I am home from 3 days in Lake Tahoe where I was at the first ever Anusara-Inspired Teacher's Gathering. I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to serve on the faculty for the event which was not only a great honor but a deep pleasure as well. Imagine teaching 150 yogi's - all of whom are well-trained and well-practiced in the method! Every single person in the room knows the philosophical tenets that govern the method. Every single person knows the UPA's and every single person in the room has a deep and abiding commitment to serving others through these practices and principles. Wow- talk about an ideal teaching circumstance.
That was how it was for me on the second day when I taught my class on sequencing. I started by introducing all the certified teachers in the room and saying that while I was going to share my thoughts on sequencing strategies, any one of these people might both agree and disagree with what I had to say and that is not actually a problem at all because the disagreements do not have to be resolved in only one way.
Here is the thing- since all of us met John all those years ago, we have each had a close personal relationship to him as our teacher and also to the people we have had the opportunity to teach. Each of us has accepted the most wonderful and enlightening challenge of teaching Anusara Yoga- to give life-affirming teachings through alignment-based asana in heart-felt community. And yet because each one of us is different and each one of our teaching circumstances is different, how we met that challenge and how our teaching evolved to meet the guidelines and parameters of Anusara Yoga while responding authentically to who was actually in front of us varies considerably. And while I think this kind of boundaried flexibility is one of the best things about being an Anusara Yoga teacher, it can also be one of the hardest parts of learning to teach the method.
In my session, I shared that I have taught Anusara Yoga in a lot of different circumstances and I am convinced that you can teach Anusara Yoga anywhere and I think that Anusara Yoga can be practiced by everyone but it can not be practiced in the same way by everybody. The longer I do this the more abundantly clear it becomes to me that there is no One Anusara.
Let me be more clear and accurate though- Sure, obviously, there is only one Anusara Yoga. I mean it's a method and there is only one method and it has a philosophy and it has it's UPAs and so on. But the way that that One Method gets expressed and experienced is diverse, varied and endlessly creative. Even in an attempt to standardize certain aspects of it, we get confronted with how variable it's applications are. I talked about how sequencing has to be approached from principles because every situation is different and what makes a class "Anusara" is not the content of the sequence but the context- the reasons why we do what we do- not just whether or not you start in standing or start in a supine position or whether abs are before or after backbends. Both approaches will work for both similar and different reasons.
So then with all of that (and more) acknowledged we launched into the thick of things. I talked a lot about how the sequencing template we use in Anusara Yoga is a template that can bring structure or muscle energy to the process of making a sequence for class. We talked about the logic behind the template and then used it to create a sequence for practice. I plugged poses into the template, I talked about how I would emphasize shoulder principles throughout and link shoulder loop specifically with the heart quality of courage- the courage it takes to have our own authentic voice in a world that is trying to pour us into the same mold.
Then I taught the class parenthetically giving teachings about why I was doing what and how the sequence fit together and the logic behind it. After class I had the students reflect on what they got out of the class and what they learned about sequencing from being in the class and then we had some sharing and then we worked a bit on individual questions.
It was a profound experience to have that many amazing students all in one place and all so keen to learn and so receptive to what I was teaching. I think it may have been some of the best teaching I have ever done and I left feeling so satisfied with my offering and so grateful for having had the opportunity to present to these teachers.
I think all of the presenters this week felt that way. We had so much fun being together, so much fun watching John work his magic, so much inspiration meeting a new group of scholars and it was such a great delight to get a chance to be with so many if our up and coming teachers in such a beautiful and uplifting environment.
I think the event was a tremendous success.
I am, however, happy to be headed home and to be at home with my Immersion group this weekend. As much as I love the big group gatherings- and I love them a lot- I am excited to dive into the teachings with my gang at home and immerse myself in the sweetness there.