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Alex: Tracing the Source

We are all students of life and Yoga puts us in contact with who we truly are - beyond our wildest imagination, expectations and fears - and hopefully instils an integration of something that is uncluttered by our conditioning, something that is real at all times. But we live in a world of ups and downs, time and space, name and form so any definition we give to Yoga will naturally be coloured by our environment, exposure and context. I feel grateful to Pure Yoga for the invitation to join their Teaching Faculty. But I'm first and foremost a student of Yoga who lives nine months of the year in Mysore, India where I study Sanskrit and Yoga, and where the legendary T. Krisnamacharya began to teach Pattabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, Indra Devi etc.

All of these blogs may be personal reflections, wild ramblings and fancy, but they will also give an account of interviews with other Yoga teachers, as well as common practitioners and seekers of Yoga. Yoga displays a great diversity all over the world, but hopefully in our shared efforts to articulate it, maybe we can all become a little wiser to what the great heritage of Yoga truly has to offer us?

For Alex's bio, please click here


07.05.08 Hong Kong This practice we engage in
So let's talk a little bit about this thing called Ashtanga Yoga. Not necessarily the eight limbs, but rather how a better experience of them may awaken from practicing this thing called Ashtanga Yoga. Strange I know when there is so much focus on the physical practice, but once I asked Pattabhi Jois why he called it Ashtanga Yoga, when it seems to only be an Ekanga Yoga practice. Well his simple answer was simply: "Yoga must be practical, otherwise no use!"

So what is then so practical with coming to class every day and sweating your heart out doing all of these weird postures? Well the idea is that we're supposed to observe the mind in the process and if we can succeed in that some great yoga may actually happen to us. The so-called practice of yoga is often advertised as fun, light and easy and by all means we certainly need something to cheer us up in the gloomy daily chores that awaits us, but for yoga to be truly healing it helps to face all sides of our being. What better way to start with out body?

It may indeed be very depressing to actually acknowledge that we're really uptight and holding on in a trillion places and often it's much easier to just push on through with our own will power and high ideas of who/what/where we would like to be rather than taking a good look at what is. But whenever we find the time to just stop, pause and breath for a little, a space opens up and although there is tightness all around, the potentially of greater freedom is tapped into and that has us coming back for more stepping onto our mats trying out our various acrobatics.

But the end goal of all our practice was of course never to impress others or our deluded Ego of who we like to think we are. The particular postures and breathing exercises we engage in were created to heal the dying process we are all consciously or unconsciously a part of. To take a look at our various imbalances, tension and strain and give us a panacea to free up the universal life force within us and allow that to flow more freely throughout the body. That takes a lot of courage, patience and steady practice to get better glimpses of what is actually going on.

So when Pattabhi Jois calls it Ashtanga Yoga it's because he believes that is a valuable tool to get a better practical experience of this thing called yoga by learning to first purify our body/mind organisms on all levels and then eventually be more open to receive the greater gift of yoga. He's not a man of many words and his famous dictum is always: "Practice, practice and all is coming". Well this coming bit may certainly be different to each and every individual, but for those that have time a patience a beautiful new field may arise, where they come to experience their body/mind organism in a completely different way. Where all our high ambition, all the stuff we wanted to do, all the stuff we like and don't like suddenly is not that important any more in the presence of the luminous majestic of what is. When that start to live up in us all this other stuff loose their impact and all that really mattes is to be in harmony with what is.

Now it may involve a heck of a lot of efforts to finally get there and they say the awakening comes with practice and surrender. But when you step on the mat next time, be introspect and alert and according to capability and look at all the stuff that binds you and restricts you rather than just push on through with the many ideas of what you think you should be? Take it slow, learn how to breathe a new life force into the body by first opening up the various strains and tensions that had us cramped in a fix. Then slowly, slowly a greater awakening to yoga may arise. It is never quite what we would like it to be, but for those that are patient enough to first and foremost explore the honest simplicity of what is, a new dawn will certainly awaken within you, where you begin to experience the inter connectedness of all that is and your beautiful place in its midst. If we can only step out of the way and create a little distance to who we think we are and rather let the healing energy that comes from a proper practice breath a new life force into your system. An energy that heals and transforms rather than obstructs and defects, then there may be yoga overflowing and our mind is centered enough to fully perceive it.

That is the purpose of (Ashtanga) Yoga, to gradually step by step, shed all the blemishes and crazy ideas of who we think we are and finally get a taste of what is real and allow that to shine through on all levels. Nobody claims it is easy with all the tricks and treats our mind gets entangled up in, but once started the process, better continue because although the journey may first involve a few aches and pains the gradual experience you are left with gives a true taste of the Self and there is nothing greater to neither taste nor experience.
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01.05.08 Hong Kong The Quiet Heroine
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There is no place like Hong Kong. Whatever is there in the world you can find it here and usually you can be certain that somebody has found more clever ways to capitalize it and improve it. Hong Kong runs its own race and always sets new standards for what is fashionable and acceptable in the Asia Region.

When it comes to yoga, there is certainly no place quite like Hong Kong. But forget all the various styles, all the hip and trendy teachers, the spacious studios that are often 3 - 5 in numbers within each studio - located in the largest yoga studios in the world! Think rather about all the hot yoga classes, or any class for that matter, with buckets of sweat flowing out across the floor, the steam covering the windows and ceilings, the many towels soaked in body odors laying in the corner or the wash basin. Yes to put it plainly, after a full-on yoga class the rooms are a complete mess, the energy like a power plant and the air in the room…let's not even talk about it.

But in the fifteen minutes break between classes, when people are normally late leaving the room and other stand in line to get in early to save themselves a spot, a quiet patrol of laughing heroines that glides in and wash the room from top to bottom. They disinfection all the mats, then wash and wipe them all and then usually clean the windows, walls and mirrors. Seriously, I've no idea how they do it in such a short time, but they float around the room like fairies making it spic and span in no time and then leave with the same smile that they entered and gives space for us to come and mess it all up again.

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So when you see the these women all dressed in black next time, please offer a little thank you and at least try a smile, because they are the quiet heroines around here that breath a fresh air into the studio whenever they make their arrival.

And if you think they are doing a bad job, then try bringing your own yoga mat, towel and all the rest of it which is the common standard for most other yoga studios around the world. Many places don't even have shower facilities, definitely not spacious lounges and chill out areas, not to mention the boutique and fresh mineral water being provided. But ok, this is Hong Kong remember and people expect a certain standard and treatment. The question is can we all really appreciate it?
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26.04.08 Hong Kong Let me practice What I Want!
Who can really say what is good for me or not? What postures to practice or not when it comes to this delicate thing called yoga? Maybe the most important thing is that I just do it, don't worry about how it looks nor feels; just push on through with it all and everything will be fine in the end as long as we can sweep certain things under the carpet and don't pay too much attention to the details of how this subtle body and mind is working?

This thing called yoga is truly fascinating. It inspires us in various ways and lately many people prefer yoga to normal gym training or other fitness classes. Because hey, if you go to a kick ass practice it will make your shoulders look better in a tank top, will definitely give you a better waist line and most certainly probably make your ass a little tighter. So bring on the yoga and let me practice whatever I want so at least I can improve my figure, work on my image and look more vibrant and healthy whenever it is cold for. Who really cares about this spiritual mumbo jumbo nobody understands anyway? So bring on the practice let me sweat and at least work out a little so I can get some value for my money.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but how you ever thought for what reasons more and more people just love to throw themselves into the more advance postures, particularly all the arm-balances. With a first glance they certainly don't' require much opening and flexibility so let me throw myself up against the wall and push-on-through with the postures that strengthens my armors, keep my mind in a fix and protect my heart from opening any further. Who wants to be a softy anyway? Great strength and determination is needed in this fast paced so give me some credit for working so hard and making an effort here! Let me just rock and roll with the practice in whatever way I want, burn some calories, feel enlightened from chanting OM, tone up my muscles a little and lie down at the end of the day feeling at least I did something useful. Yes when you stop!

All I really wanted to say is be a little careful. Always doing exactly whatever you want to do is not necessarily the practice that may be most conducive to your greater health and well being. If you have been doing this for a few years, soldering on like a heroic warrior perhaps it is time to reflect a little more on what is actually going on in the body and mind. Not to mention how you feel afterwards, besides the fact that you just popped another advil before and after practice. How about trying to see if you can explore the areas of tension, strain and discomfort a little and see if you can dissolve them rather than push on true with more muscle power and throw your feet up against the wall and just pester on through with the handstands?

Hmm, just think about it for a minute, when all your bodyweight goes up-side-down without necessarily the proper alignment, awareness and opening in the spine, perhaps a little something will be disrupted in the energy flow? Maybe a tiny bit of tension are going to lock themselves in your shoulders and upper body when you are standing there leaning against the wall or hanging in the shoulders to keep your feet up in the air? No, not just a little bit, a whole f**** lot. Before long you'll develop a hunch back, become even tighter in your lover back and just simply forget about learning to bind the twisted seated postures, because the muscles are too tight and they will not bend. But hey, you might have a bad day or a hangover or simply not be able to do all the great stuff you could do some life times ago, so simply try again tomorrow, if you can't do it by yourself just pretend you are doing it by at least trying, because you will definitely sweat as long as you keep on trying.

Well all I really wanted to say was: be a little careful when you throw yourself into some of the more advanced postures. Unless there are no proper grounding and stability from the core and base, and some healthy structures of bones and muscles are well balanced on top of each other, why the heck to you want to play around with sophisticated electricity that is going to fry your brain and ruin your body if you are not careful with it at all? Yoga was never meant to just shape our body and mind according to what we think is best for us, but rather sink into a wholesome core that heals and transcends, breaks down our false barriers and actually puts us in contact with something that lights up our body and mind from within rather than obstructing its pure view. So why not see in your practice if you can find ways to dissolve and heal all your armors and high ambition of who you think you are and then perhaps come to rest better in a place that just is? That doesn't really need us to be so ambitious and gung ho about anything, but rather teaches us to take a step back and ride a different wave and support, that will slowly reveal itself according to our capability to let go and embrace it.
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18.04.08 Hong Kong Goodbye, from Andrea
As you all know Andrea, left on Tuesday and left a little vacum here at the Centrium studio. His precious energy was there every morning for ten weeks and being the first to open every morning and warming up the studio by always first doing his own practice at 4am before he would start teaching for the day, there is definitely a presence missing in the room. We miss his smiles, laughter and chuckles in the room, not to mention his broad Italian accent. So in order to keep his spirit lingering a little longer i thought i would share with you a little Thank You note he wrote as he was leaving HK Tuesday night. Now over to Andrea:

Goodbye...

abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah
yoga is achieved through constant practice and non-attachment
(free interpretation of yoga sutra 1, 12)

i can't help to think about this sutra now, observing the airport lights through this small window: it is a pretty mundane (lower, if you wish) expression of not being attached, i mean, the non-attachment to the external "stuff", to people, situations, achievements... still it's real, i am here once again... leaving... leaving a comfortable, stable situation... leaving friends, hangout places, cities, continents, leaving yet another home... i am here again, with most of my belongings packed in the trunk of a boeing 747, jerky chin and wet eyes... i am used to goodbyes, and i save my tears for when i am alone, up high into the sky...

i am deeply touched, and fulfilled with the experience i had in hong kong, in the silence of all these mornings, room 2 in pure central, under the shadow of the... so phallic, IFC tower and under the protection of the... so sweet, little white ganesh.

from the bottom of my heart i shout THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

thank you alex for pushing me to the edge of my faith in myself, thank you pure "crew" and teachers for your big, big smiles and support, thank you my wonderful friends for coming to practice, for showing up on the mat with such enthusiasm, and for being so kind to me.

i am also gonna be apart from amy (boo boo), for the next two weeks, as i go to italy to see my family. i can't wait to hug her and kiss her again when she joins me in mysore - very rarely we spend time apart - i owe her so much... can you guys make sure she is fed enough? she gets cranky without food...

and back to patanjali, to abhyasa and the yoga sutra, one last, important thought: thank you all for making my practice become so much deeper, fuller and more meaningful...

i wish that every breath that fills and leaves your lungs could carry these qualities: deepness, fullness and meaningfulness... in your life, as much as on the yoga mat... (don't forget)

i will miss you, beautiful friends - andrea
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17.04.08 Hong Kong Sri Vatsa Ramaswami
Sri Vatsa Ramaswami
Sri Vatsa Ramaswami
One of the reasons for going to America this time was to meet Sri Vatsa Ramaswami, a long-time student of Krishnamacharya for 33 years. I met up with him in San Francisco and after some good conversations with him on various aspects on Yoga and Indian philosophy I'd like to share some of his views with you.

Whether it's been my curse or great fortune I've been exceedingly interested in trying to become a little clearer about the legends and myths surrounding Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, and as one happen to scratch the surface of this enigmatic figure, more and more interesting tales, stories and facts surface relating to his life and persona. What is probably most fascinating is how he could plant such fertile seeds of growth in his students and although many of them may differ on aspects of teaching, most of them display similar features when it comes to their dedication towards yoga and how it may inspire and heal our lives on many levels. Krishnamacharya may have certainly thought them in various ways, but one thing is certain is that whatever he thought them have been instrumental in shaping the amazing growth of yoga all around the globe

Sri Vatsa Ramaswami tells me how he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and although he was in the top of the class at school, had a privilege life, numerous friends and felt great support from his parents, something was always missing in his life. Like a deep seated sadness and discontent he could never really figure out why. Well until he met Krishnamacharya. When they first met he was inspired by his great knowledge and strong presence, but as he spent more time with him, Krishnamacharya helped him realize something about his true nature that was infinite joyful and full of content at all times and it was just a matter of removing the obstacles that prevented him from experiencing this on a deeper level. Krishnamacharya was therefore the teacher that filled an empty space in him and for that Ramaswami is eternally grateful and now at a ripe age dedicates his life to spreading some of the teachings of Krishnamacharya according to the ways he understood it.

So when Ramaswami speaks about KM (Krishnamacharya) it is naturally with a great sense of awe and tremendous respect for what he received from him, because as he says, "It was not just all the Yoga and purity of the Vedic recitations I got from him, it was rather the awakening to my true nature and the realization of the missing link in my life". Ramaswami said further that he had certainly studied parts of the Vedas and tried a little Yoga before he met KM, but the great skill of KM was that he could awaken a direct practical experience of Yoga within the individual, something beyond all the textbook learning and for this very reason, Ramaswami believes KM became such an inspiring grandfather to the awakening of Yoga all around the world. Simply because embodied Yoga on a practical level and had ample means and methods to convey this to his students.

Ramaswami met KM first time in 1955, shortly after KM had had moved from Mysore and came to settle in Madras, now Chennai until he left his body in 1989. During the 33 years they studied together he learnt numerous yoga postures and various breathing exercises and that which always remained constant he remember was the particular Vinyasas - a way of interlinking each breath with particular movement while entering and exiting each asana proper. Now the classical Vinyasa sequence we may assume to be the one written down in the book "Yoga Makarandam" by KM, in 1935 and later refined and preserved for history by the sequencing of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and the so-called Ashtanga Yoga. But if anybody thought this was the end all to the Vinyasa sequence, please think again. Ramaswami claims that KM's teaching changed drastically since his early years in Mysore and while he lived in Chennai he would develop various Vinyasas on the spot to suit the needs of the various individual. Ramaswami claims he learnt as many as seven different Vinyasa sequences just to come in and out of the Tadasana (Mountain posture) and has further categorized and systematized all these numerous sequences in "The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga" (2005, Marlove). His most famous book is "Yoga for the three stages of life" (2000, Inner Tradition) where he speaks about the various styles of Yoga KM would teach depending on what age the practitioner was in. In the early part of life the student would learn Yoga as an art form to boost confidence and distill discipline within the individual. In the middle part of life, a greater focus would be on physical therapy and maintaining good health. In the last stages of life, the practitioner should learn to focus on the ultimate goal - a greater understanding of the underlying philosophies of yoga and a greater realization of truth.

Now personally I believe all of the above may be cultivated in whatever stage of life one is in, with proper practice and commitment, Yoga is certainly one and although it manifest in various ways, when the essence of Yoga awakens within us it creates expansion within the totally of being. Ok, we need to recognize the state of life we are in, but a genuine practice of yoga should help us realize all of the above.

From conversations with many of the famous students of KM one thing becomes quite apparent. Whenever asked about the essence of KM teaching, they all in unison proclaim: "To awaken the love of God and awaken the individual to his/her inmost potential". This was the remarkable feature of KM, he guided his students in various ways and gave them methods and means for continual growth and transformation to awaken to their inmost core of Yoga. This is my no means something that normally awakens in an instant so Ramaswami is very particular when he speaks about the various stages that one may go true in ones journey to greater clarity in yoga.

A good grounding in the Yamas and Niyamas he considered should be implicit for any serious seeker of yoga, without them the aspirant will never raise beyond the horizon of his own delusion, but when they are well established and a proper asana practice equally becomes established the individual has the potential to develop a whole new energetic body pregnant with great vitality, vigor and strength. The body, brain and nervous system may further develop to its utmost potential with proper Pranayama practices, but the end goal of all Hatha Yoga practices is not to grow a body like superman or gain super natural powers. These exercises, according to him, are rather means to greater Knowledge of our true identity and a solid method to come to gain the practical experience of what we truly are. The practice of Hatha Yoga, he claims KM told him, should eventually lead to Bhakti Yoga. When no other thing is important, than to see, worship and experience the love of the Divine in everything that exists and everything we do. Then a greater sense of union; Yoga is certainly to take place within us.

Ok we all need to file off our rough edges and work on our various stuff, but it was truly interesting to hear what Ramaswami had to say about the practice of asanas and how they are designed to just create greater health and well being from within. He spoke about the six Koshas, the inner organs of the heart, lungs, kidneys, bladder, sexual organs and large intestine and how a practice of asanas will help a proper re-balancing of these organs and prevent their collapse and decay within the body and rather promote greater longevity, strength and well being. He further spoke about ways of retaining the breath (kumbhakas) for the awakening of the inner bandhas, the locks that seals the energy in certain areas of the body to exhilarate the awakening of our core. He finally talked about the aspects of the three gunas, viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas and how they are all to be balanced for a greater insight and experience of the actual yoga that lies beyond.

In my limited experience of the practice sometimes I feel truly refreshed and clear headed, but other times I may feel equally stupefied, scatter brained or totally lost in the clouds after a practice. He told me that depending on what practices I do certain gunas will always be predominant and others may take a downer, so it's important to learn to better listen to the body/mind organism and don't go to any extremes, but rather learn to observe our process and gradually become more discriminating to what works and don't' work. Eventually we all need to embody more Sattvic qualities for a greater experience of Yoga to rise within us, but we also need balance and without that all our practices may be futile The final peak of yogic awareness Ramaswami claims can only be reached in high stages of meditation, but for that to actually happen, there is plenty of work to do in order to remove many of the obstructing layers that prevents us from seeing it.

The most important aspect of the practice of Yoga he consider to be Dhyana, the uninterrupted flow of one-pointedness that gives the mind the focus it needs to experience its inert nature. But for this to happen we need proper practice, then it will all gradually be revealed to us.

When we talk further about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali he is quick to admit that he shares the view of his great mentor that "Ishvara Pranidhaanaad vaa" (Yoga may also arise from a total surrender to God) is the easiest way to experience the true meaning of Yoga and refer to how KM made a paraphrase of the sutra and simply called it "Ishwara Eva" (Only God [is Yoga]).

Ok the essence of Yoga may certainly vary for us all, but what is certain many of KM's student has a beautiful glow on their faces that certainly reflect some of their own experiences in the matter. I can only say Hail to Krishnamacharya, for all the great work he did and thank you, again and again, for preserving the essence of it and distributing it in numerous ways to all his dedicated students.
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14.04.08 Hong Kong Two Pokey Toes
Just when you thought life was sorted, unexpected circumstances always present themselves play with our mind and ask: "So you thought you were grounded? You thought you had it all figured out? Then please deal with this and let me know how you feel"? And whether we scream or shout, kick or curse and pretend to be annoyed with what is happening life always has a funny way of getting the last laugh when it comes to knowing: "who's really in control of this so-called life that is unfolding?

But ok, unless we act and do our best to be in full control and take the utmost responsibilities for what we've been given, very little is actually every going to come our way, but when life happens, as it unfolds so to speak, if we're so caught up in having it our ways rather than gel with the harmony of what is we're causing serious disruptor to whatever symphony that is unfolding.

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Unfortunately dear Magnolia, the new Mysore Style teacher at the Centrium, who's taking over after Andrea's heroic steady work for 10 weeks, was hit by a bus yesterday while riding on the back of a bike. Thank God it was not serious, but she broke a toe and had quite a bit of skin removed on another one. The doctor has ordered her to keep still for three weeks and she's still in hospital undergoing some treatment for the foot and being under observation. So if you want to go and cheer her up. She's at Queens Mary hospital, The E-Ward, 4th floor and visiting hours are 5.30 - 7.30pm. She's in the orthopedic ward and you can't miss her, cause her laughter chuckles through the corridors and even the woman opposite her, who supposedly fell out of a head stand, during a Yoga class at a yoga center we are not suppose to mention, is giggling like anything and says with ease that once she can walk again she will change her membership and come and hang out with the teacher and all of the members of the supporting family coming to see her. Ok it's quite a scene in the hospital already so please come at the given visiting hours in order not to rub the nurses any further with anti-yoga propaganda.

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Magnolia is a trooper for sure and will be pulling through in no time, but as we all know Hong Kong can be quite intense so she probably deserved another few weeks to settle in properly before she finally shakties up the energy at the Centrium studio every morning. As far as her substitute is concerned, I arrived here in HK last night and was suppose to leave for India tomorrow, but will certainly be staying around for at least three weeks until our new Mysore teacher heals properly and can give us all the juice that she's got.
Little do we know of what's unfolding, but I certainly know, we appreciate Magnolia, so let her heal and become well soon.
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12.04.08 San Francisco Steadiness and Support
There is nothing like harmonizing the body and mind with some gentle practice of yoga after a lot of traveling. The practice becomes the steady grounding force that heals and invigorates when the world is spinning too fast around us. When sense impressions are overwhelming and the challenges from a foreign environment easily throw you off center, there is nothing like finding that precious place from within we can call home -although everything keep changing around us.

Have had the pleasure of spending a few days in San Francisco and checking out a little of the yoga scene here. Much is indeed on offer here from 'funky door yoga' to flowering 'Tree Yoga, let's just say everything 'flows' and there is great buzz and creativity in much of the things going on here, but two places in particular stands out as healing oasis' like in the middle of a dried out desert. So when you are tired and fatigued, thirsty and run down, there is nothing like a place where you can come and find true nourishment on all levels.

The fascinating thing about this practice called Ashtanga Yoga is that once you have learned the preliminary exercises of some sun-salutations, standing postures and a few seated postures, you can roll out a yoga mat anywhere in the world and engage in a practice of Yoga. If you have the great fortune of also practicing in a space that is equally supportive of this practice, great will be your experience and you will feel amplified on many levels.

Yesterday I had the great privilege of visiting the home of Heidi and John a beautiful house on the corner of Devisadero and Paige. They live upstairs, but spend most of their time downstairs in their precious little yoga studio which they have built, furnished and decorated by themselves. John has even constructed his own heated floor with a smooth layer of environmental friendly concrete he has polished on top. The colors, pictures and interior decoration are chosen carefully by Heidi who have created such an inspiring homely environment you never want to leave. While you are there engaging in your practice with them they are just there quietly in the background offering their heartfelt support. A few ambitious people may huff and puff and do their best to impress, but Heidi and John seems to have seen it all and just encourages us to slow down, connect with the breath and just embrace the quality of the practice. So we do and while the practice sinks in and their healing touch carries us through difficult sequences of the practice we find that nourishing support from within and realize all is well, why worry, just breath and relax and things sort themselves out in time. Not much is being said, there is very little verbal exchange during the practice, but as we are about to leave we sense their compassionate smile that has been observing us all through the practice and from the twinkle in their eyes we feel their love and support in just creating an environment where we can come and just be, rather than try to change anything. So we walk out with a smile on our face feel nourished in our core and meet the buzz of the city with a greater sense of support and endurance.

The following day we go and seek out Vance Selover in Berkley. A former professional musician who used to play his double base for the Opera and Ballet here in town, but since ten years back, feel his service lies in the various fields of yoga. We enter his room right after 7am and the windows are already steaming from the twenty odd heated bodies in the room and the bright sun coming in through the windows. We roll out our mats, get on with our practice and think to ourselves; 'Wow, what a great energy and support that is here'. His friend Peter Sanson is also there and is helping him out for two weeks. Peter is one of the few people in the world who've been quietly getting on with this practice for more than twenty years. He's gone through the Advanced series with Guruji in Mysore and could tour the world in grand style and make plenty of money if he wanted, but choose to keep things simple and will only teach in small studios where he feel the environment is more conducive to teach people the essence of this practice. And while we are there in that little nourishing womb he steadily creates, with bubbles of laughter from his warm smiles and kind gentleness, we realize there is more to the practice than just trying to push through with the postures with vain hopes of perfection or improvement. It's rather all about the now, to come home to our breath and experience ourselves a little more fully as we are rather than perhaps who we wanted to be, and as that happens a new energy rises up from within that gives steadiness and support on all levels. And that is truly worth coming home to wherever you may be in this wild world. Because when our outlook from within is steady, calm and composed how much easier to relate to this world of constant change.
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07.04.08 Portland Harmony
There are two extremes to people's personalities when it comes to belief. One may have nothing of it and the other may believe more than they can practically embody. But how important is belief? If we only believe in ourselves can we muster up the power to accomplish whatever we want? Perhaps yes or perhaps no or perhaps both, the power of our thoughts certainly effect our association with people, interaction with life and general commitments and responsibilities. There is nothing worse than a child who is being deprived of their inner sense of self and curbed, violated or restricted in their personal development in learning to express themselves. And on the up-side, there is nothing greater than seeing the power of belief in children made manifest, how they can create realities of their own from the mere power of their thoughts. But often when we have reached this place they call 'grown up,' have become old and soggy we pass it off as plain imagination or wishful thinking. And vaguely we remember how in the beauty of our youth, anything was possible, but now as age and our deteriorating process has finally gripped us, many of us loose that joyous playful freedom of expression and become complacent and sarcastic, because God forbid we cannot whole heartedly accept that this misery and boredom we are caught up in is really all there is to life?

The other extreme is then the lunatic who has his head in the clouds and is always somewhere else but here, never really present with what is going on, but always on the run anticipating some greater change to come or some great new events that will propel his life into all he ever dreamed of. And the sad thing about this fellow is that although in his dreamy world of possibility, everything has infinite potential, when it comes to executing it in a world of practicality, he falls flat on his face and seems unable to bridge the gap between what 'should have been' and what actually is. So life equally passes him by and he ends up standing there on the sideline perhaps even asking himself, "Where did I go wrong" and then a million "Why" comes up and before long he's lost the grip on reality again throws his head back in the cloud and cries; "If only! If I'd only done this or that, life would be so very different! Ah, if only, if only… and once again life just happen to pass him by.

But in all honesty can life really pass us by? Isn't it rather what is happening here right now, despite our many delusions or the smug complacencies we show off to hide the layers of frustration and pain we do our best to keep at bay or run away from. But if it's happening now, then why the heck is it not happening the way I would like it to? Ah here's the rub. Here there is great potential to explore ourselves as we are rather than who we would like to be or who we are busy trying to cover up or run away from. So what do we do? Well in all honesty I don't really know, but I believe in the power of this present moment. From learning to better relate to that there is infinite wisdom stored up from within. Whether we learn to better listen to the state of our body/mind/senses through the practice of yoga or just actively take part in our daily duties. When harmony abides we are filled up with something greater than ourselves and when that can fully be embraced we are pulled out of our limited ways and have the power to believe whatever we want. Whether we can integrate it into the practical reality or not is always a great challenge, but if we strive for greater harmony in everything that we do, ah then there is great support from all around to accomplish whatever we set our minds to. How we succeed is not really that important, all that really matter is that we stay present, stay present with the harmony of what is. Within that there is infinite potential and great healing to expand our limited ways, walk into the field of life, plant a few seeds, and hopefully give up our limited identity to find ourselves more truly as we are in relation to the world around us.

Nobody can find themselves in a vacum and nobody can find themselves in a world of change, but if we listen more carefully to the harmony of what is, the music that unfold will certainly guide us in our futher journey.
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