Stephanie Spence ( www.one-with-life.com ) interviews Jorgen Christiansson at Palisades Park : Santa Monica , CA. "Jorgen is just not a great Ashtanga teacher, he's one of the best that I have ever met ( and I have met a lot ).His adjustments are legendary ...He does not brag, but he’s taught Madonna (privately daily for 5 years and was on several world tours with her), Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting, Toby McGuire, Robert Downey Jr and Julia Roberts just to name a few. If I were you and I was ever in Los Angeles , I would track him down." Hari Om, Babaji !
My introductory meeting with the delightful Stephanie Spence started this morning with an adjustment from her in Baddha Konasana @ Jorgen.C.'s led class this morning.
She has been practicing for 30 years now and is travelling on a yoga road trip conducting interviews with teachers in the Western USA. I had received an email from her over a month ago where Stephanie had mentioned she enjoyed following this blog and would like to meet up in Santa Monica.
It was great that Stephanie got to practice with us after which we then proceeded to Palisades Park for an interview with Jorgen. Her previous incarnation in the media industry quickly became apparent at this stage ; utilizing quick & savvy repartee'. I found this an opportunity to learn more about my teacher and also discover Stephanie's motivation for her blog and interviews.
What we all share in common is the desire to communicate transformation , to honor the teachers and traditions that have been the guides & vehicles on our respective journeys.
I am looking forward to reading about the interviews with my teacher , Ganga White & Rolf Gates in her upcoming posts.
Just got back from a trip to the Bay Area. It was an excellent visit ; from a business standpoint and because of a meeting that I finally got to make with San Francisco's Authorized Ashtanga teacher, Chad Herst.
Chad is a native Northen Californian who grew up in Marin County. He has a master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has lived in India from 2003 to 2006.
Chad also runs Herst Wellness, a Mind-Body-Life coaching practice that works with yogis who are ready to take their practice to the next level. It is the only coaching practice in San Francisco to offer personalized programs that address mind and body simultaneously which enables profound & lasting change.
This sort of work in conjunction with yoga helps people learn how to discover their life purpose and mission , make authentic choices and take the lessons they are learning on the mat and apply them to their lives.
A couple of the things that I enjoyed hearing about during the course of our conversation were his anecdotes regarding the various teachers he has studied with and snippets of stories from his stay at the Mysore shala.
Back in 1993, his 1st yoga class was with David Williams in Maui , a 6 month sojourn which he considers a personal period of healing from a family tragedy. Among the incredible teachers that he has been blessed to study under : Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Karen Haberman , Eddie Stern, Chuck Miller / Maty Ezrarty and Tim Miller.
Chad is passionate about Ashtanga and says it is an integral part of his life. He believes the traditional Sanskrit count is beautiful ; that it helps to teach the correct method of practice. While in Mysore, he became fascinated by Bhakti ; and he considers it an expression in order to obtain access to the Divine.
He has been teaching since 1997. He started Mysore Ashtanga programs in San Diego, India and in 2006, partnership with Devorah Sacks, he opened Mission Ashtanga.
I am glad they did as it will now be my "go-to" shala in SFO. More on the "mission" of Mission Ashtanga next week.
I attended the celebration of Rukmini Dwadashi , the appearance day or birth anniversary of Rukmini , the divine consort of Sri Krishna with my teacher at the ISKCON LA Temple yesterday.
We arrived early in the evening of a windy & chilly day in order to participate in the Arati , Kirtana , Jhulana-yatra and partake of the Prasadam feast afterwards.
What struck me most about the festival was how "real" it was. Real in the sense that there was an actual connection & communication with the deities in the temple ; and the feeling of the intense fervor & faith that the devotees were manifesting. What a feast for the senses with all the flowers, arati ,holy water , chanting & music.
It was incredible to participate in sashtang pranam or full prostration . And I had to ask my teacher why kirtana and bhajans at the temple were ultimately more powerful and transporting versus those of the kirtan wallas at yoga studios . He explained that it was the dichotomy of kirtan / bhajan as a performance versus that of actual worship , bhakti .
Hearing the bhajans with the words "Ishavara" being chanted & sung in an emotional voice really tugged at the heartstrings.
Monocle Issue 33 reports on why yellow & green are the new red, white & blue in international diplomacy.
One of the most inspiring elements of Brasilian President Lula's current tenure is his ease & ability to navigate the current volatile global topography ; "Samba Diplomacy" , as a new world order ?
This image came into mind while I was having lunch with the French principal of our company @ Sushi Samba / The Palazzo Las Vegas this Wed. ( delicious grilled sishito peppers & veg. tempura ) Videos of the France vs. Brasil 1998 World Cup were playing on the plasma TVs , wherein France won the Cup 3-0.
So instead of gloating with memories of that win , my associate with characteristic Gallic savoir faire asked me why Brasil was so special to me. He had been once on a very " touristic" visit with his wife to Rio, where it had rained for 2 days and they did the usual Cristo Redentor, chuarrascaria meal & hang gliding @ Sao Conrado.
I explained that prior to my 1st visit, I was experiencing masssive ennui , even if I was living in the beach city of Santa Monica. Feeling like I had seen it all & that there were no new thrills or inspirations left in the world. After my initial trip to Brasil , I felt alive & inspired again after latching onto the infectious joy, ease & exhiliration of the Cidade Maravilhosa ; as the French describe it , joie de vivre.
And this is what is drawing travelling yogi ambassadors such as David Lurey, Clayton Horton & Danny Paradise to conduct workshops & retreats there. Danny has 2 upcoming retreats this July , in Alto Paraiso & Rio Acima / Minas Gerais.
Agradecimentos to His Excellency, Embaixador Alcides G.R. Prates , Embaixada do Brasil , for the "heart warming " commendatory letter c/o MK. Does this mean my honorary citizenship is in the mail , hehe ?
Thanks again to Danny for allowing my classmate Henry Gomez to shoot some vids during last weekend's LA workshop. In this one , Danny breaks down Nauli Kriya , after our Pranayama exercises . He emphasized that Uddiyana Bandha is an integral element of the Kriya. Danny's upcoming workshops are in Thailand & yes, Brazil !
I was at Danny's workshop yesterday in downtown Los Angeles. His shaman's mystical take on the practice ( The Delta State ) was an eye opener; albeit the 3rd eye , hehe. He walked us through pranayama & a led primary series with some innovative Egyptian asana tossed into the mix. I was inspired to see Denise Kauffman who stopped by to visit with her friend Danny and to practice alongside a 69 year old gentleman who rocked his asana . Danny gave pranam to Sri Dharma Mittra as well. Thanks again to Jodi B. from Shanti Shala for making this happen -
Wallpaper has released its " Nascida No Brasil / Born in Brazil " issue and it does not disappoint.
The cover tagline is " A warm welcome from the most exciting country on earth. "
There is nothing more disappointing for a world traveler than endeavoring to capture the hype of a destination , and upon arrival , finding " there is no there , there ." Case in point was my stay in Bali , where aside from the incredible energy of the daily pujas at the temples, I felt the rampant growth and commercialism had eroded at the intrinsic soul of the people. Or arriving in Bangkok for the 1st time and thinking it was more "Asian Bladerunner " that the city of wats.
So influencer publications such as Wallpaper & Monocle are spot on in pegging Brazil as an extraordinary country at an extraordinary moment of transition. President Lula has done an amazing job of steering the country via diplomacy & economic strategy. A truly inspiring soul man who rose from the favelas to lead by thinking & acting dynamically. And there is hope for another Brazil win in the upcoming 2010 World Cup -
The image on the left is of a limited edition of this month's Wallpaper by noted Carioca artist Vik Muniz.
I received this email from Sean Gray earlier today at the Atlanta Int'l. Airport while waiting to board for my flight back to LAX.
It describes how "maravilhosa" Brasil is , its people and yoga there; a feeling I always carry within me after that 1st trip I made a couple of years ago.
" Brazil is an amazing country filled with more gems than just the stones that it's famous for. Its deep understanding of interconnectedness goes unmatched. Its spirituality is a part of the culture and not just a small group of people trying to spread "the word". The Brazilians truly know how to enjoy life with all its simplicities- the music, the food, the beaches, the dancing, each other, the yoga.
You can practice yoga just about anywhere in Brazil and feel a connection with the Universe. You could even practice on the side of the street, in any city, and people instead of thinking your weird would want to join you and ask you about yoga. If they don't have a personal practice in their lives, they are almost always open to adopting one. It's quite refreshing being in an environment that not only understands what it means to be one with nature, but lives it."