+++LED PRIMARY SERIES — DONATE TO TRINI FOUNDATION
The next Led Primary Series class is this Friday, February 23! Class time is 6:00–7:30 a.m. It's also an opportunity to donate to the Trini Foundation. The suggested donation is $10. If, like me, you are so wealthy you have trouble finding a $10 bill (they’re sort of like a paper penny), you may instead bring $20.
Through the Trini Foundation's scholarship program, we offer monthly tuition assistance to individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
The class is open to all levels, free to members as part of monthly tuition, or $20 drop-in. If you are a scholarship candidate, please email email@example.com or visit www.trinifoundation.org/programs to apply.
+++THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE POSE AND THE YOGA
It is challenging and somewhat paradoxical to talk in terms of physiology and anatomy, and to give alignment cues, yet to also insist yoga is about more than those things. Maybe more accurately, those directives are the means to the end, which is the absorption in the process and the sensations that arise. I tend toward concrete, rational, and logical phrasing. Those always worked for me personally, so I tend to use them in class. Though I do appreciate the occasional sound effect to convey direction, energy, and intent: Whoosh! It also occurs to me that the other great teacher is simply repetition. Dozens, hundreds, or thousands of repetitions makes so many physical and even psychological directives very clear. (However repetition should never be the only teacher.) Sometimes the pose is not the yoga. But sometimes the pose is the yoga.
Andrey Moraru is considered by many to be the world's greatest living hand-balancer. A focused Ashtanga practice really deepened my appreciation for a whole host of other physical pursuits, including handstands and hand-balancing. If you've spent even a little bit of time on your hands (say, trying to jump back or jump through) you might enjoy this video of Andrey on YouTube.
Well — that's it for February. Look for the next missive in March. And why not leave on a positive note — did you know that child labor rates have declined by half since 2000?
We're all going to make it,
P.S. I would love to hear about any topics or subjects you would like to read about — if you have any suggestions, you hit the email button below.
In case you forgot, this is a bi-monthly newsletter from Portland Ashtanga Yoga.
Portland Ashtanga Yoga is proud to partner with the Trini Foundation to support the recovery community in Portland and surrounding areas!
Through the Trini Foundation's scholarship program, we offer monthly tuition assistance to individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. We understand that when a person first gets sober it is just the beginning of a life-long journey. We are committed to providing the guidance and resources necessary to promote the growth required to maintain a healthy, sober lifestyle.
If you are a scholarship candidate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit trinifoundation.org/programs to apply.
More About the Trini Foundation
The Trini Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to sharing Ashtanga yoga with those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. It's our mission to provide yoga as a tool to aide in the recovery process and help those who are suffering maintain long-term sobriety.
For more information about their programming, please visit www.trinifoundation.org.
The Ashtanga opening chant asks us to bow to the lotus-feet of the teachers who have came before (“vande gurunam caranaravinde”). This singular moment on the mat often brings me a strong sense of gratitude for the people who have brought greatness to my life. Gratitude is the inevitable residue of the deep appreciation of the intricate and improbable chains of relationships that stretch back (and forward) that make, and have made, all this possible.
One of those people is Alice Joanou. The other day I fell down the Internet memory rabbit-hole and ended up landing on her old, since-deactivated Tumblr. She was my San Francisco Ashtanga teacher from back in the day. I saw the picture posted above — I may have posted it before? — and she'd posted some great poetry and quote, from Miller, Kafka, Le Guin, and Meister Eckhart. Seventeen years later and she’s still teaching me!
As the opening chant's last om fades, I am aware if it weren’t for her (and countless others), I would not have met my wife, had our children, traveled the world, moved to Portland, started Portland Ashtanga Yoga — or met you!
There are countless people in my life for whom I feel gratitude, and that time on the front of the mat is a great moment to acknowledge them.
We do led Primary Series on the last Friday of the month. Usually the classes are at 6 a.m. The last led class of December, however, was at 7 a.m. I asked my wife Tara if she wanted to attend this more "compassionate" start time.
Her reply: "Can you make it at 1 or 2 in the afternoon? That's the most compassionate time."
A few days earlier she had said, "I am officially over practicing yoga in the morning. It feels terrible.”
Studio member David D'Andrea has created an exquisite calendar for 2018. It also features moon days! Pick one up at his website Samaritan Press.
It's almost Thanksgiving! I have a couple things to tell you on this moon day!
You may have noticed a few pictures and statues perched on the altar at the front of the room. The big picture is of Somaskanda, one of the names of Śhiva, one that arose in south India. Somaskanda can mean “sa uma skanda” — "Skanda who is with Uma." Fittingly for a Mysore room, Uma is the goddess as breath, and She nurses Skanda, their youngest son. The picture will also often have Skanda's brother Ganesh, or Pillaiyar, as he is called in Tamil.
The Shiva who comes from the north of India is often portrayed in one of three ways: the lord of the dark cave, where he is depicted as a formless linga. Or he's lord of the cremation ground, with wild dreadlocks and body covered in ash. Or else he has retired to a mountaintop to meditate.
As he made his way south, however, Shiva took on new understandings and names, such as Daksinamurti, Nataraj, and Somaskanda. The darkness of the cave has become the privacy of the household, which stands in sharp contrast to the withdrawal of the ascetic. The formless linga has given way to the family portrait. Somaskanda is an archetype of yogis in the everyday world. He is fully engaged in everyday life, hiding in plain sight, as it were.
If anyone's interested, we could move into Somaskanda's bija mantra practice, though that will be taught one-to-one.
It's ironic that I "dropped out" a bit (e.g. quit job, bailed apartment, abandoned car) in order to go to India to practice with Pattabhi Jois, a man who absolutely never "dropped out," who had a long-term "love" marriage, owned a home, raised children, and had a professional career from which he ultimately retired. Jois was — as are many of us — a yogi hiding in plain sight.
+++ANNUAL HOLIDAY MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
The time is nigh! $1,499 for Unlimited yoga! Save $520 and get free mat storage, which will save you another $120. Also I am working on book number two, which you will receive for free sometime in 2018! Please bring cash or check December 1–15.
+++THANKSGIVING MYSORE SCHEDULE + BLACK FRIDAY LED PRIMARY
Something a little different this year: We are open on Thanksgiving! Come stoke your digestive fire with practice!
November Holiday Schedule
Thursday, November 23: Mysore, 8–10 a.m. only.
Black Friday, November 24: Special Led Primary Series class, 7–9 a.m.*
*Open to all, free to members, all levels welcome. No Mysore following, though we will grab coffee downstairs.
+++DAVID GARRIGUES IN BEND!
A couple people are heading down from Portland to Bend — David Garrigues will be teaching at Bend Ashtanga Yoga from November 30 to December 3. He will conduct semi-private Mysore classes on November 30 and December 1 (space limited), and hold an Ashtanga Weekend December 1–3. If you're interested in finding out about an Airbnb, reply to this email and I'll connect you. Sign up now.
+++STRENGTH AND GRACE: A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS BY WOMEN OF ASHTANGA In the latest edition of "I am late to the party": I just saw this Strength and Grace book online! I haven't yet read it, but the essay topics look incredibly compelling, and the book itself looks exquisite. I want 250 words on my desk Monday from each you. Find it here.
+++CHRISTMAS COOKIE SWAP
Do you love cookies? Of course you love cookies. What are you, some kind of monster?! Katie E. and Tara (my wife) are hosting a Christmas cookie swap Sunday, December 17, 2–4pm. Bake some cookies, bring some cookies, leave with some cookies. Location details are on Facebook, so email my wife: email@example.com.
I just spent 20 minutes looking for an R. Kelly Cookie gif, but could not find one G-rated. This means it is time to wrap up this newsletter.
Well, the temperature has dropped sharply and the holidays are almost upon us. As the days grow shorter and the nights colder, we move closer together, instinctively and following ancient rhythms, for warmth, comfort, strength, and support. We gather with our friends and family, to be sure — and we also do it in like-minded company on our yoga mats. So hold fast! It's going to be a hell of a ride!
Logistics for Friday, October 20: they are re-doing the floors on the first floor, and so the building entrance on Hoyt Street, the bike locker-room, and the downstairs common room will be closed.
You will have to enter the studio on 13th, through the lobby where Barista coffeeshop is located. If you do not or cannot get to your mat, I will provide a loaner. Here's Barista on Google Map.
Swenson in September! The David Swenson workshop in September was incredible. I am standoffish about yoga workshops, by virtue of attending dozens, and yet I found David inspiring and revelatory, on many levels.
He taught and cued physical postures with a spare economy of words, and introduced maximally useful variations that belied decades of practice, and made it apparent that he has taught hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
He was also genuinely enthusiastic and passionate about yoga, and Ashtanga specifically. It was contagious. This is a guy whose internal joy radiated outward.
Finally, he was so clearly inspired by and loving toward Pattabhi Jois. Stories, jokes, and anecdotes about Guruji informed and influenced almost every aspect of his teaching.
I've written many times before that, as the workshop host, I often get very rewarding moments during the car rides to and from the studio, as well as during the dinners and the coffees between sessions.
What struck me about David was that "off-stage" he was exactly the person he was "on-stage" during the workshop, just toned down a few notches. He was not adopting a different persona --- he was just as enthusiastic, positive, warm and welcoming.
It was also great to talk about and catch up on our mutual friends in the Ashtanga community, many of whom span the globe. If you practice Ashtanga, you are part of a community, and David really brought that point ---we're part of a community that spans 40 years and the globe.
The Annual Holiday Member Sale will run December 1–15 --- unlimited yoga, plus free mat storage at the studio, yours for the princely sum of $1,499 ... Cash or check only. Save $120!
If I'm yet again writing about the Annual Member Sale, that means the Portland Ashtanga Yoga anniversary is around the corner --- as of January, I've offered daily morning Mysore under that name for the last eight years, and for 11 years total in Portland.
Give your friends, family, co-workers, and arch-nemesis the gift of Ashtanga Yoga! They might just fall in love with Ashtanga; at the very least they'll walk out with their own Ashtanga Yoga practice, as well as respect and understanding for what you do every morning. This promotion is good for $29 off the Intro, taking it to $120 from $149. The Intro to Ashtanga Yoga series is 6 classes over 2 weeks, generally 6:30–7:15 a.m. They can enroll at this link--- enter the code: strong&flexible
If you don't have an arch-nemesis, find one.
Led or guided Ashtanga classes are such a powerful experience --- they improve your pacing and focus, they offer relief from the routine of a Mysore practice, and you can take practice as a collective. We'll hold a three-class trial run of the 6-7:30 a.m. time slot. There is no Mysore class following, and all levels are welcome. Free for current members, drop-in fee for visitors.
"Last Friday" Led Primary upcoming dates:
November 24 (the day after Thanksgiving!)
Have you noticed that sometimes the moon days don't line up with your calendar? I got this explanation from JoisYoga.com:
Why do Jois Moon Days Sometimes Seem a Day Early?
We use an Indian astrology system of calculation (rather than a simple astronomy calculation). In this system, it is the period of time prior to the point the moon becomes exactly new/full that is considered the ‘moon day’ (called a tithi in Indian Astrology). Furthermore, in this system, the day is considered to begin at sunrise rather than mid-night.
Our moon days come from the following online source: www.mypanchang.com.
Further explanation: In India, where yoga comes from, the term ‘moon day’ is a loose translation of the Sanskrit term ‘tithi,’ and would be more accurately translated as ‘lunar phase’ rather than ‘moon day.’ Each tithi is the time period it takes for the the moon to traverse 12 degrees in the sky, thus making 30 tithis (or lunar phases) per lunar cycle. These tithis begin at varying times of day, and actually vary in duration from approximately 19 to 26 hours. What loosely gets termed the full and new ‘moon days’ – from our teacher’s (Sharath Jois’) perspective – are actually the 15th and the 30th tithis of this Indian Astrology (Jyotish) system.
The weekly schedule will be:
Monday & Tuesday: 5:30-7:30pm
Thursday: 5:30-7pm [Thursday may go until 7:30, but I'm waiting for confirmation.]
There will be a 10-class Pass for $149 and 3x/week Autopay for $135.
Ashtanga practice thrives with consistency. As a result, you can practice either Mornings or Evenings, just not both. I'm really trying to avoid people using an evening class as an excuse to not get up!
We'll see how this goes! This is a 3-month trial run --- I'm going to revisit it November 11 and make the call as to whether enough people are still interested!
Sign up here!
All days and hours as normal, 6–9 a.m., except for following studio closures --- there will be no class on the following days:
Sunday 23 (Moon)
Jason owns and directs Portland Ashtanga Yoga.