Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Intensive Day 2

So-- we started the day with a few words about puja and about invocation. By "we" I mean me, I suppose. On one level, I always want to just jump into the practice itself and on another level I also want to give a thorough explanation and context for anything we are doing that has foreign roots, unfamiliar origins and may seems bizarre to the uninitiated or inexperienced. So I gave a brief explanation about the puja we have been using in our School of Yoga Intensives.  

Oh- and while I am thinking about it, School of Yoga has a new name!  It is now officially the Shravana School of Yoga. Shravana is a constellation of stars that are said to be the home of the vedic rishis and The Shrvana School of Yoga is born under this constellation.  

From our jyotish reading with Dr. Katy Poole

The rising sign is Capricorn which is good for building organization and the star is "Shravana," which is the abode of the Vedic rishis and spiritual enlightenment. It is the modern constellation of Aquilla, the Eagle and is embodied in the three syllables of the mantra "A-U-M." It is auspicious for spreading spiritual knowledge, especially through the media. It relies on divine guidance and the channeling of higher wisdom. It is the abode of Lord Vishnu, as the preserving force in the universe -- preserving ancient knowledge, authentic knowledge, integrity, connection to the true source of life, listening deeply, and the bodhi tree of enlightenment.

And from Dr. Douglas Brooks when I asked him to share some wisdom on the topic:

Shravanmeans listening, learning by listening, with the sense that something is true or valuable because it has been heard. 

This specifically refers to study and knowledge that passes through experiences that transmitted orally and heard.  Truth is, I am about to spend a year or more explaining in far more depth how the Indian traditions rely upon listening and oral tradition.  Ancient India had few notions of writing as a means of conveying knowledge.  We have the wonderful documentation from the Selucid historian Megasthenes from the period of Alexander the Great.  He is the first outsider to notice this.  He tells us that Indian folks  pass their most important ideas and values, their sacred lore by listening and hearing rather than writing.  He says they do this with witnesses and in groups to be sure they keep things clear and correct and then he says they are very good with the word, with keeping their word.  We leave in a culture that tells you that if it's not written it's not real.  The ancient Indian world was just the opposite.  There are vast implications to this notion as consider yoga teachings.   First and foremost is that the texts, especially anything written in sutra or other mnemonic form, presupposes a listening tradition, a commentary from the oral tradition.  Without living teachers, without the power of human contact in voice, without the matrika and the word, a text is inert, largely useless, and almost always unintelligible.  

So anyway, I spent a little bit of time explaining the very basic outline of the puja we have been doing which is mostly a prayer that the various aspects of who we are- body, emotion, intellect and spirit manifest divinely at various levels of reality from subtle to gross to transcendental. It's a sweet ceremony we do as we chant an invocation to Ganesh, an invocation to the guru and the Gayatri Mantra.   Other than the mechanics of the puja, I also like to share with people that there is no requirement to join in the ceremony and that I want everyone to also I think it is an important subject to explore how people of various faiths can explore these teachings from their different vantage points and share and learn from each other. For instance,  as a practicing Christian, how does one relate to Spiritual Light and then to traditional sanskrit mantras that invoke its presence? Same question for the  practicing Buddhists, the agnostics, and so on. And really, if we could cultivate the optimal listening for understanding we could probably learn a whole lot from each other.

After the introduction to the ceremony, we jumped into it and then practiced  pranayama, did a brief meditation and then took a short break before diving into asana.  We worked on some jumpings and floating-prep work, some handstands, and then  arm balances like mayurasana,  eka pada koundinyasana and then bakasana and sirsasana 2 and sirsasana 2 to bakasana. We rounded out the morning with some urdhva danurasana counter poses which felt stellar.  We broke for lunch and then came back in the afternoon for a whole lot of work with chairs and sarvangasana to setu bandha sarvangasana and back up to sarvangasana. We ended with some supta padangusthasana work in the variations of that pose which is my new favorite thing to practice and then a long savasana.

All in all,  I enjoyed myself a lot today. I think there is tremendous  healing and reclamation work we can all do by  being together and sharing the teachings and the practice and looking for those reliable doorways inward that yoga provides us if we take them. I am  hoping to strike a balance at this intensive between the solar,  outgoing work and the lunar, more introspective aspect of asana practice so that we are just as adept at journeying inward as we are at expressing ourselves outwardly. I remain a fan of both avenues of exploration and I am very interested in being in community with others who are able to move between these domains both skillfully and responsibly.  Lots to explore on that notion for sure.

Anyway, here are a few pictures from the studio.

At the main puja, Ganesh and his consort in stone...
 Another great Ganesh stone piece in the corner...
 And a picture of my guru, Lee.
All right, onward and bedtime. More soon.


marykate fitzpatrick murray said...

So beautiful, real and rich. I wish Texas was right next door! Many blessings to you C and your new school. Lots I love

Marcia Rose said...

Hi Christina and aloha blessings from Maui. Our paths crossed years ago at Inner Harmony. I am a huge fan of your writing and hearing of the first programs at your new school make me wish I did not live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! I hope that someday I will be able to hear the rich oral traditions, as they are being passed down by you.

christy nones said...

honoring and exploring both the solar and the lunar. i love you christina and am so inspired by you and also so proud of you. keep on being the light!