the image on top is "Welcome Home Sweet Sugar" by Kelsey Brooks

Friday, July 29, 2011

East/West Distinctions?

I've found an interesting East-West distinction. Well, perhaps this an East/West US thing... perhaps it is an effect of the yoga practice, but now more so I feel that I am meeting people who are extremely open, accepting, and have a sense of ease regarding time. It hasn't sunk into my behavior fully yet, so I am still introducing myself with a rapid outburst of information, still as if my body can barely contain itself, in a desperate effort to expand.

It is in my intent to find a good balance between expansion and acceptance. The point is I remember catching myself as I was speaking, taking up time in a yoga class, and Govindas saying it was quite allright. The culture is less frought than in California, it seems. Perhaps.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Subtle Heat: Matthew Cohen's Chi Kung and Yoga

Matthew began class in my favorite way: asking his students how they were feeling. Tired, sad? Ok, tired yes, but not so sad. Ok. So, tired. Hip openers?

Reclining twist, hugging in the knee.....(oh, good, I think, this is the practice I was in the mood for...Chi Kung, yoga....sounds easy, right? A few hip openers....).

Yeah, right. Matthew is a martial arts instructor, and easy and martial arts, in my experience, is anything but easy.

First come crunches. And ok, I'm into crunches. I love awakening my core, even if my brain hasn't caught up yet. The first lunge I took half asleep....and then something snapped. We didn't leave the lunge. We lept up, into crane, half moon, dragon*. The best way to describe it, as Matthew said, was forming half a ying yan symbol. He came up to me and adjusted me so that I twisted deeper, and I understood why. I'm wide awake by now, and we move into warrior two, reverse warrior, triangle (an amazing neck adjustment!). I'm burning up with heat and completely confused as to why- we had, after all, done only a few lunges, right? Ah, but there's the energy of the class....

After a long lunge series on each side, we did a series of pidgeons as part of padmasana preparation. After which we did one of those surprisingly mind-boggling tricks: rotating the torso in opposition to the arms. Tricky.

The most powerful element I took out of class was Matthew's advice that, in his heritage, practitioners softened their chest (mine has a permanent rise per Colleen's memory). The heart is softened, and the spine, the central channel, rises instead. See how that works with your body, he offers, try it out...

*I believe it was called dragon. I'll have to ask.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yonnus Becker

Studio Surya Yoga is as sunny a space as owner Yonnus' presence. She's one of those people that blows your mind with her positivity, shockingly radiant in its integirty. In this way, she reminds me of Sarah Coleman, a clear and beautiful soul and studio owner in NYC. The same vibe I loved about Finding Sukha in the east village, I catch here....a bright, loving and community-based center where everyone knows and supports each other- right down the street from my new spot in Venice. It's no surprise I ended up there. It's a bit of a surprise I was there bright and early at 9 AM though. I'm exhausted and a bit under the weather, so the night before, I noted the schedule, but nothing short of a miracle would get me up in time. And the miracle came- in the unexpected form of car alarm at 7:46 AM. Wow.

So I'm at the studio and right as class starts I catch Yonnus' eye, draw a circle in my chest and urgently whisper "heart opening". I don't know what she had planned, but from that moment class unfolded into an eloquent sequence of slow, steady heart opening. It's been a while since I made the transition that heart opening is a gradual process, an intention one can carry throughout the class. Every pose we did, every transition, especially anjaneyasana sprinkled through salutations, translated into the overall chest-expanding flow. I remember opening up the back of the heart through a lift in eagle, what a spectacular moment that was. Yonnus' enthusiasm poured out from her heart into my recently corked open one, and her adjustments were fantastic. I loved the pacing of the flow, and how she crafted an original practice through the structure of surya namaskar. I left class light and full of hope and good thoughts....can't wait to come back : )

Glitter Yoga

Glitter goddess and fellow yogini Kimi Giles and I have moved to Venice, and to commemorate this, we of course have to have a glitter yoga housewarming.

We dress up in our sparkliest costumes, stretchy painted pants and gathered about 12 friends up on our roof. We climbed up with four types of glitter, sparklers and got to work.

Kimi was assisting, so she began the ceremony by giving each person white glitter in their right palm, which I instructed them to symbolize all of their expectations of themselves and the night, and throw that over their shoulder.

Then Kimi went around and offered a handful of gold glitter, which I asked people to hold and raise over their heads as if in a sun salutations, then let the glitter fall all over them. It symbolized the purest of loving intentions.

We took ten deep breaths together. We then flowed through grounding, awakening and enlivening movements. Nice and light, this was a first time practicing for many people, and we linked together breath and body through simple motions and stretches. Kimi going around and adjusting alignments was a huge help. One of my favorite moments was doing warrior II in a circle holding hands and passing a "pulse" through the circle. Also, everyone in camel, looking up at the sky.

Our yoga ceremony closed with a meditation with everyone staring at a sparkler.

Being the first time, we went for a short session, about 20 minutes, but next time I think we can really push the envelope and see where glitter yoga takes us...