Archive for the ‘Anusara Yoga’ Category

As those who have ever kept a gratitude journal can attest, one of the effects of such a practice is that it causes you to become more conscious, to become an active witness of your own life. After all, if you have to write something down about it later, you better be paying attention. I have found the same thing to be true from my practice of composing daily 6-word memoirs. It “forces” me to reflect, to “BE” conscious, and frequently at the very moment I am ready to crawl into the UNconscious world of sleep.

If you stay with it, there are gifts in reflection. Combining a day’s events with my own reactions and then distilling it down to six words involves a certain kind of alchemy. This is not at all unlike the deeper opening you experience in yoga the second or third time you move into a pose. At first take you don’t yield significant results, and the process may be painful, but then … AHHHHHH, there’s the bliss.

I spent yesterday in the company of old friends. At this point in our lives the conversation will inevitably turn to the effects of aging at some point, and our ongoing, futile efforts to hide the ever-increasing lines on our faces. And so it was that on my drive home as I considered my six word memoir for the day, I began to audition a host of words on aging to try to settle on the six finalists that best expressed my frustration with this whole “getting old” thing: Age, Rage, Line, Define, Sag, Bag, Hag. I was on quite a roll.

Then the alchemy began to occur. Sifting through the words, my thoughts turned to how LONG I’ve been blessed to have these friends look into my eyes (aging or otherwise) and the grace that God has granted me with their very presence. I began to play with the words “face” and “grace” until I critically considered, is that the correct use of the word “grace”? So I paused to look it up the definition online: “grace: 1) the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God;” Wow. “2) The influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.”

Isn’t THAT the definition of friends; “the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.” Friendship, a synonym for God’s grace.

“Friends’ Faces Reflect Graces of God”

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Prana recently released a new yoga mat, The Revolution. Over three years in development, the mat was designed by Dave Kennedy in conjunction with Anusara Yoga’s founder, John Friend. It boasts an extra 6″ width over standard mats — a special boon to those of broad shoulders — and with all-natural materials, you can rest well in savasana knowing that YOU are an ecofriend.

Revolution Natural Sticky Yoga Mat by prAna (eco-friendly!) – NEW! From DrishtiYoga.com:

Check it out, guys! This is a new yoga mat that’s just been released by prAna. prAna designed this mat with the help of Anusara Yoga founder John Friend. They claim that this is the best yoga mat available on the market, and we agree that it’s pretty darn cool. The thing that stands out most about this mat is that it’s extremely roomy. Whereas the average yoga mat is 24″x68″ in size, the new Revolution Yoga Mat is a whopping 30″x78″ – wowza that’s big! In addition to its extra-large size, the Revolution Mat is also very well-made. It’s a rubber-based all-natural yoga mat which is made with no hazardous materials (i.e. no PVC), and it’s completely biodegradable. This mat also has excellent anti-slip properties and superior cushioning. At 4mm thick, you won’t experience any moving or bunching underfoot.

The Revolution Yoga Mat is very dense (meaning that it’s therefore incredibly durable), and because of that, it has a hefty weight of about 10 pounds.

Available in grass and burnt orange. 30″x78″x4mm.

For a slightly lighterweight version of this mat which is 26″ wide instead of 30″ wide, see the Neo Natural Yoga Mat by prAna. The only difference between the Neo Natural Mat and the Revolution Mat is that the Neo Natural Mat is 4″ narrower.

A Video Revolution

The videos touting the Revolution’s release are playful, fun and artistic. Put together by Michael Longstaff (aka Milo), they are a series of promotions that emphasize the mat’s features in a fabulously creative out of the box — or should I say, “off the mat” visual array. (FYI: Michael Longstaff produced the Anusara Yoga syllabus poster “From Tadasana to Savasana” featuring Darren Rhodes. For more info on Michael, visit Tirtha Studios.)

The videos are totally fun. For those in the Anusara community, there’s an added bonus of recognizable friends. You can find these on YouTube. It will only take you about 5 minutes to watch these … and don’t miss “The Finale”!

Let’s start a REVOLUTION … order yours today!

The Joy (with Christina) ~ A Revolution Makes Christina Sell TALLER!

The Size: (look for Kelly)

The Construction:

The Smell:

The Finale: (with John Friend, Christina & Kelly Sell, Peter Goodman, Tiffany Grimm, Darren Rhodes & more!)

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The Journey Towards My Heels

The Journey Towards My Heels

Face Off with Change

My Face Off with Change

Backbends are challenging for me — both physically and on an energetic level. And as such, it’s a curious study to watch where my mind goes throughout the course of a backbending practice: I am aggravated, frustrated, invigorated and ultimately fascinated by them. If I learn nothing else from backbends, they do illustrate & remind me of the first principle of Anusara Yoga: “Open to Grace.”

These photos were taken at our Anusara group practice yesterday with Christina Sell. For more pictures, check out Christina’s blog.

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I just ran across a yoga article on an online fitness site Testosterone.Muscle Unapologetic Muscle-Building Elitists. (Okay, not your typical yogi reading material, I’ll admit.) Mike Robertson’s article Yoga is Overrated makes a case against the yoga fitness craze. Surprisingly, I agree with him on a number of his assertions. Be sure to read the full text of Robertson’s article, (with my apologies for the cheesecake picture at the end). A summary of his points:

Yoga the Good

  1. Mind-Muscle Connection
  2. Decrease Stress
  3. Balance

Yoga the Bad

  1. Instability
  2. “Tightness” does not equal “Needs to be Stretched”
  3. Group Exercise/Lack of Individualization

Getting the Most Out of Your Yoga

  1. Find an educated teacher
  2. Smaller classes
  3. Focus on Quality vs. Quantity

His points on instability and tightness do not hold water in the context of Anusara Yoga where the emphasis is on balanced action — you do not stretch a muscle until you draw in circumfrentially with muscular energy. However, Robertson’s “Yoga the Bad” reflects what IS bad in what I’ll call psuedo-yoga offerings. Unfortunately, there are all too many of these kinds of teachers and classes, not only in the gym setting but perhaps (more damaging) in the yoga studio as well.

Just like I’m sure Robertson would agree that incorrectly performed body building exercises are not good for you, I whole-heartedly agree with his assertions as they relate to “incorrect” yoga. His tips for getting the most out of your yoga are worth heeding; his summation a great prediction:

“I may be living in a dream world, but I believe that there will be a revolution in the yoga world in the coming years that puts a serious emphasis on moving in a biomechanically efficient manner.” ~ Mike Robertson

That revolution is here baby, it’s called Anusara Yoga.

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I would really love to hear your thoughts and opinions of this article, and invite you to discuss your ideas here. What do you think of his assertions? Side note: My comments are written with an obvious bias towards Anusara Yoga which I study and practice. Other yoga methods also emphasize the biomechanics and provide effective instruction (with a tip of my mat to my Iyengar friends)!

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As the self-proclaimed YogiTechChick, I’m often weighing the effects of technology on our lives. At first glance, technology and a yoga practice seem diametrically opposed to one another. By its very nature, doesn’t it take us further away from “being present”? The endless stream of text messages, emails and 24/7 connectivity certainly bears witness to this shift away from the present moment with distraction only a fingertip away.

Still, many yogis are finding constructive ways to incorporate technology in their practice. Ipods give access to yoga podcasts and practice music. Iphones offer meditation timers. From blogs to Twitter to Facebook, the growth of the online yoga community has allowed like-minded folks to inspire one another, share event notices, and build the kula.

Sites offering online classes are another tech tool yogis are utilizing. Yogaglo launched last month with that purpose and looks promising. Their site “streams yoga classes globally from the Yogaglo studio in Santa Monica, California, to create the experience of participating in the class at your home or on the go.” Currently in their beta version, Yogaglo is offering a 15-day free trial period for unlimited access to their classes which are promised to be updated regularly.

“Classes cover the spectrum of asana styles, meditation, lectures, workshops, and special events.” Their home page displays the six most recent classes and you can sort archived classes according to teacher, style, level and duration. (You can pick by Levels 1-3 and duration of practice 5 – 120 minutes.) Advertised styles include: Anusara, Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa Flow and even meditation. Teachers include: Jo Tastula, Noah Maze, Stephen Espinosa, Genevieve Fischer and Tara Judelle. (Both Tara and Noah are certified Anusara Yoga teachers.) There is also promise of guest teachers as well.

The technology integration continues with a Facebook application:

With our Yogaglo Facebook application you can become part of the global yoga community.  Your friends on Facebook who have installed the Yogaglo app appear in your Yogaglo Friends tab.  With our Facebook app, you see from your profile when your favorite class is uploaded to the Yogaglo website.

While online classes aren’t for everyone, they certainly fill a niche. If you can’t make your regular class or need some guidance for a home practice, inspiration may be just a mouse click away. For those in smaller communities without access to large studios, this may be the only way they can experience a class with a seasoned teacher without traveling. As a yogi in the 21st century, being present may just be at the end of your fingergtips after all.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Late in November 2005, we concocted a crazy plan. 1) Darren Rhodes would perform every asana in the Anusara Syllabus in two days. 2) He would do all of the poses of each type (backbends, armbalancing, forward folds etc) in each level as an uninterrupted set (for Ross’ video purposes). 3) Michael would photograph every pose for output to a syllabus poster. This is some footage from the process.” ~ Ross Evans

Those of you familiar with Anusara Yoga have seen the poster. Darren Rhodes, an accomplished Anusara Yoga practitioner and certified teacher, took on the yogic task of doing every asana on all three Anusara Yoga syllabi … and that he did. Recently, I was directed to this video which was made during the photographic shoot. The beautiful background vocals are those of Darren’s wife, Bronwin. Hanuman Jai is one of ten songs available on her CD Bhavana. In 2008, Yoga Journal named Darren one their Top 21 teachers under 40 who are “shaping the future of yoga.” You can find more information about Darren, his studio in Tuscon, and his upcoming schedule at Yoga Oasis.

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Anusara Yoga Immersion with Darren Rhodes & Christina Sell in Tuscon

  • Part I – August 2009
  • Part II – October 2009
  • Part III – December 2009

For more information, contact Rachel at Yoga Oasis

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  • Read Darren’s approach to Hanumanasana and see more photos of him in the Pose of the Month column for Anusara Yoga’s Currents newsletter, Winter 2008 edition.
  • See photos from his workshop with Christina Sell last summer on this blog.
  • Special thanks to my friend Deirdra ~ my Twitter & Facebook friend ~ for bringing this awesome video to my attention.

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My Teacher

Christina Sell

The story goes that it is not uncommon for John Friend to ask a student, “Who’s your teacher?” during one of his Anusara Yoga workshops. To his experienced legion of teachers, this comes more as an inquiry about THEM than the particular individual being questioned. And as such, there are lighthearted jokes in the Anusara yoga kula ~ but with a very real undercurrent ~ when someone playfully chimes, “Who’s your teacher?”

My teacher, Christina Sell, reminded us of that sentiment frequently in the weeks leading up to John’s visit to Austin last fall. “You know what I’ve taught you,” she’d admonish, “… so do it!” But it was more than simply wanting to “look good” as our teacher. Christina believes that her role is to teach Anusara Yoga culture as well as the methodology. She wanted us to know what to expect and how to behave not just in John’s workshop, but in any setting with seasoned Anusara Yoga teachers and practitioners. With the ferocity of a mother duck quacking at the feet of her ducklings so that they can safely navigate a busy intersection, Christina shared the wisdom of her experience to help us successfully navigate a John Friend workshop.

Lately, her travel schedule has afforded many more students the benefit of that wisdom. Yet this leaves those of us in Austin without her guiding “quack.” I’ve used this time as an opportunity to explore some other proverbial intersections in the yogic world, and last week ventured into a “non” Anusara Yoga class at the studio where I practice.  While I didn’t know the particular teacher, I recognized her from one of Christina’s recent classes that she’d also attended. She came over to me and introduced herself, then added with a nervous laugh, “You’re one of Christina’s students. I don’t want YOU in my class.” I smiled at her reassuringly and casually dismissed it.

Still, as I closed my eyes, I joined my hands in anjali mudra with a prayer of acknowledgment and gratitude. “Who’s MY Teacher?”… Christina Sell.

Yeah, baby!

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