Today started too early for me as my body naturally woke up at 4;30…and didn’t go back to sleep. My little hotel room is very cute and clean and very new looking. I had enough room to meditate; yoga was kind of out of the question. My hotel serves the best small breakfast. I was so happy to see salad for breakfast. At home, salad may seem strange at such an early hour but really it is one of my favorite things in the morning. I happily downed toast and Japanese scrambled eggs ( think very, very wet…almost uncooked…) coffee and a huge plate of salad. Manzoku- very satisfied.
On a travel note, I would like to say that I really enjoy the Japanese Inn Group for Japanese B&B style hotels( being a traditional Japanese room with futon, japanese bath etc.) but ,for $30 dollars more, the Comfort Hotel has laundry, a great breakfast, private bathroom with decent tub, and internet. In todays age of computers it really is nice to sit here and write than to drag myself to an internet cafe every night. Rakuten lists many types of hotels so check that out if you are coming to Japan and other places in Asia. If you are not lugging the computer and want to experience something special check out Japanese Inn Group- especially in Kyoto.
Day one of the Immersion was very special as it was the first class ever taught in the new Studio Yoggy location in Hibiya. It is the most open and light filled of any of the studios I have been to in Japan. It is in a perfect location and Sawako- the owner- is so pleased to final have what she calls the flagship location. John made a beautiful introduction that morning to the idea that the place we do yoga is scared space dedicated to the freedom of everyone- a place to awaken. The flagship is the hub, the hub is the heart- the place of spirit. The invocation was so beautiful I had this wild image of the voices as spirit running like curls of leaves and vines through everything in the studio- the floor, the mats, the bolsters, the walls- we were making sacred space. One of the visiting teachers said it was the first time he had ever cried during the invocation- it was that powerful.
One of the Japanese teachers- Misato-san- who I met the first time in Japan 3 years ago suffered the loss of her mother recently. John was so very sweet when he said ” we cry when someone passes because there is so much love”. He asked us to consider of at the end of our days what do we want. If there is peace, love and happiness then we have aligned with spirit. Sprit wants us to be happy, it wants to align with us- it is our true nature.
But we forget. We don’t feel happy or peaceful or feel love. We long and desire for that feeling again. We want to be free. It is the classic story of those with great material wealth being unhappy and those with very little being completely content. Which one is truly free? This is such a hard thing for us to grasp in Western culture. It really frustrates the heck out of me. I find as I have been practicing yoga I need less and less- or I want less and less. As long as the basics are covered- food, clothing, etc. I am perfectly satisfied. It is so freeing. I wish for the people I love to be free like that.
John’s morning practice was one of sensitivity and commitment. These are the two key principles of how you align with spirit. It is the two principles for any good relationship I think. It was a fairly simple practice but very deep. I was getting a little frustrated though as the mats are brand new and my trikonasana was turning into hanumanasana and I feel on my head in one leg wheel ( ekahasta dhanurasana). I clawed so hard my fingers are still sore as I type!
The afternoon was a discussion of the philosphy of Anusara Yoga. The philosophy should answer the deepest questions of life: Why are we here? What is my purpose? What is the purpose of life?
The questions can all be answered by yoga, John explained. There is an inate intelligence inside all of us- it comes from the intelligence of spirit. Things grow in a deep orderly manner- on the outside we may all look different, but our cellular level all started the exact same way. How did it know how to do that? John went over the Golden Ratio ( 1.618) and I always find that fascinating. If you make a fist and turn your hand to the side so it has the curl of your fingers right side up the distance from the top of your index finger to where it curls in will be a ratio of one and and from the curl down to your wrist a ratio of 1.618. From you middle finger to your wrist a ratio of 1 and from your wrist to your elbow 1.618. Wild isn’t it?
Frm here we talked about the aspects of the Universal ( shiva-shakti, no form, no limit, completely free, sat/chit ananda/, spanda and purna) which went into the introduction of the tattvas ( principles of existence). The top 5 tattvas- those that are in the universal realm- actually contain all the other 36 tattvas but there are at the highest vibration. Everything in existence is just stepped down vibrations of the 5 top ones. As I wrote in Kyoto, the problem with describing this higher tattvas is that they belong to the universal which is really something beyond words. As soon as we name it we have made it relative- subject to our understanding in this realm. I mean this is really heady stuff and as a teacher of this method it can get really challenging when you chose to go into that place.
One of the graphs John showed us today was one I don’t think I have seen before where you line the top tattvas along side the elements and the principles. For the teachers out there you might like this:
Shiva=Open to Grace= Space
Shakti= Muscular Enery=Earth
Iccha= Inner Spiral= Water
Jnana= Outter Spiral= Fire
Kriya= Organic Energy= Air
Putting Shiva/Shakti in the mix was interesting to think about because then you get Earth and Sky- the two things we did in the morning: sensitivity and commitment- voila!
We spent the afternoon going over the rest of the Universal principles : Open to Grace, Muscular Energy etc. and dove into the spirals. We had a great question about where inner and outter spiral start and stop and the group was getting a little stuck so I thought about how I teach with the ribbons and John graciously allowed Yasushi-san and I to tie him up with white and purple straps. I think it was effective…hilarious for sure. I hope someone got a picture!
John’s afternoon practice was so simple- all the basics. Three parts of muscular energy, three parts of organic- each principle in order and culminating, the focal points. Good basic stuff. We did some very yummy hip and supine stuff and it made such a great end to the day. We even got to surprise Yasushi-san with a cake and a round of happy birthday right after meditation! The meditation bell went signalling the end and then all these little fire crackers went off full of ribbons. So much fun!
We ended the day with a sharing session. One of the questions we had to answer was ” What is Grace”? I will leave that for you to contemplate and you can share your answers in the comments if you like.