As I drove east on Sunset last Friday , I saw Sade's billboard for their new release " Soldier of Love ". This vdo by photographer Albert Watson was shot in 1992. The song and imagery are still classics ; so chill here. It's going to be great to keep this in mind as one of my playlist tunes when I am in NYC this coming weekend.
I was mulling about the whole concept of "exclusivity " , the tags "A-Lister" or "VIP" yesterday as I had an interesting visit to an about to open ( in time for the Oscars ? ) Brit Import " A-Lister " club . Hearing phrases like ," the celebrities will have their own drive-in entrance to the left and regular members to the right " . And when they talk celebrity , they mean the type Vanity Fair usually features vs. TMZ.
This club will be the new arbiter in LA for who are on the list or not . Another concept I am familiar with from my nights of partying in NYC back in the day. Where " in the VIP " meant being a member of the entourage of the son of a deposed Asian President while in other parts of the room were the posse of the son of the former Shah of Iran & an assortment of "for real" super models.
Even in a supposed level playing field like Ipanema Beach , the Hotel Fasano has its own upscale barraca with tents , lounge chairs & beach side service.
And the term "exclusive" was used recently to describe this blog's point-of-view by a commenter on a much trafficked site. Not in a negative way , but as a vehicle to describe " practice as focus " ; the emphasis on esteemed gurus & teachers ( one of my principal teachers being the teacher of almost every A List celeb who practices Ashtanga , hehe ) , on classic , traditional & spiritual yoga.
At today's MC 3 / Master Class 3 by Vytas B., this also played itself out. It was maha to be surrounded in the front row by the energy of OG classmates , seasoned practitioners. They got into pratyahara before the class started in spite of the din of those who haven't figured that word out. As V called out asana in Sanskrit , ( Simhasana , Utitha Hasta Padangusthasana ) , the serious students got to bloom in them.Yes kids , watch & learn.
Practicing yoga is inclusive. It is the evolution & transformation , the spiritual energy generated , the calm & stillness that is not within easy grasp unless one observes the yamas, seriously practices , studies & offers it all up. No need for transient fame or fortune to enter into this higher realm .
While LA was deluged and inundated by rain last week , my trip to Seattle was glorious ; the sun was out and the greens and blues of the city's landscape were so sharp.
It is probably one of my favorite cities in the US when the weather co-operates. The other charm and attraction of Seattle being its various neighborhoods , tech industry and cool inhabitants.
They do like their " Hot Yoga " in Seattle , which probably makes a little more sense because of its rainy clime.
I did see the very traditional shala ,Samadhi Yoga in between meals at the gastro pub Quinn's and the fantastic vegan Plum Bistro . Fantastic in terms of taste , texture , inventiveness & service. RFD : watch, taste & learn ; & M Cafe : you folks should check this place out ASAP. Nothing dour or pretentious about this vegan bistro. No better way to cap it all off with jin dui from the old school Mee Sum Pastries at Pike Market .
And what would Seattle be without coffee culture . Strong espresso & roast coffee. Order a skinny , non-fat , whatever drink here and the barista will tell you , " Why bother ? " Real coffee for real people.
Om Shanti : we wish you peace Haiti. The people of Haiti have been through it all via the forces of nature and the follies of man ; earthquakes , hurricanes , dictatorships & grinding poverty.
As we practiced at Jorgen's Benefit for Haiti class this morning , I got to thinking about how we are providing support via donations and other material means , but the most elusive and unquantifiable commodity to gift Haitians would be a lasting peace for this country.
The only way to try to make it happen would be to pray for this intention for and as Sri Dharma would say , visualize it happening.
The energy at this class definitely made it feel like this could be possible. There were enough people in the room with a serious practice to generate the right collective vibe. Asana as an offering. Many respected teachers have described Jorgen as a " teacher of teachers " ; although he doesn't share the same amount of collective teaching years as Sri D. M. does , he he . This manifests itself in the mature manner in which he leads the class, counts the breath and takes us through to that spiritual apex of the practice , stillness.
There was a special closing dedication & prayer for the people of Haiti. We were also asked to tuck our donations into our mats in order to imbue the currency with the energy and good wishes of the practice. And it was extremely quiet after the closing chant , no peripheral noise from outside , everything was still . Om shanti , shanti.
" The Rock of Yoga " , " The Teacher's Teacher " , " Maha Shakti ".
The image on the left from the Dharma Yoga Center embodies all of the above and more . Obrigado Sri Dharma for the workshop at Exhale last night. It truly drove home the point that yoga is a spiritual practice ; that true transformation only happens after the observance of the Yamas and the quieting of the chatter of the mind.
That we should practice asana as an offering , observe vegetarianism and be receptive.
To visualize using the chakras , to observe pranayama , to ignite one's higher motives to serve mankind & the Divine. All this to inspire the room of advanced students at Exhale Venice towards the illuminated path of Maha Shakti.
In this era where the term "teacher" is liberally used , Sri DM embodies the 21st CE Guru , with full devotion to his Guru , Sri Swami Kailashananda. His reverence towards the tradition & ancient wisdom of the asana practice is another inspiration to me as I endeavor to pursue the path of classicism.
And foremost of all , his consistent calm before , during and after class ; just like what I had observed at his shala in NYC over a year ago. No need for useless chatter , no need for attention , solely in the moment. I'll always remember that.
The pic on the left is of my father chanelling Ian Fleming in his ivory tux with favorite Dunhill ( or was it a Rothman ) Brit ciggie in hand. Those were the days , as my mother's article on the Manila Polo Club , was entitled. Yes, when it was considered perfectly cool to puff away during dinner , he he.
Yoga has taught me to live in the " moment " , without thinking of the past or the future . But it is memories like these that actually contribute to what makes me " present ".
Here are some memories & excerpts from the article :
" The lyrics of the song "Those Were The Days, My Friend" best describe the memorable momentuous events that my husband Rey and I have shared at the Manila Polo Club for the past 33 years.
It was at the Manila Polo Club that our sons learned the rudiments of swimming under the famed coach Amabuyok. It was also here that Rey & I had spent quality time with the boys playing badminton at the former covered courts ( now turned into the lovely garden courtyard adjacent to the present Sports Lounge ).
And starting in the early 1990s, it was here that Rey and I , as near hopeless handicappers practiced for our golf games at the driving range. "
Yup , there was a Manila Golf Club adjacent to the Polo Club , but I didn't have nearly as many memories there as @ MPC. Thanks for the memories , folks. See you in Hawaii this summer -
Trini is the # 3 in Sanskrit. It seems like just a while ago that Vytas B. held his 1st 3 hour Master Class. This vdo of variations on Adho Mukha Vrksasana was filmed around that time. In what is becoming an annual tradition , the next MC 3 will be held on Jan. 30th , Sat. from 1-4 PM @ SMPY East. V is on my short list of primary teachers; and I've been his senior student ever since that 1st Sun. PM class he ever taught back in the day. He has shared his experiences of Vipassana meditation , Sirsasana and Adho Mukha Vrksasana with me ; and they've become daily components of my own personal practice.
Thanks to Agustin A. for posting this vdo of Sri Dharma Mittra in Bogota , Colombia. I am in Seattle next week but will be back on Friday in time to attend his opening workshop at Exhale Venice. Be receptive -