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. 


kwajnman said...

I am sincerely moved and think that all these changes are a bit too much in such a short time, but I hope that for now you know what home is.

Christina Sell said...

I agree. I think the rapidity of changes has been less than ideal as well. But this way, any future shifts are not based on any one other than me, which ought to slow them down considerably!

Jessica said...

I love it.

Diana M said...

I had this experience with a different man, because of his bad treatment of me. I wanted to get to a place where my energy wasn't all directed at him when I felt resentful (much of the time), but at me (to feel better). So now I've gotten to the point where I'm not constantly mad, and tried to accept what is. It's a good feeling.

Shannon said...

I have chills. I delight in and honor your authenticity. I think you are cool as a kitty cat.

Shannon said...

I have chills. I delight in and honor your authenticity. I think you are cool as a kitty cat.

LisaE said...

Thanks for the whole post but,especially the part about your dream. For me your most profound offering has been the consistent invitation to welcome myself Home. I love you in a deep sweet way.

Jenn said...

Oh so lovely. Thank you, again. And much energy to you in this time of change!

Ron said...

Thanks for your sharing I really love it , and yoga makes my life colourful , thank you and want to learn from you from now on

Tanya said...

Thank you for your continued honesty and commitment to this, Christina. This is why I am your dedicated student.

Jennifer Stark said...

I am moved to leave a comment even though I don't really have enough time to articulate. Christina you are the bomb. Your studentship and teaching skills, your discipline and humor, are a true inspiration. I feel lucky to know you as a teacher and a colleague. You help me want to be better and all that I can be as a yoga practitioner and teacher! (HUGS)