The two best asanas I learned at the Yoga Journal conferences
I had the privilege of attending the Yoga Journal LIVE! conference in beautiful San Francisco, California.
There's so much I could share with you. I could write an entire post about each hour of the trip and still wouldn't cover it all. I could share what I learned about fascia release, safe alignment, handstands, pranayama, yoga philosophy or sea lions. Yes, sea lions.
But I won't. (At least not in this post.)
Instead, I'll focus on the best two "asanas" from the entire experience.
- Benefits: Grounding, joy, fun
- Contraindications: Not enough wine
There's something sacred about childhood friendships that can't be replaced. For two nights (outside of the conference) I reconnected with two of these friends.
We shared old stories. We caught up on new ones. And we drank wine. Though we've spent a long time apart, these are still (and always will be) my people. They know where I'm from and spending time with them was really grounding for me. I think magic fairies put some fancy flavor of fairy dust on childhood friendships that make them extra special.
I'm grateful for our time together. I didn't realize how much I've missed these people in my life, yet strangely it feels like they weren't gone at all. I'm telling you, that fairy dust is good shit.
- Benefits: Love, acceptance, magic
- Contraindications: Bad vibes
Then there's the bigger tribe of yogis who were at the conference. They came from all over the world and from different schools of yoga.
Ashtangi David Swenson said in his Eight Limbs lecture that we should stop saying:
"I practice vinyasa yoga."
"I practice Ashtanga yoga."
"I practice hot yoga."
"I practice power yoga."
"I practice yin yoga."
Instead, we should take out all the labels and just say:
"I practice yoga."
We all share the same common purpose. We're all seeking truth and a stronger sense of self and of the world.
Richard Miller also mentioned this oneness in his Yoga Nidra workshop. "We can celebrate and appreciate our differences," he said. "Yet we can also see everyone as ourselves from a place of love."
I celebrated those differences.
I learned about the science of yoga and human anatomy from some of the industry's best.
I dove into the ancient philosophies of yoga with a man who studied directly under Pattabhi Jois, the man who developed Ashtanga yoga.
I practiced handstands with a live DJ's playing a reggae remix to Adele's "Hello."
I danced in a crowd led by the spunky Kathryn Budig to the infectious sounds of Magic Giant.
I flowed with breath with a full room of yogis under Tiffany Cruikshank's emotionally-driven instruction.
And I chanted in a circle of all these yogis — letting the vibrations and love soak into my pores and touch something deep inside me. My soul maybe? Yeah, maybe my soul. Something mysterious and awesome like that.
It was all yoga.
I expected to experience the different worlds of yoga, but I didn't expect to realize the oneness of it all. This yoga—which literally means union—is all the same. The six-pack Ashtangi and the flowery Kundalini and me, a Kansas-based power vinyasa yogi are all the same. Just as the homeless man I passed by the falafel stand is the same. Hell, even Donald Trump is the same. And when we see everyone through this loving lens and see them as ourselves we can find purpose, love, light and peace.
Damn, I sound like a hippy. Whatever. Call me a hippy. A new age weirdo. A crazy witch. But know that you and I are the same. We're in this together. We're one.
I'm inspired as a student, a teacher and an individual. My cup is overflowing with love and light. I'm eager to put what I learned into my personal practice and my classes. But mostly I'm excited to apply what I've learned into the real yoga—the practice off the mat—to find and live my truth, seeking, loving and striving to be a light in this world that has too much darkness.
I traveled 1,800 miles to come home.