I had a blast teaching yesterday. I was working with theme of being radical. (Amy Ippoliti suggested a theme of radical self esteem for our January workshop and so I have started thinking about what that might actually mean!) Anyway, I looked up the word radical in the dictionary and the first definition means "of or having to do with the root, going to the source or the foundation of things, basic." It is not until the second part of the definition that we get to "extreme" or "thorough."
I really think this is an excellent consideration for us as yogi's for a lot of reasons. First, we have to think that yoga itself is a return to the foundation, to the source and to what we are at a very basic and fundamental level. However, it may involve extreme and thorough measures to access that fundamental basic state of being.
And like I shared in class, if we look at the culture we live in, where our attention is constantly being invited outward and into things at the periphery, we get to see that yoga,as return to the source is a radical act indeed. In a world designed to distract, preoccupy and entertain our every whim and fancy, it is radical to sit still, breathe consciously, move deliberately and to train our attention toward the highest, not the lowest, common denominator.
And in terms of asana- since that is what I am into- it also strikes me that every radical asana relies on the most basic, fundamental actions. And any trouble we run into in the radical postures can generally be traced to some basic action or previous posture we didn't quite master. This really came up for me during our Memorial Day practice and watching where each of us got stuck when we were into some of the deeper bends. I got to thinking about the poses that back up a few before the more advanced postures and I could see how there was work for each of us at the intermediate stages that would benefit the more advanced postures.
This also- obviously- fits into the discussion I have been having lately about staying connected to the center and about how the center is essential for the edge to have meaning and vice versa. Always its a spanda between source/basic/fundamental and extreme. And how cool is it that one words means both? Lots more could be said about this for sure but its on my mind a lot these days.
I think perhaps there is a way to be a "fundamentalist" in a positive sense. I mean really- in Anusara Yoga, what are the fundamentals? Goodness, Grace, Faith, Community, Authenticity and Service. We are just never going to escape those ideals. I wouldn't want to. Being a fundamentalist then, is about staying close to the source of our teachings-- staying close to our own goodness, radically affirming the presence of Grace no matter what is happening and living our authentic truth in a community of others who are doing the same. So, here's to being Old School. Here's to being a radical fundamentalist!
Anyway, back to asana-- it occurred to me that radical yoga this summer would be more about those intermediate stages of some postures and not the radical "skinny edges of the branches" (a phrase I first heard through Darren quoting our friend DK but which I am now shamelessly incorporating into my vernacular.) I want us to work on timing handstands, pinca mayurasana, sirsasana and sarvangasana. I want to start some work on the variations of headstand and shoulderstands. I want everyone to get good at urdhva danurasana 2 and dwip pada viparita dandasana with the head down (which is the classic form, BTW). Expect lots of work also in lotus pose because so many of the advanced postures require facility in that pose.
Anyway, I got pretty excited about all of this and about having a direction for my public classes for the summer especially since we have a few more times to meet up together this summer since I am still teaching on Wednesdays but I am also teaching Thursday afternoons at 4:30 (level 3/4) and evenings at 6:00 (level 2/3) at Castle Hill.
Also, this weekend I will be at Breath and Body Yoga teaching the Ansuara Yoga teacher training so I will be teaching the public classes there. Please come if you can. I think Desirae has them listed on the schedule as Level 1 classes so expect strong work in basic postures. I will keep us on the Level 1 syllabus for the most part, which gives us plenty of fun things to play with. Class schedule there for the weekend is:
All right then. Enough for now. Time for practice.