Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

The Grand Purposes of Yoga February 12, 2008

Filed under: yoga — shibuiyoga @ 10:14 pm
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I had quite the weekend. You see my sister Michelle was up to something- something sneaky. She invited all of us sisters ( there are four of us all together- I am the youngest) over for a special “sisters tea” to celebrate finishing her living room and to say good bye to her house which she will put on the market this spring. It might not sound circumspect but I have reason to distrust my sister- I never take anything she says at face value – she is the trickster- she is as mischievous, yet also as devoted, as Hanuman.

My poor sister Denise, who is much too refined to have been born from the same parents as the rest of us, has often been the target of Michelle’s sense of play. She took her youngest son’s copy of “Are You My Mother?” by Doctor Seuss and literately doctored it up to reread as a fanciful tale of my sister Denise’s life. ( Michelle’s son is now 17 and wondering if she will ever replace his stolen copy…)

We all teased Denise she must be misplaced royalty …and that is when Michelle concocted her most creative prank. My poor sister Denise answered the door one night to Queen Elizabeth in full regalia. She had a letter to read to Denise- the Queen sat in my sister’s living room and proceed to tell her of how she was the Queen’s love child that was supposed to be sequestered to the Westons in Surrey England but somehow wound up in Surrey B.C. and so the story went on and on- I believe it was 20 minutes of script that poor impersonator had to get through- all written with delightful glee by my sister Michelle. The woman will go to extraordinary lengths. Now you can see why I was suspicious.

Well upon entering my sister home she came down to greet us with a wine glass…my kind of tea party! She said we had to stay downstairs until all the sisters had arrived and that “Mario” would be down to take our drink orders. Right! Mario? I waited for my thespian nephew Tim to come down with an apron and mustache but instead a gorgeous six and a half foot Mexican man came down the stairs…..MARIO! OK. WHAT IS GOING ON????!!! I could tell by his manner that he was probably with one of the best caterers in Victoria…and I was right.

The last sister came through the door and then with wine glasses in hand we were marched in birth order up the stairs and  to the entrance of the living room. What we found there was not just a redesigned and painted living room- what we found was an art gallery…. and the feature collection was four individual abstract paintings of each sister. I just about dropped the wine glass.

From eldest to youngest we sat on the wall- Pam in blues, Denise in yellows, Michelle in reds, and myself in greens. She had written bios about us for the artist- trying to capture our essence- what we loved, what we identified with, what made us unique- and all those things were now captured in four amazing paintings. Each one stunning on it’s own but when seen together had an impact that was visceral. We were looking at an artists interpretation of my sisters interpretation of us. But it was so accurate. 

I decided that my sister Michelle and Adele Blais– the lovely artist in Montreal- must be yogis. They just don’t know it.

In Anusara, we say that there are two grand purposes of yoga : Chit and Ananda.  Chit is the knowing- knowing we are all connected- to everything and everyone around us- we are part of a great flow of Grace that moves through all of us. Adele had to remember to be part of that flow in order to be able to capture us so well. She had to trust in that flow and her connection to it to create her own interpretation of us. 

Ananda- bliss- to playfully and gracefully participate in the flow with a wide open heart- to be part of the creative energy of that flow. Michelle lives her life everyday in rememberance of Ananda- Shakti dances in her so completely that she appreciates every moment of everyday and just wants to share it so deeply with those she loves.

This is yoga. Not the asana, not the meditating, not the breathing- Chitananda- to live your life in full rememberance of the source and to know that you are part of something wonderful and to celebrate that connection -to dance with open heart and open arms in the pulse of life.

My sister has done 10 Iyengar classes in her life- and she is a better yogi than me in all the ways that truly count. I love her more than words can say.


Shraddha February 4, 2008

Filed under: Anusara,kula,yoga — shibuiyoga @ 6:57 pm
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jf2008-live-yoga.jpgjf2008-market.jpgjf2008-laurenhs.jpgjf2008-laurenhs.jpgjf2008-carolalsiha.jpgjf2008-laurenhs.jpgjf2008-kathy-and-shelley.jpgjf2008-dropback.jpgjf2008-laurensarah.jpgjf2008-kula.jpgjf2008-carolalsiha.jpgSomething has changed. I knew that John’s training in Tokyo had a profound effect on me- but this weekend showed me how much.

The few weeks leading up to this workshop I had fretted and worried about my hamstring. My practice was at a low level and with my hamstring still causing me grief,  I was sure that this weekend would be a disaster.  My backbends had felt nasty- that really is the only to describe it- and my stamina was down. I knew that I was walking into a two hour back bend practice with John and I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it. This is when I changed- something in me made a profound shift.

I put my mat down in the room and thought I should probably tell John about my hamstring but as I saw the line of people waiting to tell him of every ache and pain and I just thought- “No- he will know something is wrong after my first couple of poses”. Yes- in a group of 120 John will know when you are not performing at your normal level as unbelievable as that is.  He has this ability to sense across a room when you are out of alignment. It is a crazy gift.

As we came together to listen to John and chant, something in me started to alter. My fear and apprehension fell away and I put myself in the flow of energy around me. I trusted in the flow and I realized that I trusted in it because I now trusted John. I trusted that he would guide me in a way that would keep me safe and if I allowed myself to sync up with him that he would help carry me through the practice. This trust is called Shraddha. Faith.

I have always had trust in Christina, my mentor teacher. I knew as long as I listened to her and did not decide to be a maverick that I would be fine. The thing that was different between John and Christina is that I was injured and fearful with John and that I do not have a close relationship with him like I do with Christina. But what I did not realize is that I do not have a friendship with John but I have a relationship. At some point in my trainings with him, my energy started to sync with his, and now when I am in his presence I just move according to his energy. This is called entrainment and can be seen as part of the Guru principle.

You see I don’t walk around saying John is my “Guru”. Guru can mean teacher in today’s lexicon but in Sanskrit it means heavy one, weighty one- heavy with knowledge and energy. The history of entrainment comes from a Dutch scientist named Christian Huygen who put pendulum clocks in a room and had them all swinging at different rates. Over time the clocks all began to oscillate at the same rate.  This is a phenomenon of resonance. It is a tendency for two oscillating bodies to lock into phase so that they vibrate in harmony- synchronization. I noticed this weekend that it took almost no time for this entrainment to happen. That is because I wasn’t letting other things block that resonance- I just stepped into it with trust. 

My leg still bugged me but I did every single pose to the best of my ability. The thing I really noticed was how open my backbends were- I got my leg up in urdva dhanarasana and I did dwi pada for the first time – I have never been able to get my forarms on the ground and head off the mat before…and the best part was that it felt so GOOD!!! Eka pada rajakopatasana was a breeze. I knew all this openess came from steady practice and something more powerful- a willingness to be carried on the flow. Being in the presence of a true teacher can take you deeper into your practice. Your boundary lines shift not just externally but internally. You change.

I remember once saying to Christina that I didn’t know if I would bother going to see John in Seattle again and save my money for longer trainings instead. She just looked at me aghast and said, “I would take every opportunity possible to practice with my teacher.” I now understand that. When you are in resonance, even a small amount of time in their presence can bring such profound openings.

It was a wonderful amazing weekend with great friends and new friends. I love the women I practice and play with and their energy helped to contribute and grow this beautiful resonance that carried us all. I can’t wait for next year!