Garland of Letters in Philadelphia a place with a pulse has become a refuge.
Something about this space helps me clear through the mud and come out a lotus.
A gentle, yet firey spirited white bearded yogi and nurtured therapist wander throughout.
Garland is an oasis filled with a world of cultures, healers, educators, beauty and so many sacred in-describe-ables.
Recently they sent me home with the antidote for a dense San Francisco-like fog that began to hover around my yoga practice. Sandalwood suggested by Kevin Starbard, "what it smells like in India's Temple's" and attending the Hatha classes held with Dr. Pratap were my prescriptions.
I lit the incense like a torch in my yoga corner where I breathe like a dragon, focus and hug myself into a playful, thoughtless, fearless state.
The billowing clouds of smoke seemed to chase away the fog and penetrate the air with something new."Sarah, there you are" I said. It opened me right up, again.
I was like a new born baby in no time (a dab of Dr. Green's green honey also helped.)
I'm freer, happier, younger and closer to my origins everyday.
It doesn't have to make sense.
"This is something we all can create and master it's been around since the human spirit" Kino MacGregor on Yoga, stillness and inner peace.
Quite a lengthy timeline to tackle.
The academic and scholarly portion of this study is extensive and seems to constantly expand, while it blows my mind. The history and lineage in discussion predates Christ. The Bhagavad Gita, The Sutras, Sanskrit, Goddesses, Diety's, Ayurveda, Lands, Ancient texts, teachers of teachers, Guru's and treasured secrets that light the path during the battle for self-mastery.
*The list goes on and on spurring questions like, "Ashtanga" shouldn't it really be called "Korunta" which started it all? (Korunta, the ancient text by Vamana Rishi, teacher of Rama Mohan Brahmachari who then taught Krishnamacharya in Tibet who then taught Guruji or Sri K Pattabhi Jois who studied the Korunta and brought the Ashtanga Yoga system, which means eight limbed yoga described as disciplines by Patanjali: restraints, observances, posture, breathing, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation, unification of subject and object.)
Patanjali , the great Sage who wrote the Sutras I believe it's unclear if Patanjali was a she, he or even an actual being- the philosophy seems to be accessed through practicing the asana's.
Ashtanga Guru Pattabhi Jois says, "...99% is practice..."
That's where the real learning happens it's there in the posture itself.
Hence, I'm crawling out from under the piles of book, dusting off my limbs and exploring my own timeline. "I'm practicing," says Kate Ryan Maring.
Sense the tight spots resisting and release them with breath.
Practice being like an infant alive with instinct, sucking on your toes (Ella inspired) without hesitation, fear, or apology.
Find the focus point. Breathe. Relax. Soften. Surrender. Repeat.
*each posture has a specific gaze: nose, belly button, sky...
*the method that makes it work, like pressing forward on the sacrum after stabilizing your pelvis and internally rotating the thighs to get into an easy Ustrasana relaxing the neck and using the natural form of the cervical spine
I have to really pay attention to the looking points (drishti/focus points) or I can easily drift away and topple over. Intellectuals fall victim to this particularly in headstands, "wait where am I...?" Timber!
It's mystifying sometimes when I fall. I may not see it coming because I'm looking inward, you know? I'm really deep inside of myself I have disconnected from senses and don't feel a damn thing!
But, once you learn how to fall you fear it less.
Guruji said to Kino when she was struggling, "Asana(postures), Pranayama(Breathe), Drishti(focus withdrawing from the senses) Do this for many, many years and you will find peace."
Talk to your body with not one thought of anyone or anything else in existence.
It's on the cells of the body the secrets of the universe live.
It's where the lessons are learned and downfalls are revealed.
It's where you will get to play hopscotch with your genuine self, roll down grassy hills with reckless abandon.
"... It's like psychotherapy without the 'why' just experience it." Kino MacGregor says on practicing.
Among what I am drawn to in the Ashtanga method is the way it exhausts me to relax me; still your mind which is the real body part we are alchemizing. Everything else follows.
It's a stoking the fire method I realized recently when the cold rolled in and I was pulled to build more heat in and around my body (hence the smokey incense which I haven't used in years, fire ignites. Moxa is great for this also.)
It went like this,
I ran out of excuses, It was raining, 30 degrees and dark, I felt the wind give me a push and so I ran anyway (I have a history with braving the elements.)
In moments it was Bikram 105 degrees hot.
Agni (fire) was ripping through my bullshit and dripping down my back.
I ran all the way home like a fucking Viking and I'm so happy I did
(See results on Strava Run titled, "Winter Fairy. Blink Green.")
This took my practice higher just when I felt like caving in.
When I stopped running, I got into my first headstand.
I was alive and bending like a baby, again.
It took months, but on 1-6-15 I got onto my forearms in headstand and can completely flatten my hands onto the ground when bending down to touch my toes without much bend in my knees, or injury to those around me.
It dawned on me while being nibbled on by cold winds roaring over the bridge exiting Penn's campus.
It's me I'm bending into, rushing into my splits to get to me, falling on my mat while Liana tries to show me how to slow down, to get to me.
I'm in there, I can see the real me, and I want to play with her.
"Subtle Truth: you are what you love" Rumi.
It doesn't all have to make sense.
I can feel it working.
The Bhagavad Gita Translated by Eknath Easwaran.
The Power of Ashtanga Yoga: Developing a Practice by Kino MacGregor.
Liana Cameris, Yoga Goddess Instructor, Spirit Dancer, Light and Guider West Coast USA.
Caroline Ashurst, Acupuncture Practitioner and Yogini at heart in Philadelphia PA