Saturday, February 27, 2010
So we had a really great day together. For some reason I got inspired to teach very detailed alignment this weekend. I think because the group was already so schooled in the basic principle AND because we had such a lovely array of props and perhaps because it has been on my mind a lot lately but we had a strong morning class of standing poses some arm balances and some deep work to open up the upper back and mobilize the shoulders for a foray into urdhva danurasana. the cool thing is that so many people had success in that pose with a few tweaks to hand placement and using the wall and so forth so that was cool. (Sometimes the difference is in the details!) We worked on headstand shoulder stand and some forward bending in the afternoon class. All in all a great day at the office for me.
One of the things I love about m y work is that it is always different. Well, on one level it is always the same- down dog, triangle pose, the UPA's, etc. But really, the setting that I go to explore these things is always different. Last week I was in Baja with a bunch of people who have done yoga but most of whom had limited Anusara Yoga experience. This weekend I am teaching very seasoned practitioners at an Anusara Yoga studio. I actually like both.
I seem to spend a lot of my teaching time introducing the method to people and breaking it down into small understandable chunks. What is so awesome about that is that it has helped me become super clear, super direct and less ambiguous about what I mean by the things I say.
But it is also a lot of fun for me to go teach to a group of people who already have the Anusara Yoga groundwork laid by great teachers like Cate and Bridget and I get to just kind of preach to the choir all week and work on more refined actions and go deeper with the basics. There were 30 people in the room last night- and none of them needed to be reminded to keep their back shin strong in eka pada rajakapotasana! So that is testimony to the great ongoing instruction they are getting as well as their trust in what they are being told and their dedication. And as a teacher it makes me look harder for things to help with.
So it was a fun class- we worked with what I called "an overview of the principles" not a set UPA lesson as such. Really hip opening is a dynamic combination of strong shin, firm inner thighs, balanced action with Inner and outer spiral, work to open the front groins and the inner things and some twisting throughout helps the magic. So that is what we did. We didn't push the syllabus at all and what was so cool was people coming up to me delighted that they got deeper in familiar poses than they ever have. Sometimes it is fun to do a new pose and sometimes it is so delightful to just make a deeper connection to those poses you see all the time.
We are working with the theme of "fire and nectar" this weekend. How yoga practice needs to have both components. We need those practices and times that create intensity, that burn away the old and make space for the new and also we need those practices and experiences that soothe, that nourish, that calm and function like nectar.
Last nights theme was about "building the fire" and assembling the component parts with care, attention, intention and so forth. This morning is "Stoking the fire" with some standing poses, backbends and arm balances. Nothing crazy is on my agenda- just a good steady and strong walk through the level one syllabus.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Well, I have arrived safe and sound in Driggs, Idaho. My lovely host Brigitte (co-owner of Yoga Tejas picked me up from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. What a beautiful day it is here also- clear, sunny, mild weather for winter in Idaho and snow covered mountains all around. So beautiful. I must say I do love the mountains. Of course last week I was saying how much I love the beach. Truth be told, I love them both.
I am really psyched to be here. I had an awesome drive over with Brigitte talking about the great outdoors, yoga trends, certification videos, mountain biking, skiing and so forth. A lovely and dynamic pitta person, Brigitte graduated from Harvard, went to work for N.O.L.S. (National Outdoor Leadership School) and after many years with them made her way here and following some adventures bought the studio with Cate Stillman from certified Anusara Yoga teacher Sundari. Sundari is one of my oldest friends in Anusara Yoga and one of the earliest certified teachers and one of the most inspiring people I know. Cate, the other studio owner, was one of my mentees when she was coming up in the certification process and so we have a connection that way. All this is to say that it is fun to be here in Driggs and to have a chance to see Cate, Brigitte, Sundari (who now lives in Jackson but will be here this weekend) and the whole gang here. And I heard some rumors that Leslie from Salt Lake City will be here and some other friends from afar. So that is something to look forward to.
I finished the very last Tuesday/Thursday afternoon class yesterday with a forward bend and twist class. We did back bends on Tuesday so it seemed only appropriate to end on deep forward bends and twists on Thursday. The class will continue- Clayton will teach a class called Eclectic Flow so if you have already been coming at 4:30, keep coming at 4:30. I will continue to teach Wednesdays at 9:30 and 6:00 when I am in town. During the month of March, the only time I am in town on Wednesday is March 10- so reserve the date. I expect come April I will be offering some special classes and practices so stay tuned for that.
I guess that is about it for today. I got up super early and have been in travel-zone for most of the day. Once I finish this I will plan my class for tonight, meet Cate for a massage and then teach class. I seriously need a nap!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Well, I have a few moments to write this while my asana room warms up before I practice. I had a really fun day teaching yesterday. We had a slightly smaller crowd than usual in Focus on Form which was great because we go to use the chairs! It was so fun. We spent some time in pinca mayurasana variations and working on fine tuning the work of the shoulders int hat pose. We spend so much time integrating the shoulders in the early work of learning the method that so often people, many years down the road, are integrated but not extended and open in that pose. So we work lot with the action of keeping the arm bones back even as we open the form up considerably. It was fun.
Then we got into lots of upper back work with the chairs and finally we made a great foray into urdhva danurasana. I love prepping back bends like that- less grunt work, more intelligent, slow-paced skillful action which is so much less frazzling to the nervous system. Love it. Also, by not using lots of hard vinyasa and so forth to heat the body, by the times the back bends come, no one is tired. Just nicely supple and open. Good stuff.
Yoga is so funny. Right about the time we learn how hard we really have to work to get deep openings, we are actually ready to learn how to work "less hard" and how to work "more smart." Paradoxical in a way. And for many students it is a hard transition because the strong work is very rajasic and very enlivening in a way and can be VERY addictive. One has to grow more subtle and tune into a different kind of payoff than what sweat and hard work offers to enjoy this different approach. And like anything, some folks get it some don't.
What I have loved about Focus on Form is the maturity of the students who come to that class. It is not billed as an advanced class and we do not push the boundaries of the syllabus in anyway int hat class but that class is regularly attended by seasoned practitioners and teachers who want to work in this more introspective, deeper and detailed way. It is such a pleasure to teach that class. Details rarely mean it is easier!
I came home, ate lunch and caught up on some email- I have a serious back log from being gone and unplugged. (If you have not heard back from me, I AM TRYING!) I went grocery shopping, met up with Gia for a walk around the lake (finally it was sunny!) and then went back to the Caslte for the 6:00 class. This was another delightful class. We worked on sarvangasana, sarvangasana to setu bandhasana and parsva sarvangasana. This was another class that was a bit off the map. We must have spent 40 minutes of the class upside down which is somewhat unheard of in the average asana class around here.
One thing I am really committed to in that 6:00 class is taking apart the poses that don't get taught a lot. I really want some of the more advanced postures to be poses that we all know how to approach and work towards. I want people to look at Light on Yoga or to look at the Anusara Yoga syllabus poster and know how to do a lot of those poses. I want my students to not look at advanced poses as "those poses that other people do." I want those people who want to learn them to have a place to learn how. (And there are always other options for those people in class who think to themselves- "I can live a long happy life without learning those weird poses!")
So- I could say more about this but time for me to go put myself into some of those poses. Tuesday was deep back bends for me today is deep forward bends and long inversions. YIPPEE.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Well, Kelly and I got into town on Monday evening and I do not think I have sat down much since I got home. We ate dinner and got a little laundry started and got to bet reasonably early. Then yesterday I spent the morning doing a nice long back bend practice. Mom and Dad came over for lunch, we ran some errands and then I went up to Castle Hill for the 4:30 class. It was so excellent to see everyone there- so many familiar faces and a few new folks in attendance. We worked toward eka pada raja kapotasana and as I looked around and helped folks, I think we had a very high proportion of the class in that pose, which is a pretty cool thing to see.
I must say that the retreat was one of the best weeks I have had in a long time. I cannot say enough about it other than to say that EVERYONE should come next year. (February 19-26, 2011- reserve the dates NOW! I am not kidding....)
We had such a relaxing and nourishing time on all levels. I have been saying that for me it is a new paradigm- the yoga retreat. A retreat is not just a class, or a workshop nor is it anything like an Immersion or a Teacher Training-- it is simply a time to return to the beauty of the practice, the simplicity of the earth's rhythms and one's own and to exist in a very spacious way close to nature, close to oneself and close to some pretty fantastic people. There was a depth of experience with no gut wrenching intensity. There was time and space for introspection and to cultivate a deeper connection to oneself but without the pressure of a curriculum, a city-based venue, traffic, restaurants and so forth. I could go on and on but suffice it to say that the whole experience exceeded my expectations so many times over.
Shani, the owner of Milagro Retreats, headed up the logistics and so happens to be an amazing natural foods chef. The food was incredibly wholesome, lovingly prepared and bountiful. The area of the Baja where we were is home to some of the largest organic farms of the region and so we had tons of organic, locally grown produce at every meal that was prepared so consciously and lovingly. The food alone is a reason to go on a Milagro Retreat.
We had yoga every day from 7:30-9:30 and from 4:30-6:30. Days were open for excursions to town, to the beach and other local areas of interest or for massages, hammock-time and so forth. We were right on the beach and so Kelly and I walked along the beach every day right from our front door. Really, it was just amazing. I loved every moment of it.
Here is the slide show we showed on the last night of the retreat. More pictures, video clips and reflections to come.
All right then, time to shower up and get ready for Focus on Form.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
So- it was a good day of preparing to get out of town and teaching. I taught a fun back bend class at 4:30- we worked on ardha chandra chapasanan, kapinjalasana variation, bhekasana and variations and urdhva danurasana and variations. Fun stuff- some familiar and some a bit unconventional. Right before I was teaching I had the lovely opportunity to talk with my friend Elena Brower- a certified teacher in New York and we got to reminiscing about the early days of Anusara Yoga which some of us refer to as The Inner Harmony days.
John used to teach at Inner Harmony Retreat Center for sometime 6 weeks during the summer and we would go study with him there. For many of us those days formed the foundation of our foundation in sadhana with John, our most lasting friendships with one another and our deep commitment to the method. I will never forget the year 50 people were at that retreat and we all complained it was crowded! Now it is nearly impossible to find John in a room anywhere with under 50 people! But I digress.
Elena and I got to musing about where this path has taken us and how 10, 11, 12 year ago we had NO IDEA were would be doing what we are doing now. But nonetheless seeds got planted, opportunities came about, bonds were made, and so forth and so I got to thinking about how we never know in one moment what a particular moment may be training us for. I for instance, had no idea then that those weeks would train me to offer 6-day trainings in the future. But so often when Darren and are are planning a day or a talk to give we reflect on that time with John on a mountain top in Utah in the summer heat with 50 of our closest yoga friends, our teacher and so on.
I worked with that story toward a theme about anchoring in an immediate task and yet being expectant and trusting that the work we do today- on our mats are off- is the work that will take us to our best next step. The idea is that full anchoring and learning from NOW trains us for the highest possibility at each next possible juncture. We can feel anchored and expectant.
This is not the expectations that are unrealistic and based in some kind of false set of hopes, dreams and externally-driven standards for ourselves. It is more of an expectant hope and faith that we are being trained to be used in the highest- even if all we are doing today is figuring out how to balance in kapinjalasana variation or how to keep that top leg in ardha chandra chapasana maintaining its Inner Spiral!
At any rate it was fun and the group was really game which ALWAYS makes me happy.
After that I went and taught the last night of the Beginning Series up at Breath and Body. That class will become a Level 1 Anusara Yoga class taught by Hannah Emlen so please tell everyone you know to come join the fun next week. It will be great to explore the basic postures and the basic actions in a slower paced yet hard-working environment. I told the group tonight that Basic does not mean Easy in our world. Basic action done well in basic poses can be quite demanding.
I did joke with the group about "what is the difference between how I teach beginners and how I teach advanced students?" (other than that I am A LOT nicer to beginners!) I make beginners work hard for 20 seconds at a time and make advanced students work hard for 2 minutes at a time. Oh, let's tell the truth- you advanced students have to work hard for the whole time you are in my class! (laughing.)
All right- I head to Mexico tomorrow early early early. So we have no internet at the facility but we have access in the local town. I will check in on my blog probably once or twice but I am, once again, off the radar a bit for a few days.
have a good day. Oh and I might as well plug the upcoming Inner Harmony retreat after the whole Inner Harmony story. Now Inner Harmony retreats happen in Costa Rica and in March I am going to be teaching a teacher training piece, Martin Kirk is going to be teaching an Anatomy piece and his lovely wife Jordan will be teaching asana. Don't miss the fun! www.ihretreat.com
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Well, let's see... It's a somewhat busy week getting ready to head out to Mexico on Friday. I am pretty excited about the upcoming retreat. 7 days in Mexico with the group and 2 days afterwards with me and Kelly to keep surfing. I am really looking forward to it. I have never been to the Baja and I am ready for some mild, nice weather. There is some rumor of snow here in Austin. (gasp!)
So I just returned form teaching Focus on Form at Castle Hill. We worked a lot with Open to Grace and passive rooting, inner body brightening and allowing the outer body to grow softer. I worked with the theme of tenderness and softness. We primarily practiced handstands, Vira 1, and ustrasana. For sure,the class was softer and less strong in terms of the outer, muscular work we so often do to open our bodies. I thought it went well although generating openness in this way is pretty
I am finishing up cooking my lunch- vegetable curry over basmati rice- and then I will do a little work before getting into my practice and heading back to Castle Hill for the evening class. So between now and then I need to clean my house, do some laundry, pack, answer a bunch of email and generally put things in order to leave town again for 10 days. Nothing too major so long as I keep moving.
That's it for now. More later.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Well, I am delighted to see the sun shining this morning. I got up, did my meditation, answered some email and checked in with the online mentor group and answered some questions about heart-based themes and now I am checking in here. So heart-based themes- the plight of almost every Anusara Yoga teachers existence. So interesting that I have had so many conversations about them recently.
It seems like there is a natural process that every teacher goes through- sometimes for long periods of time (like 5 years) and sometimes for short periods of time- (like months) where they have to make their peace with the fact that this requirement is not going anywhere and that they are going to have to use heart-based language if they want to be an Anusara Yoga teacher. It is somewhat predictable that people will struggle with and have to come to terms with the facts and feelings that "yes, if can feel forced and yes, we do not always feel authentic and yes, it seems like adding something unnecessary when yoga makes you happier as it is and also why the f*#k is it so hard to do and why do I completely just space out the heart theme once I teach alignment" and so on the list goes.
Now, I totally hope I do not sound critical. I know sometimes I sound critical when I am trying to sound compassionate! Seriously, I do not feel critical about it. I have been teaching people to teach Anusara Yoga for like 6 years now and I have watched the same struggle with a few variations on the theme (hah!) enough times that I know it is part of the process and part of the process that most people have in common. And the reality is no matter how forced it feels, how much you hate doing it, etc. and so forth, this requirement is not going away! (I mean that compassionately also...)
So one thing that I am thinking about from my current vantage point on the subject is that most people over-think heart-based themes. I have not been to any yoga class in any tradition in a long time where there was no mention of some larger scheme or where the yoga teacher was without inspired, heart-felt wisdom they wanted to share with their students about the practice. So really, the raw material is there to work with. Just about every yoga teacher I know has a sincere love of practice, transformation and a desire to serve others through sharing of this knowledge and passion. So that is the thing about making it authentic.
If you teach from what you are passionate about- not what I am passionate about, not what your teacher is passionate about, not what you think you are supposed to be saying as an Anusara Yoga teacher, not what you think your students will think is cool- then your worlds will ring with authenticity. Even students who do not agree AT ALL with what you are saying will be inspired by your passion and zeal (so long as you are not preaching at them but are sharing your love and your enthusiasm.)
For instance, I remember passing Marjorie Nass's certification video and she had just gotten a puppy and her whole theme was about the lessons she was learning from training her puppy. Seriously, go with what you love. Marjorie loved her puppy. It was quite compelling. (Shout out to Marjorie in the Big Apple!)
Secondly- I think most people are making it much too hard on themselves. Somehow we get the impression we have to write a dissertation or quote scripture or be really smart to do this well and we really can over-think it and worry and fret about it all.
Here is the thing to keep in mind: When you have the guiding ideal (for instance- the puppy needed firm, loving, consistent boundaries in order to learn discipline and be a more enjoyable companion) and you come up with a heart-based theme- a feeling that embodies the idea all we are talking (firmness or loving or both) then all you have to do is slide the feeling word into the instructions that you are ALREADY giving. You do not need to make up a whole extra "heart-based instruction." What does that mean? Well, "firm your muscles lovingly" is a heart-based instruction. You are already going to say firm your muscles...just add a feeling.
See how it will work with any UPA you want to tie it to in any given class...
Open to Grace- Surrender the weight of your pelvis to earth until the foundation of your posture is firm. Now, lovingly lift and brighten your inner body. (You are already going to say the surrender your weight part and the lift your inner body part, just add a feeling.)
Muscle Energy- Lovingly hug your muscles to the bone...(Active instruction) feel the firm embrace.... (Passive instruction) You are already going to say hug your muscles and feel the result, just add a feeling word.
Inner spiral- Turn your upper thighs in, now- firmly and lovingly move them back and widen them apart. (get it? add the feeling.)
Outer Spiral- (In a standing pose) scoop your tail bone, now lovingly and firmly outer spiral your front leg until you feel your front sitting bone draw back toward the mid-line and your outer hips tone. (Just add the feeling)
Organic Energy- root down firmly into the earth and extend up lovingly. (again, just add the feeling.)
Now certainly there are other ways to do this and ways to get super deep, very creative and poetic and metaphysical with the theme that we all enjoy playing with. But if you are struggling, just get the hang of inserting the adverb or the adjective into what you are already saying and you are well on your way to using heart based language. Just. Like. That.
Have at it.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Well, we really covered some ground in the Immersion this weekend. When we closed class on Sunday I commented that it seemed like we had really come along way together since Friday night. We went very deep into the UPA's and everyone worked really hard to grasp the concepts as well as the terminology that expresses the concepts and actions. At several points I kept wondering, "Wow, is this really a simple method after all?"
The truth is it is and it isn't. There is an elegant simplicity to it and yet the sophistication of our method is quite profound. We can use basic actions to very quickly get people into deeper and more aligned postures. We can do this on Day One. But to really understand the underlying structure and the intricate relationships that exist between form, function, philosophy and the primary and secondary flows takes some time. I know I could not have answered the Immersion review questions after my first year of Anusara Studies. Not at all. Granted I had not been through an Immersion yet because we did not have them then, but even still, 10 months into Anusara practice- no matter how much other yoga you have been doing- is still not a long time.
But we really went deeply into things all weekend long and still had time for some rollicking good fun in asana. We ended the weekend with a foray into back bends and drop backs which went really well. I found myself quite inspired by the developing community of Anusara Yoga practitioners and aspiring teachers here in Austin. Anusara Yoga is growing so nicely here but what is really cool to consider is how much room for growth still exists. Those people training now and over the last few years are really pioneers for the method here. The very real growth and development of Anusara Yoga in Austin, Texas is held in the hands of all these hard working teachers.
I was talking with Mandy Eubanks the other day who told me that she is teaching 12 classes a week. I thought to myself, "Wow- Mandy is teaching 12 classes each week... I wonder how many classes Mark, Hannah, Jeremiah, Kim Schaefer, Jess G, Brigitte, Charlie Lewellin, and all the other wonderful anusara teachers are teaching..." I got to thinking about just how many Anusara Yoga or Anusara-Inspired classes are actually being taught in one week here in this town. Probably A LOT.- (anyone want to take on the task of finding out? A little web research in your spare time?) Then stretch out from there and think about how many teachers are not "officially affiliated" but are incorporating the principles in their teaching. Anyway, it is probably safe to say, there is a growing Anusara Yoga presence here in Austin, Texas.
And the cool thing about being in the grassroots stages of growth right now is that we can grow this community in whatever spirit we like. We can consciously choose to be welcoming, to be inclusive, to be supportive and to work against those tendencies of jealously, competition, scarcity and exclusivity. I have been thinking a lot lately about how John said these principles are Universal. He meant that one level they are applied to every pose and in that case, they are Universal.
But also, he said, they are FOR everyone. You do not need official Anusara Yoga affiliation to take your thighs "in, back and apart" for instance. He said he didn't name the UPA's "Anusara Yoga Principles of Alignment" for a reason. He told our group that he named them "Universal Principles of Alignment" because he wanted everyone to use them and to benefit from them.
So much in the same way I would like Anusara Yoga to grow here. If we look at John's example he has profoundly respectful, collegial relationships with his peers from other methods and traditions. He shares his wisdom freely and learns from his colleagues and I cannot think of a better thing for us to emulate as a community. Let other people fight over right and wrongs of methods and get wrapped up the world of preferences, dislikes and so forth. I personally would rather shine with the light of these teachings and help the people that I can to do the same.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I was so hoping the sunshine would last! I must say I am a bit of a sunshine addict and these last few weeks (it rained the whole time I was in California, it rained the whole time I have been back) of rainy weather has been a bit of a drag. I know it is kind of high class complaint but oh well, my spoiled white girl is showing!
The Immersion went well yesterday. I switched gears and taught what I called Yoga School. We did a by the books exploration into Open to Grace and really explored it, Muscle Energy and Organic Energy. While very little of the information was new, to cover it outside of asana practice, with pen and paper in hand and no "sweat on" (as Dale said!) is a different thing entirely. One thing is clear is that everyone in the room has the information in their bodies. Now the challenge is really knowing what terminology is accurate to describe the feelings and actions that their bodies really know.
Also- this is the time in an Immersion where it is abundantly clear to most participants that some measure of study is gonna be required to really ground the information into their intellectual body of knowledge. I have said it before that I think 108-hour Immersion are an incredible and fantastic part of our Anusara Yoga Curriculum. And I think the only downside of them is that they sometimes create an unrealistic set of expectations (many times unconscious)
that if you come to class for 108 hours and pay attention that is all you will need to do to learn the information and really understand it. In fact, some of this stuff just has to be memorized and explored and chewed on and practiced with for A LOT longer than 108 hours!
I know when I was coming up in the method, we didn't have Immersions. The down side was that there was no place where we got the whole picture of the method delivered in a cohesive package all at once. We had to get it VERY piecemeal over a long period of time. So that was hard at times. But I never expected to know it all at once either so in some ways it made it easier. And the majesty and beauty of the method and of my understanding continues to grow. It is just not a finite thing at all.
Anyway- so we did a a long foray into technical understanding and exploration followed up at the end with some handstand practice and a 40 minute flow practice to MC Yogi just to have a good time.
Mom and Dad arrived in Texas yesterday and they came over for a dinner of vegetarian chili and cornbread which was a lot of fun. We made the chili from this months issue of vegetarian times with a few changes to the recipe. Great food, good company- a nice end to a lovely day.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Well, it has taken me a few days to get back to blog land. My re-entry has been busier than I anticipated. Well, frankly I think that I am as busy as usual but I find it less tolerable after being gone this time. So that is actually good information to get as I consider my spring schedule and so forth. I will be thinning out some of my commitments and clearing out some time to have a life that does not have me teaching 6-7 days a week, which sometimes means 20 days straight of work for me. I am officially uninterested in that schedule anymore! (Whew.)
All right- well, we had an interesting night last night at the Immersion. I think almost every group hits this point right about now in an immersion. We are well into the third part. Most people by now have improved their practice, have deepened their understanding both physically and intellectually and have found at least some of the philosophy teachings to be somewhat meaningful and useful. For the teachers and aspiring teachers in the room, their mind is usually turning right about now toward teaching and many are confused about how to teach the method. Many decide that while they have benefited from the method themselves, they probably won't or think someone shouldn't teach it to new students, older people, young people, flow students, (fill in the blank here because this usually runs the gamut). Or perhaps their minds are just racing with "HOW IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU TEACH THIS?!!"
What is so funny is that this happens right about now with every group I have led through an immersion and so I am learning to worry less that right at the end- after careful explanation and exploration for close to 100 hours, confusion begins to rear its head and anxiety sets in. It is somewhat predictable, in fact. So part of what is going on is that I am no longer spoon feeding the information but asking the students in the group to put the pieces of their new knowledge together and make associations between the different principles. For instance, at this stage I am not just discussing the answers to questions like "What are the three aspects of Inner Spiral?" and "What is thigh loop?" I am asking the students to synthesize "How are Inner Spiral and Thigh loop similar and how are they different?" It requires a more sophisticated grasp of the knowledge.
Also- unlike so many methods of yoga that teach you their method by teaching you how to teach it, Anusara Yoga Immersions have no overt emphasis on teaching anyone how to teach all this stuff. It is there to be seen if you know how to look. For instance, how would I teach Inner Spiral? Well, exactly how I taught it in the Immersion. No hidden cameras, no secret knowledge whatsoever. I aim to be 100% transparent in the classroom in terms of what I am doing and why. But, the average student (Or even above average student!) can not pay attention to learning the method and to how it is being taught at the same time. And so very rarely does an Immersion participant see the Teacher Training that is implicit within the Immersion process.
And we do not, in general, explicate that information until Teacher Training. So often Immersion students by the ends are reeling with the afore mentioned anxiety of "HOW WILL I EVER TEACH THIS STUFF?" and fail to realize that I have not taught them anything explicitly about teaching methods yet. Not one bit. It is not in the scope or sequence of the first 108- hours of study.
So- we had a lot of these dynamics present last night which was kind of interesting and useful for me to see what the group needed and to consider how best to respond.
The other thing that was abundantly clear to me is that this method just takes time to learn. I have said it before that I could teach the method to someone in a weekend but it is going to take most people about 5 years to learn it and to learn to teach it well. Anusara Yoga is profoundly sophisticated within its apparent simplicity. We do not offer set sequences, formulas, specifics rights and wrongs. The method is full of paradox and without many absolutes. So many things can work well and can be "right" and since we are driven by principles not rules, the student and the aspiring teacher has to really grasp the underlying structure, premise, outlook and so forth because the content of "what you actually do in an Anusara Yoga class" rests almost entirely on context rather than content.
All right, I want to practice some asana before teaching so I am going to sign off. Its a big day, I want to change my plan for class today a bit based on what we encountered last night.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Well, I am home from teaching and enjoying a luscious piece of grapefruit. I was so hungry this afternoon that I ate my dinner before I taught instead of after class.
I woke up this morning, did my meditation practice, wrote in my journal and then braved the rain (which really means braving the traffic on South Lamar!) and went to teach Focus on Form at Castle Hill. We worked on some lateral angle poses like parsvakonasana, trikonasana and parighasana with some detailed work in baddha konasana and supta padangusthasana 2 to inform the work in our legs. All in all in was a great class- although I must say I was feeling the time difference and was worse than usual about left and right. Oh well, the group seemed forgiving.
I worked with the theme of muscle energy as a hugging embrace on ALL SIDES and how we can practice loving all sides of ourselves- even the hard-to-love parts. I think that is the thing I am thinking about the most these days. (And yes, I know I wrote a book about this already. And guess what, maybe this year a second book will come out on the very topic!) But the thing is, self-love is really an essential component of change. And sometimes the change is not behavioral, it might be attitudinal or contextual. But either way, I have never had a lot of lasting success or happiness arise from manhandling myself into change. And believe me I have had lots of practice at that approach.
For me, change seems to sink into my heart the deepest when it is motivated by love, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness. As far as I can tell, every single one of my worst qualities are some kind of learned behavior, attitude, and/or idea that I adopted as a strategy to cope with some place of hurt, anger, disappointment, etc. And rarely does that hurt part of me need another lecture or scolding about how I should be different, better, less of something or more of something than I am. Seriously. Usually, I need my own loving understanding before I can release the pattern and move on to a higher response.
So- muscle energy is an all-sides embrace and so too, can be self-love.
I ate some lunch, did some computer work, and had time for a long asana practice before heading back out to teach Level 2-4 at 6:00. We worked deep into back bends and went for drop backs, which was fun. (Yay!for Mark for keeping his heels all the way down and Yay! for Sam for her first drop back and well, wow, yay! for everyone for working so freakin' hard during that class and laughing while they did it!) Good times.
Well, Kelly is home from the clinic now and so he and I are gonna catch up on the day and maybe head to Lifetime Fitness for a soak in the hot tub. Oh, by the way, Kelly is now an intern in the clinic and he needs patients to treat. Treatments cost $25 and are totally supervised by the teaching faculty there. So if you or anyone you know has aches, pains, allergies, conditions or anything else you would like some help with, give him a call (512-665-3743) and he can set you up with a time to come see him. (And just think, you will be helping his educational/vocational dreams come true since he has to get like 350 treatments done before he can graduate!)
Okay, more tomorrow!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Well, it was another great day today. I slept in a bit. My body is still on California time so my 8:30 wake up was early as far as my body was concerned but not too early as far as my Texas-time time management was concerned. After my morning meditation, some journal writing, a light breakfast and some email, I went to a Nia class at Nia Space, which was fun. I came home, had lunch, did some work and then did my asana practice before heading to Castle Hill to teach my 4:30 class. All in all a pretty fun day.
I worked with the theme of The Light in my 4:30 class. I have been thinking about The Light a lot lately and it seems to me that really, as complex and sophisticated as the philosophies that inform Anusara Yoga re, they boil down to simple precepts that are lovely to consider.
A. There is One Light of Supreme consciousness.
B. That Light is our True Nature. It exists in all of us and it took form as us.
C. That light gets cloaked, blocked and obscured from our awareness and from its full expression.
D. Yoga is a way to reconnect with The Light and a means by which we can learn to express The Light in all that we are and all that we do.
So sure, it gets more complex than that and the various systems of delineation about how exactly that process of obscuration happens and so forth have filled more books than one can imagine but in some ways, the simplicity of it is appealing to me today. And it is true on so many levels from the macrocosm of coming into human form and the whole consideration of embodiment to our various psychological leanings and neurosis and so forth. (And as Paul Muller Ortega taught us- in tantra the question is not so much "How is enlightenment possible?" as much as it is "How is embodiment possible?"!) Anyway, in class we worked with forward bends- an opportunity to go into The Light and to restore ourselves so that we could step off the mat and Shine Brightly. Like that.
I worked a lot with Inner Spiral in class and the sequence took us through some good standing pose work and into basic forward bends like triangmukaipadapascimottanasana, parighasana, baddha konasana, uppavista konasana, parsva uppavista konasana and into some deep lunges, maricyasana A, clasped uttasana, and kurmasana. After some lovely setu bandhasana and windhield wipers, the class rested. Good times.
As always I love returning from a long trip and seeing familiar faces. It was a lovely return to work for me. Kelly and I came home, made dinner and have enjoyed a mellow evening at home together. So- now, time to read for a while and get to bed. Tomorrow is Focus on Form at 9:30. Hope to see you there or at Level 2-4 at 6:00.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Welcome home to me!
I got home last night around 7:30 and Kelly and I went and got some dinner on South Congress which was awesome. We had a lovely meal, great conversation and enjoyed a delightful reunion.
I got home last night around 7:30 and Kelly and I went and got some dinner on South Congress which was awesome. We had a lovely meal, great conversation and enjoyed a delightful reunion.
My retreat was awesome. I met some amazing people and did some great work for myself. I learned a lot and was able to experience a profound level of forgiveness, compassion and connection in a lot of ways. I participated in an 8-day program developed by The Hoffman Institute. I have known several people over the years who have gone through "The Process" and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a great program with highly skilled faculty, awesome facilities, great results, good food and a fantastic message of Light, healing and inspiration. Really wonderful. (www.hoffmaninstitute.org) More insights, reflections and contemplations to come. For now, I am just allowing the experience to settle and integrate inside myself for a while.
Today, I slept in, did some journal writing, went on a walk, ate lunch, caught up on some email, did an awesome asana practice and then made dinner. Here I am checking in in blog land and getting ready for the day tomorrow. I teach at 4:30 at Castle Hill so please join me for Level 2-4. I am excited to be back and I am looking forward to seeing everyone this week. I will be around until February 12 and then gone through February 22 on a retreat in Mexico (www.milagroretreats.com) with a few days R&R with Kelly tacked on the end- yoga, surfing, fantastic food and great company- and it is not too alte to sign up and join us.
It seems like a perfect thing to be doing really. One thing I got very clear on on my trip was the importance of having fun and I cannot think of something more fun to do then spending a week doing yoga, surfing and hanging out in Mexico contemplating The Magic of Love. And Kelly is going to come with me which is a super fun thing.
All right then- that is it for now. I am happy to be back home and I am so glad I took the time to do some work for myself. I feel somehow different and yet more "me" than ever.
One thing I can share for fun is the adventures of my stuffed moose on the way home from California. In the program there is this playful part where each participants receives a stuffed animal. I got a moose who had all kinds of fun on the way home.
Here is Mr. Moose all packed up and ready for an adventure:
Reading his Kindle:
Listening to his Walkman:
Writing in his journal:
Checking his receipts:
With his boarding pass:
Enjoying the view:
Enjoying his refreshments:
All right- enough of The Adventures of the Moose. More tomorrow.