Friday, February 12, 2010

Yoga Journal Conference

When I landed in San Francisco for the annual Yoga Journal Conference, the agenda for the days ahead was like a gem of perfection: visit family not seen for 10 years, explore a fabulous city, and absorb as much yoga as possible. My friend Jennifer met me at the airport just before noon, whisked me into the city where we had lunch in the Mission, then for a lush hike in the redwoods, sunset at Muir beach overlook, and finally dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkley with our mutual friend Jeff. Off to a good start!

Jeff delivered me to BART early Thursday morning, loaning me a yoga mat (I forgot to bring one!), and a cell phone charger (god bless that Jeff). I spent the first two days of the conference absorbing solid and relevant information regarding the business of yoga, but what I was truly excited about were the asana workshops I'd be attending over the weekend. Ah, the asana!

I literally could not wipe the smile from my face as I floated into my first workshop of the morning, an energy-focused class with David Life, and settled my borrowed mat inside the borders of a rectangle masking-taped to the floor. As a devoted yogi and seeker, believer in energy, and lover of life, moments like these are golden. We began with chanting, offered intentions, and proceeded to explore the infinitely deepening effect of connecting to the energetic body through asana practice.

Ana Forrest taught us to fly. Titled Gravity Surfing, this workshop challenged the borders of the yogi's edge, tangling our perceptions (and misperceptions) of what we can and cannot do. I marveled at the intense life emanating from Ana and her assistants, confident women with muscular thighs and a sharp eye for the weak spot in a pose. I left tired and happy, grateful for the opportunity to fly, but even more grateful for the invitation to try.

Seane Corn took us beyond the boundaries of our bodies, into the realm where spirit meets flesh, where breath spans the boundary from physical to ethereal, and yoga becomes so much more than what happens on the mat. I noticed David Swenson tucked away in a back corner, participating with the rest of us in the magic of group practice.

It is this constant evening out -- this understanding that even the most exalted teachers on the yoga circuit must continue to practice and then practice some more -- that binds us all together as a group and unifies us as one spirit. I'm anchored by this comforting truth, and return home from the conference high from all the yoga, blissfully thankful for these gifts, and eager to share them with others.

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