Kirtan This Thursday

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Kirtan… I truly love this practice.

I love how singing together in a group invites us to embody divine energies: love, courage, openness, expansion. How it helps us breathe and builds community, creates understanding. In one such soulful/songful gathering in India some years ago I met this beautiful woman from Egypt, a teacher also, Iman Elsherbiny. And over the course of the two months we would see each other in practically every Kirtan gathering in Mysore, so blissed out, hardly exchanging a word. It’s amazing how the world works, how I return now to Egypt, my third trip in a year thanks to Iman’s support/healthy prodding.

What a pleasure it is to celebrate Amy’s new space The Shala here in Maadi with song, the very thing that drew us together. If you’re in Cairo, please join us! If you’re not, throw us a blessing-filled “Aum” from a distance

We kick things off at 9pm, Thursday, October 16. The Shala is located at Road 6, 200 — directly in front of the South American embassy. 

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The Wonder

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We seek out these moments, where we stand before these massive monuments of wonder. And we stand with awe, speechless, feeling the thing that appears greater than the self.

We want to be shaken. We want to stir that something deep within the self. We want awakening.

In the beginning, our yoga journey is filled with such a-ha! moments. But later, over time, as practice steadies, they come with less frequency. And we long, oh how we long for such moments, for such great openings.

What if we looked upon the everyday with as much wonder? What if we celebrated each and every seemingly insignificant moment? What if we felt the wonder of the act of waking up each morning, felt the reverence of standing before our mats with the sun shining in, the sanctity of simply moving, of simply breathing, of simply being, of simply living, glorifying the wonder of everyday things?

PHOTO: Dashoor’s Bent Pryamid. My visit there last week reminded me of the power and mystery of life, but also reminded me that I should look at my life, in all of it’s greatness and ordinariness, with a similar awe–how amazing it is to be alive, to simply be. Looking forward to a month of weekly classes at The Shala here at Maadi in Cairo starting tomorrow till the end of October.

Being a Student

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The last three weeks in New York has been a special time to simply be a student. To relish the experience of the morning ritual, the anticipation of standing before one’s mat, to bow down and be guided by one’s teacher.

It’s been a joy to experience this in various ways.

With my teacher Sharath Jois as his US tour swept through New York for a week of led intermediate classes. Where my body, used to a self-paced practice, was pushed to move through intermediate in crisp unison to a symphony of asana postures counted to the beat of such a master conductor.

With a final week, practicing at Ashtanga Yoga New York at Broome Street, where I enjoyed the treat of practicing with others, with the support of such experienced teachers, with the rich history of ashtanga yoga on the walls, and with the blessings of the Hindu deities housed in the space which also doubles as a temple.

And with my sister and family in the week in between, foregoing practice for the rigors of wedding schedule. It was a different kind of sweet surrender, that week of intense and beautiful family gatherings celebrating my sister’s forthcoming nuptials, and finally with witnessing my sister exchange vows with an equally beautiful person.

There are many ways to practice, many different kinds of unions, many different opportunities to be a student.

Be willing, when you are called. Surrender to it. Study well and learn from each and every experience.

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Egypt, Return to the Desert

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Ushtrasana, Camel Posture in the sand dunes of the White Desert last April 2014.

Landing in Egypt today marks a return to work. Here are some of the exciting things lined up for the next couple of months:

* October Classes at The Shala & Ashtanga Yoga Egypt
* October 30-November 2 Ashtanga in Aswan w/ Iman Elsherbiny at Fekra Cultural Center
* November 9-14 Nun Center Detox & Yoga Retreat
* November 19-23 Siwa Yoga Adventure w/ Iman & Freedom Travelers 

More are in the pipeline. Will post info as soon as.

If you would like to join or would like more information, email at kaz.castillo@gmail.com.