Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So like that

So, I got this note in my email today and I asked the sender if I could reprint it here and she said yes.

Dear Christina,

I wanted to share a cool story with you (or at least I thought it was cool) its slightly anecdotal so prepare yourself:

My prayer life has sucked for a long time. Just really not feeling it. And yoga has been helping me really set my heart aside to work though some stuff with God. But yesterday I had a breakthrough.

A friend of mine from high school died last Wednesday hang gliding. I was pretty tore up about losing John, and I was unable to attends the funeral yesterday because I'm teaching art this week in seguin at a spiritual leadership camp ( the funeral was about 4 hours away). But I felt like I needed to set the time of the funeral aside and really remember John and pray. So I found a quiet room and I did 26 suryanamaskar A. One for each year of his life. And with each one my intent was to thank God that John had been here. At the end the light in me bowed to the light in John. Afterward not only did I feel like I had been connected in prayer but I was truly thankful that John had been here instead of bawling that he was gone (although I still miss him).

So thank you for helping me find an honest way to commune with God again. And anytime a teacher is afraid of stepping on Christians' toes please, please, please reassure them that there is far more in common than they think and that prayer is prayer is prayer.

So -like that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I got up this morning and met Zoe for Maricarmen's flow class which was a lot of fun. Great music, precise instructions for the inner and outer body, creative sequencing, great students all held together with Maricarmen's very delightful and loving presence. And what fun to practice with Zoe and Sam and just be together on the mat. Always a good time.

I came home, had lunch with Kelly and spent the afternoon doing a lot of work on the computer. I am compiling a mailing list and I would love everyone who reads the blog to be on it. The easiest way for me to include you is for you to go to Christina Sell Yoga on Facebook. And then from there "like" the page. After that, click on the link for E-news and type in your email address. Then, in about a month, you will get my first e-newsletter! Easy as pie.

After an afternoon of computer work, I met up with Gia for her class at Bodhi Yoga. Anohter fabulous foray into fun flow and some freakin' awesome back bends which was delightful. There was a nice amount of heat in the room, a great lead up with twists which usually really help my back bends (not to mention all the deep groin work from the weekend) and a rockin' sound track and voila, into the back bend zone I went. After class and a shower, Gia and I got some food at Whole Foods and talked for a while which was lovely.

As I was taking a bath at home tonight I was reflecting on my day and I got to thinking about this text I got from a student/friend. Some friends are not students and some students do not become friends and yet, in a few cases, friends are students and students are friends. (This would probably be a great thing to post about. Anusara Yoga has no strict, defined code about such things as with us, it always depends, right? For instance, I have had wonderful friendships with students over the years. I have had success at teaching my friends who wander into may classes. And I have also had great students who I never had a friendship with. I have had great friends who never do yoga with me. I have also had students with whom I have tried to have a friendship and it didn't work well at all. Really, I think it depends on a lot of things how well it has worked. But this is not the point of the story.)

In this case, this is a student who I am also friends with and she saw in Yoga Journal that I was on the teaching faculty for the Estes Park Conference in September. So she texted me with congratulations and she said, "All your hard work has paid off." I read the text and while I knew what she was saying, it hit me in a really funny way.

Now don't get me wrong, I am honored to be invited to present at the Grand Gathering. I really am. I am so pleased that I get to participate in the event and I am super psyched about it because it is a really cool thing. Think about it-- 800 people in Estes Park, all there to delight in the art of asana, the creative pulse of community and the breathtaking scenery that is Estes Park, Colorado! (Seriously, sign up now. And come to my classes!)

Also, I have no problem with Yoga Journal. I think these conferences are amazing opportunities for people to come together and share the love of yoga. I think they are great times for people to experience a wide variety of teachers and expose themselves to some of the best of what yoga has to offer. And I think its great to have an industry magazine that is growing, changing and doing tis best to reflect the ever-changing landscape of Yoga in America. So I am good with all that.

But I have to say, neither of those things is in any way "my pay off for hard work." Not by a long shot, nor do I hope they ever become my pay off. The fact that I have this great friend who I occasionally get to teach is a pay off for sure. And the fact that there are many more people I teach and share my life with and explore the practice with is a pay off. The fact that I have work that reminds me on a daily basis about what matters to me is a pay off. The fact that I have a healthy, strong and capable body is a pay off. The emails I get from people who read this blog and find some anecdote, story, or teaching in here that makes life just a little meaningful are my pay off. I do make my living this way and having work I love so much pay my bills is a pay off for working hard but let's be clear, I am paid way before I ever get a check and long before I was ever invited to a conference to teach.

And I know this person knows that because she is smart and insightful and she knows my heart. I know what she was trying to say is that she was happy for me and proud of me and how hard I work. And believe me, I am happy about the acknowledgement. Of course, that is lovely. (And when you are friends with a writer, unfortunately, your innocent comment becomes a blog topic more than once so you have to know that also!) But it got me thinking about how as yoga teachers, very few of us are on a big stage. Most of us in this clan are serving in very meaningful, quiet and profound ways quite under the radar.

As a yoga teacher, we witness the ups and downs of our student's lives. We are there as students graduate from college, get engaged, get married, deal with pregnancies, divorce, job changes, injuries, illnesses, bankruptcies and windfalls. And those same students watch as we teachers grow, change, mature, refine and purify ourselves so that we might answer our heart's calling to teach yoga with greater integrity, skill and efficacy. Any yoga teacher who maintains a regular ongoing class --week after week, year after year-- may never be acknowledged in some magazine but is, nonetheless, part of the fabric of many people's lives and serves to bear witness to a community, its growth and the individuals who make up that community. And any student who regularly attends classes literally support the teacher financially and also assists in their evolution as a person. It is an important and amazing thing to be in this work as a student and as a teacher. And the pay off is not fame. The pay off is not acknowledgement on a grand scale. The pay off is not a piece of paper you will hang on a wall that says "certified" nor is is a lot of Facebook friends or followers on Twitter.

The pay off is in our relationships. It is in the ways we are encouraged, cajoled and even forced into growth when we teach yoga. The pay off is when one person chooses a deep breath over outrage based on something we taught them in a yoga class. The pay off is in being able to chose kindness over hatred- towards ourself and towards others. The pay off is in watching our friends, colleagues and students shine more and more. The pay off is that we start to know our Light- not in theory, but in actuality, because of this work. And that Knowledge is all the pay off there ever was anyway.

so like that.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Night

So, it was a great weekend all in all. We had a sweet potluck gathering at my house after the workshop last night and then this morning we met for the last session with Laurie. It was a wonderful walk through some pranayama preparations, some handstand and pinca mayurasana work, sarvangasana and variations and ended with some awesome revolved uppa vista konasana, revolved janu sirsasana and revolved pascimottanasana, a foray into akarna danuarasana and ekapad sirsasana. Fun stuff. Nothing easy, nothing casual, nothing haphazard. I really enjoy her teaching so much and I got so much help and insight for my practice. Great stuff.

I came home at noon, at lunch and Kelly and I drove out to Barsana Dham. As I drove out I was aware that we weren't talking much and I realized I was really tired. Then I got to thinking about the folks at the Texas Yoga Retreat and how they had been there with round the clock classes since Friday and I thought, "Wow, I bet they are gonna be tired!"

I was the last class scheduled AND it was supposed to be a back bend class and I thought to myself, "This may not be a great idea..." (those of you who know me know that is rarely a restful event.) Anyway, I checked in with the group who confirmed my intuition (they were wiped out) and so I proposed a change of topic. We did restorative yoga and pranayama instead. It was lovely and just the right thing. What with the long weekend, the heat and the intensive study and immersion they had been doing, the last thing they needed to do were back bends. The class was great and by the end the folks had light in their eyes again and color in their faces and were relaxed and alert and better prepared, I think, to go home and take the yoga off the mat and into their lives. I even had Kelly take pictures because I thought some of you might enjoy photographic evidence of restorative yoga in a class with Christina Sell!

Also, I liked the peacocks there. Picture below in their glory.

Supta baddha konasana
twist over a bolster
Me, explaining pranayama. (Dana, you can't tell, but I have your lovely River Bend Yoga T-shirt on!)
After class we walked around on the grounds looking for some photo opps but nothing too great came along. I did like the Devis though. So this is Devi with the Devis.
Anyway- I had a great weekend. It really was. I feel like I had a chance to be part of the community here in a lovely way and I met so many new and interesting people throughout the weekend as well as connecting with some folks I have not seen in a while.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rich Diversity

So I have been enjoying my week at home a lot. I just updated my Facebook status to read that 'I am enjoying the rich diversity of the Austin Yoga Community." Oh I also suggested that the tag line for Austin get a small addition. Instead of Live Musical Capital of the World, I am, proposing that we change it to Yoga and Live Music Capital.... just a thought. Maybe we can get a proposal of some kind going!


The One Om Event continues to inspire me as I reflect on the many wonderful people who participated in a variety of ways. We had a visionary leader and organizer in Ms. Gioconda Parker , we had wonderful corporate sponsors, we had great students in the room and a great team of talented teachers who guided the practice. And really it was a great time to be together as a community. The next event is scheduled for October 7th so save the date and make sure you are there.

Then Friday morning I went to the wonderful Jenn Wooten's flow class at Castle Hill. If you do not know about that class- check it out- It is a Community Class which means it is priced at $7 which is a bargain anywhere you go but in this case, you get Jenn Wooten. Jenn as many of you know is grounded, earthy, dedicated and passionate about the real-life applications of the teachings and the practice. Not one bit of fluff in this presentation but a whole lot of good info and a lotta heart. Really, you should make it part of your life. I can't think of a better way to spend Friday morning.

So, after that I met with the fantastic Malia Scott to talk about Namaste Light a wonderful company that helps yoga people stay connected and also does wonderful things for the environment. She had so many great ideas and the company does such great work, I am super psyched about it. Check it out if you are looking for an effective way to manage your emails, newsletters and so forth. So I also enjoyed seeing Malia off her yoga mat and in her WebMarketing Guru function. She was quite brilliant and a pleasure to work with. Her passion for service is really put to good use in her position with Namaste Light.

After that meeting I met with Stefania to talk about the upcoming events at Castle Hill. halloween weekend me and Noah are going to be teaching together and so we were finalizing the flyer and making plans for that.

Also, she and I got some details sorted out for my podcast programs I have been wanting to do: Christina Sell- Live from The Castle. Soon, you will be able to download my Wednesday Night Int/Adv. class. Just think 90 minutes (usually more because I never end on time!) of me- raw, uncut and live with the Austin Gang doing what we do on Wednesday nights. There will be some small fee to cover the admin cost and the time getting the sequence posted with pictures and so forth but that is a fun project coming soon.

Talking to Stefania is always fun because she is a great yogi and wonderful person who is also super efficient and good at her job. She is smart, funny, straightforward and really a pleasure to work with.

Last night I went to Clear Spring Yoga for the first night of the Laurie Blakeney workshop which was awesome. it was so sweet, soft and deep. In one class I learned so much and gained so many insights and nuggets about how to practice in a more intelligent and effective way. She is really such a great teacher.

This morning I went out to Barsana Dham for the Texas Yoga Retreat which was a true pleasure. I had about 20 folks in my class and we worked on basic hip opening and made a foray to eka hasta bhujasana. For most folks it was an introduction to Ansuara Yoga and they did great. I was so pleased with the excellent studentship, the sincere questions, the hard work and the great sense of deep purpose there. I had a fun time and can't wait for tomorrow afternoon's back bend class from 2-4.

Anyway- this afternoon, its back to Iyengar Yoga Land and then a potluck here after the workshop. Tomorrow, the workshop and back out to Barsana Dham. Anyway- like I Said, its been a foray into the rich diversity that makes up this yoga community. Meanwhile, I think Seane Corn is in town teaching all the flow folks and so I am sure that is also a great time. Seriously, forget the live music- it's YOGA here in the Heart of Texas.

Friday, June 25, 2010



It's been a busy few days for me. I taught my classes on Wednesday and Thursday morning Kelly and I spent the morning in San Marcos. We had to get some stuff for our dog from the vet and so we decided it would be a great time to kit the river for some kayaking. It was great- the water was awesome, the wave was perfect and we played for over an hour.

I did some work for a few hours, made it to the Castle to practice before my class and then taught a class at 4:30. It was super fun. We got into some pretty deep back bends which was really awesome. Then Kelly and I drove over to Mercury Hall for the One Om Event which was a lot of fun. Basically, the format was a centering followed by warm ups with Malia, Sun salutations with Chelsea, Standing Poses with Jenn Wooten, Hip openers and Arm balances with Jeremiah Wallace, back bends with me, dancing as a group, forward bends with Gioconda, chanting with Zoe and then savasana. It was a great time.

here are some shots from the evening that Kelly took:

I have some more to say about the event but right now I have to clean my house and get ready for rest of the weekend. More tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ten Minutes of Pure Heart

So, last night was going to be the largest yoga class ever. Yoga On the Great Lawn was an amazing gathering of people- 10,000 of them- in Central Park all there to share a yoga practice as a community on the Summer Solstice.. Here is are a few links about it, just to give you the scope of the event.


Anyway, my friend and Certified Ansuara yoga teacher Elena Brower was the main teacher for the event and so I have been following the event's progress with a fair amount of interest ever since she told me about it at the Teacher's Gathering this year. Yesterday morning I texted her to let her know I would be thinking of her. As the hour approached, Twitter was full of excitement and so forth and about 10 minutes into class some tweet came through that the class had been cancelled due to rain. Legally, they were not allowed to be out there in the rain and so 10 minutes into class, the class ended.

An hour or so after that I texted Elena and said, "Are you okay?"
She wrote back, "AMAZING!"
I told her I heard the class was cancelled and was worried about her.
She said, "It was great. I gave them 10 minutes of Pure Heart."
I responded, "That's all we need anyway. 10 minutes of Pure Heart can change your life."

So I have been spending a little time tonight catching a bit of the footage and seeing my friend in action, and that has been awesome. Really, that's the thing with her- she probably has one of the Purest Hearts of anyone I know. She is a great mom, an awesome friend and dedicated practitioner and teacher and most of all, the thing with Elena is, she is always examining herself. She is always looking for a doorway in. In--to her heart, in--to a deeper connection, in--to some corner of herself she has avoided seeing and needs tending to and in that watching, in that self-examination she continually touches a very holy place. She not only invites others to do the same for themselves, but she makes it safe for them to do the sometimes frightening work of Looking Inward. Really, she is a great person.

So watching her connect 10, 000 people in Central Park to the essence of the practice in a rainstorm is pretty freaking cool. There's a lot of shakti in those video clips. A lot. She rocked it. She really did.

But also, I am really taking a great lesson away from her response. "AMAZING...I gave them 10 minutes of Pure Heart." Think about it. What if for 10 minutes of everyday we did just that? What if for 10 minutes we didn't blame our past or present circumstances for the ways we hold back our Love? What if for 10 minutes we gave from the Purity of our Heart without fear of being hurt or rejected? What if for 10 minutes we took a stand for the Light that is at the very essence of who we are and what if for 10 minutes we did nothing but reflected that Light back to those around us and took a stand for theirs? What if for 10 minutes a day we gave ourselves whole-heartedly, with no apology and with utter abandon? What if for 10 minutes we just went for it?

So, anyway- 10 minutes of Pure Heart can change your life. Think about it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Night

So it’s a bit hard to believe that June is almost over.

The weekend in Viroqua was a lot of fun. We worked on standing poses, arm balances and a few backbends on Saturday morning and dove deeply into the ever-exciting work of virasana on Saturday afternoon. (I love classes where poses like virasana and down dog are peak poses! I know that kind of work is an acquired taste for many and some actually never acquire it at all, but that is another story...) Sunday morning’s practice was fun as well. We did a fair amount of flow, with some arm balance work, some deep hip opening and a pretty decent foray into eka pada rajakpaotasana. All things said and done, I think the classes all worked together nicely to provide a pretty well-rounded experience.

The group was sincere, hard working and well-trained. It’s always fun ot work with a group of people well-steeped in our practice and methods because then we are able to go much deeper than the average introductory discussion of Inner and Outer spiral and really examine the architecture of the different poses, how they relate to one another and so forth.

Don’t get me wrong, I also love weekends where I am pioneering the method somewhere. In fact, a lot of the teaching I do and have done over the years has been introducing people to the method in what I hope is a clear, organized and precise fashion. A huge part of how a visiting teacher can really serve outlying areas is by doing just that. It is very rewarding and necessary work to do-- to bring the method to places where there is a fledging community of Anusara Yoga practitioners and to help people “get it” when they do not have access to ongoing public classes and so forth.

Also fun are weekends like this one in Viroqua, WI and last weekend in Athens, GA- where the majority of the students in the room are already well-trained and “on board” with the method because then, with all the preliminary work our of the way, I can do a different kind of teaching with a group. So, I like both. Each situation calls for a certain kind of creative response which is probably why I like them both.

I had a great time spending time with Meg. We have practiced asana together so much over the years and learned so much together that its always a wonderful homecoming for me to roll out a mat with her and practice. Viroqua is an interesting town. It is in the heart of The Organic Valley and is a kind of oasis of rural, organic farming, Waldorf education and radical family values and fierce community ties. It is one of the most beautiful, lush and fertile places I have visited and there is a wonderful sanity, dignity and authenticity there- in the land itself and in the people who choose to live there.

Also very real there is a sense of purpose and conscious sacrifice in order to benefit from such a sanctuary. It is not easy to make a living there, there are very long, dark and cold winters, there are no great restaurants nor are there many modern distractions for entertainment. It is somewhat remote- 2 hours from Madison by car and in many places, your cell phone will not work!

So, all that being said, it’s a wonderful place and the people who consciously choose a certain measure of hardship in order to live there, do so because they find a depth of friendship with fellow travelers, a camaraderie in consciously parenting their kids, a connection to the earth from living so closely with its cycles, its harshness and its bounty, and in general I found the people there to be without vanity, pretension or avarice of any kind. And it was a cool 78 degrees which was a lovely break from Texas and Gerogia this tiume of year!

Well, enough of that for now. I am happy to be home and ready for a fun week ahead- classes at The Castle, One Om Event, the Texas Yoga Retreat and Laurie Blakeney's Iyengar Yoga Workshop. Good times.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday in Wisconsin

Kelly and I met up in Chicago yesterday and hopped on a plane to Madison, Wisconsin and then drive a few hours to Viroqua. We sat up late talking to our friends, Meg and Chris and then got up this morning for fun and games. Chris and Kelly went on a bike ride and me and Meg had a chance to practice. We worked on a lovely sequence to Natrajasana which culminated in some pretty fine bends.

Here is the photographic evidence...

And here is a video clip of me and Meg working together to help her keep her heels down on the way don and up. Meg has been doing drop backs on her own for like a decade so that was not the thing she was working on. She was really working diligently on keeping her heels down. Fun times.

After practice, Kelly and I had lunch at the local coop and then I had a massage. After a shower and a snack I went to Tapestry Yoga to teach. We had a great turnout with a lovely group of hardworking, sincere students. We did a deep hip opening class which culminated with a foray into padmasana. Good times.

more tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the great POD adventure

Well, here are some pictures from moving day yesterday. We got off to a pretty early start in an attempt to move a lot of the big stuff before it got too hot. We worked all day long and finally called it quits around 5:00 last night.

So here is the POD, empty, before we moved anything into it.
Another view of the THE POD.
Here I am once we loaded the first third of the POD and were about to secure the contents and tie them off. At this point, everything is pretty orderly and efficient and so forth.

The second third of the contents we loaded were less symmetrically and orderly. I call this "Redneck Moving Truck" as it brings back lovely images of Jed Clampitt of the Beverly Hillbillies and their belongings all piled up on the top of their truck.

After we got done for the day, a huge storm wet in and we wanted to go out for dinner. Mom and I did not have rain gear and so dad suggested we wear garbage bags. Here we are in our "Redneck Rain Coats."

Up Close:
And from a distance:
Of course, Dad had his hi-tech rain gear with him which he was wearing. (To be fair, he did offer his fancy rain coat to Mom who said she would rather wear the garbage bag! I think wearing the bag served two purposes for her: 1) it actually provided great rain protection and 2) she could continue to give Dad shit about wearing his high tech coat when all she had was a bag! This gives you a little insight into my parent's dynamic. Mom is a what you might call a "shit-talker extraordinaire" especially when it comes to teasing my father. They have a lot of fun together- even after 50 years, which is pretty damn inspiring. Think about living with someone for 50 years and still cracking each other up. Very cool in my book e en if you talk a little shit in the midst of it.)
And here we are finishing our lovely meal at the Downtown Cafe in Lavonia, Georgia.

I asked for a side of vegetables with my pasta which seemed to stymie the waitress a bit. (The very nice waitress: "So let me get this straight... you do not want any meat, and you want extra vegetables? No melted cheese over it either?" Me: "Right.Just marinara sauce and cooked vegetables, if that's possible, please...") Anyway- the plate of food they brought me was pretty tasty and would have provided a small family with dinner. They are very into big portions here.
okay, well, that's the overview of my day. Fun times. Off to Wisconsin today, after I help Dad wrangle their bed into the POD. That should be a hilarious.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday Morning

Well, this will probably be a short post. I am enjoying my time in Lavonia. It is pretty relaxing here. I realized yesterday that I had not even left the house since Sunday when we went to buy groceries right after I got here. Mom and Dad's house is right on a lake and their lot is full of big and very green trees and and so it is a restful and beautiful environment to be in.

After a tasty break fast of watermelon yesterday, I practiced asana for a few hours. Then my parent's POD was delivered. (no, they are not aliens. the POD is not an inter-space transport system. It is a storage unit that they are packing up and then will get moved to Texas.) So then we ate lunch and started moving furniture into the POD. So that was pretty hot work. Dad and I managed to work for a few hours- we moved a dresser, two bedside tables, a cabinet, lots of pictures, lots of copies of my fathers book and some other varies things before we had to come inside and rest. Of course, once we got inside the air conditioning was not working and so it wasn't quite as rejuvenating as it might have been. At least their house is very shaded so it could've been much worse. Eventually, the air got fixed, Mom went to her Red Hat Meeting and Dad and I went out to dinner. All in all a pretty fun day.

Our plan is to get out and start moving some things this morning before it gets really hot. They are at the very hard part of moving- most of the big stuff is packed and already living in Texas, Now they have lots of odds and ends to sort through, find a place for or decide to give away. This stage of moving, in my experience, always takes a little longer than it seems like its going to.

Well, that's the news for today. I am so happy to be here and have some time to be a little drawn in and quieter than usual. It is immensely nourishing. More on that later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Evening

Well, it seems like I have been on the computer most of the day. I spent the morning working on the online classroom for the Mentor Group I am starting in July. There is still plenty of space in the group and if you have any interest in the group, please email me at christinasell108@gmail.com and I can send you some information about that.

The cool thing about the mentor group is that there are no set meetings times- the classroom is open 24/7 and the lessons are posted so you can watch them at your convenience, post about them and we have a great online forum to discuss, clarify and grow together. And the classroom stays open for 3 months after the group ends so you can access the lessons and teachings if you fall behind, etc. Anyway- let me know if you want info about that. It's gonna be great. Also, there is a PDF on my website under Teacher Development you can download to learn more.

The other thing I worked on was some marketing materials for the programs in Corpus Christi, TX with Manorama. She will come three times- to present on Luminous Shabda (Intro to Sanksrit), The Bhagavad Gita and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Come for one weekend or come for three. If you want to dive deeper into some of the most profound traditional teachings of yoga, these weekends are for you. Seriously, it will be way worth the drive or flight to Corpus.

I am enjoying my time here in Lavonia, Georgia. It is very beautiful and relaxing, although it feels as hot and humid as Texas. Like I said, I spent a lot of time today on the computer-other than a few hours to do some hip openers and forward bends which felt really great after our back bend practice yesterday in Athens. I am enjoying having a few days of down time in the midst of my busy schedule and having some time to get some things done on the computer is down right luxurious.

Dad and I were having an interesting talk tonight about inner changes and outer changes and how many times one affects the other. Mom and Dad are really in the midst of closing down a big chapter in their life- life in Lavonia, Georgia- and moving even more fully into their life in Austin. I think the closing down of a house makes for a natural time of reflection and review. We got into an interesting discussion of our life stories and about what happened, what didn't happen and what we wished had been different and so forth. One thing I have been feeling a lot lately is how, even though there were, and still are. challenges in my life, I do not have a lurking feeling or wish anymore that it had been different in some way. I used to feel that way, though. Often.

I used to wish I had a different childhood, a different personality, a different body, a different- well, you name it. But lately--maybe it's the therapy or maybe it's just turning 40- but lately, somehow, the perfection of all that happened and all that did not happen is all just so stunning. I think teaching has healed me in this way. I think writing has also been part of it. I think having a tangible way to make use of my experiences has been huge.

I think this is so important for all of us to remember. I mean really, saints are pretty inspiring to some people but to me, the part of their story that is most inspiring is not the times when they felt totally connected to the mystical Heart of Reality. More often than not, I am inspired by the stories of their doubt, their struggle, their gut-wrenching, heart-breaking attempts to live up to their vision and to stay in place while they were in the dark night of the soul. I mean, really, when I am hurting, I rarely go to my saintly friends. I generally check in with those people who have shared with me their struggles and failures because I know they will, at the very least, be understanding and compassionate. And I really do not think our best gift to one another is our perfection anyway. I think the best gift we can offer each other is humble understanding and sincere compassion.

A few years ago, a biography came out about Mother Theresa that exposed her doubts and it was a really scandalous thing in some circles. I read a fair amount of the critiques that suggested she was less saintly somehow because she had such doubt. I think people missed the point with such criticism. The point, in my opinion, was that she stayed in place in the face of doubt. That alone makes her a saint in my mind. I mean, it's no big feat to do what she did if she was "feeling it" all the time. But think about what a True and Real sacrifice and teaching her life was if, like this book suggested, she was not "feeling it" much at all for many years and she still did her Work.

So often people I know feel like they have to be perfect or finished or evolved in order to be of service or in order to teach yoga. I do not think that at all. I think it helps to have some of the big stuff out of the way but seriously, we are who we are and sincerity and honesty is generally as inspiring as anything else. For instance, I remember way back in college when I was first going to 12-step meetings for compulsive overeating. At the first meeting I went to there was a woman who shared that she had wanted to binge-eat that day and she didn't do it. I asked that woman to sponsor me that night. I didn't relate to the woman in the group who said, "I never want to overeat ever." That was way too hard for me to imagine. I actually needed a different kind of help. I needed to know how in the world I might be able to NOT binge if I really wanted to. Up until that moment it never occurred to me that there was another option besides wanting to and doing it. So it was not her "perfect recovery" or "overcoming the thing entirely" that appealed to me. It was through the grittier reality of her real life struggles that she served me.

So- there is certainly more that could be said on the topic but this is already long enough. One thing I do not believe in is some perfected, final state. I really don't. I think many people realize something Essential about Life and a rare few stay anchored in that understanding but still, they have a life to live full of challenges, responsibilities and growth nonetheless. I believe, samadhi or not, that is the Way of Things. Seriously, this thing called Grace is a moving stream and it will carry us in its currents, around blind corners, over rough rapids, into various eddies and sometimes stagnant pools. There really is no way or reason, as I see it, to get out of the river. Best that we learn how to paddle.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Night

Well, I have been having a great time here in Athens, Georgia. I got into town on Friday and had just enough time to eat a little before the evening session. We worked deep into hip opening on Friday night with a padmasana class which was great. the students here at Five Points Yoga are fun loving, hard working and very well-trained. For the first time in the history of teaching out of town workshops, I actually got through the entire sequence I planned for the first night. Now some of that is due to me getting better at planning sequences for the first night and knowing what is accomplish-able but this was also due in part to the students being very keen, open-minded and like I said before, well-trained.

And since I ate before I taught I stayed after class while some folks went out to dinner and got a practice in. So that was really great for me. After a long day of sitting I was very happy to do my inversions and a deep hip opening practice. Lovely.

We had a strong back bend class this morning with lots of work in the shoulders to and upper back to get ready for eka pada raja kapotasana. Lots of people touched their toes behind their head for the first time, which is always fun to be part of. After lunch we did a quieter class with pranayama, mantra, meditation and inversions, hip openers and forward bends. Good stuff. Some folks even put their leg behind their head before the class was over. Again, always fun.

We had a potluck tonight and I am now ready to hit the sack and call it a day. We start early in the morning with a group practice, which should be pretty fun. We didn't do a lot of arm balances this weekend so I think will be a big part of tomorrow's session.

One of the things I enjoy the most about the work I do- in terms of the travelling part of the work I do, at least- is getting a chance to visit communities throughout the country and meet amazing sincere and dedicated practitioners everywhere I go. Athens, Georgia is no different. It is really fun to see the tight knit group of people who have joined together here in the practice of yoga. The method, as it grows, is still attracting fantastic people to it.

I had a great conversation with one of the students at the potluck about how is it that we actually cultivate compassion for ourselves. Like what to we do? What is that process like? And so on.

As we got into the discussion one of the cool insights he shared with me was that it is dawning on him that the rate and speed of modern life- wi-fi connections, google searches, television, microwaves, etc. just does not prepare us to be ready for the rate and speed at which the inner life develops. Modern life gives us a false impression that we can have what we want instantly and that we can change and grow as quickly as we can microwave a burrito or order something from amazon. But the truth is, the inner life has a completely different speed at which it evolves and many times it is slower than we wish it was. We may spend many years in the stage of "awareness of the issue" coupled with "failed attempts to gain just a little traction towards change" before we move into any kind of ability to actually shift and behave differently. That's just how it can be for many of us.

We do have great technology for change as yogis- we have intention, we have asana, we have meditation, we have pranayama, we have mantra, we have visualization, scripture and so forth. We have modern tools also like psychotherapy, journal writing, support groups and communication skills and self-help books galore. We can make changes to our diet, we can get body work, we can take vitamins and we can nurture and nourish our bodies in really valuable ways. And so on. And yet, the deep changes of really growing into who we most truly are happen according to a slower wisdom and align us with a deeper current of truth that will not-- CAN NOT- conform to a fast-paced, instant gratification expectation or model. Think about it- the whole context of yoga is multi-lifetimes. This is deep work, after all.

So I think- and this student and I discussed- that part of how we can develop compassion for ourselves is to understand that the process of growth and change takes time. Even cultivating compassion takes time. And of course, we have to make efforts. That is our part of the deal and we need to keep it. But sometimes the effects of those efforts are just not visible on the surface of things. Many times deep shifts are happening within us and those deep currents are changing profoundly and yet the surface water looks exactly the same. So we have to have faith. Faith in the practice, the teachings, our efforts and in what my teacher has called the Great Process of Divine Evolution.

See, the thing is, we are part of that Process of Evolution and it just is not a quick fix, an easy high or a commodity that comes cheaply. In fact, I have heard it called "The Pearl of Great Price." And what makes a pearl? Remember? It's that little piece of sand that gets in the oyster and becomes an irritant. Over along period of time, the little annoying piece of sand evolves into something of great beauty and great value. And even then, one has to mine the pearl. So like that.

Friday, June 11, 2010


So- this is exciting news. One of my students in Corpus Christi, TX, Beth Reese, has created a fantastic yoga program for kids called Yoginos. She has her DVD out now which is really fantastic. What is really cool is that when Beth was going through the Immerison and teacher Training process she was working on this program and teaching classes there at The Yoga Studio of Corpus Christi. So it is so fun to see a long term vision and project manifest.

Beth and I were having a long texting conversation the toher day and I mentioned to her how inspiring it is to see all that she has done with this program and with her life. Now, her life story is really hers to tell, and not mine to elaborate on on my blog, of course, but in the time I have known her she has gone through lots of personal house cleaning, changes, and big life transitions. She went from a new yoga teacher with a fledgling program and concept to a an experienced teacher who is now training people to teach yoga to kids and impacting lots of people in profound ways. So when I told her it was inspiring, she was like, "Well, I don't know about that..." I assured her if anyone told her her story, she would be like, 'That woman is totally bad ass!"

How true is that for a lot of us? Our life is just our life to us and we rarely see it from the outside as a lesson in growth, transformation, courage and tenacity. Instead, so often, we seem to get focused more on the direct experience of it and perhaps the ways we wished we were more graceful about growing and evolving and so forth. But sometime it is really good to get a little distance and tell ourself our own story and listen. I mean really listen to our challenges, heart breaks and triumphs as though someone else were telling us about themselves. Chances are., we would find ourselves a lot more impressive and inspiring and perhpas we would be a bit more compassionate with ourselves.

So Beth is a totally bad ass woman who has a ton to offer- not just the kids who get to learn yoga from her- but those kids of older ages (us adults!) who might want to learn from her about how to bring yoga to kids in creative and nurturing ways.

Another cool thing to note is that Beth is an art curator and so her video is filmed in the art museum in Corpus. She is also connecting with the Crow Museum in Dallas for her next project. I think this is very timely since we are moving so much more deeply into a consideration of Art and Culture with Anusara Yoga. So, just an interesting synchronicity.

Anyway, check it out. www.yoginos.com

And for those of you in Texas she has some upcoming promotional events in San Antonio worth checking out as well:

Sunday :: June 13 ::
1:00-2:15pm :: Yogiños Family Event @ Lululemon in the Quarry, free kids' yoga class & presentation by Zoomagination animals

Friday :: June 18 ::
6:30-8:30pm :: Yogiños "Be OHMazing!! Party & Health Expo" @ Trilogy Dance Center L

Email: elizreese@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Well, I am taking a bit of time for my lunch to finish digesting while I catch up on some work at my desk. I am very tired today and so I am hoping I get revived from my asana practice I am going to start here in a few moments.

I had a lovely time this morning with Focus on Form. It was nice to have so many folks in class. We worked a lot with getting the back leg to go back in all of the standing poses and keeping it back while we outer spiralled the front leg. (yes, I verbed that noun. But do you know that anyone who gets upset that people are verbbing nouns is doing just that! Think about it. Okay, I digress.) Also we worked a lot with stabilizing the back calf (shin loop) in order to gain access to the top of the thigh (thigh loop). Lots of technical work- but well, it is a class called Focus On Form after all! Anyway, we took all that work into various lateral angle poses like parsvakonasana, trikonasana, ardha chandrasana, parsva utthita hasta padangusthasana and then culminated that work with a foray into bird of paradise which was fun. Good times.

As far as a theme, I worked with one of my favorite considerations from Douglas Brooks' teachings. I remember years ago that he said, "Yoga is not a path of freedom. It is a path of exquisite bondage." It made a huge impression on me, this teaching. His point was that the path is about binding ourselves to those beliefs, actions and choices that align us with what matters the most to us. In some ways, I think he was encouraging us to do that consciously, because really we are always doing that on some level, whether we know it or not. (Like one time I was listening to a talk about value clarifications and the speaker said, "if you do not know what you value, open your check book and see what you spend your money on. That will give you a very clear picture of what you value." Me,based on that evaluation tool, I value Kelly's education, Whole Foods, yoga, my dogs and clothes. Very simple. With an occasional mani/pedi and massage.)

So I am not saying that the check book register is a fool proof system of self-awareness in this domain but still it can be quite illuminating! So the point of that little digressing was simply to say we are binding ourselves in our actions all the time. (like Krishna in the Gita- Never am I without action...) The question is- are we doing it consciously and in accordance with our deeper urges and longings as opposed to the surface whims, fancies and addictions?

And again, just so we are clear, I do not believe in some kind of sermonizing about this. The point is that if we bind ourselves to our own Heart, to what matters most to us, then discipline becomes a very different kind of thing than some outside list of do's and don't and endless admonitions on the topic of how to be better and so on. Discipline becomes those actions we take that bind us to our own hearts, that align us with our own values and help bring our deepest aspirations to life.

And, of course, the problem arises when we have competing aspirations at the different levels of who we are. One of the most useful teaching I think from the Fourth Way School is a teaching from G.I. Gurdjeiff who said "Man is Legion." He was talking about how each of us have a legion of people inside of us. He called it having multiple "I's." He suggested that, for instance, while we do have a "Yogi I" who is really on board for the holistic program and is geared up to go the distance, we may also have a "party girl I" who is not so interested in the early morning Mysore practice. We have the "open minded I" who can see any situation from many sides and she is often in a battle with the "rigid I" who says only one thing can be true at one time. And so on.

So when we talk about consciously binding ourselves to our Hearts, its not to say that its always some easy, gentle, open-hearted kind of thing. Just so we are clear, those different "I's" can put up quite a fight when they start to feel threatened that they are losing their dominion over our choices! And it can take a long time to sort out which voice inside us is the best one to listen to. A lot of us ardent types have a pretty critical "I" in there who poses as a sincere yogi and who is always convincing us that we need to be more pure, more disciplined, less relaxed, and so on. And some folks have a "slacker I" in there posing for a "chilled-out yogi"!

Anyway, what we can do is keep practicing and we can bind ourselves to the game of staying in place, of staying established in practice. And we can keep asserting the wisdom of our own hearts with the full knowledge we are going to miss the mark repeatedly and sometimes in big, messy, embarrassing and humbling ways. It's pretty much a guarantee, the way I see it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Looking for the Good

Well, it's been a few days. I was swept into the world of Teacher Training all weekend and today when I went to log onto blogger the host was down for most of the day. Ah well, the joys of technology.

The weekend of teacher training was pretty inspiring for me. I am so pleased with the progress the group has made in three weekends and how strong their studentship and connection to one another is. It is a very cool process to be a part of. We worked a lot with sequencing strategies, incorporating heart based themes into alignment instructions, developing themes from poems, stories and such and also we began diving into observation and adjustments. And as any of you know who have taken a Level 1 Teacher Training before, the first rule of observation is to to look for the good.

We spent some time in exercises which focused on looking for the good in ourselves, and also looking for the good in others and articulating very clearly what good we saw in ourselves, in one another and then we took it into looking for the good in the asanas. This is always really strong work.

G'Nell shared with the group and with me that in her training as a special ed teacher she has learn (and trains other teachers to do this also) that for every " one prompt" she gives a a student she is most effective when she gives "two praises." We talked about this a little bit about how that might translate into the yoga classroom situation and how we might actually create a positive reinforcement cycle in the classroom through praise and acknowledgement rather than just putting on a critical hat for the whole time we teach yoga and telling our students what not to do and how to correct their poses, etc.

Also we have a few tender moments together really exploring the various reasons why it is difficult to hear "the good stuff" about ourselves and how hard it can be to receive praise and to take it in and allow ourselves to believe it. I think for many people, this is some of the hardest yoga they are called to do.

It made me think a lot about how transformational it was for me the first time I was in a class with John Friend. I had been used to being taught by very exacting yoga teachers with very high standards (not complaining. I am grateful for that also. I really am. A lot of what I know about yoga I learned from these teachers and so it was not all bad by any means.) so back to the story. The "first class" I was in with John Friend was actually a 5-day intensive and so it was no casual encounter. And having been used to criticism and "lots of things to do to make my pose better" I was expecting him to follow in suit. Instead, he just kept telling me things like, "Wow, great pose" or "You are so beautiful" and so forth and I couldn't handle it at all. I cried the entire 30 hours. (Okay, that is a slight- but only slight- exaggeration.) Still, the point is that somehow about hearing a compliment was more confrontational to me than hearing a criticism.

So, for the long, extended story about this buy my book Yoga From the Inside Out- but really, I have been thinking a lot about why I actually love teaching Anusara Yoga and it has a lot to do with the fact as Anusara Yoga teachers, we engage a process of looking for the good and standing for it in ourselves and one another.

I think it is so easy to get caught up in negativity, criticism, skepticism and condemnation of self, others or even culture, etc. That's pretty easy. Without trying, we can wander down that road in one moment and many times get rewarded for our pessimism as though we are somehow very "cool and hip" for being so jaded. We get habituated to that kind of outlook and reaction to ourselves and to life.(But that's another story) My point is that we get all that for free.

What costs us a bit more is optimism, faith, hope and the willingness to forgive imperfections enough to see the underlying beauty, intention and possibility that Life is offering us in each moment. Looking for the Good is not simplistic new-age approach to life that denies suffering, cruelty or washes over our responsibility or accountability in the world of relationships. It is, to me, a willingness and a coommitment to take a stand for the Light. In a world - be it our inner world where our various demons may be haunting us or the outer world where oil is spilling into the Gulf and every moment a helpless creature is suffering as their eco- system is being contaminated- where the darkness is present and despair and cynicism are the easy road to take, Looking for The Good is a commitment to look for the presence of the Light and to assert the presence of Grace in the midst of what appears ugly, painful, and even atrocious. Looking for the Good is, in my opinion, a daring outlook to adopt and to practice.

And so we can start small, by looking for and recognizing what is good within ourselves. That is the primary homework I gave my group for the month before we meet again. Every day, for 3-5 minutes, write without stopping about what is good about you. I told them I would do it also and we would compare notes about how it went. Feel free to adopt the practice for yourself this month and join in on this part of the journey.

Oh- and speaking of a journey you might want to join, I am beginning another online mentor group in the beginning of July. If you want some details, visit my website under teacher development. www.christinasell.com. There is a flyer and application you can download from there.

Okay. Bed time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Morning

Well, it's Friday Morning and my mind is kind of on the program ahead for Teacher Training this weekend and getting my final ducks in a row for that. This is our third weekend together and we will be diving deeper into sequencing, inner and outer spiral and really making a foray into, not just setting a theme well, but incorporating heart-based instructions. I spend a lot of time with the group on the first two weekends paring down language a lot. Taking out every extraneous instruction and getting things as bare bones as possible. Then, once everything is stripped down to the breath, then name of the pose and basics of how to get into the pose, we start adding in the UPA's, the heart qualities and so on. Also this week, we get into verbal adjustments.

So all in all, its a big weekend ahead. This verbal adjustment piece is really big. This is really where the "teaching to what you see" idea gets it's momentum and good verbal adjustments can make all the difference in the world in terms of effective teaching. And this is also where many certification videos need the most improvement. By the time someone is applying for certification, they know the method, they know the script, and so forth. This piece of looking at a group and giving a refinement or adjustment that is based on what you see in the moment that will help 75% of the group improve to me is one of the main dividing lines between an anusara inspired teacher and a certified teacher. There are more dividing lines as well, but that's a biggie in my book.

We had a good night in classes last night. I taught back bends for the 3/4 class at 4:30 and we worked on standing poses mostly in the level 2/3 class at 6:00. I had big mix of people who have been long-time students with people brand new to me and my teaching so that is always an interesting dynamic on a lot of levels. The yoga, expectations and instructions and so forth are just one level. There is also an interpersonal level at play.

I know over the years from doing this that one of the great things about Ansuara Yoga can, if we are not careful, be one of the shortcomings or downfalls of our approach. Because of our dedication to community and because of the relationships we foster in and out of class with one another, we often get very close as time goes by. It can be easy to be so familiar with one another that we share private jokes and a kind of intimacy that when new people come around, instead of feeling welcomed, they feel left out.

I know none of that happens on purpose and I know no one wants that to be the case. I mean no one I know consciously wishes to exclude anyone and no one new to a class wants to feel left out, but its a dynamic we really have to watch for. By the same token if a teacher suddenly gets super formal with long time students just because there are new people in the room, well, then there are problems with that also. The main thing is, we do not want kula to become clique.

Anyway, all in all, it was a great day yesterday. On with the day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday Morning

I am updating my blog at Whole Foods today. I had a coffee date with Bekah and I am meeting Desirae for Ericka's class at noon at Breath and Body Yoga. I have about enough time to drive home and then drive up to BBY so I figured I would just stay put at Whole Foods and get a little work done.

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:
Friday, 4:30-6
Saturday, 10:00-11:30
Sunday, 10:00-11:30

All right then. Enough for now. Time for practice.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon

So the day is just flying by today.

I was up kind of late last night talking with Amy and Darren about our 2011 programs- (Mark your calendars because we have a few date changes: Amy and I will offer a program together inAustin January 14-16, 2011 not January 28 like I said yesterday. AND in other news-- me, Amy and Darren are gonna team up in Tucson in May 18-22, 2011 for a "Beyond the Part 1 Immersion" for people who have completed the 108 hour program and who want to keep going without listening to another talk on the tattvas! (okay, kidding. sort of. Think more asana, great discussion, a few focused dharma talks, great people, lots of asana, meditation and did I say, a lot of asana? you can sign up for that through yoga oasis.)

Anyway- I got to bed late, slept in and by the time I got done with my morning practices, and went for a walk it was lunch time! I am spending a few hours on the computer today since I didn't have my normal office hours yesterday. I went down to San Marcos instead and met up with some folks for a practice which was super fun. It was great to be back in the old studio and reconnect in a low key way. Don't get me wrong, the asana was far from low key. Just the mood of the practice was kind no frills and back to basics. I really miss practicing down in that space. It reminded me of some very good times.

Here is our sequence, more or less:
vamadevasana prep- one leg in baddha konasana, one leg in wide open virasana- 5 minutes each side
dwi pada viparita dandasana over a chair- 5 minutes
surya namaskar A- 5 minutes
surya namaskar B-5 minutes
supta padangusthasana-1,2,3
janu sirsasana with bent leg foot on block
paryankasana over a block
sirsasana 2-bakasana
vira 1
parivritta parsvakonasana
eka pada koundinyasana
sirsasana 2-parsva bakasana
sirsasana 2- kukkutasana
padmasana with twist
sirsasana 2-parsva kukkutasana
pinca with backbend- feet at wall
parivritta janu sirsasana
parsva danurasana
ardha matsyendrasana 2
urdhva danurasana
urdhva danurasana 2
dwi pada viparita dandasana head up
dwi pada viparita dandasana head down
eka pada raja kapotasana
]headstand drop overs
ekapadaviparitadandasana 2
padangustha danurasana
parsva uttanasana
parsva agnisthambasana
janu sirsasana
chair sarvangasana

Here are a few links from our practice:

sirsasana 2- bakasana-handstand, etc.

sirsasana 2-parsva kukkutasana, etc

Gia- sirsasana to eka pada viparita dandasana

me- sirsasana to eka pada virparita dandasana

So I also thought I would share one of my favorite passages from some of Mr. Iyengar's autobiographical writing. I was reading some of this to Darren on the phone last night. He and I share a similar kind of orientation to what we find inspiring. Poetic descriptions of the non-dual state and so on rarely really get us going. Instead we tend to find inspiration in the real life struggles of The Great One's. Mr. Iyengar has one of those stories and his dedication to this art in the face of many obstacles is truly inspiring. Nothing he accomplished came easily and yet he persevered and his legacy is somewhat stunning. I mean even if you don't practice much in that method, most modern schools of yoga are indebted to his work in some way. (Just my opinion-- but it is my blog, after all.) So I am into reading about what it took along the way. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good ecstatic poem and all that. I am just saying, give me a glimpse of the real story-- of the blood sweat and tears involved-- and I am all over that.

So, this is from the Astadala Yogamala, a set of writings by BKS Iyengar. He is telling his life story and the challenges he faced a long the way:

I cannot put into words the suffering I underwent. My hard practice caused agony to my body, to my nerves, to my mind and even to my self. I was tossed from one side to the other; sometimes the body refused to cooperate and at other times the mind would not bear the pain. This way my body and my mind oscillated. My energies were sapped and mental fatigue set in. If I did not try, the self within grew restless:if I tried, failure brought on dejection. Very often exhaustion brought me to the point of collapse. I could neither eat nor drink with comfort. Sleep was almost impossible due to pain and failure causing restlessness in my body and mind. Even easing myself had become a problem. Though I continued practicing yoga for years, defection and doubt tormented me and my mind found no rest except in renewed effort. Each day was an ordeal but God's grace forced me to make one more attempt for every failure. As I had no guide, I made enormous mistakes but I learnt discrimination from observing my own errors. When circumstances forced me to live on my own, I had to go without food for days. Often I lived only on a cup of tea, but the inner flame kept on goading me to do my daily practice with zeal. Slowly I began to feel that my body was growing in strength, my restless, agitated mind was gaining stability. Though I started with the practice of yoga in 1934 it was only in 1946 that an innate interest in yoga rose in me.

That just rocks my world. 12 years of that kind of suffering and he stayed with it. Puts the new-age notion of "being a balanced person" into a new perspective, doesn't it? More on that later.

A few pics from yesterday. More on Facebook.