Archive for November, 2013

Who can be enlightened? Only a full on samadhi guru? Only someone who practices with said guru? Third series Ashtangis? Karma yogis (Bill Clinton, Mother Theresa, Bono)?

Russell Brand looks so frantic and crazed and the disparity between his presence and the interviewers…..they…look like they are having a bad day….or are having a weird day. The norm for them…..talking to someone who is LYING. And here a CELEBRITY talking about layers and experience of levels of consciousness.

I know a lot of yoga people who don’t talk like Russell..and a few who do.

Teachers are the key, not having a teacher in close proximity is really hard. You have to commit then to going….and going a lot. I am going a LOT in 2014.

I don’t know how much practice it takes. My practice is like:


Yeah the Johnny Depp movie where I walked out of the maelstrom scene and went to the parking lot to get something out of the car, went to the bathroom, sat in the lobby and read my email and then went back……

And they were still in that scene.

I was up at five thirty AGAIN because I could not wait to practice. I wish it was as easy for me as for Russell. He hasn’t been practicing as long as I have but he was a heroin addict. Heroin addicts already know God in their own way and once they get off, they only want to get back. I have never been a heroin addict, I turned down that invitation.

I was up at five thirty but about a year ago before I really got IT, about practice, I was way less disciplined. And looking into the maelstrom and wondering if there is a bottom. I am not perfect or even close, but when I read or hear about the process it is ALWAYS the same. I haven’t found the easy way yet….but I have looked, believe me.

SO knowing this post makes no sense and starting with Russell, which either makes sense….or not at all, you know I would rather have someone looking at me like those announcers than to sit up anywhere and fucking lie about anything. (Husband to me yesterday..”Do you ever edit yourself.”)

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Where I anxiously wait for Yoga Workshop to put out Richard’s workshops for next year and that I can attend . This video is from the workshop I attended last year and I did one this year, but can never get enough. I did not know Mula Bandha was female. Hmmmm.

At this very moment recieved an email from Ashtanga Confluence. I know Richard is there and apparently I can win a pair of Juil shoes to wear to the conference.

I hope the schedule goes up soon and he is close. My plan right now is Boulder 2015 if I can get in the short intensive. Richard’s short and long intensives fill up almost immediately and I imagine the wait list is long.

Grimmley has a post today I highly recommend. He interviewed Kristina Karitinou, an Ashtanga teacher in Athens, Greece. She was also the wife of Derek Ireland.

Look him up if you don’t know who he is.


It is always enjoyable for me to read or hear about anyone involved in the lineage of what I practice, as I mentioned in an earlier blog on Eddie Stern. As I would have suspected, the interview reflects the true of love of all teachers connected with lineage. She shows a great respect and love for the whole Jois family, respects lineage, and has a reverence for the practice. Since I have to travel normally to find that connection, these interviews and posts keep me connected to my own practice.

I also finally found a blogger who has a crappy practice like I do. As much as I enjoy reading on those who struggle with intermediate series, right now I am enjoying that view from afar. Everyone struggles though and once you get past one struggle, the next is right out there.

I had a discussion on trikonasana with teacher trainees last weekend. Teachers may teach it with various modifications but I looked and do not ever find a teacher or practice where they say never bring the hand to the floor. Even Yoga Journal got it right long ago:


Remember you can always go to the source. You can also practice in the modification your whole life or teach it that way but just remember:


I don’t argue with him.

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David Garrigues.

David is one of my favorite bloggers and a teacher I hope to work with one day in workshops or go on a retreat.

Please come to the Midwest David.

I think his blog reflects a very seasoned practitioner who has gone through many phases of practice. His blog reflects that practice is always a meditation. The mind patterns mirror the phase of practice. The essence of practice is to alleviate the mind of these patterns and becomes the refuge from the thought processes when there is a true focus.

I love that an accomplished and serious practitioner/teacher has the experience that I do, of anticipating my practice the next day. Just this morning I was up at four waiting for time to go to practice. It is like Christmas every day. Often it is like an escape from what David is talking about, the incessant challenge of wondering how to practice, if I am practicing enough, will I injure myself, do I have pain today.

This is exactly what we are escaping from in practice. When there are few mental and external distractions, practice is sweet. We are strong. We can balance with right effort. With many distractions, it is like we have two half tennis balls attached to the bottom of our feet and no matter how much or little effort, there is no balance. The mind is in the way. Again.

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“Ashtanga is for the hungry, the ones who have something gnawing inside, the ones who honestly aren’t happy accepting complacent norms. Ashtanga is for those who are alive with intense feelings that there are worlds to discover, worlds that are found by reaching passionately inwards for expression that will contribute to personal and collective healing” David Garrigues

Yesterday was a good day to drive down to Chicago for a few Eddie Stern workshops at Chicago Now yoga studio on North Lasalle. I have visited this studio before for kirtan but this was my first workshop/class experience. I have met the owner, Amy Beth Treciokas, when she came up last summer to Madison and taught a full primary at Yoga Eight. If you look up her site, you will see she really brings quality workshops and has great classes at her studio.

Eddie Stern is the third Patabhi Jois early student I have taken workshops from. The other two are Richard Freeman and Tim Miller. I would highly suggest anyone who can get a chance to take workshops with them do it for no other reason than they all have fascinating stories about Guruji. Among others.

Eddie mentioned he pracrticed for 17 years with Jois. He is one of the authors of the compilation of memories of Jois, Guruji, which is really a great book to read to gain insight into the experiences of teachers with Jois. If you read this book, you will realize these people are a large extended family and Eddie had a very close relationship to his teacher.

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In addition, these teachers all display not only an understanding of the practice, but also of the full philosophy of the sutras, including the necessity of working into a pranayama/meditation practice.

We started out with a full primary class, which is just what you would imagine, the prana bounces off the walls and ceilings and intensity level is high. There was literally steam rolling off people’s bodies. He ended with a pranayama practice, surya and chandra bhendana without retention. Two practices I still need to look up, and sitali. Sitali is a cooling practice and he did mention that should always be last. When questioned on the pranayama practice, Stern indicated these practices are suitable for most students after the first several months of practice. He said Jois’s sessions were half an hour in padmasana with long kumbhaka, thus more appropriate after the later series.

The afternoon session was therapeutics where Eddie worked with questions from the group to show outside work from practice that could help with injuries or conditions. The two chosen were low back pain and hamstring injury. I am not sure where Eddie learned this. I doubt it was from Jois, but could be from being a teacher for a long time. Teachers who pay attention to students do become healers over time, plus we are always working through out our own issues. Eddie owns his and admits most of his injuries were ego driven, not from conflict with the integrity of the practice itself.

That is one thing he, among the others, do not question, even though he was asked about the practice serving the individual. He said Jois worked different with each student. Many of them learned slightly different over time. Jois did teach to the individual, but Stern insists the progression and intelligence of the sequencing should not be changed and is not open to interpretation but that many of us go through different phases of life or we do get injured and we need to work around it individually.

One of the attendees asked about the bhujapidasana and how the asana and the transitions should be taught. He said that many of the poses have levels of advancement to the final pose. He said the balance should first be practiced getting the feet off the ground first, then shift to bakasana, then jump back. Once this is mastered, bring the forehead to the floor and lift the feet back, and finally the chin down.

He talked about the progression of the arms in prasarita C too. This could have been a separate session. I would love to know more about the progressions in many of the asanas.

He mentioned the film of the primary series taught by Jois to Freeman, Tim and Chuck Miller, Maty, and Karen Haberman. He said prior to this Jois had never taught any of them to bring the chin down in bhujapidasana and then he did while taping. He caught all of them off. He said, no one expected it, neither he, nor Chuck, Maty, Tim or Richard. (What a nice group to be included in!!!!) Jois had no problem trying to catch them off guard! I have watched that film many times, and could not tell they were surprised.

Like I said those are the stories that are a priceless and important to the lineage. These people are also the preservers and teachers of the history as this practice moved out of India. I could listen to those stories all day.

Eddie also gave a lecture on history, focusing the relationship of tristana to tapas, svadhyaya, and Ishvara pranidhana. It was an interpretation of the sutras that I had not heard before, but worked well in delivery.

Eddie is also an altogether approachable and nice guy. If I lived in his town, New York, I would definitely be practicing there. I hope to run into him again in the future.

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