Asana Junkies day 2:


Day 2 San Marcos, TX:  Asana Junkies with Christina Sell

i’m feeling much better today!

and i’m grateful for day two! day two always feels better. aside from the obvious benefit of a good night’s sleep, there is benefit in the merging of individual energies into a group energy. by the end of the workshop we’ll feel like good ol’ buddies.

our car ride to Christina’s School of Yoga was less hectic today: three yogis and a ramp. the ramp foreshadows the inevitable backbend play/work ahead. tea time is chatty time and our chit chat, although delightful, made us late for our morning puja. Christine handled it well with a smile and an anecdote about her days at Prescott College. she paraphrases one of her teachers, “You cannot not communicate. your behavior communicates.” a very important teaching that can serve to call us to attention. what is my behavior communicating? … …

light poured in through the studio’s high windows, so perfectly aligned with the mood of the room it was like a soundtrack. as we participated in our chanting, pranayama and meditation, the previously grey sky offered us bright rays of light in return.

the morning session was 10am until the end of the world… there’s no limit on backbends! the practice was sweaty and slippery! by the end of class Miss Tanya looked like she jumped into a pool! she was so excited because she got some air in one-armed Mayurasana. Miss Christine had some vocal breakthroughs in Viparita Chakrasana (hence the ramp) today as well! the general sequence: standing poses, belly down backbends, handbalancings, more backbends and more backbends. it was a hybrid of Iyengar meets Bikram minus the high heat. we made our own heat! the mood was ferociously playful!

Christina talked about the strategy of using the pose to prepare for the pose, not for beginners, but more intermediate/advanced. i remember in my earlier days of practice and teaching i’d prepare and prepare and prepare… and sometimes due to time constraints, never even make it to the pose! so now, i just accept that the first urdhva dhanurasana might feel crappy (for example), but I can use the alignment and actions I know to free myself in the pose. (Tanya smiles and says she always anticipates this moment in class…) just like in life! i can apply the cumulative lessons i’ve acquired to the current circumstances in order to shift my perception, and thus free myself in the moment.

Christina and Darren often quote a Lee Lozowick saying, “Forewarned is forearmed.” i thought about this as i anticipated upcoming poses in the sequence… we can’t choose the sequence offered by the teacher, but we choose how to engage within what is offered. … especially within a sequence that i’ve done before, i can anticipate what’s coming and prepare myself physically, and most importantly mentally… how do i look at/approach what’s coming? with dread or persistence? persistence is “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition, continuing steadfastly.” … … …

regarding sequencing: (of poses or circumstances of our life, cuz hell, isn’t all a metaphor… Miss Manorama says, “Look to the metaphor.”), how do poses relate to each other? christina sell likes to sequence from Mr. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga (so fantastic, because that’s how I love to practice! the book is an empowering guide!) and in her teaching of these sequences in recent workshops I’ve attended, she emphasizes how it’s not a “peak pose” strategy, but rather do what you can do in the pose your in and see what it offers you for the next pose. further, Miss Christina Sell invites us to just do it a couple of times and try it again tomorrow. rather than get too hung up on “getting” the pose no matter what, she stimulates a healthy level of detachment. in our day to day living may we expand our awareness to see how the struggles i endure on this day grant me virtues and thus serve me for future endeavors.

lunch showed up with no excuses or justification… ha ha… it was just late, and it accepted full responsibility… a welcome change of clothes, Christine Lee and I dove into preparation for our November Coata Rica retreat. she also received some acupuncture from Mr. Kelly Sell, Miss Christina’s very kind husband.  he’s so supportive and such a sweet presence.  in addition he also offers us acupuncture in our breaks!

afternoon session: restoratives, inversions, forward folds, hip openers, and great discussion.

Lululemon Outlet Store!!! uh oh! …

damn neon and fluorescent colors are super see through and you can see my tattoos right through them! and yet, i bought them anyway… so there’s that…

evening brought dinner, more flyer work with Christine Lee, and facebook entertainment.

we’re so looking forward to our first retreat together! side note: we’ve decided that between the two of us, we’d make the perfect yogi. we’re complementary. i’m grateful for our partnership. she’s quite a gift in my life.

what a fabulous day! Again, I’m so grateful to be here. I’m honored to be with such amazing, strong, inspiring women! Yeah, it’s all ladies! Oh, and Kelly. :-)





Thumbs up

ok, so no fooling… i’m freaking out to a small degree regarding money and finances in general and I keep reminding myself to trust in the universe, to have faith in my being provided for each day, each moment. I keep going about daily business even after I work out some financial details and blatantly face the fact that after I pay my mortgage I will have $300 with which to pay other bills, eat, buy gas, and essentially live for the next two weeks.  After teaching I received a call from my sister, Staci, and after chit chat she informed me that she has $1000 for me!!! Yeah! no shit! I wanted to cry and sing and dance all at once! My faith in God is absolutely blaring and flashing like a vivid neon sign. I have been praying about my financial situation and here it is! Yeah! Turns out I previously lent her a little more than that and she’s just paying me back! Rad! And then! Handsome coffee man gave me a free coffee! HA! I’m so grateful! I’m so supported and so taken care of, as long as I’m tending to me and my highest self, as opposed to my lower self that is needy, codependent, and addicted. It seems as though I’m making the best decisions, even as I face the discomfort of being alone, of being anxious, uncertain, and troubled with an inordinate amount of empathy and self-doubt. Lately I’ve been experientially realizing how necessary the discomfort is. By this I mean that like most human beings, I tend to want to avoid discomfort at all costs via alcohol, drugs, food, sex, tv, video games, drama, etc…and it’s precisely that avoidance that prevents the lesson from taking root. (I think of that Ani Difranco song, “Marrow,” she sings, “The answer came like a shot in the back while you were running from your lesson, which might explain why years later all you could remember was the terror of the question… and I can’t believe you let the moral go by while you were sulking in the product placement…” i checked; I didn’t remember the exact lyric)

So i was dorking out yesterday thinking about how Pandora is like life. (cuz isn’t everything simply a microcosm for life?) I thought it’d be a brilliant yoga theme and blog entry, but then I didn’t make time to write my blog entry yesterday, my day off, cuz i was busy walking my dog, meeting a few friends, getting coffee, hula-hooping (yeah!), roller-skating (uh-huh!), running with my dog in what seemed like the tornado in Wizard of Oz, making kale chips, grocery shopping, checking Facebook… …. ha! there’s always something, no?.. so i taught it as a yoga theme today and realized it would have gone over much better had i spent that time writing about it yesterday… yeah… so anyway. i’m here today… and i blog…

On Pandora there’s the thumbs up symbol and the thumbs down symbol. Right. So you pick your artist, Pandora plays similar things within that genre and a person can specifically tailor a radio station to their liking with these two icons. It took me a little while to figure this out. I know, shoosh… Initially I listened to whatever was played just like I would listen to a radio station. I would tolerate the annoying songs and just deal with agitation or press the forward button to skip to the next song. In retrospect I see I was avoiding responsibility for creating the station the way I wanted it. I have this tendency to feel bad, like i want to give the song a chance, so rather than thumbs down it, I’d just move on. Soon I realized you can only skip ahead five times… (yeah, funny. I wonder why it’s only five)… (maybe i’m overanalyzing this)

You can create your universe by the was you interact with what is presented to you in the moment. If you like it, embrace it, affirm it, engage it. If you don’t like it, it’s important to cultivate the skill to assert yourself and to choose something else. Otherwise you keep listening to songs you don’t really like; you experience a world that just happens to you, aggravates you, and you tolerate it passive-aggressively rather than manifest a moment of your choosing, a life of your dreams… sigh…. (drift off in la la land)…. …

With regard to yoga poses though, we face a little bit of a dilemma. It’s not as though you can “thumbs down” a pose and you don’t have to do it. rrrrrrright…. Some people do, and you absolutely can in your own practice, but that’s surely not how you get better at the challenging poses or how you cultivate virtues such as perseverance and patience (i’m up to ‘P’ in the dictionary, ha!). (and this may be a whole separate issue, but often by pracicing poses we don’t like we get better at the poses we do like.  For example by doing dreaded core work our backbends get better.) The teacher has a plan, and we, as students might not know the bigger picture and/or don’t dig this plan.  It’s her plan, not ours. Being a student in the class, in fact, choosing to be there, we are choosing to work on what is presented. The plan is for our benefit, for our upliftment. Thumbs up.  That is the challenge. Discernment within yoga practice would be discerning what is pain from what is intense sensation. Rather than avoid that which presents intense sensation, (viewing it as pain), we can delve into it with our breath, explore it and feel it… feel it… feel it… and consequently learn and grow… evolve, get bigger because of the challenge. The option always exists to see it as pain, to complain, avoid, justify, distract… and stay small, or even to contract further in the face of challenge. We always have a choice…

Dr. Douglas Brooks says, “What a difference a difference makes.” While choosing thumbs up or thumbs down on a Pandora station seems inconsequential and trivial, even silly… (like come on, where are we going with this? ha! I know!), this is what we do moment to moment by the way we interact with our surroundings, by how we engage with what is presented to us in the moment. So that what is presented becomes that which we choose. With discernment we choose to affirm, maintain, or further cultivate that which we like, that which enhances our experience of life. In many cases, the thumbs down option just happens because by saying yes to something, you’re necessarily saying no to other things. However certain things require a thumbs down. In this “relative” world of manifest things not all things are created equal. It’s not all the same. Some things are better than others. You like some things and not others. In order to fully say yes to oneself and one’s life, we must enact the thumbs down option… without feeling bad… (errrrr i suppose it’s gotta be ok to feel bad, cuz it just happens and we can accept that too. We’ve got to be ok with feeling bad, being in that discomfort, because like yoga asana, that’s how we evolve.) I hope this is helpful to more people than just me. As beloved Manorama teaches, look to the metaphor.