Seasons Change

After the 12:15 expanding class I walked outside and felt the all-of-a-suddenly cold air grip ahold of me— the sudden remembrance of the seasonal dance… doing its thing, doing what it does, cycling around, summer to fall to winter to spring… and here we are… cycling around, as all things seemingly do…

In Tucson we all yearn so eagerly for the cool air that winter brings, and then when the time comes everyone complains that it’s cold… hahaha… so it goes…

Change is what’s always already happening, and yet here we are… experiencing it…

Do you resist the change?  or do you roll with it?

Great teachers declare, “If you resist what is, you suffer.”

Mr. Lee Lozowick said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

In other words, as Christina Sell once said, “Don’t freak out about your freak out.”

Pema Chodran advises us to “Lean into it.”

And yet… here i am… suffering a bit.. feeling resistance to what is.  The current is carrying me to other adventures…not better or worse, just different.  Different is unknown and therefore Ms. Mind labels it as uncomfortable, something to be avoided at all costs.

But I know myself better than that.

All great things in my life have arisen out of facing such discomfort, and as one of my first great teachers, Ms. Ulla Lundgren said, “feel(ing) the fear and do(ing) it anyway.”

Off to Never Never Land…

Or Phoenix, as it were… Starting January 2nd I begin acupuncture school, and play with turning things a little upside down and seeing who I am in that circumstance… just like yoga.  And so we see it’s all practice.  And it’s all a metaphor.  We practice and practice, for what?  For more practice.  For what?  So we can practice some more in a different situation.  Ms. Manorama D’Alvia said, “Your life is for figuring out your life… No one is going to do it for you.”

At this stage of the game I find myself looking for any reason not to go, I found myself just last night on the UofA website exploring different options I could pursue here in Tucson and therefore justify my staying.  Breathe…Breathing… Each class has become such a magical, meaningful, rich experience.  Each student I touch, each gaze I meet, I feel its significance because I see the end.  … And each end is the beginning of something new… Mr. Douglas Brooks taught to focus on what you are moving towards, rather than to focus on what you’re moving away from.  It’s a beautiful life teaching.  I learned that in skiing so long ago!  Haha.  Look in the direction you want to go, rather than the tree you’re aiming to avoid!  Sigh… This isn’t the end.  I’ve set up with YogaOasis to teach TUESDAYS: 11am Yogahour, 1215 Expanding, and 415 Yogahour, as well as a workshop every month.  I’ll be available on social media, checking in and sharing upcoming classes, workshops and retreats elsewhere as well.

My heart hurts, but I practice having faith that it’s for the best.  I love you. Thank you for being a part of my path, for sharing this journey with me.  Please stay with me as we continue on down the road.  Love and Gratitude.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transition

I taught my last Saturday yogahour at downtown today.  Brigette Niedringhaus starts teaching it next week.  It was a nice, full, enthusiastic class. Transitions are challenging because my students say they’ll miss me and I definitely feel committed to them, but when I moved to Tucson from Flagstaff, mentors said to focus on that to which you are moving, rather than that from which you are leaving. That makes it easier. I’m excited to take over Bruce’s Basics class at central Yoga Oasis from 6-730pm, although, of course it’s big shoes to fill! Bruce has got quite a following! I pray students appreciate the teachings presented in a variety of ways, and they’ll stick with me through the transition.  I look forward to planning classes that help my students understand and appreciate yoga in the same skillful and heart-opening way my first teachers, Erin Widman and Ulla Lungren did for me.

saturday observation

I love teaching weekend mornings downtown!  It’s such a great group!  I enjoy a 25 min bike ride to downtown Yoga Oasis studio, get it all set up: ac on, candles lit, incense burning, sign-in sheet ready, sweat wiped off, welcoming smile on my face.  I put myself in the shoes of my students, who would be waking up on a Saturday morning and choosing to start their weekend with yoga.  how would they be feeling?  what makes them come to practice?  what do they want from practice?  What can I offer them to brighten their day and teach them something?  Doing this helps me to get out of my own head, whatever drama may be playing out up there, so I may be fully present to be sweet and helpful to whomever arrives.

Today’s word was “observe.”  One of my first yoga teachers, Ulla Lundgren, said that yoga is ‘Svadyaya,’ or study of the self.  I just started a book called Self Observation, the awakening of Conscience, An Owner’s Manual, by Red Hawk.  Red Hawk summarizes a principle in physics called Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle” in the following way, “The act of observation changes the thing observed.”  I remember learning about this in school, how the behavior of particles changes simply because they are being observed.  I remember being in awe by this, but sorry to say, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind and priorities, so I’m grateful to receive it again in very clear, jargon-free language.  I dived into further research on Wikipedia and vague memories of past physics classes re-emerge along with forced focus to combat glazed eyes and mind-wandering tendencies… There is much more to this principle and these ideas, but for now, I’m using Heisenberg’s principle.  Thinking about this makes me realize that the observer is what is being observed and is therefore constantly changing all the time.  …

I recently finished a book called, Gurdjieff, A Beginner’s Guide, How Changing the Way We React to Misplacing Our Keys Can Transform Our Lives, by Gil Friedman.  The core practice in this book was also Self-Observation.  Friedman says, “The only person who can do the Work is ourselves… The only way to make the Work functional is to actually apply it by observing ourselves uncritically.  We are the subjects of this Work.  The aim of the Work is not to change the world but to change ourselves.”  Yoga asana is one way to practice this concept in our bodies, minds, and hearts.  We affect ourselves through our direst observation and subsequent interaction with what we observe.  For example, in triangle pose, we observe our leg muscle is disengaged and even bent to a degree.  Simply observing this may instigate corrective action, but observation comes first.  The teacher’s presence and guidance, along with the big energy of a packed yoga-hour room may also motivate fuller participation, for it has been scientifically proven that when people are watched they perform better.  Christina Sell spoke to this in her recent workshop, “Teaching the Raw Beginner.”

If we practice watching ourselves from an objective viewpoint regularly we change just by this simple act.  Again and again, simple, but not easy.

Seasons change

Tucson’s hot summer comes to a theoretical close as we step into August.  Last night a student asked me how my summer was and I giggled and said something about how it’s still blazing.  She explained that she was a teacher, so for them the summer is sort of over…

My neck alerted me it was time to visit the chiropractor this morning, so before my classes I went to The Joint and got fixed up by Dr. Eric.  He’s such a gem.  My neck muscles still spasm, but I’m getting a massage tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to ease.  Perfect inspiration for my classes, as I tend to overwork myself, and therefore to bring balance, I aim to rest more, to give myself nurturing time to heal, to practice what I preach.

I taught Yogahour at the central Yoga Oasis today 11-12 and Expanding at 1215-145.  I themed on balance.  In Yogahour I taught a lot of one-legged balancing poses, which I love to play with anyway, and handbalancings like Sage Prep and Crane.

In Expanding we did the first part of our practice using a block as a helpful teaching guide to find the midline of our bodies and to practice drawing into it, for our ease, peace, comfort, balance lies in the middle.  The Buddhists call it ‘The Middle Path.’  When we practice not identifying with either extreme and instead reside in the middle we know peace.  This is a step-by-step practice, a daily, moment-by-moment practice of detaching from when things are awesome and exactly as we’d wish them to be and from when things are horrible and we feel like we cannot go on.  Neither will last forever.  “This too shall pass.”  ForMG9883-M our asana practice we did a Surya Namaskar A with a block between our shins, Surya B with a block except for Warrior 1, which was kinda funky and awkward, then handstand hops with a block between the shins, one with bent legs and one with straight legs.  oooh, good stuff!  We did some abs with the block (inspired by Desiree’s Practice back in the Scottsdale days), a variety of one-legged standing poses on a block, (inspired by Noah from many years ago, he taught an intermediate/advanced workshop with all the standing poses on a block)  I love getting inspired by other teacher’s great ideas!  It was a perfect way to embody the theme of balance.  Then we brought our warm bodies to the floor for some grounding work:  Some good ol’ “Yummy Thigh Stretch,” as Ulla used to call it, Runner’s Stretch, Hanuman work, Pigeon, Pigeon Thigh Stretch, twisting, more Hanuman, Parsva Upavistha Konasana, Upavistha Konasona, Marichiasana 3, Marichiasana 1, Ardhva Matseyendrasana, Triangmukaikapada Paschimottanasana, Krounchasana, Marichiasana 5, Bharadvadjasana 2, Paschimottanasana with a block between our belly and thighs to ground the femurs.

It was Sam’s last class for the summer, I’ll miss having her in class.  Ronni said it was her 2nd to last class too!  Seasons change, students change… the practice continues.