Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year! I love this time of year because it is a great time of closing and opening, of finishing and renewing. The ritual New Year’s Eve has so much potential power as people across the world make their resolutions, celebrate the end and start of things. Ask yourself, what do you want to manifest? What beautiful glorious thing/person/event are you inviting into your life this eve, this year!

So ends 2014. Let it end. Be thoughtful about the highlights and the lessons. Raise your glasses to the teachers and the fellow journeymen and then let them go. We give a moment to the old in order to make space for the new. It is a new year, just let it.

Blessings abound. Let us be ready to receive them!

Advertisements

The Shala Seeding

20141218-171932-62372945.jpg

It’s my second to last self practice morning in Cairo and I walk through the Shala door, instantly struck by heat–the unmistakable warmth that comes from consciously moving bodies, from that deep breath with sound. I look down and am excited by the numerous pairs of footwear, more than what could fit on the shoe rack behind the door. I cannot help but smile in excitement, “it’s really happening!”

The Shala is the new yoga space, opened by my friend Iman Elsherbiny and her partners Lina Almari and Fadi Antaki, which partly drew me back to Cairo this last time. A little known yoga treasure in this part of Cairo, The Shala boasts of the only regular traditional Mysore program in Maadi (Mysore is a self paced way of instruction that empowers students to own their practice, to move consciously with breath, to learn the practice that is perfect for their body at the present moment) while also offering children’s yoga, TM meditation courses, kirtan, and vinyasa flow classes.

It’s been a joy to see the how each day is different, how the classes are filling up over the months. And then to come into a room that’s heating up, well, it’s pretty exciting stuff.

Of the teachers within the Ashtanga yoga tradition, I fall into a particular breed that move, from one place to another, covering programs, guest teaching–I do my part in the propagation of the yoga practice, spreading yoga dust with my traveling yoga mat.

However, a different kind of work awaits the teachers like Iman, brave enough to open shop and hold space on a regular basis (the gold standard amongst Ashtanga teachers)–they are like seeds, rooting themselves into the ground so that they can build a proper foundation in which a space as well as people’s practices can grow. It means overriding the wanderlust, it means showing up each morning no matter what. This is where the magic of daily practice happens, under the care of those willing to seed.

It’s been a very special time, this seeding of The Shala. It’s been really special to see this space at its infancy, to see it at so many “firsts”. I look forward to seeing it grow.

PHOTO: Mysore mornings at The Shala: seeding, growing! Mysore classes with Iman are 8-11am Sunday to Wednesday. The Shala is located at no 6, Road 200, Maadi.

The Big and Awesome

20141123-132638-48398304.jpg

How to sum up the last two months living and teaching in Egypt?

I think this photograph of the Great Sand Sea from my Siwa retreat kind of helps express how I feel about my time in Egypt: the expansiveness of being here, how it just opens things up to the point where there appears to be no limits; the odd pair of peace and bewilderment; the wonder and awe and that just insane “are you for freaking real?” feeling it inspires–along with the sense of unfathomability of its existence.

For me, this is a place where yoga inevitably happens (I think this is true for everywhere, but I am drawn to it here particularly), where the challenges of the day to day pushes one into the karmic battlefield, where the way of the peaceful warrior becomes a tool for survival, where stillness and quiet awaits but only beneath layers and layers of the rubble of civilizations, human chaos, and political instability–but it is there, and the moments of touching it is so incredibly precious, like looking out into the endless Sand Sea.

There is no summing up life. Just like there is no end to the yoga practice. It continues to grow, evolve, there is no end, no boundaries, no limits.

Very grateful for the last couple of months. Special thanks to my host and dear yoga sister Iman (Amy) Elsherbiny, who by opening up her world to me, has helped me open myself. Am very happy to share in her new space The Shala in Maadi. Thank you to Shala partners Lina Almari and Fadi Antaki, beautiful to be seeing you practice! Practice, practice, good things are coming!

To Nun Center, particularly Nada Iskander and Hana Holdijk, for giving me a Zamalek base, and for trusting me to lead their retreat once again.

To my retreat partners: Iman, Freedom Travellers (Yasmine Rifaat and Ahmed El Leisy) and Fekra Cultural Center (Mohamed Elbetity), thank you for the beautiful explorations. I am falling deeper in love with Egypt thanks to our work together.

And, last but not least, to all the students: you inspire me, thank you!

Till next we meet! Inshallah.

Stand with me

20141209-081837-29917135.jpg

Stand with me
Show up in the morning
Unroll your mat
As if you are unrolling
A new page of living
Perhaps with some apprehension
But mostly with joy
And excitement
Because everything is new again…

PHOTO: Nun Center Ashtanga workshop last weekend. Tonight’s 6:30pm class. It may be my last for sometime as I prepare to leave Cairo, but embracing that “lasts” come with “beginnings” Om Namah Shivaya!