Homecoming, Teaching in Manila

 

 

In a week I will be teaching here in Manila for the first time since my authorization by my teacher in India. I’m excited to be offering something here at last. To be honest, though, until recently, I was also a little nervous because, after all, coming home has a different weight and texture–in a similar way that returning to the US where I grew up, teaching in San Francisco during this year challenged some old ideas, for example, the little voice that asked deep inside my head: was I good enough to hold a space like Mysore SF, had I been gone too long from America to be able to relate? Since my time of teaching regularly in the Philippines, Manila and Boracay (where I used to live and teach) has become a popular port for visiting teachers, some of whom are senior teachers with a lifetime of experience. It rattles the ego some.

What I’ve learned along the way, however, is it’s not about my years of experience, nor is it about my level of practice, it’s not about the past years of travel and teaching in different countries–though all are fairly substantial factors (says the ego, once again).

The hard truth is it’s not about me at all. Being able to teach, here or anywhere, is about honoring this practice. It’s about having the humility to get out of the way so this intrinsically intelligent system can do what it is designed to do. It’s about supporting the bodies, the wills, the hearts of those who engage in this practice, who also put their trust in it. It’s about breathing, speaking, moving and acting not through my own wants or needs, but through the lineage, through the parampara. 

This connection between us and our teacher is alive and potent. For years, I have been listening to Sharath Jois speak on this topic during conference in India, believing that I understood it. And to a point, I did.

The last year, however, has been a great lesson in surrendering to the lineage: practicing in Mysore, India at the start of the year injured, assisting Sharath (upon his recommendation that it would be strengthen my back), assisting Magnolia Zuniga–one of the strongest female teachers I’ve encountered so far–and learning from her and sharing in a space like Mysore SF, where parampara is practically tangible. I have had to let go of so much to find that I am now, ironically, more myself…

I don’t feel anxious now.  I feel relieved that I don’t need to “perform” or “expect.” The word that comes to mind, instead, is “trust.”

I trust that this practice will do, through me, what it needs to do. I trust that it works, even when it feels awkward. I trust that the more I let go of my ideas of what it is to be an ashtanga teacher, the more I will be able to teach with authenticity and integrity. I trust that the students that need to come and study will come. I trust that it’s going to be a good week of seriously real, full-hearted, and honest practice.

Root, Seed & Grow. If you are in the Philippines, I will be teaching a week of Traditional Ashtanga Yoga between Monday, January 4 and Saturday, January 9, 2016, 6:30-9am. Surya Fitness and Yoga is located on the 4th Floor, Medicard Lifestyle Center Bldg., 51 Paseo de Roxas, Corner, Sen. Gil J. Puyat Ave, Makati. 

Join our Facebook Event Page for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/199794560354285/ 

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The Infinite Room

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Morning breaks through the windows the last Sunday that I have come in to open Mysore SF. There are no students yet. The sun’s glow is diffused by white curtains. The room feels soft, somewhat malleable.

I have gotten to know this space well over the last seven and a half months I have been here. As a teacher, I have observed if from the first moments of the morning, when it is still dark, the heaters have just started to warm the room, it is a little like a womb, and the room feels like a space where the world asleep and the world awake meets.  I see one mat, then two. I see how the room ignites, how the first round of surya namaskara is like a match being struck against the rough edge of a match box. How the students who come in one by one, or two by two, between 5:45 to 6:15 are like kindling to a flame. By 7am, it is warm and toasty. By 7:30, it’s a proper fire, we are cooking in here. Come 8am, the whole room is aglow. By 8:30, the remaining practitioners have the feel of glowing embers.

The room is an oven, sometimes it is a furnace. It is a kitchen and a laboratory. On other days, or for another person, it is something else. It can be an arena for heroes battling their multiple-headed demons. It can be a safe room or a therapist’s office. Other times it is a temple or solitary confinement. It can be a heaven, a purgatory, a hell. It is a stage where countless scenes are played, replayed, and eventually deconstructed.

It is a road, which, at first, might seem like a short road that goes nowhere, but eventually becomes a long journey which seems to have no end–sometimes it goes somewhere while other times it feels like it goes nowhere once again, and that either way is ok because what matters is that you’re walking the road, nothing else.

And then there are days it’s just a sweaty room full of sweaty people and you wonder why you are there at all. And then there are days where it’s still this weird sweaty room but you kind of just love it.

For every person everyday is different.

A Mysore space is not an ordinary room. It is a field of infinite possibilities.

I will miss this particular Mysore room, the room itself, yes, but also the energy of it, the countless stories that unfold here, the stories of courage, raw grit, the personal battles, the moments–some so small, they could go undetected–of incredible vulnerability, those precious breaks where something shifts. Of course, this happens in all Mysore rooms where real practice and teaching is happening. But for me, Mysore SF is where I have been lucky enough to live it these months; to have a home in such a space is a gift. 

Life goes on in this infinite room. For Holiday schedules: http://www.mysoresf.com. As for me, I head to the Philippines soon and will be teaching there January 4-9, 2016 at Surya in Makati, Manila before making my way to India in February.