June 23, 2012

The Heart of Mysore. ~ Andrea de la Madriz

Most of us live lives full of responsibilities. We have jobs, families, livings to make and households to maintain.

Many of us manage businesses or work full time, oscillating between our life responsibilities and the responsibility to ourselves to make space for our practice.

The practice of asana, or physical yoga postures, is the most basic avenue for internal transformation for the busy life of an individual living a Grihasthasram (household life). In fact, it is the very reason the practice exists, so that we cannot use that good old “lack of time” excuse as an obstacle to finding our truth.

If you practice the eight-limbed system of Ashtanga Yoga, asana practice is the foundation from which all of the other eight limbs spring forth.

A dedicated student will spontaneously develop five of the eight limbs within the practice itself:  Asana (posture), pranayama (extension and control of breath), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration or one pointed mind) and dhyana (meditation).

This allows for us “householders” to attain a level of self-exploration within a tidy two-hour-a-day window.

The three other limbs—yama (moral restraints), niyama (observances) and samadhi (inner union)—occur as we become more dedicated students and our practice begins to step off the mat with us into our daily lives.

So what happens when you have dedicated time each day to your practice and feel that calling, that inner pull towards something more? When there’s this urge to drop everything, pack a backpack with underwear, a toothbrush and your mat and buy a one way ticket to Mysore, India? When you want to quit your job as whatever it is that you do every day—student, teacher, business person, bus driver, waiter, entrepreneur, doctor, lawyer— and renounce all that you have known to go on a pilgrimage for a year to what students of this practice humbly feel is the center of the universe?

Do you turn your back on your life to explore the truth?

Could you be irresponsible to your life by taking responsibility for your inner space? Why should we have to choose?

This of course, is complete speculation on my part, as I only had one life-changing opportunity to practice with him directly, but I think that Sri K. Pattabhi Jois knew we wouldn’t be able to choose.

He knew that our Western lifestyle and our social pressures would only allow for the absolute strongest of wills to make that choice, for however amount of time, to do this much needed pilgrimage to the source, the heart of where our practice originates.

So he gave the world and the West priceless gifts. He guided and taught these ancient practices to selected devoted students that would extend out from the heart in Mysore like arteries all over the world. They brought the magic of the practice in its purest and truest form right into our cities, so that the choice would be easy:  two hours a day to explore and find your truth.

Mysore Palace- where Krishnamacharya taught the Maharaj

These teachers, or as I like to think of them, extensions of the heart, have created spaces for practitioners to feel a little bit (or a lot) of Mysore in the West.

World renowned spaces like Eddie Stern’s Ashtanga New York and Kino MacGregor & Tim Feldman’s Miami Life Center creates an energetic hub for students to experience the magic of the Ashtanga Yoga Niyala right at home.

There’s life in those Mysore rooms; the space breathes, sweats, resists and releases as the bodies move within them.

As soon as you arrive and roll out your mat something shifts, and the hats you wear all day come off. You become nothing but the practice.

You no longer have a job, have kids, ride a motorcycle or had a huge fight with your spouse.

You are within, and all else falls away.

These teachers have taught us how to suffer with grace, and trust without trepidation. Their touch can heal and strengthen, and their true belief in you can help you overcome any obstacle your mind creates. They will push you beyond the limit of your imagination into places you never knew you could even reach. They are vaults of knowledge and presence and the fact that they are so humble and kind is a reflection of what this practice garners within students.

I am honored to be able to practice at Miami Life Center. There’s something really miraculous happening in that space, just like in all the other arteries of the heart. It’s humbling to walk into that “living” room, stand on my mat suddenly notice that Kino is directly in front of me doing “her thing.”

You know, that “thing” we are all striving to do.

She is graceful, strong and perfectly imperfect…just herself.

It’s really inspiring for everyone who practices there, we all feel together on this journey. She is not above us, but rather walking alongside, guiding our way.

I, for one, want to work harder and be stronger when I see she’s with us in practice.

The incredibly strong, yet soft power, of Daylene Christensen, the teacher assisting us deeper in morning Mysore each day, commands the room with her presence.

As she glides through the room observing us, my breath is more connected, I trust myself more and I focus my eyes exactly where they need to be.

In that sacred space, you want to honor this ancient practice of yoga, and all those who continue its legacy.

You want to release to it, succumb to the magic. You want to soar to new heights and challenge your will. You want to be fearless. You want to embody the breath and this practice down to the core of your being.

Each day, I realize that Mysore, India is really closer than I thought. It’s actually within me each time I connect with my practice. In that moment, I know Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is smiling somewhere saying to us through this victorious breath “all is coming.”

Originally from Caracas Venezuela, Andrea and her family moved from South America to Florida when she was three years old. Growing up in the warm climate, she always led an active lifestyle, playing sports and doing outdoor activities. In her early 20s she taught spinning classes and did moderate weight training to enhance her health and physical strength. A few years later, her sister invited her to attend an Ashtanga Yoga practice, which immediately changed her life. Slowly, she developed a discipline for the practice and over the years has been blessed to study and practice with world renowned teachers, deepening her experience with the Ashtanga Yoga system. Andrea’s focus is to assist practitioners to develop their Yoga practice according to individual ability by providing modifications to postures, keeping each class multi-level, challenging and inspirational. She has a loving but firm delivery during class, keeping students focused and present in their practice. Andrea hopes to inspire new generations of practitioners, continuing to garner curiosity and enthusiasm for Yoga.

Andrea is licensed and insured and has over 500 hours of teaching experience. She instructs studio, private and corporate classes as well as camp classes and workshops. She holds an active registration with Yoga Alliance and is also a Reiki Healer and Oneness Blessing (Deeksha) facilitator/giver. Her work in the subtle energy fields has deepened her connection to both her personal practice and Yogic life, as well as to her connection to the needs of her students on a physical, spiritual and emotional level.

~ Editor:  April Dawn Ricchuito

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