asana junkies day 4: the waterfall

5.19.13

San Marcos, TX; Asana Junkies; Christina Sell; day 4

three ladies on the road again! back to San Marcos for the last day of the workshop with the car packed to the brim… yeah, we’re ladies… and Miss Tanya and I plan to leave after the workshop.  the mood is happy and chit chatty.  Miss Tanya drives in her pretty pink shirt with fancy cuts in the back of it, Miss Christine rocking her new white Lulu pants, and I’m sporting my new pale green Lulu pants (yeah Outlet Store!)

Today is full spectrum… can you feel the excitement?!

morning chanting, pranayama, and meditation. tea time.

asana practice with Miss Christina Sell 10am-2pm!  standing sequence very similar to yesterday. challenging and sweaty. so good. i appreciate and loathe the repetition all at once. it’s good for me. my anticipation and dread is something i can work with in a valuable way that can translate into life, for when i anticipate and/or dread something I can bring myself into the moment, feel my breath and just do it anyway, with experiential faith that good will come from it. also, repetition grants us the opportunity to have a marker, a gauge by which to observe progress, which bestows upon us a sense of accomplishment.  years ago I was in a webinar with Christina Sell and she talked about the value of a sense of accomplishment, and how ultimately little steps (like the waterfalls one at a time!–see below) overcomes fear, builds confidence in oneself and fosters a sense that the success can be repeated. it was so with the waterfalls today and it was so in our rad sequence over the past four days.

today i felt the best of all of the days. my shoulders finally felt open! everything felt so good, hard, but so good. we were all drenched in our own sweat, working diligently and wholeheartedly. there was a section of the class after handbalancings that Miss Christina offered us the opportunity to play with whichever backbends we wanted, any of them. I am grateful for Miss Christine Lee’s willingness to help me work on my Rajakapotasana. it’s the hardest backbend for me right now. I struggled hard with it the previous day and broke down in tears. Kapotasana used to be like that for me. practicing it sent my back into spasm and i’d fall to the floor sobbing.  remembering how horrible kapotasana used to feel and acknowledging that I can do it now helped me feel optimistic and willing. Christine sweetly reminded me how the body stores emotions and it’s just another layer where they’re stored. we worked on it several times together, and there’s no way to make it easy, no props that help me get it, using the wall didn’t help. there’s just grunt work of working diligently in the pose and then the sticker of it all, is in the midst of it all with everything, i have i to practice letting go, surrendering it all, my ego, my striving, my sadness, my high expectations, in the physical form of letting my heart soften, to use the classic Anusara saying. the two are mutually exclusive: over-striving and a soft heart. so there’s my work. … soften…  and keep practicing. practice with persistence and devotion… Miss Sienna Smith from San Francisco shared what she gained in the closing circle (to summarize), “practice, patience, play.”  i recognize that along with the will required to get on your mat with regularity there’s a softening necessary in your heart which comes from an energetically different fierceness of will… a passionate willingness to soften (yoga embraces the paradox– to be strong and soft, to engage and let go)… after working on Rajakapotasana for (what felt like) many many times Christina chimed in just in time, saying something to the eftect of, “after working on something that’s hard for you, give yourself a pose you like to do. play.”

… …

and i ate the river for lunch! or rather the river almost swallowed me! tanya, christine and i went to the San Marcos River near the studio. what a treat! it seems to be the thing to do on the weekends there. turns out Miss Christine used to be a synchronized swimmer and a lifeguard, so she loves the water and skillfully insisted i get in, and then with her slyness, she managed to get me to go down the waterfall slide. she’s good! this woman is a leader! last time i was in the San Marcos river I got pulled under after the first waterfall and panicked (that’s the part that messes everything up), and a nice man helped me out. apparently I stored that experience away, and this trip it came out in the form of resistance. just like a skillful yoga teacher or a loving mother, she built my confidence one baby step at a time. stage one , into the water! it was cold, but so refreshing after this morning’s intense practice and the warmth of the day. step 2, first waterfall, step 3 first and second waterfall without stopping (i sort of failed, but still succeeded because i went down both with just a breath-catching break in between. just like success in working on an asana isn’t dependent on whether you achieve the final form, but whether you apply yourself fully, do what you know how to do with sincerity. full form of the pose might happen tomorrow or the next day, or never. but truly, as many of my wise teachers have said, it’s not about the pose…. and yet of coarse it absolutely is about the pose…. it’s the point and not the point all at once. … –wow this is a tangent… stay with me, we’re going places– so that you did not “get” the pose, doesn’t mean you failed. one of my other teachers said, “success is progress.” or “progress is success.” maybe it was Ulla Lundgren. that i made it down the first waterfall, freaked out and didn’t die (well, to be honest, there was a large, elephant of a man perfectly planted at the end of waterfall one, right before i got sucked into waterfall two. i reached out and grabbed him. he was like an anchor! he saved me from panic or drowning), gave me willingness to try it again. i caught my breath and went down number two. — this is a long story– we went back around and did all three and i did stop in between each one, but i went down all three, and yeah, there did just happen to be another large man in just the perfect spot for me to latch on to! as always, i’m taken are of!

(cheesy song starts playing in the background: ” i get by with a little help from my friends…”)

on the road again adventure minus one musketeer! miss tanya and i are now in the Town & Country Motel in Fort Stockton, Texas. big day. only 9 more hours to drive tomorrow.

woke up, threw a hat on, hit up breakfast, and Tucson here we come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

asana junkies day 3: a foray…

5.18.13

sarurday, day 3

just another day of workshop wtih Christina Sell and with such radical, awesome and inspiring women!!!  i’m honored, humbled and grateful to be in such bad-ass company!  (i’m tired so i should go to bed. it’s late in Austin and day 4 starts early tomorrow, so forgive the writing quality of this entry)  today was was a hard day, but a super fun day.

in asana practice we got our vrischikasana (scorpion) on.  the several hour session offered good ol’ fashioned hard work with skillful and challenging sequencing by Miss Christina Sell. i love the way she’s leading the workshops at her School of Yoga. it really invokes community and inspires continued challenging practice.

(oh there’s so much to say…)

at lunch i went to the river with Miss Malek and Mew Mew (her adorable chiwawa), Tanya, Christine Lee and Cheryl from Florida.  i enjoyed seeing texas community having fun in the sun… lol and i love that i saw a dude with a big cowboy hat, cowboy boots, shorts and lots of tattoos. he was great. the river posse consisted of lots of dogs,  families, plenty of children, rugged loners, couples, beers, icechests, etc. the most entertaining part was watching the scene of waterfall chasers.  lounging sunbathers in tubes, courageous kids running down backwards, tubes tied to other tubes, tubes tied to icechests on tubes, boats, kayaks, boogie boards, dare devils torpedoing bare-belly down, backwards… some were scary to watch!  i’m grateful i went.  it felt like a sweet gift, a special feature of the worksh0p to get to go “chill out” at the river in between sessions.  on the banks christine and i talked shop in preparation for November’s Costa Rica retreat.

a change of clothes and we’re back at it for afternoon practice:  a foray with hanumanasana! ha! ha! miss tanya jokingly called it a weekend in wine country.. it was funny.  (also funny, if you’re a dork about words, foray’s first definition is: a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, esp. to obtain something; a raid.  secondly, its an attempt to become involved in a new activity or sphere. … that sounds about right.  it’s an attack into enemy territory of hanumanasana to obtain new insight, revelation, opening, for hopefully some sense of ease)  we entertained ourselves with lots of quad and hammy opening.

mr. kelly sell is so kind and generous. he made us delicious curry and rice for dinner! we ate together and shared rich conversation with plenty of smiles, giggling and chocolate for dessert.  some of us stayed after and Miss Livia showed us a You Tube video of a narcoleptic cat that sent us rolling on the floor.  christine, tanya, and melissa shared a car ride to our hosts’ homes.  due to construction, the car took a li’l detour, and we were lost in the depths of conversation with an audience of lovely green trees.  after we dropped off melissa and christine, what’s better than an adventure at Sprouts?  an adventure at Sprouts… twice.  ha ha… we forgot something, and of course drifting all over in conversation led our car drifting all over getting a little lost on the way home… but only the first time.  lol.

laundry of our sweaty clothes, and goodnight….more tomorrow.

 

 

asana junkies day 1 – more will be revealed…

thursday 5.16.13

 

miss tanya, miss christine, and i adventured from tucson to austin yesterday for Christina Sell’s Asana Junkies: 4 days of kick your asana from 845 am to 5 pm. our 15 hour journey in “the Vegas Mobile” consisted of 3 alternating drivers, innumerable pee stops, and one stop for no seat belt from a friendly police officer with big ol’ blue eyes who just seemingly wanted to chit chat because he let us go with a warning and much historical account of how cool he was… he was pretty cool. oh yeah, and taking turns giving and receiving in-depth co-counceling dubbed tanya’s tank-of-a rav 4, “the Vegas Mobile.” I assume the reader understands this to be our silly commitment to confidentiality, and not some, well whatever else one might
assume. so that’s nice. we all need a place to open up, share our struggles and our truths, and make deeper connections to ourselves and others, to feel heard. it was a perfect trip. we got into austin late, 11 pm (we lost two hours coming in!), dropped miss christine off at her spot and went to ours. sleep was a welcome friend that left way too soon.

our car adventure continued in the morning to trolly six people instead of three! a few different lively conversations filled the car during the 45 min ride to san marcos. that familiar feeling of excited anticipation filled the air accompanied by the also familiar sense of connection to people you happen to know nothing about. that’s yoga workshops, or at least the beginning of them.

(…and i’m so sleepy…)

this morning we had tea and coffee time and morning chit chat in miss christina sells’ lovely School of Yoga San Marcos, followed by overview and discussion, brief introductions, and chanting in the practice room.

following, we had another a little tea break (kelley makes incredible coffee) and i napped.  thank goodness.

then! asana anana asana….

apparently it’s a sequence christina used from week three of her webinar.

it was a sweaty, awesome selection of surya namaskar, standing poses, handbalancings, and backbends.

i felt super tight, but the more i did, and the more i engaged, the better i felt. my tiredness pulled me through feelings of dread, unwillingness, and self talk that led me all the way into self-reflection like, “ya know, why do i even do this to myself?” and then i dive into the next handbalance and get re-inspired, re-stoked. and in between poses, especially back bends, the self-doubt returns along with terrifying thoughts of just giving it all up to do something “normal” … whatever that is. and then i am in the next pose and i focus on what’s necessary to feel free and good in the pose, to do all of the alignment cues i know to do to just free myself in the moment. the other option is to just hang out in discomfort, feel terrible and definitely never want to do yoga again. another gift of tiredness, oh and the sweatiness, is the sense of ultimate surrender into the moment, to just do the next right thing. the other option was a sort of surrender that entailed curling up in the fetal position in the tea area and miss out on what i came here to do…  i chose to persevere and to do so could only be in the form of active surrender, to surrender to the work. as mr. paul muller ortega says, “surrender to the discipline that is presented.” and it worked.

lunch came, and all is well.

afternoon practice menu offered delicious restoratives, inversions, and foreward folds.

and now it’s bedtime. i’m grateful to be here, welcomed by such kind and generous hosts, guided by such a skillful and wise teacher, supported by her lovely husband, and adorable greyhound, and! it’s gorgeous here in San Marcos right now! everything is so lush and green.  i look forward to tomorrow.

more will be revealed!

Stargazer_Lily

 

 

butterflies or pickles

5.14.13

tuesday today terrificus…

tuesday of three classes and so many smiling students and watching myself in the face of it all (of course, lol, it’s always about you stef… hmmm…) and yet really, isn’t it? not about me, but about you. for me it’s about you and for you it’s about you, and if i didn’t know me, i am unable to connect with and serve you. someone in expanding class today hit the nail on the head when they said something to the effect of, “it’s like we are all voices inside one big head.” yeah, we were talking about our multiple personalities… er uh, at least i was…

according to some philosophies that underly the practice of yoga, the manifest realm is a manifestation of a supreme intelligence, a universal reality, highest consciousness, god, whatever you want to call it, and that this physical realm that we experience in normal day-to-day life contains and is composed of this consciousness. and thus, we are all one. so each personality we encounter is like another voice in our “big” head… lol.

yeah, it’s like that. this concept helps me to be compassionate when people don’t understand something, willing when someone is having a difficult time, and curious about people i “dislike.” truly it helps me not only as a teacher, but as just a stef in day to day living at the grocery store (where i always seem to be), on my bike with lots of cars, in the car running late, talking on the phone to a woman who works for the gas company who’s simply doing her job and cares not about my crankiness and impatience.

classes went well today. i love my job.

word of the day at yogahour 11am and 415: TRUST.

The quote i borrowed it from this morning is from DR Butler’s The Course. http://www.truthofthepresentmoment.blogspot.com. he said,

“It’s not that our concepts from the past take up 75 percent of our consciousness, while awareness of the present takes 25 percent. It would be great if it were like that, but consciousness is only one, it is filled by one thought at a time. So, if we are clinging to our ideas from the past, it fills personal consciousness to the brim. This is why there must be an emptying out, a letting go, so that the past can be flushed from our psychic system, and we’ll be continuously refreshed and expanded by what is new. Of course, it helps to give up fear of the unknown. Trust that the unknown is even greater than the known.”

this paragraph stood out to me this morning. my tendency is to drop everything and discard it all to get ready for the new. LOL and throw out the baby with the bath water. (that is such a freaking hilarious saying) Some new (or recycled) thoughts surfacing are to let go of old ideas from the past rather than dismiss everything from the past… ie relationships, people, places…. there will be more to come on this…

let’s just pull on this thread for a while…

in a yoga class i taught over a year ago I demoed a standing pose sequence and pulled my hamstring and adductor. one vein of thought would have me blame and discard the practice of yoga or blame and discard the specific poses that preceded the injury. but what’s the point of that? what do we learn from that? with commitment, devotion and discernment we can place ourselves back in the same place where we got burned. we don’t step back into the fire for the sake of getting burned again or in denial of the fire’s capacity for and and high probability of destruction, but rather to learn from it and ultimately grow, to become more refined versions of ourselves. just as much as fire can destroy, fire can transform. i’ve heard it said many times by great teachers that it’s a razor’s edge. at the recent workshop with christina sell talked about how one can pull away from one edge only to fall off the other side. through our yoga practice ideally we become more sensitive and our capacity to know and take care of ourselves expands…

i tend to be overly hard on myself and yet, took a 6 weeks off of yoga. it took a long time to straighten my leg again. it’s over a year later and i’m still working, but if i had given up the practice entirely i would have missed valuable lessons. commitment and persistence pays off, but the asana practice continually teaches me that the persistence must shift approach and focus if it is to be sustained.  the practice continues and persistence perseveres with sensitivity and discrimination.

the 1215 expanding class (still talking about tuesday) rickity rocked out in pincha scorpion, vrischikasana today. we used chairs as support, which was an adventure, as we only had six. so we had stations and played musical stations alternating with blocks to get our shoulders and upper backs open. we prepped with handstand booty-on-the-wall and pincha-booty-on-the-wall, virasana, supta virasana, and kapotasana work. miss christine lee’s beautiful pose was inspiring. i was pleased by the class’s overall enthusiasm and willingness. i love my students! and! i’m so grateful for my brilliant teachers. I couldn’t be doing what i do without them.

I got to participate in the first two days of The Courage to Teach with Christina Sell and Darren Rhodes at Yoga Oasis! I love these two people with all my heart. day one Darren said, “We teach who we are.” I believe it’s a quote from the book. It calls one to walk the walk, so to speak, to live the life about which they preach. And simultaneously, the fact is that whether you live according to your philosophical ideals or not, we lead by example. As Douglas Brooks once said (paraphrased), “even not making a choice is making a choice.” We choose who we are by what we engage, how we engage it, and the company we keep. (i used to rationalize and justify this concept but came to realize through brilliant guidance from dear Scott Marmorstein and his guru, that no matter how strong you think you are on the inside, your outer company will drag you down. … side note, i’m not jesus. he hung with the lows and drank wine, so they say, i wasn’t there, but hey, i’m not jesus… so yeah, “they” say you hang around a barber shop long enough, you’re going to end up getting your hair cut… ha! or at least get a whole bunch of other people’s hair all over you… may we choose to surround ourselves with people we wish to emulate. i want to be around people who inspire me, who are happy, who smile, who giggle, who are bright, who are willing and driven….) (any wayz….tangent, sorry.) we teach who we are. we teach based on the struggles we face and overcome. the lessons we accrue are our gems with which to share and enrich the lives of others as well as our own. it goes back to the shared consciousness idea, for as i gain, so do you, and as you gain, so do i. we all struggle. we all have pain. what’s inspiring and interesting is how you face these challenges and ultimately rise out of the ashes anew. the fact that you rose from the ashes is rad, but what’s of value is the tale you now get to tell…

(I’m currently in the backseat of Miss Tanya Whitman’s car while she drives and Miss Christine Lee naps in the passenger seat. We’ve perused many topics thus far. of these tasty morsels of interest, we talked of butterfly metamorphosis, and how the catepillar is no more, how it no longer exists. once it makes the transformation, it’s not a catepillar with wings, but it’s completely new. it’s a different creature. it’s a butterfly. a dear friend recently got a tattoo of a butterfly to mark this very process. the change is permanent. the butterfly cannot change back into the catepillar. another friend said it this way, “once your a pickle you’re always a pickle, you can’t go back to being a cucumber.” ha! butterflies and pickles, whichever analogy you prefer.)butterflypic1

Saturday I was so fortunate to get to go to a dear friend’s wedding in Sedona. the wedding was so beautiful!!!! it was perfect weather with lovely white fluffy floaties drifting through the air with such perfection that it couldn’t have been professionally orchestrated any better! the company was so pleasant. this couple’s friends and family are mellow and kind and fun-loving. i felt so welcome and at ease. the music was a delightful blend of old school meets new school, but i especially loved the oldies. we all had fun dancing, but the best was how intimidating the bride’s family friends were! they ruled the dance floor! and i enjoyed the delicious food! oh the cakes! yes, cakes, plural. and then there was the serendipitous free room! the groom’s mom had a friend who couldn’t use her room so they were able to offer a free place to stay for the night. what a treat!

Sunday i spent mama day in Phoenix with my mama and twin sister and her beautiful munchkins, Elle and Patrick. they are so super cute! they call me “auntie mama.” yeah, it’s awesome.