Monday, February 20, 2012

Keep the Faith

Well, it has been a whirlwind.  A friend of mine recently remarked that we are not even halfway through February and the yoga industry has taken some pretty hard hits. First was the whole New York Times article which went viral and most recently we have been wading through the big debacle with John Friend. So much has been said and yet so questions remain unanswered about what is next for John, the Anusara yoga organization, the teachers, the students and so on. In the wake of the upset a lot of people have been asking me about School of Yoga--what it is, what it isn’t, if it can help them gain credentials, endorsements, etc. The best answer I have right now is to look at School of Yoga as the grassroots teacher training arm of Christina Sell Yoga, Noah Maze Yoga and Darren Rhodes Yoga.
When I left Anusara yoga it was because I wanted to spend my energy creating something that I wanted to be a part of instead of fixing something with which I no longer felt a resonance. School of Yoga is that project for me. School of Yoga is a yoga school not a yoga system. It provides trainings but not trademarks. It works through the power of a bonded community which is both boundaried and inclusive to the degree that people can and want to function within the boundaries. The primary aim of the School of Yoga is to train yoga teachers who are first and foremost yoga practitioners so that the seeds of yoga are planted in the hearts and lives of the teachers and the teachings are preserved and evolved through contemplation, inquiry, practice and personal synthesis. I am interested in exploring the ways the outer teacher can serve the inner teacher and vice versa and how we might as a culture of modern yoga practitioners and teachers learn to develop discernment, deference, respect as well as self-trust through yoga. I want to be in conversation with people who have the courage to know their truth and who are willing and able to continually refine the skill set necessary to express their truth authentically and to hold a space for others to do the same.

In terms of the asana, it is important to note  that while we are all well-steeped in the biomechanical principles that inform Ansuara yoga, we are not teaching them as a comprehensive method in the same way. We will weed out the lingo, the jargon and will emphasize pose architecture as much as, if not more than principled action. We will looking at the asana syllabus in smaller chunks and explore the alchemy between flow, form and focus in a variety of ways- some of which is consistent with Anusara methodology and some of which draws from our other training in Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Bikram yoga and various vinyasa approaches. 
In terms of philosophy, we are focusing on helping people find an authentic relationship to their own spiritual Light through traditional practices such as asana, pranayama, mantra, meditation, puja and prayer as well as personal growth tools like art, music, journal writing, visualization, goal-setting and group discussion. Our sincere wish is that School of Yoga trainings support people of all faiths and religions to  live more dignified, noble and purposeful lives.
So- that is some of what we are up to in School of Yoga and our first step is to create a strong center. Darren and Noah and I are going to be in lots of meetings and conferences with each other, with Yoga Alliance and with our advisors to create as much stability as we can in these initial years so that we are anchored well. Practically speaking we have programs that are registered with Yoga Alliance at the 200-hour level and at the 500-hour level. We are exploring ways that people who are interested in learning with us who have been trained in Anusara can apply their past training toward our current offerings but it is not an easy thing to navigate as their are curricular differences between School of Yoga and Anusara yoga as well as protocols with Yoga Alliance with which we want to be in compliance. 

That being said, if you want to know more about our offerings, make sure you are on my mailing list and on Noah’s and Yoga Oasis’. I do think that the Anusara story is not over and I know there are really smart and caring people hard at work to make the best of a very difficult situation.  So if your heart and teaching and deepest interests remain in that stream, be patient, be bold and be willing to contribute your talent, your voice and your passion because it will be an exciting time for sure and every good hand will be needed on deck.
I also want to remind everyone- whether or not you and/or your teacher resigned their license to teach Anusara yoga that Anusara yoga has a great community because it has great people in it. Sure, the structure gave everyone a way to be together but Anusara did not make the community, in my opinion. Great people made a great community. I also believe that Anusara had great teachers because these same  great people applied themselves over a long time to the teachings and brought them forward in creative and skillful ways. Everything great that we had under the name of Anusara still exists within each of us and what we make of that is up to each of us to find a true, stable and sustainable expression of what we want to take forward.  For some, collaboration will be obvious. I think for others, solitude will be best. Some will rebuild the organization, etc.  I personally have a very long term vision in mind and feel that School of Yoga is a life's work and I expect it to change and grow and shift as time reveals to me how best to serve the vision.

And of course, I have to say that alongside all this greatness we can carry forward into our next projects, I also believe that each of us also has within us the very same seeds of corruption, deceit, arrogance, elitism and so forth that have recently born the fruit of the most recent developments. Lee, my guru, always said "forewarned is forearmed." So we have been warned by what has happened and by our part in it. He also said repeatedly that "Anyone can fall. ANYONE."

So while I am quoting him I might as well talk about something else he told me a long time ago regarding growth and change. He said many times that  the way we end one thing provides the momentum we carry with us into the next thing. So, to me, right now, its not about nailing down all of the names and forms and getting everything back into an organized box as much as it is about tapping into the true momentum that facilitated this shift. Underneath the drama, underneath the discharge of difficult pent up feelings (which I say is generally "better out than in" so express it all you want) there was a momentum in each one of us--regardless of the outer choice that anyone has made in the last few weeks- that was fueled by a passion for truth, integrity, clarity, dharma, solidarity, righteousness, loyalty and so forth. For me, that the more I tap into the raw energy behind my outer life choices, I tap into something very essential that becomes a clarifying and revelatory force. When I am referenced in that essential energy- even a little bit- I find myself knowing things I need to know, walking into synchronicity, more aware of distinctions and full of faith and awe.

Anyway- those are my thoughts of today- unedited, un-screened for political correctness and hopefully not legally binding or incriminating. Keep the faith. I believe in us.


Melissa Ravencraft said...

I agree with your Guru, Lee; however, I'll extend it one further, 'anyone and everyone does fail, and some never learn from their fall(s)', because we are not perfect. We are all striving for perfection, and one day we will make it.

I love you Christina. I admire you for your words, your honesty, and your vision. I pray God sees the searching hearts and eyes during this hard time and helps everyone find what they are looking for.

You are a rare breed, with faults like all of us, but rare nonetheless.


Maya said...

Can't wait to study with you Cristina. The clarity of your voice is so inspiring. Darren's too. Thanks for this post, which does clear up a lot, if you are following this stuff. Not sure how such young people got so strong and clear, but it is helpful for the (even younger) practitioners like me. Just finished your book. So sweet. Thanks for taking the time to share so much of your sadhana. Pretty rad.

Dina said...

Thank you Christina. I hope to be studying with School of Yoga in the near future.

Kim said...

Love to see the forward thinking!
sooo refreshing, I feel the momentum!

alohajerseygirl said...

Thanks for this description of School of Yoga; I've been eager for more information. I feel as if you, Noah and Darren are offering the best of both worlds: a solid background in Anusara's biomechanics, along with freedom to incorporate the best from other systems as well. I appreciate your distinction between a school and a system. In the 6 years I've been practicing Anusara, I've enjoyed it, but I've been missing the flow of Astanga; I've also found the jargon a bit much, at times interfering with my personal experience of the pose. I look forward to seeing a schedule of planned trainings; since I live in Hawaii, it will take some planning to have the ability to come to the mainland for training.

Thanks, also, for your continued reflections on this whole debacle-turned-opportunity.
Aloha and namaste.

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