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.


AMV (Child's pose)

AMS (Down Dog)


Surya A – 3X

Surya B – 5X

Down dog lunge

Low lunch forearms down

Prasarita Padottonasana – to Sirsasana II



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)



Sirsasana II – core work

Sirsasana II to bakasana reps



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


Janu Sirsasana


Parsva Agnistambhasana



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!


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