Register now for Jen’s Mulabandha Workshop on 11/18!

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MULABANDHA

Registration is now open through Ashtanga Yoga Denver:  Mulabandha, the “root bond,” is an essential yet elusive facet of the ashtanga vinyasa system. Yoga scriptures favored by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois describe Mulabandha as a goddess whom we may learn to serve with sensitivity and devotion. Practicing in that spirit, we prepare an altar in our body-heart-minds and constantly invite Mulabandha to manifest if she is so inclined. This requires the fine-tuning and balancing of many opposing patterns throughout the body. In this workshop, we will do a variety of cleansing, breathing and asana exercises that will draw our focus inwards towards delicious detail. Warning: you may be flooded with nectar and fall in love with the goddess! This workshop will not involve acrobatics and is suitable for all levels of inquisitive ashtanga students. Investment: $45 in advance/ $50 at the door (space permitting).

Ashtanga 3rd & 4th Series Video

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Hi friends, hope you enjoy this video of my shoot with Liana Romulo assisted by Regina Cannon at Ashtanga Yoga Denver. These two series have a very special place in my heart as they have been very healing for me. One often sees this kind of practice implicated in injury and I’d like to share a different kind of experience. I learned 3rd & 4th during the past three years while recovering from a chronic inflammatory condition brought about by excessive and prolonged biotoxin exposure that began several years before. Although I have had to employ every means available to get well, including prescription medications and every ancient and new-age remedy I could get my hands on, this practice has been at the root of my desire to heal and has supported me on that journey, which continues to this day. 

I’m grateful to have practiced these series in an atmosphere of non-judgmental respect for the body as well as my true nature. Whereas I see many naive teachers placing undue emphasis on striving, perfection and athleticism, I was extremely lucky to learn from Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor, who helped me to focus on internal forms and gradually let go of some of the driven attitudes that had propelled me up to that point.  When I practice, I have warm memories of them being there for me, and that has made it easier for me to do the same for myself.  It is nearly impossible to move forward without accepting where we are first…  We had so many occasions to joke about the awkwardness of some of these poses, and at times, when all I could do was lay over a bolster and cry or sleep, I felt a tremendous dose of compassion from them that made me certain that I needed to pull through and begin to develop that sacred presence for the sake of others.

I feel fortunate that I have always done a variety of styles of yoga and had creative teachers who have encouraged me to find optimal alignment, organic movement and the right outlook, all of which are indispensible for a safe and enjoyable practice that can last a lifetime. There are plenty of sources of injury in life, so we do not need asana to fulfill that role! Of course there will be the inevitable tweaks and soreness, and we’ll get banged up from going about our daily business and have to deal with it on the mat (I have had tons of pain due to inflammation from diet and disease that required extensive modifications of my practice), but pathological pain from cranking ourselves aggressively in yoga feels different, and I hope all practitioners will hone their intuition and that teachers will respect that. We have the potential to discover so much of value about ourselves and others through this practice. May we continue to explore what matters most and act on it!

Exciting new classes begin 9/4!

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Samanasana

I’m thrilled to be offering a weekly mini-workshop followed by satsang as well as 2 new Mysore classes!  I’ve been looking forward to sharing in this kind of teaching format for years and feel so grateful for the opportunity.  Please see Group Classes for schedules.  See you there — Ashtanga Yoga Denver  🙂  Class descriptions:

Ashtanga Smorgasbord is a detail- and fun-oriented mini-workshop with a unique focus every week featuring postures with relevant variations drawn from the traditional series for exploration and adventure.  Each well-rounded session will delve into breath, bandha, alignment and attitude that together open the door to an asana practice that increasingly encompasses all 8 limbs of the Ashtanga system.  Ancient yoga scriptures assert that when we keep our attention in the core of the body mixing technique and counter-technique “to taste,” we unleash nothing short of a flood of nectar, so come on an empty stomach, ready for feasting!  This is a perfect way to reinvigorate and intensify your existing Mysore or other vinyasa practice while tailoring it intelligently and compassionately to your body and life circumstances.  Some experience recommended.

Satsang is a gathering intended to foster a sense of community and provide space for inquiry into contemplative practices, their contexts and their integration into our everyday lives.  We will begin each session with some silence followed by chanting, kirtan and/or instruction and discussion based on pertinent texts and topics brought up by the group.  Practice takes us into realms where interdisciplinary study can be enriching, venturing anywhere from Neuroscience to Psychotherapy to the Arts.  Keeping good company is said to be one of the most powerful means to deepen spiritual practice.  By sharing our enthusiasm as well as our challenges, we will build skills and discover support to access our most authentic Self and bring that realization into the world.  All are welcome, free of charge.

Mysore combines the very best aspects of private instruction (individualized attention and customization of the practice to meet your needs and goals), group classes (energy and inspiration gained from practicing in the companionship of others), and home practice (focused attention and personal accountability for your own path).  Students go at their own pace under the supervision of the instructor, arriving when they wish and finishing by the end time listed.  Six series entice us with unending challenges glimmering on the horizon while real life intervenes with plenty of opportunities to let go and learn to work with the inevitable obstacles and beautiful realities of embodiment.  No experience necessary.

SIGN UP ONLINE for Jen’s Workshop on 8/20/16!

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Arm Balances & Transitions

Saturday, August 20th 2:00-5:00pm at Ashtanga Yoga Denver

 In this workshop we will unveil the radiant potential of our arms, liberating ourselves from tragic misconceptions that prevent us from tasting some of the most delicious aspects of yoga practice. Too often ridiculed for being too short or too weak, our arms are just waiting for the opportunity to connect us with the breath and help us to do the impossible! We will tackle arm balances from a number of perspectives, fully integrating our arms into a variety of poses and transitions. Some experience with vinyasa yoga is recommended.

Jen has been a student of yoga since 2003 and enjoys making it accessible to everyone as she has learned it from her principal teacher, Richard Freeman.

$40 Early Bird Online Special / $50 at the door space permitting

Trauma, Relationship, Guru

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Richard assisting me in laghu vajrasana in 2011. Photo by Chris Croft

“The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections. Recovery can take place only in the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connections with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological faculties that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic capacities for trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy. Just as these capabilities are originally formed in relationships with other people, they must be reformed in such relationships.” — Judith Herman in Trauma and Recovery 

The importance of the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy has long been recognized.  It has been purported to be the single biggest factor (or even the only necessary and sufficient factor) contributing to positive treatment outcomes for a variety of problems and disorders.  How many of us feel a bit disempowered and disconnected from others?  This is often why we turn to therapy or to yoga.  We could all benefit from profound and selfless relationship, which is not so easy to come by in this world.

Such relationships seem to be growing more and more scarce in the yoga world as it becomes less and less “cool” to accept a guru or make any commitment to study with somebody who is truly qualified to teach.  In its popularized form yoga is seen as yet another fitness and fashion craze, and its ultimate goal (Self-realization and rediscovery of interconnectedness, the very opposite of disempowerment and disconnection) is forgotten.  Considerable disillusionment comes from having watched so many apparently advanced teachers succumb to the basest scandals.  However, instead of jumping on board and behaving abhorrently or losing faith altogether, teachers and students might deeply ponder the gravity of the role and do their best to uphold the highest standards.

It is well-established that memories are stored somatically, so when we work with the body in yoga, we have the potential, to a greater or lesser extent, to re-awaken traumatic experiences and relive them to some degree.  Even if we consider ourselves to be in the fortunate minority of people who have experienced no dramatic or excruciating trauma, we still carry with us whatever we have encountered throughout our development during at least one lifetime!  The choice of who will share this very intimate practice space with us while we undergo these processes is quite a sacred one.

When you fold into that hip-opener and associations with your X or difficult family members bubble up (explicitly or not), it would be ideal if the teacher would not reenact those old pathological scenarios and behavior patterns, reinforcing them in your system!  How terrible (and re-traumatizing) is it to feel unsafe, abandoned or subject to compounded injury and negativity in times of vulnerability…?!  How incredible would it be to share with somebody who supports you and sees your highest potential and reminds you of it in that moment?  A present being can often help us to face difficult feelings with more mindfulness than we can alone.  What a gift, to progressively work out ticks and misconceptions that we have adopted strategically in order to survive, but which build up those very barriers that alienate us from what we truly desire!  Sharing even one instant in true relationship with a genuinely compassionate being can reconfigure how we respond in analogous cases (or overall) for the rest of our lives (and perhaps beyond)!  Then, we learn how to be there for ourselves and others in that same nurturing way.

The necessity and therapeutic-transformative potential of the student-teacher relationship is stressed again and again in the shastras.  Through relationship we either drive ourselves further back into our shells or melt away resistances to states of fullness that we generally feel are too nice and therefore not possible for us.  I would like to beseech everybody to reconsider what is possible in relationship, whether in the shala or on the street (and hopefully here on this blog)!  We can practice this all the time…

My Page on Ashtanga Yoga

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Discussing shoulder mechanics with Richard during a Mysore class at the advanced teacher’s intensive at Upaya Zen Center in 2013. Photo by Laura Yasuda

Here is a link to my newly revised page describing Ashtanga Yoga.  I have tried to include some of its background and my background in the hopes of inspiring everybody to practice all the time!  🙂

New Yoga & Singing Workshops with Jen & Karen!

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IMG_4636Hi friends, check out our new demo teaser and my Featured Guide Page at Truth in Singing!  I will be collaborating with my new friend and voice pedagog extraordinaire Karen Tucker Patterson on her new holistic approach to finding your authentic voice.  I will teach yoga at the beginning of the sessions and she will then lead some revolutionary voice work.  We are offering two more workshops this year, November 15th and December 13th in Lafayette, CO.  Please click here to register.  We are hoping to offer additional workshops next year in Denver and Boulder so stay tuned…

Fall Fun Posing in Nature!

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