Archive for August, 2011

Self Study in Asana

BKS Iyengar in his Light on the Yoga Sutras commentary describes “Svadhyaya (Self Study) as the repetition of sacred mantra and the study of the mind.” Most translations, his included, also acknowledge that direct translation of Svadyaya brings forward the idea of studying sacred text as integral to self study. Since most of the Iyengar students I encounter spend the majority of any practice time in a physical practice, I think it wise to consider how much we can learn about ourselves through self reflective intentions during our asana practice. I might consider how I choose the poses I practice? Is it in an easy, casual way? Is it with some amount of tapas? Am I sloppy when I practice? Do I never undertake a home practice for fear of making mistakes, and thereby deprive myself of ANY practice? Do I promise to practice and not get there? What do I learn as I notice myself in practice, in other words?
I might also consider HOW I am in my life, and choose asanas that balance my less desired tendencies. If I am scattered and spacey, perhaps an extended tadasana, or mountain pose will bring me into a place of earthy, grounded connection, more solidity, more clarity. If I am needing other perspectives, perhaps I should do some extra inversions… the possibilities are endless. Exploring Svadyaya within the mainstay asana work can provide rich exploration, and perhaps deeper motivation to HAVE and sustain a practice.

(photo credit: a_alkhawarizmi’s photostream on



As scheduled, there will be no classes the week of August 22 while Elizabeth soaks up some yogic goodness with Edwin Bryant, yogi and scholar, talking about the Upanishads and Patricia Walden, noted Iyengar teacher, leading yoga workshops. Then there is one last week of summer session, the week of August 29th.


No classes the week of Labor Day. Then the fall session begins, the week of September 12. If you have friends or know of others considering yoga, you can send them to Elizabeth’s blog created specially for those unfamiliar with her, who are seeking a yoga class! Check the blog out at

To see any or all of the schedule in actual calendar form, go here.


Fall Quarter Schedule!

The fall quarter begins September 12 and runs through November 17.  Classes begin the week after Labor Day and end just before Thanksgiving, allowing for 10 uninterrupted weeks of yoga.

New this quarter is the expansion of the Wednesday 5:15 class at Turtle Haven from Beginning to Beginning & Restorative.

All classes are at the same time and place as summer quarter. Click here or on the flyer above for a downloadable pdf or see below. The quarter schedule is also posted on Elizabeth’s google calendar here.

Sept 12- Nov 17

turtle haven studio

deming    call or email for directions

tues. 9:45 am    mixed levels

wed. 5:15  pm beginning & restorative ***********(new!)

wed. 7:00 pm     intermediate

8 petals yoga

1317 commercial #203 bellingham

mon.    5:15 pm beginning

mon.    7:00pm   intermediate

thurs. 12:00pm mixed levels

The fall series is a 10 class session.

All classes 1.5 hours.

Makes-up classes may be taken at either location within the quarter.

Ten class session: $120-135 sliding scale

Single drop in fee: $15

Fall pass, come as often as you wish; $195

If you have friends who might be interested in classes, you can now direct them to a website set up specifically for those new to working with Elizabeth:

Practice With Zeal

Mostly when I have spoken in classes about the Yoga Sutras teachings on Tapas, or burning effort, I have talked about it as a practice applicable to wherever it is that we need more of SOMETHING; that could be savasana…or restoratives, and not necessarily anything difficult in an obvious sense of physical exertion. Having just finished a five day intensive workshop with John Schumacher here in Bellingham at Yoga Northwest, I am acutely aware of what it means to practice with zeal on a physical level, where I am at my “outer edge”, and am thus contemplating this particular expression of Tapas. I worked hard, and had moments of joy and moments of despair in this time of study, as is generally the case in these very focused and concentrated experiences of yoga for 5 plus hours per day, for days in a row! I have noticed over years of practice, that my sense is that I am continually learning deeper levels of capability to be present with challenge through this kind of work in yoga. I am quite certain this kind of potent work teaches me how to stay more present and steadier in times when I am needing “inner strength” in the everyday challenges of being human. There is also a gift of profound quiet that comes in the asanas that we can hold with ease and grace for longer periods of time—- there is a Tapas in holding dog pose or mountain pose for 5 minutes at a time, but an inner experience that can’t be achieved through doing a pose for shorter intervals.Unless we work with tapas, at least most of us would not be able to hold poses for long without strain and struggle. Tapas has a purifying aspect physically, mentally and emotionally; see for yourself, as you challenge yourself to work more deeply, in the physical challenges of your own practice, working with both self reflection and care, and of course discipline. There is a Tapas just in practicing with intensity with no teacher present, nor a class to help uphold you and carry you energetically— class and community serve us in this “upholding”, but ultimately we must also learn to discover the sources of internal energy that charge our individual selves and make intensive practice possible for the solitary practitioner.

Obstacles to Practice

Last week, I focused on the classical version from the Yoga Sutras of what constitutes the obstacles to practice. This Sutra can provide a framework for our individual explorations of what seems to impede our progress in practice. Here is one translation of the Sutra from Swami Satchidananda:

Sutra 1:30
Source: Sanskrit transliteration from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Sri Swami Satchidananda)

Source: English translation from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Sri Swami Satchidananda)
Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained — these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles of yoga.

I am a fountain, You are my water.
I flow from You to You.
~Zeynep Hatun (Turkey, 15th Century)

Dear Friends,
We send this high summer greeting, noticing the abundance of seed presenting itself in the garden, as the season gradually turns towards autumn. As we look forward, we would like to invite you to be in retreat at Turtle Haven with Ravi Ravindra this October 7-9, 2011.  Our last retreat in April felt the most graceful yet, as we crafted a container with multiple facets that seemed to serve well in generating community support for interspiritual inquiry and reflection.
The October theme  will be  Discovering the Way: Aligning My Will with Thy Will.  At many crossroads and in the larger arc of our lives, many of us seek a course of action, deeply desiring a path informed by forces larger than our individual ego selves. Each Great Spiritual Tradition offers wisdom in its teachings and practices, which bring us closer to enactment of a life lived in service and surrender to higher purpose, to a transpersonal, transrational will. Together, we will explore how traditional teachings guide and inform us, so that as Meister Eckhart expresses it, “What we receive in contemplation, we give out in love.”
We will be joined once again by Darlene Franz who will lead us in chant, accompanied by harmonium.  Additionally we will engage in movement, meditation, guided experience in nature, writing, and reciprocal exploration and reflection in community conversation and shared meals. Tea and good company will be provided, with each retreatant bringing his or her own lunch and snacks.
Utilizing various texts, we will be guided by Ravi in considering individual questions and situations in our lives at present, in which we seek innermost guidance that informs our actions with clarity. Questions we will embrace include the following:
·      What practices help us to cultivate deep listening to Source, to the Beloved, to the Divine?
·      How do these practices provide support for the utilization of my ego and my will, in service to my Self?

·      How do I differentiate between ego generated choice and action and inner guided and divinely inspired choice and action?
How does this relate to the cultural plague of having seemingly too many choices?
·      How do we balance this inner listening and knowing with careful analysis and helpful questioning in the process of discernment?
We will initiate the retreat on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. at 8 Petals Studio in Bellingham; this will be open to the public. It will include a talk by Ravi focused on our weekend theme, as well as some group discussion and meditation. On Saturday and Sunday, we will meet at Turtle Haven in Deming, for access to the river and forest trails, and the quiet and peace of  the 11 circuit labyrinth in this rural setting. Saturday’s schedule, which will include a collective lunch, will be 10 a.m. until 5p.m.  On Sunday, we will gather at 10 a.m. and finish our day at 3 p.m. with a shorter lunch period.
We have explored opportunities for out of town participants to stay with a local retreat participant, as well as an affordable option of sharing a space at the comfortable Cedar Treehouse, , which has several bedrooms and a wonderful fully equipped kitchen . This could be shared by a number of you, and has been reserved for four participants thus far, who have asked that we secure the space.  Please let us know if you need help with housing.
Given the desire to have an intimate retreat experience, we are again limiting the number of participants.
If you know of others who would like to attend the retreat, please have them contact us directly, or check here at the blog.
The cost for this retreat will again be a sliding fee scale of $150 to $190.  Once registered, you will receive a reading list and more detailed information.  Please send your name, address, email address and phone number with the full tuition payable to:  Jillian Froebe, 6551 Rutsatz Road, Deming, WA 98244.   If a payment plan or financial assistance is needed, please let us know.  If something unexpected arises that changes your ability to participate and you notify us prior to September 1, your tuition will be refunded minus a $50 administrative fee. Tuition is nonrefundable after September 1, 2011.  Because registration is limited and the retreats have generally been full, we suggest you register soon.

We send heartfelt greetings, and hopes of sharing again in the warmth, illumination and intelligence of Ravi’s teaching, and the community that gathers around him,
Jillian Froebe and Elizabeth Kerwin