Mar 11, 2015

Live In New York

I am so pleased to announce that beginning this week I’ll be teaching every Wednesday from 4-5pm at Jivamukti Yoga Center near Union Square at 13th street.

I’ll be teaching traditional Yoga: Chanting and Discussion of The Yoga Sutra.

This class is ongoing, weekly, open to all and beneficial whether you come every week, from time to time or drop-in once a year or once in a lifetime.

The Yoga Sutra, also known as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra or The Ashtanga Yoga Sutra, is the foundational text on Yoga, mind, awareness, freedom from suffering and the many paths to a mind illuminated with knowledge. One of these paths is 8-limbed, ashta-anga.

My Indian teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, shared teachings from this text perhaps more than any other text. When students asked him a question he usually answered in 2 ways:

  1. This is the answer, it is how my teacher taught me and his teacher taught him.
  2. He’d chant a phrase in Sanskrit, translate it into English, and say this is the answer, it is what the original lessons and books on Yoga say.

Because I wanted to understand what he said, and also I wanted to teach, as best as possible, as he did, I wanted to learn some of these texts, learn the Sanskrit, memorize the phrases and share in a similar way. I hoped to direct the students to a source or knowledge base far greater than mine.

I first met Sri K. Pattabhi Jois at Jivamukti Yoga Center where I was a student and teacher. Sharon and David, the founders, had studied with him on their most recent visit to India and it impacted every class they taught following their return. A few of my close yoga friends and co-teachers had studied at his small Mysore school as well, and they were deeply affected by the experience, practice method and techniques.

In 1993 Jivamukti hosted Jois for a 5-day workshop. I can say, although I did not realize at the time, this man and these classes altered my life’s course and transformed my very mind.

In total, I traveled to Mysore, India 13 times. Once for as long as 6 months and once for only 3 days to sit by my teacher in the final week of his life. But most study trips were 3 months of daily early morning practice and afternoon gatherings. I also shared precious trips with he and his family to religious festivals, on pilgrimages to holy rivers and temples as well as to his boyhood village where his brothers still lived.

In 1998, Guruji, as I called my teacher, told me to learn a particular Surya Namaskara chant. And so off I went in search of a teacher for that very purpose. This is how I came to meet Dr. M.A. Jayashree beginning a tutorship that included 3-5 hours of daily Sanskrit instruction in her home, often just she and me. These hours stretched on for the many years that I traveled to Mysore.

One year I returned to Jayashree who told me, now I am teaching the Yoga Sutras to some other students, you come learn too.

Oh no! I didn’t want to learn the Sutras! I wanted to continue with the other chants we were doing. But along I went to learn the Sutra; to study this under her, discuss it with Guruji, continue on my own back in the USA, memorize 198 Sutras, record a 5-hour educational MP3 with her, and soon teach it in cities all over the world.

And to think I did not want to learn it at all? But of course, I didn’t want to learn Yoga either. In 1982 I was a theater student at NYU, and had gone to a great deal of work to convince my department to find a qualified voice and speech teacher. So imagine my pleasure to arrive in class one day to meet a warm and enthusiastic new teacher. My squeaky wheel-ing had really paid off. But after a few moments I was livid when she announced, let’s begin our class with some yoga.

Yoga! I didn’t want to learn Yoga, I wanted to recite Shakespeare with enviable eloquence and technique.

As our class unfolded, not only did I witness a shift in my fellow students but I too had shifted. Ease, calm, joy, infused my mind and body and I knew that yoga needed to be my daily prescription. That was 33 years ago, and I have practiced near daily since that day.

While at NYU, I longed to live and perform as an artist and so found myself with a new lease and $235 rent on Avenue B. A gathering place for coffee and vegetarian food was Life Café, one block away. It was there I met café owner and artist David Life as well as performer and artist Sharon Gannon who were also deep on a yoga quest. Not only did we live, seek and perform together and alongside one another, after they traveled to India to complete teacher trainings at Sivananda Yoga, I become their yoga student and soon a teacher at their Jivamukti School.

In 1994 I left New York City to work as an actress in Los Angeles. In LA I opened my own yoga school, taught Ashtanga Yoga and Yoga Sutras and went on to host my dear Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and his wonderful family for 2 teaching tours.

I am filled with gratitude to return to Jivamukti, the home of my first teachers, my early teaching, my dearest yoga friends and the hallowed ground where my teacher Pattabh Jois generously, tirelessly and with good humor and care, guided me to Ashtanga Yoga and ignited a mind to seek Truth and a heart to know Love.

Please come share in the joy and illumination of this precious path.

Find about more about my new class by clicking here!

It brings me great joy to reminisce and see how far we have all come.  This photo, from 1993, is credited to Marcelo Krasilcic,
JivaMukti l993

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