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Five years ago on this day, it is an odd, weird energy day. Drizzly and cooler at dawn, but the morning of our class of choice. I go to Danny’s 6 a.m. gentle, only because I want to witness my previous facilitator in action. He’s simple, thorough, and calming, a perfect leader for an early day. I feel completely refreshed and calm, ready for breakfast and the morning session.

We talk more about our yamas and niyamas, and I realize I have no idea where to be. I’m done with aparigraha, maybe still on santosha, but what about asteya or tapas? Perhaps tapas may be the best choice, cultivating my own discipline, working on my own passions rather than relying on someone else to give them to me.

Posture clinic focuses on bow, dhanurasana. Our second-to-last clinic!

***

During lunch (excellent bean/corn soup), Angela Farmer herself approaches my table and sits right across from me. Thinking of E. and our talk from yesterday, I smile inside and try not to freak out. E. happened to walk by, sees me and Angela, and gives a little wink.

***

Our afternoon session includes our final posture clinic = headstand, which I don’t do because of my terrible congestion. I work with J., who amazes me. She is my mother’s age and gets into sirsasana in a heartbeat, no wall. There are lots of questions about the final practice teach, which seem to get everyone all riled up and anxious.

***

There is currently an Integrative Weight Loss program going on here, and it’s quite obvious, with a whole lot of heavy, overweight guests who have shown up. However, I’m so proud of them for being here. I know this is the place for them to heal and transform. I saw a rather large woman dancing her heart out in DansKinetics class, and I beamed.

***

Practice Teach #3 is tomorrow afternoon. I have a feeling fate will grant me with an outside facilitator, neither Megha nor Rudy, or any of the assistants. It’s going to be up to me to be the judge, the facilitator. I have to learn to see my own talents and flaws and not rely on my “idols” to do the work.

***

Sleep has not been so easy for me lately. Between M., J., and K.’s snoring, I have been having difficulty drifting off. I feel restless when I hit the sack, even though I’m exhausted. I have bags under my eyes that are practically down to my nose. I think I put on weight and look like crap every morning, but I feel great. Good spirits! But sleep is a struggle. Dreams about home. Thoughts about Practice Teach #3 and life in the Real World. Thoughts about leaving. Sleep doesn’t come so easily now, but waking up at 5:30 isn’t so difficult anymore.

Five years ago on this day, I wake up to a non-YTT guest in our dorm room, right above me. Her name is Donna, and she is fine. She woke up at 6 this morning, but after she crept down the bunk ladder and hit the floor I was already asleep again. I woke up at 7 to the sun bright as all heck shining in, a huge cloud of mist hanging over the lake like I was in Narnia. I noticed that the bright yellow and red trees outside our window are almost completely bare. Their once luscious, vibrant leaves of fire now make a huge puddle around their bases.

***
I am sick. I could feel the congestion building up over the past 2-3 days, and last night I went to bed with a sore throat. All during the night I kept waking up, trying to swallow. I wonder how often Kripalu cleans those purple and white blankets and yoga mats. :-/

***

I look at myself partially naked in the bathroom mirror and notice although I think my butt has gotten bigger, everything in that area is more toned and muscular, especially my thighs. My inner thighs are solid, and stuff doesn’t jiggle as much. My abs are more defined. I have the biggest sleepy circles under my eyes, but my face feels glowing, flushed, radiant.

***

I realize how much of an impact music has on my memory. In the cafeteria this morning, a song was playing, the techno/dance version of “Simple Gifts” that Megha and Rudy played on opening night. A sudden feeling of love and warmth wash over me.

***

After breakfast, I hope to catch the “walking train” of people that decided to head into Lenox, but I apparently missed the group by 10 minutes. That’s OK. I went off by myself, backpack in tow, and set off past the gates of Kripalu. Real World. The sign at the entrance of Kripalu is so small and humble, our little safe haven. Our little secret.

There is a “Welcome to Lenox” sign, and now I’m on the open road. I notice lots of noise, cars, trucks…it’s loud. I realize I haven’t truly been “on the open road” in about 3 weeks, and hearing the sounds of speeding cars is a little bit of a shock. I walk and walk, uphill, downhill, kind of knowing where I’m going but also not. Where is the monument [in the center of town]? How far ahead are the other girls? Will I see society soon? I walk past houses, some with pumpkins on their front steps, some with Christmas wreaths hanging on the doors. Christmas. Holy crap, it’s November 11, and that means the stores are probably bursting with Christmas stuff. Where have I been? What a time warp.

Where am I?, I think, continuing with my walk. It’s so much different than walking around my hometown or other familiar places, when I know precisely where I am in relation to the county, state, and country. But where am I now? I have a vague feeling of it being in Massachusetts, but it feels like a different planet. I know nothing around me, and in a way it feels good. Not knowing. Living in the inquiry. I feel like my trek on this foreign road is like the journey of a college student–I know I want to do something in communications, but what? TV? Radio? Film? Print? No idea where to go or what the destination is, but enjoying the journey, the walk, the various classes and lectures and teachers and books and friends. Being OK with not knowing the destination.

When I reach downtown Lenox about 45 minutes later, it feels like Disney World. There is a bank, a pharmacy, a book store, a health food store, cute little shops, a gas station. I’m tickled with delight but also worried. Choices. Decisions. Learning to control the urge to hoard and want and possess. I find the Lenox coffeeshop, and D. and M. are inside. Soy hot chocolate. We talk a lot about Kripalu, the people, our staff, how we are overcome with gratitude and love when someone reaches out to us. I am not the only one falling in love with love.

***

Twenty minutes after returning to Planet K, it’s DansKinetics time. I try not to think about how this may be my last DansKinetics class with Megha, to just be there in the Main Hall, in front of the stained glass Om symbol, to enjoy and participate, to dance and just let go. It works, because I see the transformation around me. I see people around me smiling and singing and laughing and sweating, and I know it is partially Megha’s influence that has made everyone open up this way. Her energy is boundless, and it is fascinating to see how it rubs off on one, two, three, four people, and how that energy rubs off on more people, spreading until the whole room is ALIVE, like really ALIVE…living. How one person and five drummers can create that openness is a marvel to witness, and I knew then that (for the 1,000th time) that is was my duty to take this energy, cultivate it in myself, and spread it to people in my life.

I keep telling myself to remember, remember, remember. It is my new mantra. I remember the wood-paneled ceiling, I remember smiling at my fellow classmates, I remember standing next to the drummers and hearing their beats, moving my feet to their sound. I remember standing at the edge of the circle, letting my body succumb to Stage 4 (another dimension), my hair loose and all over my face, thrashing on the floor, dying, dying, alive, alive, a birth and death cycle over and over again. I was 150 different Jens that afternoon, coming and going. I was a banshee wild woman, raw, terrifying, peaceful, sexual, dying, breathing, living. A tiger and a dove. Sweaty. Gross. Sweet. Sweat. Remember.

During class I realized that what A.M. said about silence is right–you can’t have music without it. There were times during KDZ’s intense drumming songs when they threw in a pause–and the release, the notes that followed that hold, were thrilling, wild. You could see the effect on us; everyone loved it. Those short little pauses that gave us two seconds of craving, anticipation, mystery–then gaining it all back again. You can’t have music without silence.

We trickled to the floor as the music slowed, a graceful surrender and death. The musicians padded around us, their delicate music lulling us into relaxation. A little blonde girl named Roberta played her rain stick over my head, and I smiled. I felt emotion, tears. Grateful. I Jai Bhagwan’ed with appreciation and rested. When I saw Megha in the doorway, I immediately zeroed in to hug her, even though she and I were both saturated. I did not care. I embraced her and my voice trembled, and I thanked her. She called me “My dancing sister,” something she’s probably said to thousands of other women, but that melted my heart then and there.

***

Mexican for lunch, and I overeat again. Burritos, tacos, beans, rice, salad, corn soup. I go overboard and now my tummy is not so flat anymore.

***

I shop in the Kripalu Store of Doom for over 2 hours, buying more than $150 worth of lovely yoga stuff. 2+ hours. M. and I are practically employees in there, listening to CDs, looking at clothes, yadda yadda. Dinner in the cafe, then an in-depth discussion with E. about her talk with Angela Farmer, who talked with her for 45 minutes about how yoga is meant for men, how it’s angular and rigid and masculine. The story, says Angela Farmer, is that Shivo witnessed his wife Parvati bathing while doing really graceful, flowing, organic postures. Fascinated, Shivo went into the woods to mimic her postures but ended up doing very rigid forms, militaristic. His followers copied his movement and thus yoga became a “movement.” So, what was “supposed” to be fluid, feminine movement was transformed into masculine warrior postures. So Angela Farmer is all about bringing the feminine quality back to yoga, and E. was purely fascinated. And it was fascinating to listen to her fascination!

***

Where did learning about yoga go? I’m so concerned about dancing and poetry and woman issues that I’m completely forgetting about Practice Teach #3, anatomy, and our test, whatever that may be. But I’ll never forget that sitz bones = ischial tuberosities and that the digestive system–sing it with me now!–“Digests, Absorbs, and Eliminates!”

***

Two nights ago, I crept into bed and was able to see the new moon from my pillow. I stretched out in my bunk, watching the clouds cover and expose the moon, and I was completely content. I shower in flip-flops every night, smell like cafeteria food all the time, get 6 hours of sleep, but I am content. So f***ing happy.

Five years ago on this day, I wake up from a dream about spiders and Kripalu. Morning sadhana is with Roger, a slow but stretchy class. Delicious, very spine-soaking. It felt like it was a 2-hour class, but I could have gone on forever.

Posture clinic with shoulderstand and fish. After Rudy demonstrates sarvangasana, Megha put on some “upside down” song, and we did a pantomime dance on our mats. “I spend more time planning goofball things to do in between sessions rather than the program itself,” she jokes.

Megha, the goofball guru

***

We do a 15-minute meditation with Rudy, during which I have a sudden flash of that icky spider dream. I hadn’t remembered it until then. A huge, black tarantula dangling off my hand. Aside from that, meditation felt great. I need that still time. I hear my cracks and pops as I settle and calm down. It is sunny and warm today. In the sun it feels like 65 degrees. Feeling better.

I eat lunch outside, soaking up the sun and warmth, eating my Asian tofu stir-fry with J. Amazing. The trees are almost bare, but it is spring weather. I didn’t even need a jacket. Afterward, I call Reservations and extend my stay by a day. I’m now leaving November 18, a Saturday, which means I can do one final DansKinetics! I figured that instead of losing both my friends and surroundings at once, I’ll take it in steps. I think making that decision put me in much better spirits.

***

Jurian’s birthday is today, the third during the program. We sing the Birthday Song in a round: “We wish you a happy birthday; A joyous and celebrated birthday; Our dear friend Jurian, May you have a long, long life!”

Jen 'n' Jurian, birds of paradise

We also find out that the Marketing and Development department, whose office is right behind our program room, loves our singing and has expressed interest in recording us to make a CD!

During posture clinic in the afternoon, Megha lets us go outside to soak up the sun. Sometimes we feel like little kids, being let loose, recess. It was only five minutes, but what a relief from gomukhasana and paripuna navasana.

***

Evening sadhana is with Larissa, who kicked our asses and got a lot of us fuming about what is Kripalu yoga and what is boot camp yoga. Her bhastrika breath nearly blew us away…and kind of scared us, too.

***

Angela Farmer is still here–still very royally intimidating. She just owns this place. If she looks at you, you feel like she’s looking through your soul. Every move is deliberate.

Five years ago on this day, I woke up at 7 a.m. for my second free Saturday at Kripalu. There are so many R+R people here, so many workshop attendees. The place is supposedly booked this weekend. Dinner last night was maddening, so loud. But it’s good to have this outside energy here every now and then–a little taste of culture shock in bits and pieces.

Angela Farmer is here now. She is so regal, so graceful. She has perfect posture and perfect grace. I almost feel like bowing in her presence.

The beautiful Ms. Farmer

***

M. and I talked about how deep the conversations are here, that we’ll be in the cafe and overhear discussions about addictions, recovery, therapy issues, relationship crises, Kripalu breakdowns–intense, emotional stuff. There’s no talk here about Paris Hilton’s latest shenanigans, Britney’s babies, the weather, no talk about superficial junk. Everything happens on a different level here. It’s a different planet, this Planet K.

***

DansKinetics today with Toni Bergens is another round of Awesome. It’s the live drumming, man, KDZ. I could just dance and dance on my own, even without a teacher. At one point I whipped out my hair band and claw and just let my mane flow like a wild woman, whipping it around like I was on drugs. I’m surprised I didn’t hurt my neck. We gradually sunk into the floor, and I moved gracefully into the ground, lullabied by the musicians and their natural chiming, tinkling sounds. DansKinetics is the true cultivator of prana.

***

J. and I go into town in her Prius. We drive into a shopping center, find Chocolate Springs. I inhale a cappuccino (woah, caffeine!) and chocolate chip cookie. One of the first things I did upon walking into the place was look for people’s nametags where there were none. I feel slightly awkward being in the Real World and appreciate arriving home again. I felt very vulnerable and fragile “out there.” It’s a beautiful, full moon evening.

Me and Mama J., my Chocolate Springs companion

***

I call my mom. She tells me everyone is nice here because it’s not the real world and just wait till I get home. And that is why I waited 2 weeks to call home.

About the Author

Name: Jennifer

Location: Greater Philadelphia Area

Blog Mission:
SHARE my practice experience in conscious dance and yoga,

EXPAND my network of like-minded individuals,

FULFILL my desire to work with words in a more creative and community-building capacity;

FLOW and GROW with the world around me!

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