Friday, June 1, 2012

Good Night Anusara

As the veils have lifted
I've seen how my teacher shifted
from a man who saw the light
to one blind with power and fright.

He believed in his ownership
of that which can't be owned;
He accepted too much privilege
not seeing it was loaned.

Now the empire is crumbling
And we will have to see
What is left when blocks stop falling.
I know now it won't be me.

Even so, I wish him well
for all he prompted me to learn;
For those I met along the way;
For the fire he showed me how to burn.

I'm so thankful for the inspiration
But I see the work was mine.
And I see all things shall pass
Within this world of time.

So I close my eyes and dive right in
no knowing what I'll find.
And I'll cling loosely to what I see
Lest I think I own it in my mind.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Super Moon

The moon is always full,
Though we may not see it as such.
The glass is always full,
Though it may be air we touch.

See yourself in the moon,
And know you are both sides.
See yourself in the glass,
Own what your reflection hides.

You are always full,
Like the moon you view.
Your palette is complete,
Every color, every hue.

Perfection is your natural state,
Imperfection is its temporal mate.
You are full, you are whole,
In your body, in your soul.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Why I Love Weird Theatre

"What's for dinner tonight?" my son asked.
"Fish" I replied.
Fish... I thought... Carp is a fish... Carpe... Carpe diem... Diem... Dies... Dies irae... Remember singing that in the Mozart Requiem many years ago with that conductor with the ponytail?... My ponytail is getting kinda shaggy... Time for a haircut... My hairdresser had a baby and is not taking appointments yet... Remember the profound emotions I had  when I had my babies...

You get the idea? One thought swings to the next in a glorious celebration of monkey mind. I teach Yoga and do my best to tame that monkey mind, but it never goes away. It remains brewing beneath the surface of a fairly ordinary reality.

And the person next to me on the road is having her own monkey mind. Journeying to all different times and places all within her own seat.  And imagine if your monkey mind was trying to have a conversation with someone else's monkey mind. Would the thoughts ever connect? Maybe. Sometimes.

I do believe there is deep order to the universe and that we can celebrate our perception of order. I do this most of the time. I make lists, clean the house, check things off my to do lists, and I practice Yoga to help me make sense of my body, thoughts, feelings and spirit.  

But I also believe that we can celebrate our perception of disorder. Disorder isn't something bad that we need to suppress, we just need to keep it in perspective.  I celebrate my perception of disorder through absurdist theatre."Conversations" in this genre consist of thoughts that relate to each other, but only in the mind of the writer, and, occasionally, the audience member. We all seek different things. We all perceive things differently.

Absurdism refreshes me because on the surface it doesn't make sense, so I don't feel any pressure to understand it, I just sit back and enjoy it from moment to moment. But the more I watch I see that there is a kind of order behind the chaos.  The chaos reminds me that everyone has their own perception and I can only perceive their perceptions through my own perception. Being aware of this reality exercises my muscles of understanding. It keeps me on my toes. Not having to have a point reminds me that I am valuable even if I am not productive.

I am understudying a role in the Fraudulent Productions play DADA Returns which will play at DCAC in Adams Morgan May 17-June 23, and again in July at the Capitol Fringe Festival. I haven't been on stage in well over a decade and probably won't even go on, but you can bet that I will be there in the audience. And my perspective will be there too.  If you can be OK with things not making sense you'll enjoy it too!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's in a Name? More thoughts about Anusara

You may or may not have heard about the turmoil within the school of Anusara Yoga.  John Friend, the school’s founder, has stepped down from his leadership position after accusations of unethical sexual relations with students and employees, among other allegations, surfaced.

As turmoil in the Anusara Yoga world continues as a result of John Friend's unethical behavior, I am still contemplating my own reactions.  Many of my esteemed colleagues have resigned their Certifications. I have not, but I have been questioning if that should be my course of action.

Over the years my son has been diagnosed with language delays, ADHD and Aspergers syndrome. Though many people rail against labels, I found it helpful to know these were trends and not just the isolated behavior of one person who was close to me. I never rested upon those labels and never felt that he was only those things. He is a complicated person with talents and deficits just like any other person. But the label was helpful when seeking advice about how to address certain problems. And the label was a comfort in letting me know that I was not the only one having difficulty.

To get my certification I studied for hundreds of hours with wonderful teachers over the course of 7 years before I even began the certification process.  I completed 3 videos which were reviewed and critiqued by a wonderful mentor. The final video was then reviewed and critiqued again by 2 more wonderful teachers.  I completed a 30 hour exam detailing history, philosophy, gross and physical anatomy as well as teaching techniques for healing, relieving pain, and helping students to express their poses to their fullest potential. All along the way I received advice on my teaching that helped me become a better teacher. I received my Certification in 2006.

To me the term Certified Anusara Instructor means that that instructor has worked their ass off, because I worked my ass off. But though I am proud of the title does not mean that I think I am better than anyone else as has been suggested. I don't feel part of an elite crowd, I don't feel beholden to a controlling organization. I am happy for the support of the organization when it comes time to create programs that deepen my students’ study. I am happy to have a community to call upon if I need clarification on any Yoga related issue.

And though I have been disappointed by John's behavior, I personally do not feel victimized. The only way I feel in any way hampered by the label Anusara is through its recently diminished reputation. Anusara is a label that describes the method and style of teaching that I have found to be healthy, grounding and uplifting.

Labels bring specificity. We choose how much we want to identify with the labels.

Having said all that, the future of the organization is unclear right now. By keeping the name I may be supporting an organization that may no longer have the integrity I choose to support. Though I don’t feel any need to change the status of my certification at the moment, I am monitoring the progress of the organization and keeping my options open.  After all, “That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.”

Blessings and Namaste, Sharon

Radical Responsibility – A response to William Broad’s Yoga and Sex Scandals in the NY Times today, 2/28/12

 So Yoga causes injuries and now apparently it causes infidelity. Wow, what's next?  Funny because what I have learned through Yoga is how to strengthen and heal my body and to honor my physical and emotional boundaries.

Mr. Broad reports that deep sweaty breathing and exercise brings excess blood to the genitals. Has anyone done those studies of people walking on a treadmill? Or riding a bike? Or, for that matter, sitting in a chair? Come to think of it, let's explore the injuries that have occurred while people were getting up out of their chairs or sitting in chairs habitually. I think you would find a whole lot more injuries come from that than from Yoga.

Being in poor shape can cause a whole host of ailments ranging from bio-mechanical to digestive to mental problems. Are those ailments the fault of poor shape, or is it the fault of personal choices?

I know that there are a whole host of reasons that people are in poor shape. I am not slinging accusations so much as suggesting that when we recognize our own power to make choices we can make positive shifts in our lives. I have made plenty of poor choices in my lifetime. But I have found empowerment by not blaming the situation, but by accepting my role in those choices.

John Friend's fall from Grace has been very sad to watch.  I see it as an example of the corruptive nature of power.  When people feel they can do anything, they probably will. Still, going after a position of power is a choice that individuals make and if they choose to abuse that power they will feel the consequence at some point as John is certainly feeling now.

You might argue that Yoga creates the conditions for injury or infidelity. To that I argue what doesn't? Do you have any studies, Mr. Broad, of the blood flow to the genitals of politicians wielding their power? How many of them have we seen rise and fall (figuratively that is)?

Through Yoga I have learned personal responsibility. I am responsible for engaging and stretching and being aware of each muscle. I am responsible for how much I push myself. I am responsible for my actions, my words and even my thoughts. I make my own choices and I live with them. Yoga does not choose for me.  Yoga doesn't cause infidelity, poor judgement causes infidelity. Yoga doesn't injure you; your lack of mindfulness of your own responsibility to every aspect of your own life injures you. You are in charge.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thoughts About Anusara

Why I Stay

My last post was a tribute to my teacher, John Friend.  This one is a tribute to the method he taught me, not to him.  As allegations against him are made public and as more and more very respected teachers are resigning their ties to Anusara, I have been contemplating the healthiness of my own connections to the organization.  This is what I have come up with.  This went out on the Certified and Inspired Teachers page this morning, but in case any students or friends are hearing rumors or wondering what my choice is, you can read it here.

I have been reading everyone’s accounts both of resignation and of retaining their certifications for the last few days with great compassion and emotion.  I understand people’s wishes to stay and I understand their wish to un-affiliate.  I have been reading all these entries with the hopes of finding some kind of motivation for me to take some kind of action.

I have not agreed with many of the business decisions and practices of Anusara, Inc. in the last few years.  The Center, Shiva Shakti Tantra and simply the magnitude of John’s teaching schedule always seemed unsustainable to me, but then, I teach a small number of local classes in a small studio to a relatively small (around 30) number of students. 

My questions is this: If I do not teach Anusara Yoga, what do I teach?   I begin with an invocation to ask for blessings and to give focus to the practice. I take a heart based theme and weave it into the Universal Principles of Alignment.  Through years of practice and teaching I have learned to recognize when a given body part or asana or situation requires more Muscular Energy, more Organic Energy or more Openness to the bigger picture.  If this is not Anusara, what is it? To call it simply “Hatha Yoga” seems not specific enough.  To call it anything of my own creation feels disingenuous.

The truth is that I don’t think my students care one bit what I call my specific style of Yoga.  They just know that it works for them.  I am the one who feels the need to give it a name, mostly as a way to honor my teacher for the creation.  I love trying different styles of Yoga, but every time I do I am reminded how much I love Anusara.

So, just out of practicality, I don’t feel any need to change my certification status.  I worked hard to weave this method into my body, and until I can figure out a way to undo those seams, I remain stitched.

Much love and respect to all…

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Teacher

My teacher

My teacher has given me a method. Through this method I approach the world. I organize my thoughts, plan my schedule, gather my resources, breathe and move my body with this method. I dream in this method.  And I put into action all the dreams, thoughts, schemes and plans that have enough materiality to come to fruition.

My teacher has given me vocabulary.  I have learned the value of my inner contents and how to express those contents creatively and effectively. Words like manifestation (sṛṣṭi), Maintenance (sthíti), Dissolution (pralaya), Concealment (tirodhāna or vilaya), Revelation (anugraha), sat-chit-ananda (truth, awareness, bliss), niralambaya (independence),abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (surrender) have taught me the very nature of the Divine and of the universe in the form of an inner knowing.

But mostly my teacher has shown me that he is not the giver. My dreams, resources, organizations, plans and actions are of the Divine.  They come through me: from a seed in an unmarked spot deep within me: fed by the stimuli I choose to let in and given roots through the practices I choose to adopt.

My endless gratitude goes to my teacher whose lasting lessons I have been paid for with mere hourly compensation. Thank you for the method, the vocabulary and the guidance. Thank you for showing me I had the resources. Thank you for teaching me the organization that allows me to comprehend and to express what is possible with those resources.

Gratitude and blessings to you, John Friend.