when yoga bloggers meet

Another successful yin-yang yoga workshop at the Chicago Yoga Center yesterday made even more special by finally meeting two cyber-yogis from the yoga blogosphere….Bob and Brooks. Always good to finally put faces to the online voices!

Yoga obviously makes us happy!

A big thanks to Brooks and Bob for your support of the yin-yang yoga dharma.

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musical monday

My regular readers may have noticed that I haven’t written much lately about yoga, Buddhism, Tibet, or social action, the subjects that are near and dear to my heart. For whatever reason as 2007 draws to a close, I find myself pre-occupied with other things: my impending trip to India, a medical procedure I will have next week, and teaching at a new yoga studio. but the drama never ends at the studio where I used to teach.

Another teacher quit last week for the same reason I left — the alcoholic dysfunction of the owner. It so happens that the teacher who quit was the only teacher who supported me when I had my confrontation with the owner in September. it had come to her attention that the owner yet again had taught her class in, shall we say, a less than functional state, and my friend decided, enough is enough, that she could not continue teaching at a studio that is based on lies and delusions and the denial and complicity of the other teachers.

as the saying goes, all things happen for a reason. I am enjoying teaching at the new yoga studio. I live in a suburban area about 45 miles outside of Chicago — think of the stereotypes about “white bread suburbia” and that pretty much sums up where I live. But all I have to do is drive 15 minutes and I’m in the middle of corn and soybean fields, and in another 20 minutes the landscape is dotted with farms and stables and farm tractor companies. I prefer that environment much more but we live where we do so The Husband can have a quasi-sane drive to his office.

The location of the new yoga studio can be called rural small town which happens to be right next door to a small university town. So the vibe and the mindsets of the students are immediately different. For one, they are appreciative of whatever style of yoga is taught at the studio, it’s yoga for the sake of yoga. There is no yoga snobbery. There is no sense of entitlement as the students had in white bread suburbia where Tyler and Tiffany are bought a brand new Hummer for their 16th birthdays. The students don’t come in the latest yoga clothes with the hand-painted chakras, endorsed by Seane Corn, don’t cha know — many come in sweat pants and baggy T-shirts.

So I am grateful to teach in this environment and am humbled by the response to my teaching. I did a second yin yoga workshop yesterday that had over 20 students and because the first two workshops were so popular, the owner asked me to do another one in two weeks. Twelve students signed up for it immediately after yesterday’s workshop.

Maybe humbled is too mild a word — blown away would be more accurate. One of my students who studied with me at the other studio lives in this town and has just gotten a job with the local paper as a free-lance writer on fitness. She gets paid $20 an article — I told you it was small town — but she is happy for it because as she says, it pays for a yoga class. She wrote a story about my first workshop that was entitled “Local Yoga Enthusiasts Thrilled as Popular Instructor Comes to Town.” She gave me a copy of the article yesterday and I got all choked up. really. wow. I felt like Shiva Rea. But you’ll never see a picture of me with my hair blowing in the wind.

Yup, all things happen for a reason.

i rock! so there!

No one ever nominated me for the Rockin’ Girl Blogger Award that I’ve seen on many blogs by women, so I’m giving the award to myself. I liberated the badge from another blog, so there! Why? Because I most definitely rock! As it says in the side bar, I bow to Buddha but rock with Kali, jai ma!

My regular readers know what happened at the yoga studio that I left back in September, and that I dealt with lots of rage about the lies and deceptions the studio is built upon. As it turned out, tonight I start teaching at another studio where the vibe is the polar opposite of the old studio. In fact, the owner asked me to take over one of her classes. All things happen for a reason.

One of the styles of yoga that I teach is yin yoga so to introduce this new yoga community to it and to me, we planned two workshops. The first one was this past Saturday. To my amazement, 23 people signed up for the workshop. The studio was jammed. The next workshop is two weeks from now on a Sunday morning and 18 people have already signed up for that one, 11 before the first workshop was even given.

The studio is a beautiful, peaceful space with a number of Buddha statues, and at one end there is an altar with a large Buddha head surrounded by candles. As I was setting up the space before the workshop, listening to and chanting along with Krishna Das as he chanted Om Namah Shivaya Gurave, I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of yoga, gratitude for everything in my life, gratitude for life itself despite my physical afflictions.

No one was in the studio and I knelt down in front of the altar and began to cry. Chanting always does that to me. Sometimes I can’t even finish a chant because I am overcome. I asked my chant teacher in India why I cry so much when I hear vedic chants and she said that chanting cracks open the heart, that chanting brings old, painful samskaras to the surface to be released, that chanting opens the throat chakra to unite the mind with the heart.

I placed my hands in anjali mudra and chanted Buddham Saranam Gachhami Dhammam Saranam Gachhami Sangham Saranam Gachhami over and over again — grateful for Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha. I told myself that if my life ended just then or if something untoward should happen to me, whether in my travels or a disease, I would gladly accept whatever comes because I have had a good life despite everything I have ever been through, in this life and in any past life. I know that no one can cause my suffering. My suffering and my liberation are my own.

I got up and opened the door and the students began to slowly fill the studio. I began to teach, ending the workshop by leading them in the First Foundation of Mindfulness.

I rocked. And I was grateful.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision of tomorrow.” Melody Beattie