Going Beyond The Physical Capability

I had stopped trying! Before I went away from the practice for what seemed like an eternity and was 2 months in actual earth-terms, I had simply stopped trying. I was doing my practice every day but I think I had come to a compromising notion of what 'my edge' was. It was not. I had fallen into the trap of confusing edge with boredom, or with 'that's about enough'.

Over the weekend I watched a great DVD on backbends (Grimmly reviewed it today) and was taken by the instructor's suggestion to 'go beyond the physical limit'.  I frowned.  

Yet, once on the mat, during the last few counts of every pose I found myself remembering it and going beyond.  That is when it hit me. This is similar to what happens when I get a good adjustment: adrenaline gets shot, my mind snaps, the breathing needs attention to go back to ease, and yet, the body can do, it can go beyond!

Facing time in the mat today I find excuses, like more tea, or writers' block. I think I know what it is...

Richard way deep in Hell with Guruj
Richard Freeman described it as "Entering the doors of hell". That is the wording he uses to describe going to his early Mysore practice with Guruji 20? 30+years ago. That is how it feels when we are really trying, working it, getting deep into the asana. 

Granted I am still recovering. Yesterday I had to stop the jump backs and throughs after a kurmasana adjustment because my arm started acting up, getting real tired, in pre-Lyme-disease style, scary stuff. 

I never push, dislike getting hurt. This new endeavour of 'going beyond' is one that I am doing with surrendered mindfulness and one that I would not recommend to anyone, it is my personal practice and it is happening cause I realize I had stopped working it.

How does that look like?
  • Observing with deep absorption every move and seeing truly how far I can go, then going a bit deeper
  • Taking each asana as it comes, one at the time, taking my time
  • Repeating an asana if it does not come
  • Going for the hands through in garba pindasana with the full water ritual if necessary, even if the lotus is not quite there yet
  • dropping back again
  • Savasana feels like heaven

I've received a few compliments about the angelical energy of my home shala.  The floors are quite beautiful as you can see and the light is special.  My version of hell.


Maybe I needed two months away from the practice to realize how much more energy it needed.  Nothing like having to rebuild from scratch to become a quick study.

Here we go!

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Related:
Negotiating in Asana
Keeping It Interesting

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Your Twitter and Facebook Questions Answered

About to eat a dosa bigger than me
Over time people ask me questions in Facebook or Twitter and I welcome it! Here is a group of them which I thought may help others and start conversations.  Feel free to send me your own and I will post them with fuller answers (Twitter only gives 140 characters) from time to time.

Twitter
@socialhotchoco Priscilla Wood
@ClaudiaYoga Hi Claudia, I want to incorporate Yoga into my practice, what is the minimum I should do to get me ready for meditation? Thanks

The minimum would be enough so that you feel healthy and you can sit down with a straight back for long periods of time (say at least 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the afternoon as a suggestion to begin with). 

The main thing we are looking for in meditation is to be able to focus, while in a quiet state, and a body out of balance or a back that is not straight does not help. 

Also of note is that the amount of time spent doing asanas is not as important as the quality of time put into it, so no matter how much asana you practice ensure that you are present and with your body.  Think of it as a meditation of sorts.

I love Ashtanga because of the daily aspect of it, how it takes the mind out of the game as you know that six times a week you just get on the mat and go to where you can.  Other styles of yoga are good and can work but few have a pre-determined routine and hence require a teacher dictating the class. After some basics are covered ashtanga does not require one, at least for the basic intro.

My suggestion would be to try the standing sequence of ashtanga, then backbends and forward bends and the closing sequence.  It is a start and it might give you a base from which to launch into more and more practice.   Let the ret come.

@socialhotchoco Priscilla Wood 
@ClaudiaYoga ok thanks, I want to do one pose and hold it for a while, which pose would you recommend x calming mind prior meditation?

The sited forward bend or paschimotananasa.  In it, I would aim to bring the chest towards the upper tights, never forcing, and staying long.  Once 10 or 20 long, very long breaths have gone by, it will be slightly easier to go a little further, to engage the mula bandha (tighten the anus) and pull the upper back from the rib-cage, in a forward motion.  

Then, when the real edge is found, lower the head to touch the nose to the knees, even if the back is rounded. Let gravity work through you. Stay long, breath deep, find the edge. Repeat.

In this video (in which I do the end of the standing sequence and the beginning of the seated one)  from 2:53 onwards, you can watch me on a regular practice day and on the first sitted forward bend of the day.

I take my sweet time, breathe long and work by infinitesimal moves in straigthening the back forward while keeping the feet flexed.



See what happens when you finally come out of it.  "Relaxed" might not begin to describe your state of mind.

@philippineyogi philippineyogi
@claudiayoga when I read your article I've lost faith to yoga alliance. :)

There is a lot of animosity in the blogsphere about the yoga alliance.  It is an old institution and it has not quite caught up with the times. The blog 'yoganomics.org' has more on that if you are interested in getting more information.

The truth is that I do not know all the ins and outs of it, what I do know is that every studio I have spoken to about teaching yoga, knows it and wants it.  By 'it' I mean the paper that says you are 'registered' with them, as they are not a certification but just something more like a directory, a registry.

It is what it is for now.

I would have never dreamed to teach a yoga class with just a 200 hour course (which is what the yoga alliance guarantees). I feel that teaching yoga needs constant practice, and a life time dedication to it.

The certification for ashtanga yoga is a very lenghty and different affair.  Just to be authorized to teach primary series takes between 3 and 6 (or more) trips to Mysore and a very deep dedication to the practice.

@AngiePvdM Angie Pappas
@ClaudiaYoga how long did it take you to develop a steady daily practice of ashtanga yoga? Struggling with that right now...

A very long time, almost 3 years of practicing twice a week, then three times a week, then back to two.
I find that building up to the 6 times a week Ashtanga routine is a work of art, it takes time. Life needs to change, schedules rearranged, relationships notified. It is not just a change in yoga every day vs. little yoga, it is a whole life transformation. And it is one that is very worth-while.

That being said, I know of people who start practicing 6 times a week right away. It can happen!

@gato108 Cat Scott Larimore
@ClaudiaYoga I can blame my chocolate cravings on Ashtanga? Phew! I hope my dentist understands :)

I get a sweet tooth in the afternoon of strong practices.  Heck I get a sweet tooth on all afternoons.  I am not sure if it can be blamed on ashtanga but I like to do so ever since I heard a teacher say that there was such a thing as "the sweet tooth of ashtanga".  I liked the sound of it.

As per dentists understanding, I am sure they would provided we floss every single day.

@richard_beck Richard Beck
@ClaudiaYoga can you recommend a yoga mat for once a week use? Thanks!

For just once week I would not even stress it.  The studio where I practice, PureYoga, keeps the mats pretty clean (I believe they are cleaned after every session), so I would just use that.  Whatever you do I would just recommend not spending a lot of money and getting a rectangular mat, none of that circular non-sense.
Non of that!
@anneharkness Anne Harkness
@ClaudiaYoga where on 28th st is the good Chai? am visiting NY and staying in that area this weekend.thx!

The good chai in NYC is on 28th street between Lexington and Third on the north side of the street.  It is a very unpretentious deli, and you need to ask for 'chai' in particular, then they will know that you know what you are talking about.  They will get it out of a special cream-colored thermo they keep just for all the Indian cabbies that come around to get a cup. It is pretty good.  The closest to Indian chai I have found in NYC.

That is a big pot of chai in Mysore
@JasonRaznick JasonRaznick
@ClaudiaYoga is it important to always wake up this early?

I believe the earliness of it has more to do with the temperatures in India than anything else, matter of fact I think I remember a very senior student of Pattabhi Jois saying how he once told him that in cold countries that get very little light it might be better to practice at noon, as early in the morning things might be way too cold.

When practicing in Mysore, South India, it becomes very obvious very  quickly why it is important to wake up early for practice. It is just too hot later on.

I happen to prefer to do the practice early, but some people swear by afternoon practice which has the advantage of providing a more supple and open body.  I just work it in the morning!

@NaturalYogaFreo Gaynor Stanicic
@ClaudiaYoga Any recommendations for where to get laundry done#Mysore?

If you are staying with an Indian family ask them.  Earlier this year we were able to hire the person that cleaned the house to do our laundry. If not the case then there is a little shop on the main street of Gokulam that does it, but I would not be able to point out an exact address. Might be better to ask.

FROM FACEBOOK
Question from M.A.: 
I'm a soccer player and I want to start doing yoga so that I may be more flexible and less susceptible to injury. As a beginner who is somewhat flexible (I can tough my toes etc.) what exactly should I start with? I read some of your site, but was unable to get a beginner perspective.

Answer: The style I do, Asthanga, would probably be good for you since you play soccer, and hence probably are used to hard work and the competitive spirit. Ashtanga is intense and good for guys because it is an in-depth exploration of all muscles and joints in the body and it also has a lot of arm balances and strength (which appeals greatly  to men) I will send you a free copy of my short book on it 21 things to know before starting ashtanga.

Ashtanga also invites awareness on every pose, and it helps in learning more and more about the body. If done correctly it can teach us how to prevent injuries.  by 'correctly' I mean without forcing. Ever.

Question from JP:  
Where do you practice when you visit Buenos Aires, in Argentina?

Answer: I practice with Pablo Pirillo, he is in a lovely neighborhood called Palermo Soho. Link is attached. He travels to Mysore too, during the January-February period, or at least that is what happened last year, so if you go during that time you may find an assistant teaching.

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And there you have it! If you have questions about ANYTHING (yoga, pranayama, life, relationships, calculus, traveling, you name it!)  Tweet me at Twitter.com/ClaudiaYoga or Facebook me.

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Negotiating in Asana - Prasaritas Video

The first time I showed my brother Marichasana A he declared it 'impossible'.  I tried easing his feelings and mentioned how if you bring the bended knee close to the chest and negotiate on the exhale the arm forward in between then legs, then bend it, it might not be AS hard to grasp hands. Maybe not the first time, but with a little practice, it comes.

Marichasana A, I finally have a picture for it!
"NEGOTIATE" was the word that stuck with him.  Later on I noticed while talking to James about Utita Hastha (see video here of both Utitta and its following pose, Ardha Baddha Padmotanasana), that such word seems to stick and make sense for him too.

What is asana, after all, if not a negotiation of what we can do with the current status of our body, how far can we get into it to find the edge (never forcing, of course) and finding an area where we can work with what we have and inching towards going a bit deeper.

In my return from 3 months of bed, the negotiation shows up in every pose.  For some reason one of my legs seems to have become tighter than the other so every forward bend means more 'negotiation' when the left one has to be stretched.

The Prasaritas (A, B, C, and D) are a perfect example of negotiation.

I find the pose to be a work of art, it includes not just forward bending but also the right spread of the legs so that the head can be 'negotiated' to the floor and close the energetic circuit, as well as all the negotiations that have to happen to get the arms to the floor on C -I am getting closer-, and everything else really.

Preparing for Prasarita Padotanasana A
It is an exciting pose, full of interesting touches, flavors, truces, twitchings, disappointments, sense of fulfillment, exhilaration, lost and re-found focusing point, and on and on. It is full of surprises.

In spite of the emotional territory it takes us into, it is also a very strict pose.

Every stretch of the arms has a breath count associated, every count is perfectly designed, every 'hands to the waist' has been pre-determined.

It is, I believe, the only pose in which Sharath in Mysore gets on the front (which for this would be one of the sides of the room) and guides the arm movements for everyone to see... that is how important the vinyasa (or dance, or how to get from one to the other (from A to B and so on)) is.

I am pointing the negotiation because as I watch this video this is what I mostly see.  There is a lot of extra little things I am doing which help me getting into the pose, going deeper and exploring it.

Eventually all this flower ornaments will have to go to make the pose much simpler, but for now I am allowing myself to enjoy the negotiation.



RELATED:  IS THIS CHEATING?

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SUNDAY YOGA BLOG TIMES: WHEN THE GOAL IS TO TRIM THE BODY

The NY Times has an article that has ashtangis talking!

It's written by a woman who says Ashtanga Yoga (at Eddie's and even Mysore's AYRI) made her happy but not trim, so she gave it up (almost completely) for a personal trainer.  A big one!

Mooli Paratha looks like a chapati but does it taste like one?


Here is the CEO of Groupon doing sun salutations, before Groupon became public and valued at 11BB. Wonder if he still gets on the mat...

James melted me with his post on Thursday

Business Insider has its own article about yoga this week too. She healed back pain and found the secret to ever-lasting youth!  What is up with all publications suddnely having a yoga article?

Exercise your 'ouch' discretion here, Grimmly does his touchdown on the side split on day 9 of his 3 month adventure! Anyone who thought those were impossible, G is out to prove it is not so. Daily practice and infinite patience can deliver almost inmediate results.

I love this picture, sometimes I stare at it for 10 minutes!
comes from here

Oh, how sweet the sound: "Monday you take Passasana". (Meaning someone is beginning the intermediate series after long years of work and in Mysore, India)

And here is Last Sunday's Yoga Blog Times: Marihuana and Practice?


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Thank You Back Bend For Coming Back - Video

Thank you! Back-bends for coming back.  Thanks Ashtanga Primary Series for Coming back, and thanks to you guys for reading and all your good wishes over the past couple of challenging months.

Here is the first video of Urdva Dhanurasana and drop-back hang-ins since coming back from Lyme Disease. I am so greateful I'm almost in tears at watching it happen.  Enjoy the moon-day tomorrow and the rest on Saturday!





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How Do People Do It?

How do people without a daily practice of breathing, focusing, relaxing, and stretching do it? Actually,  Let's forget yoga and take it one step further. How can some people don't do anything at all with their bodies?



I've had an opportunity to see what happened to me while away from the daily practice for 8 weeks and it was not pretty.  I noticed my energy levels fall to levels I did not think were possible, my legs and muscles got completely tight, the wrists and most joints became weaker.

My whole demeanor and outlook on life became weaker!

Which brings me to how I perceived people in their 40s while I was growing up, I thought of them as old people, but mostly it was because they did not exercise at all and drunk and ate huge meals for dinner.

When I look at the biggest benefit of the asana practice, taking the yoga out of it all, just the daily discipline of getting on the mat and focusing and breathing, I see it is magical, it gives me strenght, both mental and in the body. It connects me and has me feeling exactly what is in balance within and what is not.

Now, some people cannot move that well, some have physical challenges or dont have a range of movement, and I understand it in that case, but for people who have full access to the body I just don't get it.

I suppose perhaps it is because they never experienced the amazing feeling one gets after a full practice? And it can be anything really, I happen to like 'the yoga' but for some others it is running, or whatever.

But without it, how can people who are healthy and have access to their bodies not do any exercising? how do they get their 'happy' dose?  Am I missing something?

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San Francisco Pictures and Yoga

Life throwed a wild card and here we are in San Francisco, I am mostly helping James with his talks and meetings and re-visiting the city I lived in 17 years ago. Gee! Time flyes...

The post is picture heavy so if you cannot see them go to ClaudiaYoga.com.  Enjoy San Francisco's mini tour through my eyes:

Powell Street, so romantic

I am loving old busses on the rail tracks

South Of Market, most of it was not there 
when I lived here
Nice
Grafitti is VERY prominent, all over town
Holding the Cube with my Umbrella, that is how strong I am
these days

Those chocolates were oh so good!
Ooops!
Trees dedicated to Amy Winehouse, sweet
Height St
Chocolate creppes, hmm
On a trolley! going on slopes higher than 45 degrees sometimes!
It is very involved to drive these things, the conductor
uses all his strength!
Hanging OUTSIDE the bus, I wonder what Bloomberg (NYC
Mayor would say...)
That was it, from the outside, so cute!
Beautiful white buildings
Aaaand, the yoga is totally coming back, here is where I've been practicing. I wonder when hotels will start having yoga rooms? So there it is, a tad cold, but nevertheless a nice space, I just move those chairs and go at it!




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Let's Make It Interesting

My new mantra. Aha, yeah! Let's Make It Interesting.  As I keep recovering and re-learning poses I already learned years ago in this Lyme disease recovery, some of them become 'easy'. Quickly.  Ever get that?

So now I am standing there in Utittha Hasta almost full of myself that I got it back, perhaps even showing off and without any regard for the fact that I was crying in bed over not being able to do it only 4 weeks ago.  Tricky how the mind works.

So that is when the "Let's make it interesting" mantra comes handy.  For example in U.H: What would 'interesting' look like? How about reaching forward on the airborn leg and really aiming to touch the belly to the tights while keeping the dristi into the big toe, how about that?  No way to have the mind wondering in that situation!

Also, how about not dancing, engaging those bandhas, make sure all 5 breaths happen. No rushing at all.  Suddenly the pose becomes a lot more 'interesting', not to mention challenging and/or edgy at times.  Suddenly I am present, working it. I am having an in-the-body experience.

Say in the sitting poses, any old janu sirsasana, like A, which is relatively easy.  How do I make it interesting? Well, opening the hips on the bended leg, moving the torso again all over the extended leg, grabbing wrist to hand around the foot, letting it stretch, counting to six, maybe even seven, with long deep breaths.  That makes it interesting.  [If you cannot see pictures go to ClaudiaYoga.com]

Janu C in 2009 [center]
Today I finally not only binded in Mari D, which was keeping it VERY interesting, I also did all of the core poses.  And in everyone of them, as I revisit them as if it is the first time, I take my time, I go deeper, I notice what I can and cannot do, and do not fool myself, if I can make it more interesting then I do.

There is one pose that is interesting enough no matter what.  That is the backbends.  3 months without backbends and believe you me, you will feel it.

Backbending last August
I have gone from pathetic to not so pathetic but I am still in the pathetic realm nevertheless.  My goal here is to make sure I do at least 3 of them, at five breaths each, no excuses.  Heck today I even walked my 4.5 feet from the wall and hanged in there.  For about 2.5 seconds.  It is a start.

I think recently I read about boredom and ashtanga, I frankly cannot find it.  This: 'let's make it interesting' works. It helps to keep going deeper.

Boredom can only show its ugly head when we are not keeping it interesting, because there is always a bit more to reach for in the quest for the elusive edge.



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SUNDAY YOGA BLOG TIMES: MARIHUANA AND PRACTICE?

I completely agree with Richard Freeman on this: marihuana may temporarily give some focus to the practice, but overall it is a huge leak.


Remember the New York Times article about a study on how yoga does or does not help? Well, here is Eddie Stern, telling them they need to smarten up!

Manju talking about meeting Krishnamacharya and Iyengar

Aaaannnd now she believes in those "openings"

Grimmly gets a breakthrough too as he touches toes to head in raja kapotasana. Nice. Reminds me that yes all IS coming.

Also, watch the cute pictures of Maya's daughter who enters raja kapotasana as if is nothing! God bless her!

Of course it is OK and human to celebrate, I mean, she binded in Mari B! that is pretty huge. You go!

How to deal with 'crappy people'

VIDEO
Great Video explanation on learning to float into Bakasana (crow pose) by David Garrigues.  Love the energy he puts into the explanation!

Want More?
Last Sunday Yoga Blog Times: YOU CAN DO IT!




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Happy Birthday Krishnamacharya: 5 Things I Learned From Him!

Krishnamacharya (the grandfather of ALL yoga you see out there these days) was born November 18, 1888. Should he be living today he would turn 123!

As an expression of gratitude here are five things I've learned from him, without ever knowing him, and that inspire me daily:



Low Profile but Fierce Propagation of the Message of Yoga

As a teacher he kept a low profile but that did not mean he stopped propagating the message of yoga, he just did it wisely.  Matter of fact, when A.G. Mohan was to go onto a yoga  conference in the 70's that was the direct advise that Krishnamacharya gave him: "Propagate Yoga Wisely".

For more on this picture see this article
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Selective in the Students He took on Board

He was picky of the students he took on because he knew that they would reflect on him and he wanted more than anything to please the wishes of his guru Bramacharya, who asked him to go into the world and propagate yoga.  That he did.

All the yoga we know today we know because of him.  Every yoga teacher out there has been influenced by Krishnamacharya weather we know it or not.

Krishnamacharya favored students that were serious and interested in all branches of yoga.  He would make them wait for an hour under the hot Indian sun if they were ever late (Ramaswami tells this story). He took yoga very seriously
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He practiced all his life

Up until his 90's when he suffered a fracture in his hip because he did not realize he had moved a chair and sat down falling to the floor.  But before that he continued his asana practice as well as pranayama, meditation and chanting.

When a local institute in India asked him to teach he said he would but when the management wanted to change his teaching style he turned around and said 'no' highlighting that this would give him more time for his own practice.
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Different Interpretation of the Yoga Sutras

His interpretation of the yoga sutras is unique, as passed from him to Ramaswami.  For example, Krishnamacharya is the first to say that yoga is not all about union, it is also, more pragmatically, about separation, about the constant discrimination in our daily lives of what is real and what is not.

For exapmple, this anxiety I feel right now, is not real, the only reality is the silent observer, the one behind the curtain that is beyond life/death and anxiety too.  Identification with the observer rather than the experience is what we are after.

He also had a very peculiar interpretation as of where it is in the Yoga Sutras that Patanjali mentions 'vinyasa', an interpretation that you will not find in Iyengar or Sivananda, a very unique take by Krishnamacharya and his guru Bramacharya of the Himalayans.  See here.
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Dedication and Perseverance

At the age of 16 Krishnamacharya walked about 1,000 miles chasing what he heard in a dream, that an ancestor of his was to teach him all about yoga.  This is the story.

Now, how much energy and dedication does it take to walk 1000 miles? I guess after that the thought of just doing primary series on this fine Friday pales in comparison!

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Krishnamacharya inspires me to get on the mat every day. His serious and determined eye gaze seems to pervade all around the place where I practice. I know he is watching!




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Ever Wonder What a Certification to Teach From AYRI Looks Like?

I remember when interviewing for a teaching position earlier this year and the studio owner asked: 'Are you certified'?

Right then I went on to what I thought would be a very long explanation only to catch myself noticing that probably all she wanted to hear was about the Yoga Alliance, which by the way, is not a certification but just a register, and only guarantees that a student took a one-month course -200 hours. 'Yes of course', I said, I am in the Yoga Alliance registry.

Say what you want about the alliance, I know there is a lot of controversy around it but the truth is studios know about it and want it. [If you cannot see the pictures go to ClaudiaYoga.com]
What Most Yoga Studios
Look for as a basic credibility badge
Nevertheless,  then I proceeded to tell the story of how people get certified in Ashtanga, how it takes years, possibly 12 to 15 and the ability to do all of third series (which is out of reach for many).

Come to think of it, even the authorization at level I or II takes years an years, and years, of work and demands a complete change in life style (as in travelling to Mysore many, many times)

The Certifiation to teach Ashtanga yoga, as given in the traditional way, is a rare occurrence. But the point here is not to discuss so much the process but mainly to ponder if you have ever seen a certificate.

I saw the first one at Paul Dallaghan's Yoga Thailand (where funny enough I became eligible for the Yoga Alliance registry (i.e.: did my teacher training there)) and now he has made it available online as part of his bio, so I thought I would share since it is a neat thing to see.

Notice the part where it says "the son of" (s/o)

Certified to teach 1st, 2nd and 3rd series
A huge accomplishment
Paul also has a rare certification from the Kaivalya Institue in India for pranayama.  He studied for many years with Tiwariji who is a pranayama expert, here is that other one:


I love the simple language of it: "he has been my student since 12 years and more"...

And there you have it! 


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Back to Pure Yoga, and John is Teaching in Thailand!

Ahhh how delicious it was to come into the packed Mysore room at Pure Yoga, see the familiar faces, get a hug or two, let my patches show (which produce an acupuncture-like effect) to the world.  Also pretty humbling to go only to navasana. But I did not care, I mean, for me, I was GOING to Navasana!

It was great to be in the energy of the room, and I was pretty winded by the time the boat pose came around.

Marichasana D binded fine on the first side which had me believe it would be the same on the other. Not so.  Seems I am inhabiting a different body these days and the bind was not possible, at all.  We shall see what happens today.

Had a couple of minutes to catch up with John (Campbell) who now has an official newsletter.  He will be in Thailand for two weeks.  The first week he co-teaches with Paul Dallaghan at the beautiful Samahita Retreat, in Thaland, on January 2 to 7, with focus on starting the year right. Very tempting.  The second week John merges Buddhism and Ashtanga.
John Campbell featured in Time Magazine last Spring
Yoga Thailand, now called Smahita Retreat,  is where I took my teacher training in early 2009 and I have been longing to return, the yoga was wonderful, the rooms amazing and the food delicious.

The Shala at Yoga Thailand, a few feet away from the ocean
This time of the year is when the internal temperature puts a compass straight into warmer lands. I don't quite do winters so well, especially where I live, an area that becomes an ice cube.




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Anatomy of Practice Recovery After Lyme Disease

For the first time in months I have gone for over a week with no symptoms at all, and I am very happy about it.  What worked was taking it very easy. Mostly it has been a humbling experience.

I started with 20 minutes and only some of the standing poses and aiming towards a daily, uninterrupted practice. Kept a journal of the recovery -below-, which shows how primary is being put together again. Gosh I had forgotten how long it is!

On Nov 7,  a nose bleed sent me back to 20 minutes.  Grrrrr.   But a subsequent acupuncture treatment that day got me back on track.  Since then, thank you God! I am on a track to recovery.  The most scary pose so far seems to be chakrasana, or the backwards roll starting from laying down on the floor.  Had not felt that fear since 2007. Amazing how the practice works.

No words can do justice to the gratitude I feel for health, for the practice, for returning, remembering, coming back with a new awareness, and a new found happiness for having found Ashtnaga yoga.

This is the journal so far

Nov 2 20 Minutes
Only Sun Salutations

Nov 3  25 Minutes
Standing to the prasaritas

Nov 4 30 Minutes
Standing to the prasaritas

Nov 6 30 Minutes
Standing to prasaritas

Nov 7  Nose bleed - 20 minutes only
Just Sun salutations and acupuncture (3rd) session with Dr. H

Nov 8  25 Minutes
To Utita Hasta!  it was a bit pathetic but it was there, somewhere.

Nov 9 30 Minutes
Takes me to utkatasana (last of the standing poses) as pain in the arms gives for only two Sun Salutes B, hence more time

Nov  10
Moon day, nice rest, drunk some chai and ate chapatis, needed that extra energy!

Friday Nov 11  40 Minutes
got to the seated poses (dandasana and forward bend)
Started the closing with just shoulder stand but no headstand yet.

Sunday Nov 13  50 Minutes
Got all the way to Trianga Muka, but no jumping back and through in between seated poses.
First full backbend!  Yeahhh!
A bit more of the closing, and first headstand in months
We practiced in the afternoon with James a few minutes for extra backbends

Monday Nov 14, yesterday, 60 Minutes
All the way to Mari A  no jumping through, full backbends and full closing with full head stand and half headstand
Closing in full!

TODAY Tuesday November 15, 70 Minutes and Pure Yoga!
I am coming to the shala again, first practice in a Mysore room in over 3 months.  Gratitude.
I am hoping to come to navasana, building the practice and still not jump throughts or back in between seated poses.  Stamina will come.

I hope to be back to the full primary series soon.  Yet I am completely surrendered: come what may. Loving the energetics of the sequence and how it all comes. Primary, I have missed you!




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Good Bye Yoga Sutra NYC

It's sad when it happens and I guess it shows how difficult it is to be in the yoga business and dealing with the realities of a studio, rent, landlords, contractors etc.

"Given the magnitude of the situation, I have no choice but to keep the studio closed. After meeting with an attorney, the business has decided to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy" Said Lisa, the manager, in an email sent yesterday.
Mysore room
She continued by saying:

"No words can adequately describe my level and professional devastation. This endeavor was always much more than a business to me..."

The main reason for the end being:

"...Following one unanticipated and unauthorized expense obligation after another, the landlord has formally initiated eviction procedures. This is coming despite the fact that the landlord was, in parallel, telling me he wanted to resolve the matter...."



Iyengar room
The e-mail comes after a red sign indicating trouble which came out on Wednesday, also in the form of an e-mail, explaining that the studio was to be temporarily closed with an emphatic reassurance that they were not going to go out of business.

The Management's dream was to create community
I hope students that paid for full memberships can get their money back as the assets are dissolved and all creditors paid.

This is no strange situation in New York City, a place where it is hard to survive as a business (and an individual!) and a city that has been particularly hard in the the past few years. I am in awe at how many stores have closed and how many vacancies can be seen throughout the whole Island of Manhattan.

Yoga Sutra was the studio where I started dedicated, shala practice, in 2007, with Christopher and Greg, then Kimberly and John -who was the last teacher to leave at around the time it was sold to the current management-.  Amy and Lorrie kept up the Mysore program together with Constanza and Arthur.  Today we say goodbye to them.  Sad to see a beautiful space like this go.

Here is hoping that everyone on staff and all students can find a new home for teaching and the practice, and that proper closure in financial terms can be found for everyone. Also, that healing comes quickly for all involved.


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SUNDAY YOGA BLOG TIMES: YOU CAN DO IT!

Check this out: planes now in the air.  Cool ha?

Sharath says he can do it!

Indians love their locks

Go to google and type: do a barrel roll. I know, I am on a coolness stream!

Yoga needs no devotion and how about that Ishwaraha line in the Yoga Sutras?

'Stretchable time', and other musings from a foreigner's survival guide to working in India

A Review of Michale Gannon's Ashtanga Yoga App for the I-pad/pod/

Roseanne reports from the Symposyium on Yoga Therapy in Montreal

VIDEO

Interspersed Primary Series with Pattabhi Jois, and is that Eddie in the green? Yes it is...


Previous SUNDAY YOGA BLOG TIMES: HOW TIM MET HIS WIFE

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11 11 11

So, here we are, on 11.11.11.  How do you feel? any different, any consciousness breakthroughs?  Had a chance to peek at the observer?

It seems we are entering the age of Aquarius? About time I would say!

Some are calling it the Cosmic Portal Transit Day,  which sounds pretty exciting and urges us to stop thinking in the old way as "oh this is how I am and I will never change". Interesting.

Others say it is the day where we go from I-ness to We-ness?

The Times of India poses the question, will it be a lucky day for you? or an unlucky one, only to conclude it will be neither.

Then there is a whole Yoga Festival, yeah, by the Ganges in India, with big name kundalini yoga teachers in Rishikesh.  Apparently we have been waiting for this day for 13,000 years, who knew?

Frankly I am just going to go about my business without much fuzz, but if you are really into it, James just pointed out the geekiest thing ever about the number 11 (as well as all other numbers).  Click at your own peril.

Wait James just keeps telling me mathematical formulas as he goes to sleep even though I tell him I went to college so I would never have to think about these things again, here we go.

What I do know is that the number 1 symbolizes new beginnings (just as 9 closes cycles).  I know cause in Thailand, right before my life changed to unrecognizable shapes I was given room number 9... and then, well then I came back to a whole new world.

Enjoy the fresh start in whichever area of your life you may need it or want it.

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Only 30 Minutes! And All Is Coming

Only 30 minutes of practice! That's it!  Oh dear.  But he is so right, he knows me, has seen me through the whole thing and the best part is that even though I look at him with darting eyes, James knows best, and it is working.  Only 30 minutes and now I have a daily uninterrupted practice. Again. Returning. Thank you!

I only got to Utitta Hasta.  THAT is humbling.  When I am in it, after I pulled the hair up and  rolled the mat and went to it breathing and concentrated, then I feel invinsible. 

But I know that trying to get it all in at once is murder. It will stop me with a nose bleed or a debilitating day.  So there is no invinsibility at all, there is me being very human.


When I tried practicing all out, and went to the marichasanas, then I would have to pay with days of bed again, or tremendous pain in the arms.  Not fun.

I am completely humbled, and surendered to it all, come what may, I am grateful the beginning of primary series is coming back and I am feeling  better.

Re-membering the practice I notice so many things. For example, how the fundamentals of the standing sequence apply to everything else that comes after it.  There are twists, there are leg strengthening poses, arm strengthening, opening of the back of the body, stretching of the neck, stretching of often-neglected muscles like those of the buttocks. So much attention goes into it.  There is so much intelligence behind the primary series, I am awed.

The first two paragraphs I wrote on Monday. Yesterday, Wednesday, I practiced 38 minutes, and finished the standing sequence. That is instead of 35 minutes as prescribed by Dr. James... oh well.  Good thing today is a moon day...


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Am I Projecting? 7 Ways in Which I Check

Normally when I feel tempted to tell someone what he or she 'has to do', or 'think', I stop myself and wonder if I may be projecting my own desire to control the world, my fears, and or insecurities.

Say for example, if I think that you should start a practice of ashtanga, then I turn it around and ask where in my life do I need to start a practice?  If I think someone is obnoxious I turn it around and ask where AM I being obnoxious? 

I never let one of those go without pondering if I am projecting.  100% of the time I am and I need to consider why the desire to control. Why the urge to be right? What is my deepest motivation in acting like this?

I learned that lesson well through my brother when in the late 1990's I would go to Buenos Aires and think I could help by giving him money.  It did not work.  He was upset and perceived it as me 'throwing' him money. He asked me not to go and try to 'save him'.  He had a point. Who did I think I was thinking that my money would solve all his problems or pretending I understood exactly what his nervous system was going through.  He is an incredible teacher to me.

Ever since that conversation I think twice before I attempt to give advise, money, or my opinion to anyone and never ever give it if unsolicited.  At least I try, I may slip from time to time cause I like giving it. I am human.

Not long ago I did an exercise where I thought of a person I don't particularly like, then wrote a list of all things I did not like about that person.  The punch line of the exercise is, of course, to turn the list around, to see how all those things apply to me.  They are a part of me.
It does get better when I think of someone I like or admire, then I list why and those things also apply to me. Those also apply to me.
I find that projection, insecurity and a desire to control things is very present, is like a collective pain body.  I see it in comments I have to delete from time to time where someone seems to think they know much better than me what is good or not good for me.

We see the world through our own nervous system after all, the trick is not trying to impose our views on others.

In the end, the real work is to live beyond the labels. To go beyond what I like or do not like. But that is work. It happens over years.

This is how I keep a check on Projections

Turning it around: When I think someone is silly, obnoxious, or hurtful I turn it around and see if I am being obnoxious, hurtful or silly.  Sometimes I am sometimes I am not. This does not mean I let myself be run over by others. I need to keep grounded and speak up. I just make sure, whenever possible, to ensure I am not projecting my own whatever.

Running it through another mind: I call this a reality check and for it I try to find someone neutral, NOT someone that always agrees with me.  That is the only way to get a reality check, it is the definition of it.  My brother is very good on this front. I also have a friend from support groups, a brother of life you could say. They keeps it so real it hurts.


When I KNOW  and notice the emphasis on me 'knowing' what another one needs to do, hear, accept, understand, then I stop. I remind myself that I know nothing or at most I know very little.  I only offer my thoughts when solicited.  This is a practice of course.

When I listen to someone I try to stop myself from going to my own experiences and thinking about how it applies to me. That takes me away from what the person is actually saying, from the present moment. It is a great exercise to remind open and in the space of 'not knowing'.  Magic happens when this space is created and maintained.

I understand I am not here to save the world.  Whenever I learned a lesson in life, I only learned it in MY own terms, when I was ready to hear the message.  I find that many times people have told me things that could have helped me but I did not listen.  Listening even, is a very personal choice. We  can only do it when ready.  So if someone legitimately asks for advise, then I give it and let it go. They will hear or not hear the message they need.

When angry I stop.  Keeping anger in check is basic for me.  Many times I run it by James and he will say something like 'you are giving way too much power to this situation'.  He is usually right.

I trust that the processes are happening as they should, that things are as they should be.

So be it, so it is.

How do you do it?  How do you keep projections in check?


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12 Suggestions On How To Find A GOOD Yoga Teacher

Oh the issue of finding a GOOD teacher! Someone who can guide us from darkness to light and do it well. What a blessing it is to find one.  Lately I've been doing some self reflection and studying to find out what exactly it is that makes a yoga teacher a good teacher.

It might not be possible nor advisable to remember all of these when looking for a one but having the general idea in mind might point us in the right direction.

A teacher is, in the end, a relationship, it is the moment we step out of our own mental construct and learn from another. And like with all relationships I would say that the first point is the most important:

1.- Trust your instincts
A sign of an immature or inexperienced teacher is that of one who will manipulate the teachings to appear important, to pay tribute to his or her own ego.

Our own instincts are critical when walking through this path of finding a teacher. And when I say that I mean: How does my body feel around this person?

Good intuition manifests in the body, we either get a gut feeling, or something "does not feel right", or the opposite happens.

2.-Clear thinking and depth of knowledge
A good teacher will be clear in mind and have vast knowledge, not just of the learned type but also the experience type.  How do we find out? the first part is easy, a clear-minded person will reflect so in their speech, the depth of knowledge (or second part) might be revealed instantly or not.  This is why I always refer to point one.

How do the adjustments feel? is there a light quality about the class? Do you feel you can be present? or are you worrying about things just by being in the teachers' presence?

3.-Teacher continues practicing / studying / has a teacher
A teacher is also always a student, someone who keeps practicing, searching, and as a consequence has its own teacher or lineage. A teacher who seems to know it all already would send alarm flags down my own nervous system.

Whichever path you chose to follow to learn about the far reaching science of yoga, I would always look for a teacher that is deep in practice him or herself.

4.-The teacher is balanced, contented, patient
A good disposition in a teacher not only makes for a space of trust, it also shows me that their yoga is working.

I would be distrustful of a teacher that screams, or criticises others or gossips, or even worst, talks badly about students behind their backs or in public.

On the 'patient' front, I know in my case any teacher has to be patient with me.  A teacher will always plant new seeds but then trust that they will sprout in their own time.  My timing as a student needs to be respected.  A good teacher will know that different students have different timings and therefore there might be different answers or guides for different people, even contradictory at times.

5.-A good teacher will be grounded
Grounded in his or her own experience and not be easily swayed into hysteria.  Because a good teacher knows the benefits of the practice, has experience them and is rooted on the long term benefits of a wholesome practice.

A good teacher will be inmersed in what is, in reality, and not project its fears or aspirations onto students.  Nor will it feel threatened on his or her knowledge and try to manipulate everyone into thinking how he or she thinks.

6.-Anyone claiming to be a guru raises red alerts
When a teacher becomes self involved to the point where his or her own grandeur casts a shadow over the relationship at hand, then delusion ensues. Grounding is lost.

7.-Keeping our own projections in check
It is easy to project images of grandeur into a teacher.  Therefore, it is important to keep reality checks with ourselves, make sure we are not putting anyone on a pedestal.

It is OK to be inspired, to learn, to be wowed by a teacher, that is the nature of the relationship.  But keeping a grounding base as a student is also a requirement.

8.- Someone that encourages and allows us to keep our heart open
I find that the best teachers I've come into contact with have been light hearted, happy, creating an environment of open search yet keeping it to the point, and the point is the teachings of yoga.

Any restrictive teacher, someone that may snap out or yell or embarrass us is not allowing us to flourish.  Although there may be cases where this works, I find that when I was embarassed in front of a class oncew way back in 09 it made me close my heart rather than feel expansive.

9.-Boundaries
Any teacher that suggests sexual relationships, for example, with a student, is a red flag. We all know this I suppose, but it is important to keep it in mind.

The relationship between teacher and student has the goal of freedom. The teacher helps the student in the most important task of his or her life, that of becoming, that of being present for what is, that of ultimate freedom.  Any funny business will interfere with this.  Point one applies more than ever.

10.- Trickster
Anytime we as students may think we have it all figured out, we identify with the good teacher and get even a bit cocky about it, it is the duty of the teacher to do anything necessary to break that image, help us come back to the present moment and learn to live with not knowing.

This is what separates the good teachers from the excellent teachers.  Take for example, one conference in which the students were actively asking Sharath about what to do in the 'real world' when you have no money, or your girlfriend, should you not be 'attached' to her? or you had doubts, or, you know? what we think of as 'real' issues.  He kept bringing the answer to a basic 'do your practice', for every question, the bottom line answer was this, 'do your practice'.  This encourages us to get deeper into the practice and find the answers for ourselves.  It is what I needed to hear at that time, and I am pretty sure everyone else.

11.- Listens
With full attention, and takes an interest. If I was looking for a teacher I would see if there is listening involved.

And notice it does not mean I need to go into 'monologue mode' and have the teacher hear me. That is not it. It might be that on a first class a teacher may want to 'observe' the student's practice as to not force things, but rather to meet the student where he or she is.

Listening means that the teacher will meet the student where he or she is. At this time, in this moment.  Without projections, fears or insecurities.

12.- Student's Responsibility
So, if you are searching for a teacher, get in the process, be present, do the resarch, ask questions if you need to, but not 100 questions, see if you can do most of the interviewing from the level of intuition and listening, then if you feel you need to ask some more, then ask.

---

"It is the teacher foremost duty to give you back your intelligence, to return to you your heart, to encourage you to access yourself. They do this by being who they really are and by being completely honest and compassionate with you" - Richard Freeman

What would you add?

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Sunday Yoga Blog Times: How Tim Met His Wife

10 Reasons why Ro loves the Ashtanga practice

Laruga wakes up at 3 AM in the dark Sweden Fall for practice. Talk about strenght of mind.

Someone Twitted from Mysore, said she was abused by a man in a motor-cycle (touched inappropiatedly). Should she report it?  YES, take the plate number and call 100 from any cell phone. Let's keep Mysore Safe.

See Mysorepedia dot com for more info.

How Tim Miller met his wife.

Sound Yoga at Anoki's garden in Mysore. Nice Kirtan experience.

A cartoon guide to understanding the gunas

Three teachers resigned their Anusara certification last week. This is one of them saying why in her blog.

VIDEO:

Kino's Third Series DVD Preview.  Not released yet... It inspires me!





More? Here is Last Sunday's Yoga Blog Times: MONEY AND LIGHTS

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Does This Mean My Inbox is Full AND Empty?

Is that what it means I wonder? I can have a beautiful email from a comment posted on my blog or an email I don't like so much, AT THE SAME TIME? Is it so that the actual act of me observing my inbox determines the outcome?

How about if both James and I open the inbox at the same time and we both observe different things?

The video has ashort add but it is SO worth the watch. A simple explanation of one of physics most wanted, yet still unanswered questions.

And who is indeed that is observing us observe the video?

Will you watch it? do tell


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