Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

How Do You Climb A Mountain? August 22, 2011

I climbed  Mt. Fuji in 1992- coming up 20 years now. I remember how hot it was at the beginning station during the day- upwards of 30 degrees Celsius and we waited patiently for the sun to go down. Ideally you climb Mt.Fuji in the chill of the night so you can be at the top to watch the sun rise over the land. As we started our ascent on the slippery volcanic rock I just kept thinking, ” One foot after the other- one step at a time. Don’t go so fast you burn out from the elevation, don’t go so slow you get cold and cramp up- one step at a time.” So step by step we climbed the mountain.  Most climbers had wooden walking sticks with us that had a Japanese flag and some small chimes attached.  The rhythmic sound of bells accompanied all the climbers steps echoing brightly in the utter darkness. I chatted occasionally with those in our group but mostly I just listened and felt- we were walking up the greatest geographical icon in Japan. A mountain whose mere glimpse will often bring tears to Japanese eyes. Yet the path wasn’t particularly scenic it’s mostly black volcanic scree and it was also the middle of the night. I sometimes would look up the mountain to see little lights ahead of us- small headlamps attached to helmets or hats-  like fireflies dancing to the sound of the bells.

I would get tired on some parts or slide and slip on others but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to find a rhythm in the mountain- something I could follow. I wasn’t a yogi in those days- I was a 22 year old straight out of university following my dream. Living in Japan, climbing Mt. Fuji- all these radical new experiences that I was trying to absorb. It was like trying to do your dance to some music you had never heard- clumsy, awkward, and naive. Somewhere about half way up something changed and it was like the mountain and I were suddenly in relationship. The rhythm came and the effort softened and suddenly the dark wasn’t quite so intimidating.

We reached the top at 3:30 am and had to wait until 5 for the sun to rise. It was -3 Celsius at the top. I could barely make out a torii gate as we shoved cans of hot coffee into our pockets to keep warm. At 5 am the sun rose on Fuji, a line of orange to start and then breaking into reds and yellows- so bright it was almost blinding. The torii gate became illuminated in the morning colours and we looked out over the lakes and mountain below us. We had made it- one step at a time.

I thought about this climb a lot lately because I have often thought of the certification process as climbing a mountain. We often start out with a group of friends, a guide and high energy. As the journey continues some friends take different paths, others give up. Our guide stays with us for a certain amount of time and then they too leave us- they have taught us all they can and they point to the path ahead which you now follow on your own. You get tired, you want to quit. At that point you and the mountain have to come into relationship. It’s just the two of you now. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other….and suddenly….without quite believing it’s true- you are at the top.  The sun has risen and you have “upeksha”, the wide sweeping vision like that of an eagle, and what you realize is that the mountain was you all along. You were literally climbing through the layers of yourself. As soon as you realize that, the mountain dissolves and you are left with a new path in front of you….that leads to another mountain. One foot in front of the other…. beyond certification.

On the day that Anusara turned 14 years young, I reached the top of the mountain and passed my certification video. To my friends who started this climb with me- I love you all. To my teacher, Christina Sell, who encouraged me to climb the mountain- thank you for your belief in me. To my teacher, Robin Golt, who let me radio in to home base when the climb got tough- thank you for your wisdom. To my husband and children who put up with this long climb of 6 years- I could never have attempted this without your support. There are no words for all the love I have for you. To my teacher, John Friend, who gave me the best damn map to get up that mountain- thank you and deepest gratitude. You made sure I saw all the highlights and beauty along the way. To my father who’s work ethic never allowed me to give up- I miss you- I know you wouldn’t get this yoga thing but it’s a big deal. To all of you who I have met along the way- thank you for your encouragement . You know who you are.

Love and light~

” It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”~ Sir Edmund Hillary

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Maui Weekend Workshop- The Three Goddesses September 28, 2009

Well I am writing two blog posts in one night which is unheard of but I am up so here we go. I am going to summarize the weekend in one go.

Day One Morning

John opened with a talk on Navaratri. It is the 9 sacred nights of the Goddesses- three Goddesses in three incarnations.  He talked about the deep orderliness of the universe. The krama or order of life. You plant a seed in the dark and the roots go down and the stalk goes up and the stalk bears branches and the branches leaves, then fruit and the fruit ripens and falls and goes back into the earth and the cycle starts again. The dark is not necessarily bad or empty- in actually it is one big blank slate full of potential. It is full of anything you want to dream.

We started out our practice with Kali. Kali is raw- she comes from dark where you plant a seed of intention. She is the muscle energy of the pose. We hugged in tight and did really strong poses that need stability. It was a morning of long standing poses and things like press handstand and half lotus handstand- which I had never even thought of let alone tried! It rocked pretty good though and we came out to see the Laulima Farms gang and others from Kipahulu and a truck full of coconuts! For the screaming deal of $3 we had Jayanti open a coconut for us and after drinking the milk he would make us a bowl of the nut and even a little spoon to scoop it with. Oh so good……

We took off during the long break  ( 10am to 4pm) and hit the south side of the island going to Makena and big beach. We had our first swim at the beach in front of the Maui Prince but the lifeguards came by and showed us a portuguese man of war which were in the water. The sting is apparently excruciating so it kind of put a damper on the swim time. We had lunch from the Jaws Taco truck in the Big Beach parking lot and then sat and watched the waves at Big Beach. There is finally a lifeguard tower there which is a longtime coming. The have 90 spinal injuries every year at that beach due to the high shore break which dashes people head first into the sand. I had a bad toss there once and it scared me very badly and I am not a weak swimmer.

We finished the south side with a drive further down the road but the clouds were rolling in from the north- which we had come South to avoid!- so we headed back to prep for afternoon practice.

Day One Afternoon

We started the afternoon with questions and one of them group asked why we ( the Anusara community?) chant so softly. I know why we do, but it was interesting to hear John phrase it. He said it related to integrity in relationship of all of the parts. Can you hear yourself but also hear across the room? Can you blend rather than stand out? I have to say the group took it to heart because day two’s afternoon chant was one of the sweetest I have ever heard- it just rode the flow of the island itself. So good…..

John also talked more about the Turiya state ( see my blog on the Dancing Shiva) as being the “ground of being”, the undifferentiated universal place from which the Goddesses arise. I don’t think I have ever thought about it in that way- like this primordial soup of all potential but it makes sense in the thinking of Spanda or Divine pulsation and where that comes from.

One of the other questions was on why a teacher made the Australians role to the left after savasana. Apparently it really threw the practitioners. John gave an explanation of why we roll to the right. It is not about anything anatomical- as some teachers may say- but it is following what is called “pradakshina”. Pradakshina literally means right in Sanskrit and it is in line with moving clockwise which is considered the movement of nature. In temples in India one always keeps the diety on the right side of the body as the circle the diety in prayer. Pradakshina therefore can also mean circumambulation. If you therefore chose to roll left you should know why. That’s what I love about this method- know what the origins are and why we do something and then choose. Being the southern hemisphere, I guess that teacher thought it more in line with nature to go left.

We had a totally fun practice of being spacious and listening and Ty Burhoe  ,who is one of the foremost tabla players in the world, came in and joined the group. I met Ty in Japan a few years ago and I was pretty stoked when he set up his tabla right in front of Sjanie and I . We had randomly picked a new area in the room and plop- there Ty sat playing right in front of us during our practice. We really had a practice of Sarasvati, for she is the first sound and she is really the goddess of all sound “nada”. John and Ty both explained that we recognize sound from not the sound itself but from the space in between the sounds. I know- ponder that one for a while…..

The physical practice was  full of very deep hip openers, half standing lotus, deep pigeon, yogidandasana, and for the garnish we did firefly which- thank god- Sjanie had introduced to me about a year ago. I got in from the standing entry but John also taught getting in from yogidandasana. I opted out and went for the known but Sjanie decided to rock it out with the new entry and had success. Cool.

Day Two Morning

Day two ended on the last day of Navaratri and we had a very “juicy” practice.  We talked about the higher octaves of the middle three elements: air, fire and water. The higher octave of air is prana- it is charged by sunlight and has the ability to move. Fire’s higher vibration is Tejas- a luminosity. It is the flash of light at the beginning of conception. The higher vibration of water is Ojas- the juicy power of life itself, the nectar of our life force.

John took the juiciness into a curvy spiraling practice of backbended forms of trikonasana and pincha mayurasana and of course the matrix backbend. It was all about keeping all the goddesses in our form: Kali in our strength, Sarasvati in our awareness and then letting Lakshmi pour her delight into the vessel of the body. This is really important to note because you can have all these curved fluid forms without muscle energy and then the juiciness just drains because you have not first created a strong vessel to hold it. Sjanie and I both have found we need a little more play in our practice- we are both strong enough that the rigid forms take away our juice. It can dry you out if you move too quickly and too rigidly. You have to build strength first- that is essential – but then you have to have some flow and play in there once that is established.

We did handstand with our legs revolving around in both directions- thank you Chris Chavez for introducing that to me- and dropbacks with one hand on the collarbone assists. We then finished the practice with a pose I have never ever attempted- mandalasana. It was so juicy by that time it actually seemed easy. I realized that pose would be impossible if you tried to stay rigid or muscle your way through it. It had to be this playful delight that just kept running your feet around your head. We finished the morning in seated meditation and was surprised to have a little voice whisper in my ear,” Breathe deeply” and was delighted by a sudden hit of fresh gardenia under my nose. It seemed super powerful after the morning practice. Tiff, Kelly and a few others softly made their way around the room with scents of the island for all of us to delight in with our eyes closed and hearts open. Sjaine and I were grinning like idiots at the end of practice and we kept it juicy with breakfast at Colleen’s in Haiku. Hawaiian spiced bread french toast seemed oh so appropriate.

We hit the beach for the afternoon in the most amazing weather and managed to finally “be one with nature” during the trip. The wind and water were perfect and the sun felt exquiste…everywhere!

Day Two Afternoon

The afternoon purnahuti ( final celebration) was a deep talk by John on how to really live your life . It was about the four cornerstones of how to live: arta/kama/moksha/dharma. How to keep the juicy delight but have resources to support yourself and be in line with nature and have a sense of pleasure about what you are doing. Many of us get stuck in careers or relationships that literally drain us. You can’t necessarily just run away for that may be adharmic ( against dharma)  if you have a family to care for or responsibilities to others. The key is to find ways to increase  the others to find balance.

We had a practice of discharging excess vata in the body. Vata is usually the first dosha to go out of wack and it’s home in our body is the lower region which regulates elimination in the body. If energy is not moving down naturally ( apanavayu) then it can create discomfort and illness in the body. By releasing vata and getting this to move more naturally the ojas goes up and we get that juicyness back again. 

Getting you thigh bones back helps calm vata and we did lots of poses with that intention. We also did headstand and shoulderstand. Now that might not sound like much to you but John hardly ever teaches those two poses. It was actually really great to get the King and Queen poses ( Headstand/shoulderstand) taught by him because, done well , they can be super healing poses. The whole system responds so well to shoulder stand and it can energize you if you are down or slow you down when you are feeling anxious. It has amazing recuperative effects on the body. I love it for flying because it just feels so good to get upside down when you are in another time zone. Those two poses, handstand and a good walk, makes life pretty good on the other side of the planet.

It was a full and fulfilling workshop. John was really in sync with the island and all of us were really there with him. It seems so funny to look back three years ago to Maui where I first met John and see how far I have come, not just as a student or a teacher, but as a human being. John commented on my luster and I said “I feel so good, I feel so right. I just keep my vessel strong and let the shakti fill me up.” Life is good~

mana mahalo~ thank you spirit of the islands

 

Book Review: Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy March 1, 2009

yantra-siva-shakti

Yantra of Shiva/Shakti

Thanks to being stuck at home with a sick family, I have just finished Georg Feuerstein’s book  Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy. ( I included an Amazon book link but actually I like to pay a little  more and support my local Vancouver book store Banyen Books) . This book was probably first mentioned to me by Christina Sell and then Robin Golt pulled it out again in our last Anusara Immersion. I think I flipped through it a few years ago and it seemed a little too deep for me at the time. I picked it up again during Robin’s Immersion and realized it was exactly what I needed to read right now.

Georg takes a  fairly wide brush to paint the history and principles that lay behind Tantra but it does carry many of the key concepts that we study as students of Anusara Yoga. He is very good at breaking down the various meanings of Sanskrit words that we commonly use in teaching to show how different translations, and therefore different practices, grew from them.  When speaking of the Advaita Vendata traditions he is clear to separate them and then explain the difference in the Tantric traditions which I find is useful for students and teachers of Yoga that have come from the more classical Vendanta schools. His reference to multiple yogic texts make one hungry to dig into more study.

His introduction and epilogue I found especially useful with the sudden revival of Tantra and Yoga in the West. While people believe they are practicing Tantra and studying Tantra,  it really becomes clear in this book that even the most earnest student cannot really be doing the practice unless they have a qualified teacher.  At times I felt down right wary of many of these practices as it seems that dabbling is worse than not doing at all! I have heard stories of people frying their nervous system through pranayama and various practices undertaken without a proper teacher. Essentially, we are dealing with practices in serious energy and I know I wouldn’t want to be re-wiring my house unless I was an electrician or had one telling me what to do every step of the way!

The book is divided into the following chapters:

1) Samsara : Cyclic Existence

~the ideas of karma, the cycle of rebirth, what it means to break the cycle in Tantric perspective

2) Time, Bondage, and the Goddess Kali

~great background on the aspects of Kali and how time becomes a key consideration in Samsara

3) This is the Other World: How Samsara becomes Nirvana

~what the difference is between wisdom and knowledge and how the Tantric vision sees the relative world as not separate from the Absolute

4) The Secret of Embodiment: As Above , So Below

~the Tantric body positive view and an explanation of the Tattvas and metaphysics

5) The Divine Play of Shiva and Shakti

~ how Shiva comes to  represent the principle of consciousness and Shakti the energy of that consciousness. How polarity( opposites)  helps realize the Absolute as one.

6) The Guru Principle: Shiva Incarnate

~the function of a guru and why a guru is needed. 

7) Initiation: Bringing Down the Light

~ being a student and/or initiate and what form  initiation by a guru may look like

8 ) Discipleship: The Ordeal of Self- Transformation

~the actual relationship between Guru and initiate and the ordeals in that relationship. Oral traditions, ritual, and preconditions for studentship are included.

9)The Tantric Path: Ritual and Spontaneity

~detail of the sadana of a Tantric student. Going beyond Patanjali’s eight fold path and into other practices in different schools including a discussion on left handed and right handed Tantra.

10) The Subtle Body and It’s Environment

~ a detailed chapter on the chakras and nadis and how the subtle body affects the physical body

11) Awakening the Serpent Power

~ a chapter on kundalini and how this works in the subtle body. Some discussion on Spanda is included here which I found useful.

12)   Mantra: The Potency of Sound

~ Explanation of the power of sound and vibration and mantras as the manifestations or vehicles of Shakti

13) Creating Sacred Space

~ this is about creating scared space in the body by use of mudras( hand gestures) and yantras and mandalas ( sacred geometry)

14) The Transmutation of Desire

~ This chapter was very useful as the rituals described in it are the most misunderstood by those practising Tantra without a Teacher or Guru: ie: consumption of meat, wine, sexual ritual. Unfortunately these, and not all the other areas of Tantra such as mantra and meditation, are the ones that the West find so tantalizing. Actually- in India it seems that it was a bit of a problem too….

15) Enlightenment and Hidden Powers of the Mind

~ a listing mostly of those adepts who were thought to have gained powers or “siddhis” through Tantric practice as well as a listing of those powers. There is also a listing of the levels of bliss, seven in all, which I had never encountered before.

 

I highly recommend this book to Anusara students or teachers that have a deep interest in what informs many of our teachings. I caution you though that going through an Immersion at least once and some background on philosophy, would make this book not only more useful but more enjoyable. I know that I will be using it as a reference book for many years to come and I would like to actually read it a few more times as I am sure that many layers were not revealed upon my first reading. I am sure those of you out there with a far more in-depth study of Tantra may have some issues with the authors perspective but I am too naive to challenge his assumptions as of now.

If you have read this book I would love to hear your comments about it.

 

Are you sure we are doing yoga or road construction??? October 28, 2008

I landed home from Boston at 2:00 in the morning on Friday, spent Saturday recouping and preparing, and on Sunday I taught my workshop. This was Hari Om’s first official workshop and I am please to say we ended up with 15 people. We even had a few like Marcia who came all the way from Kamloops! My friend Lara Luer who is an Anusara Inspired teacher in Chilliwack even came out. It is really a nice treat because students who come to workshops are looking for more. The have a sense of curiosity and wanting to grow their practice so they come into the room pretty much ready to learn. It was a great group.

The workshop was on the Universal Principles of Anusara Yoga. They belong to the second of the three A’s that guide Anusara Yoga: Attitude, Alignment, and Action. Sometimes Anusara can be billed as “all about spirals and loops” but really, it is a heart-based practice that uses the alignment to better refine so we can get more joy out of our practice. I could teach someone all the alignment principles , and it could better their practice,  but it wouldn’t be Anusara. This is what I was really trying to emphasise as I taught the workshop because we take a small part of the big picture and teach it out of it’s full context. I tried at the beginning of the workshop to create a framework for what was to follow so that the alignment was seen in it’s true position: second to Attitude. Attitude is saying- “I do this practice for something greater. I do this practice as a way to remember I am connected to something bigger. I do this practice as a way to go to my own heart. I do this practice as a way to teach me how to offer out my gratitude.” In a nut shell: I do this practice to remember and to celebrate- Chit/Ananda.

The whole gang! Or construction crew....

The whole gang! Or construction crew....

So the whole time I am teaching alignment principles , I am gong back to Chit/Ananda. I am hoping that I satisfied those that came for technical information, those that came because they like Anusara, and those that are just beginners on the path. It was a varied crowd.

The way I teach the Universal Principles of Alignment ( UPA’s) is through a lot of hands on, visual aids, and partner work. I am becoming known for my yards of flagging tape that I bring to this workshop. We all tie each other up in flagging tape to visually see where the spirals start and stop and how they move. It was a teaching method I stumbled upon when trying to get some clarity for myself and my teacher, Christina Sell, suggested I teach it to others- Voila- a workshop is born. The UPA’s are a lot to cover in one 3 hour workshop,  but I try to tell the students to just have fun and if they get one “a-ha” moment then that should feel good. One student, Ian, told me happily that just figuring out his back leg in standing poses was worth the cost of the workshop. So good to hear!

Marcia and Amy getting wrapped up!

Marcia and Amy getting wrapped up!

The arm test- Lynna and Karin

The arm test- Lynna and Karin

I think I carried a lot of shakti back from the training in Boston and everything I learned there about my weaknesses I started to work on that very day. I tried some new things which I like- (we will see how my regulars react!) It was a fun morning and the studio did a lovely job of hosting. We mananged a little water and orange break and then finished with a 30 minute practice implementing what we had worked on. I could see from my regular students movements that they had gained some clarity- everyone in the room looked really solid- and they even smiled.

They remembered, they aligned and they had fun- and they left feeling better about themselves. Welcome to Anusara Yoga!

 

The Mountain March 31, 2008

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Have you ever had that feeling where something has changed or shifted in your life and you know you will never be the same? Good. Welcome to my week.

My mentor teacher Christina Sell was up in Vancouver this week giving a philosophy intensive to a small group of us and then teaching a large scale workshop. ( I included a few pictures from the weekend). I was so looking forward to really diving into the material and having a real kick butt yoga asana practice on the weekend but unfortunately I was sidetracked by some minor surgery. No arm balancing back bending craziness for me this week. Lucky for me, most of the philosophy week was pranayama, meditation, lectures, videos and discussions. I have to say though that my body was screaming to move. My brain was completely exhausted and I didn’t have the outlet of asana to integrate the new information. I tried to keep going back to the idea of adikara- studentship.

Adikara is a Sanskrit word which can be seen as two parts. “Adi”- oneself and “kara” to make. So studentship is the process of making oneself ready. One would think in my case that means making myself ready to become a certified teacher but I felt it was more about making myself ready just to be a better student. Adikara can also be translated as competent readiness- so literally to be a student you have to have already have gone through some process in my mind. I had to prepare to be a student in order to prepare to be a teacher.

I love how John Friend- the founder of Anusara Yoga– uses the five elements to describe what is necessary to be a good student.

Space: Open mind and heart. Ready to take in all that is offered.

Air: Changeable. A quick mind that is able to see connections and quickly grasp new ideas.

Fire: Clarity. A mind that is able to create the light of knowledge- to put light on that which was dark- unknown. I also see it as desire- the burning desire for knowledge and the will to change.

Water: Reflective. To see what is going on and being able to adapt- to flow around the obstacles.

Earth: Steadiness. Long lasting, steady dedication to your path.

These same 5 qualities of studentship are the same five qualities of a good teacher, or a good parent, or a good spouse- you get the idea. So this week I really was all five in varying degrees. Some days I needed more fire and other days I needed more earth etc. It was interesting to watch the process from that perspective rather than just “ I am so tired and my brain is so full I can’t take anymore“. And by the end of the week fire had truly shed light on what was so dark and confusing before and transformed my practice once again.

I like to think of my teacher Christina like a Sherpa. You are climbing up this big mountain together and you think it is all about you and your journey but you can only do it because the Sherpa already has. The Sherpa is part of the mountain already- the Sherpa has an understanding of not just climbing but the essence of the mountain itself. The Sherpa carries the light to show you the way. Christina takes it further though- once you walked the mountain for a while she hands you the light and says “ Now you go.” You realize the only way to get up that last part of the mountain is by your own light, your own transformational fire. At that moment the light shows you all the doubts, insecurities, and obstacles you have left on that path- and you make a choice. You chose to keep climbing or you stop and go back down. The Sherpa is not going to drag you up that mountain- and the last bit is the hardest. Even though the Sherpa is still with you,  in some ways you are on your own. You have to deal with all the stuff you saw when you took the light.

I want to get up that mountain in two more years. I looked at the path behind me and I realize how far I have truly come. The last part is short and steep and frankly treacherous, but I think I have everything I need now to make good decisions on my way up that last part. Open like the sky, quick and changeable like the wind, full of the fire of desire, adaptable like water and steady like the earth – one foot after the other I will get there. Wish me luck.

   

 

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!    

 

Painful Setback December 5, 2007

Filed under: yoga — shibuiyoga @ 6:59 am
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If you are one of my students you will constantly hear me harp on about staying aligned to prevent injury- especially major ones like hamstring attachments and rotator cuff injuries. For those of you not familiar with my teaching style, or who just read my blog for fun, let me tell you the one most common misconception about yoga- it is not gentle, flowing, and all soft and sweet. It is hard, sweaty, heart pounding and it can run the risk of injury- especially in the higher level poses.

In the process of demo-ing a harder pose, visvamitrasana, ( think arm balance, splits and twist at the same time) I heard a loud pop ( apparently my SI joint).  Though I had no pain at the time, a dull ache developed in the hip and hamstring shortly afterwards. ( hamstring tear??)

Why, if I am so careful, did I get injured you may ask? Three things occurred-

1) I was not warmed up as much as I should have been for such a deep pose- hazard of being a teacher

2) I overemphasised the actions in the demo so the students could more easily see them and went beyond my range of motion

3) Not enough muscular energy. Before I spiraled my leg I should have pulled my heel back towards my hip to better seat the femur in the hip socket.

I brought a yoga book to my physio today and pointed to the picture of visvamitrasana and in the words of my wonderful teacher Christina said,  “This is the pose I was doing when I injured myself and this is the pose I want to be able to do again“.

He looked at me and said- “Oh- this makes so much more sense now ” and then proceeded to throw IMS needles into my buttock flesh. His diagnoses- SI popped out of range and stressed the whole hip and put the glute and hamstring into spasm and probably a micro tear in my hamstring.

Good. It is not as bad as I thought. They funniest thing was my teacher just sent me- after I told her I injured myself- this crazy practice called “Eye if the Tiger”. I mean- there are poses in there I had to look up because I have never heard of them!! It could be a while before I get to practice that one! Oh…and its three hours long! God bless her- I swear she sees more in me than I see in myself.

Well  you can injure youself in yoga but, with Anusara techniques, you can also heal yourself. Everything that happens is for a reason. I figure I needed to cultivate more knowledge on hamstring injury and more awareness of muscle energy in my legs. I know get to use my knowledge to start to heal myself.

Every setback is an opportunity to learn. Every opportunity to learn makes me a better teacher.

I just wish the bag of ice under my butt wasn’t so uncomfortable……..