7th December 2009
I am a Kripalu Yoga teacher with 11 years of experience teaching in my community as well as in a women’s prison, a hospital, a mental health community, a VA community care center, and in a recovery program for current military. I hope my former students will reconnect with me through this site and give me feedback on the practices that nurture them now that they are no longer in the programs where I met them. For years I selected a theme and reflected upon it until a lesson plan evolved that I could modify for the different populations I teach. I wanted to share these lessons plans and have posted a sampling as PDF files for others to adapt for use in their personal practices or for teaching their students. This blog format has led me to explore visual metaphors and I hope my musings will inspire others to share their metaphors in return.
More recently I have decided to stick with single themes for longer. I am discovering that too many practices can be confusing rather than liberating and inhibit my personal practice. I keep returning to familiar patterns or sequences that I know by heart. And more and more my heart is drawn to Qigong, a Chinese practice of energy cultivation. Qigong forms of self massage, healing sounds, standing meditations, and animal frolics can be outwardly very simple, yet relax and energize me profoundly. My current classes are structured around the five elements of traditional Chinese medicine, which correspond to five seasons: autumn, winter, spring, summer, and Indian Summer or the harvest. Each element also corresponds to different organs in the body, different emotions, different animal frolics, and so on. Although there is plenty of room for exploration within each season of classes, I repeat many of the forms within my classes for 6 0 8 weeks. I feel free to weave in and repeat related readings, yoga breathing, meditation, and postures as they support the Chinese elements.
As a teacher I am always striving to find a balance between creativity and a deeper appreciation and exploration of the familiar. Over the course of the next year, I hope to share class outlines in PDF form for each of the seasons. I welcome any related readings, postures, chants, mudras, meditations, and so forth that you may suggest in your comments to enrich these experiences or to vary them for another year. I’m mellowing. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel every week!
The Sufi poet Rumi uses wine as a spiritual metaphor in many of his ecstatic poems. “Until the juice ferments a while in the cask, it isn’t wine. If you wish your heart to be bright, you must do a little work,” he writes. Yoga is an expression of my yearning to find my essential nature and connection with others.
The metaphor of grapes turning to wine speaks to me on a personal level as my husband and I love to bike though vineyards. We have cycled in France, Italy, New Mexico, Sonoma and Napa counties, and of course our home state of Connecticut. I’m respectful of the care involved in the cultivation of grapes and the intimate knowledge the vintners have of the climate and soil of their terroirs. My practice is the soil where my transformation may occur.
May my reflections bring loving kindness, peace, freedom, and joy in ever expanding circles.