Friday, July 30, 2010

Home Practice #1

A shot of me practicing at home in 2007
From the first page of my home practice journal dated 6/4/2006. "noticed my own heart aching. loneliness, sadness, hardening, closing." And if that isn't an advertisement for starting your own home practice, I don't know what is! ...or Not

One of the things I seem to always be wishing for my students is that they had their own home practice. I love my home practice, it is where I do my work and my learning. It teaches me everything I need to know about life. It makes me stronger and then when I'm in class, I just let it rip and let myself be informed by the teacher. And it gives me very clear questions to ask the teacher. I'm given answers that I then take home to work on things... it's almost like a science lab in many ways. The experiments take place in my body, mind, and heart. I love the adventure.
But if that first page is any indication of the feelings a new home practitioner feels, I understand why students come to me for help rather than just doing it themselves. Home practice is daunting. Even if you've set aside the time and have the space, the wardrobe, the music, the candles, the sequencing and asana know how, and everything.... you are still the only one on the mat. You are still going to meet yourSelf. Holy. Shiva/Shakti! And that, my friends is scary as all get out. I mean, who wants to meet everything they've been trying to run away from? Not me.
Well, not at first, not me. Something happens when you develop a home practice. Over time, it gets easier. Well, not exactly easier necessarily. I still feel closing, sadness, loneliness, all of those challenging emotions during my practice and afterwards -- but somehow they aren't such a big deal anymore. I guess it just gets easier to handle those things. Easier to accept the "darkness."
And it happens because we also meet the Light on the mat. I mean, we're afraid of meeting ourselves because we're afraid of the pain and sadness we'll find, but deeper than all that is the total goodness that is our true nature. I've found that the more I attune to the Light, the brighter it becomes, the easier it is for me to find it. On "dark" days, and there are plenty, I don't worry because I know things will change, eventually the clouds will break and I will feel better.
So I can just say, if you've tried a home practice before and stopped, or have considered it time and time again, just Go For It! Trust that, while it may seem difficult at first, plenty of excuses will come, know that it will get better. It won't take long for things to improve. And It is SO worth it!
The difference is very real as noted in this entry from my practice journal 3/22/10 : "Thank goodness again for the yoga. I feel like a new woman. I just feel so clear and clean after this practice. My brain feels lighter and I feel more energetic. I feel filled and refueled. I would not survive without this yoga."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Article

All conversation after class this morning centered around the new NYT article about John Friend. One student, less familiar with Anusara, thought it a good presentation. Another commented on the poking at John as a mega-star with an eye for financial gain as a somewhat negative commentary.
I am not truly a pupil of John. I've only taken a few workshops with him, he doesn't come around so much. I consider myself second generation Anusara... my teacher is definitely Todd. I might be slightly fixated on Todd, but I'm definitely not in any John Cult. John doesn't even know my name but I'm sure he knows my face, he memorized it in NC last time, and he'll "know"me when we meet again.
After reading the article, I did feel a sense of wanting to defend John and take care of him, but in reality it doesn't really matter. If his intentions are good if his intentions are deceitful, who cares? I know I am a better person for practicing Anusara yoga specifically. I am confident, I am aware that I am worthy of love and respect, I am connected to the Divine in a way I never imagined and I am growing more and more and more Loving every second of every day. Because I am a better person from Anusara, my family is a better family, my friends benefit, my enemies benefit (because they cease to be enemies). And now that I am teaching this method (at the entry level) I watch my students benefit every time they come to class.
I told Todd in my final homework for YTT that I really get it. In my mind right now, here is the secret of Anusara: The asana is the hook... what we are really doing is changing lives. That's how I see it when I approach teaching now. I know many students don't get it. They come to yoga for the workout, they don't listen, they want to rush and push though... and I say, no big deal. Maybe their transformation is only physical but, hey, hopefully they feel better in some way. But I know others get it deep to their souls and I am amazed at the many many stories of transformation I hear from my students and friends. I recognize daily the power of Grace and of LOVE to bring this transformation. And so I strive to Love Fully, and to teach people to accept and give Love and that's it, simple as that. Anusara for me is a method that brings me into connection with that place that is above fear and is only Love. If John Friend drives a BMW with "Magic" on the license plate is inconsequential when my heart is this full!

Edited 7/31/10: John's response to the article can be found in his blog, which can be read here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shakti Kula Love Links

One of the Anusara Kulas that seems to have it going on going strong is the one in the Bay Area of California. I love reading their blog and catching up on the thoughts from the West Coast Anusarans. I hear it is a fabulous community and am lucky enough to have a representative here, Catherine who comes to my class and helps with Kula Jam!
A week ago, before my unplugging experiment, I was browsing the Bay Shakti blog and found this great interview with John Friend. Ginger spoke to him early in 2010 about the Melt your Heart: Blow your Mind tour. I always love to hear from John and the less rehearsed, the better I think. What the interview reminded me most of is that this practice of yoga and this practice of teaching yoga is powerful. We are creating a shift on a global level as we each individually shift. And this is important.
So check out the interview and enjoy the blog. Love to the West Coast!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Unplug to Plug-In

I've been on a forced break from screen time for the last week while my computer was out working for my hubby's company. It was not my choice to unplug myself from the web from my email, my blog, all the blogs that I read, and facebook... but sometimes blessings come when we aren't even looking for them.
Many times in Anusara classes I've heard the words "Unplug, now Plug-In" and that's just what happened to me this week. The further I got from the computer, the deeper I went into my heart. It turns out that I have a lot more free time than I imagine I have. Without the computer I found myself giving time to working on some Spiritual Art, to reading Tantric texts, and to getting my seat firmly grounded on my meditation cushion. The result is that I've felt much more solid in my practice than I'd been feeling in the past few weeks. My breath is deeper, my attention is more focused, and I'm enjoying myself more. And my heart is widely open when it had been feeling a bit closed off.
In the asana practice, we often hear and teach unplug/plug-in as related to placing the arms deeply into the shoulder girdle. You can try it: Unplug by stretching the arms forward and pulling the head of the armbones out of the sockets, Plug-in by moving the head of the armbones back until they are firmly supported by the shoulder socket, even slide the shoulder blades more together. What is so interesting to me is that when you have the head of the armbones back, and are engaging shoulder loop-- that is, when you've plugged in deeply-- what happens? An Opening of the Heart.
And so on all levels Unplug to Plug-In may be an ideal path back into my own Heart and so, to deeper connection to the Heart of the Universe. My goal is to remember this and try to unplug regularly, especially when I feel myself losing connection.
Contemplation: What could you stand to unplug from in order to plug-in more deeply to your Heart?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence and Interdependence

Today is the day when we celebrate our Freedom and our independence -- nationally our independence from tyranny, but individually we celebrate the many freedoms we enjoy in this country and the national pride in the independent spirit of our citizens.
What I'm struck by when pondering independence is how in reality it is interdependence, relying on others, that makes independence possible. When I am faced with a task, or I have a responsibility -- say going to teach a yoga class -- I can't just go it alone. I rely on other people to make my job a reality. I rely on a babysitter or my husband to watch my child, I rely on my studio to be standing and open, I rely on students to show up and learn, I rely on my teachers who have imparted their wisdom to me, and I rely heavily on my connection to Grace all to make a 90 minute yoga practice happen. That says nothing about relying on the people who made the building, the clothes, the mats, the music, the candles, the window shades .. lights .. fans.. etc. My independent action of going to work requires participation by many many people, and that's just a simple practice.
In the full scale of my life, my independence is 100% reliant on my connections to others. I imagine my life, especially now that I am a mother, as a web. I build harmonious relationships with my friends, family, employers, teachers, students, and the other providers in my life. This actually affords me more freedom and then I am better able to serve them right back. To paraphrase the words of Anodea Judith in Waking the Global Heart, in this day and age as humans are waking up to the big problems on this Earth and to the beauty of Life, it is time to take steps forward towards greater interdependence. I realize fear holds us back, but what I've found and hope others will too, is the more I allow myself to connect, to rely on, and to harmonize with others the greater my personal light shines. It is not a diminishment of myself to join with someone else in this way, instead we both grow into the true freedom that is not outside of us, but is inherent within. So today I celebrate Freedom and Interdependence.