Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tick Tock Tick Tock

The Practice: 12.18.11

Ticktocks – Viparita Chakrasana from Urdhva Dhanurasana. This peak pose is a breakdown of 3 accessible poses... Down dog, Handstand and Urdhva Dhanurasana. When you put the 3 together in a sequence, its a whole lot more intense and fun! We worked with the theme of Lila - Divine Play. Have fun with this. Don't take yourself too seriously. Remember to look at it in component parts, so its not too overwhelming. Enjoy!

Darren Rhodes in Viparita Chakrasana... AMAZING!

video


SEQUENCE:

AMS

Surya namaskar A 3X

Surya namaskar B 5X

Twisted monkey thigh stretch

Twisted down dog – hand to opp shin

High lunge – hands interlaced behind back

Salabasana

Uttanasana

Jumping dogs – 10 X

Partner – jump to handstand from AMS

Anjaneyasana – fingers interlaced behind back

Anjaneyasana – thigh stretch

Parsvakonasana

Trikonasana

Twisted lunge – hands in prayer

Supta Virasana

Urdvha Dhanurasana 5X

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana 5X

Backbends at wall – walk legs up to parallel to floor and jump to down dog

Handstand to half backbend at wall - land with feet on wall, knees bent

Handstand drop-overs (into Urdhva D)

Rocking horse in Urdhva D - rock to feet/lift hands, rock to hands/lift feet

Viparita Chakrasana - attempt at least 10x (or do whatever portion you can do 10x)

AMS

Parsva balasana

Bhairadvajasana I

Paccimottonasana

Janu sirsasana

Paccimottonasana

Savasana

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sequence - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana I & II

This is the sequence from last week's intermediate/advanced group practice. We worked with the theme of precision - being just that and no other; being exactly that, neither more nor less. It was a lot of fun. How much effort is enough to advance your asana practice?! Explore that concept in your body, while practicing this sequence. We worked with two main key actions: strong legs (muscle energy) and clear alignment in the shoulders (arm bones back, chest lifting up toward chin).

One detail to note, if full natarajasana (both hands to ankle) is new to you, take it out of the end of this sequence. Its a complicated pose, if you are new to it. However, if natarajasana is accessible to you, its perfect after all the deep pigeon variations. Its the same hand hold with the foot and same shoulder actions, just standing up on one leg. Enjoy!

The Practice: 12/11 YO downtown (2hrs)

2 Peak poses: Eka Pada Rajakaopotasana I & II

Amv (child's pose)
Ams - hands interlaced
Uttanasa - hands interlaced
Surya namaskar a (3x) - alternate salabasana & makrasana variations
Surya namaskar b (3x) - vira I hands clasped & utkatasana - head to knees, hands clasped behind back
Handstand
Pincha
Eka pada bhekasana
Urdhva eka pada bhekasana
Parsvakonasana - Trikonasana - ardha chandrachapasana
Pigeon w/ hands clasped
Anjaneyasana w/ hands clasped
baby dancer
Humble warrior - bowing with hands clasped behind back
AMS
EPRK I - prep
EPRK II prep - one leg in bhekasana
Parivrtta EPRK 2 prep - twisted monkey
EPRK I - thigh stretch
Naginyasana - Mermaid pose
Naginyasana II - Mermaid pose 2
Eka pada Dhanurasana - hands interlaced behind foot (Natrajasana on belly)
Urdhva Dhanurasana 3x
Dwi pada vipparita dandasana 2x
*EPRK I - shoulder action: hand to foot
*EPRK II - at wall (with a partner holding back leg vertical)
Natrajasana
AMS
Child's pose
Bharadvajasana
Twisted suhkhasana
SPG I (supta padangusthasana)
Knees to chest
Meditation
Savasana

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

LOVE

So there is a lot to say about my day to day and break throughs that have taken place since my last post. Teacher training with Darren and Christina, teaching new classes at Yoga Oasis, getting refinements from Darren on my public classes, and adjusting to a new community and environment. BUT, what's really on my mind... LOVE.

Lately, I've been reminded of how every encounter in my life has led me to love. Raw love. The experiences I was once ashamed of, the encounters I thought were by chance, the hardships, the victories... all of it. It has led me to where I am. In fact, those times when I thought I was at rock bottom, were the most significant. It's so interesting how things play out. Being at your worst is actually a really good place to be, because you have no where to go but up. We are all our own worst critic. I am the first person to identify that. Being in Darren and Christina's immersions and teacher trainings have carried me through aspects of myself that I never knew needed attention. I signed up to study with them to be a better student of yoga, to refine my craft as a yoga teacher. Don't get me wrong, I have learned invaluable information from both of them about teaching and doing asana (the poses). However, with their guidance, I have learned how to fully love myself and open to loving others fully. When I met Darren and Noah in LA at an advanced intensive in December of 2009, I had no idea my life was about to change. I signed up for the immersion with Darren and Christina in 2010. From that point on, I have been continuously invited to be authentic in my own skin. Don't get me wrong, my family has invited me to do so my entire life. But, for whatever reason, I was resistant until that point. Maybe it was being in an environment of others who were attempting to do the same, or maybe it was just a matter of maturity. Either way, things shifted when I started coming to Tuscon to study with Darren and Christina. They displayed a way of raw living that I was ready for in terms of my own life. There is something about relating asana practice to living your life that really hit home for me. Tying your effort on the mat to your effort in being authentically YOU really stuck.

And, so it goes. I would leave the trainings in Tucson and come home to practice, practice, practice. Practice working hard. Practice speaking my truth. Practice being me. And, not to my surprise, the yoga has worked! I can honestly say, I feel more in my own skin than ever before. Don't get me wrong, the work is not yet complete. But, I feel so happy and content with where I am at on this path of yoga... this path of being. As Roxanne would say, YOGA IS THE SHIT! I have never loved the way I am able to love now, ever before. Love myself, which turns into real love for others, which turns into love for life! I know, this can seem all "happy, peace to all and hippie bullshit." But, as someone who is fully committed to the path as a yogi (aka: the path of being yourself), I am here to tell you, IT IS WORTH IT. In fact, my mission is to bring yoga to the everyday, "normal" person. So that the teachings of yoga (tools) are available to more people. Yoga is worthwhile. The teachings are passed on orally. Meaning, you have to commit to yourself and dedicate yourself to the ups and downs to make progress. You have to keep showing up to learn the teachings in person. Yoga is meant to be learned in the great company of others.

One of the things that changed for me was fully committing. Once I fully committed to myself and my truth, everything shifted. Its a tall order. Commit to my strengths, and fully acknowledge what I am good at. Commit to what challenges me, and embrace where I need to work harder. Practice, practice, practice. Its not easy. But, its not meant to be. If asana was easy, we would have all done all the poses on our first try. Most importantly, being myself. When I can engage with that aspect of myself, everything changes. Its not that life it supposed to be perfect or easy. Its more that life is hard. And those hardships have helped me get to know myself on a deeper level. When you know yourself, you can offer so much more.

Another aspect of this path as a yogi is community. You cannot do it alone. And, you don't need to. As human beings, we strive to be recognized. The people I surround myself with are key to me being me. Mostly because the more "me" I am, the more I let people in to love me. Rather than being the "me" that I think I should aspire to be. Emphasis: raw truth = love. The thing is, I was only hiding from myself. the vulnerable I became (and continue to become) the more I let people in. The more I let people in, the more I am loved and the more I love. This has been major breakthrough for me! Take my relationship for example, the more I reveal my truth as a person to Alexis, the closer we become. The closer we become, the more he loves me and the more I love him. This is powerful stuff, not to mention long-lasting. Love is intense. There is no question about it. Nothing about real love is casual. Nothing about real love is effortless. The more I put in, the more I get back. It seems simple, but its a life's work. Its on-going. Relate it to asana, for example. Do you really think you are going to get your leg behind your head if you don't work toward getting there?! Good luck! And, I say that with compassion, because without practice and dedication, its impossible to advance your asana practice. Same as off the mat. If I don't practice being my authentic self, how can anyone really love me?! The practice has been an amazing tool for me. Its not easy to do all the poses. But, guess what... its not easy for anyone... not Mr. Iyengar who was broken when he started practicing, not for Darren Rhodes who had a spine shaped like an S when he started practicing. Its hard work to be yourself and accept that person fully. Its hard work to get your feet to the floor in viparita shalabhasana. I am not there yet, but I hope some day (with a LOT of practice) I will be. And, if not, I trust that I will still be a very good, dedicated, hard-working, expression of a true yogin. One who has dedicated my life to being true to myself. Asana is a huge tool and a gift.

So, here is where I am at...

Love is intense.
Love is true.
Love is challenging.
Love is knowing and accepting yourself 100%.
Love is surrounding yourself with people who make you feel at home.
Love is being raw.
Love is being vulnerable.
Love is truth.
Love it the pathway to you heart.
Love is hard work.
Love is YOU.

Before I become too vulnerable to post this blog, I am going to publish this post. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in my path. Love to all my encounters... good, bad, ugly and beautiful. I love the love I am experiencing today. I love the love that is yet to come.

with a full heart and gratitude,
Brigette

Friday, December 9, 2011

a whole lot of new

A little over one week in, and already so much to share...In a nutshell, everything is beyond great. The past 10 days have been a whirlwind. It has definitely been an adjustment to pick up and move to AZ for 4 months, but its a good adjustment. There's definitely a lot of "newness" all around. Meeting so many new people, living in a new house, teaching at a new studio. Plus, Darren and Christina are in development mode in creating the School of Yoga. And, Whitney and Rad just had their first baby (sweet baby Cosmo Knox Cunnigham). See, a lot of new! Its an exciting time to be here, right in the midst of exciting new things. On the yoga front, I've spent a lot of time with my teachers, Darren and Christina. I feel so blessed to be around them on a more regular basis. They both have so much valuable experience and knowledge to share. Its a rare experience to be around such mastery on a regular day. I feel like every twist and turn on my path has lead me to exactly where I am.

My first few days in AZ this winter were quite memorable. My teacher, Christina Sell, invited us to a day-long celebration called Jayanthi (pronounced Jai-yan-ti) at Lee Lozowick's ashram, on December 1st. Which meant, when we arrived in Tucson last Wednesday, we had just enough time to unpack and repack before getting in the car for a 4+ hour to drive to Prescott. We really had no idea what this experience would entail... but when Christina extended the invitation, I promptly said yes. I trust my teacher and I know whatever she has in store will be something worthwhile. So we went. Neither Alexis nor I had ever been to an ashram and we have been learning bits and pieces of Lee's teachings through Darren and Christina over the past few years. Needless to say, we were curious and interested, not to mention honored, to even be invited.

A little background... the ashram was started by Lee in 1980. He was Christina's spiritual teacher and his Guru was the great Indian Saint, Yogi Ramsuratkumar. The celebration we attended, Jayanthi, was a day-long celebration of Yogi Ramsuratkumar's birthday. Which means, a lot of traditional ceremonies, meditation, chanting, great Indian meals and lots of bonding with this spiritual community. Some of the practices were brand new to me and some were kind of familiar from my trip to India last winter. It was a great experience and we learned A LOT. One of my favorite parts of the day was hearing the stories about people from the ashram going on trips with Lee to India and being with Yogi Ramsuratkumar. It really brought some of the teachings to life for me. Also, the time we got to spend with Christina in between scheduled events. Words can't even explain how special it was to be there with her, in that element. Everyone was so welcoming toward us and made us feel included, even though so much of the experience was new to us. Something about the bonded community felt really warm and sweet. It was an experience that will forever leave an imprint on my heart. If you would like to learn more about the teachings of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, check out Only God by Regina Sara Ryan. Its a biography of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Alexis and I are in the midst of reading it, right now. Highly recommended.

Friday morning, we took off for Flagstaff for a weekend workshop (asana) with Christina. A while back, I asked Christina if I could apprentice with her in some form or fashion. She generously said yes, but it took some time for me to get my ducks in a row to be able to actually do it. Last weekend was the kickoff. I observed her workshop and learned from a new perspective. I watched her teach, looked for what she was responding to in the room, and took in the whole interaction between her and the participating students as a whole. I gathered so much information in regard to technical information, for sure. It was cool to see where Christina is taking things with the evolution of her teaching since her Anusara resignation. By stepping outside the box of a system, she has the freedom to expand without limit. There are some really great and exciting developments happening. What stood out the most was the interaction between the students and the teacher. The entire room of 50 or so yogis were working so hard and hanging on Christina's every word. They put so much effort into staying attentive and participating fully. And, in return, Christina was right there with them. Her grace and poise and she teaches new and familiar material was awesome to observe. She literally smiles the entire time she is teaching, even when the students heads are down. The exchange was powerful and beautiful. This journey and new format of learning from Christina is only the beginning. I'm excited about it. Also, Flagstaff was a super cute town and the community there was awesome.

Sunday was my first class at Yoga Oasis. I am teaching a 2-hour advanced class called, The Practice. The first class went great. It was a mix of people I know from past trainings at YO and students who were new to me. Its hard to tell what "advanced" yoga is regionally, but given the fact that Darren Rhodes teaches here, I figured I would have some pretty dedicated and seasoned practitioners. And I did. To me, advanced yoga means increasing the number of variables in your practice. This class is designed for those who want to go deeper than the average public class. To explore their own potential on the mat, with a slower-paced sequence and time to repeat poses. We do several reps of the same poses to get really deep and clear as we progress. That's often how I practice on my own, at home. In Sunday's class we worked a sequence that I've been playing with from Mr. Iyengar's book, Light on Yoga: Sirsasana II to Bakasana, dropping over into Urdhva Dhanurasana, then standing up into Tadasana. We started by breaking down the component parts and went from there. Which is great because if there was a section of the final sequence that was beyond someone's edge, students still had something to work with, as the rest of the group moved on. We had a great time. Here is the sequence for those interested. I will try and post my sequences after each Sunday class.

Sequence:

AMV (Child's pose)

AMS (Down Dog)

Uttanasana

Surya A – 3X

Surya B – 5X

Down dog lunge

Low lunch forearms down

Prasarita Padottonasana – to Sirsasana II

Parsvakonasana

Anjaneyasana

Humble warrior - hands interlaced

EPRK II prep (thigh stretch)

EPRK I prep (thigh stretch)

Supta Virasana

Ardha malasana (low lunge, back knee down, bind hands)

Malasana

Bakasana

Sirsasana II – core work

Sirsasana II to bakasana reps

Salabasana

Dhanurasana

Anjaneyasana – fingertips to floor

Twisted monkey

Hanumanasana (or EPRK II prep)

Urdhva D – shoulder work

Urdhva D – 10X

Standing up from Urdhva D (w/partner or on own)

Sirsasana II droping over and standing up

Peak Sequence: Sirsasana II - Bakasana – Urdhva D – Tadasana

Pascimottanasana

Janu Sirsasana

Agnistambhasana

Parsva Agnistambhasana

Pascimottanasana

Savasana


The rest of the week has been full of yoga and time with my sweetheart. Which, of course, is like a dream come true. Being with Alexis every day is exactly what I wanted. Also, its been so nice to be a student at Darren's public classes. I am learning so much. Darren has this new class, called yoslo advanced. He is working on coming up with a set sequence for this class, but the exciting part is that its in development. AND he practices with the group. So, first off I am thrilled because I get to see how this sequence progresses while in development. Second, its AWESOME to be able to practice right across from Darren and see every detail in his asana practice. With little instruction, I have the opportunity to watch his technique and see the full potential of every pose. Of course, I am beyond excited about this class. I will be at that class every week, for sure.

Right now, we are in the midst of a teacher training at Yoga Oasis with Darren and Christina. Its so cool to see how things are evolving with the School of Yoga and what they are developing. More detail to come on that soon.

Love to everyone back home. I miss you guys already!

B