Saturday, March 3, 2012

____________ Yoga

I've told you all about the time yoga saved my life and how it's the love of my life, in fact, you're probably getting a little sick of it. But I've got to tell you anyway.

This weekend I am here studying under five of the first western teachers of Ashtanga Yoga: Tim Miller, Nancy Gilgoff, Richard Freeman, Eddie Stern and David Swenson.

(Here I am after Nancy's Second Series class)

There are 5-6 hundred of the most dedicated Ashtanga yogis here this weekend and some companies are wisely taking advantage of that with booths outside of our yoga rooms each day. One such booth was a company that makes tea that is supposed to become whatever it needs to for your body at any given time; i.e. help you sleep at night, help you digest, help you wake up in the morning. Somehow it just KNOWS! Kinda creepy, right? Well I'm into it. So I'm sitting here watching the sunset from our balcony drinking this tea and coming up with brilliant and deep conclusions about life...

Here's what I've figured out: the reason yoga is so important to me has nothing to do with the physicality (although that's fun!), or even necessarily the lifestyle really. Instead it is something much more valuable:

It is the fact that yoga can become whatever it needs to, depending on me, just like my tea here. :)

Finding yoga meant finding community in a place I never really fit into. Then it became a way to feel special at an age where everything gets really overwhelming. Next yoga was the place I connected with the people and literature that would later shape the person I am becoming. It has been a job, it has been a hobby, it has been ignored. Yoga helped heal me and bring me back into my body after the most horrific time in my life. Yoga has given me greater body intelligence and social consciousness.

Or maybe. Just maybe. Yoga is such a fluid concept that it's capability to stay consistently relavent makes it ultimately powerful.

I titled this post with a blank space before the word yoga after hearing a Q & A with these five yesterday where David Swenson said that it didn't matter what word was in front of yoga as long as you were doing it.

These are Ashtanga experts. But beyond that, they are real live yogis. They really live it. When asked whether there would be another conference of this kind (this is the first time these 5 have gotten together for something like this), they all answered that we were still doing this one. Ultimate presentness.

Here is experience with each of them as teachers this weekend and beyond.

Tim Miller, I have spent time practicing with before. He doesn't know it, but he and Amy are my teachers, my gurus. He is firm but patient, kind and funny. When I see him I can't help but smile. In fact, just typing about him I've got a big grin across my face!

(Tim and I at his second series retreat, Mt. Shasta August 2011)

David Swenson's class was more like a comedy show than anything. The man is so strong and light that as he demonstrated incorrect and correct usages, I found myself gaping. Then he would make a joke that only people who practice Ashtanga would get and we'd all laugh for a while. Also, he and his wife make an incredible team, and that made me really smile and want to see more of them.

Nancy's class felt like the way yoga should feel. She is somewhat of a purist in that she teaches it exactly the way she learned it. Which means, she takes out all the fluff and gets right to the point. She is strict on form, but loving in her teaching. I left her class feeling healed, happy and relaxed.

Richard Freeman seems to be the most cerebral of the five. His class was a really simple series that has never felt so intense. He discussed the mechanics and energetics of the breath in each posture and I felt myself going places I didn't know existed in my body. His scripting was so beautiful and I love how mild and regal he is.

Eddie Stern has not taught a class for us yet. But he has done a lot of chanting and explanation of hindu deities; which has been beautiful. He seems like he's really into that side of things. He's a likable guy and I'm looking forward to learning more from him.

In the end, these five are just people that went to India and found something they loved. I am grateful that they did.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like so much fun. I wish I had a moment to learn yoga. Thanks for sharing! :)


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