18 May 2009

In Memoriam: Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois died this morning in Mysore after a year of declining health. He was 93 years old.

While I am not an astangi and the only time I did astanga was 6 years ago when Guruji's son Manju did a workshop at the Chicago Yoga Center, I know many people who have gone to Mysore to study at his shala. My own teacher, Suddha Weixler, studied in Mysore three times.

It is a great loss for the entire yoga world, not just for the astanga community.

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. What is never born can never die.

Those of you who knew Pattahbi Jois or studied in Mysore, feel free to leave your remembrances in the comment section.


14 May 2009

shadow self

I found this wonderful photo at one of Sindhu's blogs and thought it was a brilliant interpretation of the shadow self. It is entitled Devi and was originally uploaded by Mandar Sengupta.

The photo is also a beautiful reminder of where I'll be next year: I'm flying from Chennai to Kolkata (Calcutta) where worshiping the Divine Mother is supreme. I plan on spending lots of time at Sri Ramakrishna's home, the Dakshineswar Kali Temple.

My gut is telling me that I will love Kolkata as I do Chennai.


13 May 2009

I am my shadow self

Scott from Scott's Thott's posted this Seane Corn video and I wondered what your thoughts were about it.

A long time ago I did a workshop with Corn where she said almost exactly the same thing. When she mentioned the junkies and the whores I looked around the room and saw more than a few eyebrows go up and eyes go down. While the asana practice was good, I loved what she had to say even more.

Corn says that the teachers she is most attracted to are the most human, the realists who are honest about their history and path. In my last workshop with Sarah Powers she said the same thing: that her favorite teachers are the ones whose "humaness" shines through. I agree.

Last weekend I became 55, a fit, fabulous, "woman of a certain age." While I have my aches and pains I don't allow my body or my thoughts to define me -- I am not this body, I am not my thoughts. And on my birthday I realized: I should be dead. There was a time when I and others thought I would not live to see 21. I tried to kill myself when I was 16. Ask me if I care who knows that.

And now I'm planning my 4th trip to India. I've come a long way, baby.

I teach at a domestic violence shelter and the ladies told me that they appreciate me so much more because I've been where they are now, that I am not a "white suburban do-gooder" (their words) trying to tell them how to be.

I question how some show biz yogis can teach me because I wonder if they've been where I've been -- abuse, rape, addiction, and domestic violence. I usually do not trust the om namah shivaya types with the ethereal smiles and the wispy, breathy voices. I am a survivor, so what can they teach me? I'd rather get down and dirty.

I loved Scott's comment:

"A friend and I joke about the "Om Shanti" and "Namaste" crowd. These people who say Yoga is all about love and light, peace and happiness are deluding themselves. It's so pretentious - just say hello, how are you, have a good day... whatever. I would no more say Namaste to someone (outside north India) than I would say bonjour or auf wiedersehen.

If Yoga isn't pushing you outside your comfort zone, it ain't really Yoga. Leave the frills off for me, mama, and gimme an extra dose of darkness."

"If Yoga isn't pushing you outside your comfort zone, it ain't really Yoga."

Why do you yoga? Not "do yoga" because yoga is about undoing, not doing. Yoga does us. I've always thought that the reason more people don't yoga is because stepping into yoga takes courage and many of us (most?) are afraid to see what might come up, we're afraid of our shadow selves. It's so much easier to push that shit down and resist our truths.

Roll around with your demons and become uncomfortable until it hurts. Set yourself on fire because that fire will either kill you or transform you.

05 May 2009

my brother from a different mother

While I was at my final retreat for the Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock in California, YogaDawg sent me this video saying "this one's for you, couldn't help but think about ya...."

Thanks, Y Dawg, I LOVED IT!

I also received another blog award from Grace over at Graceful Yoga, a lovely and gentle yoga blog -- she lists her favorite yoga blogs so check them out. Thanks for the blog love, Grace!

As for my final retreat, I will write about it soon. I will say that the retreat and the entire training was amazing. It truly was a groundbreaking training in the western yoga world. It was a never before offered training that combined Buddhism and yoga, the twins separated at birth, so to speak. If you think Buddhism can be separated from hatha yoga, think again.

There were 88 retreatants from around the world, but my "dharma buddy" and I were the only two yoga teachers from Illinois (there were only four teachers from Midwest America.) Out of all the yoga studios in Chicagoland, both of us came from the same studio in Chicago. We think that says a lot.

Enjoy the video and dance to the music -- I will give you a little preview about my Spirit Rock retreat post....we ended the retreat (after a solemn graduation ceremony) with a yoga rave dance....Shiva Rea doesn't have anything on the Spirit Rockers, believe me.