Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A First

I had a first tonight. this evening i taught my first class down at VCU Hospital where i contract to for ACAC. and tonight i taught my largest class to date. FIFTY PEOPLE! fifty. thats 5-0! the room was covered front to back with mats and people were in the alcoves and the doorway.

the nice thing about teaching fifty people is that we all get the energy flowing and we build off of each other. it was actually somewhat easy to be teaching that many once i got started. the tough part is that the personal attention is lost. it's hard to know if everyone is catching what i'm saying. and i miss not having a personal connection.

i guess we'll see what happens next week. maybe more maybe less. but hopefully some will return.

now my challenge is to come down myself for a graceful landing this evening and to remember to use this energy i've been given for GOOD. look for the opportunities for GOOD always. and to REST from it all so i'm not totally wiped out tomorrow.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Todd Norian 3

Now i can't remember the theme from this afternoon's class, Dang! oh well. I know we worked quite a bit with twists - twisted lunge, twisted pigeon. and particularly with opening the hamstrings (triangmukaipada with leg extended in hands then put the foot in the armpit, noose pose which i did for the first time on one side) revolved supta padangustasana with support. one partner braced the back with the shins then press the shoulder and the hip away from each other toward the floor, then they moved to between the legs and we squeezed our legs to them and they outer spiraled our top hips.
I balanced briefly with parvritta bakasana (Yay!) and we finished up with hanumanasana - wasn't quite down there today- and open leged supta padangustasana with bottom leg in badakonasana.

At the end when we were in savasana he offered a guided meditation moving through the koshas. I was out before the end of pranamaya kosha. I was sort of adrift between awake and asleep. I haven't been there in such a long time, it felt good to let go so deeply. Afterwards he led us in some kirtan so that was fun and life affirming/energy building.

Thinking of his guided meditation made me think i need to go back and really put some time and effort into learning those things like samskaras (THAT was the theme! Aha! creating positive samskaras by reinforcing good, moving towards the positive and ignoring negatives) like koshas and chakras. And as i'm writing i think i can help myself by learning it and making it a theme for my class. The theme is revealing layers of ourselves - like the koshas. So at the beginning teach about the koshas, how they are layers of the body, and then in class talk about layers of alignment. I think to teach this Anusara stuff i need to 1 give more time to my own personal practice in optimal Alignment 2 Practice and deeply plan and figure out what i want to work on each week... somehow allowing it to flow organically out of where i am in my teaching process, and where the students are that week and 3 STUDY study study all this stuff.

Todd is referencing a sacred Tantric text called The Splendor of Recognition this weekend. it is all about recognizing our true nature as Source. The universe in each of us. He says it is out of print, but i'll try to get it somehow. He says it is an understandable Tantric text which sounds like a good thing to me.

Then after class he approached me to ask how the classes are going. I said very good. I told him who I am, from Richmond, no teachers etc. I told him about my intention to start immersion in DC then come up to Massachusetts for his 2 and 3 immersions and follow that with his teacher trainings in 2008 to 2009. He said oh that would be great and he thought I'd be an excellent candidate. So that made me feel good. I was glad he spoke to me and we had that moment of connection. And i have to admit my ego was glad to hear I'd be an excellent candidate.

I'm thinking I need to give my students something to write in the journal about, just like THIS. So if i'm working from themes, the students have something to mull over until the next time. That is good. That is creating positive growth for them and for me. That is changing the world, one person at a time.

Todd Norian 2

Asheville, NC October 26-28

This morning we worked with the idea of stoking the fire. Stoking the internal fire to flame up and burn away concealment. So that image would come back again and again. He often spoke of the legs as logs - the form the foundation, they hug towards the midline because fire can't burn if the logs are too far apart, He talked in the beginning about covering embers with ash so that they stay warm and the fire is easy to light again - so he would come back to that and say that misalignments in the body are like covered ash. He would also say stack the logs (to align the legs) and strike the match (by tucking the tailbone) to light the fire. and we definitely lit the fire and burned our little selves up!

We spent quite a long fixing Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) with shoulder loop. And i've finally got my arms in the right place (shrug shoulders, side body long, melt the heart, then when i feel pinching in the trapezious initiate outer spiral in the upper arms so the inner armpit and front of the shoulder move back evenly).
We also worked on handstand at the wall and with partners. I got to observe Todd helping support people as they went into their first handstands at the wall. That was good to see - he definitely took some people up that i would shy away from for lack of strength and upper body integration. I watched and saw that he pretty much braced his bum on the wall and used the wall as support. I can totally do that. He did make a statement that i agree with entirely. he said: " half-handstand is much harder physically but Handstand is much harder psychologically" he also had us work in handstand looking at the floor to help us engage shoulder loop (totally different from Desiree Rumbaugh who said look to the middle of the room)
Then some backbending working with Alignment again, then savasana.
He followed that with more talking about how we are all Source, born from it and it now and returning to it. Source is always there. I have to start talking about this stuff and embodying it because in all honesty i BELIEVE it. I am ready to put it out there more and more.

This makes me think of giving an alignment workshop at CPR. the problem is that Susan and i teach from different perspectives and the alignment of the shoulders and shoulder blades really is radically different in Anusara than in any other style i've come across. But oh well, we'll just have to know we're teaching two different veins. Eventually hopefully we'll have enough classes that we won't be sharing them and the students will just choose what they want to learn.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Todd Norian Workshop 1

Asheville, NC October 26-28

His theme tonight was working with concealing and revealing. That the universe conceals itself in us in order to reveal itself. The huge cosmic game of peek-a-boo. same as a Halloween costume, hiding just for the fun of revealing oneself. The fun is seeing who is underneath. He also talked about life moving in cycles. Everything happens in three cycles as governed, in the Tantric tradition, by the three goddesses: Saraswati - creativity, joy, beginning; Lakshimi - ultimate bliss, climax, height, middle; and Kali - dying away, destruction, ending.
That now in the year we are moving towards winter, towards the Kali time of gathering back in and storing up to then be ready again for Saraswati in the spring. He said even trees do the same... after dropping their leaves, they send all the vital energy and nutrients to the center of the tree and then to the roots to be saved up during winter.
He talked about each of us being the same because we are all just a part of the universe looking at itself.

Practice tonight wasn't too out of control though I am tired. My muscles are sore - especially from Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) of all things. You never work so hard as when there is a master teacher in your midst. And i'm tired from teaching yesterday and driving today. Mainly i'm noticing i'm not in the shape i was in this summer - so it's back to the mat for me. I particularly want to increase the intensity and duration of my practices.

But, back to Todd. He is SO tiny. That seemed surprising to me, I don't know why. He is short and long and lean and relatively soft spoken. Not quite the charisma of John. But still depth, warmth, and a feeling that he sees you and connects with you. Inspiring in a quieter sort of way - and that gives me hope about bringing my authentic, quiet self to the mat as teacher.

He taught two interesting bits i hadn't seen before. First was "full moon" which i thought would be holding the foot in Ardha Chandrasana, but not so. for Full moon he had us come into half-moon then extend the top arm over the ear and the bottom arm paralell to it. sort of a sideways virabradhasana III. Challenging!!! The second was supta virasana with a partner. First the assisting partner inner spiraled the top of the thighs. Then we came up to the face and did downward facing dog with them holding our ankles and we inner spiraled their thighs while we stretched their arms back. It was a little awkward to give the adjustment, but it felt nice to receive it.
So today i felt a little 'Blah'. probably from so many hours in the car. Tomorrow i'd like to drop the ego down quite a bit and approach the day and the practices as a raw beginner. That is the best place to be coming from. Then i'm open, receptive, and ready to learn from Todd, from the other students, and from myself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How the Body knows

I find myself this week wanting to pull on sweaters and wear jeans. i want to cozy up under a blanket and read a book with a hot cup of tea (or, better yet, hot chocolate) resting on my nightstand. It is, afterall, nearly the end of October. Fall is set upon us and the world is getting ready for winter. leaves have dropped all over our yard and my body just knows it's time to start to settle down. i'm sure i'm already gaining my winter weight (ho-hum).

That would all be normal, except that it isn't normal in 80 degree weather. yes, it is October and until today our temperatures have continued to hover in the 80s for weeks now. we had a brief drop into the 60s, which felt absolutely frozen, just in time for my friend's wedding. and then back to the 80s. currently, it is rainy and 66 degrees but with a forecast high of 84. what is this crazy weather warp? i've long believed myself to live in a weather vortex... it sometimes downpours at the studio and not at all at my house only 5 miles away as the crow flies. global warming? possibly... but how do you explain global warming to my body?

my body is trying to set itself for winter. in total disregard for the actual sensations i am experiencing, in total disregard for sunshine and blue skies, my body is storing up, resting up and growing weary...ready for the long winter's nap i suppose. how does my body know that it is time? my body cannot read a calendar. my body does not realize that October 23 is any different from July 23. my body apparently does NOT pay attention to actual air temperature.

i think my body is a tree. it is vrksasana walking on two legs. my body must work just like a tree does, shedding it's protection and storing up as the sun begins to set earlier and earlier each day. i notice each year how long it takes me to reset at the beginning and end of daylight savings. and i know it is because my body's alarms are not in tune with what they sky is telling me. as fall comes my body starts to slow down while my psyche starts to gear up. fall is for back-to-school and work after summer chill-out, but my body works backwards. all my energy comes with the sun, i am Solar Powered. in the summertime i can stay up all night and workout for hours, i am ridiculously productive and energetic. by winter i'm sleepy at 6 and passed out by 9. it is a chore to keep myself motivated to work out. (am i an ad for Seasonal Affective Disorder or what? Thank goodness for yoga to keep me sane) and now i'm feeling that same feeling again, my body is finely tuned to read the skies and know what comes next... Winter. cold or not, the days will be dark the nights will be long and my body will rest after the mad dash that was this summer. i am in constant amazement with my body and its ability to tell me things that my mind would rather disregard. this time it tells me, get ready to rest, winter is coming.

Monday, October 15, 2007

CPR Dedication

We held our dedication of the space at Core Pilates of Richmond tonight. It was an event to celebrate the introduction of yoga to core pilates and to create a more sacred, spiritual energy in the studio. The studio is a shared space but I was feeling the need for some healing comforting and nurturing energy flowing in the room. We opened it up to any of the students to come and we ended up with just one student, the other teacher (Susan) and me.
We dimmed the lights and Susan led us through forming an intention and each lighting our own candle to represent the intention we bring to the class. Then I led the Ganesha chant (remover of obstacles) to get troubles out of the way and to mark the beginning there. We followed that with 9 rounds of sun salutation B. not so many that it got out of hand or went on all night, but enough to get some energy flowing. After that we spoke of the intention for the space, then chanted the teacher/student chant. And we closed with bowing to honor ourselves, the space, and all the people who will practice there. Namaste.

it was a beautiful gesture and it did feel very spiritual/sacred. it felt like a dedication a beginning of new energy in the space. by the third set of sun salutations i was very much feeling a shift in my energy there an opening. Susan reminded us to open up to the gifts that the others were sending and i was reminded about the give and take of a yoga class. The teacher gains so much too from the process.

and i was so hugely struck by the last bit about honoring everyone who will practice there. my heart and mind opened to the possibilities of SO many people who will come through those doors to practice yoga. even if they only come one time each person will lend energy and has the potential to create growth and change both in the self and in others. that felt magical to me. the idea of the continuation of spirit and of ongoing learning.

afterwards we were getting into our cars and waving good-bye and Susan was so great, she said, 'now wait, after all that we don't just wave good-bye and go away" so we all hugged big open strong hugs, full of hope for the future of this space.

OM namah shivaya gurave.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Intro to Yoga Planning

I am getting excited about the Intro to Yoga class we're offering at Core Pilates Richmond this Sunday. I've taught many beginners in my time as a teacher, but this is the first time I've had the chance to develop a true Introduction class on my own. I think it will be very fun, and I'm always excited to see people as they awaken to the joy of yoga.
The interesting part, though, is ... it's an hour long. What do I teach??? Yoga is so HUGE! and the most important parts aren't always the parts that beginners think they are. Not only that, how do I impart so much amazing and ultimately life-changing information to these students who are just beginning this process.
The answer is, of course, I can't do that. I have to simply start at the beginning and try to move forward. Hopefully, they'll all be hooked and they will come back. Slowly but surely the onion of yoga will begin to open for each of the students just as it is beginning to open for me and for all the teachers I know.
The best way I can think to serve them is to give them a basic introduction to the many classes of poses: Standing poses, hand balances, twists, hip openers, inversions, heart openers, and restoratives. Then if there is time add some pranayama, probably just a simple three part breath awareness. Even that task sounds daunting for only an hour long class. Daunting but completely do-able, especially if I am well prepared.

So that is my task this week. Plan out and then execute the best darn Introduction to Yoga class I can muster, and then hope it's enough to bring people back for the real deal. We're just at the tip of the iceberg.... want to go for a swim?