Marking a Milestone

Capitol Hill Yoga’s inaugural Yoga Immersion class graduated last Sunday, June 10, 2012.  It was a great day in the yoga world.

We came together last October, just a group of yogis interested in having a deeper conversation.  My co-teacher, Naomi Gottleib-Miller (I love this post btw), and I knew that it would be an excellent forum for discussion and discovery for everyone in the group who chose to engage, students and teachers alike.  One weekend a month for nine months, totaling 108 hours of in-class time – 108 is an auspicious number for some crazy reason – is a real commitment for people who have friends, family, and a life outside of yoga.  And that does not include home practice time, reading, and further outside contemplation.

To say the least, the Immersion was an investment in one’s self.  We all had an inkling that we would be changed after being thrown into the fire together for nine months, but to experience that heat, that mental and spiritual and physical churning, and then come out on the other side feels like a real accomplishment — something true that cannot be taken away now that we know it.  This is the stuff of the heart.  This is the stuff of the spirit.  This is the stuff of life itself.

Shiva said, “I know that I am.”  Shakti said, “Let’s do this thing.”  Sarasvati brought her books and her music, Lakshmi invited everyone to play, and yes, even Kali reared her fearsome head and brought a little dissolution to the Anusara Yoga collective during our time together.  No matter, we started as a seed of Anusara Yoga, but we finished a healthy tree of Yoga itself, broad and expansive and all-inclusive, each branch a uniquely beautiful expression.  And yeah, Kali made a dent in our individual lives as well by helping to release the mental junk that clogs clear thinking.

And then it becomes time to end this chapter and move on to the next phase.  I will always be grateful and cherish your playfulness, sense of humor, eagerness to learn, creative answers to questions, creative questions themselves, intention to do great yoga, sincerity in your own practice, honesty in baring your soul, willingness to try something different…

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that what lies behind us and what lies before us are nothing compared to what lies within us.  An ending is always the beginning of something new.

With deepest gratitude to the entire Capitol Hill Yoga Immersion class of 2012, I give you my heart.  And tiger paws.


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In the midst of the controversy that has enveloped the Anusara Yoga world, is something new arising?  If you are not familiar with the transgressions of Anusara’s founder, John Friend, you may check to catch up, but basically John got misguided in several big ways, very cliched big ways as far as yoga teachers go, and his transgressions affected many individuals directly and the larger Anusara community is suffering too.  To date, he has not accepted responsibility for his actions.

When the news first came out, I had a clear sense that my time with any organization was over; it felt like structure was becoming a hindrance.  This was a bit frightening, and it made me extremely disappointed and sad, but I cannot stand so whole-heartedly behind someone who claims one thing yet does another.  I was (and am) disappointed in him and am very sad at the loss of the cohesiveness of the wonderful community that he was the stimulus to create.  However, something deeper is shifting and many friendships made through yoga are not friendships lost.

Change is the way of life, and like it or not, now things are different.  Sometimes I feel adrift in an ocean of emotion.  A fellow yoga teacher, Chad Satlow of Third Eye Threads, mentioned the term ronin, it is the name for a samurai without a master.  I looked it up.  Ronin in Japanese means “wave man” and refers to someone who is socially adrift.  Spot on.  Controversy can feel like the choppiest sea, and ironically the very person who caused the storm is the very one who offered me powerful tools to navigate those waters.

And lately I’ve been contemplating the idea of abundance.  Consciousness is an infinite ocean, so the yoga texts tell us; therefore, there is room for all types of experience.  One should come to expect all kinds of experience in fact — good, bad, indifferent, amazing.  Those elements that make up our human nature are the very elements contained in the sea of Mother Nature.  Maha Shakti.  As she is infinite and expansive, then so are we.  It can be hard to believe when we are contained in these finite physical bodies and we are subject to not only physical aches and pains but the containment of social status and position as well.

In my meditation experience, there is an underlying clarity and freedom when you dive past the surface.  All of these happenings within the (somewhat insular) Anusara world are just one avenue of experience.  Sometimes I feel like a boat on that choppy sea with no way to steer, and other times I recognize that I’m swimming within a current of massive potential.  It was a lot of work and discipline and challenge to become a Certified Anusara Yoga teacher.  That personal work gave me powerful tools to connect to Maha Shakti and also simultaneously some unconscious boundaries on ways of thinking.  Breaking through those boundaries I unknowingly yet willingly placed on myself is incredibly liberating.  I still have the tools I worked so hard to fashion, and now there seem to be no more limits.

This life is abundant, and the question now is what to do with this newfound knowledge, experience, and awareness?  I choose to rededicate my self and my actions to the flow of infinite Grace.  As another fellow yoga teacher, Todd Norian, put it recently, “I am the one I’ve been waiting for.”

And so are you.


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