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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.

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Theme: The Wild Within – bringing some wildness into our lives can open us to unexpected possibilities, recharge our creative batteries, give us new perspective!

Heart Quality: Wildness (unconventional? perhaps.)

Action: Organic Energy – extend from the focal point out, root to rise

Pinnacle: Wild Thing! (of course)

Last week at my teacher training I was really inspired by one woman who got up to teach, and after she had received some feedback from the teacher and opened some things up in her teaching, shared that she had realized that she had gotten so serious about yoga and teaching that she forgot that it could be joyful and fun. I really identified with her because I have a tendency to get really serious and focused on things. And it’s great to be disciplined and committed, but sometimes that focus can stifle our work, suffocate it. So I started thinking about the idea of wildness, particularly in relation to Halloween coming up, and thinking about what kind of experience a little looseness, a little wildness could bring us.

If you think about a cultivated garden, you can spend so much time pruning it and making it beautiful. And that’s great! But sometimes you really just need to go out into the jungle and have a look around – and find some outrageous plant to bring back with you!

Wildness opens us to unexpected possibilities. You go into the jungle, who knows what you will find? And this can be a great boost to creativity, to anything that might feel too serious or even a little bit boring in your life. What can wildness bring us? Where can it take us?

Centring: Open to the breath. As you deepen into your seat and your breathing, focus your attention on the low belly. I think this is where our wildness lives. See if you can touch in to a small feeling of that wildness. As you hold onto that feeling, bring to mind a project or a relatoinship, something in your life that feels very serious or stagnant. See if you can breathe a little space around it. What could a little wildness bring to this area of your life?

Sequence

WARMUPS

-shakti flings

-partner stretch

-sun breaths

-SN (lunge, gentle twist)

-SN (utka, full stretch, switchbacks –> parsvakonasana to exalted warrior)

ACTION

organic energy is one of my favourite things about anusara yoga. it’s where we get to express ourselves. we’ve been working the past few weeks on muscular engagement – hugging to the midline, firming the muscles. today we are going to look at the balance to that. organic energy expands out in every direction. it roots us down into the ground so we can rise up and expand!

-instruct in Vira 1 (thumbs hooked)

-instruct in DD (demonstrate first –> foundation, claw hands, walk knees back, lift up, firm arms, squeeze midline, then from back of heart press down into hands, from back of heart stretch up to hips and down to heels)

THRILLER VINYASA (in honour of halloween! and wildness)

utka> prayer twist> lunge> prayer twist lunge>DD>cobra (both sides)

parsvakonasana

-standing L at the wall

-warrior 3 at the wall

-half moon at the wall

-cobra x 3

-thigh stretch

-side plank

-wild thing (demonstrate)

-child’s pose

COOLING

-ardha matsey

-pigeon

-jathara parivartanasana

-happy baby

SAVASANA

theme development:

-lift and spread the toes wildly!

-root your wildness down through your feet and then lift the torso up out of the waist, opening to unexpected possibilities! like thriller in a yoga class!

-tap into that wildness in your belly and bring that into your pose

-think of a person in your life who inspires you to be a little wild, a little outrageous. do this pose for them! imagine they are pulling your hands back towards the back wall as you lift up and curl back

-bring your fingers to your head, mess up your hair!

-now with complete disregard for looking cool, walk your hips up jauntily to the top of your mat. this is a rehearsal for later. (got them to walk from DD to uttanasana to the beat of thriller. priceless)

Theme: Exuberant expression of the heart! Inspiration: Michael Jackson

Heart Quality: Exuberance/Expressiveness

Action: Shoulder Loop, Organic Extension

Pinnacle: WILD THING

Intro:

The theme is: Michael Jackson! Ok maybe unconventional but let’s take a look: Michael Jackson has been a huge inspiration to me as a performer. He was such an incredible innovator and dancer, and what touched me most about watching him was the way he just gave everything away when he was onstage. Everything he did was totally FOR his fans. There is one stance he would take, where he would throw his arms out to the side, thrust his chest out and yell “AAAAAHHHH” and wind would blow and ruffle his shirt. And that could have been a really arrogant gesture. But I always experienced it as incredibly humble. I always saw that as an expression of “This is all for you. Everything i do is for you”. So I want to look at that as inspiration for some backbends we are going to do today. To cultivate that kind of energy, that kind of exuberance, where we can give it all away. And this relates hugely to our core purposes in yoga: Chit – Remembrance and Ananda – Celebration. Remembrance is tapping into the deep core of who we really are, and then once we’re connected to that, to celebrate it, Ananda, to express our hearts with exuberance. So let’s dance!

Centreing: Where does exuberance come from? It’s an expression of the heart. As you breathe, begin to expand the torso on all four sides, creating a real sense of space around the physical heart. And as we drop into our hearts, really occupy and move from that space, we can begin to feel that exuberance arising.

Sequence:

WARMUPS

-sun breaths

-uttanasana folding

-SN – straight leg lunge, gentle twist

-SN – hip opener>holy ham, full stretch

-partner stretch – palms touching, SBL, HAB, squeeze bottom tips together, then lift heart and press into hands

-cobra x 3

STANDING

-utka>prayer twist

-parsvakonasana

-triangle>ardha chan>standing split

-vira 1>vira 3

-baby dancer

-side plank

-wild thing

COOL DOWN

-pigeon

-setu bandha

-janu sirsasana (if you have conflicting feelings of michael jackson, lets make this pose an expression of compassion for him and for yourself)

-ardha matsey

SAVASANA

Yoga For Performers Class 2

Heart Quality: Fullness and Expressiveness

Action: IBB (side body long, head of the arm bone back)

Pinnacle: Ardha Chandrasana

Theme: Adding brightness to our creative work – Being aware of the importance of our attitude and intention

focus:  – review Setting the Foundation, Moving with the Breath

vocab: -head of AB, review IFM, SB, BTM, COH, kidneys

Attitude changes everything – not just a trite slogan but a testable truth! Today we are going to be focusing on attitude, looking at the way our energetic attitude can transform our practice of yoga and our creative work. In Anusara Yoga, attitude or intention is the most important aspect of the practice – it’s what gives the movement meaning. It gives us a reason to keep doing it, aside from just fitness. We learn the poses and then through our attitude and intention we learn about ourselves.

The action we are going to work on today is called Inner Body Bright, which I love, and it it is an attitudinal shift as well as having physical characteristics. It’s the first thing we do in a pose, we brighten from the inside and we remember our intention. And we carry that through the whole pose. And as we learn what that feels like in our yoga poses, we can begin to bring that brightness, that sensitivity and awareness into our everyday lives, into our creative work.

So today I want you to connect to a specific area of your life that you want to add an attitudinal brightness to. Maybe it’s a specific creative project you’re working on. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s an area of your life, like your relationship to your body, your job, maybe it’s a challenge – you could be feeling a lack of creativity or inspiration. Whatever it is, choose something specific, and really connect to it. And through the class, we are going to focus on adding brightness to your poses and to that specific area of your life. We’re not trying to figure anything out with our intention, or fix anything, we’re just trying to be more aware and approach those areas with a softer, lighter attitude.

Centreing: Soften your skin and feel yourself release down into your seat. Take a few moments to connect with your breath – the gateway to the present moment. Remember your intention from last week – what are you hoping for from the session? Softening into that, connect to a specific area of your life that you want to add some brightness, some luminosity to. It could be part of your creative work or another part of your life. When you have the area clear in your mind, rest around it. Return your focus to the breath and start to breath into it. We are not trying to fix anything, we are just changing our approach.

Sequence:

Warmups            7:10

  • sun breaths and folding (tadasana to uttanasana)
  • utt shoulder stretch>DD>dolphin
  • DD – fire hydrant
  • SN – straight leg lunge, full stretch
  • SN – crescent lunge>runners stretch, gentle twist

Teaching Action            7:25

  • IBB demo

Gather around. Today the action is IBB, physical components of that are lengthening from waist to armpits, the heart lifts and the head of the armbones pin back. It’s also an attitudinal shift – we energetically soften and open, we make more space in our body to approach the pose.

Biomechanical as well as attitudinal – keeps us safe in every pose.

Try in tadasana – contrast.

  • See the contrast in plank (Demonstrate – sagging, crunching in back vs. inner body lifting, integrity)  Now everyone try that standing, pretend you are in plank, let body sag, now, (instruct actions of IBB) feel the difference.

Standing Poses            7:30

  • Vira 1 with thumbs hooked, really get experience of IBB
  • Utkatasana > prayer twist
  • SN – prayer twist lunge>DD>side plank>prayer twist lunge
  • Parsvakonasana>Trikonasana
  • Trikonasana with partner (one hand on hip rooting, one hand on top of head, extending out – really focus on action of lengthening out of waist, fullness of torso, extending through head)
  • Tree
  • Pigeon Prep
  • Trikonasana > Ardha Chandrasana

Cooling            7:50

  • Upavista Konasana
  • Ardha Matseyendrasana
  • Setu Bandha
  • Thread the Needle
  • Upavista Konasana

Savasana            8:05

Yoga For Performers Class 1

Heart Quality: Receptivity

Action: STF, OTG

Theme: Returning to the breath, opening to inspiration

I want to begin by comparing the practice of yoga to the process of rehearsing for a performance, either as a dancer, actor or musician. At the beginning we learn the outer form, and through the rehearsal period we add layers of precision and articulation as our skills and awareness builds. Today we will learn the outer forms of the poses, like learning the initial form of a song, lines or blocking. Throughout the session we will add pieces each week that will allow us to become more precise and articulate. We will layer these on top of the outer form. So today is about learning our lines, learning the song.

But in order to connect this to creativity and the artistic process, to move away from just stretching or just working out, we are going to be very clear on our attitude, or intention. Wherever we are in the stage of learning something, we can always be clear in our intention. So I want to take a moment here for you to contemplate your intention for coming to this class. What are you hoping for?

So we’ll take a moment here to centre, to close our eyes and drop into your intention for coming here. Maybe you don’t know what that is yet. Maybe it’s really clear for you. What are you hoping for? Why are you taking this class? And even wider for that, What is your intention as an artist?

As you hold your individual intention for coming, I want to set a group intention for today, of the quality of receptivity. How can we cultivate this quality in our practice today, in order to move towards fulfilling our own intentions?

Warmups

7:10 -cat/cow>knee to chest>opp arm and leg>hip circles

-sun breaths (connect to breath/intention)

-forward folding (tad>utt)

-dolphin>dolphin pushups

-DD

-utt>straight leg lunge>DD>step forward (both sides)

-utt>gentle twist>DD>step forward (both sides)

Teach action

7:25 -moving with breath, let breath initiate movement (sun breaths)

-filling front back and sides of torso with breath (breathing in tadasana)

-in yoga we learn to pay attention to the breath, important because it is the gateway to creativity. The breath brings us into the present, opens us up. As you watch your breathing, notice your skin softening, your awareness clearing.

-Inspire: to breathe in God or spirit (IN-SPIRE). We are looking for inspiration – the first place we can turn to is the breath.

Standing poses

7:30 -Crescent moon, dancing moon

-crescent lunge (both sides)

-wide legged forward fold>extended side angle>triangle

-runners stretch>quad stretch>DD>side plank>DD>step up

-pigeon prep

-lying down thigh stretch (ardha bhek)

-X pose three ways

Cooling

7:50 -seated twist (ardha matsey)

-bridge (setu bandha)

-windshield wipers (jathara pari)

-thread the needle

-supta padang

8:03            -SAVASANA

Theme: Adding more beauty to the world

HQ: Fullness and Expressiveness

Actions: IBB (SBL, HABB)

Pinnacle: X pose (twisted lunge thigh stretch)

The theme for today’s class is “adding more beauty to the world”. I chose this theme after seeing a few plays this week that got me thinking about art and artistic expression. The plays were dark and political, one of them was kind of disturbing. They were important plays, but difficult to watch. They got me thinking about the way that I choose to express myself, what is important to me in art and what I think will be effective. What I came to in thinking about this was that the way that I choose to express myself in art directly aligns with one of the highest purposes of Anusara Yoga, which is celebrating the Supreme by adding more beauty to the world. It becomes a service to add beauty, to the world, that becomes our worship.

I think this is because beauty inspires me. When I see or create beauty, it builds my appetite, I want to see and create more beauty! So beauty builds on beauty. And this doesn’t just apply to art, it also applies to the way we live our lives. We can live in a way that adds beauty to the world, just in the way we hold our relationships, do our work, cook our food. Our yoga practice can be a way of adding more beauty to the world also- in Anusara, part of the practice is making the pose a full expression of yourself, leaving an energetic imprint on the world.

So today we are going to play with that, making the poses a full expression of ourselves, and adding more beauty to the world.

Meditation: set an intention, where in your life do you want to add more beauty? seal this into your heart.

  • warmups – sun breaths and folding (tadasana to uttanasana)
  • SN – straight leg lunge, full stretch
  • dancing crescent moon (one foot behind)
  • SN – crescent lunge, gentle twist
  • IBB demo     -everyone come into plank, let bum sag down, how does that feel?  Gather around. Today the action is IBB, physical components of that are lengthening from waist to armpits, the heart lifts and the head of the armbones pin back. See the contrast in plank (Demonstrate – sagging, crunching in back vs. inner body lifting, integrity)  Now everyone try that standing, pretend you are in plank, let body sag, now, (instruct actions of IBB) feel the difference.
  • Vira 1 with thumbs hooked, really get experience of IBB
  • Utkatasana > prayer twist > prayer twist lunge
  • Parsvakonasana>Trikonasana
  • Trikonasana with partner (one hand on hip rooting, one hand on top of head, extending out – really focus on action of lengthening out of waist, fullness of torso, extending through head)
  • Natarajasana > Standing Split > Lunge > Side Plank
  • Cobra > Salabhasana > Ardha Bhekasana
  • Anjaneyasana Prep > with thigh stretch
  • X pose (pinnacle)
  • Pigeon Prep
  • Setu Bandha
  • Ardha Matseyendrasana
  • Happy Baby
  • Savasana

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