I got home late on Sunday night and got on a plane early on Monday morning, spent the day in Prescott visiting friends at the ashram there which was awesome. Particularly awesome was my free car rental upgrade from Hyundai to Mini Cooper, which is so dame cute and fun to drive I can hardly stand it. Of course, I drove it to the mountains where there was a snow storm but it did great. (Although my friends had to push me out of the parking lot in the morning but that is another story.)
We had an opening circle on Tuesday night and did our introductions for the week that way which was really fantastic. I loved being with everyone again and to hear about all that has happening since October when we were last together. It is a pretty amazing group of practitioners and people with so much sincerity and honesty. Mary Pat, Anne, Jeff and Gioconda are all here from Austin which is fun. Meg and Rachel(long time friends and yoga students from Prescott Yoga days) are here. Amy Hartline is coming who was a student of mine way back when in Prescott and Sam is here who worked for Kelly at the Coffee Shop in Prescott and who will be moving to Austin following the Immersion to further her Anusara Studies with us there. This list goes on and on but it is what we call an "all star cast" and it promises to be a pretty amazing week.
Day One certainly was. We started the morning with some introductory words from Darren and an back bend practice that culminated in drop backs and standing back up. We worked with a lot of level 2 standing poses and preparatory work and then got into the back bends which seemed to go quite well. We spent the afternoon talking about "goal poses" and how picking a pose to work on is a practical and a tangible way to work towards a shift of consciousness. Then we spent some time exploring shoulder stand relative to "what props do you need" as well as some modifications for women when they menstruate.
I think one thing that stood out for me was a rant I got on this afternoon about "What makes us Anusara yoga." So often I listen to people-oftentimes to new teachers or to people new to our method and they get kind of positioned about things that are not actually Anusara Yoga. It is very rare that I think the position is accurate. Like props in shoulder stand. Or like flowing or not flowing. Or like the use of demonstrations in class. Or like certain things in sequencing. The thing is we are not defined by small things like blankets in shoulder stand. If you need them, use them. If you do not truly need them, do not use them. And it is the knowing the difference and the endeavor as an Anusara Yoga teacher to make sure our students know the difference that makes us Anusara Yoga.
Really, what we are is an elegant system of alignment principles, a non dual philosophy of intrinsic goodness and a commitment to explore these two things in the context of community. We have a methodology for practice, we have methodology for teaching but it is hardly a rigid system of rules and limits. Not at all. Sometimes that feels like great news and sometimes it can be hard because with boundaries that are not rigidly defined the practitioner of our yoga has to become very skilled.
Instead of understanding the letter of the law, so to speak, the Ansuara Yoga practitioner has to learn the spirit of the Law. We laugh all the time that "it depends" but it is not enough for us as teachers to just say "it depends." We have to endeavor to teach our students what it depends on. We have to, as practitioners, go deep beneath the surface where rules live, to principles and to what is at the essence of the principle itself. It is such exciting work. It really is.
So really, I don't want the method as it gets bigger to get reduced down to a bunch of small minded rules and Anusara-isms that we spout off like dogmatic automatons. That, to me, would be a tragedy. I want us to grow as a mature group of practitioners and teachers who love the exploration, who love the questions and who see the boundaries as guiding lights to our own wisdom. Like that.