the yoga sutras of travel: part 13
1.13 Tatra sthitau yatnobhysah
Welcome to Middle Earth. That is the sign that greets you at the Wellington Airport. Hobbits and all things, lord of the rings, have been embraced in this part of the South Island. The larger than life representations of the characters were really quite impressive, but nothing captivates you like the views of the pristine scenery where you walk out side. The further South you roam, the higher and more rolling the mountains get; the more expansive the water appears; and more entranced you become with the natural state of beauty that exists almost untouched.
Each new view or small town has me somewhat distracted. I try to settle my eyes on one section when another whips into my line of sight and pulls me completely in another direction. I think I have given Brian quite a few laughs with my short attention span. I work to steady my mind and find a little bit of one pointed focus so the experience can become more of a moving meditation. I have moments that are really solid and then my inner child takes over and my mind and attention act like they are rolling down one of those crazy high mountains. It calls for all of my consistent attention to stay steady in my intake process.
The last two days have been pure travel mode. I don't think I have ever transferred to so many modes of transport one after another. We left Devon port by Ferry and Caught a bus in Auckland to the Airport where the plane took us as far as Wellington before catching a bus to the next three hour Ferry to Picton. We have to stay the night in Picton because there is only one bus a day from Picton to Nelson so we are stuck until the next morning. At each phase I was told there would be internet. This was only partly true, many places ha signs for internet, but the signals were so weak I could not connect. This was actually fine. I had a moment of panic about getting behind on some work, including the blog, but I realized quickly it was a blessing to stop and really allow myself to slow down and once again become the observer. The last leg of the journey I had finally settled in to a spot where I was able to appreciate each section of view and spend a bit more time with it before passing onto the next point.
B and I are now at The Life Centre in Nelson. The space used to be an old church that was turned into a school and has now been converted into a Yoga Centre run by Brian Brown. The space is very large and you can see all of the personal touches that Brian has put into the space. The owner has done most of the work himself, so you can really see the love that has been built into this place.
Tonight all of our colleagues have arrived and we are preparing for round two of AcroYoga goodness. AY JAmbassadors Trevor Gribble and Amanda Farrell have been helping to build community here and I am super excited to spend the week with them. I met Trevor back in 2012 in NYC. It is another story for another time, but I am always fascinated by the people we meet in seemingly random ways that cross over in your life again and again. Happy that Amanda and Trevor are some of those people.
Now that I am stationed for the next 5 days at The Life Centre. I will have full access again to my computer and will keep you up to date with the next Sutra and AY Immersion photos and celebrations.
I certainly will be working towards finding a steady place in my wild mind. It is a continued practice and the most important part of my yoga.
the yoga sutras of travel: Part 12
abhyasa vairagyabhyam tanniodhah
When I set out to write this blog my idea was to do it daily with pure diligence I was really impressed that for the first ten days I managed to set aside the time and really commit to the process. I knew that once I stepped in to the AcroYoga Immersion (5 days of full on planning, teaching and processing) I would be more pressed to get things completed, but was convinced I would push through with ease .
Here is my real journey:
Step One: Reality Check! Time, time I ran out of time. I tried to stay up late the last few days and found that I no longer have the same super human abilities I had in my twenties to ward off sleep, write papers and still make it to an early morning class. Instead I would finish the day of physical and mental activity, eat everything insight and fall asleep on the couch with Brian trying to drag me to bed before I put my back out again.
Step Two: Go to BED!I do not process well with lack of sleep. I tried staring at the computer and hoped that my hands would find the keys. Instead I may have drooled a bit and temporarily forgotten my name.
Step Three: Big Bowl of Latte. It doesn't actually wake me up, but I am a coffee lover who has finally surrendered to giving up on giving up on caffeine.
Step Four: Catch up on the next Sutra... Non-attachment! Seriously, Is life trying to hold up the mirror for me?
I take a deep breath and realize how often I set up goals for myself with no wiggle room. After listing all the things I expect myself to accomplish in an unreasonable amount of time, I sit with the moments of cranky self-talk. It is pretty funny to me how good I am at cutting everyone else slack, while simultaneously kicking my own ass.
Teaching this week has not only been sharing my knowledge of AcroYoga, but is has been a huge reminder of practicing non-attachment to get quiet in my mind. Often our students are the ones who become our teachers, push us to our curious edges, and help us transform in ways we didn't know were possible.
In this particular teaching container I have come up against some particular hurdles. In the planning process the original point person for the event left the company I coordinate with and the new individuals taking over were not given all the info they need to do what they need to do. At the final hour there was a huge rush to book, confirm, register students and finalize plans. The new crew stepped in to do everything they could to support me each step of the way. We all had to release our expectations and find compassionate solutions at every step. Wow, our communication and respect for one another has moved into a world of love that I wish I had the skills to articulate.
As the immersion itself continued two students in-particular really moved every part of my being. Lucie is from the Czech Republic. She speaks little to no English. She was able to voice how beautiful she thought the practice was and how fearful she was of going upside-down. Deb was born with out her left forearm. She has a partial arm bone and articulating shoulder joint but no left hand or forearm. There was a brief moment of internal panic; how can I support these students while keeping the immersion on track? I take another full inhale and exhale.
These new needs are here and we will figure it out! My co-teacher Claudine and I kept the train moving and the content flowing. Brian and I would slip off to the side periodically and work out the next few moves with me holding one arm behind my back. I felt the difficulty and extra engagement deb would need to hit certain moves. I also trusted all of the wisdom I have collected inside and out from my past teachers and personal experience and found myself easily finding new and creative ways to base and fly with only three limbs.
Lucie on the other hand needed one on one repetitive visuals and more hands on assists for her to see and feel her way into poses. She was a true champion that never let herself get frustrated. She would make eye contact and try again to do her best.
All of the students stepped into such and amazing place of support for one another. There was never a moment of competition. All of the groups rallied around one another and found every way possible to work with every students needs. I have been with a lot of sweet groups, and yet the special synergy in this crew could be felt the moment you took a breath or caught a glance from anyone in the room.
I certainly have a list of goals and ambitions to continue to work towards, but I am willing to make the time frame more manageable. I learned most from these students that asking for support while you are really trying your best can really empower not only yourself, but everyone around you. When I do my best and release the gripping attachment to how I expect situations to go I am never disappointed.
The link below features Claudine and I flying and basing a few transitions on video with our left arm behind our backs to workout some 3 limb flows. https://plus.google.com/photos/111599549418578310621/albums/5984207670038128353?banner=pwa
Select photos from the rest of the immersion are below.
Tomorrow B and I fly to Wellington!
the yoga sutras of travel:part 11
1.11 anubhuta visayasampramosah smrtih
It is amazing what pops into your head from time to time. I often find this unique mix, while teaching an immersion or traveling, between being fully present with where I am; who I am with; and what I am doing, and /or having floods of memory wash over my mind. Each space and person both creates new events and experiences that are vibrant and consciously alive for me. Those same time these new acts bring up the past in a colorful and often unexpected way.
In one of our recent Boundless Yoga Book Club meetings we discussed Diane Ackerman's, A Natural History of the Senses. Her work spoke vividly to how our individual senses can ignite our memories and bring them bursting to the surface. Smell is one of the most powerful, but we never know which one will tip the scale toward our unconscious bringing forth those latent impressions.
During this 2nd day of the immersion there was a young woman who came to the session with a friend. When we shifted toward the Thai massage, she had a very personal moment where she realized she could not work with her friend during this set because although she knew her Male friend was safe and she is comfortable with men, this gentleman looked so similar to her abusive father that it felt uncomfortable for her. There were no other details, but her reaction was extremely potent. The male friend was so kind and understanding and pulled us aside and asked us to assign her to a female partner for this set. We made a quick partner switch and kept the session moving.
After the Thai massage, the young women spoke to the whole group. She offered her gratitude for the support of the entire class for making the switch without judgement. She was thankful to the Male friend for his compassion while she is still processing her memories. What struck me most was the lesson she was teaching everyone in having strength in her vulnerability. She didn't pour out everything to strangers, but when she really needed it she was able to ask for support. Our memories can be sharp and unsettling, filled with loss, or amazingly fun and brimming with powerful happy stories. In sharing her experience she could chip away at her process and allow us to hold space for her. I marveled at the empathy filled faces in the circle and could feel the love in the room growing around everyone like a warm blanket.
Students, shared their experience of giving and receiving. Many were so happy to have had a moment to slow down and be present with safe and non-sexual intimacy. All of the walls that we usually carry around with us as humans were temporarily released. I am reminded in these moments of why I love teach this expression of the practice and how important it is to be there as a community for one another.
The next day will shift to a more acrobatic session. For now I will sit with the bliss. My friend Carolyn sent me a link to a Ted Talk on Vulnerability. It is a link worth watching!
P.S. The day ended with a colorful and wild Gay Pride Parade off of the main strip in Ponsonby. The camera battery had died during the end of the acro session so we unfortunately missed photos of the wonderful costumes. The busses were shut down so we had a nice long walk back to the ferry. It turned out to be a blessing as we met up with a wonderful couple we had just met at a cafe and shared a great meal and some good whole-hearted laughs.
the yoga sutras of travel: part 10
abhavea pratyayalambana vrttir nidra
Last Sunday while at the AcroYoga Jam (Practice/ playtime session in the park) Jay Amua asked everyone what their favorite treat was. It was not surprising how many students said "SLEEP".
Today was the 1st day of the Auckland Elemental AcroYoga Immersion. It is the first AcroYoga immersion to be hosted in New Zealand! My co-teacher Claudine Lafond flew in from Australia late Thursday eve and after several delays she arrived safely with very little sleep. I too was running a bit on empty as I sat up most of Thursday night with my usual pre-event broken record of planning and preparation playing in my brain. I became ever grateful that I have had the luxury of time to get to NZ early to drop in, get grounded and be rested before a very full week of teaching. I have never met my sweet colleague until today. This is both exciting and a bit nervous to teach with someone you have never met and trust that you will both find space for one another, respect the process and fully support each others skill sets.
I could not be happier at the moment. Claudine is bright and joyful and our teaching styles and energies mesh well. Our group at the Urban Ashram, run by Nikki Ralston, is filled with 16 super students. We had a 3 hour session of Asana, Thai Massage and Introduction to Flying Basics. It never ceases to amaze me how connected a group can get in such a short time when we slow down an really take the time to care for one another. There is a raw and open vulnerability her that contains such amazing power and strength.
Sleep, nothingness, slowing down; This is our great natural gift. Here we have the mental reset and space to clear. It is not that we stop thinking, but the rampant dance of the busy mind can take a break from the over stimulation we subject it to on a daily basis.
Today (Saturday) we will have a full day of Therapeutics! Flying, Thai and more, oh my! I invite you to get more sleep this week and experiment with how you feel in everything you do. You might be surprised at how much more productive you are; how much more happiness you can experience; and how much more ease you can feel physically and emotionally when you put sleep as a priority. Try it on for size and see for yourself!
the yoga sutras of travel: part 9
1.9 sabdajnananupati vastu sunyo vikalpah
Nothing is more fantastical than Hobbits! We decided against the very expensive full tour of Hobbinton, but had a nice taste of it on our way back from Rotorua to Auckland. It was the last day to explore our new driving techniques with the rental car and I must say Brian has managed to get a good handle on it so I am no longer gripping the door handle like a mad woman at every turn.
Today's Sutra was a perfect contemplation exercise for me as we wandered around the tiny homes of a fantasy village information booth. The sutra itself warns against pure fantasy, and verbal delusion that is not based in reality or even possible. The common examples given in commentaries are you can not have a Barren Mother or a "Dumb" man talking to you. the very concepts are at odds with each other and not possible. I wandered then how the ancient yogis would feel about the pure imagination and fantastical creations of the kinds of stories we come up with for books and movies. Where is creative license allowed to expand the mind and the heart and where does it turn to delusion and bondage.
I worked for many years in the film and stage performance industries. As I look back on it now I can see where some actors (I use this term for male or female) could take on the joy of a role and explore concepts deeply with out letting it overtake their personal world. Others would dive so deeply into a character that I would be extremely concerned about their emotional wellbeing. Could they continue to decipher the imagination required for the script to take shape from the reality they actually lived in. I wondered in what ways do we all escape into fantasy, imagination and gossip in a way that distorts our reality? In what ways does the imagination help us work through potential scenarios and prepare us for new experience?
I consider myself to be a very grounded human. I think that most people who know me would agree that I am incredibly pragmatic and that I really try to look at the reality in any situation. That said, in my mind I can play out some wildly staged scenes and often use my fantasy and a play ground for working on solutions to real world situations.
I think for me this sutra is less about having an imagination, but rather not jumping to conclusions based upon limited information or verbal expressions from another source. For example, I know of a person who will often hear part of what someone may be saying and jump to the craziest conclusions based upon that hearsay. The actual conclusion they make is not based on anything real, in fact it is very rarely based on anything more than a partial comment or newspaper headline. Unfortunately, I don't think it is that uncommon for people to hear or read part of something and then take wild leaps to sharing ideas that are not based upon anything but verbal delusions. I won't claim to be immune from this. It is easy to get caught up in a sweeping mob mentality when an idea is circulating. Facebook makes it worse. People see a headline in a post from a friend and will simply like or share the post with out really giving it a deeper look. I have certainly done this. Lately though, I have really taking the time to read mush of what is going around (if it really draws my attention) and will often fin that I can poke holes in article or its logic in seconds. There is a good deal of hyperbolic information in circulation as well as pure opinion pieces without substantive information to back it.
The story of the hobbits is one of of many tales dealing with the struggles of good verses evil, greed verses compassion and following your life's duty. I supposed this is also a yogic tale of getting grounded and not falling into the evils of delusion. I celebrate this contemplation with a handstand in a hobbit hole (very small doorway!).
Time to go blend with the local customs of intense beer drinking (cider for me, cause I am a bit more girly than I like to admit!) and then to prepare for Claudine Lafond's arrival tomorrow! The 1st Immersion on this tour begins in the evening tomorrow. Claudine arrives late this eve so tomorrow will be a full day of planning, preparation and play. You can check her out at her studio facebook Yoga Beyond!
Boundless Yoga Staff & Students
We are continuously interested on how our reactions and responses to our personal journeys, albeit travel, adventure, new job, etc. mirror and reflect our social, emotional and spiritual ups and downs. We try every day to apply what we learn about ourselves on the yoga mat to our personal lives. Thank you for tuning in as we share some of those aspects with you.