Archive for ‘Doh!

January 13, 2012

The Wrong Question

Recently a woman approached me after class:

“You know how in the beginning of class you ask if anyone is practicing with physical injuries?”


“Well, in the last few weeks I’ve had a different kind of injury–the having a hard time kind of injury.  The yoga is really helping and I wanted you to know.”

She was filled with dignity, beauty, and grace.

For years, I asked about the physical because it was the only kind of injury I was confident I could do something about, the only area in which I felt trained.  My hunch is that the number of emotional and spiritual wounds students have–whether healed over or freshly gaping–exponentially exceeds the physical trauma.  Sometimes yoga teachers feel inept, I think.  I did for years.

Fellow teachers–we never know who is in the classroom with us, their strength and resilience, or their entire story.


January 10, 2012

Yogis Ain’t No Krispy Kreme Donuts!

Lately there’s been absolute yoga media frenzy. My response to a NY Times article claiming that yoga can “wreck your body” went crazy viral, receiving thousands more hits than anything I’ve previously written.

Good yoga teachers are not Krispy Kreme donuts. They can’t be mass-produced on a conveyor belt. Far too many lovely but inexperienced yoga enthusiasts become teachers before become time-ripened students–resulting in too many teachers attempting to teach what they have not yet even truly assimilated themselves.

I know because I was one of them. I offer myself as Exhibit A.

I trained to teach over a decade ago, before the current Anusara curriculum was in place. Eager beaver that I was, I cut right to the chase and signed up for teacher training before I could tell my root chakra from my elbow.

Bad plan.

I had yet to become time-ripened in my practice. I chose a training because it was geographically convenient and fit into my schedule. My cheeks are burning as I type this:  I enrolled in an Anusara yoga® Teacher Training without having ever even heard of Anusara yoga.

I’d never knowingly encountered tantric philosophy. I had no interest in community, and zero idea how to align my poses. Instructions to do things like, “Put my shoulder blades onto my back,” confused and frustrated me. I didn’t belong in that training. I didn’t belong in any teacher training.

I belonged in an Immersion. Only, it didn’t exist yet.

I cried over the course of that training—a lot. Upon graduating, realizing the depth of my ignorance, I immediately enrolled in a second training. I had a lot of getting up to speed to.

Don’t be like me. Since I trained, the Anusara curriculum has been far more systematically laid out. Our training curriculum is now rigorous enough to set the bar for the yoga community at large. If you find yourself practicing in an Anusara class, you can be confident that you are with a well-trained teacher.

We don’t crank students through Teacher Training. We’ve evolved The Immersion for students–and even teachers—who want to deepen their practice and dive to the very depths of their being. Diving to the depths of your being doesn’t happen overnight. It requires some time.

The Immersion is the doorway to the Anusara method through which every serious Anusara student walks. From soup to nuts, it introduces–or deepens–the philosophy behind the practice, elucidates the optimal ways of going about practicing, and of course includes lots of actual practice–for which there is no substitute. Immersing is designed to help assimilate the various snippets you’ve already picked up in class into a bigger, cohesive picture–as well as to fill in the missing pieces.

Have you been secretly wondering exactly what your teacher means by tantra?! Are you curious about The Bhagavad Gita–starting with the correct pronunciation? Ever try reading a yoga text on your own? How’d it go? Don’t feel bad if it didn’t go so well. Yoga texts should always be studied in community with a teacher who can offer insight into them.

Want to become a teacher? Immersing is the first step. Some Immersion graduates–having actually ripened in the method–go on to learn how to teach. Some don’t. That’s exactly as it should be. (Teaching yoga is a terrible way to get rich. The only good reason to teach is a deep call to serve.)

Speaking of teacher training--I will not be offering a Level 1 Teacher Training at either of my home studios in CT this year. Instead, I will be collaborating with Elements Yoga and Blackbird Yoga to offer a year of Immersions for every kind of student, and Continuing Ed for teachers. Together we will be devoting our combined resources to offerings of deliberate, unrushed programs designed to immerse you in your juiciest, most essential self.

2012 is the official Year of The Immersion. In addition to Immersion I, II and III, get ready for a brand new Immersion–a Mythology Immersion (!) debuting this fall, where you’ll have a chance to get your deity on. Details to be announced soon. For teachers wanting to refine—there is crazy good Continuing Ed this April with Level 2 Teacher Training.

2012–it’s gonna be a rad year.


PS: (For eager beaver types who are dying do Teacher Training, don’t despair–we’ve got you covered first thing Jan 2013.)

January 4, 2012

Eff Off, Self-Loathing!

New Years’ Resolutions, anyone?  Make any?  Break any yet?

I have gone back and forth making resolutions over the years.  I’ve made them.  I’ve kept a few.  I’ve broken more.  I’ve ignored them entirely.

Resolutions are a paradox.  On the one hand, it’s absurd to think we will wake up on the morning of Jan 1 and somehow be an entirely new person, with new resolve–as though the past had been surgically removed.  On the one hand, Jan 1 is just a day like any other day.

On the other hand, there is something so hopeful in the idea of ritual fresh start, a chance to begin again. Every day, every moment, every breath is an opportunity to begin anew but–mostly–we forget that  Scheduling an official reminder on the calendar is a lovely idea.  We should probably do it more often.

Here’s what I’m mulling over regarding any New Year’s Resolutions I make this year:  are they made in the spirit of self-love, or are they actually self-loathing in disguise?

An example of self-love would be taking the time to research, plan, schedule and actually book the retreat I want to organize within the next 12 months.  Cuz I want to.  An example of self-loathing would be turning it into such a big deal that I make my worth as a yoga teacher–or even as a human–dependent on it.

Handstand in the middle of the room–blow through my tendons because I am going to do it no matter what, dammit?  Self-hatred.  Stick with a consistent practice guided by what is actually happening in my body?  Self-love.

Healthy food plan–because I feel better when I put live, green food in my body? Self-love!  Sign me up.  (Why, yes, thank you–I would love a green smoothie!)  Do it because I think my body is unacceptable or disgusting or less than divine exactly as it is? Self-hatred–pass.  Resolutions formed of self-hatred are not my cup of tea. Not anymore.  I am sniffing those suckers out.  Not only am I philosophically opposed to them, they don’t work. 

Yoga is an excellent tonic for it but self-loathing is insidious and often deeply rooted.   My neighborhood has been largely cleaned up but there are still some bad blocks.  Occasionally, my mind is an unsafe place to walk at night.

Come to think of it, maybe I do have one resolution for 2012:  identify and rip from the roots whatever self-loathing is left lurking around my ‘hood!

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?  If so, what have you resolved for 2012?  Is it a form of self-love or of self-loathing?  Are you sure?  Are you REALLY sure?  How do you know?  Leave a comment and let me know.