Friday, May 29, 2009


We had another fun practice at Breath and Body Yoga last night. We worked our standing poses mostly in flow with some breaks for some explanations and arm balances and then made a stunning foray into the backbends. Lots of urdhva danurasana and then dwi pada viparita dandasana and then eka pada raja kapotasana. So many people on the room reached their toes in eka pada rajakapotasana so that was exciting to be part of.

One thing that was really great was how many people, when they were headed into that pose with my help, said to me, "How do I do that with my arm...I just can't figure out the arm bones back here." And it was great because it gave me an opportunity to explain why we are so obsessed with that action in all the basic poses. Really, not much harm is going to come to the average yoga practitioner if they do Vira One without their arms plugged in. (people with rotator cuff injuries, now that is a different story, but I digress.) Really, you can get by with just raising your arms overhead with great unconscious glee in so many poses. But if, instead, we use those basic poses to train ourselves in the actions of optimal alignment, then when we need the actions in an advanced poses - where we cannot get the pose without the alignment or we cannot do the pose without injury without the alignment principle in place- then we are ahead of the game because we have the muscle memory and awareness already developed. (Wow, long run on sentence.) One of the things that makes an advanced pose an advanced pose is that it takes more skill to do the basic actions in an advanced pose. But in general it is not like advanced poses have an additional set of principles. They really don't. Advanced Yoga is just doing the basic actions in harder configurations.

Think about the eka pada rajakapotasana backbend, for instance. It is really not so different from Vira One, or anjaneyasana. But you add a deep hip opener to the front leg and bigger quad stretch to the back leg. These demands will pull the pelvis more anteriorly and off to the side as well. This in turn puts a greater load on the lumbar spine. So if you do not know who to use your legs draw in and lift up already, if you are unfamiliar with how to access your pelvic loop already, it is going to be harder to get that done with so many forces working against you just in the more advanced form. And that is just the basics of the foundation. Now we have to consider how to keep the crunch out of the lower back and how to open the shoulder and get the upper back to move in asn the arm bone moves back and so forth. So if you cannot do kidney loop or shoulder principles in Vira One, chances are its going to be pretty obscure to you as you explore eka pada raja kapotasana. So this is why the basics really count.

Again, I am not saying that every time I raise my arms I do some meticulous thing with them. I do not practice that way. Sometimes , I just raise my arms. (What a notion!) Because really, the endless weird undulations that overtake the average Anusara Yoga practitioner can be a bit much even for me sometimes! Sometimes, we should just do the pose. But don't be confused here- I am NOT making a case for one way over and above the other. Absolutely not, although obviously we will all have our preferences and primary ways we engage the practice.

For me, it is never one or the other. It is always one and the others. I am interested in developing access to a myriad of ways or practice that work. So I practice and teach in flow sometimes. It's more like a dance on those days. Other days, I work and teach slowly, methodically and it is more like barre exercises. Sometimes I am really into the strict adherence to the form, like classical ballet. But I love, love, love crazy modern-dance-type interpretations and variations. So we can work from the head. We can work from the heart. And always we work through the body.

At this point in my practice life I am interested in more options, not less. I am interested in opening the box, not keeping it rigid, defined and self-righteously limited. I am interested in moving beyond "what I like", "what I am used to" and/or "what I was told" and entering into an exploration that is wise, mindful, curious and courageous. And as a teacher, I want to teach those people who are interested in that. If you only want to do barre work, you will be unhappy around me in this phase. If you only want to do interpretive dance, you too will be frustrated. Interested in a full range of exploration and expression, let's go!

Here we are looking at eka hasta bhujasana and transitioning to eka pada koundinyasana.

Emma, our lovely visitor from Berkely Kula, going for it in the backbends.

Sibia lending Ellen a helping hand.
Romy and Jesse.

Catherine heping Terra.

Emma getting ready.... getting set...
gone! That is the exciting news here. Not only do we look for our toes in eka pada rakapotasana and get excited about our foot touching our head. But then we grab our ankles and then we bring our foot away from our head and to the floor behind us. WOW-ZA! (And she sings opera! True story.)
So, please keep coming to the practice and if you haven't been coming, please add it into your life because wow, we are going places together. And really, the journey and the company along the way is quite stellar.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Morning

Well, first, a brief plug again for the workshop this weekend that Craig and I are doing.

I checked in with the front desk yesterday and there were not many people signed up so if you are planning on coming either a)Sign up! or b) send me an email and let me know you are planning to come so we can get an idea of how many folks to expect. Craig and I are pretty excited about the workshop. We are going to cover some pretty interesting ground so do come if you can.

Also, this weekend kicks off my teaching at Castle Hill Fitness Center so I am excited about that. Castle Hill has a very interesting thing going on as a state of the art fitness center with a very soild yoga program. So many times that is not the case in fitness clubs. However, let's pause and ask ourselves where did BKS Iyengar teach during one of his first visits to the United States? The Ann Arbor YMCA. Yes, a lowly YMCA hosted him, not some fancy yoga center. Of course those were the days before there were many fancy yoga centers, but I digress. And where did John Friend start teaching yoga? In a YMCA in Houston. My point is, if a gym was good enough for them.... But seriously, great yoga really exists in so many different venues. That is what is so cool about it.

So back to my schedule... starting in June, I add three classes to my weekly schedule at Castle Hill. Tuesday and Thursdays from 4:30-5:45 is a Level 2-4 class. (I am thinking that level 2-4 is a class level somewhere between the YogaYoga 4:30 hatha class and the YogaYoga 6:00 advanced class. Think medium pace, some vinyasa, some partner work, demos for teaching and refinement, working on the level 1 syllabus mostly with intelligent forays to the Level 2 and Level 3 syllabus.) Also on Wednesday mornings from 9:30-10:55 is Focus on Form which which I am really excited about since with a name like that I have free reign to explore details, modifications and progressions. (think mostly Level 1 Syllabus.)

Last nights classes were fun. We wokred a lot with arm balances in both classes. The Breath and Body class went in the direction of backbends and the Bodhi Yoga class went in the direction of some seated floor work from the same basic opening sequences. I really loved seeing some returning students at Bodhi Yoga. ANd SHeldon found me there which was great to have a familiar face in the crowd!

I worked with the theme of Fullness and Perfection or Purna. It is one of my favorite themes for so many reasons. One reason is the radical notion that perfection really does not mean that there is an absence of fault. This perspective on perfection suggests that a fullness of essence is realized. That there is a state of lacking nothing. Obviously this is the Absolute perspective. Each of us gets cloaked in certain ways where we feel inadequate, or empty and/or as though we are incomplete. But it is actually so cool because that very perception creates longing in us. We used to feel complete, now we feel a lack and so we long to feel whole again. And because of that longing we begin our search. Initially we search externally until that runs out in a variety of ways and we begin to search inside for the fullness. But really, how cool is it that the very condition of feeling lack, holds within it the seed of our greates fulfillment. LOVE THAT.

Secondly, I love working with theme of Purna because it teaches us that "perfect yoga" is realizing the fullness of your efforts and capacity. It is not about being as full as the person next to you. It is not the fullness that you think you should have, it is simply aligning with the fullness of you that is you in the moment- body, mind, heart.

Anyway- tonight is group practice at Breath and Body. I am thinking we might work with kapotasana or eka pada rajakapotasana tonight. That might be fun. Oh and there is only one or two spots left in the upcoming Immersion so if you want to come, decide now! It is an all-star cast of participants. I am pretty excited about it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Morning

I have a busy day so this will be brief. Mostly I am still really jazzed from last night's class. Although last week I said my Thursday group practice is a weekly highlight, I have to say that Tuesday night is running a close second! We had a very nice sized group of experienced and willing students last night and so we did a strong back bending practice working on urdhva danurasana, drop backs and dropping from ustrasana to kapotasana prep. It went so well. Another few sessions and most of the people in the room will be doing kapotasana no problem. So that was fun.

Also my plan about cooling down the room after the 4:30 class, then turning off the AC after I start, not heating the room and leaving the door open worked well. It got plenty warm in the room so from what I could tell no one was "chilled" (ie: people were certainly sweating) but with the door open the clasutrophobic types and those who are already on the hot side could manage without much problem. I think it strikes a nice compromise, really. Plus as we move deeper into the advanced syllabus, too much sweat is really counter productive for a lot of reasons- if nothing else, making the clasps and grabs and wraps with tons of sweat is very hard!

Don't get me wrong, I do not mind the heat personally. I really don't. I think, given that I am a stiffer type, it really helps open me up. Certainly more quickly. And as we all know, given a choice between a room being little hot and little cool, for me I want the room a little hot. But in Anusara Yoga we actually want to use our engaged muscles (Muscle Energy) and the alignment principles to prepare the body to open and express the postures more internally, where heat provides more of an external "loosening up." Also, important to consider for the already loose person, is that the heat makes the likelihood of injury higher. And while the heat can rev a person up in a good way, it can also sap the energy and clarity needed to prepare through alignment, which takes considerable energy. But anyway, this is not a treatise on one way over and above the other. Really, we are simply preparing the body differently. And both can really be useful.

As always, the idea for us in Anusara Yoga is to know what does what and to what affect for us personally and then how to shift and respond optimally. That is the tantric vision- to get off the externals as our focus (them) and manage the internals (our self). The idea is that no-thing is in and of itself wrong or in and of itself right. What we are up to is a process of inquiry through direct experience, an invitation to relationship with all that is through a variety of experiences.

Wow, well, we are out there now. I worked on the theme of Grace being a current and the alignment principles being the way that we learn to navigate the current within ourselves and hopefully glimpse the truth that we are part of a much larger current called Grace. So much more than a list of right's and wrong's, do's and don'ts, these principles are the means by which we can engage a profoundly and decidedly immanent and spiritual process. How cool is that?

Also, just a reminder here that I am beginning and Immersion cycle here in Austin in June. The only other Immersion I have on the books this year is in Tucson with Darren. So if you live here locally, and you have been wanting to do an Immersion and have been waiting for the right time, now might be the time. We have a few spots still open and you can find out more about it through Desirae and I won't be doing another Austin-based Immersion until summer or fall 2010.

Also this weekend, please come to the workshop Craig and I are doing at Castle Hill. I am teaching a class on Saturday and a class on Sunday and he is giving a talk on Saturday. It is really awesome subject matter and I do hope to have some people there!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

currents of grace

Well, I unplugged for the weekend for some much needed R&R.

Kelly and I went down to San Marcos and worked some on our house there to get it ready to rent and spent a lot of time playing in our kayaks on the river which was awesome. Right before I left I had an appointment with Craig to discuss some health symptoms I was having and he looked at me and told me "build kapha" meaning, "restore yourself, rest and replenish" and made it a point to tel me to do it now before the heat of the summer kicks in or I will be in bad shape in a few months. So I rested a lot this weekend, stayed in the water, took my new herbs and ate a lot. (whole milk, ghee, that kind of thing.) I even took a nap! Building kapha is not so bad, I guess. He and I also talked a lot about how important it is, if you are sweating a lot- which I have been these last two months- not just to drink water but to replace the fluids with electrolytes of some kind- like coconut juice. Or what happens is you start washing away your minerals, etc. and muscle recovery is hindered, which is what I was experiencing. Once again, it is not just the heat that is the issue as much as it is how we cope with it that is the important thing.

So- a change of scenery was really great for me. I had so much fun playing on the water and hanging out down in San Marcos again. Of course, I came home with a huge list of things I have to do but well, most of it is fun stuff or will result in fun stuff so not too big of a deal really. I was actually struck by how much kayaking is like yoga. I mean the thing with playboating as opposed to kayaking a river on a trip, is that there really is no reason to do it other than it is fun. I mean there you are on a river in a perfectly good boat and you just turn yourself around in the current, head into a wave and try to surf and spin and do some tricks. Truly, no good reason other than to have fun. To play. To take delight in the experience. In Anusara Yoga philosophy we call that the Ananda Principle. (Why does Shiva dance? No good reason other than for the fun of it.)

Now here is a cool thing thought- it is not fun to surf a wave if you have no boat control, if you have no skills. If you do not know how to roll, for instance, and your boat gets tipped upside down then you are not only not having fun but you are in a potentially life-threatening situation. And learning to roll takes a fair amount of time. And it is frustrating and boring and repetitive and while you are learning it, there is usually not a lot of this "Ananda Principle" going on. But there is a thrill that happens- a true experience of empowerment- when you learn how to do this roll. When, after practicing in what feels like vacuum for hours and hours- ALL OF A SUDDEN you can right yourself in the water. Practice is like that, isn't it? "All of a sudden" after weeks, months or years of can do something in one moment that in the last moment you could not do. And then the doors to the sport open.

And it is a black or white thing in a way. You can either get up or not. Sure some rolls are sloppy but if they get you up it counts and it will save your life in the current. You may be sincere, you may be trying hard, you may really want to do it but if the roll does not get you up, none of that matters. It is very objective in that way.

Another thing about learning to roll is that it is counter intuitive. You have to get your body to act against what its instincts are in order to get up. You cannot jerk your head up, which is the tendency because, let's face it, you are underwater and you cannot breathe. So also you have to talk yourself into a calm state when you are upside down moving in a current when the tendency might actually be to panic.

And very few people figure it out alone. You have to have a teacher. And you have to practice like I mentioned before. And you learn in still water and that is one thing. Then you have to be in action and do it when it really counts. Like that. I could go on and on because there are also paddling skills and so on into infinity so that you can actually play and not drown.

It is really just like yoga. I personally love, love, love to practice flow yoga and to move and play and seamlessly transition between poses in ever increasing challenges and exotic combinations. I love to play. But just like kayaling, I also know how important it is to do skills training. And also, like in kayaking, once you have your roll, you do not go to "how to roll classes" anymore. So I think making students watch the same demos every week is missing the point as much as never teaching skills and telling them "do what feels right." But I digress.

My point is that to take the metaphor off the river or off the mat-- to really enjoy life takes some skills. We have to have discernment, discipline, focus and humor to simply enjoy what life offers us. We have to educate ourselves in what is good for us, in what will harm us and in the skills necessary to navigate the waters in which we may find ourselves. You cannot just put yourself in a kayak and in the water and "playboat". You cannot just put yourself down on a yoga mat and expect to do yoga well and without injury. You have to get training. You have to practice. And in order to be able to participate fully in kayaking, in yoga and in life we have to have some kind of quiet inside as well. Some refuge and that may or may not come naturally. And the traditions tell us that while it is our most Natural State it will not arise without some effort.

So I could go on because there are more parallels- there are different rating for rivers. Some are actually harder than others. Some rivers really require more skill than other rivers. (Just like some poses or some classes) There is "taking a trip" as opposed to playboating, there is the need to "eddy out" to scope a rapid and plan a wise approach to a challenging circumstance.

More on all this later. But wow- the Kularnava Tantra describes Grace as a flow, as a current so being on the water is really a great place to contemplate this. Love it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday Night Practice

Thursday Night practice at Breath and Body Yoga is quickly becoming the highlight of my week. There were 27 of us there last night practicing together. I had the camera and everyhting ready for pics but we were all so consumed with the practice that it just slipped my mind and Kelly who often remembers was so busy rocking out his backbends and helping the guys all push up that he neglected his photog duties also! We worked out what I felt like was a great arrangement relative to the heat in the room as well. After the 4:30 class, I cooled the room down. Then once we started practice, I turned the A/C off and kept the door to the lobby open. What resulted was two distinct climate zones in the room. The far side of the room remained hotter for those who really enjoy the heat and the door side of the room had a fresh breeze (Okay, that might be a generous way to say it!) of lobby air for those who do not respond so well to the heat either psychologically and/or physically. I was right in the middle and found myself with a nice layer of sweat but not dripping, which to me is perfect.

Okay- but the heat thing aside, what was really remarkable is how many people returned form the past two weeks of practice for more. This is always very inspiring to me. We worked with backbends like urdhva danruasana, dwi pada viparita dandasana and also going from wild thing to urdhva dnaurasana. Zoe and Lauran and Desirae did some inspiring work on eka pada viparita dandasana (the deep variation where you grab hold of the foot that is on the floor) so that was fun to help with. I also loved how many men came to the practice and how many people asked for help with the poses instead of sitting them out or taking the modified form without even trying the fuller expression of the poses. That is what makes the whole thing worthwhile to me is being part of creating an atmosphere where we all help each other grow and advance and expand out boundaries and pre-conceived notions of what we can and cannot do.

Dr. Phillips was in the house as well which was great because we got to plug his book signing party with him right there in the room and he gave us some teachings about how important an accent can be in asana. For instance, you know the pose malasana? You squat down basically and place your elbows on the insides of your legs in this squatting position. Well if you say MAH-lasana you are referring to the mala or the "Hindu Rosary" and you are like a bead on that garland. But if you say Muh-lasana then you are referring to a pose of dirt and excrement. And given the basic shape of that posture (think third world toilets here), one would definitely want to be clear! Anyway, I love having a yoga expert in the room so I can check my facts as I go along and he is always so generous with his expertise. Which is why we should all show up for the festivities tonight.

Okay I have a fair amount to do today and so on with it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Night

Okay- so what has been going on.... let's see...Well, Tuesday was a kind of a "continuing to get my feet back on the ground day after the weekend" in addition to being mine and Kelly's wedding anniversary. It was a nice day. I used relationship as a theme in my 6:30 class for an Inner/Outer Spiral class that was full of lots of details about how to access the spirals for opening the hips and how to use open hips to access the arm balances like bakasana, eka hasta bhujasana, dwi hasta bhujasana, eka pada koundinyasana 2 and 1. It was a rollicking good time. It was decidedly less hot than it has been in the room and I kept the pace quite mellow but from all reports people felt worked and challenged.

I thought a lot about arm balances and how they relate to marriage throughout and after class. The thing about arm balances is that they are frustrating for many people. They are really challenging, they do not come right away, there is lots of falling and squirming and inability to access either the strength or openness needed. And did I say that they are really hard? Well, they are.

And they do come with practice. But a lot of people give up practicing them because of the afore mentioned reasons. They do not have the immediate pay off a good strong sweaty standing pose flow, they do not offer up the open hearted buzz that back bends give and so on. So the thing is that as we are struggling, we have to dedicate our efforts to something higher than the pose and we have to watch and cultivate who we want to be in the challenge.

And that is like marriage. I got to thinking about how when Kelly and I were facing some challenges in the last year, one of the things that kept me in the game was that I felt like the work we were doing for ourselves and for the relationship- while brutal and hard and frustrating and painful like your many arm balancing practices can be- was making me a better person. Who I was becoming in it was stronger, more compassionate, more honest, more aware and so I realized it was worth doing even if we did not end up staying together.

So I think that is how the poses and practices that we find challenging can be for us. We can use them to help us face ourselves, to grow, to develop, and so on. Even when we like hard strong classes and we find ourselves in a gentle, more introspective situation, that disparity between our preference and what we are actually experiencing can be a doorway to growth. So friction, internally in our relationship with ourselves and our environment or inter personally between ourselves and another person often has amazing opportunities hidden it it for growth.

Today I went to Juan's Mysore practice which was most illuminating. He helped me with supta kurmasana to get my feet over my head, and in the drop backs to open up my shoulders in an interesting way. He showed me some transitioning tips and even some of the second series. Really, what a fun time.

I taught my 4:30 class at Breath and Body. Again, I worked with a slower pace to really help people stay mindful and internally slow enough to engage and explore the principles as they applied to a variety of clasps and flow sequences. I used the theme about The Center and the midline being not just a physical place but a metaphysical invitation to remember what is at the very center of who we are. It is so fantastic to really see the same faces at Breath and Body returning to class each week. I am finally getting a handle on people's names and how to help them grow their asana practice and so that is fun. They are really so strong and well trained as a group that my job is pretty easy.

My 7:00 class at Bodhi Yoga used a lot of those same ideas of The Center and went instead of through the bird of paradise and revolved bird of paradise sequences to urdhva danurasana and that was fun as well. It was a new group of students at Bodhi tonight. I must have scared everyone off last time! But still the group was so attentive and hard working that we were able to really end up in deep poses by the end.

Okay, well, the day starts early tomorrow so time to rest for me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Morning

Well, lots of computer work this morning. Again, I find this pretty interesting since I think what I do is "teach yoga." And that is true. But "teaching yoga" only seems to happen as a result of numerous email exchanges and web-based updates and so forth. How did we actually do it before the world wide web, I wonder. Don't get me wrong, a lot of the correspondences I really enjoy and access to people all over the world in a few seconds is pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

So, I want to make sure that everyone knows about the Book Signing Party at Breath and Body this Friday. I know it is a holiday weekend and that makes it a bit tough for folks as does graduation but even still if you can make it out for a bit then that would be a great show of support for Dr. Phillips. His new book, Yoga Karma and Rebirth is a great book- I have been making my way through it and really enjoying it. Come out and honor Dr. Phillips if you can. He mentions lots of local teachers in his writing and has been a great resource for many of us.

This Friday at Breath and Body Yoga- 4800 Burnet Road
4:00-4:30 Meet the Author
4:30-5:00 Mantras with Dr. Phillips
5:00-6:00 Vinyasa Yoga with Christina
6:30-8:00 Cocktails, snacks and book signing

Also, on a personal note...Today is mine and Kelly's 12th Wedding Anniversary. 12 years ago we tied the knot on a cruise ship in South Florida sailed away on a Carribean honeymoon. And well, in a way, we have been sailing together ever since. Like any voyage at sea, the waters have been rough at times, clear and pristine at others and pretty much everything in between. As much as I love celebrating my birthday- and well, let's just tell the truth here... I am pretty much into celebrating just about anything- I always think my wedding anniversary is a more noteworthy date than my birthday. Really, for a birthday, you just have to stay alive. For a marriage, well, more is definitely involved.

Anyway- time to practice some asana. I have a lot I want to do today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A few scenes from Corpus Christi

Okay, so I am back from a pretty great weekend in Corpus Christi, Texas. Craig Williams came along for the weekend and gave two talks and countless jyotish readings and acupuncture sessions and the group went to new levels in the asana practice.

It is kind of interesting thing that happens in the Immersions at about this point in the process. People start getting really good. The principles begin to take hold, students become more confident, the are physically much stronger and more open and the group is usually so cohesive that all kinds of things become possible that were nowhere in sight in January. It is a very exciting time, really.

The theme all weekend was The Five Acts of Shiva and so we worked a lot with the imagery of Nataraj and the concepts of Concealment and Revelation. It was a very potent weekend with lots of blood, sweat and tears. (The blood was metaphoric. The tears and sweat were very much real.) Okay, well, I need to get some asana done and get a grip on my day since I have been gone and I am subbing for Gioconda at Bodhi Yoga tonight.

Thanks to all the folks in Corpus for showing up with such courage and greatness and for letting this process be so alive inside of you. Really, it is great to be get to be a part of it.

More later. Here are few scenes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Group Practice at Breath and Body Yoga

Group Practice at Breath and Body Yoga.

Well, we had a great group practice last night. I thought probably 3 people would show up for it but wow- 26 of us were there to enjoy the fun. We did an arm balance and backbend practice with handstands, bakasana, eka hasta bhujasana, astavakrasana, eka pada koundinyasana, several fun flow sequences and urdhva danurasana and drop backs. All of it seemed to go quite well- I think that was the first time many of the group had pracitced some of those poses so that part was super fun to be part of. I had the air conditioning on in the beginning and then we just let nature take its course as 26 people practice strongly heat up a room without trying!

I do hope that people decide to prioritize this evening practice this summer. It is very easy, once something like this happens every week, to begin to let other things become more important and unconsciously think, "Well, I can just go next week." This is totally understandable. It makes perfect sense to me. But there is a really cool thing that happens when you really commit to a time and practice with others- you begin to grow in your practice but also grow in relationship to the other folks that you are practicing with. Simply put, it is a bonding experience. And really, there is just no other forum for really deepening your practice than these group sessions. We have the time, the attention, the focus and the group's energy all to draw upon to explore poses that don't come along in the average public class. Plus we have tons of teachers and advanced practioners all in the same room so you can come and get plenty of help even if you are new to the poses on the intermediate and advanced syllabi.
Anyway, I had a great time and throughly enjoyed myself. Off to Corpus Chrisi for the weekend. YAY!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Morning

So, I am up and getting ready to go up to Breath and Body for a morning vinyasa class. Speaking of morning vinyasa classes I went to Desirae's class yesterday morning at 8:15 and it was super fun. Kelly and I rode our bikes up there, he did some homework while I practiced and then we rode home, with a pit stop off at Mellow Johnny's.

My afternoon slipped away with all kinds of work- planning, promotions and writing.Speaking of which one thing I am working on with Desirae is a book signing party for Dr. Phillips. One week from tomorrow, Friday May 22nd, at Breath and Body from 4 - 7:30 there will be a variety of activities and festivities organized to honor and celebrate his latest book coming out. The name of the book is Yoga, Karma and Rebirth. It is great. Come to the book singing, do some asana, drink some champagne and get a signed copy and support Dr. Phillips, our local Sanskritist extraordinaire! More details to come soon.

I headed up to Breath and Body for my 4:30 class which was great fun. We had so many returning people but also a nice handful of folks new to me and new to the studio also. I always love that. Right on my drive up the highway I got a twitter message from John Friend and it was a quote about ritual and how they are means by which we can express our Divine Beauty. And so I worked with that themes last night. I kept the pacing slower and was a stickler for detailed transitions and form since these details can be seen as either tedious do's and don't or as a ritual acts in and of themselves, each dedicated to remembering and creating beautiful form as an expression of our own Divine Beauty. It was a great class, I thought. We worked deep into the hips and shoulders with some arm balances and clasping poses.

I taught my first class at Bodhi Yoga last night which was fun also. I got to meet so many new people as there was only one person in the whole room of 20 folks that I knew at all. I introduced them to Anusara Yoga (previously that class hour was Hot 26) with a breath-based flow incorporating basic actions we do all the time. I used the theme of Entering into a Greater Flow- Grace in the big picture but in the smaller picture our breath, the forms of asana, the optimal flow of energy within our bodies as accessed through optimal alignment. It was fun. The students there were totally game and really open and easy to work with.

I always find it interesting how different yoga studios have different flavors. I see it all the time because I travel to so many different studios for my work. Whether it is the owner, the method that is featured at a given studio, the location, the teachers, the facilities or some magical combination of all of those things, every yoga studio has a certain flavor that is unique. Personally, I find that phenomenon fascinating. I know lots of yoga studios are opening up in town and there is lots of buzz out there about competition and so forth, which I can appreciate. Really, I am a realist, if nothing else. But having said that, I think, at least in some ways, studios mostly compete for someone's first visit because maybe that someone will just stay and practice at the first studio they go to. That certainly happens. Especially with a beginner. But if anyone is shopping around studio to studio they are going to see that there are unique offerings at each studio, there is a certain mood that is distinct at each studio that is bigger than who teachers there and what method is taught and so on and people will find what suits them best. Of course I do not own a studio at this point in my life and so its easy for me to say!

Anyway- time to head out to Breath and Body Yoga. Vinyasa class this morning and then this evening is group practice. If you are coming, I recommend either a big lunch or a late afternoon snack since we are practicing when you might normally be eating and you will need some energy. (no, not a threat...just sayin'.) We will probably start with the room on the cooler side since the sweat factor, while good for somethings is not so great for other things. But do plan on sweating!

Anyhoo-- have a great day. Stay in touch.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Yesterday was a nice day. I got to catch up on some work at the computer, touch base with my friend Darren about a few projects we are working on, do a lovely asana practice to work off the all-over soreness I had form Ashtanga and Peggy's class. Then, after a therapy appointment, Anne and I met up for birthday pool date before heading to Breath and Body Yoga for class. This was my first Tuesday night there and what was so great was to see all the familiar faces- Anne, Jeff, Jess G., Dawn, Hannah, Zoe, Desirae (Which was really something to see because all of them are great teachers and practitioners so it was truly preaching to the choir!)And then also I got meet some new folks like Meredith who is reading my book, Ellen who I have seen in Mark and Hannah's classes but never had in my class, Terreh, a student who is a new student and both me and BBY and also Julie who I have only recently met. So it was a super great blending of long time and new students/friends.

We worked with the theme of "Putting the Individual into a Greater Flow" and with the number 43 to celebrate Anne.
So we did this sequence focusing in a big way on arm bones back and shoulder loop-
4 Surya A
3 Surya B
4 Minutes sirsasana
3 handstands
4 Standing Poses in flow: Parsvakonasana, Trikonasana, Vira One, Anjaneyasana
3 Attempts to spring forward/float forward from AMS to Uttanasana
4 Hip openers: deep lunge, eka pada rajakapotasana, malasana, suptabaddhakonasana (Active)
3 setu bandhasana to Urdhva danurasanas
4 urdva danurasanas to dwi pada viparita dandasana
3 forward bends: AMS, Uttanasana, parvottanasasna with back foot in
4 minute sarvangasana
3 minutes+ savasasana

It was a fun class. We had a kombucha toast afterwards. Today Kelly and I are heading up to Desirae's morning class and this evening I teach at Breath and Body and also at Bodhi for the first time at 7:30. Please join me at either or both places.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Anzy

I went to Juan's Mysore practice as planned yesterday. It was really great. I really think that is the only way to practice Ashtanga, I really do. He gave me some great help and I had a few breakthroughs due to his careful attention to detail. Love that.
After I cleaned up from that and had some food I met the fabulous Gioconda for a walk around Town Lake. Then Anne and I met up at Peggy Kelly's advanced class for a trip into Iyengar Yoga Land. That was fun and a very nice complement to the Mysore practice although I must say I am more than a little bit sore this morning. After that, I went home to get everything ready for Anne's dinner party.
Getting the dinner ready was pretty easy because I spent the morning making macaroni and cheese (which is one of Anne's favorite foods) and all I had to do was put it in the oven. I ran across a great sounding recipe in Vegetarian Times and made it for us along with some roasted asparagus and red peppers (Anne's two favorite vegetables.) Meg and Jesse brought some nice wine and some bread and Susan brought some homemade peach cobbler and ice cream. (Peaches from the Farmer's Market-YUM!) It was a great way to be together- very tasty things to eat, very nice company and a festive kick off to Anne's 43rd birthday which is actually today.
Here are some scenes from the evening.
The Birthday Girl Jeff, her man.

Meg and Jesse.

Susan, maker of great cobbler.
Kelly, opening the wine.
Meg and Jesse again. My timing was a bit off as I snapped the picture right when Jesse took a sip of his beverage. OOPS.
Anne and Jeff.
Anne, getting one more bite of the mac and chesse. YUM.

All of us smiling for the camera..."Say macaroni..."

So tonight is the first night I am teaching the 6:30 class at Breath and Body. So order is being restored back to Tuesday nights. It has been a few weeks since I taught on Tuesday and I am ready to be back. Please join me there if you can. I am planning to teach the calss around the mubers 4 and 3 since Anne is 43 and she will be in class. BUT DO NOT WORRY- we will not be doing 43 sun salutations.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Morning

I spent the weekend teaching a workshop at YogaYoga which was really great. I realized on the first night that I felt really great heading into the Friday night session. And it dawned on me- wow. normally on Fridays when I am teaching a workshop I have gotten up early, got on a plane, landed in a new place, had some food or maybe a short inversion practice and then I am teaching. Instead Friday I had time to sleep in, meditate, go swimming, do asana, get some acupuncture and have a meal all before teaching my evening session. No wonder I felt really different.

So it was really great to have the opportunity to teach "at home" and to be at YogaYoga teaching. The students were very attentive, interesting and interested in learning. I was able to give lots of alignment details and to introduce the method pretty thoroughly. We worked with a broad overview of the UPA's on Firdya night, the shoulder principles saturday morning, inner and outer spiral on saturday afternoon, and putting it all together in backbends on sunday morning and a pranayama and forward bend breath-oriented practice on Sunday evening. I really feel like we were able to cover some ground in 14 hours.

It was great to see a few familiar faces drop in throughout the weekend but in general, the workshop was full of new folks, many of whom I think I will see again, which I am excited about.

The other fun thing I did yesterday was to ride my bike with Kelly and Susan up to Breath and Body Yoga. Susan is a great bike commuter and she also has some training as a bike guide so I asked her to help me find a route to Breath and Body that was reasonable safe as a bike bike commuter. She did a damn fine job. The route only has me on Lamar for very brief periods and she gave me some excellent tips for how to ride safely in the city. We did the ride in an hour, had a snack at Pachu and then rode back home. I had time to do some major leg stretches and to put my big 45-lb plates on my legs to get my femurs to settle back after 24 miles on a bike. (Oh, the ravages of biking on already tight quads! But wow, it sure is fun. I recommend it to all.)

Okay- so today I am going to make Anne dinner this morning (tomorrow is her birthday and we are having a meal tonight to celebrate so I am going to get most of it done this morning.) At noon I hope to be at Juan's Mysore practice at Castle Hill (which is one of my new favorite things to do even though I get very confused on parts of the sequence around the bhujapidasana, kurmasana and so forth...Although he is so far patient and nice about that.) Then I have a date with a girlfriend and then I will meet up with Anne for Peggy's class at 3:45. So a day off from work and a day on for some yoga and R&R.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tapas and a 40th Birthday Sweatfest

I got home on Wednesday afternoon in time to take a short bike ride with Kelly, get cleaned up and make it to Breath and Body for the 4:30 class. I used tapas as a theme and talked about heat. There is this idea in the Upanishads, I believe, that talks about how yogic practice is similar to rubbing two pieces of wood together in such a way that the fire that was hidden in the woods is revealed. For each of us, there is a spark of divinity that is hidden or latent inside of us, much in the way fire is latent inside a piece of wood. When given the right kind of friction, heat, intensity- tapas- that spark can be revealed. So we worked with strong standing poses, arm balances and some basic backbends using muscular energy principles to create tapas.

More on the subject of heat another time.

Yesterday, as many of you know was my 40th birthday and it was really a great day. I taught a vinyasa class at 8:15 and decided in the morning traffic to explore the options of riding a bike rather than driving to teach that class. 30 minutes on a bike would be fun. 30 minutes in a car is not. Susan has already been researching my commute-route for me so that is something to look forward to.

After class I went to the kombuchery to see Kathryn's set-up there, which was pretty amazing. Canyon Spring kombucha is really quite something. After that, I met a friend for coffee, then hooked up with Anne for yoga at Castle Hill. I went to Juan's Mysore class which I must say is just fantastic. He is very knowledgeable and helpful and patient. Anne went to Gillian's Iyengar Yoga class and then we went to Whole Foods and Lululemon. We then picked up her dogs and brought them to visit Moshie, who really needs dog play dates as he still seems to be missing his girlfriend a lot. Then we made it up to Breath and Body for the Birthday Party/Practice.

What a fun night it was. we had 33 people in the room, it was a sweatfest of the highest order and what I loved the most was that there were folks who have been studying with me since I moved here in the room practicing with people I met for the first time last night. It was a great blending of practice communities and a fantastic coming together. We did a good steady flow to get to urdhva danurasana, dwi pada viparita dandasana and eka pada rajakapotasana. Such fun. Lots of people told me they had breakthroughs last night. I really believe that group practice is one of the best ways to take your practice to a new level. Having that much support, combined focus, time, help and intensity yields such amazing experiences. It really does.

After the practice we ate snacks, drank kombucha and champagne and lots of water and then enjoyed good merriment together. I was so very generously gifted and honored and the day was quite special indeed. I can't imagine a better way to enter into my 5th decade of life than surrounded by long time and new students, friends, and colleagues in the spirit of yoga and celebration. SO FUN!

Here are some pics:

Anne, before the sweating.

Baby Dancer
William. His 5th yoga class ever. So everything is going to seem easy from here on out.

Brienne, rockin' it.
Jeremiah, enjoying the ride.
And then some more frolicking.
First time eka pada raja kapotasana!
Another first!
Catherine- Austin's back bending queen...
Me, showing how my new bamboo outfit grew two sizes and was hanging off me like a rag! However, I still maintain that it is very comfortable and snazzy looking!
Me, lighting the cake candles
Me, again.My cake being delivered to me by my husband who was shirtless, which I thought was pretty fantastic.The cake, the singing, the glee...Yes, I got all 40 candles in one breath- pranayama, baby!
Thanks to everyone far and wide who helped make it a great day!