28 April 2005

No Sleep Til Mysore

Here is another blog written by Chicago yoga instructor, Cara Jepsen, about visits to Mysore and studying with the father of astanga yoga, Pattabhi Jois.

The real deal...the good, the bad, and the ugly. Watch out for those flying cockroaches.

01 April 2005

paz yoga

"Paz" is Spanish for "peace". "Peace yoga" sounds like a beautiful concept to me, and in my humble opinion, what yoga is really all about. Yoga is about peace, healing, transformation. I won't get into the differences between "health club yoga" and "traditional yoga", because I can assure you that one group of students I have could not care less. They don't come to class wearing $90 yoga pants, or have leather yoga mat bags, or wear chakra balancing anklets. In fact, they don't even own yoga mats and could not tell you where to buy them. But they are my favorite yoga students because they totally understand what yoga is really all about and they all got it on the first night of class.

My karma yoga at a domestic violence shelter. I teach once a month to the Hispanic women's support group. Some women understand English, others do not, so I have a translator for my direction. This in itself is interesting and amusing. We have lots of laughs when we go from la mesa to la gata then to pose of a nina to el perro.

These women are not shelter residents, but they come once a week for instruction or support regarding legal, financial, or job issues. They see me only once a month. But if you saw these women meditate, you would think I was leading a vipassana retreat. I do not have any other students who are more concentrated and focused in their goal for inner peace. When I teach my other classes and notice how some students lie in savasana with their eyes wide open staring at the ceiling, or tapping their fingers, or looking at their watches, I think about las yoginis mexicanas and their peaceful faces. It overwhelms me.

These women have been emotionally and physically abused. Some have left their men, some have not. All have children they are trying to protect. But when they come to see the "yoga lady", they know that the 90 minutes is for them, and no one else. Maybe it's the only hour and a half they've had for themselves all month. No one asks me about fancy poses or about getting a yoga butt. They ask me how to breath. They ask me about the Divine. I always tell them to go inside and find that true Self, the Self that they were born with that no one can ever take from them. The Self that no one can hit or call stupid or call a whore. One young women told me that she saw herself bathed in a white light, standing outside herself, watching herself meditate, and how happy and calm that made her feel. I told her how beautiful that was, that some people who meditate for years never see things like that, and she started to cry. Afterward the group leader told me that this woman has a little girl who keeps asking mommy why she goes back to daddy after daddy hurts her. I have not seen this woman since that night. I hope she is still bathed in the white light.

They ask me if yoga can help them with their aches and pains and whether yoga can diminish their big bellies left over from having children. They love doing Fire Series, but they love going inward to find that true Self even more. I tell them that my teachers in India will show me many ways to help them. I've explained to them how KYM teaches a theraputic yoga style, and that when I return I will show them everything. They've told me, please come back from India, we want the yoga lady here, because after class we feel happy. Now it's time for me to cry.

Yes, I will come back to show them what I've learned, because I have been where they are now. Paz yoga, healing, and transformation, por mis yoginis mexicanas.