Yoga, Hanuman, and Keiko Matsui

The air is crisp. It feels so clean. So clear. So wonderful...

I drive to the other side of the river for yoga - two days in a row. On Saturday, I drive in to experience and evaluate two budding teachers who "team-teach" a class together. Every time I do this, I wonder who is really being served more by this process. Each and every time I take and evaluate such a class, I find my own understanding of teaching the gift of yoga and the Anusara Yoga Universal Principles of Alignment is deepened. I am humbled by this amazing opportunity to offer whatever insight I can, in service to the Anusara community.

On both days I drive with the windows partially open - breathing in the wonderful air of the season - intoxicated by the very delicious and sensual music of Keiko Matsui, a jazz pianist. I feel as alive as I can possibly be...

Today, however, I get to be a student. I travel to the other side of the river to hear tales of Hanuman and his devoted loyalty to his Master Lord Ram - a trait that I consider to be most desirable...

We work with the First Principle of Anusara Yoga - "Opening to Grace" - by embodying the experience of "side body long" in a most unique and deep way. We ground down through our pelvis and lengthen our side bodies through by engaging the inseam of our legs - and firing our adductors more deeply than many of us have - to access our hearts even more so.

My teacher is gifted and creative - and she leads us through a dance of poses which include deep Bhujangasanas, and Anjaneyasanas - as we are told the wonderful myth of Hanuman's birth. We extend our arms forward in the pose - with hands wide open - to catch the divine pudding that will give birth to Hanuman in our hearts. With our fingers - our divine connectors to grace - we engage our shoulders deeply, lift our sternums - and rooting into the earth - we soar in the pose with hearts broken open.

But perhaps my favorite story about Hanuman is the one where he rips opens his heart to reveal his Lord Ram and his wife Sita, whom he dutifully serves and is wholeheartedly devoted to, and who abide in his very heart. This story exemplifies the epitome of both loyalty and devotion.

I didn't know if I'd make it to class this morning, or if I would have the energy to do it, due to some physical issues, but we are reminded by our teacher that we are here, on this brilliant Sunday morning, in this class to stretch and to open - and not just on a physical level - but on a more deeply spiritual level as well. We are here to change and to transform. She tells us that we are not here to repeat our poses in the same way we did them five years ago. For truly, that does not serve us. And so we work towards inversions and Urdhva Dhanurasana and they all feel better than they have in a while.

I drive home feeling simply wonderful and grateful that I was led to this practice, which is a doorway to the heart. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my immediate yoga community - and the much larger Anusara community to which I belong. I am so deeply grateful that all of these paths converged for me, in this lifetime!

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