Thursday, January 21, 2010

Muscle Energy and the core's longing

It's Thursday and Steve and I are in the lovely town of Chapel Hill, NC. Steve is attending a Yin yoga training with Sarah Powers and I am, well, enjoying the heck out of unadulterated free time. Before I tell you the thrilling activities I am taking part in I want to state that it is so lovely to watch my partner (and husband!) find and follow his spiritual path. Before I dated Steve I made a list of must-haves in a partner. At the top of this list was that he be actively developing himself spiritually and emotionally . . . . that, whatever his spiritual path was, it be one he followed with commitment and zeal. It is amazing how the intentions of our hearts are heard and I am ever grateful and in awe of the satisfaction and delight it brings me to be with a partner that listens and follows his heart's and soul's yearnings.
Quickly, I went to Paul Sobin's class this morning and it was SO fun. He and his wife Sommer (who is a full 9 mos. pregnant and will deliver any minute now) are both certified Anusara teachers and hold Immersions and Teacher Trainings ( This was a level 2 practice class so Paul practiced with us. I love practice classes as they inspire and delight me to no end. I also, as quite a talker and social butterfly, like the casual and encouraging atmosphere cultivated in a practice. It is always great to see how my teacher practices . . . I ALWAYS learn so much. Today we did scorpian handstand, a pose I have never done. I love how the Universal Principles of Alignement (UPAs) are always opening and revealing a new way for my body to feel, express, open and harness energy.

It is my intention to write about the 5 Universal Principles of Alignment. Mainly for the Athens, GA gang. I find that as we grow as a group of Anusara students, there are many people who really dig the practice and would like to study the alignment principles but may not know all 5 principles or understand them. First, this is an ongoing process (which is part of the delight) that is ever-unfolding and revealing itself to each of us in varied detail. Second, I cannot recommend an Immersion enough if you would really like to be a student of the Anusara principles in greater detail. Ask me if you'd like some direction on Immersions.

So, today is the 2nd UPA, Muscle Energy. (My last post was the 1st UPA, Open to Grace)
Muscle Energy's emphasis, as stated in the Anusara Teacher Training Manual, "is to draw all the parts into one whole with the attitude of self-embracing".
John Friend talks about Muscle Energy as "not merely moving from periphery to core (as it does), but as the core, in its longing to know itself, drawing all of the parts of the self to it". (from the amazing

The UPAs are so cool because they are an elegant system of taking care of ourselves. Honoring and remembering the Spirit that shines within us. Anusara suggests that God created us out of a yearning to know Itself. Likewise, we have the opportunity to know ourselves more fully (and this helps us know Creator more-it just rolls like that) :-) We must hug to the principles that we know to be true. By remembering this longing to know our fullness more we express our unique hearts and this is a beautiful gift and service to the entire Universe. Okay, I feel myself climbing onto the proverbial pulpit, but I just have to say this: Don't give up! Keep hugging in. This is where it is at . . . YOU, beautiful you.

The following is straight from the ATTM:
Muscle Energy has three main directions of flow which occur in the following sequence:
1. Hugging the core evenly on all sides. Specifically ME flows from the outer circumference to the core lines of the body. The energy flow is from skin to muscle. Ex: Hug your skin evenly on all sides around the muscles of your legs.

2.Drawing the arms, legs, and neck toward the midline or medial core of the body. In whatever initial position the appendages are in, they are isometrically drawn toward the midline via the shortest possible route. Ex: "shins in": hug your shins isometrically towards the midline of your body

3. Drawing from the extremities of the hands, feet and head into the Focal Point of the pose. Ex: From your fingertips, draw the head of your arm bone into your shoudler socket.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Opening to Grace everywhere defines grace as, "the freely given, unmerited favor and Love of God."
Honestly, need I go on from here? How awesome is that? You know, I was not raised in a family that taught Grace. I do not think either of my parents knew Grace for themselves and, although they did the best they could, they certainly did not pass on the notion that Grace both existed, flowed all around us, through us, even as us. The knowledge that Grace is something very real that we can actually invoke and tap into was not taught in the Frank household.

So, here are some ways I am looking at opening to Grace in my daily life as based on the Anusara Universal Principles of Alignment:
-PAUSE and soften-become sensitive to what I am feeling, sensing, hearing before speaking or acting
-REMEMBER the One that has my back-that has all our backs. As I heard Anusara teacher, Elena Brower say recently, "Move into my back body before I say something."
-Expand from the inside. Connect to the bigger energy and remember my own worthiness.
-As John Friend says, "Firmly step into the currents of grace with a solid foundation and a heart open to the infinite possibilities."
-Remember the highest intention of my heart

Aren't these wonderful? What if we moved from this place always, everywhere? We can begin this practice NOW. Anusara invites us to practice this in each asana and we can continue off the mat.

Finally, a quote on the beginnings of Anusara:

"Understanding how Friend came up with Anusara Yoga (a-nu-sar-a) is a little like dipping your toe into the very deep well of Tantric philosophy. The name comes from the Sanskrit anu- the process of being in and sara -the flow, which is taken from a verse in the 1000-year-old Kularnava Tantra: "Shakti-nipata-anusarena sishyo'anugraham-arhati". UUUS-based Tantric scholar, Dr. Douglas Brooks, translates this as "Flowing with Grace (anusarena) we experience our inner worth, we align our bodies, our minds and hearts in the current of the Divine flowing through us, we celebrate life itself as we touch the Divinity who pulsates within us as our every thought, feeling, and experience." (

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

LSD and a blade of grass

Did this catch your attention? :-) Oh, I have not posted in 11 days, I just haven't had the words. Now I do. I will try not to go too long.
So, Saturday Steve and I were driving to ATL to do a workshop with Martin Kirk. Martin is an amazing Anusara Yoga® instructor ( a zeal for life, a deep kindness and a gift at making the UPAs (universal principles of alignment) accessible. I was reading the intro of PATHS TO GOD, a book of lectures given by Ram Dass on the Bhagavad Gita (thanks Richard) aloud and it brought up a discussion between Steve and myself about Ram's, Timothy Leary's, etc. use of LSD to try to reach God. BTW, if I haven't mentioned (I feel like I met the biggest movie star), I met Ram while we were in Maui (not like he invited us over for dinner or anything, but still).

I love what Krishna Das said at a Kirtan workshp in ATL last year as he addressed his time using drugs. He said, "yes, I could feel like I was one with a blade of grass so I did get the experience of being one with everything. However, in order to keep that feeling of merging with the One you have to commit suicide because you will inevitable overdose on LSD to keep the feeling going." So, Krishna said he had to come to a way to know his union with the One without the prop of psychotropics.

Let me say now, if you have not seen the movie, "Fierce Grace" you must see it immediately. It is about Ram Dass as a young Harvard prof. along with T. LEary, etc. and their psychotropic experiments. Eventually Ram was led to his teacher Maharaj-ji and the story continues into the time of Dass's stroke. It is a beautiful, heart-opening piece and it was life changing and affirming for me.

Okay, back to the ride. Basically Steve and I were just recounting how the tantra teaches that each of us is a manefestation of the One creative, supreme energy and how do we support that memory in our daily lives without using harmful props like LSD. Can we remember that the One chose, just for It's delight, to pour out in unique expression as everything and everyone? So, everyone you and I encounter today, every kitty cat, every Farmville user, every bank teller, every chirping birdy . . . they are all the One expressing itself . . . dancing the dance of creation.

This is what it is all about.

God comes to us disguised as our lives.
- Paula D'Arcy

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year, Dogs and "Invictus"

This morning our dog, Dori, was happily awake and ready to go at 4.30 a.m.. Her bed is in our room so she just thumps her tail against our bed and puts her face right in ours when she is ready to wake us up. I told her to go back to sleep to no avail. Steve and I both decided to get up.
After stoking the woodstove and feeding the dogs (they returned to their beds directly after eating) we each sat for meditation. I started by remembering all that I have been given this year. I have been working on really feeling and opening my heart to the fullness of Life and all the abundance that has so freely been given to me.
It was a beautiful early morning-bright with the moon. When I took the dogs out I heard an owl blessing our day, "whowho . . . whowho".
I am happy to be moving forward into the Light of a new year.
Yesterday afternoon we saw "Invictus". Do not miss it. It is such an inspiring tale and perfect for the beginning of a new year. The most powerful part of the whole story for me was this: Mandela was jailed for his plans to sabotage the S. African government who continued to oppress blacks. "Mandela - a lawyer by training - told the court earlier: "I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites."
After 27 years of imprisonment in a small cell without even a mattress, afetr 27 years of back breaking quarry work as a prisoner, Mandela maintained a peaceful and forgiving stance. He lived Gandi's famous teaching, "we must be the change we wish to see in the world."

The most potent scene is when Matt Damon's character says, "He was imrisoned for 27 years and came out ready to forgive his oppressors."
This year I want to embody this way of living. Change starts with me. When I am in touch with my own light, when I am embodying the change, I will serve others naturally.

It has come to me through so many messengers, including this movie, that my heart and soul's work is to nurture my own self-knowing. From this place I align with the powerful flow of Grace. I will know where to go, what to do next, how I can best be of service to my fellows.
I leave you with one final Mandela quote:
“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself... Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” Nelson Mandela