Saturday, June 30, 2007

assisting Joan White at Omega, June 2007

...another extraordinary yoga experience! I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of serving as program assistant along with another very experienced Iyengar Yoga Instructor, Suzie Muchnick, to a wonderful Senior teacher, Joan White, from Philadelphia, during her Iyengar Yoga 5-day Intensive Workshop.

Omega is a mere 2 hour drive for me, and I love being in the green, going barefoot, swimming in the lake, walking through the garden, the library, and the food is great, too. Pictures: Top, Joan leading the group in Utthita Padangusthasana. Below, Joan is demonstrating Parivrtta Trikonasana (YIA PC p. 39), with Suzie (standing, left) looking on. Seated in front among the other participants were Certified Iyengar Yoga teachers Joann Warren (long braid), Nancy Kardon (glasses), and Cathy Eising (wearing all white). click on either for larger size views.

Joan focused much on Pranayama this time -- with beautiful imagery -- hoping to inspire us to a daily practice.
If you were an attendee, please add a post, with an insight or something you gained...

I recommend you join us all there for the last week in June 2008 to re-launch your summer practice. I would wager that Joan will lead you to new, previously unexperienced territory and guide you to the next level(s) in your yoga practice. Between the three of us, you will surely be thoroughly spoiled with astute observations and corrections, and of course, effective hands on adjustments. Included with the course is a comprehensive manual Joan has revised over the years, a great study tool. I am using the sequences in its pages this week in my own practice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

THE JOURNEY: with Geeta Iyengar in Las Vegas, May 2007

What a Journey! From the layer, or sheath (kosha), of Body (annamayakosa) to Sheath of Bliss (anandamayakosa). This was the theme (logo below) for the Iyengar Yoga Convention, held in Las Vegas, Nevada , wow, so amazing! (and I love the heat...) Our conventions are held every 3 years. Last one in Estes Park with Mr. Iyengar during his Light on Life book tour, previous one was in St. Paul, Minn.; before that, in 2001, since I was living in the Seattle area, I just drove up to Vancouver and attended the Canadian conference.

I had the prerogative of attending the Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher's Conference (about 400 attendees), followed by the General Conference (about 800 attendees), open to all Iyengar Yoga students (start planning for 2010). Then there was the specially unique opportunity to be on stage performing the asanas under Geeta's instruction, watchful eye, and magic touch (click on Getta and me for larger size view). A special thank you to Carrie Owerko for suggesting and urging me to volunteer on the stage as demonstrator of the poses.

The picture (right -click for larger size view) is me at Convention in supta padangustasana I (I still have some flexibility, it just takes a little more to maintain it these days).

It was wonderful to come back to my yoga students sharing some of the inspiring highlights from Geeta's teaching, especially from this pose baddha hastasana shown in the picture (which is in your Yoga in Action Preliminary Course books, p. 46!). As a cumulative result of the previous days exquisite instructions during other poses including Urdhva Hastasana and Pranayama, during this pose, I felt from deep behind the chest wall, that old bands of imbedded holding (and samskaras) were being (gently) shredded open.
I’m sure the hands-on from Geeta in Las Vegas had more impact than I can even describe, but all timely for my new life at 50.

Monday, June 18, 2007

50, no - 108 (!) backbends for my 50th birthday, gratitude

108 backbend experience.... at the annual IYIGNY "Yogathon" Fundraiser, on Sunday, June 3, 2007
significance of 108
A humble note of gratitude to my Iyengar colleagues: I see every day, every breath as a re-birth, but at the brink of my 50th year, it has taken on some unexpected significance. I want to thank all of you who have such dedicated, strong and disciplined practices. It has helped me step up to the plate of my own infinite possibility. It has been a privilege to witness and be inspired by all of you! Due to your trail blazing, I have set new standards for myself. You are all my teachers.

Sutra I.14 Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation of restraining the fluctuations.
Sutra II.43 Self-discipline (tapas) burns away impurities and kindles the sparks of divinity.

Thank you letter to my yoga teacher and mentor, Aadil Palkhivala:

Dear Aadil,
Good yoga news....

Much with memories of your many stories of 250 backbends, etc., and stories of 75 backbends (Urdhva Dhanurasana) for Iyengar's 75th birthday, I chose to ready myself for 50 backbends for my 50th birthday (this first week of June) to perform at our annual NYIYI fundraiser. I figured by the time I'm 75 I will be able to do 75, demonstrate them with more grace, and perhaps even all in a row. The difficult part for me had been going into and coming out of the pose, with the biggest challenge being lack of strength in my quads.

I built up from 20 (two days after the first 20, my quads - my previously weak area, were sore) in the last few weeks to 30, 35, 40, then 45, so I knew I could manage 50. After each incremental increase of 5, about two days later, I "felt" my quads a little walking downstairs.

When I first studied with you in Bellevue, Aadil, I was shocked during class when you nonchalantly instructed, "okay, everyone, do 8-10 UD to warm up." "8-10!!!" I thought to myself! Up until then, I had thought 5 was a big accomplishment. I struggled in the class to do 6-8, and gradually, on my own, was able to do 8-10 as an easy warm up.

In a later class, we had warmed up and focused on intricate details in UD. Then you said, casually, "okay, everyone, we'll hold for 2 minutes." "2 MINUTES!!!" I thought to myself.... "Blah blah blah," my mind said.... So, in my own practice, I started with one minute. Gradually, I built up to two minutes, with struggle. Then I worked to take out the struggle. I arrived at two minutes of (mostly) 'effortless effort' in UD. At the time, these were lofty accomplishments. This method of non-violent goal-setting carried me with grace to greater levels in my asana practice, especially being on my own much of the time. So, I had you and your calm voice very much in my thoughts during these last few weeks' build-up for the "big event".

In preparation for my big feat, I used these Sunrider foods*: Every day about a week before: 5-7 Sportcaps and 1 Sunrise prior to yoga practice, the basics, + my daily usual which have lately included: one 1-2 Evergreen, 1 Electrosport, Metabooster (15 - 5, 3x a day), JOI, BP, etc. On the day of the event, I had 5-8 Sportcaps almost every hour from the late morning (about 5x total), 3 Sunrise and 3 Evergreen spread out that morning until the event. The day after, 5 Sportcaps every other hour the first half of the day. Hardly any soreness at all in my quads afterwards, just a little in my left triceps, about 2 days later. Amazing!

During the event, the last 10 (to reach 50) were so easy, with all the cheering, that, in honor of Mr. Iyengar (and for a few more funds raised) I ventured to do up to 75, (previously unthinkable for me!). Fairly easily accomplished!

I wondered, when else would I have the opportunity to have this energetic support? - so I went for the 108! A piece of cake! I'd never done anything like this. I felt like I could have continued with 108 more, so much was stirred up and awakened...In the stillness afterwards, I had a beautiful and profound meditation, fanning the tremendous tapas present into various areas of my life. I arose quite calm, with a wonderful feeling of entering this new phase of life beginning at 50, a quiet and humble knowingness. From the known to the unknown, we can all do almost anything!

Thank you for being part of my inner inspiration.

disclaimer about my photo, which is the only one I have, taken at the event - it was definitely not the best moment to snap the shutter, as i am probably not all the way in the pose, or perhaps on the way out - with photos, we must practice vairag (detachment) :)

*Sunrider foods are highly concentrated live foods with enzymes, anti-oxidants and wholeness intact. I eat and drink them every day for extreme health. more on them in other posts, by request.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Surya Namaskar Workshop and Club

For participants of June 16th Surya Namaskar Workshop, and the 30-day Surya Club
disclaimer about our friend demonstrating, above (oi vey) ... Obviously, he could choose to study some Iyengar Yoga and clean up those poses... To my yoga students.... What would you correct so he could receive more benefits from his well-intentioned efforts? :)
The classical Iyengar Surya Namaskar beginning level jumping is on p. 105 of Yoga in Action, Preliminary Course by Geeta Iyengar.
Remember, you may begin with just 5 minutes, taking the first step, no matter how small....