Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where did the time go

Wow- I cannot believe it has been so long since last I wrote.

I spent the day Monday finishing the Immersion with one of the most inspiring wrap-ups ever. Darren said something in the closing circle that really hit it on the head for me as well. He shared that when he is in those circles and listening to people share so honestly it is when he feels the happiest. I feel the same way. There are times when the "not normal" life of teaching yoga everyday and travelling a lot and being away from some of my closest friends gets hard and I wonder about the lifestyle of it a bit. And then there are those moments, like in such circles where it is so obvious why it is that I chose this life and why I give so much time and energy to it. There really is very little else that is like it and I can not imagine a better way to spend my life than in this work.

So the inspiration of the Immersion carried me a lot this week. I spent the day travelling on Tuesday and Mom and Dad came over for dinner that night. Wednesday morning I taught Focus on Form at 9:30, on Wednesday afternoon I filmed my online mentor lesson and then Wednesday evening I taught at 6:00 and then did the local mentoring group at 7:30. This morning I got my hair trimmed, went swimming, made lunch, did a practice and taught at 4:30. Mom and Dad came over dinner and so here it is, Thursday night and I am finally sitting down for a moment.

This week's class were all back bending classes with a focus on parighasana, ardha bahekasana, full bhekasana, nakrasana, ustrasana, urdhva danurasana and eka pada rajakapotasana. Each class had simliar elements and yet took a different pathway toward the peak postures. I think my plan to teach a category of postures each week is going to be a good one. It really made my planning a lot easier.

I go to Idaho tomorrow and I am very excited about it. Karen Sprute-Francovich is an awesome certified teacher with an amazing community of skilled and dedicated practitioners. She is one of the first people in Anusara Yoga that I became really good friends with many years ago and so it is a total thrill to get to go see her and be with her students and teach. Karen is smart, funny, passionate, experienced and full of insight about the yogic life. And she has two amazing sons and a great husband. I am really looking forward to it.

So- that is about it for now. More soon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not Normal

Well, the thing I keep thinking about is that yoga is really not about being normal.

This idea has been in my head a lot over the last few weeks and after a weekend diving into the Hatha Yoga Pradipka with Carlos Pomeda, I am more convinced of it than ever. Yes, I know lots of normal people do yoga. In fact, I know plenty of people who work 9 to 5 jobs, go to church on Sunday, have families, pay their bills, drive mini vans, watch TV, go on vacations to places other than yoga retreat centers and conferences, eat fast food and also practice asana. I know that people of all walks of life, in fact, practice asana. Fancy people, plain people, rich people, not-so-rich people all practice asana these days.

But you know, I cannot shake the feeling that while some of the practices and principles of yoga may helps us cope better with conventional life- we will be more clear-headed, sharp-minded, fit-bodied and so on with regular practice and if we are lucky we will grow more patient, more centered, more focused and compassionate- I still maintain that yoga practice has probably never really been about conventional life. And just so we are clear, I am just kind of musing and thinking out loud tonight and so its not like I have a lot of facts in my back pocket to whip out and share with the group. I don't. It is not that kind of discussion.

And while two paragraphs ago, I gave a whole long list of exterior symptoms of "normal" the real not-normal part is internal, I suppose. Because even if the outside looks normal, the inside world of the yogi might be quite radical. And in spending some time with the Hatha Yoga Pradipka this weekend it was just so clear that this whole thing was a radical undertaking from the get-go. It was engaged by serious practitioners who were not dabbling in or exploring how they "might get a sense of inner peace" but who were focused entirely on the task of spiritual awakening and liberation. Those are our roots. It just blows me away.

In a good way. In an inspiring way. In a kind of sobering way. All at the same time. The thing is that these early texts are so not about "being happy" or "being successful" or even "being yourself" in the way we ften talk about it as modern practitioners. Originally hatha yoga was for one thing- raise kundalini for your awakening. So I suppose if you got happier along the way, great. But the point was awakening. Period.

Anyway, I have no real point to make other than there have been times over the years where I felt any likelihood of "normal" quite decidedly slipping away from me. Most days, I don't worry about that because I know that I am not- nor have I ever been- cut from the cloth labeled "normal". But sometimes I watch myself worry and I feel a sense of disconnect from some notion of "normal" and that disconnect can feel a bit unsettling to a part of me. But other times and maybe tonight is one of those times, it seems perfectly clear that some inner corner has been turned and there is no going back and that the inner not-normal is quite well established.

I mean I have tried to care about news, weather, sports and what college people went to and which model of BMW is most desirable. I have. But I don't. And while I suppose I could try again, I doubt I will more successful in the future. But what I do love and care about is a weekend of being reminded that this yoga we do is really about Consciousness. It is about our deepest potential awakening within us. It is about a radical notion that we might align in a profound and Real way with the force of Life itself and be consumed. And that this process is ultimately worthwhile.

Yep. Not normal. But worthwhile.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Good Morning

We started the day talking about the connection to having a high vision, connecting your vision with The Highest and how the task then becomes to serve the vision and to serve the Highest. Darren and I started by asking the group for questions and we spent the morning working on a lot of technical applications of the principles and doing some partner work to help ground the ideas int the body. After a short lunch break we came back for a backbend practice with the theme of compassion. (Muscle Energy, embrace yourself totally and draw into the source f compassion that.) We got to some good backbends and the mood stayed soft and tender in the hard work which was quite sweet.

As always, I am having a very fun time teaching with my friend Darren. He and I learn so much from one another and I think what I love most is that since the very beginning of my friendship with Darren (Like 10 years now) I have felt very supported to be exactly who I am and we both share a passion for growth, change and the work necessary to bring these ideas to life. So how that transfers into the teaching environment is that I feel a great freedom and ease which makes the atmosphere quite profound for me.

Also it is a cool thing for the students in the group to have two teachers and to have two perspectives and two sets of hands and so on so that I always just feel so good about what we are offerring together. Part of our intention this week was to mine the syllabus for those poses that do not get covered very often- obviously the inversions but also things like uttana padasana, full bhekasana, supta virasana, parighasana and so we have had a good time with teaching some of the lesser known and weirder poses.

Well, time to finish up and finish getting ready for the day ahead. We have a practice this morning, then a day with Carlos Pomeda and then I teach a public class at Yoga Oasis East tonight. Fun stuff!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What is the Highest

We spent the first part of the morning with a little philosophy review about what do we mean in Anusara Yoga when we say the Highest? What is the nature of the Absolute and other fun big ideas. Then asana:

Child's Pse
Down Dg
Surya Namaskar A 5X
Surya Namaskar B 5X
Paryankasana prep
Vira One
prasarita padttanasana
ardha bhekhasana
anjaneyasana with back leg in ardha bhekhasana
eka pada rajapaotasana with back leg in ardha bhekhasana
pinca mayurasana
ardha navasana
uttana padasana
parsva danurasana
urdhva danurasana-6X
supta padangusthasana
parsva uttanasana
supta baddha konasana

And then we took a break for lunch after which we gathered back for some writing on what obstacles we face in living in alignment with our highest and The Highest. Then, more asana:

Supta virasana'
supta swastikasana
sutpa baddha konasana
deep lunge with forearms on the floor
lunge with back knee down, twisting over front leg
uppavistha konasana
parsva uppavistha konasana
baddha konasana
janu sirsasana
ardha matsyendrasana
reclined baby cradle
seated baby cradle
ardha padmasana
bhardvjasana 2
seated meditation

So, it's late at night to really go into the details of the day but it has been quite profound in a lot of ways. More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What is your Highest Vision

We had a pretty amazing Day One. This is Part Two and so in many ways it is a lot easier because the momentum of Part One kind of carries the group. We started the day with a contemplation about "What is Your Highest Vision?" People broke int small groups and shared and then we circled up in the big group for introductions and for the name game. And very cool thing- 37 people learned one another's names.

Then we went right into a rockin' asana practice:

Surya Namaskar variation
Pinca Mayurasana
Clasped Vira 1, to "Humble Warrior"- 2X
parsvakonasana, hand inside
parsvakonasana, clasped
parsva utthita hasta pdangushtasana
clapes parsvakonasana to clasped uttanasana to clasped pasrva utthita hasta padangusthasana
prasarita paddottanasana, clasped
deep hip stretches in lunge
eka hasta bhujasna
dwi hasta bhujasana
uppavistha konasana
visvamitrasana, prep
childs pose

Then we had short break for lunch and came back for the somewhat sobering conversation of "So you have this vision..what will it cost you....what price are you willing to bad do you want it?" Then we launched into supta virasana which was such a difficult pose for everybody that we spend the afternoon in preparatory postures- with deep work for the feet and calves with the vajrasana series, lots groin work and lots of work in gomukhassana and lo and behold, 2 hours later, what had been excruciating and difficult for most was in the realm of manageable. This is a pose me and Darren are super committed to this week so we made sure to tell people, it is not going away so we have to make our peace with it.

It was a fairly seamless day. Darren and shared the teaching in a very easeful way and the students came open, receptive and ready to work. One thing I love about this group is that they have a lot of fire and a lightness as well. It is a very cool combination but I remember from last time how totally freed up I felt teaching them because they were so able to get with mine and Darren's intensity that we didn't have to waste a lot of time or energy explaining about why we create intensity as practitioners. They came in ready at that level. It is a cool thing when that happens.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Night

Okay, well after our overnight trip to Prescott, Darren and I are in Tucson. We landed here in time for a brief practice. a trip to the coop for groceries, a dinner at Govinda's (the Hare Krishna restaurant here in Tucson) and now we are winding down for the day. We have an early start tomorrow so I am going to sign off soon and get to bed.

I had a marvelous time in Prescott. I got to see so many people I love a lot in a short period of time and the weather was really Prescott at its best. Really, there is so much I miss about being there so it was great to sneak in a visit.

More soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Morning

Well, I am in Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix waiting for Darren to pick me up. We are going to take a trip up to Prescott before our Immersion starts on Wednesday. I am looking forward to seeing everyone up there even if only briefly. The travel this morning was uneventful -thank God, after my last plane journey which, if you remember, was fraught with delays and an unexpected overnight stay in Dallas!

So the weekend in Corpus Christi went well. At one point several people said, "This is really starting to make sense," which made me very happy. The thing is that from my vantage point the system and the teaching methods are very simple, clear and orderly. But I know that from the other side of the experience, the endeavor to teach Anusara Yoga feels daunting and complex. It is a very interesting disparity to be right in the middle of. I find it a fun challenge though- to devise ways to teach people to teach and ways to keep clarifying my explanations and the experiential exercises I offer in order to help people see the possibilities that teaching people in this way has. It is always different with each group to really discover what the group needs in order for the lights to come on.

Anusara Yoga is such an empowering method of yoga to teach and to learn. As teachers we really want our students to understand the yoga they do and to be empowered to approach it intelligently and with great joy. It is a tall order yet, so worth it.

I have a lot on my mind these days about current trends in yoga and what seem to be pros and cons of yoga's ever-increasing popularity. On one hand and for the most part, I am so psyched that more people are availing themselves of the practice, the teachings and the beauty that is yoga. And also, I wonder a lot these days about what it means for yoga to be a household word and to have become such a mainstream endeavor. I think there are some significant trade-offs that seem to be getting made in how it is practiced and taught and in what the yoga student expects and wants. Truth be told, I do not have a politically correct rap to share about it quite yet, so I think I will just have to stop there for today.

Mom and Dad get into Austin today and I am gone. They close on their house tomorrow so by the end of the the day on Tuesday the whole family will live within a few miles of each other. Crazy. We have not all lived that close together since before Anne went to college! I am excited about it and am pretty impressed they were up for a new adventure.

That is kind of it for now I suppoe. I think it is about time for me to hunt down some food while I wait. There is a 2-hour time difference this time of year between Phoenix and Austin and my belly is growling like it is still in Austin. As Winnie-the-Pooh might say, "There is a rumbly in my tumbly. So perhaps this bear should find some honey..." (or a veggie burrito as this particular bear likes Mexican food.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Morning

So- I the weird thing is that I think of my Tuesday/Thursday 4:30 class as the same class but it is really rare that someone actually comes to both classes in the week! But after three strong back bending classes this week, I taught a pretty mellow forward bending class. (Maybe mellow is not quite the right word as there was a lot of groaning come to think of it!) But it occurred to me I was planning a "counter class" and most of the people in attendance hadn't been in the Tuesday or Wednesday class. Well, except Gabby who was probably relieved to not have a third day of back bends thrown at her! And Gigi had been in Tuesday's class so the Thursday class probably made sense to her as well.

Anyway- here is the sequence. We worked with lots of rooting down (into the Magnificent Earth- a line from a Hafiz poem.) and rising up.

Slow vinyasa warm up with:
virabhrasana 1
eka pada rajakapotasana
Crescent Pose

prasarita padottanasana C


uttasana- 2X
thigh stretches at wall -2X
urdhva prasarita eka padasana at wall -2X
eka pada supta badha konasana variations

variation on parivritta janu sirsasana
surya yantrasana

supta baddha konasana

Anyway- at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune (And in many Iyengar Yoga studios across the country) they teach a category of poses each week. So, for instance, the first week of the month is standing pose emphasis, the second is a forward bending emphasis, the third week is a back bending emphasis and the fourth week is a pranayama emphasis. On months with fifth weeks, I think they look at arm balances. Anyway, I got to thinking that I may start organizing my classes that way or in a similar way. I usually try to offer a variety throughout the week or in each class week to week but in general, more often than not the same people are not coming regularly enough for that to really make sense. I may try something a little different starting when I get back from my travels. We shall see.

All right. Many of you asked about the singer in the video/photo montage that I posted a few days ago. It is Lee Lozowick from The Lee Lozowick Project. You can get information about his music (And some other great bands) at

Have a great day. I head to Corpus Christi after lunch then Arizona on Monday. Like I mentioned a few days ago, you will be in great hands with Hannah and Brigitte subbing so please come support the subs, the class, yourself and one another while I am gone.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Morning

So I had a very full day yesterday.

I taught Focus on Form and we worked with bhujangasana, urdhva mukha svanasana, sirsasana, navasana, uttana padasana, ustrasana and sarvangasana and getting a big shoulder loop established and maintained in each of those postures and throughout the sequence. It was a good time.

The sequence went like this:
  • Basic variations of Surya Namaskar-lots
  • cobra exploration- lots
  • Urdhva mukha svanasana exploration-lots
  • prasarita paddottanasana- concave spine
  • prasarita paddottanasana- head down
  • sirsasana exercise- with block in upper back at the wall
  • sirsasana- 5 minutes
  • paripurna navasana- 2X
  • ardha navasana- 2X
  • uttana padasana prep- lifting chest and placing head- 2X
  • urdhva prasarita padasana, lowering legs in stages- 5X
  • uttana padasana- add legs and arms- 2X
  • thigh stretches at the wall- 2X
  • ustrasana- 3 X
  • sarvangasana- 5 minutes
  • maricyasana 3
  • savasana

I did a very similar sequence at 6pm for the Level 2/3 class although we added some standing poses in surya namaskar sequence and urdhva danurasana after ustrasana. In the morning I worked with the theme of remembering one's greatness and in the evening I used the same poem I used and posted yesterday because I got an email from J-man saying, "How did that poem work, you must tell me!" Knowing that he would be in class I just re-used it. And like Douglas Brooks says, "If something is worth hearing once, it is worth hearing more than once."

Anyway, I spent the afternoon prepping for the Online Mentoring Group. I had hoped to get done in time for the instructor's practice from 2-4 but there was no way. I was at my computer until 5:3o when I left for my 6pm class! Anyway, it is worth it. The online group is are on lesson three now: Developing Heart-Based Language which builds on the first two lesson which were about Developing Heart-Based Themes. I am really enjoying the online course and the format is unique and effective from what I can tell right now. It is a really cool thing.

When I was done with that I prepped for the evening class and the Local Mentoring Group where we are exploring the assessment standard for Warm-Ups and moving into working with the standards for Observation and Adjustment. We were reduced in numbers but I think that allowed us to really spend some time on individual concerns and experiences. It was a lovely evening.

I plan to make time for a long practice today and perhaps a walk outside since the rain has let up. I will finish packing and prepping for the weekend in Corpus and get ready for my trip to Arizona. Next week Hannah will sub my evening classes, Brigitte will sub Focus on Form and I will be back teaching a week from Wednesday.

More soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Morning

So this is a fun thing. Here is a video/photo montage of the practice I led on Labor Day in Portland when we were inaugurating Alison's studio, Abhaya. Diana Sell who is a great photographer did the stills and a friend/colleague of hers, Carl, did the video footage. Have a gander, leave a comment and enjoy!

In other news, Mark and Hannah are offering a workshop at Castle Hill this Saturday 3:30-5:30. Here is the link for that: Mark and Hannah are both great practitioners, fantastic teachers and wonderful people. (Not necessarily in that order!) So don't miss it.

I got a lot done yesterday. In addition to some business things I took care of, I managed to get a big head start on packing for my upcoming trips and I even unpacked some of my fall clothes and put away some of the super-summery stuff. This should guarantee a return to warmer temperatures!

My 4:30 class was super fun. I worked with a sequence that was inspired by one Abhijata (Mr. Iyengar's granddaughter) taught when we were in Pune:

  • Child's pose
  • AMS
  • Uttanasana
  • Surya Namaskar A-5 X
  • Surya Namaskar B-5 X
  • Utkatasana
  • crescent Pose
  • standing backbend
  • utktasana
  • uttanasana
  • AMS to UMS-3X
  • prasarita paddottanasana
  • sirsasana
  • pinca mayurasana
  • handstand
  • rope 2
  • ustrasana
  • urdhva danurasana
  • kapotasana prep walking down the wall to straight arms
  • urdhva danurasana
  • handstand
  • AMS
  • uttansana
  • parsva uttanasana
  • utanasana
  • viparita karani

There were lots of folks in class and everyone worked so hard and so diligently. It was fun having Gioconda back from her travels, Amethyst was in class (a recent transplant from the Yoga Oasis gang) and Rebecca (who has recently moved here from the Los Angeles, CA kula and is working at Lulu). Mark and Hannah were in class as was Catherine so we had lots of the "old gang" plenty of the new gang like the Roberts and Gabby and some brand new friends as well!

I used one of my favorite Hafiz poems as a springboard for my theme:

Out of the Mouths of a Thousand Birds


Listen more carefully to what is around you

Right now.

In my world

There are the bells from the clanks

Of the morning milk drums

And a wagon wheel outside my window

Just hit a bump.

Which turned into an ecstatic chorus

Of the Beloved's Name.

There is a Prayer Call

Rising up like the sun

Out of the mouths of a thousand birds.

There is an astonishing vastness

Of movement and Life

Emanating sound and light

From my folded hands

And my even quieter simple being and heart.

My dear,

Is it true that your mind

Is sometimes like a battering


Running all through the city

Shouting so madly inside and out

About the ten thousand things that do not matter?

Hafiz, too

For many years beat his head in youth

And thought himself at a great distance from and armistice

With God.

But that is why this scarred old pilgrim

Has now become such a sweet rare vintage

Who weeps and sings for you.

That is why Hafiz will forever in his verse

Play his symbol and call to you.

O listen-

Listen more carefully

To what is inside of you right now.

In my world

All that remains is the wondrous call to

Dance and prayer

Rising up like a thousand suns

Out of the mouth of a

Single bird.

Okay, time to shower up and get ready for Focus on Form. If all goes as planned today we should spend a lot of the time upside down. Yippee!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So, I had a great time in Kentucky, I really did. I just loved my host and all the students who were so dedicated and focused all weekend. Yoga East is comprised of 3 yoga studios- one of which is Iyengar-y hatha, one of which is Mysore-style Ashtanga Vinyasa and one of which has a vinyasa emphasis with lots of folks trained by Cyndi Lee at Om Yoga. (This may not be exactly accurate but it is the general picture that Laura explained to me or more clearly "My understanding of the general picture...") Anyway, Laura Spaulding, the director, has been practicing and teaching for a long and her community is full of mature, dedicated and sincere students of all ages with great respect for different traditions. We had a great time exploring our similarities and differences and doing lots of yoga. It was really inspiring to me.

Anyway, I encountered a fair amount of "travel hell" on the way home from Louisville. The plane out of Kentucky was delayed by 5 hours which got us to Dallas late and meant the connecting flight to Austin would not go out until the morning. So I got into a hotel in Dallas around 1:30 am and got up at 4:45am to get back on a plane. I finally got home around 8:30am yesterday morning. It was a long journey home.

I decided to go the health club to soak in the hot tub once I returned and once there, I decided to swim which really helped move some of the stagnant energy I felt in my body from sitting and standing and waiting all those hours. I came home, made a great Ayurveda lunch for me (Spiced rice and daal) and Kelly and then did some errands and met Anne for Peggy's class, which was fantastic. Here is her sequence as I remember it.

  • paryankasana with block and arms belted- 5 minutes or more
  • adho mukha svanasana
  • surya namaskar variation with nakrasana thrown in several times
  • supta padangusthasana variations
  • eka pada supta badha konasana variations
  • uttana padasana
  • ustrasana
  • pigeon droppings to chair, to block- lots
  • ustrasana to kapotasana at wall- several
  • kapotasana- several
  • sirsasana drop overs to chair and back up from chair- lots
  • sirsasana drop overs to floor and back up- 6X
  • urdhva danurasana to dwi pada viparita dandasana with ankles belted and head down to urdhva danurasana- 3X
  • ardha matsyendrasana at wall- 2 variations
  • ardha halasana legs supported on a chair
  • savasana

I came home, made dinner and went to bed early, which I needed since I had maybe 4 hours the previous night. Today I am going to catch up on some business, start packing because I go to Corpus Christi, TX this weekend and head out to Arizona for 10 days first thing on Monday morning. So I need to be ready for Arizona when I head out to Corpus Christi.

I am teaching at Castle Hill at 4:30 so please come to class if you can.

Okay, more later!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Evening

So, I had an early wake-up today. We had a 9am class but since there is a time difference between Austin and Louisville it was a 8am class according to my body's clock. So, a cup of black tea, some green powder and a shower and it was just fine.

The students at Yoga East are really great. The owner and director, Laura Spaulding, is a long-time asana practioner and teacher with tons of experience in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Iyengar Yoga. She is super funny, smart, sincere and dedicated and her students are very focused, receptive and fun to work with. We spent the morning looking at shoulder principles, stanading poses and arm balances. We spent the afternoon deep into hip opening and twists. It was a good day.

After class Laura and I went out to Cuban food which was fantastic. I have never had such yummy spinach! It must have been the copious amounts of olive oil it was cooked in. We had a great talk about yoga and our backgrounds and how we got into teaching. It was fun to hear her story and her very humbling reflections on how she got into this all-comsuming life of being a yoga teacher.

She told me the coolest thing about being in Mysore right before Patabhi Jois passed. He had been in the hospital and came home. Reportedly, he told his family doctor to take him home saying, "I am not leaving my prana at the hospital." He came home and passed 2 days later. God, I love that story. Talk about surendering your last breath consciously. Very cool.

Okay, well, time for bed or at least to read a while before I fall asleep. I am reading a great book called The 19th Wife which is a whole Mormon story, which I love.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I woke up this morning to the sound of the rain pouring down and just wanted to snuggle down a bit deeper! I did get out of bed and to my puja room for pranayama, meditation and japa practice. It was very sweet to sit and hear the rain outside.

Now I am finishing up my tea as I catch up on the online mentor group classroom and am checking in here. I posted a new lesson for the online group on Thursday but we are still all chatting away about Week #1's lesson. It has been really cool to see how the online forum provides a way to connect and share. One thing that one of the participants mentioned is that because it is not "live" (I post a series of video clips and teachings and people watch at home) there are no interruptions or distractions and I can stay very focused in presenting the material and the students can stay focused on learning and also can replay the lesson if they want to.

Also, I notice that when someone asks a question in the online format, they have pondered it and already worked with a bit just through the act of writing it down. And what has been great to see- and I had hoped this would happen- is that the other members of the group are answering one another's questions and we are really able to have a sharing and discussion together. It is a very cool thing.

All right- so today I head out to Kentucky. I have never been there before so I am looking forward to meeting some new people and seeing a new part of the country. I get back Sunday night and will be teaching my classes next week at Castle Hill.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday Morning

Good morning!

I woke up nice and early this morning, did my sitting practices and I am now sitting out on the patio with my chai enjoying the morning air. Seems like rain is definitely on its way today.

Yesterday was a fun and productive day.

I taught Focus on Form at Castle Hill at 9:30. We worked a lot with muscle and organic energy and took it into parivritta parsvakonasana and eka pada koundinyasana. That class is a very interesting class because I believe it is on the schedule as an "entry-level option" and yet a lot of the people who come to it are very experienced and quite adept. And there are people who regularly attend who are newer and/or less strong bendable. It is really a very all-levels kind of class and yet, what is cool is that the regardless of physical prowess, the folks who come to the class tend to have very good studentship and on the whole seem quite ready to learn which makes it a joy to teach.

I talked about "Shining Brightly" as my theme. Over breakfast, Kelly read me an article by this woman who found that every time she neared success in her life she sabotaged herself. When she realized this was happening she went to therapy and uncovered a huge cache of personal issues about how, for her, success unconsciously equalled a loss of love. She was not afraid to fail, she was afraid to succeed.

So it got me thinking about how in our culture we really do have an imperative to succeed and yet there is this subtext many times that if one person is great, it is at the expense of someone else. It can be as though only one person gets to shine at a time. But the idea in Anusara Yoga is that greatness is not limited, we do not shine at the expense of others and in fact our shining brightly can invite others to do the same. At the heart of the practice is an invitation to recognize that we all share the same light and yet we each express that one light through the different vehicles of our individuality.

It reminded me of an interview I read with Gita Iyengar. The interviewer said something to the effect of "It must be hard to live in your father's shadow all of these years." To which she replied, "I do not live in his shadow. I live in his light."

Of course, these are inspiring ideas and if we embrace them there is a bit of fine print to keep in mind. We will need to rectify any disparity between our new vision of "shining brightly" and the old samskaras of scarcity that rear their ugly heads at times. Even though we may really want to live in alignment with the "everyone can be great" way, many of us have hidden (or not so hidden) pockets of jealousy, envy, insecurity, fear and so forth that arise when we are in the presence of someone (even if that someone is us) who is shining brightly. That was the point of the article...we have to explore that domain and "exorcise the demons," so to speak.

I spent the afternoon filming my lesson for the online mentoring group (De-mystifying Heart-Based Themes, Part 2) and preparing for the Local Mentoring group which meets on Wednesday nights (Teaching Effective Warm Ups and Understanding the Video Standard). I still had time for a long inversion practice before I went to Castle Hill to teach at 6. Lots of new folks came to that class so it seems the identity of that 6pm class is still up in the air. The first few weeks it was attended by lots of people I knew and over the last few weeks a lot of those people have been missing and new people have been showing up and so it will be interesting to see if "a working group" gets established or not.

That is generally what I am looking to see in any class that I teach. I am not particularly obsessed with numbers; I am more interested in whether there is a core group of people who make that their class and who really want to go somewhere together. I know that while I can offer a student plenty of information in one class, the real juice of the method happens in those classes where there is a committed group of students who come and practice and learn regularly over a long period of time. I am looking for students who are not just committed to their personal practices, not just committed to me as their teacher or to the method but committed to each other, to the class itself (meaning, they come even when a sub is there!) and to a long- term vision of learning and practicing the method.

That is not to say I do not thoroughly enjoy meeting new people who come to class because I most definitely do!

I think it is a cool thing that in the modern yoga scene someone can pick up a class just about any hour of the day all over town and it is a blessing that yoga has been made so convenient. Yet, for me, I am still a bit old school. I think the best learning and teaching happens in those classes with regular attendance and when the same people build something together over a period of time. Dropping in with a variety approach and being committed to a particular class/teacher/style are just totally different things. (Obviously, there are benefits to either approach and if you life is such that you can only make classes sporadically, this is not a criticism. I am just saying...)

Anyway- it was a good day back. Today- a walk, a practice, some writing and my class at 4:30 at Castle Hill. Be there.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Night

SO- what a great weekend. Kelly and I got on a plane for Newark early in the morning and arrived right around noon. We met up with Emma and Chris and they took us to the studio for a 1-4 intermediate/advanced practice. It was really great. We got into some good back bends and worked on dropping over from sirsasana to dwi pada viparita dandasana. We had a really fun time.

We had a chance to go home and make some food before the evening class where we worked a lot on hip openings and on uttanasana and padmasana.

And the weekend went on very nicely from there. Emma is obviously such a good teacher. Her students are so well trained, such good listeners and so sincere in their practices that they were a pleasure to teach and to work with. They had all the basics covered and had a good understanding of the principles already so my work was to offer a different perspective, some different sequences and refinements. We really had a good time.

In addition to the fun yoga we all got to do, Kelly and I enjoyed some fantastic meals. We had a great pizza dinner on Saturday, a fantastic rooftop meal on Sunday and on Monday Kelly and I went into the city to meet my friend Elena and we enjoyed a meal in New York City that was off the charts.

There is more upon which to reflect but the hour is late and it is time now for bed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Wow, it has been a really busy few days. Tuesday night I taught my classes at both Castle Hill and at Breath and Body Yoga. I laughed with Kelly on the way home that it was a "night of fruit images."

At 4:30 I talked about how earlier in the day I was eating this incredibly good apple and the crazy thing about the apple was that the closer I got toward the core of the apple, the sweeter it tasted. (Kind of like the closer we get to the core of who we are, the sweeter it gets.. muscle energy, drawing into the sweetness.. back bends... like that.)

At 6:30 I told a story my new friend Tedd told me about something Baron Baptiste said in one of his trainings. He told the group, "When you squeeze an orange, juice comes out. What I want to know is what is going to come out when I squeeze you." I laughed with the group, confessing that when I get squeezed, usually sweet juice is not the first thing to come out. Eventually, yes, I can get there, but for sure, it is rarely my first response. So we worked to "squeeze the juice" with muscle energy and took that into eka pada urdhva danurasana where keeing the midline in the legs is so vital. So like that.

Yesterday I woke up, did my morning practices and headed to Castle Hill for Focus on Form at 9:30. I worked a lot with the idea of softening and surrendering and melting the heart. And we worked with shoulder principles and back bends. I started class talking about something that John says in almost every workshop I ever been in with him. Almost every time he sits down to teach he says along the lines of, "Soften. Surrender your limited concepts of yourself and open to something bigger." So we worked with that before engaging. Fun stuff. Very sweet.

I did a short inversion practice after class, took a walk around Town Lake and then spent the afternoon preparing my lessons for the Online Mentoring Group and our Local Mentoring Group. Then I went up to Castle Hill again for the 6:oo class. We worked a bit less in flow than we often do and I taught a lot of twists. Okay well, frankly we stretched the hammies A LOT in preparation for parivritta trikonasana and went into parivirtta parsvakonasana and then eka pada koundinyasana. We worked with some basic principles of twisting- anchor the foundation, extend the spine and twist from the back body. So- I talked about cultivating dedication and faith in the challenging twists and turns of life. (Anchored and strong with dedication, extend with faith, and revolve around that, not the periphery. Like that.)

As you may be able to tell, heart-based themes are big on my mind today. We talked about them A LOT last night in the Mentor Group and the first lesson online is "De-Mystifying Heart-based Themes." I was such a heart-based them hold-out for so many years in teaching Anusara Yoga. I was the alignment junkie- give me details all day long and I was happy; give me a lot "open your heart" and I would inwardly roll my eyes and tune it out. Seriously. Not kidding. I was such a hold-out that it is a bit laughable that I spend so much of my time teaching other people how to create them and implement them!

But as the years have gone by I find myself in awe of the power of teaching with a theme. Sure, it can inspire the student but what teaching with a theme does for me is quite profound. I made a joke abut this last night in class but is actually quite true. I was kind of preaching about my theme (as I have a tendency to do when I get going- I mean really, give an outspoken, opinionated, highly-verbal pitta a captive audience and what do you expect to happen?!)

Anyway, I told the group that I really did not mean to preach and that the truth is that since I teach Anusara Yoga and I get to come into class every day and for 75 (or 90 minutes or many times 3-hours) and tell everybody what I, myself, need to hear. I said, "I think that is why God gave me this job. I couldn't be trusted to have a job that didn't require me to be so actively engaged with these ideas. I need to be kept very close to these teachings lest I forget them!" Obviously, it's not the whole story, but I do have to say that I consider it my very good fortune to have a job that asks me to consider what it means to live a life of alignment at all levels. Really, does it get better than that? (Okay, gang, remind me of this moment of clarity when I fantasizing that some other job would be easier and more fun...)