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.