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john friend

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Journal Post

When I first began teaching yoga in 1981, yoga wasn't exactly entrenched in the mainstream as it is now. I had been meditating for four years and doing asana out of a book daily. There was never a thought about becoming a yoga teacher, as I had four children, ages 7-14, and it was all I could do to stay afloat and meet my commitments as an Air Force wife and mother. My daily meditation practice helped more than anything else to keep me on a fairly even keel during those challenging days.
As the yoga boom continues to grow and new studios pop up everywhere, the question arises of how to offer classes in order to appeal to both new and experienced students. Yoga studios usually choose one of two options for class registration. One option is class cards, where the student pays for a specific number of classes over a certain time period. This is often seen as most convenient for the student, as they can go to any class on the schedule without committing to any specific class.
Life is good. As free, joyful, and creative expressions of the One, we are blessed to be embodied in this life. Life is a magnificent gift of the Divine, not some sort of karmic punishment, nor something we need to transcend. Indeed, it is through our limited physical form that we are able to experience our Unlimited Being.
Have you been in a class at Willow Street where your teacher set the theme of the class as "change"? In our practice of yoga, we experience change in many ways, from the mat to what we take from the mat into our daily lives. Whether planned or unexpected, change permeates the flow of life. Change is the one thing we can count on.
I write this from the vantage point of 37,000 feet above our earth, looking both up at the bluest of blue skies and down at cloud patterns of marshmallow fluff, and am seized with a sense of gratitude for the supreme beauty of our planet, and all that is in my life since I embarked on a spiritual path over 30 years ago.
My journey of yoga is one of Gratitude; for the insights, healing, blessings, and the complete transformation of my life. I cherish every moment, every breath, all the experiences it has taken to get here.
I found my first yoga class at a church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where yoga was anything but mainstream. I was unhealthy, worked in a casino, smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day, ate a terrible diet and wore a hard brace on my neck due to an accident. Yoga was a last resort. I was willing to try anything to get out of the pain - even yoga. If I also found flexibility and stress relief, I would take it but I was skeptical. BUT, I wasn't turning off my pager or my phone! The teacher smiled and handed me a yoga mat.
I recently attended the Anusara Certified Teachers Gathering in Denver, CO. A group of 150 certified teachers came together for 5 days of inspiring practices led by Anusara founder John Friend and transformational presentations by Paul Muller, an internationally recognized scholar in the field of Tantric philosophy. One of the major emphases in Anusara is to take our yoga off the mat and into the world, so that we are living our philosophy that we are all part of One Big Spirit. To that end, John invited the Karma Krew to come to our gathering. Karma Krew is a yoga-inspired non-profit organization created by two like-hearted yoga teachers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Sometimes it's nice to site back and reflect on where we have been and where we are now...My husband and I moved to Florida from Virginia five and a half years ago, after he retired. Initially I kept my yoga center in Virginia and went back regularly to run it, so I did not start teaching in Florida right away. However after comparing winter up north with winter down here, I sold my yoga center and decided to focus on Florida! In August of 2000 an opportunity came up to teach in the community where we live. We initially offered two morning classes, with my husband Dave teaching one class and me the other; we had a total of 18 students.
Anusara means "flowing with Grace" or "following your heart." Developed by John Friend, Anusara is a style of hatha yoga that encompasses the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of yoga.
Anusara Yoga is an exceptionally therapeutic system because it is founded on Universal Principles of Alignment that bring the body into balance. This specific alignment positions the joint and muscles for maximum stability, flexibility, and safety and optimizes the circulation of blood, vital energy and other internal fluids for the healthiest flow. Anusara also teahes 7 Loops & Spirals that act as fine-tuning dials for the energetic and structural alignment in the body.
The Tantric Philosophy that underlies Anusara Yoga is a philosophy of intrinsic Goodness. The absolute essence of everything is Supreme Consciousness that pulsates with pure Goodness. Out of its infinite freedom, Supreme Consciousness chooses to limit itself by becoming embodied as the material universe in order that it may enjoy the experience of diversity.
Six Years ago I attended an Intermediate/Advanced Yoga Workshop taught by John Friend in Utah. We practiced all kinds of challenging and unusual poses, as well as the more typical postures. One day John had me demonstrate Adho Mukha Vrksasana, the Handstand Pose. I love this pose and have practiced it for years. However, he had me demonstrate in the middle of the room. He caught my legs as I kicked up and helped me find my balance and maintain it for about a minute in the middle of the room.
One of the lesser-known benefits of establishing a regular yoga practice is that we complain less. It's probably a surprising and an unintended result ... most students don't come to yoga to stop complaining! But it happens almost automatically ... and surreptitiously.
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