Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sun rise in Berkeley, the morning of a red-eye flight to Boston. Cats on the couch and I feel like I'm the only one awake in this town. It's been some time since New Mexico, I must say it feels a bit strange to think people might actually read this...and so I came away from writing. Now, off the beach, down from Tahoe's 6500 ft elevation, out of the tipi in northern Cal, and back into the city- back into the blog. Promise.

Two months on the islands was amazing. So many gifts, so many changes. The three-week course with Eddie Modestini and Nicki Doane was light on the asana and heavy on the teaching. It was incredibly challenging and quite necessary for me to take rest from my usual strong practice. The course concentrated mostly on the verbal aspects of teaching a lead class, in the style of Eddie and Nicki's work, which is quite specific now that we have all accepted there is such a thing as "Maya Yoga". Eddie and Nicki studied extensively with Iyengar teachers as well as Guruji, devoted their lives, truly, to the practice of yoga asana and family raising (the REAL YOGA as my NH teacher Robert Moses likes to point out). The group this year was smaller, 12, and we all have been working together for a few years. I came away from the experience with a strong realization we are knitting a tribe. Each individual in the group became my teacher. Feedback sessions were profound, inspiring yet devastating, at times.
"We take ourselves so seriously." -Krishna Das

When I step back from life and look in (a blessed, blessed remembrance) I see this: the Evolution of a Yoga Revolution. Now's happening man. This is IT. As Eddie says, yoga chooses us and its expression through each individual is unique. Therefore, as teachers (and there's tons of now, TONS) we are all sharing a unique expression and all we have to go on that is a deeply valuable offering is what we learn from our own practices. The more I contemplate teaching, the more inspired I am to practice.
The Tahoe yoga community asked for Bandhas and Pranayama. For the most part, people don't have daily practice, so beginning the week-end with full primary was a humdinger. However, I want to keep true to the practice if I'm using the label Ashtanga, and gave them the don't hurt yourself pep talk, spirits and humor were both high and we had a great time. The workshop moved from the gross to the subtle, from asana, through abdomino-pelvic exercises, into seated and reclined pranayama. I dont know how many of the students will keep up the practice, in truth a one-time exploration is perfunctory at best, but I'll come back next year and we'll delve in again. (Same for you in Boston, I am getting a BBY date for Bandhas II this summer, hope you've been doing your homework!)
My practice continues to become more about the subtle aspects of Shakti's expressions. I am a newborn frequently as my body changes exponentially from the travel and the yoga. I open my inner eyes and ears and sit and listen as often as I can (just 20 minutes morning and evening, a modest event). I sit in specific seated poses and do some agni sara, some uddiyana, some kapalabhati, some retention. It is scintillating.

I spent three weeks practicing with Nancy Gilgoff and Casie on Maui. The Mysore room there feels like my yoga adolescense embodied. I have been doing the same ashtanga practice there for a few years, and the work grows slowly. Regardless of the comings and goings of the poses, my relationship to the energy the practice brings up is of most interest. High as a kite, I was. And Maui is the best place for it. Practice with Nancy taps into a different dimension- mysteriously so, which is why I value my relationship with her so dearly. I'll admit it's a treat to let the energy move freely for a bit, to get to know it, although its moderation seems to me the aim. Pulling it back to center now, as I'm on the road again. (FYI I pull it back to center by sitting still, focusing on breath at interesting times, like in restaurants, and keeping to a regular schedule of asana practice regardless of my location).

Really looking forward to dropping down in Boston for two weeks and reconnecting with Scot and the BBY community, teaching Mysore the week of Dec 3-7. Leaving for India Dec 12th, holidays in Goa and then to Mysore. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cold desert nights, autumny days with high-altitude sun. I'm just beginning the blog, not sure how I will direct it yet. The main thing is to stay connected to my Boston yoga community,offer insights into the yoga and be available for those who care to check in. Six months is a long time to be away. I will post pictures from time to time.

The Yoga: I realized a few years back that, for me, travel puts the yoga asana practice into the maintenance category. When I stay put, the practice grows and progresses. By trying to take Third Series on the road, it became clear if I wanted to begin the new work, I needed to ground. Every time I move it takes a few weeks to get back to where I was. These days I identify less with what poses are possible and more with the amount of Shakti moving. Getting on and off planes, changing climates and altitudes dramatically, enough is moving!
One of the biggest challenges is finding a sane space. It's cold in Taos in the morning so I am waiting until the sun is well up to practice. I go to the back porch once the sun is no longer beating there and the cold AM air is warm- like 10 AM. Sometimes its windy, sweat disappears into the dry air as soon as its born, and I'm creaky in the joints. I take more flax and olive oil, put coconut or sesame on the skin daily. But the practice is what it is, an expression of my relationship to change. New Englanders are blessed with a tough constitution (and a tough attitude might I add) due to almost constant adapting to the weather. For now, I'll be glad to keep up my usual practice schedule without pushing to any new levels. Backing off the poses is acceptable at this time.
Breath work at altitude is a trip. Any retention results in light-headedness the first few days. I felt out of breath just rolling over in bed the first night! Best thing is to sit and breathe simply, take my Agni Sara and Nauli in shorter bursts- skip the Kapalabhati for a few days. When I first lived at Lake Tahoe, I used to get high regularly from breath work. A friend noted those who live at high altitude are quite healthy because the cardiovascular system is under a constant, homeopathic dose of tension.
My chick peas are boiling- adios. Thanks for reading, your questions/comments are always welcome if you can figure out how to post them.