Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
There is something about Paris that connects me right in to the diverse nature of the Universe.
Even when I have fleeting thoughts of never returning there again, I end up planning another trip before I even leave.
Walking down Vielle Du Temple every day toward the Seine to Rasa Yoga, my senses are heightened as I am hit with every possible smell, sight, and sound: A shop window filled with pastries that are really sculptures of art, several piles of dog-doo to avoid, a whiff of perfume from the woman who just walked by, the sound of a baby crying over the drone of church bells ringing cacophonously, the sight of a woman throwing open the doors to her ancient balcony and stepping outside to greet the day, men and women lined up eating at the sidewalk brasserie, the nasty smell of urine, a noisy Vespa squeezing through the narrow street, footsteps on the cobblestones, and wafting aromas of French bread.
The depth of experience in Paris is so rich, the people are so full of life, it is truly international,
and every nook and cranny on the streets is filled with some magic secret discovery bekoning me to slow down, and "check it in". Even when I am melancholy in Paris, usually a stroll across the bridges linking I'lle St. Louis with the land does the trick. Inevitably there are musicians on the bridge singing the exact words or rocking a solo that was just the thing needed to shift my mood.
There are layers of great beings to get to know in Paris, and I happily reconnect each year with my Parisian family though big dinner parties on roof tops and in flats, and celebrate it all with the growing Parisian Anusara kula when I teach at Rasa Yoga.
This year we were blessed to have students from New York City, Boulder, Finland, Geneva, London, India, France, Singapore, and Germany. I was as usual, completely blown away by the evolution of everyone's practice and harmony as a kula, in just 15 months since I was last here. Anusara is no longer a seedling in Paris's soil, it is a beautiful
plant about to totally bloom.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Flying to the Motherland, Italia
The kula is full of life, the challenges of city living, and mostly full of love. It is clear that Anusara Yoga has taken hold in Rome, and I try not to be too blown away by the amazing irony of interconnection - that with out my doing, Anusara lives in my country of origin!
The weekend closes with the Global Mala celebration, complete with expressions of how we imagine the world, and108 repetitions of our Invocation. It is the first time we have ever chanted it that many times in a row. Being High is an understatement.It is a bliss-fest.
The weekend closes, I meet my mother in the center of Rome, for three days of sightseeing and then it's off to Umbria. We are joined by my sister and our genealogist, Iuri, and head to Perugia for what will be three full days searching for Ancestors in Citta Di Castello, and laughter that does not stop.
Our final night is spent celebrating my sister's 40th birthday at Locanda Del Gallo the night before our retreat begins. We enjoy Jimmy's amazing cooking and hand picked figs by the pool.
Anusara Yoga and the Art of Rhythm
From Australia, France, Istanbul, Afganistan, Hong Kong, and the United States, the yogis in our group slowly trickle into the silence of Locanda Del Gallo on the arrival day. It is clear that this group carries a tangible euphoriaand a desire to live life in a profound way. I am blown away with the instant familiarity and ease with which the group interrelates and also amazed at the level of musicality in the group when we begin the rhythm classes.
It had been colder with some rain leading up to the retreat, but when the group arrived, the sun came out and temperatures rose. We spent each break sunning by the pool and swimming. People got tan and it was October!
The highlight was the Anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi's death. St. Francis is easilythe most popular saint to have lived in all of Italy, and his home in Assissi is only 40 minutes from Locanda Del Gallo, so his presence can be felt palpably in this land. To be here in the fall, known as the time of Dakshinayana, the southern path of the sun, is especially powerful, as this is literally the time of honoring our ancestors. The practice that morning is a vibrant expression of respect, honor, inspiration and vibrancy as each student honors the gifts given to them from those who walked before us.
Kelli Davis has brought her healing and radiant necklaces and earrings so by the end of the week, most of the women students are adorned in gorgeous jewels.
The week culminates with an ecstatic wine tasting of 8 different wines of Italy, and a huge celebration of life ensues, well into the dinner hour. Much wine is consumed, yet no one gets drunk. Just happily buzzed, as it should be in Italy.
On the final day, we come together as an ensemble and play for the Locanda staff. Bala, the husband of one of our participants who dropped in on the last day. After the performance and only three hours of being here, Bala sums up the whole retreat, tapping into the essence of every teaching that was covered, the essence of the retreat itself, and the essence of Umbria. We are left with the feeling that with enough collective intention and awareness, someone like Bala can tune in so profoundly to energy, that they can describe experience so accurately.
The travel day begins with teary goodbyes. This group got close fast, and so much was shared and celebrated. There was a sadness knowing this group would never configure quite like this ever again. As the last taxi pulled away, Locanda became totally silent again for a time, the weather shifted and the cleansing rains came pouring in for the night. My heart was happy but heavy as I felt the rains were washing away the old stories no longer necessary, taking on the bright optimism of our radiant group, and the land was making its transition.
I am sitting in the brisk evening sun of autumn on a lawn chair, wrapped in my new hand-woven cashmere shawl, made by Renza, the weaver down the road. I'm surrounded by lavender and rosemary bushes and the sun is getting ready to set. It is a few days later. A new group has arrived with a different rhythm of its own. I am resting before flying to Paris. I am grateful to be alive, for the tranquility of Umbria, and for the work I get to do.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Someone very special just recently shared this video with me of Paul Potts, a car phone salesman from England, who won a major talent competition for singing Opera. Paul had been bullied in school and struggled with self confidence all of his life, but he always had his voice - if only anyone would listen! At 36, on national television, his voice is finally heard, and his talent is at last unveiled to the world. Check this out, and ask yourself - what gift am I waiting to unleash on the world? And what am I waiting for?
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I arrived in Seoul, Korea after a wonderful weekend teaching in Arcata, CA with the community lead by certified Ansuara teacher,Robyn Smith. When I first got off the plane in Seoul, I felt a surge of recognition and familiarity at arriving in Asia. Somehow all my years in New York, living in such a diverse culture, where so many Asians had made NY their home, it actually felt like home. But it also felt like 37 years was a long time to wait to finally come to this land, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to travel. I was also struck that our planet is so big and so abundant, that there are still places I will never see in this lifetime.
In Korea, I was hosted by Tina Park and family in their wonderful home. I taught at the beautiful Jai Center to a very sweet group of yogis. Tina and Jaya did such a great job translating for me - it can take me sometimes twice as long to teach because of the translation, but the students are so sharp, I often only had to teach things once for them to absorb it! Korean is a really lengthy and round-about language, so it takes forever for them to say even something simple like "Move your thighs back".
At first the students were very shy, but after a day or so of connecting hearts, the students felt so comfortable that they would gather in really close when I was demonstrating and even touch me to feel the different parts of the body I was talking about to absorb the teachings. Overall the yoga struck such a chord with the students and many wonderful heart connections were made.
Ty and Shubhendra Rao, from Delhi, performed two off-the-charts concerts. One was in a funky tea house, the other at Jai Center. The Koreans went wild for the Indian Music.
Off to Hong Kong for the weekend for the first ever Yoga Conference in Asia. There we met up with Krishna Das, Desiree R., and a bunch of other yogis like Shiva Rea, Andrey Lappa, Cyndi Lee, Duncan Wong, etc...The sky scrapers and harbour were breath taking. I was fortunate to catch some teachings with Geshe Michael Roach and was very inspired by his take on the third sutra of Patanjali. He summed up the third sutra ("Then the seer abides in her own true nature") as basically successful time management! In other words, when you know your true nature, and you know what you want, you can expand time, and manage time in a way that allows you to accomplish as much as you want. Very cool take.
Witnessing the conference, it struck me that Yoga's roots began in Asia, travelled West, got reborn, and now Yoga seems to be migrating back East. It was strange and kind of wonderful to see the collective yoga culture of the US being shared in Hong Kong, and having all the familiar yoga faces, sounds, colors, products, and energy present there. Being such a part of this culture for the last decade, and realizing the impact of my own transformation via our yoga community here in the states, it gave me great hope that this yoga culture could now begin transforming lives and raising consciousness in a whole other part of the globe. Whoa.
Kuala Lumpur was next, for 7.5 hours a day of teaching some of the most dedicated, tireless yoga students I have every taught! They were relentless. If we had pulled an all nighter with the workshop, they would have been totally up for it! We did a therapy training, this time taught in English. There are three wonderful Anusara Inspired teachers in Kuala Lumpur, one of whom was Vincent Tam who hosted me at his studio, Jiva Yoga Center. While I was here, Ty and KD went to Singapore. Here is our beautiful group photo.
Another highlight of my time in Malaysia was sampling the repulsive smelling Durian Fruit, Vincent insisted! I liked it. The part that was most interesting is the way the fruit smells nasty until you actually consume it. Then you no longer smell it! It reminded me of how, as yogis, we must fully embrace our emotions, the Rasas, etc..., before we can actually transmute them.
Off I went to Bangkok with Vincent for a weekend workshop at Yoga Elements. Little did I know, that four other students from Malaysia also spontaneously hopped a plane and followed us to Bangkok for the classes! It was a great surprise to see them there. Yoga Elements is owned by Adrian Cox, a regular student of mine from Om Yoga Center in NYC, from back in the old days! He had been asking for me to come to Bangkok via email and instant message for a few years, and we finally made it happen! It was great to see him and be part of the fantastic yoga community he has created in Bangkok. In Asia, many people still do yoga to get a tight butt, but Adrian has helped create a yoga culture that wants more from the practice.
I really fell in love with Thailand and the city. This was also my beauty and relaxation stop on the tour! I went all out with the great prices on manicures, pedicures, foot massages and Thai Massage bodywork! Thanks to my awesome host, Joung-ah, Thailand's Anusara Inspired teacher, I was directed to all the best places and also hit the night market for some amazing bargains on silk shawls, and hand embroidered clothes. Having studied Thai Massage many years ago, it was very meaningful for me to visit the motherland of Thai Massage, and receive bodywork there.
There was so much enthusiasm in South-East Asia that with the help and encouragement of Vincent and Joung-ah, it is likely that we will be organizing curriculum and studies that would help serve this area and the growing excitement for Anusara. Already Jonas Westring, an Anusara teacher who lives half the year in Thailand, has been instrumental in offering Anusara Yoga to this area.
At early dawn, I got on the plane for a 5.5 hour flight to Tokyo. I spent my first day alone, which was the first time the entire tour that I was able to be silent. I did not eat much that day, since I could not undertand any of the Japanese, but it was a glorious day of walking in the park, watching movies in my hotel room, and resting. It is a good thing I rested, because Studio Yoggy and the Anusara Kula in Tokyo were gearing up for 6 hard core days of learning! After my first day of teaching, I wrote to John Friend:
"Greetings from planet Anusara in Tokyo. Is it real? How did all these Japanese yogis learn Anusara so fast? I have never in my 9 years of teaching Anusara seen anything like it. Everything you said was true, but seeing is believing! And then the cute factor on top of it...My smile muscles are so sore."
It is true. John had told me about the extraordinary level of studentship here, and it was such a pleasure to teach. The kula there totally absorbed the technical instructions - and they get such pleasure from learning.
I also learned some of the Japanese words for yoga terms, such as handstand which translates as "Handostando" (I'm serious!) and Wild Thing - "Waildo Sing". And then there was the ever popular, "Downwaerdo Facing Dogu". This cracked me up in class with my fantastic translator, Yuki, and got everyone laughing.
We went to some phenomenal restaurants. One specializing in Udon, another in Sushi, and last night we went to a Tempura restaurant for a 3 hour long meal of Tempura, where we watched the chef preparing one tasty morsel after the next. Here is a picture of him serving us the tempura, and us eating it!
As more photos, and emails come in, I will try to post them and continue this blog from now on! Blessings to all,
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Nonnie has been one of the biggest sources of inspiration in my life and to be her grand daughter has been an immense honor.
Nonnie was born into a troupe of actors, Italian immigrants who produced and performed plays for the Italian community. It was here that she learned every aspect of the theater. From her training in this lineage, she went on to become an actor, stage manager, Shakespearean scholar, producer, and renowned director of theater productions all over the world. In the 50's, as her career was thriving, her parents, Silvio and Esther Minciotti landed roles in film, including the 1956 Accademy award winner, "Marty".
Nonnie lived at a time when women had to fight for their freedom to live according to their passions, and she succeeded. She enjoyed a full life as a wonderful mother, wife, sister, grandmother, friend and director. An avid reader, scholar, and listener, Nonnie always showed more interest in others than in needing to tell her own story (as magnificent as it was!). Everyone felt important and special after being around her.
In her last days, her bedside was flooded with visitors. Even though her body was weak and her mind fading, she was always there with wide eyes to greet them and offered a compliment to share.
It was a privilege to be with her at the moment she took her last breaths, and to share the final two weeks of her life sitting by her side, soaking in her essence, and sharing sweet goodbyes. She was so full of love.
One of Nonnie's many gifts was her hugs, which she was doling out liberally until the point where her arms were too weak to lift anymore. Even then, she continued to hug using her shoulders to squeeze instead. Though we will never feel her hugs in that form again, I can feel her embrace on an infinite scale already, and her hugs will live on through everyone she has touched during her extraordinary life.