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Bhakti – devotion, also loyalty -the way we commit ourselves to ourselves again and again through these practices -everyday we choose, bhakti yoga happens in first moments on waking, we can choose to live bright and powerful -make the choice at the beginning of the day in the way of deep loyalty to ourselves, we set the tone -valentines day interesting time to teach yoga -utter euphoria or absolute terror -everyone in different states of outer relationships -we identify valentines day with whether or not we are in relationship that makes us happy or unhappy -yoga insists that its about divine inner love, about the stabilization of who we are from the inside out, regardless of the outer status of relationship -love, unlove, happiness, terror, its amazing what we go through as human beings -yoga is about an internal stabilization of the self love, clearing our minds in a vibrant way, pouring our hearts into our lives in the way of devotion, committing ourselves in the way of self loyalty “I love all of me no matter what, inside I am stabilized in this inner bhakti”

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expand theme: growing our hearts in the face of disaster

heart quality: willingness

action: inner/outer spiral

purpose: chit

pinnacle: bound parsvkonasana/EPK prep

Honoured and excited to teach a more advanced class. It’s always great to come into Leena’s classes and work with her students because she has cultivated strong studentship. Easy to teach you because you and she have created such a strong foundation.

Because you are a more advanced class, I want to share with you the founding verse of Anusara as our theme today: Shaktinipata anusarena shisyo nugraham arhati Translation: By entering the current of Divine Shakti’s descent into the heart, the true disciple becomes capable of receiving Grace.

Divine Shakti = power

Descent into the heart = already happening

True disciple = openness, willingness

Capable of receiving Grace = recognizing the flow of the universe as grace, in all its myriad dark and difficult forms

Our work: enter the current that is already flowing into our hearts, willingness and openness to recognizing and dancing with grace of universe. This week we are faced with a difficult to reconcile event – earthquake in Japan. Hard to see how this can be “grace”. I feel helpless to even look at the newspaper because I know I will get emotional. I don’t know how to reconcile this kind of suffering. I’m not there yet in my understanding, in my experience. So what I want to offer is the opportunity to try this out. To test, to stretch into this idea that if we align with the flow that is mainlining into our hearts, if we have the willingness to look, to explore, then we will receive the grace, we will recognize it.

The closest thing that I can see as grace is that, when I open myself to difficult information about the world, I have an opportunity to grow my heart. It trembles, it shakes, it hurts, it threatens to close. But if I am aware of it, if I stay close to my practice, to my purpose, then it grows.

Centreing: Open to flow, current of breath. Always already there, waiting to be noticed. The breath flows into us, a current of power, of Shakti. Enter the current of your breath. Everything changes when we do this. Enter the current of your breath and watch your mindbody respond.

Sequence

Downward dog

DD>fire hydrant>utt>tadasana

SN – SLL>parsvatonasana>half moon
SN – hip opener>triangle (top arm forward)>parsvakonasana
SN – full stretch > gentle twist > mod vasi (foot in front)

SN – silver surfer > parsvatonasana > half moon

Parsvakonasana>airplane

Parsvakonasana with bind    *strap if needed

Child’s pose with active arms

Bakasana

EPK prep

pigeon *with thigh stretch if wanted
janu sir * back leg in virasana, reach under grab ankle
marichyasana * with strap

SBK – SAVASANA

theme: honouring the shiva and ganesh in ourselves
heart qualities: creativity and determination
action: ME – muscle to bone, OE – focal point out
pinnacle: utthita hasta padangusthasana (standing leg = elephant leg, leg of determination. extended leg = dancer leg, leg of creativity)

Today I want to channel Shiva and Ganesh in our practice. You might have heard of them before. Shiva is one of “the big three”, he is the creator, the ground of everything, the all. He is often pictured dancing, in different poses. Ganesh is his son, he is an elephant headed god who is the remover of obstacles. Hindu deities are ways of personifying or imaging abstract qualities that exist in the world, in order to make them easier to relate to. It’s easier to relate to an image of a dancer than to the abstract quality of “creativity”. We see a dancer and experience that. It’s easier to relate to an image of an elephant than the abstract quality of “determination”. An elephant is such a strong image of that, moves forward, nothing gets in its way.

So when we invoke or honour Hindu deities in our practice what we are doing is invoking the qualities that they represent. The qualities in ourselves and others. So today we are going to call the qualities of creativity (Shiva) and determination (Ganesh) into our practice. And we can use the images of the dancer, of the elephant to make those qualities more concrete and real.

So as we practice we can think about what we might want to channel our determination and creativity towards. What would you like to happen for you in the coming months that you could use some help from Ganesh and Shiva? That you could channel your determination and creativity towards?

SEQUENCE

warmups – noodle arms/shakedown/shakti flings

SN – straight leg lunge, holy ham > starfish
-anjaney prep, full stretch > eel (arms and legs in line, lift up)
-three legged dog
-gentle twist into mod. vasi (foot on floor) > thigh stretch
-full stretch > half bow (thigh stretch lift up)

-parsvakonasana>trikonasana

turn front rows back to face back rows, be steady and determined together, help each other balance, see creativity reflected in each of us

-baby natarajasana
-tree – focus on standing leg “elephant leg”

-uttitha hasta padangusthasana (three times, in stages)

  • prep = knee bent, hold outside of foot (or use strap)
    (determination in standing leg – GANESH, creativity in top leg – SHIVA)
  • straighten leg to front
  • knee bent, widen knee to side, play with straightening

bridge
navasana crunches
happy baby
supta padang/jathara pari
SAVASANA

 

theme: seeing beauty and responding to it
heart quality: remembrance and celebration
action: ME – hug the midline OE – expand out circumferentially

pinnacle: wild thing

Hands up if you’ve heard of “double rainbow” the big youtube meme on the internet? Explain – guy making a video of seeing a rainbow, he cries and screams and wonders for seven minutes, so expressive, no holds barred. Got 8 million hits in a week, now at 24 million views! What was it that people resonated with in this video?

I think it was his ability to see beauty and respond to it with full expression. Alot of the time its hard for us to really see beauty and culturally we don’t usually know how to respond to it. I think we’re relieved when we see someone respond authentically to something truly marvelous.

We can connect this to the two core purposes for practicing yoga: remembrance & celebration. Remembrance is connecting to the world around us, the beauty in us and the beauty all around. Celebration is expressing our experience of that, making it known.

Practice of yoga helps us to connect to ourselves, and the poses become an expression of that connection. So today we are going to do what the double rainbow guy did: remember the beauty and wonders of the world and ourselves and then express that.

SEQUENCE

Warmups
-hip circles, cat/cow
-SN – lunge/gentle twist
-SN full stretch/runners stretch
SN – hip opener/twisted lunge

DD – mini demo “wax on, plug in, strong arms, soft heart”
everyone try it

utkatasana>prayer twist>full stretch>mod. side plank (foot in front)
utka> gentle twist> side plank

cobra X3
salabhasana (hands behind head)
bhekasana (thigh stretch)
bow pose

half moon (balance)
side plank *HAB
wild thing *HAB

bridge
pigeon
windshield
happy baby

SAVASANA

theme: lila and kula
heart quality: joy

hands up if you’ve ever heard of a flashmob! (explain what they are – people getting together and practicing singing or dancing and then surprise performing them in public places – malls, public squares, buses)

when i see flashmob videos i get chills. i think it’s because they are people doing something for the pure joy of it. and the really elaborate ones remind me of our potential as a human community – whats its possible to do together.

flashmobs remind me of two concepts in yoga: lila which is the divine play of the universe, and kula which means community. lila is the idea that we are here in these bodies for the pure joy of it, that this life is the play of the universe. and we come together in kula, to practice together, to explore and expand our potential as humans together.

today our class is going to be a little flashmob -a little spark of community and play. we are going to practice for the pure joy of it: lila. and we are going to see whats possible when we bring all of our energy together: kula.

Refining Our Hearts

Samskara can mean many things, in this sense it means the process by which we refine something. Move from the grossest sense to its essence. Samskara is a methodical practice, like refining a diamond from coal.

Vikalpa means the way that we see the world.

Here he has applied Vikalpa Samskara to the loops! These secondary currents/refinements that enhance the UPAs.

Back body=inner transformation
Front body=outer manifestation
Initiate from back body, but don’t forget front body!

inner edge of foot=universal
outer edge of foot= individual

from Paul Muller Ortega, description of Vikalpa Samskara

“Vikalpa Samskara reveals the sequence of liberative attainments, of penetrations into the meaning of anything whatsoever, beginning with contracted, unclear and limited states of awareness and thought, it leads progressively and systematically toward the liberative attainment of both the most clear, expanded and refined levels of thought.”

DOWNWARD DOG

kidney loop

  • puff kidneys up, top of sternum moves down toward belly
  • kidneys lift you forward to plank

thigh loop

  • tops of the thigh bones move back in space
  • firm DOWN the back of the hamstrings
  • lift forward through top of shin bones
  • quads reach up towards top of thigh bones
  • this resets the femur back, ending at the top of the thigh bones

LUNGE

pelvic loop

  • inhale back thigh up
  • tuck tailbone strong under front seat, like putting a stool under your butt
  • front belly lifts away from front thigh
  • pelvic loop has to move faster on that front leg

HANDSTAND

kidney loop

  • fingertips to wall, kick up
  • bring kidneys to wall, sternum lifts up towards ceiling

PIGEON PREP

inner spiral/pelvic loop

  • lift back knee up, inner edge of leg widens out out out, outer hip of back leg rotates around to floor
  • lower knee, tuck tailbone, belly lifts off of front thigh

VASI PREP (SIDE PLANK)

  • hips stay facing the side while heart spins up

USTRASANA

  • press toes into mat (like reverse ‘lift and spread toes’ in tadasana)
  • look down at thighs, top of the thigh bones move back, tailbone lifts up to pubis
  • puff up kidneys, sacrum flows down, head of the arm bones back, heart forward, reach back

HAPPY BABY

  • hands give active muscular energy to legs by drawing outer edges of feet down
  • organic energy reaches up through inner edges of feet, big toe mound

Hanuman class!

-Hanuman appears in the Indian epic the Ramayana

-he represents remembrance, play and power

-he shows us that we can do anything when we align with our true nature, with our path

-in the Ramayana, Hanuman is trying to help his friend Rama get back his wife Sita from an evil king. at first he forgets that he is a divine incarnation of Shiva, but when he remembers, he puts his SUPERPOWERS into action

-hanuman’s superpowers are:

  • he can expand and contract at will, become as huge as a mountain or as small as a bug
  • he can leap over anything (oceans for example)
  • super speed!
  • incredible strength

Resources: http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hanuman.asp

 

Who was hanuman?
Hanuman is the son of Anjani, (who had been cursed into a female monkey) and Vayu – the wind god, his father. Sundara Kanda, the fifth book in the Ramayana concentrates mainly on the adventures of Hanuman. Hanuman is easily reachable – just by chanting the name ‘ram’.
Hanuman is worshipped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, many people keep fast in honour of Hanuman and give special offerings to him. The character on Hanuman teaches us of the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us. Hanuman directed all his energies towards the worship of Lord Rama, and his undying devotion made him such that he became free from all physical harm & tiredness. And Hanuman’s only desire was to go on serving Rama.
In order to aid Rama, Lord Brahma commanded some gods and goddesses to take the avatar of ‘Varanas’ (or monkeys). Indra was reincarnated as Bali, Surya as Sugriva, Vrihaspati as Tara, and Pavana, the god of wind was reborn as Hanuman, the wisest, swiftest and strongest of all apes.
How did Hanuman learn to fly?
He received the ability to fly from his father, Vayu. Other qualities such as forceful travel and mighty strength were also inherited.
Why was hanuman’s knowledge of powers removed?
Hanuman was a naughty monkey god, in his childhood. He used his powers to pester the saints, create whirlwinds, pulling a supporting stick with his tail, pulling a beard and messing with sacred fire. All the gods prayed to Brahma to find a solution. To protect the world, he was cursed & that’s how his knowledge of powers was removed.
However, it was Jambavant, the King of bears who reminded Hanuman of his powers. With these powers, he could turn big or small and these took him through many adventures for the good.
How did he become immortal?
At the end of the Ramayana, Ram defeated Ravana and Ram & Sita were crowned King & Queen of Ayodhya. Hanuman remained Ram’s favorite general & continued to serve Ram. When Rama offered Hanuman anything that he mentioned, he asked to live for as long as men spoke of the deeds of Rama.
Hanuman Jayanti
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman. It is celebrated during the month of Chaitra, on a full moon day. He was a devotee of Rama and on this day all devotees of Hanuman visit temples to worship the monkey god. Hanuman is the symbol of strength and energy. He had enough power and strength, to move mountains, run through the air, etc. The devotees apply ‘tilak’ of sindhoor to their foreheads from Hanuman’s body as it is considered to be good luck.
According to the legend, Sita was applying Sindhoor to her head and Hanuman questioned her about why she applies it. She said that it would ensure a long life for her husband, Rama. Hanuman then smeared his entire body with sindhoor, as an effort to ensure Rama’s immortality.

Theme: Igniting our tejas, melting into shanti

Heart Quality: Expressiveness, Freedom

Action: Melt the Heart

Pinnacle Pose: L at the Wall

Looking at the last 2 lines of the Anusara Invocation: Nishprapanchaya Shantaya, Niralambaya Tejase. The translations are descriptions of the inner light, the wisdom of the teacher within and without, what we call Shiva, the auspicious ground of being. I want to focus on Shantaya and Tejase, the last words of the last two lines. Shantaya comes from shanti, which means peace, or freedom. And Tejase comes from tejas which means brilliance, the tip of the flame, the heat of our awareness, the burning light of the soul. Tejas shines through the eyes and it is what makes our yoga yoga – when we add our own light to the poses, when we express that light through our movement and action. And what happens when we ignite this inner light, the light of our awareness? We melt. We become liquified by heat and we melt into an experience of shanti – of peace, of freedom. So today we are going to work on the action of melting the heart. We will build the heat of our awareness, our inner light, and that will melt us into peace.

The lesson that I’ve taken away most from my yoga practice is learning how to melt myself, learning how to soften when I want to harden. I notice sometimes when I’m in a difficult situation, in a tricky relationship I can feel myself tensing up. Do you ever notice yourself doing that? So my yoga practice helps me to remember to soften, to melt myself, to bring the light of my awareness to the situation and to breathe and soften. And when I can do that, the whole interaction transforms. So we are going to practice that on our mats so that we can practice that in our lives. So we can melt ourselves again and again, to soften when we want to harden. Tejas. Shanti. Let’s do it.

Context Statements: The action of melting the heart becomes more and more important as we move into trickier and trickier poses. If we can truly melt the heart we can come easily into the trickiest poses. Similarly  in relationship, the more we can melt ourselves, the more we can soften when we want to harden, the more flexibility we have to encounter those tricky times in relationship.

SEQUENCE

Warmups

– shakedown

-rolldowns (open to breath, brighten with tejas, melt towards the floor)

-crescent moon

SN – airplane arms (meet your eyes in the mirror – tejas shines through the eyes – sense into your brightness)

-gentle twist (express your brightness through the pose – this is where yoga becomes artful expression)

(HANDLESS COBRAS)

SN – runners stretch>full stretch

-hip opener

(LOCUST – hands behind head, or hands clasped)

Action

Melt the Heart –> Opens our back, prepares us for deep backbends. Brings flexion to the mid back, where many of us are tight. The components are: the fullness of inner body bright, shoulder blades drawing onto the back, heart softening down between the shoulderblades

Demonstrate in table, have everyone try it. Bring it back to downward dog, work the action there.

Cobra –> Contrast. Have everyone push straight up from their hands. Ask: Where do you feel the backbend? In your low back, huh? Not delicious. So let’s bring the backbend evenly through the whole spine. Try cobra on fingertips, hands a bit out to the sides. Inhale draw the shoulders up towards the ears, then draw the shoulderblades together on the back, heart melts forward.

L pose at the wall

Vinyasa –

heat (tejas) building vinyasa with downward dogs and cobras in between to melt the heart into shanti

warrior 2> high lunge

warrior 2>high lunge> twisted lunge

warrior 2> high lunge> twisted lunge>triangle

warrior 2> high lunge>twisted lunge>triangle> half moon

Cooldown

Child’s pose

Pigeon Prep

Upavista Konasana

Boddhakonasana

Supta Padang

Savasana

 

 

Theme: Remembering ourselves as pure awesomeness, celebrating ourselves and each other.

HQ: Remembrance and Celebration

Action: Root to Rise (and Muscle and Organic Pulsation)

Apex: Parsvakonasana “ultimate freedom assist”

Opening: This week we are going to continue our journey into Sanskrit, looking at the second line of the invocation “Sat-chit-ananda-murtaye”. Sat means truth, chit means consciousness or remembrance, recognition, ananda means bliss or celebration or expression and murtaye means form. (A murti is a Hindu statue of a god, and it is believed that the forms hold the qualities of consciousness that are associated with that god.) So the whole line together means “This essence inside takes the form of truth, consciousness and bliss”.

Let’s focus on chit and ananda. These are the two core purposes of doing yoga. We do yoga to remember our true selves. What are we trying to remember about our true selves? Well, what if we tried on the idea that we are PURE AWESOMENESS that just decided to become a body, just for the fun of it? But when we get here, we forget. So we go inside and feel self conscious and think people won’t like us. So we do yoga to remember, oh yeah, I’m pure awesomeness!!!! So that’s chit, the remembrance. And once we remember, what do we do? Then, we celebrate, we express our awesomeness. We can do this through yoga, through our whole lives. Our lives become this celebration. And once we remember ourselves as pure awesomeness, we start to recognize others as that pure awesomeness too. And then we can just walk around celebrating everyone, all the time. Life becomes a party!

So today we are going to focus on that remembrance, remembering ourselves, our true selves as deeply awesome. 🙂 And also remembering each other. So we are going to do some fun partnering exercises, to held remind each other, and celebrate each other.

SEQUENCE

Warmups

-partner stretch – TITANIC (I like to call it Michael Jackson)

-sun breaths and folding

-SN – straight leg lunge, gentle twist

-SN – anjaney prep, full stretch

Action

-action today is root to rise, coming off of last week where we did inner spiral and outer spiral (review IS and OS briefly) now we are going to link this action of rooting down the tailbone to going all the way down through our heels, so then we can rise up through the rest of the body. we root down in remembrance of ourselves, and then we can rise up in celebration.

try in: – standing gentle backbend (hands to low back, root down, lengthen hips to armpits, shoulder blades on back, lift heart and curl back. keep rooting down to rise up)

-crescent lunge, curling back, focusing on and playing with root to rise

-partner exercise – locust pose with calf root –> sometimes we need to help each other remember our pure awesomeness. So we are going to give each other a shot of remembrance down through the calves to help our friend rise up in celebration.

Poses

-warrior 2> exalted warrior>triangle

-utkatasana>prayer twist

-demonstrate two options from going from prayer twist to prayer twist lunge (either look down and step carefully back, or untwist, put hands on floor, step back and re-twist)

-utkatasana>prayer twist>prayer twist lunge (both sides)

-parsvakonasana ULTIMATE FREEDOM ASSIST (partner places foot behind parsvakonasaner’s back foot, then gives manual inner spiral and then places hand on hip and roots down through back leg. person in the pose lifts up up and away in celebration, curling chest open!!!)

-baby dancer, reaching toward a partner and holding top hands

Cool Down

-malasana>DD>pigeon prep

-cobbler’s pose>paschimottanasana

-jathara pari>hug yourself

SAVASANA

 

theme: I listen to alot of music from the TV show GLEE and I thought it would be fun to do a yoga class with some glee music in the background. So it got me thinking about creating a theme around Glee – what heart quality would I choose? Thinking about the show, about the high school kids in this glee club who everyone makes fun of, I thought of the quality of tenacity. Tenacity means “not easily dispelled or discouraged”. Which is exactly what the glee clubbers are embodying! They get slushies in the face, they get made fun of, but they keep doing one of the most vulnerable things you can do in high school, which is to get up in front of everybody and SING. They keep moving towards what they want, they are not discouraged by the high school bullies. So, we are going to tap into that quality of resilience and determination in our class today. And rock out to some Glee music.

HQ: tenacity

Action: ME/OE pulse – drawing from periphery to core, expanding out

Apex: Warrior 3

SEQUENCE

Warmups

-shakedown, noodle arms, sun breaths

SN – airplane, knee down

SN – gentle twist, side stretch

DD – knee to chest reps, three legged dog

uttanasana shoulder opener

Action

drawing from periphery to core – suctioning the legs into the pelvis, drawing arms into sockets. try lifting leg right up into leg socket. lift arms to parallel in front of body and draw head of arm bone back into the socket, shoulderblades come together on the back. try in a lunge.

Poses

-parsvakonasana> prasarita with shoulder opener

-warrior 2>triangle

-utka>prayer twist>twisted lunge

-office chair> malasana

Wall

-standing L

-warrior 3 (hands on wall)

-half moon (hand on wall)

-warrior 3, half moon on mat, no wall!

Cool Down

-pigeon

-ardha matsey

-upavista kon

-supta padang

SAVASANA

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