This week I am blessed to be in may favorite part of the country the San Francisco Bay Area. I am immensely grateful it takes a mere 20 minutes [via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)] to arrive a matter of steps from the Yoga Kula studio where I am partaking in Anusara yoga all week. Back in the DC area my weekly venture to move my body through asanas (the physical postures of yoga) and be inspired by a teacher versed in Anusara is a much longer journey. It takes me either a trip of 40 miles to drive there and back, or 240 minutes round trip via metro to reach a teacher I love to learn from, Naomi. My immersion into this form of yoga began seven years ago. At times I have only been able to access a couple Anusara classes each year due to my living location. While in Texas my closest option was three hours away (one way)!
Why go so far? Why not take just another type of yoga class? When I have something profoundly different from my past experiences available why would I not? The principles of Anusara yoga offers me a depth and full spectrum experience. It fully embodies me from a somatic to
mental level. Each class brings me a new understanding of my body and its’ capabilities, which to me is miraculous since I started studying yoga over two decades ago.
I began the path of yoga with a college credit course while attending San Francisco State University to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. Ironically as I browsed a bookstore yesterday, near Yoga Kula on 16th street, I found Lar Caughlan’s book (my first teacher). My own copy, a required text for the class, almost two decades ago, still sits on my shelf at home. Sometimes I open the pages and read the notes I made to myself as a new yogini. Since my innocent start I’ve taken classes and workshops across the yoga gamut. In 1999, after traveling through Nepal for a month, I ventured down to the neighboring country of India. Within 24 hours of my arrival in the land of Sadhus and mystics I spontaneously committed myself to a month long yoga training at the Sivananada-Vedanta ashram at the southern most point of India. This journey east was a gift to myself for finishing my master’s degree and the many months of creatin
g and finishing my thesis. I had no plans of studying anymore and looked forward to respite from it. Nonetheless, on the ashram I plunged into everything offered from the study of the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian text, to the embodiment of the eight yogic limbs. The six hours of asana each day, long meditative sits and learning prayers in Sanskrit filled my days and my soul. I even took part in a ritual to receive my own mantra. My spirit swelled the day I consented to devote myself to a prayer for peace. The day long ritual dipped me into a deep silence I had no idea I was capable of achieving. The whole experience compounded my new comprehension of a yogic life. Upon my return to the US I shared all I had learned with individuals going through cancer treatments at hospitals, conferences and local venues. Even still I felt my confidence in my own postures and assisting others was not solid. It always felt as if there was more I could do for myself, and those who entrusted me to teach them.
So when I opened myself to Anusara years later it spoke to
y heart, my soul and my body as a renewed vision of what yoga can be. Poses that seemed unattainable before started to take on possibility. Now I find myself continually discovering new abilities in my strength, stamina and awareness. Just today I was able to go from Vasisthana to Wild Thing without any pain in my shoulder. None! I say it again just to confirm this brand new experience of my somatic self. For the first time I was able to engage my shoulder blades so deeply onto my back that my arm steadied my upper body and assisted the other balance point, the side of my foot, to hold me up. I concentrated my energy into the center of my body and expanded outward, this is known as Organic Energy in Anusara. My teacher of the day, Jana Kilgore, acknowledged my accomplishment by noting, “to move without pain is something to celebrate.” Truly it is, especi
ally when one has no idea that being without it is even possible in this lifetime.