Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday Morning

So teaching back home was really great yesterday. I enjoyed seeing so many new and familiar faces in both classes. In Focus on Form I worked on the theme of being home, being centered. I told a story about how recently I found myself in the middle of some interpersonal drama and I called my spiritual teacher for his perspective and he told me, at the end of the conversation, "Remember this is your home."

I did not take that to mean that the ashram itself was my home as much as I took it to mean that my life of practice and my ties to all that is scared and sane is a truer home than the drama I was in the midst of. Obviously, life has situations of varying degrees of intensity that we have to deal with and so drama is a bit to be expected. But its a very different thing to be dealing with intense situations with no center than it is is to be anchored in one's center, in one's sadhana, in one's convictions and then then to be dealing with the rise and fall of circumstances from there.(Kind of like you gotta have muscle energy to be safe at the periphery. And drama is almost always a more peripheral kind of experience.)

It was an extraordinary lesson for me. And so, in class we worked with finding center, finding the mid-line and drawing in and we took that idea for a ride through a lot of fun poses. I laughed at one point, that each pose is kind of like its own little drama if you think about it. Think about how any pose has a handful of important points to keep in mind and those are the very same things tend to cause other problems. Think about any standing pose- "okay, gotta scoop my tail bone here, oh no! my thighs are coming forward...." or "gotta outer spiral my front leg here, oh now! the inner edge of foot is unplugged...." Like that- It's really just one little drama after the other.

But the whole thing is that when we stay in the pose, stay in the practice and focus ourselves on the alignment, on our intention and on the direct experience the pose is yielding, those dramas become predictable, and in that predictability they loose their hold on us. We can move more and more towards a state where we go, "Oh, this is just my mind freaking out about a hip-opening drama... I do not have to get knocked off my groove by my own freak-out." Take that off the mat and we have some real Possibility to work with.

Here's the sequence:
prasarita paddottanasana
uttanasana, feet on blanket roll
vajrasana, blanket roll behind knees
lunge with forearms down
ardha happy baby
supine bakasana prep
crescent pose
parivritta janu sirsasana
maricyasana 3
parivritta parsvakonasana
eka pada koundinyasana
setu bandhasana
supta baddha konasana

So that was fun. I came home and had lunch, did some business and met Gioconda for a lovely practice and then I taught at 6:00.

We had such great turn out for the class and I worked with the theme of "good cheer." I told the group that Noah, me and Darren are planning some int/advanced intensives together. (Save the dates- its looking like New Year's in Tucson this year and Labor Day in 2011 in Los Angeles!) Anyway, I was writing the prerequisites- things like kicking to the wall in handstand unassisted, urdhva danurasana with straight arms unassisted, a 5 minute headstand and a 7 minute shoulderstand. But then I wrote that one should be able to respect and challenge their boundaries AND remain of good cheer while doing so.

This is super important to me because we have to be able to not just back off when necessary but also back off without going down the road of self-criticism just because our body doesn't bend like the person next to us. Seriously, I know many mature people in this world who have a great perspective about life and who get in a difficult or challenging asana class and allow their mind to do terrible things to them. Sometimes, for some, their mind skips the self-criticism stage and just projects outward on the teacher- she or he is mean, non-compassionate, harsh, too demanding, etc. and so forth. But either way- no good cheer! I mean, really, I may be able to do a few poses, but I cannot speak a foreign language, fix a car, program a computer, and I suck at math. I don't think I am bad person because of that. Just not my skill set.

So anyway, the thing is that while I think yoga teachers and outside voices of compassion can help us turn the tides of our own self-criticism, ultimately, that is an inside job. If we are always waiting for someone else to tell us "We are doing fine" then what happens on that day when the teacher forgets? When the teacher is focused on the postures themselves and not on our self-worth? Then we are screwed! My point is that we really can be in class and validate our own ability and honor our limitations and back off when we need to and that does not need to be any kind of statement about our worth and so forth. So we can learn to remain of good cheer.

We worked with back bends and lifting the chest in good cheer.

surya A
Surya B
prasarita paddottanasana
ardha chandrasana
vira 2
uppa vista konasana
supta pdangusthasana to the side, 2X
up dog 3X
danurasana 3x
bhujanasana 3X
eprk, prep
eprk, with thigh stretch
urdhva danuarsana 3X
dwi pada viparita dandasana 3X
standing maricyasana
viparita karani

Okay- time for me to practice asana now. I am pretty sore from yesterday. Gia and I did a variation of the second sequence in our practice with lots more back bends. Good times.


Mary S said...

No Austin date?

Christina Sell said...

We are working on that.

But save this date- October 29-31, 2010 because me and Noah will be teaching here in Austin together. It will be a very fun time for sure.

Emma at South Mountain Yoga said...

is AMV adho mukha vrksasana?

Emma at South Mountain Yoga said...

if so, do you time it?

Christina Sell said...

AMV=adho mukha virasana=child's pose
AMS= adho mukha svanasana= down dog
UMS= Urdhva mukha svanasana= up dog

And generally timed for 1 minute each.

The back story- In Pune, India, Geeta Iyengar starts almost every class with AMV, AMS and uttanasana. My sister and I affectionately refer to them as "the big three." And while our standard for starting class in Ansuara Yoga is "Simple, repetitive and moving with the breath" I actually love to start with the big three because it creates an inward focus, calms and soothes vatta before we start in with more movement.

And I did ask John if that was okay and he said, "yes, its a great way to start." And both times I have taught classes in front of him I started that way and he didn't object so I figure it's not by the book but is effective and not without thought.

Love you.

whatnot said...

ooh, I didn't realize those were "the big three" and now I don't feel bad about starting with them almost half the time.


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