Spirit(ed) Inner Dance

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It’s amazing how a great deal of work, deep excavation can happen so quietly.

Inner dance can be wild, there can be a great deal of movement and noisemaking.

Likewise, it can take on the subtle work. Participants dive inwards. The shifts are are massive tremors underneath the surface, with only some signs above ground. Facial fissures telling tales of secret journeys, openings. Release comes in tears.

My experience here in Japan is that inner dance, which is evocative but profoundly quiet.

Last Sunday’s ID was no exception. Felt particularly blessed to work with participants who I have been teaching nearly everyday for the last month. A Mysore program has it’s own special alchemy. Trust is there. So is the willingness to go deep. Feeling blessed that one tool can help support the other. That ultimately the goal is the same, remembering who we really are.

PHOTO: Sacred Inner Dance Circle last Sunday, 27 July.

The next scheduled ID here in Spirit Yoga Osaka is Sunday, August 31, 11:30am-1pm.

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Oh, My! How They Grow!

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IMG_4748I recently came home to Manila after a year of travel and teaching. The most striking of changes were seeing my nieces and godchildren, two of whom were newborns when I left the Philippines. I was shocked and delighted to see them walking, talking (though the words are not formed yet).

Returning to Osaka after nearly nine months, I feel a little similar, seeing how things have changed and how the program has grown.

It was a beautiful and easy re-entry to Spirit Yoga last week, as I assisted Veronique between Tuesday and Thursday. I loved seeing some of the older students with whom I had worked with grow deeper in their practice. And I was thrilled to see how many new faces there were also. It is a real joy to see one’s practice evolve. It is likewise so heart warming to see a whole program become bigger, more robust.

It’s a real pleasure to be back. It’s an honor to hold this space once again, in the teacher’s absence, this time Veronique Tan, who has been guiding the program here since October 2013. I feel blessed and inspired to see how much a program can grow!

PHOTO: Thursday’s class was an all time high: 27 practitioners. We had to draw open the curtains to the changing area to make space for people to finish. I love the enthusiasm I see here in Japan. Could clearly see how happy the students were to send Veronique off so she could herself study with her teacher. I start leading the Mysore mornings tomorrow, Sunday, June 29.

The Teacher’s Energy

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Veronique coming into Virabhadrasana A

Veronique coming into Virabhadrasana A

I love that precious time in the morning, when everything is quiet, and the teacher self practices, breathing his or her energy into the space, laying down the blueprint for the class to come…

Things have gone full circle again as I return to Osaka, this time to cover for Veronique Tan, who took over the Spirit Mysore program after I subbed for it 9 months ago. For the last three mornings, I have worked the mysore room with Veronique, assisting some familiar practitioners but also a lot of new ones.

And I am inspired–just as I imagine many of the students (there was a record number of students today at 27) who came to class this morning to send off their teacher. It’s amazing what one person can do in 9 months. And while Veronique herself relates that the program did not begin to grow until the spring months and humbly points out she’s not done much out of the ordinary–as an outsider with an inside seat I see things differently.

Barring certain logistical restrictions and external factors, for students to show up, the teacher must shows up first. And mere attendance will not do. For a teacher to truly show up they must practice in the same way they want their students to attend to class, with consistency and dedication, with flexibility and also compassion. First and foremost, the teacher must practice, really truly wholeheartedly practice–not for the student but for one’s self, not with any attachment to any particular goal other than to simply practice. Ideally, he/she must teach as he/she practices; ideally, he/she must live as he/she teaches–at least, as best as humanly possible.

In the last year, I have learned a great deal from not just the experience of teaching and the interaction with students but also from the teachers I have had the good fortune to cover for and learn from. I know I will continue to learn in this space even with Veronique all the way in Mysore, India. Lots to look forward to here at Spirit, where I will be subbing the Mysore program from July 1 to August 31.

Last Look

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Last Look

This is the Spirit Yoga mysore space last Sunday evening. I had just finished my last offering at the studio.

How empty it looks. And YET how full it feels–to me, at least, after two months and one week of teaching.

It dawns on me that life is made up of empty rooms and that our job is to fill these spaces with our light, with our energy.

Next time you enter an empty space, ask yourself: how can I fill this space? What subtle gift can I fill/feel this space with? What special part of me can I leave here to grow and prosper?

Or before you leave such a space, ask: what have I left here? What will grow on without me?

Self Practice is ON! Spirit Yoga

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Self Practice is ON! Spirit Yoga

This week, Spirit Yoga Mysore is on self practice mode. Students are helping each other. Cheering each other on. Practicing as usual, with their whole hearts, bodies and minds. With or without a teacher.

By next Sunday, authorized Level II teacher Veronique Tan will lead the program on. Just one week after my departure.

Before I arrived in Osaka two months ago, I asked my friend Ursula Scott, who was the first mysore teacher in Spirit Yoga, for her advice. She told me this: share everything you know!

And so it ended last Sunday, later that planned, as I poured as much as I could of myself, of what I knew into a preparation workshop class for Self Practice, knowing that for a week, students would be directing their own energy, exploring the joys and difficulties of self practice without a teacher.

It was an odd end. I felt empty. But now, after a few days rest, I feel so full from that last class, and from the two months of sharing with such amazing, attentive, and loving students. I’m excited for them, for the opportunity to learn with Veronique.

But also for the chance for them to explore the depths of practice on their own–this is where so many jewels and treasures lie, in the solitary depths of self practice.

Sunday sadhana

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Sunday sadhana

“The power of a movement lies in the fact that it can indeed change the habits of people. This change is not the result of force but of dedication, of moral persuasion.”

-Stephen Biko
South African Political Leader

Storm signals were up this morning, yet students still filled the room. Practice is always best when performed with love and dedication. So grateful to be in such dedicated company.

The importance of taking rest

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The importance of taking rest

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives bountiful crop” –Ovid

Do we not sleep after a day of activity? Resting after practice is vital to finding balance for the rest of the day. Always give yourself a good rest after yogasana practice. Students here in Osaka take a well-deserved rest, allowing for the body to fully integrate after Friday morning led class.