Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

Anusara Chaos and the Dance of Shiva February 11, 2012

  • ‘Shrishti’ – creation, evolution
  • ‘Sthiti’ – preservation, support
  • ‘Samhara’ – destruction, evolution
  • ‘Tirobhava’ – illusion
  • ‘Anugraha’ – release, emancipation, grace

These are the 5 acts of Shiva. All of them are happening all the time, everywhere. This week they happened in a very impactful and resounding way throughout the Anusara Yoga community of which I am a member. Our teacher and founder of Anusara Yoga, John Friend, has been accused of and admitted to, behavior that is not in alignment with the Ethics and guidelines of Anusara. I learned one hour before I was about to teach Monday night that literally all hell had broke loose~ and my teacher , who I held in the deepest respect and  great esteem,  suddenly was shown to have clay feet.

I could wax on about what he did, but honestly, I don’t really care. John is a brilliant man and the method he synthesized is the best I have ever taught, practiced or experienced.  I am also very much a liberal and you can do what you want in your private life,  as long as it doesn’t hurt others and it’s not unethical to the standards of which you hold yourself and others. I hate hypocrites. But  I mean really… smoking weed??? It’s almost legal where I live! Unfortunately the issue is that John denied the behavior or hid the behavior from the community at large, which has now been to the detriment of all those associated with the method. He was not ” walking his talk” and that has created a large “disconnect” in a method that tries at its heart to create connection- to our own hearts, to the  pulsation of nature around us and to the Absolute.

We know when we are “disconnected” because there is this uncomfortable unsatisfactory feeling of rubbing up against something that creates a friction, a pain, a suffering. Part of this is truly God given as it causes us to then change the behaviour, the thinking, the heart- to move back into connection. This is  part of the Dance of Shiva- the dance of life.

We conceal our hearts and create illusions of what is the truth and then these creations of the ego become unable to sustain themselves and they crumble back into their component parts. The heart is still there- it is indestructible: but we continually go through this process of concealment and revelation, creation and destruction, as a cycle of manifested life. We dance the life of shadows and light until we die. The true yogi still dances, but there is an abiding stillness that remains at the center- at the heart.

The Dance of Shiva contains – “sthiti” – preservation; the leg that stands upon the demon of ignorance as it wiggles to get free. Can you stand in the chaos of this dance of life and not get swept away- lost in the chaos- thrown off balance to let the demon arise? This is what the yogi- in the form of Nataraja- represents. The yogi sees through the illusions, stands in the wildness and yet remains in a meditative state in the heart. Grace helps hold them there.

Awakening to the wisdom that this is the cycle and this is your dharma does not allow you to waver- the foot remains firmly rooted out of profound love. Grace is the power that holds the heart to the highest- even when life can be at it’s lowest.

When I signed my certification I signed on to a method – not a personality- and I have a profound love of this practice that is not going to let the chaos waver my steady leg – a leg that is in direct correlation to my heart. As I taught shortly after the chaos began , I felt the strength and power of the teachings flow through me and my heart sang a song of connection. There was nothing there that felt anything but beautiful. I realized that this is destruction of the old, immature, adolescent dependence that we had on John as the figure head and that we now have all the component parts in front of us to  create again . The heart is not lost, the heart is not broken, it is there waiting for us to Open To Grace and rebuild and create in a mature way- seeing the illusions, staying steady in the heart and yet remaining in the chaotic dance of life-

what will we create out of destruction?


Nazei…why? November 14, 2007

Filed under: Anusara,Japan,teaching yoga,travel yoga,yoga — shibuiyoga @ 11:15 am
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The game is up…John asked for my blog address. Well John, if you are reading this I fought to edit it for your eyes. The Japanese call this hone and tatemaeHone– inside face and tatemae-outside face. Everybody gets my hone on my blog- the real me- silliness and all.     

I can’t believe we are half way though training. It seems to be flying by. By the time I look at my watch it is already 4:30 in the afternoon and we started at 9:00. We have a little over an hour for lunch break and then we go back again. The days are long but we seem to be infused by the desire to learn as much as we can in this short week. The dedication, the commitment, the studentship is unsurpassed. In Sanskrit this is called adikara. Christina Sell, my mentor teacher,  was vehement that the most important thing in training was studentship and she is a great example. She is an amazing teacher and practitioner but she is also an incredible student. She is continually studying, practicing, pushing herself to learn more. She is who I want to emulate as a student.

Today we used the theme of commitment. Commitment to be the best teacher we can be. It was interesting to see how my mind processed the theme throughout the day. As I thought about balancing the theme with a contrast that was soft I started to think ” Why?” “Nazei?” Why do I want to be an Anusara yoga teacher- why do I want to be the best. For fame..fortune?? That made me laugh. Most yoga teachers will tell you it sure isn’t for the money- most yoga teachers I know just get by. Then of course John- mind reader he is- asked us to ask “why?” I thought about it for the rest of the afternoon. I came up with one clear answer- I want to share.

Yoga has done so much for me and my family. I think I notice it more in my husband then myself- not saying that I haven’t changed too- but it is easier to look at others.  My girlfriend from childhood, Mindy, said to me “Yoga as changed you…you are a much better listener now.” Wow. Really? That was big to me. She has known me since I was three years old and yet it took yoga to make me a better listener- and hopefully now a better friend. ( Love to you Mindo!)

Every class I teach I try to teach from something that has happened to me – my own experience. I struggle often but other days I hit that very strong center of feeling and the words just come. One of my dear students has been diagnosed with colon cancer. She is one of the most vibrant, joyful people I know. She is 6 feet tall, 60 years old and always has perfect hair and makeup. She does headstand and giggles infectiously. She lights up the class… and the studio has seemed a little darker in her absence.

 I went to go visit her the other day before she started chemo. In all her pain and struggle, all she kept doing was thanking me for teaching her. For accepting her stiff body and for teaching her that yoga was more than postures. To her it was a way to practice opening her heart and continuing to learn. She used things I had said in her job as a motivational speaker. She said she was wary when I took over from another teacher. He was very gentle and soft. I demanded more of them- physically and mentally. I asked them to think about what they were doing. It scared her at first, but then she realized that what I was teaching was so much richer then her previous experience. Yoga moved off the mat and into her daily life- and for that she was so grateful. Yoga is how she was going to cope with having cancer.

I was blown away. I had no words.

I eventually said, ” It wasn’t me…I didn’t do it…the yoga did it.”

She said, “Maybe…but you are a hell of a messenger.”

That is why I am committed to being the best teacher. I want to be a hell of a messenger.