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Archive for May, 2012

Yesterday made me NOT want to blog about yoga.

I read a LOT of info and comments on Anusara. It is still pretty much back and forth. I noticed John Friend announce last week on Facebook he is coming back to teach and then the letter got pulled after more teachers left. Todd Norian left AGAIN. There is more division in the school than here in Wisconsin with the recalls. I would say they should take whatever little integrity they have left and jump ship, no matter WHAT you have invested. It doesn’t appear as though the few people left at corp headquarters want him to teach. But that is too bad for them. He still owns it. He can do what he wants no matter who shows up.

Sunday night on 60 minutes they featued Roger Waters, ex Pink Floyd musician who pretty much wrote all of the The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon who told how when he ditched the band and went on his own he would be playing to like 1500 people while they were out performing to abou 75000. Humbling. But you have to do what is right. Now The Wall, produced by him, is selling out everywhere. Sometimes doing what you feel is right means a lost of investment. It can also be VERY LONELY. But integrity is EVERYTHING.

I have read a lot of resignation letters from Anusara teachers and a lot of them were saying yes they were aware of some issues that John had, but out of love, respect, blah blah. They all sound the same and after a while it does seem to lack SINCERITY. “I am sorry he got caught.” He is sorry he got caught.

It is nice to know there are really nice people in the world that save eagle babies. There was another human intervention and rescue last evening with a tiny baby that got stuck under a sibling:

What a nice human hand. The baby is doing well today and the rest of the family.

My husband agreed to put a web cam in our backyard tree and build an alluring eagle nest to draw some eagles to kill the rabbits that are eating my plants. In the meantime, I am spreading cayenne pepper all over.

In yoga news I held a sun salutation workshop Sunday. I have to say I could have used three hours AT LEAST. The questions are good and there is so much to cover. People love BASIC knowledge in yoga. You can make it as complicated as you want, but most people want to know the nuts and bolts.

I am still reading Gregor Maehle and going back and forth between the two books. I am also starting to through some Vinayasa Krama in. People who get excited over the word Vinyasa tend to think of the practice as creatively flowing through a variety of movements with a lot of music and creative sequencing. This is one of the most specific practices I have encountered. The book has AMAZING detail and I am starting to work a little bit into teaching without throwing everyone off. I am hoping Grimmly comes up with a post soon on how Ramaswami teaches trainees to use this is a class setting. So far, using bits of it here and there is working, but I do need to work on it in a specific way too and not just throw in parts I like here and there.

On my way home now for some primary today. Later

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Nothing New

image

Vegan pizza

That is the pizza I just made for dinner. My husband is not too crazy about no meat. I am sure he will look for the hot dog in the crust.

What is up with that. That may even make Paula Deen faint.

Not much on the yoga. I am doing a Sun Sal workshop Sunday. Luckily for me Grimmly has a couple of posts about sun sals. Good research and I will have to go look that over.

I had an amazing Intermediate today, probably because I taught in the hot box so kind of got warmed up. Yesterday I had an AWFUL Primary. OMG. I just signed up for some Ashtanga workshops with Kino MacGregor in a few weeks. I hope I am not too humiliated there.

Also I found out that Iyengar is 93 too so it not older than the woman I posted about. Does anyone out there know of a yoga teacher over 93? Please let me know if you do.

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OLDEST TEACHER

Check out the beautiful Robert Thurman pics :

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/a-meeting-in-central-park-with-the-oldest-living-yoga-teacher-in-the-world-photographed-by-robert-sturman/

I don’t believe she is the oldest living yoga teacher. Isn’t Iyengar older than 93? I could look it up but she looks gorgeous in that red dress.

I noticed Esalen posted a video of their kitchen. It is long, but you can get some idea of the beauty of the surroundings and the simpicity of the setting:

The food there is amazing and the gardens are gorgeous. The kitchen staff is huge. I didn’t remember seeing this many. Wish I could have hung out there a little bit and watched. I always enjoy watching people work in gardens when I get a chance. Especially people who REALLY know what they are doing. They were growing every color of kale I could ever imagine and the Esalen kale salad is amazing. I have made it at home and I am growing kale this year and can’t wait to make it with my own kale. Here is the recipe:

⅓ cup Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari soy sauce
⅓ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup flax seed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium red onion
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 pound fresh kale
½ cup sunflower sprouts
½ cup alfalfa sprouts
1 avocado diced
Serves

4-6
Prep Time

35 minutes
Directions

Combine the Bragg or soy sauce and lemon juice in a blender or whisk in a bowl. Slowly dribble in the oil as the blender turns or as you whisk vigorously. Slice the onion into half moons and marinate in the dressing as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Toast the seeds in a heavy bottomed pan (cast-iron is the best) over medium heat until seeds are just golden and fragrant. Toast each seed type separately as their size requires varying roasting times. Cool to room temperature.

De stem the kale. Slice kale leaves into ¼ inch ribbons (very important!)

Toss the seeds, spouts, and kale with the onions, and as much dressing as necessary to lightly but completely dress the kale. Thoroughly massage the kale with your hands.

Here is a pic:

This might be dinner tonight now that I think about it. I think anyone can do quite a bit with a small garden. I am still eating canned foods from last year. I just made a fresh veggie soup with this year’s asparagus crop and last years carrots and tomatos. Carrots are DIVINE when they are canned fresh. I hope to have a good crop this year and have three different kinds. They are in a rabbit free zone.

Almost had a student in this this am:

Tirieng Mukha Uttanasana or urdhva dhanurasana on crack. Hope she doesn’t try it on her own without a spotter.

And then my own struggle with Intermediate last night, which was purely mental. I had to cut out of it early and hit the bike. Sometimes fighting isn’t worth it and you just need the outdoors and fields, birds, and the sky. Last night was one of those. I just rode LIKE THE DEVIL.

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No one quite executes like Duncan Wong:

I have been working on this pose and am not at all consistent with nailing it. It is one of those poses I pull out and then put back for a while.

So the four day immersion is over. I had a plan and then was all over the place. Actually yesterday I had a very focused Primary Series. As I read Gregor Maehle’s book though I am continually discouraged. For example, he INSISTS, as I am sure Guruji did, that you do not move past pasasana in the Intermediate Series until it is perfected.

Although my pasasana continues to evolve, I still go past it and do not see it as a detriment to do the backbend series. I can also do the arm balances in that series. I totally get that you should work the system the way the system is set up, but if I just do Primary, there is not enough backbend work to keep me open. Gregor Maehle, is so BOSSY in his books. At one point he says that he gets a lot of students that have practiced in a formless way and he has a hard time getting them out of the bad patterns of their ‘insipid’ practice. I read that line over and over. I wonder if he tells them to their face their practice is insipid. I would cry if someone told me that. He has no FEAR of his students, so he is probably a GREAT teacher.

I also started on Ramaswami’s Vinayasa Krama. In the introduction he talks about his teachers ‘other’ famous students and why they all learned something a little differnt. He claims that Iynegar leaves out the Vinaysa, which Krishnamacharya insists you must use to practice yoga. Also he said that the Ashtanga system is athletic and daunting to a lot of people. Agree. He worked with his guru in the later years:

So he no doubt had evolved in his teachings. I started practicing along with Grimmly’s videos (thanks Grimm) and I was blown away. The pace is so different, but I can really feel it working at the fascia and tighter tissue and I have only worked the three opening sequences. I want to add one or two daily, but am not sure how to integrate this into teaching. It is deceptively difficult. I found, right away, that I became more mindful in my approach to Ashtanga with longer breathing. So now the series will take me five hours to complete.

Anyway I wish the Immersion could continue for another 50 years. I feel I might actually improve my practice.

Bird alert though, there was a new predator in my backyard Saturday night and it killed a bird. Not a cardinal thankfully. It was a bluish bird with a white breast and orange feet. I haven’t been able to identify it but if it kills rabbits it is welcome back.

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If you are not a friend of Gregor’s on FB, here is his post from yesterday:

“Sorry to take that long with this next post. We have completed the typesetting process of the new pranayama book and are doing a final round of proofreading. We are still finding typos and I would like to reduce them to a minimum. After that’s done we are going to print, which should happen by the end of May.
I had a great time teaching the Melbourne workshop and got a lot of good feedback. Many thanks to Greg and everybody at Ashtanga Yoga Melbourne. I think I managed to present an integrated, holistic organism of asana, kriya, pranayama, yogic meditation and philosophy as taught in yogic scripture.
There was a lot of interest in yogic meditation and of course surprises as there is currently not a lot of yogic meditation being taught. I got a lot of encouragement to bring forward my new book on yogic meditation and will do so as fast as possible. To be realistic even once I have settled on a final draft the actual publishing process takes about 6 months. In the meantime, if you do want to get an in depth experience of the results of my over 30 years of practice and study then consider coming to our Bali event in October.
http://www.8limbs.com/teacher-training/bali
This 4-week intensive is accredited as a 200-hour teacher training and we will cover teaching skills but the bulk is dedicated to establishing you in a technically sophisticated practice of asana, pranayama, kriya and meditation.
I still notice in modern yoga students’ mind the dichotomy between physical yoga such as asana on one hand and mental yoga such as meditation on the other. Please read this excerpt from my pranayama book to understand the importance of not getting stuck at asana.

The union of Hatha and Raja Yoga
The Hatha Ratnavali states that the lower yogic techniques like asana, pranayama and mudra are useless without having the goal of Raja Yoga in mind. Raja Yoga means royal yoga. It is a term that denotes the ‘high road’ of yoga, generally used to indicate the antarangas (inner limbs) of dharana, dhyana and samadhi (the sixth through to the eighth limb). Through asana, pranayama and mudra you may obtain a perfect body, perfect health and maybe even some occult powers to manipulate people, but all this will still let you die ignorant of the Divine hidden within your heart, your own true nature. Raja Yoga and devotion to the Divine are those aspects of yoga that actually do make a difference on your deathbed. People nowadays are attracted to yoga to harvest its health benefits. You may hope that, if you obtain perfect health and a perfect body, you can experience pleasure and comfort for longer and subconsciously push away the hard fact of your own death and the day of reckoning. In some regards this is right, but even 20 to 30 years’ life extension through yoga is really just a blip compared to the eternity of your existence. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says – and he addresses not just Arjuna but every single one of us – ‘You and I are ancient beings. The difference between us is that you do not know your past but I do.’
The few decades of life extension gained through yoga will rush past like a second, after which the great moment arrives when you must forsake your body. Then the pleasure and comfort you managed to gain through yoga will provide no solace in an old dying body when you ask yourself what your life was about and whether you came from an attitude of giving, whether you contributed any good to this world and fulfilled your destiny. Think about it for a moment: To make your body perfectly proportioned and healthy may just give you the opportunity to ignore the reality of your death for longer. But even then you will die, and, if you ignore that fact longer, you may actually die a bigger fool than if you hadn’t been involved in life-extending yoga practices at all. By ‘bigger fool’ I mean even more attached and identified with body and mind and even less appreciative of your eternal, spiritual nature.
Not long ago I talked to a yoga student about yoga being about a school of preparation for death. She got really upset with me and told me she had just figured out her body through yoga, had attained health and was enjoying her body, and didn’t want to hear anything about death. This is very concerning. In this case the student had actually successfully used yoga to push further away from her the most burning and important issue of life, the moment of truth, and yoga enabled her to live longer as if she would live forever – to live a lie. Here yoga has actually been used to lead somebody further into the darkness.
It is not the case that from mere practice of postures you will automatically grow spiritually. You may actually spiritually shrink as in the case of this student, who used postures to become even more obsessed with her body – her material aspect – than she already had been. Traditionally yoga postures are not to be engaged in to gain health (although they will have that effect) but they are to be done with an attitude of prayer to the Divine. Postures are prayer in movement. That is why K.P. Jois called his book Yoga Mala: you use the postures like the beads of a mala to remember the Divine.
The Bhagavad Gita says that, unless they are performed as an offering to the Divine, all actions lead to bondage. This is also the case for asana and pranayama.
Such are the dangers of modern postural yoga. The intention of yoga is to fix your health only so that your mind becomes clearer and you have more energy to focus it on the big questions of life. The true purpose of yoga is to give you the visceral experience of something that actually holds up even at the moment of death. In the throes of death, most/all of what we were/are is stamped out by the intensity of dying, but there is one experience that holds up even right through the process of dying, and that is intense love for God, sometimes also called knowledge of the Divine.
To get this knowledge is not only our birthright but also our divine duty. Only if we fulfill this divine duty can we die in complete and perfect peace. With this experience we can die in peace, since we know that we can leave because we have found completion. In this regard it is much more important to die a perfect death than to live before death in perfect health. The new obsession of postmodern, materialistic society with health is born out of the need to be able to compete for non-renewable resources for longer. We just don’t want to die any more – to vacate that spot on the cappuccino strip, on the beach and in the casino for somebody else. ‘Let me live and enjoy pleasure for longer! That’s why I do yoga!’
That’s why the Hatha Ratnavali says that asana, pranayama and mudra are useless without Raja Yoga. By themselves, without Raja Yoga, they are a form of bodybuilding in the regard that, if done without Raja Yoga, they are only aimed at perpetuating the body. A true yogi is one who would rather be dead, having died with divine knowledge, than be alive in a perfectly healthy body only to just go on consuming resources. In that regard the new fad of using yoga solely for body beautifying and health may be more dangerous to the sacred essence of yoga than many other adversities it has encountered in its long history.”

He does not mince words. Yoga is a spiritual practice. He teaches yoga the way it was taught to him and learned respect for Guruji. He doesn’t layer it to make it palatable to everyone. He is true to the tradition. You either like that or you don’t. For me it works and he has creditibility. Students have to surrender to a teacher if they are to learn anything (lady who visited my class yesterday).

I am intrigued with the Bali training. Can’t wait for the Pranayama book and am excited about the meditation book. I am not sure what his background is in meditation, but am figuring it is tantric. He doesn’t believe in a Buddhist style meditation for yoga or mindfulness, so I am guessing it is similar to what I learned in Santa Rosa.

Also, they have dates for the confluence next year and it is early March in San Diego. Richard Freeman isn’t going because of prior plans. I will have to watch for that. There is nothing on the Yoga Workshop Calendar. The other teachers will be there and Dena Klingsberg. I might still go since it is a good time of the year and I know once they put the registration out there, it fills right away.

I am on day 3 immersion with Intermediate series this morning, more gardening, bike riding, and reading. Nothing to exciting but much better than working. This is how I imagine retirement to be. Or fantasize.

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Started out with a session of INTERMEDIATE SERIES. Then on to Home Depot for this:

When did Home Depot decide to improve customer service? It is like going into Whole Foods. I expect to be ignored in that place! Best Buy is like that. I used to have to beg them to sell me a computer. This is the first time I had someone OFFER to help me load the truck with mulch and dirt.

Then it was home and planting more vegetables:

I planted radicchio, egglplant, a vine of cucumbers, and a vine of squash. If more than that grows I will kill it. The radicchio is a huge experiment. It is in the ungated garden and the rabbit might be there as I speak.

THen some mulching:

On to the Buddha garden for weeding, mulching, transplanting, and put in some solar lights:

I am going to enjoy how it looks NOW.

By July it will be a mess. I have two more areas to work on and then there is the 90% of the rest of the yard you won’t see. I am selective. I can’t get to it all. I do see another trip for cheap ass mulch.

This is coming next:

Then I don’t know. I am reading the Vedas and then will either download part 2 of the Richard Freeman session that I missed live the other night. Last I looked it wasn’t available, or maybe some Vinyasa Krama. I just got the book and can use some of Grimmly’s videos but still not sure how to start that. Options options. Watch more Eagles, then plan for tomorrow morning’s class.

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Ever of the parents coming back to the little bird. That was a close one for Harmon. If you want the rest of the story, check out MNBOUND:

I put on the computer just as the dad came back. I love how the little baby walks over to him. I think the parents were in the area though and the baby knew it, but he was on the point of being rescued. I hope their bad luck is over and I can see this little guy fly soon.

Yesterday turned out to be a half yoga/half garden day. I was still tired from the teacher training weekend so did some yoga lite and then planted most of the vegetable garden.

Tonight will be Primary and then part 4 of the live Richard Freeman Pranayama session. I honestly did not practice much of part 3 in the past few weeks, but hope to practice a lot during Home Yoga Immersion.

Tonight’s session is releasing the upper palate and balancing the swara. He talked about the swara in the first session as a method to balance the nadis coming out of svasana, so I am wondering how he incorporates it tonight.

Per the agenda there will be work on alternate nostril methods, which I know, but am sure there will be new layers of this. I can already look ahead to the homework and this is information definitely beneficial to a teacher. I already have used several of the methods he teaches in classes.

So a lot to do today and am teaching twice tomorrow, plus work and intermediate series.

Over the weekend I barely practiced but the good news is that my knee is REALLY good now so I definitely think what is going on has more to do with healing than further injuring myself.

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