Some 2019 accomplishments: - I taught 721.25 hours of public classes and workshops. - I finished term one my (second) MA in the Asian Studies Department at UBC. - I crossed the three year mark mid-December for being alcohol free. I still miss alcohol, especially the social experience, as it lifts this persistent low-level anxiety I am always carrying. But in the end I keep coming back to this question, posed mid-dharma talk by a meditation teacher I look up to: ‘do you really want to wake up?’ If there is any deep guiding principle for me in recent years, it is the aspiration to live fully awake, eyes wide open to this incredible, incomprehensible reality and experience of being human. 📷@andimcleish wearing @radyogagear @ristoduggan @stretchvancouver
To all my Yoga teacher friends: what are your thoughts on using Sanskrit (or mantra) in class? Culturally appropriative or respectful of tradition? Problematically elitist or an important part of the experience and education? If you are like me and you find yourself simultaneously interested but intimidated by the language, how have to tried to practice it? Do you have any burning questions about the language itself? If you have any thoughts about these questions please come out Thursday night for a free event that I am putting together with my advisor Adheesh Sathaye and the great folks at Karma Teachers. Sanskrit for the Yoga Studio: A Conversation for Yoga Teachers This Thursday Nov 14th 7-9 PM @karmateachers Free, with chai, samosas & sweets from All India Sweets Photo by @andimcleish wearing @ristoduggan @radyogagear
This photo is from last summer’s Yoga Therapy five day intensive with Manju Jois, who was hosted by the lovely and welcoming Tina Pashumati James. At the end of the week Tina James invited everyone over to her home for dinner, and Manju prepared a few dishes using recipes passed down from his mother. Culinary parampara? I’ve been thinking about the different approaches Manju Jois, Sharmila Desai and Srivatsa Ramaswami take to a complete daily practice. Sharmila Desai encouraged staying in meditation during padmasana following the ashtanga vinyasa practice. For Manju, the emphasis was on pranayama and chanting after the asana practice. Srivatsa Ramaswami’s full practice concluded with a few asanas held for about five minutes (paschimottanasana, sarvangasana, shirshasana), mahamudra for five or so minutes each side with kumbhaka, then 108 rounds of kapalabhati, pranayama (potentially for almost an hour, usually viloma ujjayi) and finally chanting or meditation. I’ve done elements of all three approaches for the past year, including a daily practice of Ramaswami’s viloma ujjayi. Looking forward to sitting close to him again this week in Victoria.
In addition to the two weeks of study with Srivatsa Ramaswami, there were two other teachers I practiced under in 2018 that left a deep impression. The first of the two was with Sharmila Desai @sharmilasdesai . Like Fiona, Sharmila is a teacher of stillness. During her short visit to Vancouver she nevertheless shaped my understanding of the Ashtanga Vinyasa sadhana. Sharmila is attentive to every detail to the practice, right down to the alignment of a single finger. Of course, for its own sake, it doesn't matter whether a hand is held closed or opened in a bind, but I began to see that practising intentionality in every facet of our asana practice transforms it into a deep and embodied form of meditation.