Self Practice is ON! Spirit Yoga


Self Practice is ON! Spirit Yoga

This week, Spirit Yoga Mysore is on self practice mode. Students are helping each other. Cheering each other on. Practicing as usual, with their whole hearts, bodies and minds. With or without a teacher.

By next Sunday, authorized Level II teacher Veronique Tan will lead the program on. Just one week after my departure.

Before I arrived in Osaka two months ago, I asked my friend Ursula Scott, who was the first mysore teacher in Spirit Yoga, for her advice. She told me this: share everything you know!

And so it ended last Sunday, later that planned, as I poured as much as I could of myself, of what I knew into a preparation workshop class for Self Practice, knowing that for a week, students would be directing their own energy, exploring the joys and difficulties of self practice without a teacher.

It was an odd end. I felt empty. But now, after a few days rest, I feel so full from that last class, and from the two months of sharing with such amazing, attentive, and loving students. I’m excited for them, for the opportunity to learn with Veronique.

But also for the chance for them to explore the depths of practice on their own–this is where so many jewels and treasures lie, in the solitary depths of self practice.

Breathing with Sound


Breathing with Sound

Ashtanga, Guruji used to say, is a breathing practice.

Yesterday, the sound of the breath just drew me into the practice, the pulsation of the inhale and the exhale, the sacred moment of silence as the gap in between is naturally observed.

It was not even my own practice, but those of the students around me. It was not even my own breath, not in the beginning.

But it tugged at me until I, too, was breathing that barely audible sound of air slowly passing through the throat.

Together we were a chorus of sound made up of different paces, different qualities, different syncopations. Some were fast, while others were slow. Some had heavy billowing breaths, while others had soft or shallow breaths.

For me, as I kept my watch over mysore class, I felt the room. For others, they felt their bodies, the postures, or even more subtle internal energies.

Call it ujaii, breathing with sound, Darth Vader’s softer cousin… What it’s called doesn’t matter as much as what it does, this sound track of practice.

Light Changes


Light Changes

The mornings are starting to get darker in Osaka and the natural light usually streaming into the room at this hour was most definitely dim.

The practice, however, has its own light. It draws from a different source of power. Like the sun, yes. But also, unlike it.

It is life giving. Subtle. Illuminating. Warming. Powerful. It can be overpowering too if we’re not careful. It helps us see. And, at times, it can blind us. It deserves our utmost attention and respect.

As we practice, we generate the light of our hearts. When we practice skillfully, we can direct this light. With practice, we are never in the dark.

Build Foundation, Find Flow


Build Foundation, Find Flow

September 28, 2013. My first workshop in Osaka, Japan. May there be more in the future!

It was a quick two and a half hours lecturing on the tenets of yoga philosophy that make up the foundation of asana and experiencing tristhana (breath, posture/bandha, and drishti) in a variety of ways in an exploratory asana class.

Next Sunday, October 6, 3-5pm, we will be having a special workshop offering “Prepare for Self Practice,” which will go over principles of basic adjustments in the primary series as well as some framework for vinyasa and backbending.

There is a week gap between my departure from the mysore program here in Osaka and the arrival of Veronique Tan, the program’s new teacher.

The workshop is aimed at inspiring students to find the gifts and the joys of self practice, which is many many fold, during the interim.

The First Row


The First Row

In the mysore room, practitioners trickle in at the start of class. When the first row fills before the class officially starts, it often becomes one of those full-power kind of practice days.

Somehow, these early students set the pace, they warm the room, they get it going: a flow in which all the later currents can just pour into. And the studio, most of the time, fills–I think, attracted by the power of practice already brewing in the building.