John Sahakian's vid is in his own words " just a casual loosening up and breathing alignment " before surfing on a hotel deck in Mal Pais , Costa Rica. It's a "spot on" visual & "feeling" as to why yogi-surfistas are "FLUXO" , extremely fluid. John likes to call this his " caterpillar " vinyasa . I had a great time hanging out with Jerome Mercier this morning, and I mentioned to him that I enjoyed practicing most with teachers who have effortless & fluid movements ; nothing to think about , just vinyasa , breath & expansion ( physically , mentally & spiritually ). For John's schedule @ Exhale Venice & Black Dog Yoga, please check out www.wholebreath.com -
A lot of us have seen Fernando Mereilles & Katia Lund's gripping film "Cidade de Deus ",but only David Lurey can post about his experience teaching yoga to kids there.
The favelas are an unavoidable presence over Rio, even in the prosperous Zona Sul , where Rocinha looms over Ipanema & Leblon. I found it ironic that here in LA, the hills are known for the high-end neighborhoods that are nestled in them ,whereas in Rio , the hills are the territory of the favelas.
Here is David's post :
" We started driving into the Favela and she explained
to me a bit about the school and the programs there as well as a little
‘tour’ of the favela. We got to the school within 10 minutes and the
street outside was fairly empty except for a maybe 5 - 7 old men at the
bar across at the street enjoying their 8:45 AM beer! We went in to the
school and were greeted by the staff…soon, Socorro, the director of
operations (a title I just gave her now!) arrived and was really happy
to meet me. The kids were also arriving and she guided me upstairs to
the room where I would teach. The last experience I had at Casa do
Zezinho was a production…lots of kids, an altar, many cameras and
people of all varieties wanting to see what we were doing. This morning
at REI, the school, it was me, Fatima, Socorro and 23 children ages 9 -
14! As I walked into the room, one of the boys was in handstand! And
the others were playing around…but they quickly all sat down and put
their attention on me. I sat in front of them in lotus pose and smiled
and looked at them.
Many tried (and some succeeded) with Padmasana
(lotus pose) and I began to give them an introduction to myself and to
Yoga. None of them had ever heard of Yoga! A few had heard of India but
they all knew about California! I introduced to them the idea that
everyone in the world breathes so when we breath, we are actually
connecting to everyone else on the planet…and not just people. They
thought that was pretty cool…I gave a nice ‘intro to yoga for kids’
talk for about 10 minutes and then we were all ready to move. I asked
them; ‘Where does the Sun rise’ in the morning…they were a bit
confused…I asked them to point in the direction of the sunrise, and
none of them knew. I knew where East was (it is one the first things I
do when I arrive in a new city…align my inner compass) and turned them
all there. Then we started a story of the sunrise and sunset with Sun
Salutations….and were off and running…after about 20 - 25 minutes of
lots of yoga poses and fun, we were all ready for a shift so I put them
into savasana (relaxation).
They all got on the floor and most of them
closed their eyes like I asked! I sang to them a beautiful song in
Spanish I recently learned (Promesa - by Shimshai) and brought them
back from relaxation. I could see a subtle shift in most of their eyes
and they were certainly more open and relaxed then when I first
arrived. I gathered them close and gave a little concert /
sing-a-long….not mantras this time, but Michael Franti, Bob Marley,
Marissa Monte and a Portuguese translation of Lokah Samastah Sukino
Bhavanto (Todos os Ceres, Em todos lugares, Seja Feliz e Livre)…we were
all pretty blasted open afterwards. Looking into their eyes and singing
with them and seeing their smiles really touched my heart and the
reflected smiles that came back to me acknowledged that they were
touched as well."
Check out more of David's "viagems" @ www.findbalance.net -
Once a teacher from Ipanema figured out I was a gringo from the US , one of the inevitable next questions would be , " Do you know David Lurey ? " Well, I've been a follower of his blog on Find Balance , where he chronicles his global journeys teaching yoga.
David has been teaching in Brasil , and he kindly gave me permission to re-post a couple of entries. His description of dropping into the Carioca vibe hits the nail on the head and captures the intoxicating charms of the "cidade maravilhosa " Rio & the Cariocas :
" Wow…since arriving in Rio, I have really dropped into the Carioca
vibe. Cariocas are the people of Rio and they ALL have something very
special and unique to offer the world. They are BEAUTIFUL and very
lively and LOVE their city. And I agree with them!! Rio has all flavors
of people and is the kind of city that requires total presence when out
Just walking down the street is an adventure with sights of
very beautiful and sexy people in one eye and the poorest of the poor
who would rob you to get what they need on the other…And everything /
one else in between. They are an active and outdoor community and
between the excitement of daily life, the Rio championship football
happening and a change in season’s…this place is very ALIVE ! "
Falou ! ( Absolutely , David ). The word is ALIVE. I have never felt so totally in the moment and embraced ( Abracos ) by the beauty of Ipanema , its inhabitants & their vibrancy.Saudade ...
The next post will be David's experience teaching yoga to kids in the "Cidade de Deus " favela -
It has been drizzly & overcast this weekend in Santa Monica , and coming from a glorious Laguna Beach on Friday didn't help in shifting my mindset of wanting to be in another place. Milton Nascimiento's "Outro Lugar " ( Somewhere Else ) as sung by Salome' de Bahia always transports to a place in the sun ; this remix by Bob Sinclair was on heavy airplay & street rotation in Rio.
Exhale Venice ( www.exhalespa.com ) is always that "special space". The " tranquilo" energy is evident as you head in. It felt like home @ Exhale as I greeted Brad Keimach ( www.bradkeimach.com )at the entrance prior to John Sahakian's ( www.wholebreath.com ) 6 PM class. A seasoned yogi can really tune into Pratayhara at this studio as prep for practice. John's class is always an integration of spirituality,tradition , pranayam & fluid vinyasa. Thanks ( muito obrigado ) for rocking the Sanskrit invocation before class .It set the tone perfectly for the journey. Hare OM.
Nirvana Gavea is celebrating an "Especial Yoga Day" on Feb. 28th. It will feature 6 different yoga "aulas" or classes , one of them being a Vinyasa Basico taught by Edson Ramos , kirtan in the evening & several lecture series.
For any gringos who will still be in Rio ( Hee- yoh em carioca Portuges ) after Carnaval, please check this event out. It should balance all the hedonism & AMA build up from the previous week , heh heh . The entrance to Nirvana is to the left of the main gate of the Jocque Clube ( Jockey Clu-bee ) , off Praca Santos Dumont in Gavea.
O que for a profundeza do teu ser, assim sera o teu desejo. O que for o teu desejo, assim será a tua vontade. O que for a tua vontade, assim serão os teus atos. O que forem os teus atos, assim será o teu destino. Brihadáranyaka Upanishad, IV: 4,5
My Thursday evening practice with Jerome M. is one of the highlights of the week whenever I am in town. It comes at that perfect moment in the middle which breaks the spell of the work inflicted Kali Yuga vibe & re-ignites the spark & passion for yoga.
He gifted me with the deepest adjustment in Paschimotanasana towards the end of the class. It stretched my spine to the point where I could finally clasp my wrist over the soles of my feet. As is often said " Flexible Body, Flexible Mind" " , and it is truly a blessing when a " profesor " shares their knowledge so a student can embark on the path -
This vid was shot this week in Ipanema showing one of the pre-carnaval bloco parties on Av. Viera Souto. It communicates the joy and "being in the moment" that are keynotes of the Brazilian lifestyle. As emails from a couple of my friends indicate, everyone has been on holiday & "festa" mode in Rio since last weekend. Can you blame them ? Carnaval starts on Friday,with "Transformation " being a big theme ; a "favelinho/a" becomes Carnival King or Queen for a day -
YogaProSurf.com.br shows us how yoga and surfing are soulmates ; "liquido e fluxo" .Yoga & surfing provide those moments of freedom, peace & unity. Some of the Yogi / Surfistas that I have either met or practice under include Shiva Rea , Denise Kauffmann & John Sahakian ( Exhale Venice ), Jerome Mercier ( SMPY East ) , Bruno Jones ( Blyss Ipanema ) & Adriano dos Santos ( Bahia Brasil ).
Finding inspiration for this blog has been a bit of a challenge recently with work taking up a lot of my time . Ipanema is also constantly on my mind, and as I mention via email to my new friends there, it truly makes Santa Monica look mundane.
So this email from Jaimal Yogis this week was a blessing :
"Hi Mahamondo, I love your blog. I'm a yogi and frequent Yoga Journal writer.
I thought you might be interested in doing a little blog on my upcoming surfing/yoga/zen memoir, Saltwater Buddha: a surfer's quest to find Zen on the sea.The book comes out this May from Wisdom Pubs and you can read some advanced praise, as well as see some of my other writings, at www.jaimalyogis.com or below. Thanks for your time! "
“It’s the perfect read for those who love the ocean as much as their yoga mats, or for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual practice that is surfing.” Karen Macklin, Yoga Journal
Surfing is most definitely a spiritual experience . The best classes that I attend or have attended are taught by "surfistas" . The energy and feeling that is intrinsic to someone who has that connection to the ocean cannot be matched. Surfing also provides that grace , balance & timing which makes practice fluid. Fluidity and rhythm in vinyasa are gifts.
I am looking forward to speaking with Jaimal more next week. Thanks for the validation.
Ashtanga yogi Tias Little discusses the importance of study to a yoga practice and the Master of Arts Eastern Classics program @ St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM. Jerome Mercier's mission to me before I left for Santa Fe was , " Make sure you get in touch with Tias Little . Send him my best ."
Tias was out of town , conducting a workshop, when I called and left a message when I got into Santa Fe. It was after a meeting on the last day of my visit that I received a voice mail message from him inquiring as to whether Jerome was in town with me.
As I relayed his message to Jerome at class last night, I mentioned that Tias sounded so calm and scholarly.
It was also "muito boa " to be introduced to Jerome's "filho Brasileiro " via a "Have you met Adriano ? ". I had already been feeling Adriano's energy behind me during class and getting glimpses of his Ashtangi jump throughs . Turns out he teaches Ashtanga at Maha Yoga in the AMs. Once again, it felt good to "fala pequenho" with this Bahaiano.Primary series em Domingo ? Bom dia !