Haven't written much about any of the authorized and certified teachers I've worked with—Tim Miller to Tim Feldman to Alexander Medin and many others since the departure from Asheville of Naomi Worth and John Bultman a few years ago. Also, two inspiring women—Melanie Fawer and Annie Pace—should be added to my unpremeditated list.

With each one of my many teachers, I have had a profound and unique experience, specific to each one's personality. For that reason and possibly due to the ultimately overwhelming occurrences of studying in India with Sharath (about whom I shall try to find words later), I have not said much about them. 

However, the time has come to talk about one teacher, David Garrigues. 

First of all, any teacher—or anyone—who writes Nisargadatta's words "I AM THAT" on his  wall (see above photo) has me without another word. What a beautiful place the shala wall is to inspire awareness! I am everyone who is practicing in that room and everyone who is NOT practicing in that room and beyond! I am the student. I am the teacher. I am the cockroach; the butterfly; the beast; the saint. I am THAT and THAT too. 

It's a perspective that infuses yoga and life with metta and yes, ineffable Truth

Now read this quote: 
There's nothing, nothing of value that does not require the same level of sacrifice as Ashtanga. Do you see it? Ashtanga is not arbitrarily difficult or demanding-no, the practice provides you with a perfect, explicit model of what it takes to come to the mastery of anything...  
...in order to get creative it requires everyone to be empty of this world. Each artist or person on a spiritual quest must find a way to go into a daily renewal of emptying him/herself out of the mundane, material, physical/visible world. 
David Garrigues 

David understands the big picture, not just form and emptiness —but art and artists too!

As for the every day stuff, he definitely gets the physical/visible! Mirroring the practice itself, David  is demanding, not always fun, but always enlightening. Take a workshop with him;  listen to him break down asanas into doable parts, or watch him ask a class to hold a pose until many of us want to cry!  When I don't agree with something he says in class, I am forced to carefully examine the issue for myself. (Student and teacher, Peg Mulqueen, has also described doing this.) Those hot afternoons in the Outer Banks pushed my awareness, body, and ego to the edge. Apparently, ego would have preferred anything rather than to admit some sessions were too much for me. Rocks and hard places!

Another thing, David is like Sharath in the way he knows exactly what everyone is doing at any given moment in a class. He can be turned away from you, working with someone else and speak to you across the room, "Marya! What are you doing? Don't do it that way!" 

Mostly I appreciate him because he seems to be truly himself, perhaps one might say—realized. I honor and applaud his beautiful intensity, his dedication, and his love for the practice and for his students. Finally, all his posts, like the one above resonate deeply with me.

Maybe the reason I haven't written about David and other wonderful teachers before is because encounters with most of them are similar in their essence and yet so profoundly different on their surface. 

With deep gratitude to them all!
We are (all) THAT




On the flight home from Bangalore with our precious Huli kitten, I had sneezing attacks that made my ribs ache. By the last part of the 48 hour journey, I was unable to breathe through my nose and had experienced exactly zero minutes of sleep. I was acutely miserable.

On long flights like this one, 10-hour and 8-hour legs, I usually escape the excruciating hours by watching movies punctuated by brief interludes of sleep. Sleep certainly wasn't happening, and to my dawning horror, the video monitor in front of me wasn't working either.

Locked into seatbelt misery, I was forced to do something I would never have done otherwise: examine rather than avoid. I watched and counted breaths, observed their quality and length, noticed the degree of blockage in my nasal passages and its fluctuations. I felt my parched mouth, nose dribble and tickle before a sneezes.

And in doing so, consciousness shifted and the hours passed.

One of the main discoveries of meditation is seeing how we continually run away from the present moment, how we avoid being here. - Pema Choden

On the yoga mat or off, I think there is also running away in trying to do one's practice well instead of doing the practice

(For me) like the awareness change in the plane, there is on the surface a subtle difference with a significant internal shift.

During Mysore and led classes in India, I had been experiencing a humiliating wobbling, losing balance and bad form in pada-hasta-gustasana. (Standing hand to foot pose) and my usual dread of urdva dhanurasana (backbend) with good form but no results (standing up from drop back). 

When mind is focused on success or failure—striving, an activity lacks its essential joy.

Then I missed a class due lack of sleep.

Came backsomehow it was with a blank mindand I simply did the practice. From the outside I doubt if my practice looked any different that day, but it felt vastly different. Honestly accepting, being, and doing what I am without trying to be or do, was bliss. Practice was easy, enjoyable.

I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in the most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today.

- David Bowie, "Space Oddity" 

I'm going out today! I expect it to be a strange and novel experience. One of the perks of faraway travel is that when going and returning, everything is seen with new eyes. It is also ironic that I've been sick in bed for 30 hours with an upset stomach and flu symptomsnot in India but here!! I will also eat something this morning. Hooray!

I might add that sleep has been a wonderful escape from the discomforts of being sick. But in the event all escape routes are blocked—awareness is always there! 

Grace, Gratitude, Metta!

And this too is yoga!

Weaving yoga into everyday experience is the goal. When we can blur the lines between practice and daily life we are moving in the right direction!

- David Swenson