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Archive for January, 2013

One of the worst and most frequent remarks I hear from students is that they will NEVER be able to do something. Oftentimes, it is a pose another student is doing. This is one reaction I have tried to understand, because in my experience, I have never seen a yoga teacher MAKE you do anything, but maybe to suggest how to work towards it. The goal is NEVER the pose. The goal of yoga is to calm and steady the mind by concentrating on something, like a yoga pose.

By the same token, a yoga teacher should never suggest you CAN’T do something, unless you have an injury or condition that prevents it. Still, which is worse? Someone telling you you might work into a pose eventually or say NO you will never do it. You suck! I would be mad if someone suggested that to me, though that would often times be the impetus for me to work harder at it. Just TRY to tell me I will never do this:

impossiblepose

And I will go home and work at it and take it right back and SHOW YOU. But that is more a reflection of my conditioned thought process that is just silly. See. The pose does not matter.

Now I work in a practice where you do not move into a pose until you have accomplished the previous sequence. This makes sense to me, because you are preparing for something and you will be ready for it when you are ready for it. No one says you can’t do it or you can do it TODAY, it is just sitting out there waiting for you. Some day.

The pose is ready for you when the mind is ready. Mind has to be taught to let go of past conditioning.

I was watching baby eagle Hope yesterday and dad Ozzie flew over and Hope looked up and then started lifting wings. Trying not flying. Yet.

It is all scarey, trying and flying, but it is all so EXCITING and if you don’t take the step, you stay in conditioned existence, which SUCKS.

Like strep throat, but the last few days I am thinking of retiring….from something. Another post. I think the universe is telling me to RETIRE from something.

I am doing a workshop on INVERSIONS and ARM BALANCES with the amazing Rachael Cameron this weekend. This is a workshop and is not about what you can and can’t do. It is about conquering fear, figuring what to do TODAY, and how to properly set up for the FORM:

Learn why this guy is getting adjusted and what he needs to do to get in sirsana. He is not ready TODAY:

DavidGHeadstand

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My strep throat continues to intrude on my yoga practice and I am home from work so am reading some yoga blogs. One of my favorites is Grimmly. He is a home practice yoga very versed in Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama. I love his site because he shares not only the trials and tribulations of his practice, he also includes lots of videos and before and after pose progression videos/pictures. He is also a scholar and has great information on what to read. The fact that he has gotten into the later Ashtanga series on his own boggles my mind, but obviously the distractions of a studio or shala might inhibit him. Today he shared his daily schedule of practice, work, and normal life. He is my favorite blogger, and as soon as someone tells me how to link blogspot into wordpress favorites, I will add him in:

http://www.grimmly2007.blogspot.com/

Through Grimmly I found Claudia:

http://earthyogi.blogspot.com.es/

She wrote a nice little book I have about how to start an Ashtanga practice which I really enjoyed. She recently sponsored a training at Kripalu and she also includes book reviews and before and after progression shots of poses. Again, she is a home practitioner.

I love the Babarazzi:

http://thebabarazzi.com/

She/they/he appeal to my snarky side. She gives a good angle on what is going on in New York yoga circles. Who is for real, and who isn’t. I like a little gossip and a lot of the time I might read something to keep my own ego in check. I have written a lot of blogs about yogis who are master teachers versus master marketers. Go back and read back posts.

Probably everyone reads YogaDork:

http://yogadork.com/

Yoga Dork also exposes a lot of the yoga-celebrities and also includes great pictures once in a while of celebrities who do yoga. Only one time have I beat YogaDork on a scandal. Even though I don’t have the viewership, I learned a lot about research and how to find out what is going on right away. In the blog world, you have to blog it immediately or it is old news.

I read some of the Elephant Journal stuff and Yogaanonymous but a lot of it is not worthwhile. Lately I try to stay away from too much of the gossip. I would rather read good blogs on practice like Claudias or Grimmlys.

If you know of any blogs that I can add about practice, please put them in the comment section. Reading is my practice today.

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Just let me start out by saying this strep throat thing is NOT fun and it does impose on my practice.

Sometimes I wonder why I always do things the hard way, when the easy way is, well, so much easier! Why do I choose to practice Primary Series when I could go to the senior senator and practice with my appropriate age group.

chair yoga

For sure that is what I will be teaching soon. Can’t wait. Thanks Iyengar for coming up with the chair stuff.

Recently however I attended an Ashtanga workshop with several people older than myself and they were very smooth practitioners. They did not necessarily take all the vinyasas but they were focused on the primary focus of yoga, moving with the breath and a struggle free manner.

chair yoga 1

Yoga is a lifelong practice and the last fourth of your life should be more focused on sadhana with less asana. I know an older practitioner who pretty much practices floor poses and meditation. There are eight limbs after all.

Someone suggested a book to me recently that was somewhat scholarly but the whole focus was on asana. I quit being the types of books like that. I want to read about the other limbs too. For asana, you pretty much just need Light on Yoga and you have everything you need, although someone gave me an out of print book from some of Iyengar’s students and I love this book.

I read three blogs today about the 99% practice, 1% theory. It is funny how blog land seems to be a parallel universe.

I am sick but still can practice.

chair yoga 2

My ideas about yoga have really changed lately and I feel more dogmatic and sure about what I am doing/teaching. One thing I tell trainees, is to make your practice primary and to not make excuses. David Swenson says even when you don’t want to do it, get on the mat and start with sun salutations and you probably will find yourself in a full practice. SO TRUE. I will be attending a week long teacher training with him in October and will look forward to blogging on it.

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Discussion to follow but here are words I hate used in the context of yoga:

Rocks
Awesome
Journey
Throw
Fling
Swing
Cartwheel
Windmill

I am sure there are more.

I hope eagles never get old to me because I went to an eagle release yesterday. Here are a few more pictures:

EAGLE RELEASE 108

EAGLE RELEASE 092EAGLE RELEASE 107

This woman’s soul is united in with the eagles. They are ONE.

If I show these to some of my coworkers, they will need an explanation of what the shaman is there for. Sigh. The other day I told them that eagle feathers must be turned over to the tribes and they thought they used them to make moccasins.

I have been operating in a weird parallel and I think I live there alone or am speaking a different language. There are movies, tv programs, new shows and periodicals I can no longer look at. Gregor Maehle says just read the basic ancient texts or scriptures. What else do you need.

The release yesterday and the other programs made me think about ahimsa and how can ANYONE think of harming a creature or being in any form but avidya is a strong barrier to practice. Not in the stupid why don’t we make fancy moccasins out of eagle feathers way but in a you can’t know what you don’t know.

Why do so many people need guns? Kali yuga. Alternate universe you can choose to leave but you have to practice some jnana yoga so you aren’t so immersed in karma yoga.

I couldn’t go to practice at the studio today but what it the big deal when people panic about that. It has to be about the cave then. Love my cave.

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Most people remember their very first yoga class. Mine was Ashtanga primary series and I had NO clue what I was getting into. But I had tried various forms of yoga LONG before that.

I actually started practicing when I was in college, which was in the 70s. I have talked to many people in my age group that remember Richard Hittleman’s 28 Day Exercise Plan. It was just basic yoga poses. I practiced in jeans and a tshirt in my apartment. Living in Minneapolis at the time, this was VERY exotic.

I also practiced Transcendental Meditation when I lived in Eau Claire, WI. That would STILL be considered bohemian there I imagine but I wouldn’t know. I suck as an alumni and never go back…..to very much.

Loved the 70s.

clintons

I was that cool, not that smart though.

About 15 years ago I decided to commit to yoga but since I had a young child and worked, it was difficult so I went to vhs tapes for home practice. My first one is the Ali MacGraw tape with Erich Shiffman as the teacher. This tape is a classic and visually beautiful. I highly recommend it. It is a very soothing practice. I also love the music.

I love the modesty and humility of Ali. I have always loved her, ever since Love Story. And Erich Schiffman is one of the masters. I have never met him but LOVE his book.

I can go with a little download from the cosmic mind in my practice. I don’t know about you.

Then I moved to something a little more challenging. Bryan Kest. Again, visually I LOVE the space they practice in. Note that Sean Corn was a student in this class. Also loved Bryan with the long ponytail. Tapes you can watch as well as practice with. I like the slow deep practice. Bryan has a tape called Long, Slow, and Deep. I lie not. Get your own mind out of the gutter. Anyway these tapes are also classics. I highly recommend.

Even though these are early predecessors to the prolific styles and types of classes you can buy or practice with the numerous sites offering downloads or streamed in yoga, they are very classically oriented. Bryan’s background is Ashtanga and Erich is a classic instructor.

My first actual class I attended after this was Ashanga, then I got hooked in to Bikram, then Forrest but now am back to Ashtanga. I love the classics. There are so many derivative styles now that it is mind boggling. A student and trainee just gave me a hard to find Iyengar book which I am reading and going through. It is interesting to seem the similarities and discrepancies in the lineage of Krishamacharya but always an interesting study.

I will be back to blogging now that the holidays are over and I am somewhat on a regular schedule. For a month or so it was pretty hairy there, but blogging is practice to me so check back.

(NOTE NOT A WORD ON EAGLES)

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Cave yogi vs householder. I would choose cave. Krishnamacharya was disappointed his guru wanted him to become a householder. I was a householder first, but I still hold on to the fantasy of being a cave yogi (retirement) which will become necessary as I get older and less relevant as a teacher and too old to drive to the studio several times a week.

My cave yogi home practice is very distracted. Often it involves answering email, putting dinner in the oven, and putting the laundry in the dryer. AND the toilet needs to be cleaned:

toiletyoga

Sometimes it is a matter of choices. Today, for example, home practice is necessary so I have to be PREPARED to not be distracted, which means fixing dinner and putting the laundry in FIRST. It is all about PRIORITIES and being focused at home. But a good teacher is also necessary.

So wish the best for me today. FOCUS.

padmasana

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