he sat in the beggar's radiant presence he held tightly to his own misfortunes. As soon as Yogi Ramsuratkumar would offer the man an invitation to speak, he would predictably, consistently, respond, 'Some small problems, Swami....' and proceed to enumerate his ills."
Regina Sara Ryan - Only God
This got me thinking about how yoga practice is really an opportunity to put aside our small concerns and seek the radiant presence within ourselves and that exist in the company of those people who are in class with us. So I worked with this as my theme in both classes. The 4:30 class worked on a variety of poses leading to urdhva danurasana and we worked with hip openers into kurmasana at 6:00. Lots of the regular attendees were MIA but Brigitte, Kelly, and Catherine all double-dipped, Terry clasped in kurmasana for the first time and many people did handstand for the first time at 4:30. What fun!
Here are the sequences:
4:30 All Levels
simple surya namaskar variations with lunges
Vira One 2x
ardha bhekasana 2x
eka pada rajakapotasana prep
6:00 Advanced Class
Surya Namaskar A
Surya Namaskar B
lunge with back knee down
shoulder under leg in lunge
dwi hasta prep
lunge with quad stretch and a twist
knees to chest
Monday, March 23, 2009
For me there were lots of inspiring moments and lots of personal stories and laughing that made the weekend quite full and joyful for me. Michelle was out of town for a lot of it but managed to get back in time for the Sunday afternoon session. Her students and fellow teachers helped out and everything ran smoothly in her absence, which means to me that she is doing something very right there at her place. People have such ownership and teamwork in what the studio is offering. So that was really cool to see. Michelle has really be a yoga pioneer in Corpus Christi and it is obvious that she has helped so many people there and that the studio is a very meaningful part of people's lives.
I got up this morning and met with the folks over at Castle Hill so that was new and interesting. I have never been there before and it was fun for me to see their set up. I am going to be doing some teaching there in some capacity and as soon as those details get sorted out I will let everyone know. It is kind of a wild ride right now in terms of teaching yoga for me as I am getting some chances to teach in a lot of different places and in a lot of different types of classes and workshops and it is down right intriguing to see the many different ways the offering of yoga classes gets structured right here in Austin, TX.
I just finished my very yummy lunch of dandelion greens and rice cooked in ghee turmeric and curry spices. I will finalize some plans while it digests and then roll out my mat for a practice and maybe take a swim later. Kelly and I have plans to actually eat a meal together at home tonight which sounds pretty darn lovely to me. Really, its the little things.
Tomorrow night is YogaYoga classes and as far as I know, we have no birthday to celebrate... So come and rock out with us at 4:30 and 6:00 if you can. Advanced class is going in the forward bend and twist direction.
OH- and on Saturday we are having a group practice at the Love Shack so if you can come, please do. It is a backbending practice so come ready to work. 2:30-5:30. Let me know if you plan to be there.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
In this mornings class we worked on the loops of the legs and ended class with some intense work in virasana and some restorative poses. (yes, you heard it right. Want to see Christina teach restoratives and savasana? You will have to come to corpus christi where we have a 3 1/2 hour morning class and a 4-hour afternoon class!) This afternoon we did some more academic-type work on the loops and anatomy overview in terms of seeing different poses and seeing different muscular patterns in terms of the loops. We spent a a lot of time on shoulderstand and some Q&A related to shoulderstand and finished up with a 5-minute sarvangasana, supta baddha konasana and savasana. Fun fun.
I am staying at Michelle's house and her kids (who are really cool) got Twilight today. So once I sign off on the blog I am going to hunker down in the world of vampires and teen age love. From the dharma to the world of Twilight. I am probably the deepest and shallowest person I know. Well, I am a woman of great contrasts. But at least I am not boring.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Interestingly, I have have this conversation several times over the last few weeks with a few different friends who work for themselves and who also have what most days feels like the great fortune to have a vocation that is also the work of their hearts. We were saying that there is a financial reality to the amount of work one must do to make a living teaching yoga, doing acupuncture, doing massage and so forth. But also, all of us said we enjoy our work more than many so-called leisure activities and many of us commented that we are more effective and happier when our lives are a bit on the busy side rather than on the under scheduled side.
Surely there are some downsides to this lifestyle and we all acknowledged needing rest and time for personal reflection and integration but the whole model of "working for the weekend" isn't the paradigm under which we operate. Call it workaholism or call it OCD or call it the insatiable drive of pitta derangement or perhaps it is simply what someone who is passionate about their work does. Hmm...
Anyway- I started the day talking with Desirae about updating my website so that is exciting. It is in desperate need of an overhaul so that project is now underway. I came home and did some prep for the Corpus weekend, ate lunch, went on a walk with Gioconda, went to the Love Shack practice that Mandy was leading and then observed Mark's 6:30 class. I had hoped to make it to the end of Craig's lecture at YY South but by the time Mark and I were done discussing his class, I would have only made it for 20 minutes which was really too late.
My practice went swimmingly yesterday. Many of you know that my asana aim for the year is to grab my ankles in kapotasana and so yesterday I got my heels all by myself. I have gotten them before but always with help and so this was a huge breakthrough for me. (Only few more inches for my short arms to reach to get a hold of my ankles. It really could happen. It is only March after all...) I am glad I have this pose as a goal pose this year because I have not given it near the attention I give other back bends over the years. It is definitely one pose that I tend to skip. It took me so long to simply understand the pose and how to get the freedom I needed in the process of practicing it to get the crunch out of my low back. (And contrary to a lot of discussion out there about this pose and the importance of "arm bones back " in it, in my experience, this pose is really made possible by the verticality of the thighs and the strong work of the pelvic loop and organic energy into the legs. Height, its all about height. In the pose, not of the practitioner...) Having it as a stated an public goal helps goad me a bit into practicing it on days I might just stay with backbends that come a bit more easily to me. This is one pose that is not friendly to the long-torsoed and short-armed practitioner... But alas there is still the form to pursue and the process of transformation we engage (or that engages us) when we diligently enter into the lessons of these forms. I love that.
Mark's class was good. Mark has such knowledge of the method in his own body and heart and that really comes through in his teaching. His teaching presence is quite lovely (and we all know Mark is a lovely person- inside and out- so it is great to see that beauty reflected in the offering he makes as a teacher.) And it was great to get a chance to review his class with him and to offer some suggestions for taking his teaching to the next level.
And plus, he endeared himself to me forever- although he already has long ago, truth be told- for not saying "but I don't teach like this normally" when I gave him feedback. Of course you don't. But what teaching under pressure reveals is where we default to. And what practice does and what experience hopefully gives, is the opportunity to raise the bar on our default mode. That way when we are sick, when we are going through our personal turmoil, when we are not inspired, when our teacher is in the class, we have a "body of habits" that can teach a great class. Our source of teaching can be connected to something other than the rise and fall of our moods and emotions, our personal circumstances and so forth. We can default to a state of competence and even default to a state of excellence. This idea is really exciting to me. That is what practice is all about.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Last night's classes were a lot of fun as well. At 4;30 we worked with light and dark as the theme since we are coming up on the spring equinox when the days and nights will be equal. We worked on bringing balance to the sides of the torso in a handful of standing poses, made a foray into malasana and finished up with surya yantrasana.
At 6:00 we did 37 sun salutations for Kelly's birthday which is kind of an old Anusara Yoga tradition. (I did have one guy walk out. Oddly, he made it to like 30 and then left. Too bad because lots of fun stuff followed.) We did a rousing practice after that which culminated in eka pada raja kapotasana. I had to do that one on Kelly's birthday since it was the pose that made him actually like yoga. It was a fun birthday class and almost everyone in the room touched their toe behind their head at least once so that was cool.
All right, time to practice. Lots on the agenda today.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
SO- many months ago I got a very interesting letter from an Anusara- Inspired Teacher who lives in a foreign land. It was so interesting that I thought I would respond to it here. I have changed a few details to "protect the innocent" but it is such a common scenario I thought many people might relate and find the consideration useful. Again, my disclaimer about personal email questions that relate to practice is that I may answer them in a public forum. That was we really all learn together which is the whole idea of the kula really.
I am an anusara-inspired teacher living in South America and I read your blog religiously. You give me lots of inspiration to keep going even though I am a one woman kula down here! I am so tired today from teaching 5 straight privates beginning at 6am that I am neglecting my personal practice - for the 5th day in a row! I normally do practice (always at home alone due to scheduling and the lack of local teachers I am motivated to practice with) but I am really in a slump! I teach between 22-26 classes a week - all privates except for 4 group classes (it is harder to make a buck down here!) and I am having a hard time keeping up my personal practice. It often gets shortened, softened, neglected in some way... I am not proud of this and I more than understand the importance of keeping up my practice! I am just not sure how to do this in a practical way. I go to study with John two weeks a year, but other than that I am really on my own here in and I am working A LOT! DO you have any advice for me on how to keep motivated and inspired? How to find energy for a decent practice after giving energy to teach 5 or 6 classes a day? I would love your thoughts on this. Thank you!
My public answer to a private question:
"First and foremost it sounds like you are being quite hard on yourself and no matter what practical approach you take to solving your personal practice dilemma, being nice to yourself about the realities of your situation is going to help you tremendously. Really, with that kind of teaching schedule, it is admirable that you want to practice at all. Many people who have jobs other than teaching yoga sometimes look longingly at the full-time yoga teacher and fantasize that somehow their practice, training, etc. would be easier if they didn't have to work at a job that required them to apply for time off, show up at an office, etc. But the thing is, there is no easy way to manage it all. Sure, those of us who work for ourselves can take time off any time we want but we do not get paid for time off! In the land of the self-employed, there is no such thing as paid vacation. Most people I know who do this for a living work very hard. And work a lot. It sounds to me like you are doing just that.
"Years ago, when I first started teaching yoga, my husband and I owned a coffee shop. We worked 75-100 hours a week each and I taught four yoga classes at a small studio next door to our cafe. It actually cost me money to teach those classes. By the time I paid someone to work for me at the cafe and taught the classes for like $20, I pretty much lost money the whole first year of my teaching. (And by the time you figure in the cost of training, I certainly lost money for the first five years! But I digress.) On top of that, I had very little time or energy to practice myself. After so much time on my feet and working in the cafe and so forth, my practice at that time pretty much looked like viparita karana (legs up the wall), supta baddha konasana (reclined bound angle) and on a really good day, some inversions. I really ran a number on myself about what "a loser yoga teacher I was because I didn't practice a lot or very hard and what kind of integrity did I really think I have to be teaching and not practicing more" and so on. (Sound familiar anyone?)
"So, I was lamenting my very sad story to my sister one day and I had pretty much decided that I would stop teaching yoga because of all of these factors and she said, "You know, your situation is not going to be like this forever. Sure, it's not ideal, but when your schedule clears a bit, and it will, if you have quit now you will have nothing to return to when your time finally gets freed up a bit." She was right. It did not last forever and when things settled and I surfaced a bit, I still had a practice and I still had the classes. So, at no point did I just say, "this is ideal" but I did make my peace with "this is what I can actually do" and I could let go of the self-criticism that was generated by a long list of "should's" relative to practice.
"A practical suggestion is make a list of the should's you have regarding your practice and see how many of them are actually realistic for your situation and then let as many go as you can. And when "the should's" rear their head and try to undermine your peace of mind, tell them "Thanks for sharing, but I have more important things to do right now than listen to you..."
"My personal belief is that we must know- in a very clear and precise way- the patterns of our thinking and how they will attempt to sabotage us and our self-worth and our joy. And when we know this, we gain some mastery over the patterns rather than they simply being the master of us. This is how we avoid the third and very dangerous spiral of Anusara Yoga that I like to refer to as "The Downward Spiral." I personally do not ever expect the patterns' voices to go away. I really don't. Although sometimes they do. Nor do I find it that helpful to fight them as they are wily, smart and long-enduring. I think of them like a muscle. When the pattern is strong it is like a muscle in spasm. It has all of our attention. But when it is not activated, not fed, put in its place, so to speak, it is just a muscle like any other muscle. I mean really, do you think much about your triceps muscle when it is not sore?
"So that is one part of the equation as I see it from sunny Texas this lovely spring morning. The other part of the equation is intention. I do believe that when we hold a very strong intention about something- like, for instance- "I really want to practice more and find ways to inspire my practice beyond where it is now"- then the universe moves in sometimes radical ways to help us align with such an intention. Sometimes, it moves to reveals to us the obstacles that we have in our way regarding time management, money and energy in all forms. As this becomes more clear, it can be shocking to realize that we might be in our own way more than we thought.
"For instance, in the yoga traditions, Ganesh is said to be the deity we ask for help to remove our obstacles. He is the force that does just that. Truly. But it is often in ways we do not think of as easy or gentle. Like the whole "pray for patience and you will get caught in a traffic jam" scenario. He puts us in the very circumstances that will demand that we learn directly the thing that we asked him to help us with. He doesn't just wave a magic wand and give us patience, is my point. If we hold an intention about something and ask for help that the obstacles to realizing that intention be removed, we are going to go through some purification relative to that intention. Be sure of it. And be nice to yourself as its happening because it is a High Opportunity.
"And, I could certainly give the lecture about "why we must practice as yoga teachers" because I really do think that. But I will just avoid that all together. Most any yoga teacher who is not practicing is not lacking the knowledge of why it is important. So the fact that a yoga teacher is not practicing is something else, not a lack of education about practice's merits and its profound source of inspiration for teaching. There is some other mechanism at work that is compromising the teacher from realizing that ideal. Each one of us must find out what that is for us and find a way through it that works for us. And we are all different- personality, body types, schedules, families, jobs, etc. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa.
"But the cool thing is that THERE IS NO ONE WAY TO PRACTICE YOGA EFFECTIVELY so the differences are not a problem at all. They are just opportunities to express oneself creatively and in response to one's needs. And what works today might not work next month and so we are asked to be fluid with it. To live in a flow of uncertainty yet remain committed and steadfast. If we truly attend to the ebb and flow of our lives and stop holding this week's practice to last year's list of expectations we might not feel as burdened and that alone is a more inspired state.
"I hope this helps. I could go on and on but this is long enough. "
Saturday, March 14, 2009
On Thursday afternoon practice I announced that we are having a housewarming and Kelly's birthday party on Tuesday night after my classes. Some of you have asked me, "What might I get Kelly for his birthday?" Well, he likes things like BMW motorcycles, all things Filson and carbon fiber bicycles. (You can see that the lad has expensive tastes.) So given that that all of the afore mentioned items are out of the budget of reasonableness, what about some flowers/plants to plant in our back yard? Annuals, perennials, bulbs... you name it- if it has color and it is pretty he (and in this case "we") will love it. We need plants for the yard and how cool would it be to look out there and see the flower garden full and blooming and representing the garden of people who bless our lives? Pretty cool indeed. So that is Tuesday Night. RSVP if you want to come so I know to expect you.
All right. On Thursday evening at 6:30 at The Love Shack Mark Franke is teaching his normally scheduled class. This Thursday, I am evaluating Mark's class so he can apply for his Anusara-Inspired status. How exciting is that? Well, I thought even more exciting would be if he had the support of his friends so he was teaching to a full class of friendly faces. So if you are coming for the Group Practice then why not stay and take Mark's class? And if you cannot make it to the group practice from 4-6 then why not come to Mark's class? Either way, come to Mark's class. He is smart, knowledgeable and ridiculously good looking. (Okay, I just could not resist saying that. Sorry Mark, but sex sells! Okay. I am resuming a professional demeanor now....)
Speaking of the Thursday afternoon Group Practice, Mandy and I are no longer sharing that lovely weekly event. Mandy Eubanks is the going to lead that practice every week from now on. So keep the love alive with her on Thursday afternoons at the Love Shack from 4-6.
And speaking of love, starting on April 8, I am going to teach a class at Breath and Body Yoga from 4:30-6:00. Desirae told me that her instructors always have the option to end their class 15 minutes early if people seemed wiped out. I suppose I should ask about having the option to extend class later by 15 minutes if everyone is on a roll. (Given my blatant and consistent ignoring of ending times in class!) The class will be flow-based and the room will be 80 degrees so plan your outfits accordingly. (Think to yourself, "I am going to be sweating and Christina is not going to want to hear about it.... " okay, teasing... but still, I don't...) This might be a nice time to check out Prana's new spring line of shorts or to visit Lululemon and see what they have in stock in the shorts and jog bra/tank top department....)
Okay- today is the day the carpet in the soon-to-be yoga space gets pulled up. Yippee. Construction is underway. Well, demolition actually.
Friday, March 13, 2009
After practice I went to Craig's lecture on Ayurveda and Yoga and it was inspiring as usual. Like I wrote a few posts back, Spring is the time for cleansing and purifying and guess what his topic was? Cleansing and purification! He talked about it from an Ayurvedic perspective and from a yogic perspective focusing his comments on purifying oneself in the physical body, the pranic body and the mental/impression body as well. It was full of juicy nuggets and I also found it quite affirming as so many of his suggestions are already part of my lifestyle and sadhana. Ayurveda is so beautiful as a system of health and well being. It is really so inspiring to incorporate its principles in one's life.
So this morning we woke up early, did our sitting practices and then made our way top Breath and Body for a nice, sweaty flow practice with Desirae. Then after a breakfast at Central Market, Kelly and I drove to Sundara Yoga to see their set up and to discuss the possibility of me offering some special events at their facility. It is a gorgeous space and Emily and Genevieve are really pouring their heart into the place to make it a place for health,healing and community. Very inspiring, indeed.
I am now at home to do some work on the computer. The first task of which is to put out a plea to anyone who might be planning to do the Level 1 Teacher Training with me at YogaYoga who has not told Laura about your plans. This training is a prerequisite for the 20-hour Teacher Training intensive with me and Noah Maze in late April and is required in order to pursue Anusara-Inspired status as a teacher. As of now, we are woefully under-enrolled and so if you are thinking about coming and need some creative financing, some questions answered, or anything like that, please contact me or Laura Forsyth. Unfortunately, if you have not done an Immersion you can't come to the Teacher Training as the TT is when we teach you how to teach all the stuff you learned in the Immersion!
This weekend Kelly and I are pulling up the carpet in the converted garage room which will be my home yoga studio. Once we see what is under there and what we are dealing with, we will decide on the next step. Pretty exciting though- fits 18 people mat to mat, which as you all know, is how I like it!
Okay then, have a great day.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
After that, I went to Westgate to teach. I was happily greeted by a nice big class at 4:30, full of new and familiar folks, which always makes me happy. We worked with a variety of details relating to the spirals of the arms and legs in Vira One and Vira Two. As well as a lesson of how to safely come to standing from uttanasana with a flat back and not rolling up one vertebrae at a time, which in our vision of things can weaken one's back over time. My theme at 4:30 was about self-honor and about how yoga is a time we take for ourselves to honor ourselves and to put ourselves first. It is a heroic act to do this in our culture where so many things pull at us and our only model for putting ourselves first I usually some kind of narcissistic indulgence as opposed to the deep self- regard of which I was speaking. So warrior energy is needed for the practice of self-honor. Like that warrior poses, honoring the self, strong work mindful of the details. Like that.
At 6:00 we worked with being a family, a kula, and feeling supported by one another we can cultivate a soft receptivity to one another, our breath and to grace. So support and softness. We worked a strong twisting and back bending flow which culminated in a great foray into mandalasana and headstand drop overs. Strong support in the arms, soft surrender in the heart. Like that. Headstand drop overs were Anne's idea, mandalasana was mine. It is the year of the four pillars of back bending- urdhva danurasana, dwi pada viparita dandasana, mandalasana and kapotasana. Get ready.
Today I have an acupuncture appointment, some time in my office, a lunch with Mom and Dad and mani/pedi girl time with Anne and Mom. Then I meet a friend and if all goes as planned I may drop in on Matt's Ashtanga class tonight. I am totally sore from my practice yesterday and usually Ashtanga is just the thing to take the kinks out.
All right, folks, have a great day.
OH- I have reserved the Love Shack on Saturday March 28 from 2-5 for a group practice. If you are interested in coming for practice, let me know, so I know whether I should keep the space reserved or not. I will plan a sequence, we will move in the direction of The Four Pillars and see where we get.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
One of the things I love about Ayurveda- specifically Craig's approach to the principles of it- is that it is based in such a deep reverence for the cycles of nature and in our bodies natural wisdom and innate capacity for self-healing. Spring is a time where the winter snows are melting and often the time when spring rains come. It is a season of water. If we can minimize the extra water our body is holding this time of year then we eliminate a lot of the mucus and so forth that contributes to allergies and to summer colds. So as the season is wet, we need to make sure that we are not too wet. In the winter-- (the cold and dry season)- having some extra water in the body is a good plan, but taking that extra water into spring and summer can set us up for certain problems. (Problems that stymie Western medicine but make perfect sense to the Ayurvedic practitioner who sees the situation seasonally and constitutionally...but I digress.)
When I first started incorporating some of the principles into my life- and anyone who knows me knows that I am far from a purist in these matters- I was astounded at the immediate benefits and positive outcomes of the protocols Craig recommended to me. One day he and I got to talking about my feelings and thoughts about how life-affirming this approach to health is. He said, "You know, people will take all kinds of drastic measures regarding cleansing and diet and yet they will refuse to believe that if they eat a few apples a day and refrain from bogging their system down with crap on a regular basis, that their bodies have the innate capacity to cleanse themselves."
I said, "Yeah, I think it must have to do with the whole idea of Original Sin and so forth. You know, the body is bad, and we must have dominion over nature and subdue it and it cannot be trusted and so forth."
So he then told me that actually some of the first naturopathic doctors were staunch Protestants from Germany and this was exactly their viewpoint.
Anyway, spring cleanse time is great because it is actually not so different from normal but with a few tweaks and it gives me a very tangible way to enter into the cycles of nature and to align with these larger flows. Oh wait... that sounds like ANUSARA!! Aligning with the flow of grace as it manifests in nature, in our bodies and in our life circumstances and trusting in our innate capcity to heal and live vibrantly... Oh, and in asana, we might benefit from a lot of focus on twists this time of year to help with the detox process. Also extra heat in practice would be good this time of year to stir up and then burn away the toxins that are released. Hmmm... now that gives me some ideas for classes tonight.
SO PLEASE COME TO CLASS tonight. I have missed you while I was gone and I cannot wait for us all to be together again.
Monday, March 9, 2009
The weekend at Breath and Body was a great time. The second day built on the first, the group was so receptive and fun and many folks told me they got a lot out of it. When I asked Desirae for feedback the main thing she said she thought would have improved the workshop would have been if I included even more philosophy. They practice really hard at Breath and Body and so the students there are strong and fit and can really do so much. (on a side note, this is fun teaching. Strong asana practitioners who want to refine and improve their practice with our methodology. That is a real treat. I also love teaching raw beginners. What I do not like to teach are experienced students, stuck in their ways who do not want to learn or work hard. But I digress...) Desirae and I discussed how "going to the next level" might actually be deepening one's philosophical understanding, which I thought was so insightful. Desirae is such a dedicated and sincere leader of her community and really wants to offer her students a quality yoga education. I find her work quite inspiring.
On a personal note, it was really great for me to be able to offer a workshop in Austine and to be hosted so well and to have people support my work locally. It means a lot to me to get to teach at that level, to feed our local community of practitioners and teachers and also to sleep in my own bed at night. It is like an ecstatic kind of thing for me, really. I am grateful for the opportunity this weekend presented me with and to everyone who made it happen.
All right, onward with the day. I hope folks are planning to come to class tomorrow night at Westgate. I am really looking forward to being there and seeing everyone again. I hope I still have a class and that you haven't all forgotten about me!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
It was a fun day for me. There were a few well-known faces to me in attendance- Sheldon, Catherine, Valerie, Anne. There were a few people that I have met before but never really worked with and there were lots of new folks that I got to meet for the first time. At any rate, it was a real pleasure to teach this group because everyone was anxious to learn and to explore the methodology of Anusara Yoga. So I really enjoyed myself and it seemed like everyone else benefited from the day.
Breath and Body is a great studio. It is so beautiful and so peaceful and friendly there. Desirae's attention to beauty and detail is quite inspiring. There really is no place that your eye falls there that isn't lovely. And it is so great to see how open and sweet the community of practitioners is there. They are obviously close and yet they are warm and welcoming as well.
I am so enjoying having the opportunity to teach here in Austin and being back home. Yesterday I was practicing asana and I realized, "WOW, it is March. Somehow, I missed the winter." Not that the winter was actually cold or anything but just that I was not at all in the same place for the season and so it struck in an odd way that now it is spring and I have really been gone from here for a while. I think each thing that i did was actually so fun and so consuming while I was doing it I didn't think much about not being home. But now being home, I am more aware of how much I have been gone. It is ind of hard to explain and it is not a bad thing just a kind of time warp sensation.
All right then, time to do a little asana before I teach today.
Friday, March 6, 2009
After my morning practices I ate some apples (spring cleanse time- no milky tea for a while) and then I practiced some asana which really lifted my spirits. Mom and Dad came over for lunch and then I spent some time on the phone with my friend Meg and then I had some furniture delivered for my puja room and so I had to do an overhaul in there. It looks so great. I love it! I puttered around in my office, unpacking from the last month and doing laundry and other great nesting tasks. Then I took a shower and headed out to Breath and Body for my class there this evening.
And what an evening it was. We had such a great group of sincere people there for the introductory talk. I was pretty impressed that people came to a talk about yoga on Friday night but people were really eager to hear and to learn and to be together. I talked about some basics of Anusara Yoga philosophy and pulled a lot from the Kularnava Tantra, the text where we get the name Anusara. That text is a conversation between Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is on the top of Mount Kailas and, as usual, he is deep in meditation and ecstatic bliss. Shakti climbs to the top of the mountatin and asks him to help her. "You see," she tells him, "I have seen people everywhere and I cannot find one truly happy person.I want to help them. How can we help them?"
The text goes on from there and Shiva downloads a path of awakening called the Kula Path. This radical path - the Greatest of All Paths he says- is not a path of renunciation or refusal but is a path of radical affirmation, skillful involvement and the very best of what it means to be human. So radical it is that it even says that "Your enjoyment becomes yoga, your sin becomes art and all life is liberation." This path instructs us to make use of every experience in order to journey to the deepest experiences of the heart. Very cool.
And just as that radical affirmation is at the heart of Anusara Yoga philosophy and at the heart of our method, so too is that conversation between Shiva and Shakti- between the witness consciousness of Shiva and the dynamic aspect of consciousness known as Shakti- always in a conversation within ourselves and in our yoga.
That conversation creates a vibration, a spanda, a pulsation and by entering into that spanda skillfully we enter into the very essence of Grace. And when we step into that flow, the KularnavaTantra teaches us we are "made able" to receive the blessings of Grace.
And really, that is what we are doing together. How cool is that? It was a great evening. I cannot wait til tomorrow!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Really, I love coming to Prescott. So far this has been a great trip. It is the first time that Kelly has been here since we left and it seems to be going quite well for him also. I am definitely ready to be home and not be living out of a suitcase for a few weeks but it is worth the small inconvenience to connect to my friends here and in some ways just to connect to the place itself. I have been connected in some way to Prescott since 1989, when I first moved here to come to college. There is just a part of who I am that is connected to the land here- to the clean air, the vistas, the ponderosa pines and the granite rock- not to mention the solid, earthy and supportive people who live here.
On another note entirely, I thought I would give a commercial here for a great opportunity for study this weekend. (Well, the first great opportunity is my workshop at Breath and Body Yoga. Check it out at http://www.breathandbodyyoga.com/ ) HOWEVER... for those of you who cannot make that workshop for whatever reason, Craig Williams is offering a lecture at Castle Hill that promises to be great. And guess what?? It is free. At least in the immediate sense. My personal opinion is that yogic wisdom is never free...one must pay for it in some way. You pay with your attention, you pay with your intention, you pay by allowing these concepts to move into you and through and to become more and more who they ask (and sometimes demand) that you become. And let me tell you, although most of you know already, that process is not free by any means. But I digress...here is the information
Embodying the Tradition presented by Craig Williams
open to teachers & students alike...
FREE Saturday, March 7th
12:30-2pm in Lotus Room at Castle Hill Fitness on 12th & Lamar - Austin, TX - http://www.castlehillfitness.com/ - register at 512-478-4567
In India the study of sacred spiritual texts or Mosha Shastras is considered a powerful and transformative spiritual practice. Unfortunately the Western Yoga tradition has virtually ignored and downplayed the important role of textual study in Yogic practice and sadhana. In this workshop we will explore the role of Svadhyaya in spiritual development and the relationship between the text and the transmission of liberating gnosis.
We will explore the role of Mantra therapy and the ability of Mantra to allow the reader to imbibe scriptural knowledge and digest its deeper message. We will explore the role of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras and learn to see these texts not as “books”but as living vibrating entities that can allow us glimpses of higher realities.
And for those of you wondering who the hell this guy Craig is...
Craig Williams ( Shambhu-Das ) is a Clinical Herbalist and Acupuncturist in private practice specializing in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and Yoga. He holds a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine and is a Professional Member of the American Herbalist Guild and the National Ayurvedic Medical Association ( NAMA ). Craig is the recipient of the prestigious “Veda Kovid” title awarded by David Frawley and the American Institute of Vedic Studies recognizing extensive training in the Vedic Sciences of Ayurveda, Yoga, Jyotish, Tantra and Vedanta. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies with a focus on Hindu Studies and has studied Mantra therapy with Ashley Thomas- Farrand. (And he is just one hell of a nice guy... okay, that was not on the flyer, that is from me.) More background information can be found at his website, http://www.ayurvedaaustin.com/.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The weekend with John was informative on a lot of levels. I havebeen going to this weekend for ten years now and so much has stayed the same and so much is different. I was amazed at all the new faces who were there at the Advanced Intensive and how so much of the "old gang" was not there for various reasons- teaching abroad, new babies, professional commitments, personal obligations and so on. And yet it was inspiring to see all the new faces and to connect with people from all over the globe who are on the Merry Band-wagon. So time marches on.
Because this weekend is one that I have done every year for ten years it is always a natural time for such reflections. As always, being around John and the Anusara Yoga gang gives me lots to think about in my teaching and in my practice both on and off the mat. The asana is really only part of it. I left the intensive feeling more than ever inspired about my teaching work and the many directions it is taking me and the incredible people I am meeting because of it. I felt also settled and grateful for so many of my long term friends in the community who have been there for me and helped me grow up and grow into myself in some pretty profound ways. And I felt happy about some new seedlings of friendships I got to nurture during the intensive.
So Kelly and I are taking in the joys of Prescott.After meditation this morning we went to our old coffee shop and hung out there and saw lots of folks. Then we went to our favorite Mexican place for lunch and then we went on one of our favorite hikes. The weather is gorgeous and as perfect as it gets here. Tonight we have dinner with friends and a dharma talk to go to. I am really looking forward to it.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
uttanasana - extend spine 5X
right leg back lunge, vinyasa, right leg fwd
uttanasana, look up, vinyasa
AMS, head to floor
Vira 1, hands on hips
Vira 1, hands behind head
handstand, skull assist
ardha chandrasana-ardha chandra chapasana- trikonasana- big backbended parsvakonasana
pinca backbended, skull assist
goofy pinca (don't ask- one arm in sirsasana 2, on arm in pinca)
baby kapinjalasana-wild thing,holding foot
clasped parivritta uttanasana
parsvakonasana, clasped- visvamitrasana-ekapada koundinyasana- AMS
urdhva danurasana- lots of them
eka pada urdhva danurasana
dwi pada viparita dandasana
eka pada viparita dandasana
lunge, forearms to floor
AMS, hands to oposite ankle
hold knee in stnading
hold outer foot to side, neighbor supports
same thing backbendsed with eyes closed
revlined babay cradle to SPG 4
supine half lotus
sirsasana and variations
pigeon prep with twist
uppa vistha konasana
parsva uppa vistha konasana