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The Prop Shop is Open!

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in News | 0 comments

The Prop Shop is Open!
I will be re-opening the prop shop for blankets, bolsters and chairs.
The blankets are the off-white cotton blankets that we have some of at Stillwater and Shambhala.   $30
The  bolsters will be shipped from India and made completely from cotton. If you have been to Shambhala Center and seen, perhaps sat upon the bolsters there, those are them. They have held up their bolsterness wonderfully for about 5 years now, been laid over, stepped on and occasionally punched. $60
The chairs are made here at my house. We purchased an electric grinder for the chair making excitement, so nothing can stop us now. The chairs are a light tan color. $40
On another note, it has been wonderful to be home amongst all of your smiling faces, bent knees and flying buttocks.

New Audio Class – All Levels

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in News | 0 comments

New Audio Class – All Levels

Visit this page for an all-levels audio class with Kquvien:

http://kquvienyoga.com/all-levels-class/

The past, the present, the present, oh for the love of God, the present!

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in News | 2 comments

The past, the present, the present, oh for the love of God, the present!
Yoga has taught me to look for a lesson in everything. Sometimes, the lesson is that there really is nothing to be learned and I should just move along and stop trying to make something out of nothing.
So, time here in India is passing—not quickly enough, but passing all the same.
I have 3 classes a week with Prashant, which is starting to annoy me. The annoyance led me to skip class this morning, in hopes that by next class my mind will be more accepting to his words and methods.10444764_662994767117914_5324219861742087893_n
The other teachers at the Institute have been teaching very fast-paced classes, perhaps trying to keep everyone upbeat and alert in the heavy, heavy humidity.
Their instructions are blunt, sometimes crude. Stay, stretch, tighten, extend. If any mystery is going to be revealed, it is within the mind and body of the practitioner, no words of wisdom or magical instructions are being revealed.
I can honestly say that so far the most overwhelming truth that is coming to me during this trip is the importance of finding my own path. Adhering to basic disciplines of kriya yoga–hard work, self study and devotion–does not necessarily entail blind obedience. In fact, prajna, discrimination, is one of the most challenging tasks put to us in yoga.
I have always hoped that while you, my students, enjoy being in my classes, I am encouraging you to think for yourselves rather than make you dependent on me.
Finding our own path can feel lonely, perhaps isolating at times. These times of quiet aloneness can shine a light on our deeper selves where perhaps during the normal daily hustle and bustle these deeper corners would go unnoticed.
10455218_662478060502918_6832986851214696384_nI am seeing that I do have the capacity to make my own path in my yoga practice and as a teacher. Of course, there will always be teachers with new insights to help me grow. However, my teaching has always been based on the truth and trials of my own experiences, rather than something I recently unwrapped without test driving it for awhile on my own.
Obedience should be based on respect and trust rather than a lack of self confidence. I made this third trip to Pune to prove to myself that I could after canceling last year’s trip. The fact that I am doing it has given me the knowledge that I didn’t need to. Would I have arrived at this place of security and self-knowledge if I did not make the trip? Probably not.
Tato dvandvah anabigahatah
“Then, the opposites of life no longer disturb us.”
So with eleven days left here in Pune I am determined to learn what I can from the teachers at RIMYI, but more importantly learn from myself. The impatience, discomfort, anxiety, and overall feeling of displacement induced by this environment leave me  no other choice that to reach deeper inside of myself for patience, calmness, comfort, and acceptance.

Stay Calm, Stay Focused, Stay Strong

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in News | 5 comments

Stay Calm, Stay Focused, Stay Strong

I cannot stop looking at the calendar.

I am looking at the calendar and counting the days until I get home.

In the meantime, I am loading up on probiotics and washing vegetables in Grapefruit Seed extract before cooking the crap out of them then eating them with a pouch of chicken, tuna, or salmon dumped on top in a very non-gourmet fashion.

Presently cooking on the camper stove, which is what we have in the apartment here in Pune, is a pot of beef stew that I made from beef jerky packed in my suitcase. It’s quite good actually. So, I look at the calendar, count the days and tell myself that I can do this.

I can do this.

Then there are days like today. We had a horrible class with Prashant, Mr. Iyengar’s son. He was in a nasty mood, yelling and spitting at us for every little thing. He was speaking faster than usual, and when he gave instructions or called out a pose we would all look around at one another, wondering who caught that and was it correct? Either way we just braced ourselves to be shouted at some more since that seemed to be his point to the class this morning, with particular emphasis on “hurry up!”

I returned to the apartment with my friend Maribeth, and we just could not stop expressing to one another how difficult being in that room was for us and every student in there.We decided we could not take much longer, so we began the quest for an earlier flight home. Thus passed a few hopeful hours of imagining a flight carrying us home as early as next MondayTuesday, or Wednesday, no sum too high, just get us the heck out of India.

The reality set in when we finally put the Delta app on our phones and saw the amount of money it would cost to bust out of here early. A thousand dollars.

I had to change my tune.

The fact is that this will not be the last day that I wish wholeheartedly to get home earlier than originally planned.

I find myself repeating to myself what I often say to all of you: stay calm, stay focused, stay strong.

1924341_664846646932726_6001876866647354278_nHonestly, I don’t have anything inspirational or encouraging to add at the end of this post. I believe in being honest, especially with those of you whom I teach. I only hope that my experiences can help be better understand and help you with your trials.

Vitarka badhane prati pakshabhavanam.
“When harassed by negative thoughts, cultivate a more wholesome outlook, consider the opposite viewpoint.”

So, I will not dwell on the negative. We had a fantastic practice session today. I am discovering new ways to keep my back muscles out of spasm. A lovely lady from Australia taught me a great little trick in Bhekasana. I watched this crazy Indian guy do Mandalasana! (Look it up; it’s a wacky pose.)

So, I am going to keep looking at the calendar. I can do this.

Report from Pune

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in News | 3 comments

Report from Pune



Pune is hot, heavy and smelly.

Well, there was a small spattering of rain yesterday for a minute, that helped lighten things up a bit. A bit.

The heat and oppressive air have been taking a toll on everyone. Last night I was observing a beginner class, and the ladies on either side of me fell asleep, chin dropped to chest, tiny snores, the whole deal. Everyone is tired and overheated. I observed a beginner pranayama class that could have been titled “nap time” for those participating.

I have 3 classes a week with Mr Iyengar’s son, Prashant, which is proving very interesting. I am getting more from his teaching than I did my last time here. Am I more mature? Doubtful. Upon his urging I find hidden caverns that my breath has not yet even seen, touched, or knew existed. It’s easy to space out and really let the mind wander in his class, so I decided to “space in,” if you’ll allow the term. 🙂

923425_663943083689749_7982558295602931239_nGulnaaz, who visited Stillwater studio a few years back, taught class last Wednesday morning, and that was the best so far, mainly because I find her exuberance and vibrancy so wonderful. Her teaching is consistent, and she is focused on her point. She makes me laugh and at the same time push myself a little further. She is an expert linker of poses! We started out with uttanasana and she took us to anantasana and vastistasana. So much fun!

I wish we could get audio recordings of her teaching, but, nope. It’s up to my memory.

Well, this is an experience, good or bad is up to me I suppose, so I’m doing the best I can. 🙂

Backbends and inversions help.

Guruji (Mr. Iyengar) has not been in the hall since one day last week. At that time he seemed to be recovering. He even took the time to teach his granddaughter, Abijata, some backbends. But sometime last month he visited his home town of Bellur and got very sick and dehydrated. I did see him sitting out on the porch a couple of days ago; he was dressed warmly in this crazy heat. Apparently, it’s been a long, slow recovery.
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Every day around 2-3:00pm I start getting the blues for home and begin to feel like a lunatic for making this trip over here with my suitcase full of sardine cans and tuna pouches. So I stand up and begin repeatedly kicking up into handstands until my arms are on fire and I feel the panic subside. Then I begin rolling back and forth between paschimottanasana, halasana, and then sun salutations, lots of chaturanga dandasana. So far, so good.

I miss everyone and at the same time I am happy and grateful to have people in my life to actually love and miss.

Prayatna saitiyananta samapattibhyam
Tato dvandvah anabigahatah

“When our natural tendency towards restlessness is quieted, meditation becomes possible.
Then, the conflicts if life no longer disturb us.”

New Audio Class: Level 1-2

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in News | 0 comments

New Audio Class: Level 1-2

Visit this page for a Level 1-2 audio class with Kquvien:

http://kquvienyoga.com/level-1-2-class-2/

New Audio Class: Restoratives and Pranayama

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in News | 0 comments

New Audio Class: Restoratives and Pranayama

Visit this page for the latest audio class with Kquvien:

http://kquvienyoga.com/restoratives-and-pranayama/

Summer Schedule

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in News, schedule | 0 comments

Summer Schedule

Shambala Meditation Center

NOTE: There will be no Tuesday or Thursday classes at Shambala throughout July 2014. These classes will recommence upon announcement sometime in August!

All Levels- Tuesday and Thursday 10:30am

The cost for the classes is $15.

Shambhala Meditation Center is located at 1447 Church Street, Decatur. It is a beautiful place made for cultivating calmness and contentment.
_________________________

Also at Shambala

Classes with Chris O’Brien
Monday
5:20 & 7:15pm – All levels

Wednesday
6:30am – All levels

_________________________

Stillwater Yoga Studio, Monroe Dr., Atlanta

NOTE: A substitute teacher will be teaching these classes at Stillwater Studio throughout July 2014.

Sun 9AM level 1-2

Sun 10:30AM level 1 for beginners

Wed 6PM Vinyasa

Now Begins…

Posted by on Mar 17, 2013 in News | Comments Off on Now Begins…

Now Begins…

This is an article I wrote a little while back for the Southeast Iyengar Associaton newsletter. If you are not a member of the National Iyengar Association (IYNAUS), consider becoming one. You’ll be supporting the growing Iyengar community and get a newsletter every now and again. The membership fees help cover assessment costs and scholarship funds. I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship for my first India trip a few years ago.

Each time we read a sutra, it means something different.  Depending on who we are, where we’ve been, what we had for lunch or what we watched most recently on the television, the sutra can be interpreted differently. But, the sutra can also mean what our mind-body-complex, tangled up and mashed together by the ignorance (avidya) and ego (asmita), want it to mean.

1.1 atha yoganusasanam

Now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga.

Fundamentally, many Sanskrit texts began with the word “atha” as a way to introduce the subject matter and lay a foundation, mundane, but true.

Various translations and commentaries suggest it speaks of existing in the moment.

Practice now and don’t procrastinate. No time like the present. Exist in the moment, let go of your past hang ups, put your hands down, step your feet back and practice. What are you waiting for?

So, with this first sutra, Patanjali is saying simply, “here we go.”

2.6 drg darsana saktyor ekatmatevasmita

Ego is to consider the nature of the seer and the nature of the instrumental power of seeing to be the same thing (Bryant).

Egoism (asmita) is identifying the power of cognition (buddhi) as if it were the power of consciousness (purusa) (Dass).

We think that this is it. This world, this body, these thoughts are everything, and we take it very seriously. Deeper than our thoughts, deeper still than our stunning intellect, is pure consciousness. Deeper in the sense that it’s buried underneath all of our psychological crap. When we are not “dwelling with the true self” we are then “dwelling with the fluctuating consciousness,” existing in the realm lead by our ego.

Each time we read a sutra, we are reading it through our personal filters. These filters are colored and clouded by the avidya and asmita.  We rely on these filters as a survival mechanism. For the part of us that is ruled by the klesas (afflictions) and antarayahs (obstacles), it is important that these filters are securely in place.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines ignorant as “uninformed.” The same dictionary defines stupid as “unwilling.”

We are uninformed about a vast amount of things. We make this simple discovery every time we move into an asana and cannot access a certain area or perform a particular action. We may not be willing to endure the truth, or willing to do the work that is required to gain said endurance. In a way, our ignorance gives us some comfort.

These filters give us our identity; make up who we want to be when we present ourselves to the world.  Even if we have an “I don’t care what they think” attitude that too is part of our molded identity. As humans, we need these filters, these molds, to function from day to day. It’s when we get attached to them, cannot fathom letting them go, and move away from change at any cost that they have become a problem.

2.44 svadhyayad ista devata samprayogah

From self study and study of the scriptures, a connection with one’s deity of choice is established.

Notice that svadhyaya is not only study of the self, but also study of sacred texts.

As we examine ourselves, our routines and practices, actions and reactions, likes and dislikes, we can really back ourselves into a corner of self-justification. We can convince ourselves that the excuses we conjure up are valid and that we truly need to make the choices we make, stay stagnant, spend a little more money on an object we’ll grow bored with before too long, or watch internet videos while munching on potato chips instead of doing headstand and shoulderstand.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali apply to all of us. There are no exceptions; like the yamas (moral disciplines), the sutras are universal. We should not exclude ourselves from a lesson or deny ourselves an improvement because of a self-made exception.

Svadhyaya can also be the study of our friends, family, husbands, wives, neighbors, and students.  Does to study mean simply to observe?  Again, to the dictionary: to study, to investigate, to scrutinize or earnestly contemplate, and take pains to achieve. Are we willing to take pains to dispel ignorance and become informed?  Are we willing to shatter our own filter, so we can help someone else?

When we study ourselves, a sutra, or another living creature are we considering how their afflictions and obstacles taint their personal filter or are we too busy being tormented by our own problems?

Our work to ease the suffering of another can in turn relieve our own distress.

3.23 maitry adisu balani

He gains moral and emotional strength by perfecting friendliness towards one and all.

Trying to see things from someone else’s perspective takes courage. Stepping out of our own heads to take action and help someone else takes even more courage. It’s not always as easy as we think, but it’s not as difficult as we think either. We may chant the word ahimsa, but thinking non-violent thoughts is very different from actually taking action and expanding our consciousness to help another.

I remember a time when I was running late for a class I teach in the morning. I was so late, in fact, that I busted out the door with no clothes except for my t-shirt and yoga shorts.  I got about 2 miles away from my house when I saw a small white bunny hopping right along the road side. Immediately, I accelerated, drove past and muttered to myself “no time.” About 10 seconds later I came to a screeching halt, pulled over and got out of the car, intent on scooping up a bunny.

What kind of cruel hearted dingbat did I have to be to think that my class would prefer that I let a helpless bunny perish just so I could get to class in time? I felt sure that they would all give up 10 minutes of their class time to help the bunny.

So, as it turns out, I found the owner of the bunny who was wandering about the neighboring street, looking frazzled. Together we rounded up the frightened thing, and I moved along to class. I actually was not late, but right on time, no worries.

That day stands out for me, not because of the cuteness of the bunny, but because of the giant explosion within myself right before I made the decision to stop the car and help. I cursed loudly and screwed my face up into a horrific contortion. I remember feeling like I was trying to figure out some crazy algebraic equation, yet knowing that the solution was sitting in plain sight just one page over. I had to expand my mind.

That day, after helping with the bunny collection and driving off, I felt light, almost buoyant, like I had nothing to worry about. So, I remember thinking to myself, “that’s it, be friendly, help out, feel better.”

It does not have to be huge. The extension and expansion need not be massive or financial.

Did you scowl at someone because they seem weaker than you?

Did you decide to cut off a friendship because their political view differed from yours?

Did you drive by a stranded bunny?

We can find small ways to cultivate friendliness and compassion. Each difficulty is another chance to practice.

A true svadhyaya involves not only study of the self and study of the scriptures, but also a willingness to change ourselves. Look through someone else’s filter and be willing to see things differently. Stop twisting the meanings of what is put before us to better fit our philosophy.

Action is required.  That’s Kriya yoga.

Pranayama

Posted by on Jun 5, 2012 in Sequences | Comments Off on Pranayama

Pranayama

I remember my first couple of days in India this past July.

Jet lag had not yet worn off and I walked around in a daze of sorts. Fighting to stay awake in the middle of the day, gulping down lots of chai for the caffeine and falling asleep around 9pm, only to rouse, wide awake at 2am.

It was about 2am my third or second morning there that I crawled from my flat Indian bed onto my sticky mat to practice something close to pranayama. The apartment actually had a couple of bolsters that worked great for laying over and opening the chest. I remember very clearly my first Indian Ujjayi of that trip. As I inhaled to expand my chest and rib cage, I felt 20+ hours of airplane stiffness smooth away. As I exhaled I felt the anxiety and panic that comes from being in a crazy place  and having an irregular sleep pattern transform into calm, content acceptance.
I remember being so grateful that this art of pranayama exists, so grateful that somewhere along the line, my teachers actually looked at me and then decided to teach it to me anyway, regardless of my jackassness.

It’s a simple thing, taking a smooth breath with awareness, but it can have such a profound effect.

Pranayama was not always like that for me. For the first 3 years of my Iyengar practice, my pranayama practice usually turned into nap time. Even in classes, with a firm resolve to stay awake, my own small snores would often wake me. But, like anything, if you practice and keep an open mind, you can find a way to make it work. Once I stopped falling asleep and actually stayed awake, I found it annoying, frustrating, sometimes even maddening. Tension would push from the inside of me, feeling like I was going to boil over and explode into a Kquvien mess. I would become frightened and panic.

Should I get up and run around? Maybe I should just start coughing, or fake a sneezing fit. What should I do? Where should I go?

Luckily, the  asana practice that was instilled in me kicked in.

Certainly, before I get up and start running around the room, I should just lift my chest. Wow. That was a great idea, so great in fact, that I should do it again. Oh, as my awareness to lift my chest is awakening, I would realize that I was gripping my jaw muscles, okay, no problem, exhale, relax those muscles. As I continued with the physical adjustments, I would lose the anxiety, lose the feeling of needing to dash around, waving my arms and screaming. Somewhere in all of that I felt every now and then, the lovely result of an invigorating inhale and the calming touch of letting the body and mind soften with an exhale.

I never would have been able to do it without the lessons my asana practice taught me.

I can honestly say that it took me 10 years of Iyengar yoga practice before I felt like I was actually doing pranayama.