Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Well, I did drag myself away from my long "to-do" list yesterday for some time in the wave down in San Marcos with Kelly. We had a good time. I was a bit timid since my shoulder was a little tweaked from a very zealous attempt at yogi dandasana the other day. ( I did make the clasp around the outside of my leg, as the classic pose suggests but not without a strange feeling lingering in subscapularis.... hmm. yes, internal rotaation, in the front plane, under force spells tweak...) So anyway, I was a bit more timid feeling than I normally am when my shoulders are 100% but I managed to pull off some spins and so forth which was fun.

Here are some pics. There are a few more on Facebook on Kelly's page.

All right- after that I spent some time on my computer- I manage to get three things crossed off my list yesterday- and then I went to Peggy's advanced class which was awesome. A lovely foray to scorpion pose by incorporating twists into the back bend sequence. I was sure, that since she did natrajasana last week, she'd do forward bends this week, but I predicted incorrectly. Anyway, I had a lovely practice and picked up a few nuggets to work with more deeply. So fun being a student. My favorite thing.

So, hmm... also I had a lovely phone chat with a certified teacher colleague last night about Ansuara Yoga and its growth and development. One thing we had a chance to talk about is the similarities and differences between Anusara Yoga in the context of "Life on the Road with John Friend and The Merry Band" and Anusara Yoga in the context of "ongoing classes in a studio full of housewives, accountants, and other suburban lifeforms."

In each case we have the same method, the same dedication to the unveiling of our hearts, the same UPA's guiding our asana practice and the same commitment to practicing our yoga in a life- affirming community. So all of that is the same. And yet, for most people who are teaching the method in local studios and who are serving a local community, the mood and tenor of public classes is so very different than it is in bigger venues and in national events. Not better. Not less-than, Just decidedly different. As it should be.

I always make a joke with beginners when I teach them the invocation for the first time. (Which is usually on the first night of a beginning series. Yes, right away. I do not wait. I do not let them "get used to me" or anything like that. I break the news right up front about chanting, Sanskrit and the philosophy education that they will be receiving in my classes. But I digress. That is another story.) So I joke and say, "This is about as weird as it gets. There is no tent in the back for conversions..." And this joke usually settles people a little.

But here is the thing to keep in mind when you are around John and he is on tour. It is a big secret I am about to let out of the bag.... Guess what? "There is no tent out back because you are in the tent!" I am kidding. Sort of. (And I hope I do not get a call from headquarters telling me that this was a totally inappropriate post. So before I go further, let us be clear here that these are Christina Sell's ideas and opinions of the moment. This blog in no ways expresses the opinions and ideas of Anusara Yoga... and she might have other ideas and opinions to share on the same topic tomorrow...kidding. But seriously. ) So, the thing is, from what I can tell, when he is on the road, in general he is preaching to the already converted. He has the choir gathered, so to speak.

Now, as he has grown, changed and continued on his path, the delivery of his message- the tenor in the tent, so to speak, has gone through different permutations. I expect that process to continue to shift as time goes on. I know what interests me as a teacher now is both the same and different than what interested me 12 years ago. I expect it is also the case with him so I do not worry about it very much. It is always the same around him and it is always a bit different. Focus the lens of your awareness on the changes you may get freaked out. (Unless you like change, then the change will comfort you.)Focus on the consistency of the message, of his care, of his ability to open a transformational door for you to walk through and the sameness will be reassuring.( Unless you like change and the sameness will bother you!) My experience is that Anusara Yoga after all these years, is both the same and different. In perfect Anusara-ese, "It depends on your perspective!"

Also- the community is changing and shifting. "The choir" or the "Merry Band," to use our vernacular, has grown and its demographic has expanded to include people it really didn't include 12 years ago. We have more youth represented in our midst, more men, more people with tattoos, more people who have never heard of SYDA Yoga, more people from The Bible Belt practicing our method, more people who have come to our method without any previous yoga experience and more people who are well-trained and well-experienced in a variety of other systems. We are also now a world-wide community, not just an American community.

(How exciting- it could be a new tag line.... "Anusara Yoga- not just for white people anymore..." Okay, now I am certainly getting a call from the office!) But seriously, due to John's work oversees and due to the work of so many skilled teachers who have traveled to foreign countries to teach, we are absolutely a world-wide community now. I was being silly a moment before but this is a very cool thing that has happened in the last few years. It is very inspiring if you think about it.

Add to the idea of our demographic changing, that each one of us who is in the method is growing, changing and evolving and our sadhana has (hopefully) grown and matured. So many of my friends who I met over 10 years ago in the method are now, not just certified teachers, but are now seasoned practitioners of The Path. Many of them have gotten clean and sober, many have gotten married, many have had children, suffered great losses, experienced great success, have started new businesses, moved across the country, gone deeper into their meditation practices than ever could have been predicted, joined spiritual communities and so on. So my point is, as we mature, grow and live our lives, what supports our sadhana and what we need at any given time along the journey also shifts and changes.

I once had a teacher in Iyengar Yoga talk about this and she said to the class, "Come on, what satisfied you in kindergarten does not satisfy you as a college student. What satisfied you in college does not satisfy you as a grad student and so on." She was making the case for continuing to deepen one's relationship with asana beyond "just doing the poses" and beyond the physicality of the practice.

Or like Paul Muller Ortega always says, "More advanced sadhana is always more subtle sadhana." Like that.

So- all of these realities (and more) are in a decidedly dynamic process. And the sometimes sobering thing about it is that we are all going through it together and in public. Like I told my colleague on the phone, "Teaching this yoga is a bit like growing up in public. And we all know how messy that can get."

One thing I love about John and I love about Anusara Yoga is that there is- by design- no ONE RIGHT WAY to practice Anusara Yoga. There is not ONE RIGHT WAY to teach Anusara Yoga. (Although, those of you making a certification video right now may not feel like this idea is true at the stage of the game you are in.... but that is another story...and do keep the faith...once again, I digress. sorry.)

Seriously, the teachings tell us that there is no ONE RIGHT WAY to engage this path of consciousness that asks us to confront every little judgement, obstacle, cloak, and covering over the pure Light that is who we are. Paul Muller Ortega once told me, in a response to a question I asked him, "Do not contrast right and wrong. Contrast superficial and deep. Does your superficial conflict disappear as you move deeper into your practice?"

So it seems best to move into a discussion of superficial and deep rather than right and wrong, both with ourselves and with the growth and change we are experiencing as an organization. Conflict, judgement, jealousy, rigid opinions and worry tend to live on the superficial levels of the mind. At the deeper levels of our being, in the deeper regions of our heart, there tends to be less conflict. At that level, our dharma- running a local studio, serving liberal students, serving conservative students, teaching young capable people, teaching seniors, travelling to teach, not teaching at all so you can raise your kids, having smaller intimate classes, having larger classes, teaching therapeutic privates, etc. and the endless compare/contrast of the superficial manifestations of the method that we love and how it expresses itself through our individuality, tend to dissolve in the Pure Light of the Heart.

We really are in it together and while we have standards and so forth as a method, every unique voice is part of the song we are singing together. At the deepest levels, that song has always been and will always be about Love. About Hope. About holding a Vision that calls each one of us to grow beyond our perceived limitations into who we most truly are.

Go deep. It is where the juice is.


Marcia Tullous said...


As always, thank you. I feel like the depth of the heart is so vast. It seems to me that in order to reveal the sweetest part of Self requires dillagence, takes time and a lot of patience. Sometimes I wonder, though, is it always a game of hide and seek?

Love to you,

Jeremiah Wallace said...

Actually, I love this: "Anusara Yoga- not just for white people anymore..." I was once criticized for being a yoga teacher because "Yoga is for rich white people." I found that very offensive. So I don't care if the office gives you a call, I like this POV.

Another thing I really loved (though I totally loved this post in general) was "And the sometimes sobering thing about it is that we are all going through it together and in public... "Teaching this yoga is a bit like growing up in public. And we all know how messy that can get.'" That to me (and I know it is only me) is one of the things that I love about this method. That we don't have to hide, that we acknowledge all our qualities and our limitations and not expected to be anything less than who we are.



duyoga said...

This is what I've been thinking about for a long time and you expressed it perfectly, thank you :)