I am grateful to be alive today!
I owe a great part of being alive and being grateful to my teachers of Yoga and also to the students I have worked with.
Especially today I want to thank the Ashtanga Yoga tradition and lineage.
I thank Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, Sharath Jois and Saraswati Jois. I have had the blessing of studying with them personally and felt confident in trusting my body and mind in their care.
I started Ashtanga practice in my mid 20’s, three years after beginning an asana practice.
I have never felt discriminated because of my gender or sexuality. I have experienced the feeling of being celebrated by my teachers.
David and Sharon of Jivamukti Yoga were very enthusiastic for me to study with Sri K Pattabhi Jois and first introduced me to Guruji when they invited him to teach at Jivamukti Yoga studio in 1994.
I went to Mysore India alone in 1995. My first morning was exciting, scary and a trill was coursing through my system as I imagined studying with a living Yoga Master. My first morning I walked 40 minutes in the dark and somehow arrived in the twelfth spot of twelve places and the opening prayer commenced as my feet landed into Samasthiti.
In 1998, I met Dr Vasant Lad who was giving a speech at a medical facility. At that time, I decided straight away to move from NYC to Albuquerque
New Mexico to study Ayurveda with him. Over the last 2 and 3 decades, Yoga and Ayurveda, have been my guides in life.
I have continued with the ashtanga practice somewhat against the recommendations of an appropriate yoga practice for a Vata dominant individual. Vata dominant constitution means that the elements of air and space have more influence on my nature than the elements fire, water and earth . There have been many challenges to stay grounded and strong. I can imagine that all of you also have had difficulties arise on the mat and the ability to embrace them can become opportunities for our self- transformation.
I have needed to explore and modify the practice to meet with the changing state of my body, age and environment over the last 30 years since this practice joined with my life.
I have seen many Vata type bodies struggle with the demands of a traditional Ashtanga practice, and I have many suggestions to share for helping all constitutions and specifically developing the skills to balance Vata Dosha. I have had the experience of my Vata dosha being elevated and unbalanced. I have experienced being ungrounded, chaotic, having high levels of anxiety, and feeling that I was somehow deficient in prana- life force needed to support an ashtanga daily practice. A large part of my work has been to develop ways to practice Ashtanga which are healing and transforming for spiritual and physical well-being of the practitioner. I believe that Ashtanga can be for anyone of any constitution if there is belief in the system and the dedicated exploration.
All of us are realizing that the health of the body, mind and spirit can not be separated. I see this moment as a powerful looking glass at life on the planet right now in the Time of Corona. We are interwoven with nature, like the many natural fibers used to weave a basket. The more intricate and colorful challenges that arise and are embraced, the more beautiful the basket called life. Our survival and ability to thrive is dependent on this weave of interdependency or as Thich Nhat Hanh calls it our inter-being.
The abilities to take care of each other fosters our greater awareness of inter-being, and this has always been one of the realizations of a successful
yoga practice. We are sharing life together. Throughout history this connection has never been demonstrated so clearly.
One of my teachers right now is Zach Busch who was an oncologist and a developer of allopathic cancer drugs. He is now working on repairing soil with farmers. Dr Busch went from a cancer specialist to working on regenerating the earth’s soil. Going from treating one of the biggest outcomes of imbalanced nature, cancer, to treating the root of disease and possibly the root of the climate crisis. He now works to regenerate and flip- flop the disregard we have shown to the planet.
During the last few months many humans have also seen the benefit of working less, traveling less and generally having less. Of course, I do not mean to include all here. Many beings have been on the fringes of society unable to have enough when others have never known anything but surplus. My hope is that structural racism and poverty will be addressed much more now than in the past. I believe there is great purpose behind our waking up to the disparity and imbalances that are causing so much stress to our world and her beings. Perhaps the outcome will be a genuine sharing. Sharing the resources with beings who have been taken advantage of. After all, these resources belong to us all.
In the time of Corona, I have limited my movements far from my house, and I have bridged my energy with my immediate surroundings. This home of mine now feels more of a representation of my vitality, strength and struggles versus a kind of quarantined lock up. Of course, I do need a connection to others! The moment my hands start to give Bella ( my canine comrade) an adjustment ( really just some pets), I feel the hormones softening my nervous system, and miss this with friends and students.
Staying “in touch” has taken on many forms like zoom, social media, and for now this is a blessing.
We share this very breath with all sentient beings. I want to live with a Joyful Awakening of my nature and with the other, for as long as the body is able, until there is no more other. This is my fantasy— this virus will
bring us to a mutual respect for all living and the sharing of the life in harmony with our home, planet earth.
A true longevity