Welcome to my blog. Someone suggested I have a blog for the Asia tour to keep everyone updated on my travels. Well, Asia was so captivating, I never got around to blogging until my last night here, in Tokyo. So I hope a summary of the whole trip will do!
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,