Led Primary Time Machine

IMG_6511

Who has never wished to slow time down, or speed it up, or stop time altogether? It might be the stuff of science fiction, but what if I were to tell you that the ultimate time machine can be found on your yoga mat? I know, I know, it might seem like I’m peddling some strange siddhi, or yogic super power like time control. Well…yes…and no. It’s much more down to earth than all that.

Primary Series is the first series of the astanga method (there are 6 in all). Mostly, ashtanga is practiced in a self-paced setting. One performs their postures according to their own breath and abilities. In such a room, you can have beginners doing just the most basic postures while others twist, fly and contort themselves into shapes that one might not think humanly possible. This way of teaching is supplemented by what we call Led Classes. In the later, students practice together led by a teacher who is calling out the asana names and brief but key instructions while counting each vinyasa (breath and its corresponding movement) so that students can develop a steady rhythm and a clean, undistracted yoga practice. It is a class where one’s mental and physical stamina is tested, while one is harmonized into one collective moving breath.

When I really started studying the count of the first series of ashtanga yoga, I started to become fascinated with how it played with units of time broken down into units of breath/movement or breath/stillness, and how it moved between the two states, each beat with its own number. Until that point, I’d never truly observed time. I didn’t even like numbers. Time happened to me. I waited for it sometimes. It escaped me at other times. Time is and was always there, while I engage in some activity, conversation, even while doing nothing at all. Led Primary changed my relationship with time.

The succinct sanskrit count which is seamlessly coordinated with vinyasa (movement and breath together), drishti (gazing point), and āsana (posture)–what we call tristāna, the three pillars of the practice–allows us to simply be in the moment, to be in time. As we experience time in such a focused and deliberate manner, we learn to just be: be in the inhale or the exhale, be the posture, be in the challenge if its difficult, be in the comfort if it’s easy. We learn to change, to shift quickly, to experience time which is always changing. We learn to drive ourselves, to get past the potential distractions in order to focus on the moment. We learn to be imperfect because we might not always be able to breathe as long, or move as quickly as is asked of us–and because that moment/breath/posture passes in a flash, we also learn to let go, to take things easy, to move on because there’s no time to waste. Every moment is really precious.

The ashtanga yoga method as a whole has done so much for me, it’s hard to explain how transformative this odd succession of postures strung together with breath can really be. It’s scope is so very wide in my life. But with led primary, learning to count, learning to surrender to the count is a very specific and concentrated experience. I love it more now than ever. The more time I spend with it, the more time it gives me. Time really slows for me between the beginning and the end of each breath, so much happens, and yet the whole series can be done in a flash. In that hour and a half, we can learn to expand and compress time. Ok, not time itself, which is constant, but definitely our experience of time evolves. We learn to be present, which in this day and age is pretty challenging.

I got married recently, and it’s true what every one says that the build up to a wedding can be so big and then the whole crazy thing is done in a flash. I wanted very much to be present and to enjoy this incredibly special day in my life. I remember when I started walking this incredibly long beach aisle to our odd shaped ceremonial arch, I decided to just breathe and take it one step at a time, there was nothing else to do, no one else to be with, nowhere to be other than right there and then. It did go by all too quickly as all greatly lived moments do, but I can also say that I savored it. I can’t imagine I could fall so easily in that space, slowing myself down, without having that blueprint from the practice.

It must be said that led primary can be very difficult and it might take a lot of practice to even start to observe each breath especially when someone is leading you through it. But that too comes with the practice.

And no, it’s not that kind of time machine. You can’t dial back to whatever year and redo whatever wrong. But Led Primary does help us tune into the world in front of us, into that precious yet fleeting present so that we can simply enjoy it. It helps us live our best possible moment, one we can happily look back on. And it helps us to continue to move on.

 

Led Primary this Friday at 8:30am at Nūn Center, 4 Shafik Monsour. Mysore Zamalek has led classes twice a month. If you aren’t familiar with the series, please message us to find out the best way to start an ashtanga practice. 

Advertisements

October Schedule Up

September has had us hopping here in Mysore Zamalek and we are happy to welcome back returning students and introduce a whole new group of students to the practice.

Due to some irregularities in our schedule, we won’t be taking in new students until 14 October. And we thank incoming students for their patience. We are also starting our next Intro Course in the October 26, this special month pass for beginners and refreshers include 3 special classes where we speak more on the theory and foundational principles of the practice.

Please note that between September 30 and October 11, I will be teaching from 7am to 9 only, the room is however open for self practice until 10:30am. October 3, 4, 7 and 8 we have no instruction though the room is open for self practice. October 9 is moon day and there is no class.

For more info on joining Mysore sessions and/or the Intro Course, message us at mysorezamalek@gmail.com. We are located at Nūn Center, 4 Shafiq Mansour, Zamalek, Cairo.

And We Are Back

Classes are back in session here in Cairo. We are happy to get things started this September. It’s a full month.

On top of our regularly schedules classes, Sunday to Thursday 7-10:30am and our two led classes on September 14 and 28 at 8:30am, we are starting our second Ashtanga Yoga Introduction Course, a 4-week course that includes 3 workshop weekend classes and unlimited Mysore classes for the month. It’s a great program for starting or refreshing your yoga practice.

We’ve added “Mysore+”, additional self practice sessions on September 7 and 21, these classes are for quiet exploration of your practice. I will be available in the room while self practicing myself. It will be a nice time to practice together.

Mysore Zamalek classes are at Nūn Center, 4 Shafik Mansour, Zamalek, Cairo. We accept drop ind from experienced practitioners, please contact us to make an appointment if you are a new student. Our email is mysorezamalek@gmail.com.

The Thread of Practice

Parampara, the unbroken line of lessons from teacher to student, is one of the most striking things about our yoga practice. It is a thread that runs through the practice, that holds it together. Many question this, especially these days. But to say that this has no part in modern day Ashtanga yoga, I think, would be a step in the wrong direction. While I often have long stretches of solo self-practice, I could not do this without a teacher.

Is this system perfect? Well, is our practice perfect? It is all just a process. We’re constantly learning, constantly evolving and innovating.

As I take time off from teaching my own students for the next couple of months to visit my own teacher at the source of Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India this thread becomes ever more present, ever more felt, ever more experienced.

Yoga becomes alive in such learning spaces. I learned long ago that I had to give up my aspirations to teach. Period. To be a student is one of the greatest gifts, to be in a position to receive, to learn, to grow, and to be guided when undergoing such a precious journey is such a blessing. And while I feel the separation between myself and those who I meet daily on the mat, I know that for now it is time for me to learn, to nourish my own practice, and that the long arms of these two months ahead will extend far longer than one might imagine.

Mysore Zamalek is closed from today till early August. We look forward up restarting with you then!

Practice Self Forgiveness

img_5515

Photo by Michael Tutaan, Boracay, Philippines

The great irony, perhaps, of diving deeper into this physical practice is how metaphysical it becomes, the more advanced the posture, the more subtle the mind and the heart. How, for example, taking one’s leg behind the head is less about the openness of hips, the ability to internally rotate the leg while lifting the center and, with it, the back–though all fundamentally a part of the process–than it is about cultivating patience and perseverance.

Once in a while, I ask myself, what have I learned? What is new, especially when there are no new postures to investigate or obsess about? It has been two years, almost, since I’ve studied with my teacher in Mysore and my practice seems to be greatly about establishing a steady rhythm, building strength and getting comfortable. Some days are tougher than others, I must admit, developing strength seems to have come with loosing a certain amount of bendiness. And establishing a life in one place, as I have done this year in Egypt, comes with an entirely different set of challenges that sometimes get in the way of the smooth flow of practice.

For me, I think one of the greatest lessons of cozying up to the intermediate series these last two years is learning to forgive myself.  I may have not overcome my own expectations, they creep up on me still while on the mat (not to mention off the mat!), but it’s never so hard as before. Mostly, because I’m not as hard on myself as I was before. Often, I find myself humorously observing the struggles, the days I ate pasta and how that feels in titthibhāsana, the days I can’t get a good grip on the mat in karandavāsana and fall, the days I get on the mat late and I’m so tired that I’m practically crawling through the practice. It’s all ok, I can’t always be my best physically though I can still put my best effort forward based on the conditions that I am given and that I allow myself.

We cause so much undue suffering with unforgiving thoughts: why can’t I do it, what’s wrong with me, why am I not good enough? Such fluctuations of the mind are debilitating, they stall us, not just mentally but physically too, they keep us from moving forward. And thus the relationship between the mind and the body continues. So, instead, let’s be kind to ourselves, let’s be sweet and also honest. Be honorable, admit when it’s hard but do not harden because of it. Forgiveness in itself is a deep and fulfilling practice.

This May in Mysore Zamalek

So excited to start Ramadan sessions, one of my favorite teaching seasons in Egypt. Unfortunately, I will be unable to complete Ramadan to full term this year as I am traveling back to India for short period of study.

But I am still happy to kick off the season and hopefully can prepare our students for self-practice time ahead. For more info on how to join the program, email me at mysorezamalek@gmail.com or we@nuncenter.com.

Yoga In Action Challenge

Title 2

Yoga In Action Challenge
Magnolia and I created this fun Instagram challenge in an effort to bring balance to our lives. From polarizing political news to interwebs drama, we found social media to be draining our time and energy. As an antidote, we thought it would be nice to bring attention and awareness to the other aspects of yoga and, at the same time, spread positivity and inspiration within our social media feeds.

With the support of  Webby Award-winning lifestyle site, Sonima.com, we are excited to launch our Yoga In Action Challenge. It’s a seven-day challenge featuring a a mix of seva (selfless service), svadhyaya (self-study), and dinacharya (self-care): all good things that make up a complete and integrated yoga practice. We hope this challenge brings you lightness, joy, and a sense of freedom.

Yours in service,
Kaz and Magnolia
Details:

-This is a seven day challenge

-Official Launch is Spring Equinox March 20th, 2018!

-Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate

-Information for the challenge will be up for the entirety of March here: Mysore SF and Mysore Zamalek. Information will also be available on Instagram handles @mysoresf @mysorezamalek and @livesonima

-Some challenges require preparations ahead of time. For example, day 6 volunteering at a least one hour at a local non profit may take some time to research and organize. I’ve used http://www.volunteermatch.org to help find ideas of where to volunteer. A google search works just as well.

-Participants, please post at least one image of your choosing each day. It can either show the work you’ve done or express the bhava (emotion or sentiment) of the challenge. Feel free to copy and paste Sonima’s image for the challenge of the day. We have also included illustrations by a fellow Ashtangi practitioner @andeb.art feel free to include her work as well.

-The more information you provide of your experience the better, but as always please do what feels natural and genuine.

-Make sure to include the following hashtags
#yogainactionchallenge  #yogainaction  #seva  #selflessservice  #svadhyaya  #selfstudy  #yogasutras  #morethanasana

-Here are some additional hashtag suggestions. Please include others you find appropriate:
#yoga  #selfcare  #8limbs  #eightlimbs  #yogabasics  #practicalpractice
#practicemakespractice

– In addition to #yogainaction, please hashtag the daily challenges specifically, i.e.
Day 1 #svadyaya, Day 2  #reachout, Day 3 #randomactofkindness, etc…


DAILY CHALLENGES:

Day 1 – Svadyaya, (Self-study) – The fourth niyama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras refers to studying the self through yogic scriptures, including this ancient work, plus  The Bhagavad Gita, and The Hatha Yoga Pradipika. For today’s challenge, start a book about yoga (no pressure to finish it in one day!) and as you go, make sure to reflect on its key messages. Does it resonate with you or with your practice? If not, how can you apply it to your own practice?

Alternative challenge: Given our modern-day lives perhaps we may not have time to delve into these ancient texts. In order to honor our particular situations, find an article about yoga online (check out Sharath Jois and Andrew Hillam‘s columns on Sonima.com) that helps you move toward self-realization.

Day 2 – Reach Out – We all have people in our lives—friends, family, loved ones—who,  for whatever reason, we are no longer in contact. Sometimes, we simply drift apart, while other times, we need to forgive or ask for forgiveness. Send a heartfelt email or letter to three of these people today.

Alternative challenge: If you’re not the next Marcel Proust and writing is not your thing, then a phone call or shared cup of tea will do just fine.

Day 3 – Random Act of Kindness – Aesop, a Greek fabulist and storyteller once said “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” Next time you’re standing in line for a coffee or tea, surprise someone behind you by buying theirs.

Alternative challenge: If you’re short on cash, help a stranger out by giving them a hand with their heavy bags at the grocery store. You could also leave a treat, a gift certificate or just a simple kind note in your neighbor’s mailbox. SURPRISE!

Day 4 – Social Media Sleep Mode – At the sake of biting the hand that feeds us, we’d like to call out that the average adult spends two hours a day on social media. Not just Americans, but people around the globe, too. It might seem counter-intuitive, but today, we suggest to turn off your phone or, at least, your social media accounts. Instead of spending two hours scrolling, see what other activity, big or small, you can do in that time. Who would you speak to in-person if you weren’t online chatting? What love-filled, real-life action might be replaced by liking a dozen pictures and videos online?

Alternative challenge: If a 24-hour digital sabbatical seems extreme to you, designate a time to check in the morning and again in the evening, keeping the time in between technology-free.

Day 5 – Nurture in Nature – Ayurveda, India’s ancient healing tradition, advises spending time in nature everyday. These days, we spend most of our time indoors, or in cars, or in cities. Nature is a salve for such modern-day living. Spend a portion of today outdoors: Go somewhere wild or lush, walk, sit, run or play, engaging the five senses with nature. If you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors for more than a day, here are 25 beautiful places in the world to find peace of mind: Sonima

Alternative challenge: If you are unable to get away, a 10-minute stroll in a nearby park or botanical garden will do wonders for your spirit.

Day 6  – Spirit of Service. Seva, or selfless service, is at the heart of the yoga tradition. This is where we take the practice off our own mats and into our communities. How can we contribute toward a greater good? Who around us needs assistance? Volunteer at an organization that supports a cause you believe in. Yoga is most present in these moments of true service.

Alternative challenge: In case there isn’t time to volunteer for a non-profit or social welfare organization, offer your time to someone you know who needs help. You could help a friend or acquaintance who needs to clean out an office or closet, edit a resume, or watch their kids for an hour. Help is always appreciated.

Day 7 – Share a meal – American restaurant critic, journalist, and author Craig Claiborne once said “Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.” For our last challenge, cook or bake a dish and give it to someone. You can either share a meal together with someone you know and love or you can gift this food to a stranger or someone in need.

Alternative challenge: If you’re no Julia Child or don’t have time to cook, why not invite someone out to one of your favorite restaurants or order something together at home. You could also bring your favorite cake or dessert to share with friends, coworkers, or acquaintances.

We hope that this challenge brings you what it has already brought us, even in its early planning stages: connection, community, an appreciation of the principles of yoga and the responsibility that comes with the teachings, and, most of all, the enthusiasm for the infinite ways we can live the yoga practice in our day-to-day lives. Thank you for joining us, we are excited to practice with you this first week of spring!

IMG-5952

Gracias a Beatriz Betancourt por su traducción al Espańol! 

Reto de Yoga en Acción

Magnolia y yo hemos creado este reto en Instagram, en un esfuerzo para traer equilibrio y balance a nuestras vidas. Encontramos que los medios de comunicación y las redes sociales, están desgastando nuestro tiempo y energía. Como antídoto, pensamos que sería bueno, poner atención y prestar conciencia, a otros aspectos del yoga. Y al mismo tiempo permear de positividad, nuestros pensamientos y nuestra comunicación con los demás.

Con la ayuda de Sonima.com, lanzamos en conjunto nuestro reto de Yoga en Acción. El cual nos tiene sumamente emocionadas, este reto consiste de siete días, presentando una mezcla de Seva servicio desinteresado, Svadhaya Autoestudio y Dinacharya auto cuidado. Las cuales conforman, una práctica integral de yoga. Deseamos que este reto, les traiga ligereza, felicidad y libertad.

Kaz y Magnolia

Detalles:

– Este es un retode7días

– Lanzamiento oficial 20 de marzo de 2018 equinoccio de primavera.

– Todos están invitados a participar.

– La información del reto se podrá encontrar durante todo Marzo en: Mysore SF y Mysore Zamalek. La información también se puede obtener en Instagram @mysoresf @mysorezamalek y en @livesonima.

– Algunos de los retos necesitan de preparación de antemano. Por ejemplo, el dia 6  debes ofrecer tú tiempo como voluntario en una organización local no lucrativa, por lo menos durante una hora. Esto puede tomar algo de tiempo para investigar y organizar. Yo he usado http://volunteermatch.org para ayudarme a encontrar ideas de sitios donde puedo ofrecerme como voluntaria. Buscar en google también puede ayudarte.

– Todos los participantes deben postear al día por lo menos una imagen de su elección. Esta imagen puede enseñar el trabajo que hayan hecho o expresar la bhava( emoción o sentimiento) del reto. Siéntanse libres de copiar y publicar la imagen de Sonima del reto del día. También hemos incluido ilustraciones de nuestra compañera y practicante ashtangi @andeb.art, de quien también pueden incluir su trabajo.

– Entre mas información nos compartan de su experiencia mejor, pero por favor siempre hagan lo que se sienta natural y auténtico .

– Asegúrense de incluir los siguientes hashtags:

#yogainactionchallenge#yogainaction#seva#selflessservice#svadhaya #selfstudy #yogasutras #morethanasana

– Aqui hay otras sugerencias de posibles hashtags y pueden incluir algunos otros que crean apropiados:

#yoga #selfcare #8limbs #eightlimbs #yogabasics #practicalpractice #practicemakespractice

– Ademas de #yogainaction, porfavor también especifiquen los hashtags de los retos diarios, por ejemplo.

– Dia 1 #svadyaya, Dia 2 #reachout, Dia 3 #randomactofkindness, etc.

Retos diarios:

Dia 1-Svadyaya (Auto – estudio)- El cuarto nyama del Yoga Sutra de Patanjali se refiere al estudio del ser por medio de las escrituras yogicas, las cuales incluyen este antiguo trabajo, así como el Bhagavad GITA Y el Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Para el reto de hoy, empieza a leer un libro acerca del yoga ( sin presión de tener que terminarlo en un día!) y conforme lo lees, asegurate de reflexionar en los mensajes clave. Se alinea con tu práctica? Si no, como puedes aplicarlo a tu propia práctica?

Reto Alternativo: Debido a nuestras vidas modernas tal vez no tenemos tiempo de sumergirnos en estos antiguos textos. Para poder respetar nuestras situaciones particulares, será suficiente encontrar un articulo de yoga en la red ( te recomendamos checar la columna de Sharath Jois y Andrew Hillam en sonima.com) el cual te pueda ayudar a moverte hacia la auto-realización.

Dia 2 Reach out. ( Acércate )Todos tenemos gente en nuestras vidas, amigos, familia, gente querida, con quienes por la razón que sea, hemos perdido contacto. A veces simplemente nos distanciamos, mientras que otras veces lo que necesitamos es perdonar o ser perdonados. Manda un cordial correo o una carta a tres de estas personas .

Reto Alternativo: Si no eres ningún Marcel Proust , y lo tuyo no es escribir, entonces una llamada por teléfono o simplemente compartir una taza de té con esa persona sera suficiente.

Dia 3 – Random Act of Kindness ( Acto de Bondad al azar) Esopo – Escritor griego conocido como el creador de la fábula una vez dijo “ningún acto de bondad, sin importar que tan pequeño sea , es desperdiciado”. La próxima vez que estés formado para comprar tu cafe o té, sorprende a la persona de atrás de ti comprándoles el suyo.

Reto Alternativo: Si te encuentras apretado de dinero, entonces ayuda a un extraño cargando sus pesadas bolsas del supermercado. También puedes dejar una pequeña sorpresa o un certificado de regalo o simplemente una nota en el buzón de tu vecino. SORPRESA!

Dia 4 – Social Media Sleep Mode ( A poner a Los medios de comunicación social en modo de dormir) no es que queramos morder la mano que nos alimenta, pero nos gustaría llamar su atención ya que un adulto pasa en promedio dos horas y media en redes de comunicación sociales. No solo los Americanos, pero la gente alrededor del mundo también lo hace. Podrá sonar contraintuitivo , pero hoy , sugerimos apagar tu teléfono o por lo menos tus cuentas de redes sociales . En vez de pasarte dos horas surfeando, ve que otra actividad , pequeña o grande, puedes hacer durante ese tiempo. A quien le platicarías en persona si no estuvieras chateando en linea? Que acción real , llena de amor puede estar siendo remplazada al darle like a docenas de fotos y de videos en linea?

Reto Alternativo: Si 24 horas sabáticas digitales te parece un poco extremoso, asigna un tiempo específico para checar en la mañana y otro tiempo en la tarde, pero absteniéndote de hacerlo el resto del tiempo.

Día 5. Nurture in Nature (Nútrete de la Naturaleza) El Ayurveda ,la antigua tradición curativa Hindu , recomienda pasar tiempo todos los días en la naturaleza. Estos días pasamos la mayor parte de nuestro tiempo adentro, en nuestros coches o en la cuidad. La Naturaleza es un calmante para nuestras vidas modernas. Pasa una porción del día en la Naturaleza. Ve algún lugar donde puedas sentarte, caminar o correr para que puedas sumergir tus cinco sentidos en la Naturaleza. Si piensas disfrutar de la Naturaleza por mas de un día, aquí te recomendamos 25 lugares donde puedes encontrar paz: Sonima.

Reto Alternativo: Si no puedes viajar, caminar 10 minutos en algún parque cercano o jardín botánicos. Esto será suficiente para elevar tu Espíritu.

Día 6- Spirit of Service (Servicio Desinteresado). Seva o servicio desinteresado , está en el corazón de la tradición de yoga. Aquí es donde llevamos la práctica de nuestro tapete a nuestras comunidades. Como contribuir para el bien mayor? Quienes de nuestro alrededor necesitan ayuda? Ofrécete como voluntario en una organización que soporte la causa de tu elección. Yoga está más presente en los momentos de servicio.

Reto Alternativo. Si no tienes tiempo de ofrecerte como voluntario en una sociedad no lucrativa ofrece tu tiempo a alguien que lo necesite. Puedes ayudar algun amigo o conocido a limpiar su oficina o su closet, corregir su ensayo, o cuidar a sus hijos. La ayuda siempre es apreciada.

Día 7 – Share a meal (Comparte una comida ). El periodista y gastrónomo , Craig Claiborne, dijo : “Cocinar de niño es un juego, y un placer para el adulto “. Para nuestro último reto , cocina un platillo y regálaselo a alguien. Puedes compartir una comida con alguien que conozcas y aprecias o darla a una persona necesitada.

Reto Alternativo. Si no eres un experto en la cocina como Julia Child, o simplemente no tienes tiempo para cocinar , solo invita a alguien a cenar o comer contigo a tu restaurante preferido o simplemente ordena comida y disfrutarla en compañía de alguien en tu casa. También puedes traer tu postre favorito y compartirlo en el trabajo con amigos, conocidos o compañeros de trabajo.

Esperamos que este reto les traiga lo que nos ha traído a nosotros desde que empezamos a planearlo: conexión, comunidad, y apreciación por los principios del Yoga,, pero sobretodo el entusiasmo infinito de las diversas maneras en que nosotros podemos vivir y practicar Yoga en nuestra vida diaria. Gracias por acompañarnos y estamos muy entusiasmadas de practicar con ustedes esta primera semana de Primavera.