Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Did you Notice??

Anusara Yoga right on the cover of this months Yoga Journal.
Here is the cover of the August issue of Yoga Journal (why do I have it in June then?). With a beautiful photo of Wild Thing. If you don't know already, Wild Thing is an Anusara/John Friend invention that is being adopted by other styles of course. Douglas Brooks gave it a sanskrit name that is not in my brain right now, but translates as: The Ecstatic Unfolding of the Enraptured Heart. How's that for a pose name?
If you want to see some behind the scenes shots of the making of the cover and to hear from the model, follow this link on over to Yoga Journal. And enjoy ecstatically unfolding your heart next time you try Wild Thing

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pause, and Remember

Certified Anusara Teacher Laura Flora in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana IV

Whew! I've been caught in a whirlwind of activity here for the past week in preparation for a Certified Teacher to come to town and offer classes yesterday and today. Our Richmond kula has no Certified Teachers (actually no officially inspired teachers yet, though my application goes in the mail next week), so it is a big deal to have one come to town. We are trying hard to build Anusara momentum here.
Last night and today we were so fortunate to have Laura Flora of New Orleans to offer an open public class and then a smaller master class. Last night at the open class I assisted her with 35 people crammed into a very small space (!) But then this morning, I was able to practice. It was SUCH a blessing to me to be able to practice Anusara again in my hometown. I stood there on my mat and paused and looked around my HOME studio and just remembered that this was the place where I first was introduced to this amazingly transformative practice. I paused and remembered what it felt like to be in the midst of the class, in the midst of the kula -- rather than leading. I paused and remembered my own greatness and goodness and my heart calling to keep Anusara alive in Richmond. And I was SO Grateful for it all.
The Tantra teaches us that we are always expanding, becoming more. That we are already perfect just as we are, and our lives proceed as we imagine them. This is a part of my imagining. This moment, this pause, was totally perfect. And it will only expand from here. Truly, Life is Good.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three Tips: Vasisthasana (Full)

Let me start by apologizing for the terrible photo. I tried taking it with my computer but it only gives me 3 sec to get into the pose. I wouldn't even post the pic except that if you don't know which pose I'm talking about this post is totally worthless to you. It is my intention to learn the timer on our real camera very soon so we won't have this problem anymore.

Full Vasisthasana is a radiant and beautiful pose. One that makes me feel free and strong at the same time. I've been enjoying it lately and so have been teaching it a bit more. It has been a journey to get into the full pose and here are three tips that may help you take yours to the fullest.

1. Shift the Foundation: Take your supporting hand a little forward and out to the side. Align so that your shoulder is NOT over your wrist but your wrist is out away from you. This gives your body a bit of an arc and creates more space to play with taking the pose past the vertical midline.

2. Karate Chop and Lift: Karate chop the outer edge of the supporting foot to the mat in stage one of the pose. This gives major power to the inner thigh of the lower leg. That provides power to really lift both hips HIGH off the floor. In stage one step the top leg forward and CRANK the hips to the sky. In the last John Friend workshop I attended, he had us do this stage 1 even before the full expression of the pose, and it made a huge difference for me. Hips high will make it a lot easier to get the top foot off the ground and keep it there without landing on your bum. Hips high and karate chop foot also make it a lot easier to extend organic energy down the bottom leg to bring the sole of the supporting foot to the floor in the full pose.

3. Be Sensitive: Listen and go with care. Wait for your breath and your body. If you are able to just pop the top leg up there, by all means, go for it. Many of us need to move slower and make moment to moment adjustments to posture, weight distribution, and the 5 UPAs. So give yourself the time to do that. And honor any thoughts that come too. When your freak out comes... pause, breathe, settle.. then go a little further when the time is right.

So try out dancing with it. I'm enjoying this pose this summer. And for a much more beautiful image of Full Vasisthasana, visit Sianna Sherman's Gallery and scroll down to see the pose in full glory.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Neti Lesson

One of my dear friends from teacher training, Stephanie, came down from Baltimore to spend the day with me yesterday. and we've talked over and over about using a Neti pot. She pretty much swears by it though by her own admission she has fallen out of the habit lately. When we first roomed together I said how interested I was in using one but had never tried it. A few weeks later, sometime in December, a Neti pot arrived at my door, a gift from Stephanie. Then we roomed together again in March and she asked me how it was going and I had to admit, I hadn't started. I had actually forgotten all about it in the drama of the holidays and the snow. Again in May we roomed together and she asked. This time I only had the excuse that I was a little intimidated to try.
It's weird, right? Pouring water in your nose does not sound at all like a pleasant experience. I'd heard stories about how much it hurt the first time. I'd heard stories about people filling their sinuses with water and being in pain for the next few days. I didn't want to go alone, I needed a model and a little moral support --- maybe even a little kick in the tail.
So on Saturday night after an evening dinner at Impanema (a great little vegetarian restaurant here) and putting the Babe to bed, Stephanie gave me a quick neti lesson over my kitchen sink. It was just what I needed. She was the perfect teacher. She set up the Neti pots with just the right temperature of filtered or distilled water (about body temp) and just the right amount of iodized salt (individual to each person) and then demonstrated the ideal technique. What was key for me was that she said : "if it's going to drain {as in not through the other nostril} you want it to drain to your mouth, not up into your sinuses" and then she just went for it. A perfect stream in one nostril and out the other.
Next it was my turn. I put the pot to my nose, stuck my neck out, tipped my head and waited for the burn. It didn't come! Instead I got a pretty good stream right into the sink (and a bit in my mouth but that was fine with me). YAY! I can Neti! I immediately felt a difference between the two sides in how clear my breath moved. The second side went pretty well -- less in the throat and maybe a little some towards the sinuses but not so bad. And afterwards I truly felt much more clear in my nose and breath. I even felt better falling asleep that night. Even today almost 24 hours later I think I'm feeling better.
Stephanie's suggestion and recommendation was to go for at least a week and then really notice the difference. Using the Neti should improve allergy symptoms, help with sinus problems, improve pranayama practice, and make you feel better. And after this experience, I'm a believer. I'm not yet a regular, but neti is definitely something I can add to my bag of tricks for keeping healthy and strong. Those yogis know what they're doing, don't they!?!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The "Stuff" hit the fan (in this case, the floor)

Let's just be honest. In reality, I'm a full time mom who is lucky enough to get out of the house a few times a week to teach a yoga class or two. I love Anusara and am totally obsessed with it, but full-time mommy is my main gig. For the most part it is a really good gig. Then there are those days when things go all sorts of haywire. Today was one of those days.
I think I should have stopped before I began today. I knew I was tired and I had too much on my plate, but somehow I thought (as I tend to do) that I would be able to hold it all together. The real drama came after we'd done laundry, cut nails, walked the dog, showered, and gone to the store for more dog food. We played outside for a while with the new bubbles (so cute!) and then headed in to have lunch and get ready for nap. Somehow in the few minutes it took to prepare lunch, everything fell apart. First, I found doggy-doo on her cute pink shoes and therefore on our kitchen floor, so instead of cutting veggies I took the shoes outside to start cleaning them. But knowing I wasn't going to get that done right then and lunch was more important, I left those and went back inside. Then I started re-heating her sandwich from yesterday and the phone rang. It was the studio calling to clear up a few things. Things that I meant to take care of yesterday when I was in there but I just let them go out of laziness. In that moment I knew I shouldn't answer, I should keep my mind where it was, but I answered, I talked, and I burned her sandwich to a crisp! Ugh! So then I asked did she want a new one or something different? A new one of course. So I proceeded to make a new grilled cheese sandwich and tried to keep her entertained and out of trouble and away from the hot stove all at once. Trying to cook with a 1 year old is a challenge to say the least. Finally, finally the sandwich is done. She's still complaining because now it's almost 30 minutes later than usual. So I get her in her chair and start her on her lunch. My normal routine is to sit down and eat, but today the dishes and the shoes were still on my mind. So instead of enjoying a meal with her, I go back in the kitchen to clean up some. I go for the skillet that I cooked the sandwich in, careful to hold with a potholder and as I'm putting it under the water, I reach underneath and touch the bottom with my hand. OUCH! I had to get BURNED this morning to realize I was nowhere near paying attention to my life! (actually in that moment I think I was blogging in my head, of all things).
But it did the trick. That burn brought me into myself and into the present moment and out of all of the distractions. I immediately got ice, left the dishes and the mess just as they were and sat my tail down by my girl. I found out she'd been helping herself to yogurt (what a mess) and my sandwich, but it didn't matter. I sat down and got back into the present and let go of trying to do it all at once. After lunch, dishes in a very direct and calm way, then cleaning the shoes, then upstairs for nap (her) and yoga (me).
That reaction, stopping what I was doing and making new choices, is totally a result of my yoga practice and study. 6 or 8 years ago if I'd burned myself I would have cursed and yelled, I would have continued to try to wash the darned dish and who knows what other trouble I would have gotten into, then I would have tried to soothe myself with a big chocolate bar. I would have excused myself from my practice because it had been a rough day. 4 or 5 years ago I would have had a long terrible day but then maybe practiced some yoga to help myself feel better after all the craziness. That was about the time I made the mental shift to realize yoga is the reward for a bad day (chocolate too, but not as much, and only very high quality). That yoga is a the way to build myself up and get back to center. TV, the internet, and food won't do that for me. And as little as 1 year ago I still would not have realized the pattern of not paying attention and trying to do too much and would not have been able to stop myself in the middle of it all. Today I stopped. I didn't eat a mountain of chocolate or other crummy food. Today I came to my mat and had a great practice, pranayama, and really amazing meditation and followed it with a 30 minute savasana by Todd. Today I recovered.
Maybe one day in the future I'll know enough not to even get started down the path of distraction and over exertion that I went on this morning. And maybe not. I'm just glad to feel I'm making progress bit by bit. It's how I know the yoga really works.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Returning to Radiance

Last night i was cranky. Actually, i was cranky from the moment i woke up yesterday (at 5:45 am) to a cranky child. her mood improved, mine did not. So by the time evening fell last night and she was finally asleep i decided i needed to do something to plug back into my connection to Source. it was like i was disconnected, unplugged, too worldly and too much drawn into ME and not into my heart and the heart of the universe.
So i told my husband i was going up to read and sleep (totally exciting on a saturday night, i know!) and i pulled out the Radiance Sutras translation by Lorin Roche PhD, that i'd picked up at YTT this last time. And i read the whole book. it was awesome in that quick read and did just what i needed it to do.. rebooted me in spirt mode. i'll go back and actually dive in a digest them. each sutra was such a gem of wisdom and power, it could take years for full digestion. but one stands out to me today and i'll share it with you... (i think that the first line includes dark chocolate is one indication that i'm on the right path in my choice to be Tantric minded)

Sutra 49

Eating dark chocolate
A ripe apricot
Your favorite treat -
Savor the expanding joy in your body
Nature is offering herself to you.
How astonishing
To realize this world can taste so good

When sipping some ambrosia,
Raise your glass,
Close your eyes,
Toast the universe -
The Sun and Moon and Earth
Danced together
To bring you this delight.
Receive the nectar on your tongue
As a kiss of the divine.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


At the end of teacher training we were asked three questions:

What is your intention?
How can you Support yourself in this Intention?
How can you bring more Ananda (beauty, love, joy, creativity) into this world?

From a very soft, connected, and open hearted place my answers came....

What is your intention?
Open to Grace and let her guide me
Love my family just as they are
Love my friends and students just as they are
Celebrate this life and everyone in it
Make my practice and my classes a hymn to the divine

How can I support myself?
Open to Grace, Remember every day to Open to Grace
Create Affirmations and Artwork of them -- make them real and sacred
Keep Asking questions and come back to beginner's mind
Keep connecting
Trust my Intuition - follow Grace
Stay connected and build a web of support

How can I bring more Ananda?
Radically Love and Affirm myself, my husband, my child, and our family
Radically Love and Affirm others - and teach them to do it for themselves
Listen to what is being asked for and Serve the Shakti

Dance & Party & Celebrate!!!!

This is my starting place to move forward.

Foundations and Openings

Today I got a call from one of my friends to come and sub her class. I was a little bummed because I was actually planning to take the class. But I am happy to support her whenever I can.

With very little time to prepare I went where my heart led to create the theme for the class. And my heart led right to the beginning: Set the Foundation and Open to Grace. First Principle. And, as always, I was amazed by the beauty that unfolded in the class when I actually asked the students to pay attention and to move with their breath. Somehow the poses seemed to open in a new way for them and for me as their teacher. I had no plan, no sequence to draw from when I walked through the door, but I found that the more I set my heart in my own foundation of knowledge as a teacher and then opened to the energy that the class fed to me the easier everything came.

We ended with some backbending... supported Salambasana with a friend then to bridge and upward facing bow. When supported locust came up I asked a student to demo as I assisted her. Somehow the magical words came right into my mouth and I realized that here we were as the total picture of foundation and Open to Grace coming together. I set my foundation of my feet and used my arms to steady and stabilize her as i lifted her heart. She softened and Opened to Grace and Opened her Heart and Beauty poured forth. Even though this was a pose I've taught before and they've practiced before, this time it felt magical to me.

And that's one piece that I love about teaching yoga. These totally Grace filled magical moments happen right before my eyes and when I'm really paying attention, I pause and drink it in. That is Chit/Ananda.

Renewed Beginnings

In the airport on the way back from teacher training

I've been a blogger for a while now. I've blogged about my pregnancy and my baby, about my dogs, about crafts, even about yoga and my journey as a teacher of yoga. Some of those blogs continue and i update (sometimes).

With graduation, with the ending of Anusara Teacher Training #1, comes the new beginning. The beginning of myself truly stepping into my light as an Anusara teacher. Hopefully I'll soon have the paperwork to support me, but with or without that, there is no denying that my teaching is different after this training and my soul is different after this training.

So now is the time to begin again. To begin fresh. To Open to Grace in a bigger fuller way, and to Open to my students and my kula in a bigger fuller way.

Now begins the study of yoga. Now begins this adventure forward.