Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Sometimes I forget how important it is to be grateful. For the big things and the little things. I get wrapped up in my own little and big miseries - crazy boss, crowded train, family troubles, broken heart - and I forget how good, in essence, it all is.

From now on, I'll try to remember this story:

This weekend's John Friend Anusara yoga retreat was AMAZING. I was a bit uncertain what to expect as I'd never taken any of John's classes before. As the founder of Anusara yoga and primary teacher to many of my teachers, well, he's kind of attained a mythic aura. What would class with him be like?

The answer: HARD.

Okay, correction: challenging. Tough. Stimulating. Invigorating. Did I mention challenging?

Day one, morning session, we did SEVEN urdvha dhanurasanas in basic and variations. We did arm balances, leg balances, backbends, (more backbends), twists, forward bends, more backbends, more twists, hip openers, more forward bends, more backbends, more hip openers, and more twists.

By Sunday morning I was a bowl of spaghetti.

Of course, interspersed with all of this was meditation and philosophy lecture. Which, believe it or not, is actually easier to listen to when you're panting on the ground after holding vasisthasana.

Sunday morning, John led us into a series of intense hip openers. Partway through the class, we began a Hanumanasa series. Usually, I find this pose fairly easy, as I have very open hips. But after four rounds, holding each pose significantly longer ... OUCH.

During the final round, as we were holding the pose and there were quiet mutters and murmers and gasps throughout the class, John asked one of the visitors to tell us a story of Hanuman, the Monkey God. "You can come out of the pose when it's finished."

As if on cue, someone piped up, "Then make it a SHORT one, please!!!"

The visitor, a Vedantic scholar, took a deep breath, looked around and, with a smile, said merely, "Jai Hanuman!" (Praise Hanuman!)

In thanks, we all started laughing and clapping. WHILE WE WERE IN THE POSE.

We were all so grateful that relief was at hand that we took the time to show our thanks - through laughter and applause. Instead of rushing into comfort, we acknowledged our gratitude even in the midst of discomfort.

And then, of course, we all groaned and collapsed to our sides, shaking our heads and grinning like foolish monkeys ourselves.