Yoga of Climbing

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Yoga of Climbing

For a moment there is only the mountain and me.
No, not even the mountain, not even Montserrat, epic as she is.

Just the rock. And me.
There is no hard place.

Just deep concerted presence,
the sensation of hanging by the edge,
and the complete absence of all else.

Nothing is important. Not the distance below,
not the incredible expansive landscape behind me,
not the meters above to the top, reaching the end of the line.

There is no space or time for thoughts,
or assessments or judgements.
There is no room for fear.

There is only the rock. And me.
There is no hard place.

These are the moments in which yoga happens.


Practice on and off the mat. IN-studio classes still ongoing. Will continue to cover for Paz Muñoz of Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga until March 7, Friday, this week. 

Photo: Taken by my friend and first-ever climbing coach Joan de Arcanye. So grateful to him and his friend Micki for taking me to Montserrat two Saturdays ago (went up a 6a+, up to 22 meters, yikes!). Gracias, Muchas Gracias! Me encantada!

Snakes & Ladders, The Game of Practice

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Surely as we develop strength and flexibility, both in the body and in the mind, the practice should get easier. Right?

Practice doesn’t always work that way; it isn’t black and white; it isn’t so straightforward.

Since last week, for example, I’ve been struggling with kapotasana (pidgeon pose), a posture that I had thought I’d gotten to know, gotten comfortable with. Kapo and I made friends, I thought…

But between deepening my relationship with my leg behind the head and the winter weather here in Barcelona (it’s mild I know, but I am have been living many many many years in the tropics), what was once manageable has gotten a whole lot harder. In fact, backbending in general, which I really love, has changed so dramatically over the last two weeks, it’s been startlingly humbling.

I realize, however, that I have a choice: I could despair, I could get frustrated or angry, I could give up this crazy leg behind the head business and preserve the postures that I’d worked so hard  for, that I was admittedly very attached to–the later of which may be one of the reasons, along with tight hips, why it’s taken me so log to get here, this awkward place–

Or I could just practice; practice with acceptance that my body is adapting and that it’s not always easy; practice with patience that these openings take time; practice with understanding that moving forward sometimes comes with its share of backsliding–that practice is an interesting game of snakes and ladders; practice with trust, with faith in this system which has just about turned around every limited thought I have even had about the bounds of my own physical body; practice with love, showing up everyday with an open heart and mind…

Guruji, Pattabhi Jois, said it best: “Practice, practice, all is coming…”

PHOTO: This photo–like practice, like life–taken in “black and white” is full of subtleties in tone and shades. We will be talking more about the struggles that come with practice on the Sunday, March 1 workshop on the Bhagavad Gita, Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga, Barcelona. More details on www.pazzifica.com.

Full-ness

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Full-ness

This is a time to fill your cup and drink.
Drink as much as you want,
feel free to quench your thirst.
Like the moon, this cup is
is always full,
is never empty.
PHOTO: 14 Febrero 2014, Full Moon & Valentine’s Day. Fitting for a day of fullness to come during a celebration of love. Full on, full power Mysore-class schedule this week. Mornings are Monday-Friday 7am-9:30am. Evenings Monday/Wednesday 6-8pm; Tuesday/Thursday 6:30-8:30pm.

Poco a Poco

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Poco a Poco

“Poco a poco” is a Spanish phrase that I’ve used noticeably a lot in class here in Barcelona. Translated in English it means “little by little.”

I’ve used it in all sorts of contexts, referencing the pace that we learn to practice, the depth in which the postures are taken, the time it takes for the body to open, the steps one takes as we move forward in practice.

The essence of the words, however, are the same. With practice, we want to go slowly, take a little at a time, savoring each soulful step. This is a sound way to practice.

PHOTO: Panoramic view of the Espacio Vacio, the daily setting for Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga mysore classes here in Gracia, Barcelona. I take time with Marta in the end. After a month of practice, she is learning janu sirsasana. It’s a joy to teach the series in this way. It feels really right to be able to help someone grow their practice slowly with a lot of care and love over a period of time.

The Mysore Movie

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The Mysore Movie

The mysore space is like a movie. The independent kind with its own special narrative woven into one frame, a unified theme: practice.

Each mat contains a different story, a different protagonist. A different antagonist too. Some are dramas, others are comedies, and since this is ashtanga, the thriller and action variety are very much alive in the mix.

I am not the director, though I come to assist here and there. Somehow, I have been tasked to piece the montage together, to hold the space in which all the stories can run their course, tell their tales.

Really, though, each story is independently created. And together, as a whole, it is a collaborative process, act of co-creation.

And like many art house films, it does not have a typical ending. It just goes on and on…epic little stories, both continuous and totally new each and every morning!

PHOTO: Second day of the month of February here at Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga, Barcelona. It’s always exciting to see the room fill at the start of the month. It’s a joy to see more and more of the regulars recommitting to regular practice.

Naked Truth

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There are times that when I get to the end of practice and there is only me, the mat, and an empty room.

For a moment, nothing else, no one else exists. Everything has fallen away, shifted from the mind and body, dropped during a series of movements, or melted away by the breath. If it doesn’t drop away so easily, the practice finds a way to peel it back or to pull it out. Weight is shed.

And in the end, there’s this feeling of lightness, of nakedness. Beautifully, wonderfully naked, it is easy to sit with myself.

Photo: Last student, for the morning session, Alejandro coming into finishing sitting postures. Morning mysore practice is Monday to Friday, 7am-9:30am here in Pazzifica * Ashtanga Yoga, Espacio Vacio, Plaza Verreina.