Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

The Map Maker June 26, 2008

Day one Immersion

Well I am the only non-Japanese in the immersion. Lara from Kyoto, Jenna from everywhere but is Canadian, Chops- once Canadian now Taiwanese, are observing. Man – so do I stand out in a crowd! Just look through the photos and you will see what I mean.

John taught one of his most brilliant classes to date this am as far as I’m concerned. He started with the what, why and how of the meaning of life. Yes-  the meaning of life folks. Talk about “immersion”! I am not going to go into all the details of all these things ,because after 6 hours of practice I do need some sleep, but I will give you the essence.

Within the world of Yoga there is path called Anusara Yoga. It takes you to a place where life is bright, where you bathe in your own light, where you want to dance and dance beautifully. You become a master of life and then everything in the relative world- even the not so nice things- become a gateway to the heart.

Three things make up the path: The Universal Principles of Alignment, specific Tantra philosophy and emphasis on community. You can use any of these things with practice and then use them as a way to the heart.

Anusara yoga is all contained on a map. A map that John made. He is the map maker. He could give you the map but if you can’t read the grid then it is useless. Practicing and learning from a teacher- or the map maker- will show you how to use the grid. So he doesn’t just give the map to just anyone- it is precious. Mika asked a great question. She said, ” But where am I on the map?” John replied that you need the map maker to tell you where you are. He then proceeded to take us through a whirlwind practice. He was the map maker- he knew all the best spots on the map- all the best sites and the funnest places. But we had to stay with him. It would be easy to get lost. He said we had to be like Japanese day care kids holding on to the rope as they walked around. He had the flag – he would lead us. Not everywhere on the map was pleasant. He was there to help us avoid those places.

Now this might not sound like much to you- but you have to remember where we were. We were in a country where people travel with guides all the time. They love maps! They relate completely to the flag waving tour guide. John taught them in a completely relevant cultural context. They didn’t have to think about the context- it wasn’t esoteric and confusing- it was simple and visual. It allowed the students to go fast and go deep- straight to the heart of the practice. It was amazing. The energy in the room buzzed. He made great jokes about going to the rest stop for green tea and a rice ball between backbends. He explained that some of the routes on the tour weren’t easy but man- when you got to the top..the view- amazing- totally worth it. He said that if you couldn’t do the journey without help he would get you a wheelchair and find all the elevators so you could come too- everybody goes. Some people needed a cane ( props) to make the journey more comfortable but everybody goes- we don’t lose anybody.  The map maker takes care of       

everybody. That’s his duty- his dharma. 

I just stared at him after class- it was brilliant and I told him so. I was so pumped up that I asked permission to practice at lunch too. Nothing earth shattering today but a nice hip opening practice to reduce the vata. We then hit the big time this afternoon with the elements and their relation to all the emotions,or rasas,  we experience. It was a deep teaching and Yasushi really had his work cut out for him in translating. I gained more clarity on how certain practices affect people. Then we did another hip opening practice. My injured hamstring was getting a little rebellious by the end of the day! Marc gave me a great adjust in triangamuka ekapada pachimatanasana- whew- say that three times fast!! Tomoko also wore her Live Yoga shirt today which looked fabulous on her!

I finished the night with sushi from the conveyor belt. Marc, Mark and I were all a little tired from the big download today and it was the perfect- eat now!- solution. My body is dying for vegetables and dahl though. I can’t wait to hop back on to the clean eating regime when I get home. Here it is “eat now and eat fast for there is more training to be done!” I made the mistake of turning my nose up at Marc’s scone the other day because it was white flour and I paid the price! I was starving. I think tomorrow a big salad and apples are called for!

BTW- don’t you love that picture of Yasushi at the top- he is the best guy!


One Response to “The Map Maker”

  1. apricotsushi Says:

    Hi there! I’ve stumbled upon your blog completely on accident-I set my tags to come up with anything labed “Japan” among other things, and while I was on a break a work I saw your amazing pictures and was competely sucked in! I don’t really know all that much about what you’re doing as I’ve only skimmed your other entries so far, but I am studying Japanese at my university and will be coming to Japan for a year in September. I also started practicing yoga last fall, though I am still in the beginning learning stages. So I just wanted to say that your blog is really amazing and I look forward to reading more!

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