Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Morning

I woke up nice and early this morning, did my morning practices and I am now enjoying a latte and catching up on my blog. I really enjoyed teaching last night. At 4:30 I worked with the theme of weaving a tapestry of breath, body, mind and heart through each pose and how this process is really the invitation of Anusara Yoga. In this yoga we do not try so much to stop the thoughts, to change how we are feeling and so forth. We are actually more interested in weaving a tapestry out of our humanity- one that is varied in color, rich in texture and complex in its design. Out yoga embraces what I called "the agonies, the ecstasies,the tragedies and the celebrations." We worked with a variety of poses all preparing us for saravangasana, eka pada sarvangasana and parsvaikapada sarvangasana.

At 6:00 we celebrated Jeremiah's 25th birthday. As I reflected on Jeremiah and his practice over the years I really saw how dedicated he has been and also, I realized one of my favorite things about him- besides the fact that he is super fun, smart and hilarious- and that is that he is able to see and articulate distinctions and nuances in the application of the method. He really has a lot of clarity. So I used dedication and clarity as my theme and we worked in 25 sun salutations in a standing pose, hip opening, arm balancing flow. WOW.

I subbed for Sandi at 7:30 and we did a strong flow practice. When I introduced myself to her class I said, "Sandi told me you guys really like a challenge" and they all laughed saying, 'really, Christina, don't worry about that...your classes are always hard enough!" We laughed. They were good sports and worked very hard and laughed with me about my unrelenting pursuit of straight arms in every pose where the arms were overhead. And my playlist worked well, which was fun.

No I do not think flow has to have music. Not at all. And when I do play music I do not ask as much out of the students relative to alignment. But music can be nice and can evoke a mood and can lend some energy to a flow class so I do like to use it and I do like to practice with it. Really, that's the thing with Anusara Yoga- so many things can work so long as you know what, why, and how to determine whether or not what you are doing is indeed "working." But I digress.

Today I have an acupuncture appoint, a date to ride bikes with Kelly and a practice scheduled. I am teaching at Breath and Body this afternoon at 4:30 so please join me there.Last week we worked on backbends so we will focus on something in a different direction tonight.

Spirit did indeed eat yesterday and she is no worse so Dr. Jeff is still recommending that we wait before making decision about whether or not to put her down. The house is certainly a lot calmer without her around- we call her "The Queen." Thanks everyone for your caring thought and prayers for her and for us. Its been a definite silver lining in all of this- to feel the support and love of my extended community.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Down Dog

So, yesterday morning, after Kelly and I got home from taking Noah to the airport, we were laying down on the bed and Spirit came in to say hello. She was whimpering and seemed a bit agitated which is not unusual after several days with no walk. So we said to each other, "Yes, let's go walk the dogs...we are tired and that will be a nice way to ease into the day." So as we got up to follow Spirit out of the room, she careened into the door frame and her head jerked way off to one side and her eyes rolled back in her head and I say, "Wow, she is having a seizure or a stroke!" So we laid her down on the bed and tried to keep her still and decided after a few minutes to get her to the vet.

The Austin vet did not seem appropriately worried and so we called our San Marcos vet, Dr. Jeff who said to bring her in immediately. We did. He confirmed that she was having a stroke, gave her some meds, got her sedated and told us to let her be so she could rest and perhaps, since we caught it early, she might recover. So we tearfully spend some time with her in her kennel and then left her there and came back home. Last night she had showed no signs of worsening and now this morning she has drank some water and perhaps will be able to take some nourishment. We shall see. Dr. Jeff has not given up and therefore neither have we.

The saddest part is maybe that Moshie is walking around the house looking for her and kind of moping around a bit. That, and it has been raining for two days which makes the mood of this even more sad. Dr. Jeff said that we have to wait a bit more- since she has not gotten worse- to see if there has been any damage and to see what will get better on its own.

SO tonight we ahve a big line up of classes at Westgate. I teach my usual 4:30 all elvels class and then Jeremiah is coming to 6:00 advanced to celebrate his birthday (25 big ones, get ready, he requested it!) and I am subbing the 7:30 flow class for Sandi, complete with a new musical soundtrack I put together last night. So come for one, come for two or, come for 3! It is my last night on the public class schedule at YY so come join me for the fun.

In May my public class schedule changes quite a bit so stay tuned for details on that. (posted on the side bar. ) I start Thursday mornings at 8:15 at Breath and Body this Thursday, and then I am out of town until Wednesday May 6th but I will teach at Breath and Body at 4:30 that week, Thursday morning and then my May 7th 40th Birthday Party and Practice kicks off a summertime int/adv. practice on Thursday evenings at Breath and Body (6:30-8:15or so). Please come join the fun for that!

The following week I add a Tuesday 6:30 class at Breath and Body and a Wednesday night 7:30 class at Bodhi Yoga as well. So lots of fun chances to come to class this summer.

Oh, and one more thing- please tell your friends and students about the May8-10 weekend of Anusara Yoga that I am teaching at YogaYoga.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A fun Saturday at The Love Shack

Wow, well, what to say- we had a rockin' day at the Love Shack yesterday. Noah started off the session talking about Shiva Nataraj and the point of Shiva's Dance being the dance itself, the ecstatic, blissful dance of creation, sustenance, destruction, concealment and revelation. He led the warm ups, I taught the arm balancing portion and he finished up the class with a great foray into back bends.

The afternoon session we worked on twists, hip openers, forward bends and inversions. We talked about how the philosophies that inform Anusara Yoga really turned yoga and the way it was practiced "on its head". Instead of yoga being a path of up and out, of transcendence, of limited beings seeking freedom, it can be a path of coming down and in, of involvement and of free beings choosing limitation as a means of deeper understanding and relationship.

This morning we worked with the them of Love. I told a story about an interview I once read with my spiritual teacher, Lee Lozowick. He was talking about how he met his guru after his awakening and so the interviewer asked him, "Why have a guru if you were already awakened?" My teacher went on to talk about how for him, it is a love affair, not some sense of lack or emptiness, etc. So really, that is the invitation of Anusara Yoga- to engage our practice from fullness, as celebration, not as a means to fix ourselves, improve ourselves or anything like that. We worked on arm balances and back bends. Fun times.

We spent the afternoon on the softer side of things- after a foray into hanumanasana, we worked on some headstand variations, some pranayama and mantra. We worked with the idea of consciousness and the microcosmic reflection that of the Supreme that we are and how our own greatness and holds the key to understanding our connection the Source of that greatness.

We had an excellent time this week. One of my favorite things to do these days is to team teach with my friends and this was no exception. Noah and I stayed up way too late every night talking and sharing and laughing and collaborating on the workshop and training was great fun. We both reflected tonight on how we feel more inspired by teaching together and spending time together. Really, what a blessing.

Me and Kelly and Noah went mountain bike riding after class tonight which was super fun. After an hour and half ride we walked into Chuy's for a final diner together. The bike ride was a great way to shift gears (HAH! I do love a good pun....) and to move and to enjoy the fresh air. It was my first mountain bike ride in over 3 years and I was totally not lame. I actually did very well. It was great fun.

All right, time for bed and a day off tomorrow. (think lots of time for yoga!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saturday Morning

Well, the days seem to be flying by.

On Wednesday we worked a lot with strategies for teaching the UPA's in class. Teacher Training is so interesting. I am always completely fascinated by the process of it. We spend A LOT of time talking about teaching a fair amount of time practicing teaching drills and yet, none of that is actually teaching a class. However, the strange thing is that each of those components that we make into teaching exercises and drills is part and parcel to the art of teaching. We keep using the metaphor that TT is like learning to play the scales and teaching class is more like playing jazz.

On Thursday we spent the whole day working on Heart-Based Themes. We reviewed the Christina Sell Formula for Developing Heart-Based Themes and refined it and honed it even further and play with putting it into action. The group did very well and made a lot of progress over the three days. Really, we all agreed that it was at least a year's worth of things to practice and refine.

And that is really the point of TT at a certain stage in the certification process. Don't worry so much about keeping all the Anusara Yoga Plates spinning in the air (so to speak) if you are new to teaching Anusara Yoga. Start working in pieces and get comfortable with the small manageable chunks along the way. Like for a given period of time, work mostly on instructing with the breath or using the primary flows and the breath or adding in a heart quality or just work A LOT on verbal adjustments and observation or on refining your demonstrations skills. Focus on one aspect of teaching Anusara Yoga until you gain some mastery over that and then add in another component.

Today we being the Asana Intensive which is going to be great. After talking about yoga for three straight days, its going to be fun just to teach and do.

Love Shack 10:30-1:30 and 3-6. Both days. Be there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Well, its been a whirlwind since we got home from Colorado. Last night's classes were fun. So many folks were in class that I hadn't seen in a while and also lots of the folks from out of town who are here for the Teacher Training were in class and so it was really fun to see everybody.

After class Kelly and I went to pick up Noah from the airport and we came home and have a late dinner and all of us crashed around 10:30. We got up and made our way to Catherine's lovely abode for the Teacher Training.

We spent the morning with introductions, outlining some of the scope and sequence of the training and just looking at the different ways that we might sequence a class. The thing that really struck me about the day is just how much grey area there is to teaching an Anusara Yoga class. There are so many ways to do it and to teach effectively and so much just simply depends- on where you are teaching, on who is in the room, on what you hope to accomplish and so on. There really is no one way to do it and it is impossible to talk about every possible contingency you might run across. It is always such a balancing act between expereintial teaching excercises and spending time really exploring and talking about the nitty gritty deatials of teaching yoga.

After our day at Catherine's we took a field trip to Breath and Body Yoga where I taught my 4:30 class. We worked tonight on back bends and we did a strong flow to introduce some basic principles and then we got into the details of refinement with some demos and Q&A. We worked some things out and helped some different people find some new ways to work in the pose that alleviated some patterns of chronic pain and discomfort. My theme was about the empowerment of alignment and how the knowledge and practice of alignment empowers us to experience greater freedom. And wouldn't you know it- it worked! At least in the cases where people were willing to tell me about what was going on with them.

And I had an absolute first happen in class tonight! I lost complete track of time and even forgot my class ended at 6:00 and taught my class straight until 6:30. Completely lost track of time on all levels. It was such an engaging class with everyone so interested and asking great questions and learning that I was completely swept away. Luckily, everyone was understanding and generous with me about my mistake. Wow, how funny. Never before has that happened. Hilarious.

All right then, must go to bed!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scenes form Class

Here are some scenes from Sunday's class called Urdhva Danurasana and Beyond. We worked to urdhva danurasana, dwi pada viparita dandasana and then eka pada rajakapotasana. It was a fun class with great practitioners, many of whom touched their foot behind their head for the first time. Yippee.

Here is me and Kacey sorting out some issues with Ustrasana.

Here is Lisa making eka pada raja kapotasana look very easy....And beautiful.

We had dinner at one fo my best friends house in Denver, statyed up much too alte, are up much too early today and getting ready to head home now. It was a great trip.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Scenes from this Morning's Class

Okay, here are some video clips of my class this morning called "Arm Balances for Everybody." My theme was about using these poses not to access physical strength but to cultivate and strengthen our connection to our true and deepest core strength, our connection to Grace.(And when we know that, we can act with greater integrity....)

Here is me teaching a bit about vasisthasana...

This one is me helping Lisa get to this variation of trikonasana without bending her leg. (She asked the question, "How do we do this without bending our front leg?" And you know how we do it... you ask the question, you get to demo! She did great.)

Okay, my film man (Kelly, that is) turned the camera for this one and so the perspective is odd. But this is me on a bit of a tear about bakasana and a lesson I got on it from John Schumaker at Feathered Pipe last summer.

Enjoy. More tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

InBeaver Creek

Wow we had such an amazing day. First of all we were in a great hotel thanks to my host! We stayed up way too late last night and so we slept in and spent some time working this morning and then went out into the snowy Winterland and took a walk, had lunch and then soaked in the hot tub. Here are a few pics from our walk:

Kelly on the street...
Christina on the street- (note the cute winter wear on loan from Desirae!)

Kelly on the bridge by the creek...

Christina at the top of the hill. (big hill at elevation...gasping for air...)

Christina hugging the honey bear sculpture...
Then we checked into our next hotel for the conference which is SO NICE and here are some pics. This is the view from our room:

Here is Kelly in our room... they even upgraded us. How cool is that?

Here is another view of our room

We had time for an asana practice in the fitness center and then a soak in one of the five (!) outdoor jacuzzi tubs. Then we cleaned up and went to the opening dinner. It was great food and good company, the only down side being that evening entertainment was cancelled due to weather. The musicians got stuck somewhere in transit. Oh well. It was fun anyway.
More tomorrow!

In Vail

Well, I am sitting in a very nice hotel in Vail Colorado, sipping an excellent cup of coffee and looking out the window as the snow falls at a gorgeous mountain view!

Kelly and I travelled most of the day yesterday and got into Vail in the middle afternnon, soaked in the outdoor hot tub while the snow was falling and then cleaned up and got ready to go to Dogma Athletica for the class I was teaching there. Amy is the yoga director there and she came to the Immersion with me and Darren in Tucson and when she realized I was going to be in town for the Rocky Mountain Yoga Conference she invieted me to come a day early and teach a class at the club where she works. We had a great group of really inspiring practioners. I was able to teach a very strong class with lots of refinements in motion. We worked on arm balances and backbends and we had a really fun time together.

Today is a day to catch up on the computer, take some personal time and then met up for the conference later in the day. More later.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Busy few days

It has been a busy few days full of some pretty fun stuff. One of the highlights for me came in last night's advanced class. Kim S. (after a fantastic foray into hanumanasa at 4:30, BTW) was in the advanced class and did a transition from eka hasta bhujasana to bakasana for the first time ever and shocked herself at what she did. She exclaimed something along the lines of "You amaze me, Christina!" (Which is always great to hear, I mean, I love to be amazing...don't we all? But I digress. Sort of.)

I looked back at her and said, "I amaze you?"

She said, "Well, you help me to be amazed by me and what I can do!"

And that is really the point. We practice a yoga of empowerment. We really do. Hopefully. As Anusara Yoga teachers we are not dedicated to being the amazing ones in the room when we teach. We are dedicated to pointing people in the direction of That Stream which reveals to each individual their own intrinsic amazing-ness. As teachers we are as good as we are able to point people there in a reliable way.

Years ago I was in a therapy training program and I was very disillusioned by it by the end of the two years I was involved. Very near to the graduation, while I had had many breakthroughs and insights and transformations along the way, I found myself staring at the dark underbelly of the organization, the facilitators personal shortcomings and so on. My mentor sat me down for a long talk and explained the nature of how transference and projections can work.

More or less, the guy told me: "You see, Christina, when we get started at all this we project our Gold outwards. For instance we think the process is amazing, the other people in the training are amazing, the trainers are fantastic and insightful in ways you never dreamed another person could be. All the things that are great about you, ie:your Gold, you see manifested externally in others. Simply put, you gave away your gold. You projected it outwards.

"But keep in mind, it is your Gold. You deserve, it is rightfully yours, and by now, of course you want it back. This is healthy. And it is the trickiest stage of all. It is as though you projected your Gold out onto an external screen just like a movie and now that you want your Gold back, you are tearing the screen down rather than just turning off the movie and simply taking your Gold back. In fact, you just recognize it has been yours all along."

It is hard to do sometimes, just turning off the movie and claiming what is great about us. I got this lesson in my early 20's and I have watched myself and many others go through this process with greater (and lesser) amounts of skill and grace for close to 20 more years now. I have been on both ends of the dynamic, projecting my Gold and becoming so disappointed when I see human fallibility and frailty and fault arise externally. I have been the movie screen for many and have been torn to shreds when another person rightfully wants their Gold back. Both sides are hard on both people. Truly, none of this "yoga of empowerment" stuff comes cheaply.

But what was so inspiring to me on Tuesday night was the skill and facility with which Kim claimed her Gold in the moment. She honored my offering and kept her Gold in the process. I think this might be way harder to do than that arm balance sequence she nailed. I could go on but it made me really think about the importance of Good Company and called me to ask myself if I am keeping the company, the help, the advice, guidance and feedback from those people who help me recognize my own amazing nature? Or am I around people and situations that reinforce the movie that says that greatness is scarce and limited and only one person can be great and amazing at a time? In what ways am I projecting my Gold and how might this Good Company help me turn off the movie and not rip down the screen?

So like that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Morning

Well, it is a glorious day outside. I do hope to get outside some today to revel in it.

I spent a lot of yesterday doing a bunch of work on my computer and going to yoga. I practiced in Matt's Ashtanga class at noon, came home, ate some food, did some work and then met Anne for Peggy's int/adv. class at 3:45. Then we met up with Genevieve for some dinner at Central Market which was really great. A pretty fun day off, all things considered.

It has been an interesting few weeks in a lot of ways. After deciding to resign from YogaYoga I have had all kinds of doors open regarding local teaching opportunities that I am really excited about. While these things are opening up around here I also had several out of town gigs cancel which always throws a certain wrench in things for me as usually by the time an out of town workshop cancels it is too late to actually replace the work and so it can be a little nerve wracking. I have been thinking a lot about the business side of teaching yoga and the demands of being a one woman show with it all.

Don't get me wrong. I love teaching yoga. I love having the good fortune of my dharma and my vocation being so closely aligned. There is nothing I would rather do; I have no other hidden professional dreams right now. Just this week the financial realities of it all have been in the forefront of my mind and giving me lots to consider and to clarify. It can really be a "walking in two worlds at once" kind of task.

It is funny, in the recent teacher training someone who was reading my book found out that at the time I wrote the book I did not make my living as a yoga teacher. In fact, I have been teaching yoga since 2007 or 2008 and it has not been until the last 3 years that I have done it full time. She said, "Wow, I had no idea when you wrote this book that you were not a real yoga teacher!" It was interesting because that comment revealed a certain bias I think we can often fall into. Like there is some trajectory of what being a yoga teacher looks like externally: 1. get certified, 2. teach yoga, 3. quit day job, 4. make living as a yoga teacher, 5. open a studio, 6. become a national sensation, 7. consider yourself successful.

The truth is being a yoga teacher has nothing to do with all of that in my opinion. There is no one way that it has to look, no one way for success to manifest and for the project of teaching yoga to be worthwhile. In fact, many people who do not make a living at teaching yoga have A LOT more fun teaching because they are free to just share their love, passion and joy of the practice without it being tied to a financial reward or compensation, etc. Anyway, being a yoga teacher is not defined by those externals. It is about taking a seat inside ourselves which John Friend teaches us is a seat of worthiness. We must decide we are worthy of sharing whatever wisdom we have accumulated with others. We validate for ourselves that we have something of value to offer. We claim the seat and in so doing invite the universe to help us become more aligned and more able to serve according to our dharma. And everyone's dharma is different.

Some people are intended to have large spheres of influence and some are supposed to work invisibly behind the scenes. Some are supposed to work with children, with seniors, with "normal folks", with yoga geeks, with the physically challenged and so forth. Some people have the dharma of motherhood, fatherhood and their teaching function is less in the classroom of a yoga studio and more in the classroom of family life. It goes on like that. But my point is that the external form can vary greatly and the gauging one's success by an external form and according to society's conventional views of success is a trap for the yoga teacher.

My spiritual teacher once commented, "You know, not every best seller is a good book. And a lot of great writers never get discovered." Many really popular teachers are not teaching great yoga, in my opinion. And just because "people like it" doesn't mean it is great yoga, in my opinion. Some of the best teachers I have been in class with were teaching in small studios to a dozen people and they and their students are some of the most knowledgeable folks around. And obviously, I know that at the end of the day the mortgage company doesn't give a crap that you remained true to a tradition and taught something "unpopular but good" and so you are less profitable and cannot pay your bills. Believe, I get it. I am a realist. But I also believe that part of our dharma as yoga teachers is to educate people in what the practice is and take a certain kind of authority that is beyond "giving someone what they want." But of course, give someone nothing of what they want and you never see them again! And there is no one way to do all of this.

Anyway, whenever I consider "success" as a yoga teacher and what it means I think about my colleague who once told me about teaching nadi shodana at a community center to a group of under privileged women. She said that several years later she ran into a woman from her class at the store in the town where they lived. The woman pulled her aside and told her, "You know, that yoga helped me so much. Because of that breathing exercise you taught, I was able to stop hitting my daughter."

My friend looks at her, raises and eye and is like, "What?"

The woman continued saying, " Well, every time I got mad and wanted to hit my daughter I would lock myself in the bathroom and do that breathing until I would go out and not have to hit her. It really worked."

So whether or not this teacher is ever famous, every able to support herself 100% as a teacher or ever teaches another yoga class in her life, in my book she is highly successful. We are successful when we make a difference. When our love for this life inspires someone in such a way that they move closer to their heart and to a life that is aligned with who they really are. Money- well, as important as it is and as scary as the lack of it can feel, is really not the best gauge of what we are up to.

So the question is, as a yoga teacher, what are you up to? And what is the best gauge for that?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday

...and now it is Monday. Yesterday, Anne and Jeff and Me and Kelly spent most of the day together yesterday. We went to Lifetime Fitness (Otherwise known as the Taj Mahal of fitness centers and they are open 24/hours a day 365 days a year which is convenient for those heathens among us who want to do yoga on Easter Sunday morning and not go to church...) and took over their little yoga area for a few hours for a lovely back bending practice. We worked with a variation of the sequence Peggy taught in class last Monday and spent a lot of time on Urdhva danurasana 2 and dwipada viparita dandasana with the head on the floor and straight legs. We had good success. Jeff even balanced in shiyanasana which is quite extraordinary.

Then we had a nice soak in the massive hot tubs (Anne commented that the hot tubs at Lifetime are like the prefect's bath tub in Harry Potter. She is right.) and then we spent some time in the steam room and after all that we showered and dressed and then made our way north to Mother's Garden Cafe. Lisa gave me a gift certificate to Mother's for my Christmas present and I saved it, thinking, "Once we live in Austin there is going to be a perfect time to use this." Easter Sunday turned out to be that perfect time because I had the whole day off and was home and not on the road, I really wanted to do something a bit different than usual, and I have been counting pennies a bit lately for a lot of reasons and I wanted a healthy meal that I didn't have to cook. So, I asked Anne and Jeff if they wanted to go out and we used the whole gift certificate and then some and had a leisurely, delicious and completely enjoyable meal together without breaking the bank or our food plans! YAY! (Thanks, Lisa... Merry Christmas and Happy Easter all in one... We all benefited from your gift.)

Then I spent a lot of time in my office getting a grip on all the things that are coming up all of which involve more paperwork than I realized:
  • my trip to Vail to teach at the Rocky Mountain Yoga Conference (join me there if you can!),
  • the workshop here in Austin with Noah and figuring out some new logistics with that (I will let everyone know very soon the new venue!)
  • my visit to Seattle
  • and then to Denver for a few days of the Anusara Yoga Certified Teacher's Gathering and
  • My 40th Birthday/Yoga Practice Party at Breath and Body on May 7th from 6:15-8:00. Please come for this if you can. The cool thing is that this May 7th practice is my 40th birthday AND is also the first night of a weekly Thursday night group practice at Breath and Body. I am going to offer a practice at this time throughout the summer and see if it takes (meaning, see if people actually come). So those of you interested (and able) to practice on Thursday nights, start making plans now. It will be intermediate/advanced level practice, led by me and while I will be practicing also, I will be available to help, coach and clarify points and poses we just can't get to in the public class format. Definitely the agenda is to get off the basic syllabus of standing poses and into the deeper backbends, arm balances and forward bends.
  • Over my birthday weekend there is the workshop here in Austin at YogaYoga on May 8-10. This will be a great opportunity for Anusara Yoga teachers-in-training as well as people wanting to know more about the moethod or who are toying with the idea of beginning an Immersion and want a chance to play with it before committing to 108 hours!
  • Also on thebooks for May is a workshop at Castle Hill that Craig and I are going to be presenting together called Shiva Shakti: Bringing Spirit to Life in what Matters Most. Stay tuned for details on that.
  • Also exciting is because I had a workshop in California cancel, I now get to go to Prescott the first weekend o June to teach at Prescott Yoga. (85% arranged, not 100% yet.) Rachel and I are scheming about the details but save the date and spread the word, those of you reading this in Arizona and surrounding areas. June 5-7.

Well, I hadn't intended a big commercial series like that but I was dealing with plane tickets, communications, hotel arrangements, rental cars, flyers, correspondences and so forth for all those things last night so it all must be on my mind this morning. I guess I am really part yoga teacher, part marketing agent, part travel agent... Really, it's all in a day's work. Oh right, I said yesterday was a day off! Well, to me "day off" means "a day where I do not stand in front of a group of people and talk about yoga," not so much a day I do not work at all.

So, onward beckons the day. Lots is percolating inside but not ready for words quite yet.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Night

We had a great weekend in Corpus Christi for our Immersion. We worked with more precision on Inner and Outer spiral and we dove deep into the tattvas and some of the principles of tantra. That discussion went well. I mean really, it is big stuff. Profound in so many ways.

When we put the Immersion on the books we scheduled for Easter Weekend. (Michelle swears she told me it was Easter Weekend but I cannot remember the discussion!) Anyway, we decided to have a longer day Friday and keep Saturday scheduled and then cancel Sunday and make up the hours on future weekends. Long story short, short weekend of work for me and I am home on Saturday night, watching some some scrubs reruns.

There is alot to say about the weekend but my mind is a bit blank right now. I think one of the things that really stood out for me was how many of the poses improved so radically when ever we took the time to really refine them and how open to refinement and learning everyone was. It was really fun to teach. Michelle took some pics so hopefully she will send them to me so I can psot them.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday Morning

Okay well, what a night last night. Anne and I met for a short visit before driving up to Breath and Body for my first class on their schedule. The class was so well attended by Desirae's regular students and by some some of our gang as well ( Anne, Susan, Mandy, Zoe, Lisa...thanks for the support guys. Really, it means a lot to me!) I focused on strong work with the breath and shoulder principles to head toward back bends. Desirae's is obviously such a good teacher because her students are well trained, strong, good at following directions, receptive and respectful. It was a joy to teach this class and I am excited about how these principles will come to life over time with the students at Breath and Body.

(A brief teacher training note, given that I am taking over a class that has been taught in the Baptiste style, I did not do tons of start and stop instructions with lots of analytical demo's. I even left the chataranga lesson out of class one! EEK! EGADS! But reay, time enough for that and one more class with arm bones pitching forward probably isn't going to kill anyone. I will address it but I worked on deepening and refining cobra instead. Next time, chataranga.)

I taught basic actions in the midst of a flow of familiar poses and made adjustments to form without getting bogged down in lingo, in tons of small detail and so forth. A group of people who love to move, sweat and so forth in yoga are not going to be so receptive if the introduction to our method comes at the expense of what it is that they are used to. Having said that- if I was teaching Anusara Yoga for the first time to a bunch of Iyengar Yogi's I would provide a lot of details, some more demonstrations, more refinements and work on the same pose more than once or twice and so forth. Just me. Not the only way to do it, by any means. What is cool is that how we do all that does not make the class Anusara Yoga or not. We are Anusara Yoga when we have (say it with me) 1.) a tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness 2.) the UPA's and 3.) a emphasis on community. And there are endless way to effectively incorporate those three tenets and bring them to life in our yoga classes. Amen, Hare Krishna and Hallelujah. Sermon over.)

Anyway, it was a blast. I felt so warmly welcomed. I then made my way to Catherin's for her 31st birthday party with some of her unbelievably sassy, funny and wise women friends. Now that was a real treat. I have not laughed so hard for so long. Really, I was in need of something like that. The dinner and company is worthy of a post all its own but it is time now for other things. But really, happy birthday Catherine and thanks for including me in an incredible gathering. It really means a lot to me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday Morning

It was such an incredible spring day yesterday that I could not believe so many people came inside for yoga at 4:30. What a thrill.

I worked the theme of guru at 4:30. When Carlos Pomeda reviewed some of my writing for upcoming book, (don't ask, its in the editorial process and at this point out of my hands. I have no idea when it will be printed, bound and ready for sale. But, it is written and I am cogitating on two new projects so that is exciting. And no, I will not tell you about any of them!) he gave me some interesting information about the word guru.

I had written that we can look at the word as gu- (darkness) and ru-(light) and we can see think of the guru as "that which brings light to darkness." He told me (very nicely) that while we can understand the word in that way, the word actually means heavy and in the context of a spiritual teacher means authority. (ie- one who has the weight of authority or gravitas, etc.) Like how we might "give weight" to what matters most or to the opinion of an expert. In class Dr. Phillips said, the word really just means weight. Like a paperweight would be a guru. It is heavy.

So, while yes, the teaching of yoga is that the guru is within, and the Ultimate Authority is within us, we often times have to consult outside authorities to teach us how to access and understand the teachings of our inner guru. And yes, the pose can teach us how to do it, but if we do not know how to interpret and respond to its messages then, while it is there teaching us, we cannot adequately complete the learning process. The pose, for instance may be talking to us in Chinese and we do not know Chinese yet. Our body may be talking to us in Italian and we have yet to study that language. So yoga class is like a lesson in both Chinese- how to understand the pose and its teachings and Italian- how to understand what our body is saying. And probably the metaphor could be expanded because there is also an aspect where we learning a language through which we are going to respond to both the Chinese and the Italian.

Some yoga systems say, "do your just practice and you will figure it out." Some systems hammer at you with all the answers and a bunch of rules. Some say, "just keep doing yoga in your own language and forget about the Chinese and Italian components and just speak your own language because this is for you." What I love about Anusara Yoga is that is is some of each. We learn a set of language principles by which to encounter the Chinese of the pose, the Italian of the body and the unique language of our own body/mind/spirit complex. And in that process we aim to become our own authority, to learn how to be discriminating about what we will give weight to- on the mat and off the mat.

So at 4: 30 we worked with keeping certain parts of the pose weighty and authoritative in order to express ourselves more fully. We worked a lot with twisting postures like jathara parivartonnasana, parivritta trikonasana and parivritta pasrvakonasana.

At 6:00 I worked a theme about spring but I do not have time to go into all of that now. Must get ready for a 9:00 appointment.

Remember- 4:30 BREATH AND BODY. And one other cool thing about Breath and Body is that Desirae offers a class discount to local yoga teachers so if you are a teacher, please tell her. (See the dedication to getting out of the silo!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Morning

Well, I had a vision yesterday of doing lots of yoga and I did. I made it to Matt's 12:00 Ashtanga class at YogaYoga Westgate which is always a fun way for me to spend Mondays. Mondays are kind of like my Saturdays. And then in the afternoon I went to Peggy's Int/Adv. class at Austin Yoga School which was great. Peggy worked on back bends and having done the primary series I was already opened up and my back bends came along nicely with no major fanfare. I got a few great nuggets from Peggy and between the two classes I am nicely sore this morning. So lunch time ashtanga and afternoon Iyengar Yoga- great fun after a weekend of "All Anusara Yoga, All The Time."

Tonight I am teaching at 4:30 and 6:00 at Westgate so please join me. In fact, those of you who like those classes, please attend them this month because after the end of the month, I will no longer be teaching at YogaYoga. (Except for May 8-10 when I am giving a workshop there and in July when we have a TT to complete) So start making your plans now for Tuesday nights at 6:30 at Breath and Body with Christina Sell!

In fact, this Wednesday will be my first class at Breath and Body on their schedule so please come and support me and Desirae by attending that class if possible. Desirae is very excited about developing an Anusara Yoga program at her studio and about welcoming our merry (and sometimes crazy) band of yogi's to her studio. (my words, not know who you are!)She supports us, we support her, she supports us, we support her, and so on.... that's is how it will work.

When I taught a workshop at her studio recently she told the group that she sees the local yoga scene like "silos" where people do not go from the silo of their one studio to the silo of another studio and she wants to do her part to remedy that. Its a great vision, really. We all love yoga. What we love about the practice almost always transcends method, transcends studios, and even transcends the particular teacher with whom we may have the most affinity. Instead of there being a YogaYoga community, or a Castle Hill Yoga community or a Breath and Body Yoga Community or a Love Yoga Coop Community, what would be so cool is for each one of us to dedicate ourselves to a much bigger vision of Yoga Community. Here in Austin and beyond.

I love that about Anusara Yoga, although we are not the method about which this is true, by any means. Anusara Yoga is so much more than a community of people in our Tuesday night class, or in our "silo" studio or in our local town for that matter. Once we enter the embrace of Anusara Yoga, we find ourselves part of a worldwide community of people who love to practice yoga in its many forms and who are dedicated to bringing the High Teachings of Intrinsic Goodness into all aspects of their lives and work. It is amazing, really.

All right then, time to practice some asana and get on with the day. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Well, first things first is the link to Pamela's blog where she so aptly embedded the Prana Revolution Mat videos which are super fun and which have some clips of me and of Kelly. Please leave comments on YouTube once you view the videos because then the videos become relevant to the search engines and the project gets helped along. Here is the link to Pammy's site!

Okay, now that the first commercial is over I can recap the Teacher Training from yesterday which was really great. We spent a lot of time on class planning, sequence development and streamlining language so that we rely more on active commands and less on passive descriptions while we teach. My personal opinion is that the number one thing every yoga teacher could do to improve their teaching and its efficacy is to root out passive language and indirect instruction. If teachers of any method could learn to say "step your leg back" as opposed to "leg steps back" or "lift your kidneys up" instead of "kidneys lift" or "please, step to the front of your mat" instead of "Stepping to the front of your mat..." or "lift your arms up" instead of "Allowing your arms to lift up" or ''hug your muscles to your bones" as opposed to "feeling your muscles draw to the bone" they would dramatically increase the efficacy of their teaching. It sounds super picky but think about it- muscles do not firm on their own, kidneys will rarely lift on their own, and legs are not self- motivated agents that can step back into a lunge with no help from us and so on.

Certainly there are times when it is appropriate to say "allow" and "feel" and -ing words are great when they are used to link two actions together (pressing your feet down, lift your chest up" as opposed to just saying, "pressing your feet down, chest lifting up...") So anyway- that is the free teacher training advice for this morning.

We worked a lot on those language refinements over the weekend while practicing creating class plans, course curriculum, and using different templates as guidelines for how to teach Anusara Yoga in different scenarios. For instance it is one thing to teach Anusara Yoga to people who know nothing about yoga and something quite different to teach Anusara Yoga to an experienced group of yogis. I did my best to teach the training from principles of teaching as opposed to rules or exact "how-to's" because so many things can work quite effectively. There is no one way to teach Anusara Yoga. That is so fantastic and so challenging at times, both for the Teacher Trainer and for the teacher in training. I tried to show examples that could be applied to any of the principles, to different populations and so forth.

Teacher Training is kind of like that idea of feeding people fish or teaching them to fish for themselves. As a teacher trainer I want to teach people to fish, not just feed them fish. There simply is not time in the scope of Teacher Training weekends to go over every possible scenario one might encounter as a teacher of this method. What we can attempt to do is communicate a way of thinking about things, that if applied skillfully over time, will result in the ability to effectively convey this method to others. (And I have to say that if you are a teacher in training and you want to know how I would teach this to beginners or how I would teach this to advanced people or how I would teach it to experienced people new to our method, then come to a beginning class or come to an advanced class and not just once. Come regularly. Come and see it in action. We can always come to class with a teacher training mindset and be a student of the teacher's teaching methods. That is the best teacher training there is, in my opinion.)

But back to the TT- what I love is that with every training I offer, I get better at teaching these fishing lessons, partly because i have gotten more clear that that is what I am trying to do!Jess G was in the TT I did in Austin almost three years ago when I first moved here and she sat in on one of the sessions over the weekend. On a break she told me that not only did she enjoy the material, she was really struck by the difference in me and my presentation of the material. So that was great feedback for me personally. And every group is different which is cool because then each group teaches me more about how to streamline the teaching concepts and how to give experiential exercise to explore them. (I did Level One Teacher Training with John like 5 times. Never boring, always something to learn, always interesting to watch the evolution in his presentation.)

So, there are 2 more spaces in the teacher training with Noah and ten more slots left in the weekend intensive. If you have told me you are coming and I do not have a check from you, get me a check ASAP or tell me you have changed your mind so I do not hold a spot for you. I will be contacting teacher training participants shortly with details. Both events are now in Austin to make it more convenient for everyone, so please come if you can. It's really awesome- we ahve folks coming from Arizona, Canada, Georgia, Dallas...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Night

Okay, for me the Teacher Training is going much too fast and I am thinking- I cannot do it in 20 hours- so much to cover so much to clarify, so much to down load. But well, we are in the thick of it now and we will just get to what we get to. Then the next 10 will be jam packed and then I will be wishing then for more time!

We spent the day diving into heart-based themes and getting some practice developing them. I delivered my basic formula- or set of basic formulas for developing heart-based themes. (For Pammy's two cents on the subject, please visit her blog. She did a fabulous job of synthesizing the training I gave on this during the last TT. Liz B reminded me of it today and so check it out.

Then we spent some time working on instructing with the breath and some ideas of sequencing to teach muscular energy to a group of raw beginners v. how to teach muscular energy to a group of experienced students of yoga who are new to Anusara Yoga and its methodology.

I am having a great time teaching the training. I am so in love with the topic of teaching yoga and it is a kind of ecstasy for me to have get to spend so much time talking about the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional task that it is to teach yoga. Teaching yoga is never boring, it is sometimes frustrating, it is always challenging, it is consistently rewarding, reliably humbling and delightfully empowering. Really, it is amazing Work. So much is involved and so little of it actually involves the technical aspect of teaching a pose.

Tomorrow, though, we dive into the technique even more fully. We continue looking at sequencing, we practice teaching the different UPA's and hopefully we get some solid time in observation and demonstration. Big day on deck. Yippee.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Well, Tuesday evening classes went very well. There were lots of new and familiar faces in class at 4:30. We worked on a variety of standing poses mostly and some specific work to activate the thigh loop from the back body. It was technical alignment but fairly basic poses so I think it was great blend of challenge within what is familiar. The advanced class worked toward eka pada rajakapotasana which was Anne's request. She called me up and said, "I am just so tired of not being able to do that pose!" So we all worked on Anne's behalf and so many folks had great openings.

A big highlight from the class was that Maggie was there. Maggie was in the third part of my Immersion with Darren in Tucson (now enrolling for August 2009, BTW- and she was driving across the county to Tennessee for her new job and she arranged her trip so she could be with us on Tuesday night. How cool is that? That, and she did a rockin' eka pada rajakpaotasana demo!)

I mentioned this in class but it is a really cool thing about practicing Anusara Yoga- we join not just as a local community but as an international community of practitioners. After several years at this you realize you have friends all over the globe and that community-oriented is so far beyond your local scene. It's a very cool thing. Of course, local community is pretty fantastic also. That is one of the things I love about travelling some and teaching in other places -I get a chance to participate in the flavor of different local communities because they are all slightly different even though they are all kind of alike also! And of course, that is made more interesting because I get to come home also and be part of things here.

Well, I spent Tuesday night preparing the final materials for the Teacher Training which was to start on Wednesday and when I got ready for bed I realized that I might be getting a urinary tract infection. I was right; it was full blown by 3am when I had to go to the ER and to make a long story short, I have been in bed with a catheter since early Wednesday morning. And I am now doing much better but we had to switch the schedule for the training considerably (And at great inconvenience to the students...I AM SO SORRY, GUYS... believe me, I would so much rather be teaching that training than laying on the couch with a catheter... TMI, huh? probably...)

So the Teacher training is on. We will meet Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and Sunday and then make up 10 hours another time (most likely July.) We have a small group so I am very confident we are going to be able to cover the bulk of the information quite easily and efficiently. In some ways having the chance to come back together for an additional 10 hours is perfect because what it will do is give everyone a chance to work with the material and then come back with specific questions based on real-life application. That will make the training even more relevant.

Just a reminder to everybody that next Wednesday I begin teaching at 4:30 at Breath and Body. And I will be teaching more at Breath and Body in May so as soon as those plans are confirmed, I will let you know about that.