Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hung from a Hook

We had a very incredible week down in San Marcos for the Living a Larger Story Intensive. It is hard for me to know exactly where to begin because in many ways I am still very much in the digestion process. Maybe I will start with the end in mind because the whole week really landed inside my heart in such a strong way as we sat together for the closing circle. Mary had spent a lot of time talking about archetypes and how the zodiac gives us a lot of information about archetypes and how the sun moves through these different signs throughout the year and I reflected on how this is the 12th month since I resigned from Anusara yoga and in a lot of ways I have passed through several different archetypes throughout this last year. Some have been wonderful and some aspects have been horrendous and painful, of course, since that is part of the deal here on Planet Earth, or as Mary referred to it Tapa Bhumi. Bhumi is the Earth Goddess. Tapa, like tapas means heat, austerities, challenge, fire, burning zeal, etc. So "Tapa Bhumi"  is the acknowledgement that we came here for growth, for change, for the opportunity to turn our human difficulty to our soul's advantage. This means that the challenges we encounter are not ultimate mistakes, problems or punishments but are instead the means through which we will evolve.

So I was reflecting on this trip around the sun that has been this last year and I remembered back to sitting with Darren in his house as we talked about letting go of such a defining structure as our certification, our formal affiliation with a community and what had become my career as well. I remember thinking to myself that I might lose all of those things in the choice but that I had this place down in San Marcos, TX and I could offer programs there and I would simply teach who showed up, whether that was one person or 40. As the story has unfolded this year, I didn't lose everything externally like I thought (And like many people told me I would) but in a certain way, being prepared to walk away from it all was a very strange and free moment. Some grace had swept into my heart in an instant of clarity and I knew- with one student or with many or with a job bagging groceries instead of teaching yoga, that I, me, Christina, would be okay. Deeply okay. I had this moment of knowing that what was most true about me and what was most true about my real friends  wasn't tied to my outer success or to the boundaries of an organization. It was a big moment.

Having said that, when I looked around at the group that was there all week, I was very aware of how deeply I am tied as a teacher to my students. Paul Muller Ortega gave  a teaching one time about how, as students, we live in the grace of our teacher and our lineage of teachers. He went on to say that it is also true that as teachers, we live in the grace of our students. I know both aspects of this teaching to be true. The last week for me was a full experience of living in the Grace of my teacher. Mary, me and Darren are all students of Lee Lozowick and practice our sadhana under the influence of the lineage of teachers that came before him, namely Yogi Ramsuratkumar and Swami Papa Ramdas. So there was a joyful connection and reminder for me personally to be be sharing the teaching responsibilities with my sangha mates. And while it wasn't a week of "Lee's teachings" I felt the potency of the shared lineage in a personal and immediate way.

And also, I felt the way that the students held me in the Grace. See, to me, Grace is not some mystical magical thing that works outside of my life or through some outer agency. Grace to me is made  Real in and through my life.  The "support" of Grace, for instance,  is not distinct  from the reality that people pay me money to learn yoga and that money pays my bills, etc. The support of Grace that the scriptures all talk about to me is not something outside  the very fabric of my relationships. I feel Grace at work when someone listens to me and hears my deeper truths. I feel Grace when a wise elder tells a story that sheds light on my own confusion or brings clarity and forgiveness an inner haunt or darkness. I feel Grace in the sharing of laughter, the breaking of bread, a knowing glance,  and the good and sometimes challenging work of living and working in community. I also experience Grace in the trying moments of difficulty, uncertainty and doubt for how else will I learn discernment, faith and hope? In my world view, Grace has no agency except through us and through this life here on Tapa Bhumi. How else can it work?

So, as this first trip around the sun is nearing conclusion post-my Anusara resignation and the lessons keep coming it was very cool to look out in a room and to recognize the deep connection I share with so many of the people present for the week and with so many people who were not there. It is clearer to me than ever that was most true about what we shared has not died but has simply shed a skin and morphed into something that is more aligned with what I most truly wanted anyway AND so many new people have entered my life as well.  But that process of re-invention has taken some doing. And some undoing.

Mary told a story- well she told lots of stories- but she told a story about Innana's descent to the underworld. The Godddess Innana hears a call and she descends to the underworld where she dies and is hung from a hook. I mean really, think about it. That is one graphic image. Not only does she get stripped of her vestments of power along the way and then has to   walk an increasingly upsetting road to get to the underworlds, she dies while she is there. And not only does she die but her corpse is hung from a freakin' hook. So, no nice burial for her. Nope. She, the great goddess- or should we say former goddess-- is hung from a hook. Dead.

As luck would have it she left some instructions with the folks up above in her former life that if she didn't return they were to come and get her. So there is a long sordid tale of the various failed attempts to get her out and finally they do get her out. Of course, once she is out, there is a bit more bargaining that has to happen and it is not quite happy ever after. There is more involved which involves some trading of souls and so forth until the tale- or this chapter of the tale- ends.

 At any rate- the story is a great reminder, I think. Each one of us is going to descend at times. Each one of us is going to get stripped bare. There are times when we are going to be hung from a hook- either interiorly or exteriorly. And hopefully, each one of us has some people who stand vigil for us. Those who guard the gate and who come and get us before we rot in our difficulty. And still, even if we make it out- there are some scars and some negotiating we are going to need to do. We are going to have to navigate the terrain that exists between our former life and our new-found wisdom based on the time we spent in the underworld. None of it is easy. It is not designed to be. It's Tapa Bhumi, after all.

So many of my students held vigil for me this last year. And not just this year but over the long haul. That's the thing. We are held in each other's grace  time and again and it is my great good fortune to walk this path with so many amazing people. The week in San Marcos was filled with the recognition of this truth for me and I felt very happy, very soft inside and very inspired. Once again I am reminded that the more willing we are to do the inner descent and to bear the discomfort of self-scrutiny, we are given the corresponding ability to appreciate our good fortune and to experience the lighter end of the emotional spectrum as well. Oddly, we spent a lot of time journeying through the underworld together and yet the mood of the week was quite high. it is a world of contrast, it would seem.

All right, onward with the evening. More soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Reflections from Higher Ground

"You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. "

- Rene Daumal

I had a change of plans in some of my teaching work which gave me an unscheduled weekend and so Kelly and I decided to make an impromptu trip to the mountains. Both Kelly and I share a love of the outdoors and a special fondness for high elevation so we made a plan to head to Estes Park Colorado for a long weekend. We left home on the first flight out of Austin on Thursday morning and were on a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park by 1:30. We hiked about 9 miles that day, 9 miles the second day and another 4.5 miles on Saturday.  We came down into Boulder for a quick group practice in town and a brief lunch date with Amy Ippoliti and Taro.  All in all, a great trip.

I am on the plane ride home now collecting a few of my thoughts from the weekend. One insight I had in the midst of a long,upward climb was about peak experiences, specifically climbing a mountain peak. I was thinking about how often the peak affords an amazing view which can give a hiker much-needed perspective as well as a sense of accomplishment as one surveys the distance they have covered. But having climbed a lot of peaks over the years, I was reflecting on how also, the peak is often very windy, very exposed, very extreme and not always a great place to stay. In fact, I have climbed a lot of mountains with the peak in mind only to get to the top and be sick from the altitude, burnt from the sun and wind and ready to descend fairly quickly after my arrival to the hard-won destination.

I suppose the metaphors are obvious here and once again it seems good and bad is more than a bit mixed. Yes, we need to have the goal to even begin the journey and to give a purpose and destination to the outing. Having  the peak in mind also helps considerably when, along the way, one inevitably becomes tired, fatigued, worn out and/or loses heart in any number of ways.  The view from above also brings with it so much benefit and so much perspective and as the above quote reminds us, what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. So often in life, the daily practices, obligations and activities in which we participate get dry, boring and mundane if not occasionally referenced in some larger perspective or higher context.

And yet, the peak experience is not sustainable. It is, more often than not, a somewhat extreme environment. And while the big goals and the peak moments are important, they can easily overshadow the necessary work that occurs at the lower altitudes where life can be sustained, where there are smaller peaks and valleys and meadows teeming with flowers, animals and the vital diversity of the lower regions.  And sometimes the peak experience gets so much of our attention that we get addicted to the "high" and forget to find the sustenance that the lower altitudes provide.

Of course this made me think of yoga. In a lot of ways, my work in yoga is a bit of "peak experience" work as so often I am teaching intensives, workshops, trainings and other events that are outside the  norm of daily practice for the participants. I think that it is a great and wonderful thing to be part of and I, myself, take advantage of a few of these "going to the mountaintop" kind of experiences every year as a student. I am a fan, a believer, if you will.

But here is the thing- these experiences where we have a gathering, where we consciously deepen the conversation of yoga and deliberately bring an increased focus to our efforts- are like climbing a mountain and sitting up on the peak. These experiences are there to bring us a new insight, to grant a new vista, to pause, to reflect, to recharge, inspire and renew our commitment to ourselves and our lives. The yoga intensive is not meant to become a new norm or an ongoing standard for daily life. The insights from these intensive experiences need to be "brought down the mountain" and integrated into our daily life of practice which involves asana AND returning emails, washing the dishes,  doing the laundry, making phone calls, going to PTA meetings, cooking dinner,watching movies and walking the dog, etc.

So too, with setting big goals, of which I am also a fan. I think having direction can be every useful and articulating it clearly can be very beneficial. I am not someone who worries about "the goal being wrong" or "holding myself back by setting a goal and not letting the universe be magnificent" and all that as, if you watch the example of my own recent experiences I work a goal in a given direction until it becomes obvious I need to regroup and course-correct. To me, having a direction and a plan can also be a fluid, responsive and malleable process. There is no inherent conflict there in my opinion.

However, I think that since, much like climbing a mountain, the majority of the time we we spend in life is in the lower regions of daily activities, it's important to enjoy the process of climbing the mountain, of working in a direction as the actually achievement we are working towards will likely be much more fleeting than the hours that will be required to bring a vision into manifestation. At any rate, my point being, in living, much like hiking, we have to take time to enjoy the journey.

Product and  process. Journey and destination. Content and context. Or like in yoga: sometimes we work on the poses, sometimes we let them  work on us. These various domains of experience are always in a conversation with one another and need not pose conflict or competition.  It is, in my opinion, in that conversation between the domains, in that tension between these apparent opposites, where the work is "brought down the mountain" and integrated in meaningful and personal ways . And again, in the same way no one can walk us up a mountain or down a trail, no one can actually do that work of living our insights for us. That part is all us.

So like that.

"My father considered a walk in the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing."
 -Aldous Huxley

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Personal Time in Estes Park, Colorado

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."- John Muir

 "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike." - John Muir

 "Lie down among the pines for a while then get to plain pure white love-work to help humanity and other mortals."- John Muir

 "I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found." - John Muir

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."- John Muir

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." - John Muir

 "Hiking - I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, "A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them."- John Muir

"As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can." - John Muir

 "With inexpressible delight you wade out into the grassy sun-lake, feeling yourself contained on one of Nature's most sacred chambers, withdrawn from the sterner influences of the mountains, secure from all intrusion, secure from yourself, free in the universal beauty."- John Muir

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."- John Muir

 "In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware." -John Muir

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Patchwork Quilt of Experience

Well, its been quite a week for me with new insights and awarenesses about my vision and direction with my work. Its a kind of thing that is an interesting paradox between things changing and then again, nothing changing at all. After  a lot of consideration,  I am working on a shift in the organization of my work to name the training arm of Christina Sell Yoga to Live the Light of Yoga instead of School of Yoga. 

In October 2011, Darren and I resigned our certification with Anusara yoga after some very trying conflicts around branding, licensing, legalities, loyalties, etc. which boiled down to a stark realization for me that I no longer wanted to represent the yoga that John Friend was teaching.  I actually got to this awesome place inside myself where I wasn’t mad at him, I wasn’t resentful about the way it was, and while I had my opinions about what I saw happening,  I was just in a place of full-hearted acceptance of “what is as it is”  and at that moment, it was clear to me that my best, most honest course of action was to sever my ties officially with the organization of Anusara yoga, to harvest the best of what I learned and to incorporate my other interests and influences into my teaching in an honest, forthright and above-board way.  Darren and I still wanted  to offer our transformational programs together so we registered a school at the 200-hour and the 500-hour level and named it School of Yoga. It seemed like the best way to move our work forward at the time. 

Those of you who have followed the story have watched the collapse of the Ansuara yoga as it was, its process of dissolution and rebirth to what it is now and to what it will become, and our own evolution in adding our friend Noah Maze to our teaching team and so on and so forth. We started as School of Yoga, we became Shravana School of Yoga at the advice of a lawyer, we “fired” the lawyer and went back to School of Yoga and now I am stepping into another iteration of the experiment by calling my workshops, intensives and teacher training work Live the Light of Yoga and allowing the School of Yoga team-project to dissolve into independently owned, operated and crafted  schools- each in their own right-- not held together by a name, a director, a shared business entity or mutually-shared vision. 

Darren will continue his work with Yo Productions, Yoga Oasis and with his many creative endeavors like yogahour. He and I will continue to teach our programs and all credit hours will still culminate in a 200-hour or a 500-hour registry with Yoga Alliance, either through Yoga Oasis or Live the Light of Yoga Teacher Training with Christina Sell Yoga (LLOY-CSY). Noah will continue his travel and teaching work,  launch his new onsite project in Los Angeles and all of the programs we are currently team-teaching will still accumulate and culminate in a 200-hour or a 500-hour registration with LLOY-CSY or in whatever school Noah registers under his own auspices. I will continue with my writing, my workshops and training schedule, building and growing  my training center in San Marcos, TX and developing great content for my various online programs so that my work can continue in as many creative ways as possible. The main difference is that I won’t be coordinating or overseeing the the group effort of School of Yoga anymore.

Having spend the last  eleven months registering the School of Yoga programs, designing curriculum, promoting a new vision and attempting to educate a wounded community about possiblities for moving forward I have been on a steep and demanding learning curve as a person, a practitioner and a teacher. In the process I have clarified my own vision considerably and taken the time to do some soul searching about what I want to offer and how. While I am still very much “in process” with everything I do know a few things about what I want and what I do not want more clearly than I did a year ago.

First and foremost, it is clear to me that I am not a yoga master, nor do I want to present myself as one or as “new expert” with some “new way” or a “new system”.  What I am is a good student who has had the good fortune to have had many masterful teachers in both asana, bodywork and consciousness-related studies. I am also a good educator with a passion for the subject of yoga as well as how transformation occurs through educationally-oriented  communities, how educational theory and personality theory are inextricably  linked and how skillful curriculum design, experiential learning techniques,  and creative  educational programs can facililiate lasting change in our  patterns of perception, emotion, thought, and  behavior. This is what I am interested in and this is the focus of Live the the Light of Yoga trainings I will be offering.

So- I am not interested in further developing a Yoga School (or a School of Yoga) that might lead others to expect some kind  of a new way to practice yoga  or give the idea that there is a new club to join or that there is a new method that is clearly codifed and systemitized for a new certainty during uncertain times.  I don’t have those answers. I just have what Christina Sell has learned from her various studies and experiences and some great technology for teaching those concepts to others. I am also pretty good at helping people learn to teach those things to others. Additionally,  I have a passion for  and skill at faciliating meaningful group process. I have a willingness to engage the process myself as a participant and not as a removed outsider.  I am first and foremost interested in connecting people to practices that connect them to their own Light so that through their own sustained and reiterated life of practice on and off the yoga mat,  they are able to stabilize a connection to their own wisom, clarity  and dignity. 

On a practical level, not much will change and these distinctions are largely in name and in concept and not so much in application. You will still find me collaborating with my friends in meaningful ways and opening up as many avenues as possible to faciliate as much open-hearted dialogue between systems and schools as possible. My programs will still offer students the means to check off requirements for registry with Yoga Alliance in the hopes that these designations  will open more doors for graduates to be of service than they would have by teaching without them. I will continue to do whatever I can do to make my programs as professional and reputable as I can so that being a graduate of the programs I offer provides a useful education and every possble advantage in the marketplace. Most importantly to my students, I hope, is that  I am still on my mat and I am still  seeking out great yoga teachers wherever and whenever I can and I am still doing my best to share what I am finding with my students, colleagues and friends. 

 A few entries back I wrote about enantiodromia- this idea that there were opposites at play within us and as well as in the spheres of our outer lives. I find a pair of opposites very much at play in my own sadhana right now. I am a believer in the path of “one way” and I am also, in truth, a synthesizer. My teacher, Lee Lozowick, was much the same way. On the one hand, he had all his eggs in the basket of his guru, the Indian Saint Yogi Ramsuratkumar. And yet, he read widely and deeply in every spiritual tradition and had friends in almost every religious order imagineable and held the deepest honor and resepct for their chosen course. So long as our various studies in any domain strengthened our sadhana under his guidance, he encouraged us to explore, to study with different teachers and to learn as much as we could about different traditions and skills and endavors from art to dance to music to martial arts to writing to yoga and so on. He straddled that path of purity and synthesis in the most graceful way possible, in my opinion. 

He called his path the Western Baul path. Named after a sect of  itinerant beggars in India called the Bauls, the Western Baul  path, oddly and pardoxically,  is a path of both purity and synthesis. There is both non-dual and dualistic doctrine which Lee called Enlightened Duality. Practice is both formal and ritualized as well as informal, internal and personal. His teaching was wildly liberal and staunchly conservative. My god, the guy could work a paradox like no one else I have ever met.  At any rate, the Bauls (you could think of them kinda like the rastafarians of India- I mean really, these guys are not shut away in ashrams or holy temples but live in the streets and assert that the body is the temple and celebrate the gift of embodiment through song, dance, asana, etc.) wear these patchwork quilt jackets as part of their sadhana and as way to demonstrate their affiliation with the sect. There is a lot of metaphor to a patchwork quilt if you think about it--it is one jacket, one garment and one vision and yet it has so many parts, so many pieces that make it possible, that make it whole. And, of course there is more symbolism to it as well. At any rate, Lee was like that.  His teaching was like that-multi-faceted, diverse and yet also unified if you knew how to see it.

So I suppose I come by my current situation somewhat honestly based on my training with him all these years. I love talking with people of faith about what they believe even if I do not believe it myself or practice based on simliar assumptions. I am more interested in what inspires people in their faith than I am interested in arguing the finer points of a given religion  or darshana (outlook, viewpoint) In terms of asana, I love the purity of a system. When I visit a system I do my best to learn about it on its own terms.  And yet my own practice of asana has always been a synthesis of influences. I never rolled out my mat in my practice space and thought “now I am doing Anusara yoga” or “now I am doing Iyengar yoga” or anything like that. I roll out my mat, find my breath, follow a loose plan or a strict plan depending on the  day and explore my body, mind and heart through the practice of aligned, breath-based  movement and stillness. I call that “my asana practice” and that synthesis is at the heart of my work now as a teacher. 

On a very personal note, just the other night I had a dream. It was the second time I dreamt this dream and the first time being days before  I resigned from Anusara yoga. In both dreams Lee came to me and said, “Come Home. You have gone too far away.” That kind of dream now seems to portend a significant shift. So, I am articulating a process and ending one iteration of it in name and beginning a new iteration in a new name. Somethings change as a result of this naming but other things- the most important things to me- don’t change except that I move back closer to Home, which is where I belong. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Learn as you go

Well, there  has been a lot on my mind lately and not a lot of time to sit down and write much of it down. We had a big week in Tucson with a fair amount to integrate and settle. I could say a lot about that but for now, suffice it to say we went fairly deep into a lot of the back story of my and Darren leaving Anusara yoga, where we find ourselves now as School of Yoga and where, the students find themselves in the midst all that has happened this last year.

The wake of the situation really blows me away these days and the ways that it keeps rippling through our lives is somewhat sobering at times. I have taught a full schedule ever since my resignation and all through the scandal and being on the front lines has meant that I have dealt with a lot of different people's feelings, thoughts, upsets, questions and so forth- both about my choices but also about John, Anusara, etc.

Another interesting dynamic at play is how unpredictable each group's needs have been relative to processing it. One week one group has no real need to talk things through and then the next week an entirely different group is coming apart at the seams. I think the issues really surface around teacher training since what we are doing with School of Yoga is a bit foreign to many who have been traveling down the road of "learning a system." I started to write that it has no real precedent but that is not actually accurate. There are plenty of teacher training programs that do not give a definitive "approach" or "method" when it comes to how they teach people to teach asana. However for someone who has been working within a system and gearing up to not just learn to teach yoga but to learn to teach a system of yoga, this new world seems a bit daunting and unfamiliar to many.

For me, as a teacher trainer, I watched for years all the great things that we offered students in Ansuara trainings and I also watched where the holes in student's knowledge were. I watched a lot of videos of certification candidates and could see how well the training program worked and how well it didn't. A lot of what me and Darren and Noah are incorporating into the early stages of our training program are our attempts to fill in some of the gaps of pose knowledge, sequencing, teaching methods and the intellectual understanding of asana practice, teaching skills and personal process as a teacher and a student.

 I also watched how the market of yoga shifted considerably over the last 12 years away from instructional, small class, Hatha-style classes geared to specific levels  to larger  all-levels vinyasa classes that are more practice-based. And this change in the marketplace was not reflected in our teaching training methods. We were often training people to teach in a way that would not translate to the situation in which they would be teaching and many times,  the certification standards did not reflect what an actual successful class would need to be like.

It might sound odd coming from me, given that I was so involved in the Anusara teacher training program but I didn't agree that the program was producing "the highest trained teachers of the most sophisticated system in the world" like everyone was being told. And I did say as much on the committees.

Nor did I agree that Ansuara as a method made it easier for the student or easier for the teacher. Most trainees told me they didn't really "get" the method until they had done Immersion, TT and then a second Immersion. To me, that is 300-hours of course work in addition to classes and workshops to understand something that is supposed to make teaching and practice easier. I am not saying it is wrong it took so much time I am just saying that, in my mind, is not easier. It may, in fact, be what it takes to actually understand the method and that is fine. I am simply saying that is not easier.

 I also did not agree that all you need in asana practice is broad strokes of alignment. While I think these broad strokes get a lot done, especially for the beginner, I think you also need the details of the discrete pose shapes and the  detailed knowledge of how those broad strokes of alignment  are to be applied to each individual posture's specific form.  I also think a more sophisticated understanding of pose shape v. action needs to come into play and even more specifically than that,  I think an important discussion relative to the UPA's is understanding the difference of when the action is energetic and when it is achieved biomechanically. For instance, shoulder loop can be done as an energetic flow even with the arm bones forward such as in mayurasana or full shalabasana or gandha bherundasana or Bikram's cobra or as an actual biomechanical expression between the lower rhomboids and the serratus anterior as in Anusara's cobra.  All that is in the method, I believe, so I am not criticizing the method, I am just saying that the broad strokes do not make that clear and if it takes a lot of time and effort to understand something sophisticated. In my mind A LOT of that was lost from understanding and application and the expression of the UPA's became more like  Anusara-slang  than Anusara.

And telling people something that is hard to understand is easy is a big set-up. I dealt with that a lot with students who couldn't grasp this stuff easily. They were told it would be easy but it actually isn't and so it sets up a very odd inner conflict for the student as to whether to believe the company line that it is easier or to believe their own experience that it is difficult or whether to think if it is easy and they can't get it then they must not be smart, etc.

Add to that that the standards kept shifting and so it was  bait of a moving target as to "what an Anusara yoga class was like" and "what qualified" and so many teachers were doing a fine job but feeling less-than-confident about their teaching and many were not hitting the mark but were unaware of the fact that they were not at the expected standard.

I could go on but my point is that while I think there were and are a lot of positives in the land of Anusara training and I personally benefitted a lot from my training in the system.  I also know that me and my colleagues helped train a lot of great teachers. All I am outlining is that I  never saw what we were doing as complete and/or  without significant missing pieces.

It has been hard to know how much of that to actually talk about over the last year as the emotionality has been so high. I seem to make the mistake of laying all that out and having people feel criticized or betrayed by me or the system. Or they feel defensive that what I am saying is not the case for them. And it might not be the case for everyone nor was it the case  in every corner of the Anusara world. I am simply saying I observed common problems and misunderstandings in the various trainings and workshops I gave and took and in the various videos I watched over the years. (So, these observations are MY EXPERIENCE, OBSERVATIONS and OPINIONS, nothing else.)

Or the other side of the coin is that I have failed to lay out my thoughts clearly to a TT group and they are stunned when the program I am offering is so different because they were expecting a more "Anusara" training from me and when they get the  more foundational work I think was missing from the Anusara curriculum, they feel like they are without their bearings a bit.   What I have to offer is a synthesis of my knowledge and experience which involves a lot Iyengar yoga, Anusara Yoga, Ashtanga vinyasa and Bikram Yoga. I am always doing my best to learn each system in the way it is taught and yet, I am also always running that through my already existing body of knowledge. Just so we are clear,  I am not going to Bikram Yoga and doing the UPA's. I am actually doing what they say, how they say to do it, asking questions and exploring new avenues of asana expression. And I have come to realize that while I think the UPA's totally work, I also think things that fall outside the lines of the UPA's also work. It is not one or the other it is both, in many cases. To me, that is not problematic as I love a good paradox. Many folks, I am learning, don't.

At any rate, one thing I know for certain is that this teaching yoga is a "learn as you go" process with a lot of "on the job training."One of the students on the TT in Tucson shared at the end that had she been expected to make a manual for parenting in advance of having her kids and actually living the work of parenting directly she would have been unable to make an accurate manual. What works in theory doesn't always work in application. I think about that a lot in reflection of some of the Anusara yoga melt-down. For instance, who knew that "a merry band" might become so full of co-dependency?  So many things, began with good intentions and high-minded premises, went down a different road in application. For all sorts of reasons.

Another student just posted in our Sequencing Webinar Part 2 Facebook group that "asana classes are never seamless. It is what we do with the seams that defines us as students and teachers". I think that is brilliant.

So we ended up having to lay a lot of that stuff on the table in a very raw and real way over the week in order to move forward as a group. I think it was productive and meaningful, although it was very intense as well. But hey, these are intense times.

Okay, wow, so time ran way from me and I have to get to teaching. No time for editing today. Sorry.