Today is the 14th anniversary of the founding of Anusara Yoga, marked by the day when John Friend, on retreat at a Siddha Yoga ashram in New York, wrote his vision statement. Among other things, it also is the date of Indian independence (1947). I always loved how the Anusara teacher with whom I studied the most normalized the singing of the invocation, by suggesting that it was like singing “Happy Birthday!”
While I have been following on Facebook the preparations for “Anusara in the Apple” occurring in NYC, I have been so busy today, I might have missed this observance, were it not for the Facebook post of a dear teacher. However, I think it is pretty “auspicious” that my last post, about my retreat last weekend, was my 72nd. That number has so many meaningful multiples (like the nine that is the basis of the mala) but more importantly 12, which indicates a completed cycle. Indeed, it was my twelfth post with which I took the blog live (beyond a few friends).
In seeking to have something interesting to say about the anniversary, I found a post on Bay Shakti particularly “sensitizing”:
[I]t seems that everyone has a story about how Anusara has changed their lives for the better: from use of the Universal Principles of Alignment to heal an old physical injury or to go deeper into their practice, or how its heart-centered, uplifting philosophy has brought them more peace, more joy, and deeper into their own hearts. It seems that by celebrating Anusara’s birthday, we are also honoring those shifts, reveling in the unique gifts that Anusara has brought us individually and collectively as a kula. So whether you are able to make it to one of the public practices tomorrow, or simply honor the day in your own heart, be sure to join the kula in marking and honoring this auspicious and awesome day, the gifts it has brought into our lives and our communities, and this yoga that we love.
That sounds so familiar, like a post to my oldest blog, the long-form precursor to this one. This is an exempt of a post I wrote anticipating my first weekend worship with John Friend itself.
I took my first Anusara class because it fit my schedule. Even though I found it very strenuous, I kept going because I was intrigued, because its alignment emphases “made sense,” because these emphases let me build core strength while working around my umbilical hernia, and later, while recovering from it. Most importantly, it was a heart-centered practice available at a time in my life I most desperately needed one. Thanks to dedicated, supportive and joyful teachers, I have grown the most in this style of yoga.
It did not take long to become committed to this particular path. The notion of the “kula” or community of the heart soon became apparent, and I slowly learned more about Anusara’s non-dual Tantric basis. I had already been predisposed not to separate spirit and matter, and to see the divine in all.
Already one may see how a positive philosophy may run afoul of my political commitments, which have roots in traditions that state things very negatively and critically. But neither do I think that immersing oneself in a positive philosophy means eschewing commitments which essentially have their roots in the value of all people and nature. How to live the real, apparent and superficial contradictions makes life interesting, doesn’t it? C’mon, who doesn’t love a dialectic, a tension of opposites, a pulsation between?
As such questions are very salient to me, I soon expect to be looking for future opportunities to explore them more deeply, and to share my discoveries with others.
via John Friend Tour.
Indeed, one may see how my intentions to start this blog were already forming even then.
So what do I celebrate today? My first Anusara teacher often spoke many times about expansiveness, that it boggled her mind that the Universe continues to expand, such that we don’t know the end of it. I celebrate how this particular practice has helped me to live my life in widening circles, from injury to a particular teacher with a particular style, to other teachers and friends, to John Friend, the teacher whose vision called this style into being, and beyond. What is beyond? That which is both transcendent and immanent, ultimate and intimate. Partly it is a mystery. I set new intentions for new experiences, and “work the actions” toward them. Already so much has unfolded, even in the past few weeks. Like the Grinch, my heart keeps growing. (I’ve written two substantive posts in one day.) What is to come? Isn’t it exciting to stick around to find out?
(It really is worth listening to Joanna Macy talk about the Rilke poem from which the “widening circles” concept comes.)