Birthday Blessings

I don’t often use the word “blessed” — I suppose it still has Christian connotations for me, so it feels strange. But it’s a universal term, really, and I’ve truly been feeling it for the past few days. So here I go.

I’m a big fan of my birthday, July 3. Part of it is the simple fact of its proximity to the July 4th holiday. Everyone’s in a good mood, seeing friends and family, going to the beach or a barbecue, watching fireworks. But I also tend to look at my birthday as a time to take stock, to see where I am, how I’m feeling, what life looks like. Some years it feels like, Ugh. I don’t want to be here. For the last few it’s been, This is a good place to be. I’m glad I’m here, and I’m glad all the people around me are here.

I take my friendships very, very seriously. My friends know they can count on me, always. That I’m there to listen or make them laugh. That I will take them where I find them. In the past few years, as I’ve been working on setting my own my foundation, my friendships have strengthened as well. Some have fallen away, and that’s okay. New ones have begun, and they are wonderful. Many have strengthened and deepened, and that is divine.

I’ve got many, many smart, funny, wise, brave, strong, present, open-minded, amazing people around me. If you’re reading this, chances are excellent that you are one of them. And I consider my connection with you a blessing. I am lucky to know you, and I love knowing you.

My birthday weekend was full of family and friends who know me deeply and made me feel so loved. From the ones I got to spend time with to all of those who sent me your good wishes — thank you. It means a lot.

And remember, there are still 26 days left in my birthday month. 😉


Fully Immersed

Our Anusara immersion ended yesterday. Sixteen of us came together with our exceptional teacher Emma Magenta for nine weekends over the course of a year. Altogether, it was 108 hours. It was a big, serious committment of time, money and effort, but one we all felt was important and managed to convince our loved ones was important.

We were all there because Anusara struck a chord with each of us, and we wanted to go deeper. It was a lot more than just a class where we took notes, or a workshop to improve our poses. Though we did learn all about the Universal Principles of Alignment that our style of yoga is based upon and did many hours of tough asana, we also studied the Tantric philosophy that makes Anusara unique. We read and discussed the Bhagavad Gita. We practiced pranayama, meditation, and kirtan. And we got to better understand how yoga touches all parts of our lives — physically, mentally, spiritually. If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you know that two of the Universal Principles in particular have made a major emotional impression on me: muscular energy, or creating a strong foundation by contracting and pulling in, and organic energy, or extending and shining out.

We created a kula. We went from a group of strangers — or, at most, people who’d seen one another once or twice in class — to a cohesive community, a circle of love, trust, and safety. We established strong bonds of friendship.

When I started going to South Mountain Yoga about three years ago, I knew almost immediately that Anusara was going to be significant for me. I was feeling so battered and lost, completely foundation-less. I walked in there and it felt like a haven. What I got out of it was just what I needed.

It still feels that way, and I’m a completely different person — because of all kinds of work I’ve done since then, but in large part because of my yoga. I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, physically and emotionally. I’m more comfortable in and confident about my body. I’ve found a language to understand the spiritual ideas that I already had.

It’s hard to articulate what Anusara is and why it’s special without sounding like some sort of cult member, so I try not to proselytize when my friends show an interest. I tell them that yoga is like anything else — you find the studio, teacher, and style that work for you. Of course I want them all to come do Anusara with me. But I’d love for them to come to it organically, like I did.

There’s the possibility of teacher training in the fall, and though I’ve never considered myself teacher material, I’m starting to rethink that. Good teachers are passionate about their subject. I don’t think I have the amazing gift that Emma does (that’s her front and center in the picture, in the bright blue jacket). But I’d love to help other people see what I see in Anusara, to get what I’ve gotten out of it. Whether I’m a good prospect for such an important job remains to be seen. But I’d love to learn more. So I’m thinking about it.

But I’m really going to miss having immersion weekend to look forward to. It was always so nice to know one was coming up, that I’d get to spend the weekend talking and thinking about something I love, with people I love, and doing something soothing and healing for myself. This last one was a week after my father’s memorial service, and the timing could not have been better.

One of my classmates put it this way: When we began, it was like we were in the lobby of a museum, and we were there to see an exhibit we were interested in. But it turned out the museum was huge, cavernous in fact, and there was more and more to explore. So now we’re wandering through the infinite museum of Anusara yoga.

The nicest thing about this metaphor is that even if we’re in different rooms or focusing on different exhibits, we can still meet up in the cafe. See you all there.