Elephant Style

I offer this puja to my homie Ganesha

I’ve gone back to chanting to Ganesh every day, and got the courage to teach a little mantra in my basics class. We chanted Om gam ganapataye namaha (just 9 times, a nice division of 108). Tonight’s is my favorite playlist so far, I believe:

Elephant Style, The Dum Dum Project
Om (Invocation), M.C. Yogi
Elephant Power (feat. Bhagavan Das), M.C. Yogi
Ganesh is Fresh (feat. Jai Uttal), M.C. Yogi
Shiva Gospel. Bhagavan Das
Jaia Ganesha, The Dum Dum Project
Ganesha, Wah!
Within You Without You, Patti Smith
Within You Without You-Tomorrow Never Knows, The Beatles
elephant’s memory, Martin Sexton
Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth), George Harrison
Krishna Arati, Bhagavan Das

It starts out with beat, and repeats chants to Ganesh for about 15 minutes (let’s shake that sh*t up!), then gets introspective and soulful with Patti Smith, and the Beatles (inspired by miss Sarah Kohl, @sarahsana). Plus Bhagavan Das’s Krishna Arati for savasana. LOVE.

This is the fourth week in a row I’ve played George Harrison. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t really know who my favorite Beatle was until about a month ago. Now I can’t stop listening to him. After three weeks of My Sweet Lord, I went for some variety. Give me love. Give me love. Give me peace on earth.

Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu.

The soundtrack of yoga and life

Some playlists come together quickly, some with more thought. And some playlists are better than the class was. That’s how I felt about this one. Class was good, but I’m not thinking over and over again about all those upward facing dogs and cobras (the class is basics, so we spent lots of time on those poses we usually breathe through and move in and out of so quickly in vinyasa). I keep listening to this mix over and over. Very inspired by Derek Beres’ amazing list this week, and by Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack. And the people I got to share it with.

Enjoy. ❤

Solitude Geoffrey Oryema

Caracol (Chancha Via Circuito Remix) Tremor

Bolo Ram, Wah!

Neti-neti: The Hear and Now Remix, DJ Cheb I Sabbah, Don Cherry & Sharon Gannon

Vamsi Dhari, Rasa

Strangers, The Kinks

Saraswati Mata, Daphne Tse

Play With Fire, The Rolling Stones

Never Give Up, Tribali

Here to There, Sonya Kitchell

Pop Art Blue, Zero 7

Djorolen, Béla Fleck

Beautiful, Moby

Gotta say, Beautiful is pretty great for savasana.

Invoking Kali

I wish I could say this was me.

I finished my 40 days of chanting to Ganesh and decided to move up to the second chakra with my next ritual. Svadhisthana. Water. Emotion. Creation. Kali. With Ganesh, I was seriously asking for help removing obstacles, and man, did he. One of my teachers suggested not asking anything of Kali. Approaching her with love only. I’ve been chanting om kreem kaalikaaye namaha, 108 times, every day. I’m getting my creative fire back. Taking photos, writing, and really diving into my practice.

For tonight’s class we got into the hips, culminating with pigeon. It’s a basics class, so nothing too serious, though how can opening the hips not be serious? I love the playlist for tonight:

Om Mata Kali, Shantala

Goddess Invocation, Go-Ray & Duke

Krishna Kali, Bhagavan Das

Kali Durge (Wheel Turning), Suzanne Sterling

Parashakti, Wah!

Ma Durga, Krishna Das

Hey Ma Durga, Baird Hersey

Durga, Shantala

Om Sri Matre, Wah!

I’ve been getting into this passage from the Upanishads. It speaks to intention. What’s your desire? What does planting the seed of desire do in your life?

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.

As your desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Desire is the first step.

Valentine’s Visvamitrasana

Planning my yoga class for tonight, I made a playlist with some devotional songs and some goofy love songs. And only one person showed up! The class that starts 15 minutes before mine is taught by our studio’s rock star and was packed. She had roses and live guitar. It’s not a competition, I told myself. It is what is it. And it was this: me giving a private class to my ex boyfriend. He’s never come to my class before. It was just a bit awkward. 🙂

“The subject tonight is Love

And for tomorrow night as well,

As a matter of fact

I know of no better topic

For us to discuss

Until we all

Die!

~Hafiz

We started in a supported supta baddha konasana and breathed. We did a bunch of supported poses. And I decided to read what I had planned. I read Nancy’s Valentine’s post about loving yourself. Not just using props for support, which does make you feel loved, but saying supportive words to yourself. “Love your honesty and your wit, your space and your distance.  Love that you know your boundaries and that you still sometimes push them. Love the places in your body that are less flexible than the person next to you, love your short comings and your strengths.” All of those lines had extra meaning for me, for us. Love your space and your distance, check. Boundaries and sometimes pushing them, check. For whatever reason, I prepared this class, and he’s the only one who showed, so maybe there was something I needed to say to him, or that we needed to experience together.

We did Surya Namaskar A very slowly, holding each pose for five breaths, then three, then one, and I helped him with his alignment and form. We used straps and blocks and blankets. Lots of heart openers.

And I read this: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”~Rumi

That part felt like a subtle castigation, yet it was just as much for me as for him. Starting with love of the self.

Here’s the eclectic playlist:

Bolo Ram, Wah!

I want to hold your hand, T.V. Carpio

Narayana/For Your Love, Krishna Das

I think I love you, The Partridge Family

Because, (Across the Universe)

What the World Needs Now, Jackie De Shannon

Om Sri Matre, Wah!

Heart Sutra Soulshine, Wah!

I hadn’t really perfected the playlist; I was out of time, and it came up a bit short, so we heard a couple of those awkward songs again. (I think I love you… Really?) We ended in supported fish and in Savasana with a bolster under the knees.

It wasn’t my best class. I fell victim to the Hallmark-ization of the day. I felt I had to do a love-themed class. Why should Valentine’s be different from any other day? Perhaps I should talk about love every day. I read that Rumi quote again. And said, imagine the love you feel for your valentine, and see if you can feel that same love for yourself. I still love him that way sometimes, and the challenge for me is to give myself that kind of love.

But the best part came later. I stayed for the next class. The teacher asked us to sit in meditation and watch what bubbled up. It was uncomfortable–hurt ego, self criticism, second guessing my choices of songs. etc. But the asana helped. Twisting and contorting Wild Thing into urdhva danurasana, and then for the first time in my life, I got into full Visvamitrasana! Compass is no problem… but when I lift up my bottom leg and try to balance on one arm and one leg in Visvamitrasana, the weight feels like it’s going to break my arm. But with the leg high enough on the arm, yeah baby! The extension, rotation, and heart opening of Visvamitrasana was pure joy. I had to smile.

A community is a group of interacting organisms

Last week a wave of depression nearly toppled me. Out of nowhere, I lost my grounding and felt dark and lost. That night I was scheduled to teach Hatha Basics, yet as the time approached, I wondered if I should teach, feeling that way. One simple tweet later, and within minutes I was overwhelmed with suggestions, pep talks, and support. These are the tweets, in the order they arrived.

@scotta_yoga @jodim being honest, vulnerable, & open to a shift
–>Just reading that, I felt my energy shift. Being open to a shift changed my energy and made a shift sound possible.
@inthejuice @jodim Literally take a few deep breaths and give yourself a pep talk. Tell yourself ‘who am I not to be brilliant?’
–>Breathing. The initiation of the practice. Breathing shifts your energy.
@inthejuice @jodim know that it’s ok not to talk so much in class (esp if the group is more experienced) make it more about the sound of their breath.
–>The class was a Basics class, so I didn’t know if I could do that. But I chose to teach Chandra Namaskar, and it’s so about linking breathing and movement. I have taught it silently before, after cueing through the first two or three repetitions. It’s so meditative, it can be a unifying group meditation in motion.
@SarahKohl @jodim Honestly? Accepting & admitting that I’m not feeling it. Suit up and show up and teach anyway. Teachers are human, too.#365yoga
–>I knew I had to suit up and show up. It was only my fourth time teaching this class. It wouldn’t be okay to miss it, I thought. Sometimes showing up is the greatest effort. But just showing up helped.
@dawnmnewton @jodim Recalling how marveously excited I felt when I 1st discovered what I am teaching. Then knowing that I will give others this feeling.
–>This tweet made me cry. Dawn is the one person in this group who isn’t a yoga teacher. She is a chef. Just thinking about what she said let me think about being a student again. I would so love to study culinary arts. Though I feel that kind of awe about yoga, thinking about where she was coming from helped me shift my perspective and imagine being a beginner again. And I thought about my first yoga classes and the awe I felt. I was really starting to get over my darkness.
@yidl No secret Surrender- Ishvara Pranidhana- Patanjali RT @jodim:Teachers.what’s your secret for teaching when you are feeling down #365yoga.
–>Totally. This tweet made me think about the magic that happens when you start to channel something profound. When teaching becomes a spiritual experience of sorts, when you are totally in it, and you don’t even know where the words are coming from. Would it be possible, I thought, to surrender and trust that it would be okay?
@riverfairyyoga @jodim My YT told me to teach the class I need. There is a great power in saying the words u need to hear, students tend to respond positive
–>I decided to take this approach. I thought about what I would wish to walk into as a student. That’s when I decided to teach chandra namaskar. It was the eve of a full moon, and apparently the most depressing day of the year, I found out later. Pranayama, and meditative moment sounded soothing to me, and I hoped it would be soothing to the students. @Chandih @yidl @jodim : The secret for me is balance. That is to rest, nurture and meditate more. It gives me the inspiration and insights. @jodim following you now. Salt Lk city Yogini. Wow. Not many of u, in morman country?? Aum-
–>This has always been my teaching philosophy. Teach from your overflow, not from your well. Even if you are nurturing yourself, teaching can deplete your energy. It can also recharge you. Hard to recharge before that class. I didn’t feel like I was depleted and had nothing to give, though. Just depressed.
@katsaks Kat Saks @jodim I second @SarahKohl . Also, I make a point not to give physical adjustments when I’m not feeling it. Then they feel it too!#365yoga
–>This one was hard. I had spent the weekend studying with Simon Park. Just the day before, he taught a workshop about hands on assisting for vinyasa teachers. I was all excited to practice what I’d just learned. My ego wanted to offer that. But I knew she was right. Yet, I believe, even if you don’t touch students, when you’re off, they can feel it.

I showed up. And the magic happened. Ten people showed up. We created a situation that will never be repeated. We all contributed something to it. The class came together for an hour, then dispersed. I think maybe I got more out of it than they did. But that’s okay!

This was the playlist:

Intention [feat Morley], Earthrise SoundSystem, The Yoga Sessions

Desh Nayad [feat Lital Gabai], Earthrise SoundSystem, The Yoga Sessions

Bolo Ram, Wah!, Putumayo Presents Yoga

Hanuman Baba (Dub Farm Remix), Krishna Das, Putumayo Presents Yoga

Mangalam [fet Steve Gorn], Go-Ray & Duke, The Yoga Sessions

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1, The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

Salala, Angelique Kidjo Feat. Peter Gabriel, Yoga Revolution

Bliss, Yogini, Putumayo Presents Yoga

Love Is My Religion (Album Version), Ziggy Marley, Yoga Revolution

On Sunday, roles reversed. I got to be the student to a teacher who was having a hard time. One of my beloved teachers admitted to us, as she began the class, that she was off. She had a confrontation that had left her feeling almost incapable of teaching, and she thought that she needed to get a sub. But in the class, she recharged. You could see it happening, and it was almost instantaneous. It was a beautiful gift to give her, because she has offered us all so much.

So it comes full circle.

And I felt so grateful to be teaching again, to experience the magic that happens when teaching yoga when you can hold space for others. And it most certainly works both ways. Walking in to a room full of quiet students meditating? Amazing. What a gift. Instant energy shift.

Today’s playlist

I subbed for a friend tonight at Shiva Centre, my favorite studio in Utah. It was a level II class, and one of the students told me before we started, “we’re experienced. We can do a lot.” I wanted to start with Ishta Diksha, the initiation into ISHTA yoga, one of the core practices from my main teacher, Alan Finger. “We’re starting with something that may be challenging in a different way,” I said. Sitting still for 15 minutes can be challenging when the room is not warm, even though I had turned up the heat.  We started with nadi shodanna, alternate nostril breathing, to calm the mind and move away from external senses. Then we moved into the Hum Sa kriya–breathing up and down the spine, clearing stagnant energy and magnetizing consciousness to the spine, the central cord of intelligence. And then, the magical ajna bedhana, piercing the third eye, by moistening one fingertip and placing it at the third eye, drawing the consciousness inward even deeper. We played with prana, sensing it between our palms, and then placing the palms over the eyes, the throat, the heart, the solar plexus, the pelvis, and rooting down and massaging the energy down the legs, into the calves and the soles of the feet. We lay in savasana for a minute before moving on to the more intense asana. Lots of hip openers and twists and arm balances. This is the playlist we moved to after the silence and stillness of Ishta Diksha:

Guru Invocation, Govindas and Radha

Goddess Invocation, Go-Ray & Duke

Ganesha, Wah!

Hari Om Shiva Om (Cheb i Sabbah’s Desi Remix)

Govinda Fly, Sharon Gannon

Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe

Narayana/For Your Love, Krishna Das

Govinda Fly (EarthRise SoundSystem Remix)

Shri Krishna, Kelly Britton

Jai Ma (Freedom Song), Suzanne Sterling

Satellite, BT

Afterward, one of my students gave me some homemade peach-blackberry jam. Oh, and an onion. ❤