So excited to be teaching two Sundays each month here in San Francisco. This Sunday will be our second class.
“Her open heart is a ballroom in which all of us can dance”
Gratefulness… New Moon Inner Dance at LaZone last night.
Cairo ID schedule next week:
Tuesday, 6 May * Shanti Yoga, Heliopolis
Wednesday, 7 May * On The Mat Zamalek
Thursday, 10 May * Ashtanga Yoga Cairo Zamalek
A process of knowing, being and doing. It’s a healing modality and a moving meditation. It is a question, an answer, a way to release blockages in the body. It is fluid and yet has no form. There are no rules. It can be static. It can be dynamic. Movement is optional. Your dance is your own; it will be whatever it needs to be.
To Book: 0101 348 0974
There’s a certain quality about the artfully decorated Espacio Vacio, where Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga classes are being held here in Barcelona, with it’s bursts of delightful design elements and color set against the spacious whiteness, that reminds me a little of one of the spaces where I was teaching in Cairo: the Zamalek studio Ashtanga Yoga Cairo–a beautiful little yoga oasis in the desert of crazy city life that is Cairo.
Each practice space is different and unique. With studios that are mostly dedicated to a particular school of yoga, the energy of that system has an energetic stamp on the interior. Each spot also vibrates with the energy of its locale, its stakeholders (the students and the teachers) and especially of its owner–particularly when that person is a yoga teacher themselves.
My friend Iman Elsherbiny (Ashtanga Yoga Egypt) teaches a 3-day-a-week evening Mysore program at Ashtanga Yoga Cairo. She set up a workshop for us to co-teach at AYC just as I’d arrived in Egypt. As we took the taxi into Zamalek, she said she was sure I would like it, that it was a very special space.
It was day 3 in Cairo. As we zoomed onto the Loop Road–my first trip out of El Maadi, it was a Friday and traffic was fairly light–I felt the massive scale of urban Cairo. Huge buildings emulating the dusty, rocky landscape. With the exception of a few brightly painted balconies and hanging laundry, there seemed to be an absence of color.
So, for someone like myself, who has either been living in India or squatting in various yoga spaces and alternative communities for the last three years, entering AYC was like taking a breath of fresh air.
It was a splash of India squeezed into a studio space. Color everywhere. In the front room, the waiting area/changing room/gathering place, the top of the walls were bordered with the pantheon of Indian deities, all dramatic and colorful. Everywhere there was some kind of eye-candy. Lots bright colors. Lots of art. Lots of quirky little treasures hanging on the walls or peeking out of nooks and crannies. Lots of everything. So very India, but also so very … I didn’t know exactly, but something else.
And then I met Mira and understood that she had infused her own artistic sensibilities into the place. A street artist, this spunky woman has been teaching ashtanga yoga in Cairo for nearly a decade. For me the space feels most complete when Mira and her dog Bindi are also present.
When possible, I would come and stay overnight after my own class on Monday night, so that I could practice with Mira the following Tuesday morning and enjoy the benefits of being a student, which after months of solitary self-practice is like manna from heaven. It makes me smile now to think of those too-few mornings enjoying Mira’s adept assistance along with her quirky sense of humor and natural yet very Mira-brand of motherliness. Bless her, she always offered me bananas and dates after practice.
And Bindi…well, Bindi would always make an appearance towards the end of practice. Sometimes insisting on sitting on my mat as I went for an inversion. Once, she lay down with me in shavasana and Mira draped a blanket over the both of us. Those were blissfully sweet and deep practices in Cairo, mornings that I could focus on my self and have someone as lovely as Mira support me.
Mira teaches mysore-style self practice Sunday to Thursday at Ashtanga Yoga Cairo. For updates on classes, see Ashtanga Yoga Cairo on Facebook.
Iman Elsherbiny will restart evening classes at AYC in February, see Ashtanga Yoga Egypt on Facebook for updates.
Ashtanga Yoga Egypt in Ashtanga Yoga Cairo, Zamalek, Evening Mysore Program 6:30pm
Practicing in the morning and in the evening are as different as night and day–or, rather, day and night.
The body is different. Having woken up from a night of sleep, the morning body is a little more stiff, sometimes: a lot! But then there’s a freshness in the morning practice. In the early evening, the body is warm, more flexible, but also more tired. There’s a certain depth to stretching and willingness to surrender after a full long day.
The mind is different, too. The morning mind is less cluttered, emptying out during sleep. In the evening, the mind can be churning from a day of activity, stress, work, etc…The opposite can also be true, the anticipation at the beginning of the day can also create turbulence in the mind, while the tired mind can at times relax more easily.
The energy, of course, is different depending on whether it is the start of the day or the end of the day. Morning is a jump start while evening is a wind down.
And while practice is most ideal in the morning–very early morning, as the sun rises (aghast! totally unreasonable, I know!), and the air is fresh and vibrant, prana (vital life energy) is up–it’s more important to just practice, to find the time to show up on your mat for your own personal well-being whether it’s in the morning, at noon or at night…
Classes in Zamalek and Maadi continue until December 15. I will be heading to Aswan for 2 yoga retreats, December 19-22 and 24-17 (there are still spots for the second retreat) at Fekra Cultural Center, followed by a stint teaching at Deep South at Marsa Alem to ring in New Year 2014.
Fully taking over Mysore Evenings at Ashtanga Yoga Cairo in Zamalek staring this evening.
Classes are 6:30-9:00pm; Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. Call 012 2275 8625 or 012 2371 7729 for address and directions.
Regular class schedule in La Zone, Maadi will start this Friday. Morning mysore class is Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday are 7:00-10:00am. Guided led class every Friday, 4pm. La Zone is located at 23A road 206, Degla Maadi, phone no: 0114 111 1949.
It was over two years ago when Iman Elsherbiny and I had our first real conversation at a social gathering in Gokulam. By then, we had been singing for at least a month or so in kirtan-s at Saraswathipuram, Mysore whilst practicing at the KPJAYI shala with Sharath.
Without knowing much about each other, we seemed to just click after sharing time and prana with the sound practice of chanting. And the idea of me one day coming to Egypt somehow floated up to the surface.
Fast-forward: Iman is a day away from her return to India and I’m here in Cairo, settling in, and slowly taking over Iman’s classes.
This first intense and surreal week has been a special one, packed to the brim, starting with a couple of weekend workshops here in Maadi and Zamelek where Iman and I have had a chance to work together.
I love working with Iman, who approaches teaching with a lot of sensitivity and good humor.
It has been a shakti powered week, from tag-team teaching the workshops and slowly turning over Iman’s regular classes.
I’ve come despite all the instability here in Egypt or maybe because of it. The way I see it, what better place to practice and share yoga, right in the thick of it, where balance is most needed.
Photo: Iman demonstrating technique behind urdhva dhanurasana during out workshop in Ashtanga Yoga Cairo in Zamelek.