Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Power of Yoga

A member of Erich Schiffmann's discussion board "Moving Into Stillness" says in her bio info...

"I am not a power yoga person, but I do feel that my yoga practice is powerful."

-- Robyn Gibson

Back from "The Crib"

For the past four years I've been making an annual pilgrimage to the Ojai Yoga Crib. I've just returned from this year's "Crib" and it was excellent. If you follow the link you can check out the teachers who were participating this year. You get to pick 5 teachers to work with. This year my classes were with Jason Crandell, Diego del Sol, Kira Ryder, Cheri Clamplett and Arturo Peal, and, of course, Erich Schiffman.

The Crib began for me with Jason Crandell's class. If you read Yoga Journal you may have come across Jason's writing. iTunes also has a series of podcast classes which are really nice. Most of them are about half an hour long so nice to use for a home practice. Jason's main teacher was Rodney Yee. He's a great at getting into the mechanics of the poses. We really did a full range of postures in his class (each class is 2 1/2 hours long so there's lots of time to get to a lot of different things...or to talk a bit). It was such a nice class, so well paced, that I was surprised at the end when Jason said that he would not be hanging around to talk to people after class because he was fighting a flu bug and needed to leave to take a nap before his next class. What a hero! He did this great sequence near the end that culminated in an arm balance called Ashtavakrasana. I've never been able to quit get there and it's a challenging posture for sure. But he put it together step by step so that everyone in the room could do at least a piece of it. And he gave some nice instructions toward the very end that allowed me to actually taste the full pose for the first time. It was really fun. And I don't use the word "fun" in the neighborhood of arm balances very often!
Diego del Sol was next. All I will say here is it was a hot day, a hot room, a hot practice, and I was having hot flashes...and for those of you who know Ayurveda...I have a Pitta constitution. It wasn't pretty. The fire danger in the area was high...I'm surprised I didn't spontaneously combust and set the whole town on fire!

Saturday morning began with Kira Ryder. Kira owns Lulubandha's in Ojai and is the organizer of this event. All that and she teaches at the Crib too. Her classes are full of experiment and innovation. She uses movement, breath, sound, personal stories...whatever is in her toolbox to get you to explore. She is such a loving presence. You can check out the sequence she did on one of the blogs she uses to post class sequences. She doesn't use the 'traditional' names of postures so you may not always know quite what is being done but you'll get an idea. And if you decide to try one of her sequences, email me and I can usually explain what she's talking about...for instance...would you know what to do with "wise guy" pose?...or swamp monster? It's one of the many things that make her classes so much fun.

Saturday afternoon was spent in the compassionate embrace of Cheri Clampett and Arturo Peal in Restorative Yoga. Cheri is a yoga therapist and Arturo is a doctor of Chinese Medicine as well as a gifted yogi. Not only were we treated to the healing practice itself but they both moved through the room offering some hands on healing as well. I've work with Cheri whenever the opportunity arises. My first experience with her was in a regular hatha yoga class. Her voice and presence were so soothing that you wanted to melt simply because she asked you to!

The last class on Sunday morning was with my main teacher Erich Schiffman. Kira was there taking class too. She said about this class in her blog...."I cried. I always cry in Erich's class on the last day of the Crib. It's total medicine. I consider him my teacher but sometimes I wonder if I have heard a word he says." I know what she means. Erich has been my teacher for about 10 years. And everytime I'm with him I understand something I haven't gotten before...even if I've heard it many times. He talked a little, we meditated awhile and then did a posture practice. He said "Now, the practice we're going to do is not going to be difficult. Be on the lookout for why it's advanced. You're trusting your deepest impulses....First follow other people's's advanced when it starts feeling like *yours.*A real fundamental shift happens where it feels like you're doing YOUR yoga....You'll find yourself inventing new poses, like the original yogis did. The poses didn't just arrive in some book." The last 10 minutes or so was freeform. Erich put on a live recording of Donna de Lory's He Ma Durga and we just did whatever yoga we felt like doing. The music was haunting and I know a few people got weepy at this point. The music, the place, the people, the yoga...whew...good medicine for sure.

And it wasn't all yoga all the time. There was shopping and eating and visiting. I'm still working on re-creating a salad that I loved so much I had it two days in a row at Azu. It was an arugula salad with dried figs, toasted almonds feta and crispy serrano ham. I couldn't find serrano ham so I used proscuitto, toasted until slightly crispy instead. Its always the dressing that's a challenge. I tried grapeseed oil, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper. But its not quite right. I'm almost wondering if a tiny bit of apple juice might do the trick. I guess I could email the restaurant and see if they'd give up the recipe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On the road again...

I arrived in Santa Barbara yesterday afternoon. Beautiful...flying in over the blue, blue ocean just feeds my soul. It was a lovely sunny day. You can see the scared hillsides where the Gap Fire raged this past July.

They've laid down hydromulch to help mitigate the potential mudslides that usually follow a fire like that. The Chaparral landscape is prone to fires though. So just like midwesterners have tornado season, Californians have fire season.

I used my Mindfulness practice to sail through the flight out. Breathing deeply. Sending loving kindness out when those around me were getting caught up in the challenges of airline travel (screaming babies, crowded flights, you know the drill) enabling my own ease in the moment at the very least. All flights were that's a good thing!

Yoga starts on Friday...for now...visiting friends and family and having a wonderful time.

(Missing my husband and cats though).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Today is Jimmy Carter's Birthday

From the Writer's Almanac today, a quote from Jimmy Carter

"A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity."