Wednesday, April 25, 2012


As usual, my life is full and between teaching, practicing, traveling and all of the administrative tasks involved in running my business and collaborating with others, I haven't had a lot of time to write. Plus my last two entries catapulted me back into the Anusara discussion which was a bit consuming and my time for this blog was oven to answering comments on Elephant Journal, etc.

I find the whole situation with Anusara to be quite interesting since the rate that people are processing their feelings about it is widely varied.  There is a big continuum of discussion content and emotionality is not only high but varied. It dawned on me over the weekend in Monterey, CA (which was wonderful by the way) that this next year is just going to be like that- lots of different kinds of conversations- some of which will feel like forward movement and some of which will feel like yesterday's news and and all  of that can be just fine, if I do no expect it to be something different. We are, as a community of individuals, moving through this shift in both similar and different ways and that is as it should be.

I realized for me that in teaching I am shifting very decidedly away from some of the standards and strictures of Anusara and while I am not veering from my understanding of the method or from the bulk of my training, my teaching has shifted a lot already. My host in California asked me if I always taught "like this" and I asked her what she meant by "like this". She said, "your teaching is very Iyengar-y" which I took as a compliment  because she is mostly trained in that system herself. I said, "Well, sort of. I was always accused of teaching Anusara yoga like an Iyengar teacher. Except, of course, when I was accused of teaching  like a vinyasa teacher." (true story- got lots of "feedback" both ways over the years. Noah told me once that I was just a versatile teacher which made it very hard to actually know what I was going to do on any given day! I suppose that's true.)

And as we all know, I never stopped studying Iyengar yoga or other methods of yoga even as a certified Anusara teacher. I would have stopped had I gone to their workshops and classes and not learned anything but since that never happened, I kept studying with great teachers who were willing to teach me, regardless of method- Bikram, Baptiste, Iyengar, Ashtanga, etc.

So, the main thing that I notice now in teaching is that I am really not teaching a system anymore. Since 1999 I have been trying to teach The System of Anusara Yoga and now I am sharing what I understand about the postures, about  yoga and what I am working on in my study and practice. So while there is a large amount of overlap with The System,  I am no longer attempting to teaching through the lens of a unique system of yoga nor am I trying to demonstrate how each little action can be categorized in some way into a grander scheme of universal alignment principles. I am teaching key actions as they relate to a peak posture or group of postures but I have freed myself up from having to funnel all of that into the unified scheme that John outlined. So that is different for me.

And themes. Well, it seems like the trend is around class titles and so my workshops still have these class titles but soon there will come a day when the title just says, "Back bends" or "Forward bends" and my big plan is to be teaching more and more from an intensive perspective where students are there for the whole thing and the class title and content is incidental.  For the record, I have nothing against themes and I am happy to hear a great sermon and lord knows I have plenty to say about the inner life of asana practice and I am a very skilled at "heart language" but I really see all that stuff  as teaching tools and not a primary, delineating and salient feature of what I would characterize as my teaching offering. I think being inspiring is great and I think responding to teachable moments is great and I am all about the conscious use of metaphor in teaching and so on but, honestly, don't expect a by-the-Anusara-book- theme thing from me anymore. I have let it go. (I still think I am pretty damn inspiring, though, so don't worry.)

I love mantra and I use an invocation to The Guru and as time goes on will be teaching the convocation as a ending chant more and more. So expect more of that from me. I love the use of mantra because the sounds shift us so profoundly. I would rather employ the technique and allow people to have their own experience of their practice than to overly craft and manage the psychology or mood or emotion of any given practice session with too much "framing." I am more about "do the practice and be with what arises" when you get right down to it. And over time, we can and should watch how different practices facilitate certain moods- what elevates, what calms, what agitates, and so on--and we can be prescriptive in a way but I want people to sing the mantras, watch their breath  and get what they get, not what I want them to get.

I could go on but thats about the time I have for this today. What I am mostly psyched about is that I am planing some great programs in texas for next year. Here is a sneak preview.

September 19-23, 2012
“Myth, Metaphor and Tales of Transformation”
Christina Sell, Darren Rhodes, Mary Young
Asana, Storytelling and Personal Inquiry
January 17-20, 2013
“The Postures are Prayers: Weekend Asana Intensive
Christina Sell
Asana, Pranayama
February 14-17, 2013
“Bhakti ,The Beloved and You: Yoga as a Path of Love”
Christina Sell, Mary Young 
Asana, Pranayama, Philosophy, Renewal, Personal Inquiry
March 6-10, 2013
“The Light of the Spirit: 2nd Annual Spring Intensive”
Christina Sell, Manorama D’Alvia
Asana, Pranayama,  Sanskrit Studies
April 18-21, 2013
“Expanding  Awareness : Asana and Meditation Intensive”
Christina Sell, Carlos Pomeda
Asana, Pranayama,  Meditation, Philosophy
May 16-19, 2013
“Exploring the Boundaries: Advanced Practice Intensive” 
Christina Sell, Noah Maze
Asana, Pranayama
August 17-19, 2013
“The Heat of Transformation: Weekend Asana Intensive”
Christina Sell, Darren Rhodes
Asana, Pranayama
September 12-15, 2013
“Becoming the Author of Your Life: Yoga & Writing Intensive”
Christina Sell, Mary Young
Asana, pranayama, writing, personal inquiry
October 16-20, 2013
Teacher Training Intensive: Pose Architecture and  Sequencing Strategies 
Christina Sell
November 8-10, 2013
Devotion in Motion: Weekend Asana Intensive
Christina Sell
Asana, Pranayama
December 12-15, 2013
Teacher Training Intensive: Teaching the Raw Beginner
Christina Sell


kwajnman said...

thank you thank you thank you

JennyGurl said...

thank you
limitations in our style eventually will limit us entirely, don't you think?
Glad you are venturing out...however I do love Anusara regardless of who what where when and why!

Shannon said...

I must REALLY like Iyengar yoga because your teaching is more potent than ever. Also, holy wow, love. love. love. your intensive topics. Shannon

Candice Garrett said...

Hey! I loved having you out here, the depth and honesty of our conversations and especially the way you teach, regardless of style attribution. I have been pouring over my Light on Yoga ever since. Thanks for coming out, for sharing all that you did, for kicking my ass (it is still sore) and for kick starting my dry practice. A whole sequence without standing poses??? Phenomenal.

Candice Garrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wonder said...

Christina, I'm so excited about the storytelling/writing/inquiry offerings. Wow!

HJCotton said...

Your host in Monteray was right; your style is Iyengary, and I noticed that when I attended a workshop you gave in Oklahoma City last September. You reminded me of my Iyengar teachers in Austin with your direct no nonesense style, the sequencing and the way you taught us how to come in and out of the asanas. You taught some asanas in the classic form which was a revelation to me. I use yogaglo on a daily basis, and the best classes they have are the ones taught by the trio you, Darren and Noah especially the ones that entail progressive sequecing. My backbends and inversions have improved tremendously ever since I started practicing using yogaglo. I love the fact that you can teach difficult asanas without doing a million sun salutation and the way the body get warmed up through inversions. In my opinion, most non-Ashtanga vinyasa style classes on the market don't teach forward bends, twists and inversions that was a category well covered when I took Iyengar yoga.

Christina Sell said...

Probably some of it also depends on whether its a workshop setting, a group practice, a flow class, an ongoing hatha class and what level, etc. The more I travel and work with people I am meeting for the first time I find the step-by-step progressive sequencing yields the result I am looking for more than a flowey-er approach. With ongoing students who know what I am talking about and what I mean by what I say, I think a more vinyasa approach can be very effective.

But you know, I met John when he was still very close to his Iyengar roots and with the smaller class sizes then he taught more like an Iyengar teacher. Same with Desiree Rumbaugh who was my first Anusara teacher.

My experience and observation was that what became to be known or associated with "Anusara-style" was different than what it was when it started-- and of course, we all change and shift, etc. And so while there was "creative freedom", there was also a certain flavor that I was hitting less and less of the time (as evidenced by all kinds of different modes of feedback I received both directly and indirectly.)

I talked a lot about it to John over the years and it seemed to exist within the culture of the method-at-large and also varied a lot regionally.

Anyway- my influences are varied as it the way I approach asana on my own mat. It shifts, you know?

Anyway, thanks for chiming in everyone.

HJCotton said...

Thanks for your comment. I love Ashtanga vinyasa especially during winter time when my joints are creaky, but it is not something I want to do on a daily basis as repetitive movements can be hard on my shoulders. I do like variety and balance in yoga depending on my mood and needs.

Christina Sell said...

yes, me too.

Kathy said...

Hi Christina
these offerings sound really great. Can you post a link to Mary Young?

Christina Sell said...

Mary Young does not have a website. She is a mentor of mine an an author of several books about spiritual growth and transformation. Here is her author page on Hohm Press--

She is a great wise woman and I can not wait to have her share her experience as a practitioner and writer.