We arrive in the cold rain, and dark once again. Diana is teaching this morning. She is Yin to Bernie's Yin. Everything is relative. I am not going to go into detail my fellow yogis but just sayin...we open in Sphinx, and then move to Square.. We hold Square (fire log, full pigeon.. ) 12 MINUTES on each side folded forward. Do the math my friends... I am I'll equipped to describe psychedelic experiences, so this post will end here.
I am at the sensual refuge. I am seated at the break at the Fresh Market on the island. I now think of this place as home. I have a plate of pickled salmon and rolled herring, a toasted bagel.
Some fellow yoga students are nearby. I will ask them to describe today in one word. They are from various corners of N America.
LONG, Amazing, Angry, Awakening, Presence, Hard: And as I inferred, my word was Psychedelic.
Afternoon with Bernie... Bumblebee breath was done and we had questions about it. Diana has us do it in sphinx. It buzzes the thyroid, relaxes deeply, like a low hum.. I like it.
So Mr. science guy... He is a bit like Bill Nye, but the yogic version.. Hee Bernie Clark, the science nerd yoga guy. Bernie is slim, fit, older, ( everyone speculates about his age. ) I say 65... But some moments he is 55 and others he is 65.. So I imagine he is sixty.. Or thereabouts. He does have hour, lightness and awareness of aging like we older peeps do.. He has a playful spirit in moments.. And I'd like to see that totally unleashed.. But um, we are in a formal teacher training.. Very serious stuff. 😉
More talk about western spirituality, Jungian, Cognitive, some other stuff. And then back to mindfulness, presence, Buddha, meditation.. And how it all blends together like a rainbow.. One color gradually becoming the next. And the weird thing.. A huge rainbow appeared out side the window... And we broke to capture this gorgeous image.. Slide show in the sky!
Many of us are sore beyond description... The Bikram guy is almost crying next to me and flat out refuses to do any more hip openers. Bernie plays some Harvard video where you go into a cell and it is a mind bender again. Basically the message is..
There a vast connective matrix that affects everything and everyone and we are all connected.. Plants, animals, stars, sky, wind, water, cosmos, joints, breathe.... So I guess the only reason to even do yoga... Is What? Why? Huh?
Then we had a gardening class about watering weeds and flowers.. Illustrated by his "ex wife" .
We played with more weird stuff. We talked about the no Chi places, appliances that steal your chi, and Earthing.. Ok, nuf said. See you on the mat tomorrow .
Tomorrow is the fusion flow.. Yin and vinyasa.. That's should be a mind f--- too.
No doubt... But who cares... No alignment rules, simply... How Does It Feel?
They all kinda blend/blur together the way orange moves gradually into red which moves gradually into facia which moves gradually into tendon, and to bone.. As everything connects inward and outward in a net work of.. Geometric and. One geometric designs.. Extending out of the body and into the either and casuals body and beyond.. And and.. My mind is bending and stretching, expanding in wonder and contracting in doubt... As is my aging body.. I can envision fibroblasts moving around depositing collagen an halauranic acid like those little round vacuum cleaners robotically moving around ones living room.
Oh and then there is the practice ... So this morning started the same , in the dark and cold. We sit quietly, we chant the morning mantra.. 12 times... And that ritual sets the stage for the Yin Practiice.
Today Bernie tells beautiful stories of the myths and tales surrounding the Buddha and his life. We hold and hold, stressing some targeted joint, ligament, tendon... And are taken on this colorful journey which is fascinating. I almost forget
how uncomfortable I am. We do simple poses and hold them much much longer than I am used to. We do straddle, one legged straddle, and The two hours passes so quickly. We then take a posture apart and learn how to help the different student who have various skeletal differences. The day before we played with bones and watched the slides on Paul Grilley' s website of many leg and pelvis and arm bones. It was deeply emphasized and drilled into my hard head, each person is different, there is no one way to do any pose in Yin or any other form, and the extremities (legs feet, arms hands) are the least important for placement... Shit. Really? Like the knee doesn't have to alighted over the ankle? Oh ! Yea .. My anger is rising.
Ok break for breakfast, two hours to recover and eat.. We return to an afternoon of energy discussions, quantum physics talk, but lightly and irreverently, and to discussion the links, lines and matrices which connect the east and west, and many of the eastern modalities. We discuss chakra theory, QI, Chi, Jing, spirit... Bernie tells a good story. It was fun and rich with information.. Big lesson so far. Never never means never, and always is alway wrong... No dogma, everything is in flux, one day this workshop will be proved to be hogwash perhaps.. Open open open, play explore, enlighten up!
On this same day we define adduction, abduction, flex ion extension, rotation and all the ways the joints and body moves... What stops movement and how to discern if some has come to their limit.. Bone against bone. This idea that if we eat right, practice daily, push and make our yoga intense and regular , see our Ayurvedic doctors and meditate, that one day we will have a perfect Hanuman asana, a perfect hand stand, a perfect practice... Ha ha ha ha ha .. NOT. Biology and genetics cannot be argued with.
Whew.. Good night.
Diana Batts is a gentle red head who assists and also teaches the workshops with Bernie. I arrive barely making it this morning.. had a wrong turn, and oops... I went lost for at least 20 minutes. But.. like this trip's minor theme, I arrive as the door was closing. Seated we always begin with the Gayatri Mantra chanted 12 times as the sun rises.. well in Vancouver it is more like when the light comes on.. over these grey rainy skies, we all welcome what the day will deliver. Where the actual sun has gone missing is anyone's guess.
We sit in silent meditation, and it is divine.
We practice a kind of alternate nostril breathing with palms open and closing and it works for me... Can't wait to try it on You!
We begin Yin practice in Sphinx, which we hold 12 minutes. Diane is a soft touch, and careful teacher. I allowed myself to adjust to the change of style and I drop deeply into my body today. I am now feeling very well rested, sleeping again; about 8-9 hours last night in that big bunny sac of a bed. I am exploring my injuries on a deep level and settling into the body so I can understand these pains, and their origins; particularly my shoulders, which are both fragile.
We move to half saddle forward folding, and then onto the back for regular half saddle. Time is again the "magic" ingredient.
We also used blocks and flat supports (which I love.) The flatter more square supports are like a coffee table book covered in soft stuff. This next shoulder opening is also something new for me. We rested two elbow tips up onto a block or one of the flatter soft covered supports. I chose to use two stacked under each elbow. One takes the body back towards the rear of the mat really lengthening the torso and freeing up the entire shoulder girdle. Now we place the palms together, fingers facing the ceiling. More flexible people are asked to dome the hands with just the finger pads pressing each matching pad on the opposite hand. Ouch at first.. and then Ahhhh. I relaxed into my injuries and sent my breath there, and simply looked at the dull, and less dull aches with curiosity and compassion. We spent maybe 5 minutes like this. The release was like "Christmas Day" as Bernie says when we release out of these intense stressors... Ahhhh . As the contradiction, We place the blocks under each shoulder with the arms splayed over them, head to the side. So the blocks held up the shoulders and the blood rushed in.
Puppy Dog ( actually the warmup for Anahatasana...melting heart) is an excellent way to lead people more gently to the full expression of this heart and shoulder opener; one arm at a time.
After a seemingly simple but long held spinal twist, we break at 9:15 am and everyone leaves the building because another class enters. I always head to the Fresh Market which is a delight and joy, passing squawking sea gulls and various shops and dogs and people, surrounded by wet, and cold and uber fresh air. Entering into the this market infuses me with smells of fresh goodness: fruit, veggies, meats, breads, hot coffee, smoked, baked, steamed, asian, indian, nordic, all kinds of delights! I take time (the magic ingredient) and wander, allowing my body to feel exactly what it needs.
Yesterday I decided on two types of Salmon.. pickled and smoked. I feasted on fresh Pacific Northwest wildness, and a bagel. Today I wanted Indian warmth. I pick the freshly made chick peas, and a vegetable and ground beef dish over basmati..so spicy and comforting. These morning meals are my biggest and best of the day.
I look forward to the rest of the day which is usually a lecture, slides, discussions and hands on things, questions and answers... and always a few cleverly placed surprises.
Part 2 of day 3
And today after the lectures and discussions I decided to quit teaching yoga. That is it, I am out!
Bernie Clark has this mischievous, sadistic way of breaking every belief system you ever held as a teacher. "It isn't ever how a posture looks," he calmly says. " it is how it Feels... That's it." Say what?
He has spent three days breaking our training... Our attachments to aesthetics, our style of teaching.. He then attempts to comfort the group, made up of mostly seasoned teachers, "First comes denial, then anger, then depression, grief, and finally acceptance" He chuckles.
I am somewhere lost in anger and depression today.. Being the alignment NaziI am so proud to be... Yep..
So here I sit, alone in this fabulous cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, having a craft beer.. Tears dropping into my glass.