My Asana in the Anusara Situation

In response to inquiries from friends and colleagues, I wrote the following after spending three days at the Advanced Intensive in Miami with John Friend.

During the three days I experienced the full spectrum of emotions. As our community broke apart, so too did my heart. I came to Miami because I needed to see things for myself. I don’t make big decisions quickly, and I certainly was not going to make this decision in haste.

My original plans had me staying for the weekend workshop, too. However, after the Advanced Intensive I decided to take a vacation day in Miami and then fly out earlier than scheduled on Sunday; I have never wanted to come home so badly!

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My “vacation day” plans fell through so I have a day in Miami Beach alone. After almost two hours in the sun without sunscreen, I went to seek lunch. As I sit on this wild promenade that is South Beach, Florida, watching vacationers of all walks of life from all around the world, I so wanted my day to be like that today. I wanted to play and have fun after the intensity of these last two weeks but instead I am preparing myself to go back to San Francisco and take the seat of the teacher. So, alone it is, and I embrace this. Many in my community, both teachers and students alike, are awaiting my report. Everybody is asking, What is your stance?” These last two weeks I have been unable to take a stance. I have been quiet. I have stood still, breathed, and done my best to practice the First Principle. I have been listening inside and out, watching and waiting to see what happens, talking to a lot of different people. My feet have felt like lead, unable to make a move in either direction.

I am not going to give you an account of John said this and did that. I am just going to tell you how I feel.

I stand with my teacher John because I can’t fathom walking away from someone when they are in a time of challenge. I DO NOT stand for him continuing to teach right now, or for Anusara Inc. to go on the way it has for all these years. I stand for John finding the healing that he now recognizes is needed due to this situation.  In both public and private conversations I had with John I am led to believe he is going to seek help. I hold him in love and compassion and wish for him to look deep inside himself at his shadows and his wounds and make peace. I stand for him living with alignment between his words and actions; I stand for him to go back to the divine source that brought Anusara through him in the first place and remember his truth and his vision. I stand for him to emerge better in himself than ever before and to find a balanced and sustainable lifestyle.

I stand for the method of Anusara yoga because it has helped me heal and it’s the guide I use to help others. I have seen it work time and time again and I believe in it wholeheartedly.

I stand for the community of teachers (even those who have resigned) that I have grown to love as my brothers, sisters, and spiritual companions, and I want us all to thrive like never before. I stand for continuing to co-create something beautiful – whatever forms that ultimately takes.

I stand for my local community: for the amazing teachers that work so hard; for the students that come to class week in and week out; for the deep bonds of friendship that have been forged through this yoga. We in the Bay Area were really trying to come together in a more powerful way in 2012 and we were off to a great start. I honor our plans.

I stand for myself to find my place within all this mess; a place where I can continue to learn, grow, and expand to my full potential. I have been inquiring deep within myself: Where does the container of Anusara support me and where does it limit me? Who might I be without it? What would it be like to stay without all those who have left? Can I stay in good conscience? Will our “tribe” be able to regroup and form something new, something healthy? Will we all just be individual yoga teachers in the sea of yoga? I do not yet have all of those answers, so still I stand and wait.

For now I am standing steady to see if we can reclaim and resurrect the school of Anusara yoga apart from John. Thank you Ross, Desiree and others for your tireless work and enthusiasm. Will John make the method public domain? Will he let us adopt his child and allow us to nurture and grow it from here? Do we start something new on our own? Will John do the hard work on himself and create a collaborative organization? These answers will not come quickly and for this moment I am prepared to wait.

The last nine years have been the best years of my life and I am grateful to all of my teachers, friends, and students who have supported me. I have found immense healing in this practice and this community and I have created an amazing life for myself, all because of Anusara yoga. Yes, the system is dysfunctional as it is but I believe we all have a hand in that. I want to use this situation to look and see where I am out of alignment and continue to get better in myself. I don’t know what the next nine years will look like but I remember John always telling me, “keep lining up, I promise it will get better.” He was right, and I now delight in telling my students that from my own experience. What to align with right now, that has not yet been revealed, but I am confident that my practice will continue to lead me to my heart.  

There Is Always More

One of the things that I loved about yoga when I first began was that it became quickly clear that there is no end!  In other areas of my life I could accomplish something and then I’d get a bit bored with it.  Somehow, I knew right away that yoga was an infinite world that will always offer more. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know anything. You are never done.  Now, I don’t say this to discourage you.  No, please don’t stop you dead in your tracks and run the other way; it’s meant to make your mouth water and whet your appetite!

Looking back, I have had many breakthroughs both in my physical practice and in my life.  It’s always a pulsation: Sometimes big openings temporarily lead to deeper contraction, and at other times it pulses closer to the center.  My journey has been arduous, unraveling knots of physical pain and injury in my body, overcoming hurts and disappointments, and dismantling old emotional patterns that at one point helped me survive in the world.   Yes, there were times I wanted to get off the train because it felt like too much, but I knew I would never be satisfied with that choice.  Now, I can proudly say that I am happier and more vibrant than ever, I have been pain free for quite a while now, and feel as though I am living in alignment with my truth.

treesYes, of course, I am still aware of subtle asymmetries, places of tension and holding.  As long as we are in a body we will experience that. But I am aware of them and feel blessed to have the finest tools on the planet to alchemize them into an even better me. (Thank you Anusara yoga!). I delight in how each opening reveals a new path to travel down.

The Upanishads state that for every 1/4 of the Universe that is revealed, there is always 3/4 more that is concealed.  So step on the path, come along for the journey, revel in the mystery, and join me in discovering the inner most depth of your consciousness.  It’s quite the ride!

Living Vibrantly: We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

Happy New Year!  I hope your first week of 2012 is off to a great start.

Personally, I am feeling very optimistic about this year.  Yes, it’s true, our world is not in the best shape and these next several months will determine a lot about where we are headed.  While this is scary, I see it as a great opportunity. I am optimistic because in my world I see people everywhere waking up.  Great beings are consciously deciding to live in greater alignment with spirit, whatever that may mean to them.  The old ways of being simply will not work in our current times.

Inspired by the awakening I am seeing around me, and remembering that we need new ways of being, my theme for the year is LIVE VIBRANTLY!. Your nature is vibrant.  The life force energy pulsing within you is vibrant.  The question is: do you have a means to access your vibrancy?

Yes, our asana practice is one of the ways to access that vibrancy, but asana alone is not enough anymore.  As your awareness increases – which is one of the fruits of the physical practice – you must make choices in all areas of your life that serve and support you.  Vibrancy must be lived.  When your entire being is radiant, your every word, your every action reflects and offers that radiance.  We must consider how we are showing up in our relationships, in our jobs, and the way we treat the planet.  You are an extension of the earth and all beings that live here. When you tend to yourself, you tend to the collective.

As yogis we can be a bridge to all of humanity. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  It’s up to us to step into living vibrantly: for ourselves, for our community, and for our planet!

In the spirit of this year’s theme to LIVE VIBRANTLY, I’ll be posting more tips over the upcoming weeks and months on how to live our yoga and access the vibrancy that is our true nature.

Radiant Earth

12 Ways to Make 2012 Your Healthiest Year Yet

Of course 2011 has had it’s ups and downs, but overall it’s been a wonderful year.  Thanks to each of you for all the ways you have contributed to both our local and our world wide community.  It’s been fun sharing so many of my ideas with you this month about living in ways that promote balance and sustainability.  Thanks for reading and participating, I hope you found things you can take into your daily life.

What now? I have put together a list of 12 ways you can continue what we have started here in December 2011 and make 2012 your best year yet!  If you have other ideas to make 2012 a more healthy and sustainable year, please post them, we’d love to hear!

Happy New Year!

1.  Bring reusable grocery bags with you every time you shop. This includes produce bags too!  Consider refilling containers in the bulk section of your local co-op. (Sustainability is Sexy)

2.  Shop local and seasonal whenever possible. In addition to the products you buy, please support smaller, locally owned businesses whenever possible.

3.  Challenge yourself this year to NO plastic water bottles or disposable cups.  If you already do this, how about reducing your take out food and bring containers and reusable cutlery whenever you can. (Sustainability is Sexy)

4.  Schedule a monthly massage appointment, if you have a specific injury or limitation, you may need to start with sessions weekly or every other week at first. (A Little Help From Our Friends)

5.  Educate yourself about what you are putting in your body, both the food you are eating and the products you use. Make the switch to organics, non GMO, and chemical free. Eat unprocessed, whole foods as much as possible.

6.  Schedule 20-30 minutes of quiet time each day to recharge.  Either nap, do Savasana, or put your legs up the wall! (See 26 Minutes to Greater Well Being and Just Put Your Legs Up the Wall!)

7.  Make sure you have at least a few unplanned hours each week to play and enjoy life.

8.  Go on a technology fast one day per week – perhaps during the time in number 7.  (I am going to try this one!)

9.  If you drive, can you reduce your time in the car?  Leave the car at home once a week; walk, ride a bike, or take the bus.  Carpool whenever you can.

10. Sign up for a workshop each month to continue your growth.  Deepen your yoga practice, start a meditation practice, educate yourself on health and healing, take a cooking class… Staying curious, open, and excited to learn keeps us young.

11. Are you holding on to anything from the past?  Resentment puts up a barrier that keeps you closed.  Give yourself permission to let go and forgive yourself and others. Don’t let the past weigh you down.

12. Reflect on your life each month.  The new moon is a good time to check in with your intentions and progress while planting seeds that keep you on your journey.

Secrets to Life

 

A Little Help From Our Friends

Our bodies tell the stories of our life.  Layers and layers of tension build up from all of our life experiences, physical injuries, emotional traumas, and simply from the way the modern world asks us to use our bodies.  When any part of the body is misaligned or restricted due to injury, posture, or emotional distress, the nervous system is agitated and communication within the entire body is disrupted. Though health and vitality is our inherent nature and the body will always seek well-being the best it can, many times the compensation is not optimal and will cause stress on your entire system.

Sure an alignment based yoga such as Anusara® can help us to create healthy habits in our body.  A regular yoga practice will shed much of the surface tension our body holds while creating more awareness. However, if there is a biomechanical misalignment, even the way you do your yoga practice can continue to create dysfunction.Massage Table

In my opinion, bodywork is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.   I am a firm believer in getting a little help from a team of highly trained, skillful, and intuitive body workers.  I am not talking about a spa massage, which can be nice sometimes, I am talking about work that will help you to unwind unhelpful patterns, increase your range of motion, and guide your body to find it’s own natural rhythm of ease and freedom.  As yogis that is precisely what we are seeking to do, so why not treat yourself to something that will enhance your efforts and give you more access to your practice?

An experienced bodyworker will be able to see and feel into your body and tailor the session to your specific needs helping to make permanent shifts in your body mind.  Each time you are on their table the session will be a bit different based on what presents itself.

Here are some of my favorite bodyworkers in San Francisco!

Mike and Jennifer Lane mobilize the joints and soft tissue optimizing range of motion, function, and balance through the Hendrickson Method. They both have a deep appreciation for the yoga practice and understand the body as a dynamic interconnected system.
www.mobilizethebody.com
mobilizethebody@gmail.com

Leni Mostaghim brings the insight gained from a devoted practice of Anusara yoga, as well as from over 10 years work as a certified Pilates instructor, to every session.  By interweaving Cranial Sacral work with the basic concepts and techniques of Ortho-Bionomy and honoring the body’s inherent wisdom, Leni’s work resolves injury and trauma and facilitates greater ease and connectivity, and is profoundly restorative for the central nervous system.  You can email Leni to inquire and book a session: integrative.healing@yahoo.com

Mark Haviland takes you on an adventure to unearth the kinks that limit the flow of chi in your body. His eclectic style is attuned to your needs and is a co-creative dance that can catapult ones healing journey exponentially and expeditiously.
Beyond Bodywork
http://www.yelp.com/biz/beyond-bodywork-san-francisco
https://www.facebook.com/BeyondBodywork

Katie Sutherland has trained in a wide range of modalities including neuromuscular therapy, craniosacral therapy, deep tissue & shiatsu which allows her to custom-tailor each session based on your needs. Her work brings awareness and openness to areas of tightness which can help you experience new places in your asanas that you may not have reached as quickly on your own. www.katiesutherland.com

In addition, if you have a specific injury it is also helpful to do a private yoga session with a qualified teacher trained in therapeutics.  This will help you to shed the light on your habits and patterns and teach ways to take care of yourself. Any Certified Anusara® yoga teacher will be able to see your habits and guide you to create balance. Check my website for more information on private yoga sessions. 

A New Take on New Year’s Resolutions

How many times have you made new year’s resolutions only to abandon them a few weeks into January?  You are not alone, 25% of resolutions last two weeks and after six months less than half the people have kept their promises.

This year why not try a different approach?

Reflect on the past year and make a list of all the major events in your life.  Your successes, your challenges, the lessons learned from difficult situations, the things that are working in your life, the things that aren’t…

Then highlight the things you want more of.  For example, if you are proud of yourself for  going to yoga once a week this year, start a second list and write that along with how you have benefited from your practice.  This is something you want more of.  Perhaps you will make it twice a week this year! If you got a raise or a promotion at work for a job well done, write about your success, you, of course want more of that!

If you had a relationship challenge this year note the attitudes and behaviors that caused the problem.  Then on the second list write about the lessons learned from the difficult situation. Perhaps a health problem prompted you to change your diet or your lifestyle to heal. You get the idea…

Now you have a list of what you have already achieved, what is working in your life, what you want more of, rather than a list of unattainable goals.  The attitude you start with plays a part in determining where you are headed!  Start 2012 with a list of how great your life is and be the creator of an even more fantastic year!

If you do have a big goal you really want to reach, be realistic.  I suggest writing your goal down with many small, clear actions toward achieving it, don’t expect an all at once transformation.

Happy 2012!

2012 New Year Wishes on Sea

Did You Miss Something?

Dear Friends,

I hope you have been enjoying the posts this month.  Today, how about going back through the blog and reading one you might have missed.  Perhaps make a comment on something you liked or have tried and share your results.  Below you will see I’ve made a little table of contents  for you for easy access!  Please tune in next week for all new posts.  Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Happy Everything!Rainbow on Sea
Stacey

Asana

Recipes

Self Care

Sustainability

What’s In Your Bathroom?

Many of us have already made the switch to organic foods to avoid pesticides and other harmful toxins.  But do you realize your skin is the largest organ in your body?  The skin absorbs everything around you and literally “eats” the products you use on it?

Do you know what’s in your bathroom?  Most soaps, cleansers, cosmetics and even toothpaste is made with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is disguised under 150 different names.  SLS is a de-greaser used to clean car engines, garage floors, and other greasy surfaces. How has this known carcinogen found it’s way into our self care products? Well because it makes them bubble up and it is extremely cheap.

So what is wrong with SLS?  For starters, it is very drying to the skin, a known irritant, but more importantly it cannot be metabolized by your liver and studies have shown that trace amounts stay in your liver, lungs, heart, brain.  SLS has been linked to many health problems including cancer.  SLS and many other cheap, synthetic toxins are in your everyday products throughout your bathroom.

I challenge you to convert your bathroom.  Get rid of all products containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other petroleum based additives. Switch to organics.

My favorite skincare line is Pangea Organics. Pangea Ecocentric Bodycare products and the company itself is healthy through and through.

ALWAYS • nurturing  • handcrafted  • organic & fair trade  • cruelty-free

NEVER • petroleum-based ingredients  • sulfates or detergents  • synthetic preservatives  • artificial colors or fragrances

There’s lots of information on Pangea’s site about them and their products.  You an order online or find them at Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods Market, and Scarlet Sage in San Francisco.

Another great line is 100% Pure – you could literally eat any of the products they are so natural!  Why wouldn’t you only use something you would eat on your skin?

If you suffer from dry skin and are wondering what to do, check out my previous post, The Magic of Oil.

Let us know if you use any other natural, organic lines you like on my Facebook Page.

Organics

Building Community Through Food

Jordan Schachter has been building community through food in San Francisco since 2005.   Through his business, Jordan’s Kitchen, he offers the yoga of food!  In group cooking classes even the cooking challenged are empowered!   He always uses fresh, seasonal, and organic ingredients and supports local farmers and producers.  You can join one of Jordan’s scheduled cooking classes or book one for your next private event.  The only better way than yoga asana to bond with friends, new and old, is definitely over food!

Jordan will be offering two different classes this January, Winter’s Bounty and Comfort Food.  He has been kind enough to share a few of his recipes with us this week.

As always, I’d love to hear from you on my Facebook Page.  Let us know if you find your inner chef!

Still need that last minute gift?  Consider a gift certificate for one of Jordan’s cooking classes.

Miso bowl with Udon Noodles and Wild Salmon (optional)


12 cups waterMiso bowl with Udon Noodles and Wild Salmon
½ ounce dried dulse
1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
8 ounces Udon noodles, cooked
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 two-inch long daikon radish, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 cup shitake mushrooms, stems removed and julienned
½ cup green onion, thinly sliced
1 baby bok choy, sliced horizontally into quarter inch pieces
Heaping ½ cup miso paste of choice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon chili paste
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
6 pieces wild salmon, 3-4 ounces each  (optional)

In a large pot, combine the water, dulse and ginger and bring to a simmer. Add the carrots and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about ten minutes. Add the daikon radish and the bok choy and cook for an additional two minutes or so, until softened. Remove two cups of the broth to a bowl and whisk in the miso paste until it is fully emulsifed. Return the miso mixture to the pot with the vegetables and add the fish sauce, soy sauce and chili paste. Stir to combine.

Preheat the broiler and place the pieces of salmon on a sheet tray. Season lightly with salt and broil until just cooked through, about five minutes depending upon its thickness. Remove and set aside.

Divide the udon noodles into soup bowls and then ladle enough broth and vegetables into each bowl. Garnish each with green onions and toasted sesame seeds and top with a piece of salmon. Serves six.

 

Three Beet Salad with Oranges and Pistachio:

2-3 pounds beets, red, gold and Chiogga (rinsed)Three Beet Salad with Oranges and Pistachio
12-14 thyme sprigs
Peel of three oranges
3 oranges, segmented
¼ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
3 cups orange juice, fresh squeezed
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely diced
½ to ¾ cup canola oil
8 handfuls wild arugula
Few sprigs mint, leaves only torn
Extra virgin olive oil

 

Preheat your oven to 450F. Place the beets on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with two thyme sprigs and a few slices of orange peel and wrap tightly with the foil. Roast in the oven until beets are tender, about one hour. Remove the beets and when cool enough to handle, peel. Discard the orange peel and the thyme. Slice the beets into pieces, keeping each color beet separate and set aside.

While the beets are cooking, pour the orange juice into a small saucepan and over medium heat reduce by half. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the diced shallot and rice wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in canola oil to make your orange vinaigrette.

Pour a third of the vinaigrette over your three kinds of beets and allow them to marinate as time permits. The beets will taste best if you allow them to sit overnight.

To assemble the salad, place the arugula in a bowl with the mint and the orange segments and lightly coat with olive oil and salt. Plate and then add a few spoonfuls of marinated beets. Sprinkle the plate with a few chopped pistachios and serve. Serves eight

 

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage

2 small butternut squashes, halved lengthwise and seeds removed      Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing squash
1½ cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
½  teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Pinch ground cinnamon
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese, optional
8 fried sage leaves

Preheat oven to 450F. Lightly rub the flesh of one squash with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Bake, flesh side down until cooked through and nicely browned, about forty-five minutes. Let cool slightly, scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash.

Peel and dice the neck of the other squash into quarter inch pieces. You need one and a half cups. Steam the diced squash until just cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a saucepan bring your vegetable stock to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat another saucepan over medium heat. Add four tablespoons of olive oil and when hot add your onion, sage and thyme. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and sweat the onions and herbs over medium heat for until softened, about five minutes. Add your rice and mix well to combine. Allow the rice to toast in the pan for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper. Begin to add your hot stock to the rice one cup at a time, maintaining a simmer. Do not add more liquid until the previous cup of stock has evaporated. Repeat this, stirring often until the rice is just finished cooking.

Remove risotto from the heat and add your diced squash and the mashed squash. Stir in the butter and once it has melted begin to fold in your Pecorino cheese if using Season to taste and finish with crumbled fried sage leaves. Serves six to eight.

Happy Solstice!

December 22 is the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year.  Solstice means: Sun standing still.  This midwinter celebration is one of the eight sacred observances in the wheel of the year.  By honoring the wheel of the year we tune in with nature and to the dance of life.

Winter Solstice is a nature’s invitation for us to turn inward and PAUSE.  Though we may be trying to tie up our lives before the end of the year, complete work projects before the holiday, and get those last minute gifts and social obligations in, your body is asking to be still and silent.  Make time this week for inner inquiry.  Journal and reflect, take a walk, have a cup of tea, and rest. The potency of your light lies within you, go to your inner space and welcome the coming of the light.

Winter Solstice