One funny part of the story is that the whole reason we even had a fire last year was that Darren and Bronwin had a gas leak at their house that day and so the gas was totally cut off the first two days of our visit. It was really cold in Tucson - okay maybe not if you are from Boston or Wisconsin somewhere but keep in mind I am from Austin,Texas, Darren is from Tucson, Arizona and Noah lives in Los Angeles, California. So we built a fire and spent the evening cozied up in the living room talking about what we hope to achieve over the weekend.
It was kind of cool that there was some hardship for us to deal with that night because we were preparing a weekend of some intentional hardship for the students. Its not like a masochistic thing or anything like that-- its just that each of us believe in and resonate with a certain kind of intense environment when it comes to our preference for practice. So we sat there, envisioning a weekend that had what we call an "old school" kind of rigor. Darren and Noah and I are great friends and we love to laugh and have a good time together but what we all actually share is a definite passion for intensity when it comes to asana practice and spiritual work.
That shared passion for practice goes back to our early days when we met through Anusara Yoga during what we refer to as "The Inner Harmony" days. Those were the days when we thought 50 people in a room with John Friend was crowded. Back then no one knew what Anusara Yoga was, there were very few committees, no real emphasis on certification standards, hardly anyone travelled to teach and small hubs of serious practitioners were planting seeds of good alignment though heart-based practice and fiery devotion in their local communities. It was a golden age and still lives in my heart as a touchstone for what transformational opportunities exist when people come together to practice yoga with intensity, sincerity and focus.
Anyway, its hard to believe it is one year later and that we are preparing for another intensive. I set a lot of intentions and goals for myself last year and many of them came to fruition. Some came to fruition in straightforward ways- like my book was released in June. Other intentions manifested in unpredicted ways like the birth of School of Yoga, which I had not planned on. I suppose whenever we deal in intentions there is a bit of a wild card aspect to the game. As many of you know, I call that the fine print. At any rate, its been a very full year internally and externally. I am in the full-spectrum of feeling right now as the calendar year is ending and a new one is beginning. I am looking back with some grief, looking ahead with anticipation. I am feeling loss, relief, excitement and joy. My primary intention for the year is to be vulnerable to the many shades of experience life is offering me. I believe its in that vulnerable approach to the fullness of life that I am at my best as a student and a teacher.
I suppose that's the Soft as Ghee part of the intensive to me- the vulnerability. Lee talked about that a lot. He said, we had to be vulnerable in order to feel His Influence in our lives, because it was through that kind of sensitivity that we would be able to access the subtle aspects of what he was offering. All kinds of things cover up that vulnerability like addictions of all kinds, rigid adherence to dogma, self-righteousness, judgement of self and others and even self-hatred. Of course, there is the Tough as Nails part also to cultivate. To me that has to do with discipline and decisive action when a course is set. In terms of sadhana, we have to be tough in the face of the doubts and inner demons that seek to sabotage our hearts longing and desires. As always, its both aspects, the same way its both aspects when we work in asana.
I am definitely looking forward to this year's intensive. We have over 50 people gathering from across the country to ring in the new year with 6 hours of asana each day with me, Darren and Noah. We have new friends joining us as well as long time students who are coming. So being with everyone is going to be great. I mean, really- anyone who thought an intensive called Tough as Nails-Soft as Ghee would be a good way to spend a three day weekend over New Year's is my kind of person . Also, its always just good clean fun to teach with Darren and Noah, who are like brothers to me. There's really just nothing like it. Its a highlight for all of us for sure.