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“I’m bundled up and you look like you’re headed to the beach.” ~Michael Gannon

I intentionally waited until some time had passed before writing a blog about my time with the Gannon.. I wanted the euphoric Gannon-glow to subside after so much yoga, so I could process and distinguish between that which was yoga bliss-induced and that which was truth. So here ya go..down the rabbit hole slowly, slowly through the Possum Kingdom – otherwise known as my week with Michael Gannon.

Michael GannonI had the luxury of hosting Michael Gannon at CBY, as well as in my home. It was his first time in Texas (aside from airport connections)..so I made sure he could experience some Texas, as our yoga community experienced some Gannon. And in true Houston style, the airport is never an easy venture. I drive through passenger pick-up, and just as I spot him on the commercial car side..they wave me through, so I have to make the rounds.. so I try to pull into the commercial car lane and they make me back up and go through regular car lane — good thing Susie, the Mini Cooper, can maneuver in spectacular fashion.. So I pull up, hop out of the car to grab him..and I hear a whistle from across the way. Micheal is already at Susie, and I’m right outside baggage claim. If it wasn’t real life, it would be sketch comedy. 🙂

He led some amazing workshops, which was expected..but I have to admit that I had heard horror stories of “the Gannon” that put me on guard with what to actually expect as a guest in my home. Not to fear, my home brought forth feelings of cozy, childhood nostalgia – not in a weird, floral sofa and plastic flowers way..but a sense of pleasant comfort and welcoming memories. Though there were definitely brief moments of me thinking “um, really?” *sigh*, there was always an underlying kindness and compassion that you can feel in his adjustments, in his tone when he’s teaching, or in his presence when we were just chillin. He’s certainly no worse than I’ve been at times in my life. It would not be untrue that parts of me even identified with his particular, so-called “diva” nature… but the infamous “diva” rarely made an appearance this trip (at least there was nothing that seemed out of the ordinary or unreasonable.. outside of phrasing things in certain ways that could’ve been phrased in other ways.. but again, as a person who has particular tendencies myself..there was nothing I couldn’t accept with more than a *sigh* or a thought of “oh good..I’m not the only one”). Sometimes people cultivate a reputation because of things we’ve done in the past..but if yoga teaches us nothing, it teaches us that lives change, people change, everything changes. Who we were a year or 10 years ago isn’t always the person we are today..or the person we’ll be tomorrow. He’s definitely an energy I can be at peace around.

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.~Lewis Carroll

“slowly, slowly goes the practice” ~Michael Gannon

Michael Gannon workshopWhat is he like to practice with? I think everyone perceives a practice slightly different, as we are all different.. and no matter that it’s a single instructor, leading a single class, it’s a different class for everyone present. For me.. as we were working deep into locust (with arms overhead) during the back bending session, I hear a distant “oh, that’s fu*king hard” coming from the direction of his mat. His strong (not aggressive) adjustments, such as pressing my feet down in Setu Bandhasana (full bridge), or gently tapping my shin coaxing my forehead forward in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (standing half-lotus), are not to be taken lightly. And during the hip opening practice he asks, “who’s loving this?” — nobody but me pipes up and he says “I knew it, you’ve got this smile that says ‘I could stay here all day.’ Who does that annoy?” to an uproar of laughter. Perhaps that doesn’t speak to what he’s like to practice with for everyone..but those are just a small selection of the bits I’ll keep with me. A wonderfully pleasant experience all around!

As we traveled deeper down the rabbit hole, along the Texas highways around Houston to gangsta rap, Paul Simon, and the Beatles..one song remained ever present at the top of his request list. I give you, The Toadies.. Possum Kingdom.

I’ll have fond memories of his declaration for karaoke in the Mini after heading out for a “long neck” at a Texas dive bar, picking up pizza at midnight, his new found love for Liz Lovely cookies, having Mocha talk on Skype with Ikal, and the Toadies on repeat..repeat..repeat. I can hardly wait for his return in the future — for more amazing yoga, random laughter, lazy afternoons, emancipated avians and hobbitses.

So, from the Frosting Cottage – as Michael would say – Shanti Out!

Michael Gannon workshop

//

The Yoga Dealer is coming to CBY!!

Tuesday Jan 31 – Thursday Feb 2, 2012

Tue 1/31/2012 From: 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Opening Your Heart: Elements of Backbending

Some of us have a spine like cooked linguini and don’t need to think about backbending. Some of us begin to hyperventilate when we attempt basic backbends. In this workshop we will break down individual elements that allow us to backbend with control and comfort. Working with partners we will explore shoulders, hip flexors our front, our foundation and our breath. ALL LEVELS, ALL STYLES OF PRACTITIONERS WELCOME.

Wed 2/1/2012 From: 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Ashtanga for Meditation

All asana practices can be used to prepare us and take us into a meditative state (Dhyana). When we just breathe and move, Ashtanga can become a moving meditation. We will start this class with a guided Ashtanga practice, turning into and awakening our energetic body. We will then take this lite energetic awareness into a 30-minute guided charka meditation. If your week at work or home has been stressful and making your mind rampant, this session will scrub it clean setting the tone for a relaxing weekend. ALL LEVELS, ALL STYLES OF PRACTITIONERS WELCOME!

Wed 2/1/2012 From: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Opening Your Lotus: Elements of Sitting

For many of us, putting ourselves into Padmasana is NOT easy. And sitting there comfortably for more than 60-seconds can be like a Tapas practice of will and determination. This class will use a sequence of seated asanas to slowly, slowly free the restricted parts of the body that need to be loose to comfortably come into Padmasana and sit in peace. We can then use this new Asana, or seat, to ground ourselved for pranayama and meditation. ALL LEVELS, ALL STYLES OF PRACTITIONERS WELCOME!

Thu 2/2/2012 From: 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

The Magic of Bandhas

Currently SOLD OUT – call or email to get on waitlist

How do I jump thru and jump back?! How do I do handstands?! When will I float?! The seemingly magic of bandhas that allows us to fly is a gradual process that is developed over time with steady practice. But, if we can’t understand the basic physics of activating our core, we can remain stuck to the earth indefinitely. In this workshop we will break down individual elements that allow us to experience weightlessness in all elements in our practice. ALL LEVELS, ALL STYLES OF PRACTITIONERS WELCOME.
Michael Gannon

ABOUT MICHAEL: Michael Gannon is one of the shining new international teachers in the area of yoga and transformation. His rare understanding and unique teaching style of the original vinyasa system supports the idea that yoga’s awakening powers — physical, mental and spiritual — are available to all, slowly, slowly, through daily yoga practices. He has imparted this unique teaching style by training over 200 teachers worldwide in his GAVY Teacher Apprenticeships. Michael founded the Yoga Dealer brand in 2005 and his DVDs, CDs and Posters are used by practitioners worldwide. His Ashtanga Yoga with Michael Gannon App, released in 2011, is the number one Ashtanga app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.

**A few spaces are still available in each session — Register today!**

DOUG SWENSON RETURNS TO CBY!

Oct 7, 8, and 9

Friday Oct 7: 6-8:30pm

Handstands/Inversions and Balancing Workshop
In this class the students will experience a delightful, holistic flow of asana – focused around handstands, inversions and balancing. With many tips on how to avoid and overcome injury. **call/email the studio and chat with Sara if you are curious about the appropriateness of this workshop for you. SOME YOGA EXPERIENCE RECOMMENDED.

Saturday Oct 8 – 2 sessions

9-11:30am
Ashtanga with Extra Spice
The class will follow the order of asanas for 1st level Ashtanga, with the addition of some poses from the 2nd and 3rd blended in at appropriate places in your routine. This class includes hands on adjustments and personal suggestions on how to enhance your practice. **call/email the studio and chat with Sara if you are curious about the appropriateness of this workshop for you. SOME YOGA EXPERIENCE RECOMMENDED.

1-3pm
Yin Yoga
In this class the students will enjoy the simplicity of a nurturing, gentle asana flow. Many postures will be supportive, relaxing and held for longer duration. The vinyasa will be light (Non muscle resistance). While CBY provides props for such a class, our numbers are limited. If you have your own bolster or pillow, we highly encourage bringing your own due to increased attendance for workshops such as this. If you don’t have your own, we do have some here in-house. ALL LEVELS WELCOME! NO YOGA EXPERIENCE REQUIRED.

Sunday Oct 9: 9:30am-12pm

Introduction to Ashtanga Intermediate Series
This class walks the student through the 2nd level series of Ashtanga Yoga, using supportive alternatives to challenging asana. **call/email the studio and chat with Sara if you are curious about the appropriateness of this workshop for you. BEST FOR INTERMEDIATE AND ABOVE STUDENTS.

For Registration, click here.
$65 per individual session
$225 for the full weekend of classes
For questions, call the studio 281.257.4245 or email cherryblossom.yoga@gmail.com

September is National Yoga Month

CBY will be participating with FREE classes for ALL and a FREE WEEK of UNLIMITED YOGA for New Students.

To get your ONE WEEK FREE CARD, click here.

For current students – those who have been to a class at CBY anytime in the past – we are opening up a selection of classes that will be FREE to ALL as a way of saying thank you to our kula of students who make CBY the beautiful and energetic space that it is today! The following classes are FREE to ANYONE!

Sept 3, Saturday: 10:45-11:45am Restorative with Laura Lima
Sept 4, Sunday: 12:30-1:45pm Sadhana Yoga Chi with Sara Turk
Sept 5, Monday: 5:45-7pm Vinyasa with Sara Turk
Sept 8, Thursday: 6-7AM Hatha Flow with Jennifer Mohr
Sept 17, Saturday: 9-10:30am Ashtanga with Claire Wilson
Sept 22, Thursday: 6-7AM Hatha Flow with Jennifer Mohr

Click here to sign-up for classes.

Melanie and Slade: Namaste

Sharath Jois, the grandson to the lute Guruji, is leading a group of students in the Primary Series. I can only imagine the awesome feeling of being in his presence. I was never lucky enough to practice with Guruji before he passed, so a practice with Sharath (or Manju, Pattabhi’s son and Sharath’s father) would – in my mind – be equally as magical. Enjoy!

At the end, Sharath discusses the practice of Yamas and Niyamas during your asana. Watch it all the way through, wonderful!

Because I’m not cool enough to embed it (I’ve tried several different ways), you’ll have to settle for a link:
http://livestre.am/Hds5

And I love that his shirt reads “Eat More Chapatis!” 🙂 Also note, though mats are corner to corner..the natural staggering of bodies when it comes to Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana.. you gotta love yogis who are used to close quarters. 😉

~Namaste~

 

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~Winston Churchill

Take the courage to sit down and listen to your body. Let the hustle and bustle rest for a while, and simply listen. Listen to the molecules within your body. Listen to the cells individually, on a microscopic level. Listen to the bones – the hips, the knees, the ankles, shoulders, wrists..even the knuckles of each individual finger and toe. Listen to the breath as it moves in and out of the body, through the nose. Listen to the lungs as they expand against the rib cage and massage the heart. Listen to the visceral organs as they digest or rest from digestion. Listen with courage. This internal listening, this internal focus is a practice in Pratyahara (sense withdraw, drawing inward and freeing yourself of external distraction) – one of the 8 limbs of Raja Yoga.

When you really listen to the body, you can hear the whispers of body’s requests. Even during an asana practice, listen. If you can’t hear your body (through internal focus) or your breath (both physically and mentally), then your thoughts are drowning out the calls. Listen as you move between the postures – listen to the knees as they bend into Virabhadrasana (warrior), listen to the ankles as they stablize in Vrksasana (tree pose), listen to the heart and back as you open in Ustrasana (camel), listen to your abdominal muscles as they carry you through Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff). This focus will improve your practice, both anatomically and psychologically. By becoming more in tune with the quiet whispers, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself and more likely to reduce the severity of the injury if one occurs. If we ignore the warnings our body tells us, that’s when injuries occur – through distraction.

Beyond the physical whispers, there is also an element of emotion. Listen to the emotions that arise when you take a deeper Ustrasana or Matsyendrasana (spinal twist). Listen to the emotions that arise at the beginning, during, and the end of a yoga class – note how they may change or resolve over the course of one class.

The body will tell you what it needs, if only you listen. The practice of listening will eventually extend beyond the four corners of your mat.

“Often I am still listening when the song is over.” ~M de Saint-Lambert

When the practice is over, the knowledge is still there.. we simply have to continue listening. As your practice develops and grows, you’ll eventually notice the length increasing in your post-Shavasana bliss as well as the brief moments of epiphany occurring more regularly. You’ll become more aware of your body, more in tune with the symphony of physical, psychological and emotional feelings and energies that reside within. More importantly, you’ll become more aware of how you move through the molecules of the world, and how these emotions and energies affect your day-to-day actions and thoughts. It is this greater state of awareness that we receive through dedicated yoga practice – including meditation, concentration, pranayama, asana…all of the 8 limbs.

~Listen

Some of you know me already, but to many of you, I am a phantom presence.  I’m Sara’s sister, Jo, the other half of CBY’s ownership.  I’m sure you’ve heard Sara talk about me, or quote me.  I can’t guarantee that she’s always accurate. 😉  But now that we have the blog up and running, I have the chance to speak myself, even when I’m not in Houston.  It surely has not escaped your attention that I don’t spend much time at the studio.  I live in Alexandria, VA, in the DC metro area.  I have a job.  It does not involve yoga.  😦 But, someday it will.  I know it!

I practice Ashtanga yoga.  I started off with a Mysore practice 3 years ago, and it was a revelation.  I know that other people find value in taking different types of yoga, but for me, Ashtanga is all I want and need.  It is endlessly challenging, yet improvement is rapid with regular practice.  It definitely appeals to my scientific mind, with the repetition of the same sequence each time, a focus on precision, and the large impact that subtle changes in your motion or placement can have on a posture.  There are also things to measure in a Mysore class:  the addition of poses to your practice, the length of time your practice takes, the number of breaths you hold each pose for, the distance between your pose today and the full expression.  I love measuring things.

Ashtanga also makes you feel good.  I know that other yoga classes make you feel good, too, but ashtanga is different, for me at least.  I’m euphoric afterwards.  I think part of that is because it is very challenging, and after each practice, I feel like I’ve accomplished something incredible.  Especially under the guidance of a gifted teacher, you can do things that you never thought possible, and how many aspects of your life is that really true for?

Ok, that’s enough proselytizing about ashtanga for now.  Any yoga is good yoga!  I hope you enjoy our new blog.  I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone a little better, and letting you get to know me.

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