I feel blessed every day to have had the opportunity to do my teacher training with John in a room full of only 50 people, to have practiced one-on-one in Texas with him, and to have spent weeks on the road practicing with just a few of us. I remember one week when I did not sign up early enough for the advanced Intensive in AZ, I asked John if I could come and just be there in case someone did not show. Never wanting to shut anyone out, he said yes, AND that I could come practice during the break with him, Desiree and Sianna. Needless to say I bought the plane ticket.
We shared our first Mahashivatri together that week, and I met Darren Rhodes and Christina Sell for the first time. One of the best moments was the invocation chant where we all put on sunglasses while our eyes were closed, so when John ended the chant he looked up from his namaste, shocked to see us all in shades.
During the summers in 2000-2001, I had moved from New York City with my boyfriend to Stone Ridge, NY which meant we could get to John at Gurumayi's ashram in only 45 minutes. I would go 2-3 times a week so I could take his public 90-minute classes and also practice with him for 2 hours during the day. During the day we'd do things like Abisheka (ritual bathing) of the Hanuman murti, hang out in the Amrit Cafe eating Dosas and talking with Douglas Brooks, have darshan with Gurumayi, meditate and 'get stoned' from the shakti in Baba's temple, and then do epic practices at Ashirwad, the hatha yoga complex that John helped design. Apart from Ashirwad, we were forbidden to wear tank tops which would expose our shoulders, or cross the road with out using the underpass. My boyfriend and I would have these silly fantasies of streaking across the road with nothing on but a leopard-striped fur thong, just for fun. Naughty!
At night I got to see John lead a normal public class that was less than 2 hours long, so I learned a lot about how to condense Anusara from "workshop mode", as I was accustomed, into a regular class. It was here that I met Jimmy and Ruthie Bernhaert, Noah Maze, Jayendra and others. Those were the days!
It is powerful to be with a community for this long. To grow and expand together, to learn from each other, to make mistakes and be forgiven, is truly like family, with out the blood connection. And yet, this feeling of family is ever present now whether one has been practicing Anusara for years or has just begun.
I like to think that the "spirit of Anusara" is always available to anyone, because of the foundation of love and Grace that was created during Anusara's early days. I believe that spirit is still generating and will last for many generations to come.