2014 YLT Weekend 9 Summary

Weekend 9: We are at the 3/4 Pole and heading home!
Continuing themes:
Spiritual Awakening,
Refining the Energy Lines and Patterns
Structural Refinement in the Asanas to Integrate the Teachings

Overall Theme for this Weekend:  Introduction to the Bhagavad Gitaimages-8

The major theme of the Bhagavad Gita is Spiritual Awakening, as described in the Vedantic mantra, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’. It is presented in the fundamental spiritual trinity: the guru or teacher (Krishna), the teachings (Gita), and the student (Arjuna). You also see this Buddhism with Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and, in a slightly distorted way in Christianity, with Father (Mother) as teacher, Holy Spirit as symbolic of the revealed knowledge, and Son (Daughter) as students.

‘Tat Tvam Asi’ says the teacher to the student, after presenting the teachings: that truth, that wholeness I have just described, is you. You are the Whole. You, at the ultimate core of your being, are limitless and free. This is true for all beings. This truth is just waiting to be ‘realized’. And nothing needs to be changed! The spiritual eyes open, and OMG, there it is, ever-present, and infinitely intimate . Krishna reveals this to Arjuna over the 18 chapters of the Gita. And, ideally, we find it revealed moment to moment in our yoga practice, and in life.

The Gita also discusses the two majors means for a spiritual seeker to arrive at this awakening. This is Arjuna’s ultimate quest. The first is known as the path of knowledge, Sanyaasa, which involves renunciation of all worldly connections to pursue spiritual knowledge and insight. Traditionally, this path is for older adults who have completed raising a family and participating in society, and is the fourth and final stage of life for them. Also, a young seeker who is spiritually and emotionally mature may also become a sunyaasi, but this is not an easy path for the young, as the temptations of life are relentless and powerful.

The second means of spiritual knowledge is the path of action, also known as karma imagesyoga. In the Gita, the path of karma yoga means that every action you take in life is used as a means to deepen your spiritual self knowledge. Seva, or selfless charitable work is one aspect of karma yoga, but not all. This is the path Arjuna must take, although, as we see at the beginning of the Gita, he is trying to weasel his way out of his karmic duty. Arjuna argues that sanyaasa should be his path, however, Krishna will not let him escape and explains that action in the world is a valid means of spiritual knowledge, if one understands the two main principles of spiritual action. These are described in the Gita as follows:

Chapter 2, verse 48

yogasthah kuru karmaani sangam tyaktvaa dhananjaya
siddhyasiddhyoh samo bhuutvaa samatvam yoga ucyate

Remaining steadfast in yoga, oh Dhananjaya (Arjuna), perform actions, abandoning attachment, remaining the same to success and failure alike. This evenness of mind is called yoga.

Chapter 2, verse 50

buddhiyukto jahaatiha ubhe sukrtaduskrte
tasmaadyogaaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kaushalam

One who is endowed with the samatva buddhi, sameness of mind, gives up both punya and paapa here, in this world. Therefore commit yourself to karma-yoga. Karma-yoga is discrimination in action.

One of the key themes weaving through the Gita is the relationship between the two paths to pursue self-knowledge, the path of action in the world, or karma-yoga, and the path of sanyaasa, the renunciation of the world. Sunyaasa is commonly known as a path of awakening, but Karma Yoga is not. Karma refers to any action performed, and also the results of those actions.  Punya refers to desirable results, and paapa to undesirable results. In these two verses, Krishna presents a two-fold definition of karma-yoga: samatvam yogah ucyate and yogah karmasu kaushalam.

With reference to the results of your actions, there is sameness, samatva, in your response. With reference to action itself, because there is a choice involved, a karma yogi always chooses to follow the rules of dharma, basic ethics and morality.

These two verses are commonly quoted and frequently mistranslated and misunderstood. Verse 48 is often found to say “give up the fruits of your actions” implying that a yogi doesn’t participate in the world and is not able to enjoys the fruits of creation. It is like saying you can cook a wonderful meal, but you cannot enjoy eating it. Of course this makes no sense at all. You may create a delicious feast, that pleases everyone. Or only a few. Or it may not come out as well as you would have hoped. A Yogi experiences all these possibilities as food for awakening, or as Ram Das wrote, ‘Grist for the Mill’.

Verse 50 is often translated as ‘yoga is skill in action’, but one can be a very skillful con artist, which is certainly not yogic. The principle here is discrimination. Can I be very clear as to what my actions are and why I am choosing to do them. A better translation might be yoga is ‘mindfulness in action’, or ‘wisdom and compassion in action’.

The underlying teaching here is that you are the author of your own actions. You can choose to do something, or not do it, or do it differently. As a yogi you would always act for the benefit of the whole, not out of self-centered interests. However, the results of those actions are totally out of your control. They may be exactly what you wanted, more than what you wanted, less that what you wanted, or the total opposite of what you wanted. Whatever the result, the yogi receives the result as prasada, a gift from the Divine. This is samatvam, eqanimity with what arises. There is nothing to give up, other than the attachment to a specific outcome. If your action was successful, fantastic. Enjoy the moment. If it was unsuccessful, that’s okay too. Experience disappointment if that is what arises, but recognize that the “Self” is unaffected by success or failure.

Now, as we are human, our unfolding life will continue to present situations where we act out of self interest, and bitch and moan when we things don’t go the way we want them to. No avoiding this reality. The yoga is in how we respond to these delightful experiences where our responses to reality are not quite up to Krishna’s ‘ideal’. Compassion is very helpful. Perspective also helps.

Asana Practice: Refining the flow of energy through the hip joints, at all times, in all images-1postures and movements.
1. Begin in the feet: arches ground the energy; create an imaginary ‘ankle to heel’ line, as long as the line of energy from ankle to toes. Talus is the keystone.
2. From femur head, drop weight down onto arches, grounding out through heels and toes, as knees and ankles slightly flex. This is the skiers tadasana, also used by all athletes as neutral gear, pre-movement. It allows a relaxed and alert energy state everywhere in the body.
3. Grow a tail to open the mula dhara in a third vector (the two legs are the other vectors).images-2 From here lengthen the spine through ears and crown chakra. From head to tail open energy channels in both directions. Now the chakra line/spinal energy line is now free of the hips and can flex and extend around the hips without collapse or holding on. (Relatively speaking, of course!)images-1

4. Flex and extend energy for imaginary back flip. In this second stage of a back flip, Mario Edwards uses his arms to amplify the tail vector helping to keep the spine long as he loads ankles knees and hips in flexion. In full sequence, there is an images-2alternation between flexion and extension of the legs as the spine stays long.

5. Take this feeling into down dog – up dog – down dog until you can integrate both actions into each pose, down dog in up dog, up dog in down dog.

6. One leg dog to flip dog, to one leg handstand on the wall. We’ll save the one christopher tungarm hand stand for another day. Christopher Tung looks like he is doing trikonasana, so I had to put this in! Notice the energy lines through his inner heels and inner ears, and heart center through grounding arm. Fantastic fish body pose. Love it!

7. Standing pose cycle using the back flip and fish body energy lines, trikonasana through revolved images-4parsvakonasana. Add the frisbee throw spiral lines for the twists. Find the flexion/extension action in the spiral.

8. Sirsanasa, sarvangasana, any transitional poses, savasana

2014 YLT Weekend 8 Summary

Theme of Weekend 8: Embryology for Yoga Students:
embodying the earliest days of embryological growth and development
as a yoga practice/meditation.

Out of the infinite, luminous emptiness of the present moment arises the entire cosmos, in a mind boggling multiplicity of forms. The forms to explore today are the echos of our embryological past, still emerging, available when we can be still and feel our inner depths.

Some general principles for contemplation:
1. Embryology for yogis is an investigations of the emegence and transformation of forms through fluid dynamics.
2. The morphology of the embryo is present in the adult human as possibilities of deeper integration.
3. Structures and cavities appear and disappear through time during development.
4. Growth is movement!
5. Not all cells grow/divide at the same rate. This leads to changes in both shape and function.
6. Cells grow by contact along lines of energy, like ants following a chemical trail.
7. Membranes and fluids are primary.
8. The first major differentiation of cells, known as gastrulation, gives rise to three primary types of tissue. The endodermal cells become the gut body, the mesodermal cells become connective tissue structures including the heart, and the ectodermal cells become the nervous system. Most of our explorations will be here. (See day 12 in the diagram below.)

Week 1: Conception, spherical energy: rolling, falling, tumbling, dividing, condensing, image_previewhatching, hollowing, fluidity, freedom.

Rolling and Pouring, from “How Life Moves” to find omni-directional freedom, felt sense of weight, rotation/spinning in relaxed, supported, quiet environment. This is a very internal, meditative state. Savasana or other restorative poses can take us here as well.

Week 2:
Implantation; landing, attaching, making connections, establishing roots.

Unknown-1Practice: Making a connection with floor or wall, feel how a new level of stability allows more types of growth and movement. Attach yourself in one place and allow everywhere else freedom to move. Now we are moving outside ourselves to find support from the world around us. It is a more extroverted state, discovering the ‘other’.

Week 2: Gastrulation: differentiating into front, back and middle; expanding, differential growth. This is a huge shift in perception/awareness as the biological intelligence now differentiates into three modes of being/action/perception.

Practice: Explore each of these three places and modes of being before they complexifyimages and differentiate more completely. This can be done in any pose, as all embryological moments are available at any time, as fields waiting for imagination to re-ignite them. However, new students may want to stay on the floor where you can safely surrender to gravity and feel the awakening of the fluids and membranes. The fluid filled cavities carry nutrients, sound waves, and waves of movement.

Front body as:
Endoderm – yolk sac space- nurturing – gut body, eventually to become upper, middle and lower GI track; Feel the deep support of the yolk sac before it is drawn into the body and elongated. Feel it as expansive, soft, full. Kapha in Ayurveda.

Back body as:
Ectoderm – amnion to become amniotic sac, and primitive nervous system – brain – sense organs – skin;  Feel the deep support of the amniotic cavity before in encircles you, before the middle emerges as mesoderm. Feel the wide sensitivity of the future skin/brain/nerves. Vata in Ayurveda.

Middle body as:
Mesoderm: mediator; grows out from middle – all connective tissues, muscles, bones, ligaments, fascia, heart, kidneys and eventually limbs. Pitta in Ayurveda. Find the middle ground as place of balance in all planes and movements.

Week 3:  Yolk sac drawn into body as amnion grows around to complete sphere. Deepening the roots. The three layers begin there next level of differentiation. The ectoderm enlarges to become the neural plate and then the neural crest and neural tube. The neural tube will later become spinal cord and various sections of the brain. Mesoderm shows beginning of head and tail, heart. Bones and muscles will emerge. Endoderm begins lengthen to mouth and anus. Lungs, intestines and bladder will emerge.

Practice 1: Gut body; Hu breath or Vessel breath to active gut body – hollow tubular fluid consciousness. Wake up the fluids and feel the shifts in pressure as the fluids rebound around inside the membranes containing them.

Practice 2:
Emergence of the Mesoderm:  Lying on your back, feel the entire floor as your back body/ectoderm and amnion; the ceiling and space above you as your front body/endoderm/yolk sac. Take this into your cells so that all the cells behind your median plane become the ectoderm and all the cells in front become the endoderm. Now imagine the emerging of a middle layer growing along the interphase between endo and ectoderms. This is the median plane feel it spreading sideways and also lengthening to head and tail. Finally find arm buds, leg buds, head and tail emerging.

Practice 3: Coiling and Uncoiling: Rolling onto your side, use the mesoderm to begin to ‘coil up’ to come into a fetal position Keep the back long and feel the yolk sac being drawn into the body as you curl. Now, again from the mesoderm, begin to uncoil, extending through head and tail as you feel the gut body lengthening, carrying the spinal column into a mild back bend. Slowly and mindfully repeat this coiling and uncoiling. Bonnie Cohen calls this physiological flexion and extension as it is driven by the gut body action.

Practice 1:
Bring any of these explorations into any yoga pose or sequence of poses. Find where there deep inner movements and fluid waves can support you so there is less ‘muscling’ and more surrender in the poses.

Awakening Practice: Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita
The ‘Mahavakyas’ are four (or seven) sacred phrases for contemplation that appear in the Upanishads. One of them, tat tvam asi, is from the Chandogya Upanishad and is an instruction from a guru to a disciple. She is telling the student; That Brahman, that undivided wholeness we have been discussing is ‘you’.

Krishna and ArjunaThe Bhagavd Gita, Krishna teaching Arjuna, takes 18 chapters to unfold the wisdom of this one statement. Chapters 1 – 6 are about Arjuna, the disciple. They are about all seekers of spiritual wisdom who may be confused by the teachings. Chapters 7- 12 are about Brahman, the unbroken wholeness, as represented by Krishna. Arjuna at first sees Krishna in his human form as his charioteer. As Krishna gradually reveals more and more Arjuna gets a bit overwhelmed. Chapters 13 – 18, unfold the equivalence. Arjuna is Brahman.

Detroit Notes: September, 2014

Yoga: Resting in Stillness
While Awakening to our Innate Biological/Animal Intelligence
Caryn McHose and Arthur Kilmurray
September 19 – 21, Detroit, MI

Some random notes and observations: Probably more to come.


1. The stillness in the center of the heart is the ultimate resource. It is ever-present, unbounded, luminous and free.

2. Out of the stillness flows the entire universe, moment to moment, at every level, from sub atomic to galactic. Our own personal karmic flow includes: cosmic energy; skills,  talents and creativity to be developed and expressed in this lifetime; and karmic challenges and debts to be healed and transformed. We are all given a unique piece of the cosmic puzzle that needs to be unfolded for all. Yoga is the exploration of this amazing process.

3. Imagination aids in awakening of subtle perceptions that begin to allow effortless movement, ease of posture and equanimity of mind that is the foundation of yoga.

4. The innate biological intelligence that organizes posture and movement is continuously asking the question ‘where am I?‘. This process, also known as orientation, is organized by the ‘movement brain’ aka the gravity response system. This process requires: a continuous flow of information from ‘ground’ and the felt sense of weight in the body; a continuous flow of information from the surrounding space/sky; and a continuous flow of energy and information from the movement brain to the whole body. All Posture, gesture and movement, ideally, flow from this integration. Patanjali describes this integration in sutra II-46: sthira sukham asanam; yogic posture (asana) is the integration of heaven and earth in the human body.

5. For a more expansive description of the gravity response system, imagination, perception, orientation and much much more, please read Caryn’s husband Kevin Frank’s articles at ResourcesinMovement.com.

6. Energy flows we experience in postural integration can take many shapes and patterns.







The most important of these patterns for our practices are radialaxial, bilateral, spiralic and tubular.images-9sea_squirt

7. Radial is the basic energy pattern of the cell and the heart. Radial expansion is omni-directional from a center, like the rays of the sun. Radial condensing flows from the perimeter, omni radially, back to the center. When healthy, the heart and cells can both give out and receive in.

8. Because as humans we have a spine with a head and tail, we also have axial energy. Axial energy ascends and descends along the axis of the body, aka the median line or the chakra line. When the root chakra, heart chakra and crown chakra are open, energy flows images-10freely between heaven and earth and vice versa. The human heart is the place where balance is seen and known.

9.  In the human upright posture, the descending energy or the ‘down question’, (aka where is down?)  is answered by the receptivity of the 52 bones of the feet, 26 for each, to the felt sense of weight and the yielding/surrendering to gravity that creates the ‘splat’ and squirt’ sensations.

images-1110. The heel vector (the line of energy passing through the heel bone) should have a backwards as well as a downward direction in grounding, so the feet lengthen in two directions as the bones drop.

11. ‘Loading’ the feet and legs with weight, that is, to ground the leg energy completely, allows the pelvic bones to move freely over the femur heads. This is what is meant by ‘opening the hips’. Space isUnknown-2 felt in the hip joints, the hip muscles melt and the spinal muscles are no longer needed to stabilize the body. The spine is free to dance.

12. To more fully realize this experientially, grow yourself an imaginary tail that is at least as long as your human spine. Then the human coccyx becomes the midpoint of your energetic spine.You now have a ‘trifurcated mula’, two legs and a tail, for support. Feel the sacrum as large and full.

13. To come into a forward bend, whether legs together in uttanasana, legs apart in prasarita padottanasana, or somewhere in between, (and all positions are interesting to us) ground the leg energy, release the pelvis and lift and lengthen the tail out the root chakra gate. There are now three energy vectors from the muladhara, leg leg and tail; two gounding, one lengthening. Feel the spine is also lengthening out the head/crown chakra even as the head comes toward the floor. Then reverse to come out, beginning again by grounding the leg energy, lengthening the spine and then dropping the tail back to the floor. Repeat slowly until this movement feels free and relatively effortless. This mammalian flexion and extension motion can be carried over into deeper back bends than tadasana, but it will take a bit more time to develop that.

14. The inner line of the leg is the primary weight bearing line. The outer line is for stabilizing/balancing. (The tibia and big toe are structurally much larger than the fibula and little toe). This continues up into the pelvis along the adductors into the ilio-psoas muscles Unknown-1and diaphragm along the Anatomy Trains ‘Deep Front Line’. This becomes crucial in understanding the flow lines of trikonasana and parsva konasana and half moon pose.

15. Differentiating the inner and outer legs is the beginning of awakening the bilateral energy field pattern. Abduction along the entire body allows the opening of this perception, but it is easier to feel in arms and legs.  This is also the beginning of ‘fish body‘ consciousness.

Bluefish_0116. Trikonasana requires a continuous elongation of the inner leg energy line of the back leg, like a skater pushing her blade into the ice, or a skier holding an edge while turning. this creates an arc like a half pipe in skiing or skateboarding which opens the front leg hip joint. The back leg, inviting the tail to join in the arc, lifts the front leg pelvic bone up away from the femur to release the front hip. The front foot has to ground down and out through the big toe, while the back leg carries the arc through the inner back heel. Let the back heel move a tiny bit to get the feel of the line, but do not sickle the foot. That is when the ankle bows out and leaves the heel behind, destabilizing the grounding energy and sending confusion through the body. Stabilize the ankle and extend through the inner heel.

images-18117. This becomes a bit more challenging in parsvakonasana, as the bending of the front leg will break the back leg flow unless you are very attentive and patient. Slow down, don’t be in a hurry to get into ‘the pose’. Same energy as trikonasana with the addition of an elongation out the inner front knee and front big toe line. Still in the inner energy lines of both legs. Move in and out slowly, and only go as deeply as comfortable. The movement in and out is crucial. Yoga is about freeing up movement.

images-218. Half moon,or ardha chandrasana, can be practiced against the wall to learn and stabilize the energy lines. This is the best pose to open the hips as only you can really zero in on the standing leg hip joint when the other leg is free to move in space. The wall provides security while learning.images-10 Keep the standing foot/leg loaded. Do not ‘lock’ the knee, but feel an elongation up the dfl from foot through groin to ceiling. This will free up the torso and back leg to lengthen further.

19. To carry the standing pose images-4understanding of flexion/extension and fish body to the next level, we use dog pose and variations, especially the one legged dog and flipping the dog. Follow the energy vectors through all limbs, including head and tail. In flipping the dog, we add the spiralic energy pattern.

20. The dog pose explorations are preparation for the more challenging hand stand and head balance. In all hand grounding positions we can find all 27 bones of the hands and learn to differentiate radius and ulna to open inter-osseous membrane.images-1 1′s’ first phalanges; 2′s 2nd phalanges; 3′s 3rd phalanges (thumb only has 2 phalanges); 4′s metacarpals; 5′s first carpals; 6′s second carpals; 7 radius; 8 ulna. Find them. Slight abduction of elbow to help differentiate radius (into hands) and ulna (away from hands) and stretch/awaken membrane between the two. Like with the feet, feel the ‘squirting’ through the bones.

21. Rolling and Pouring allow the gravity response system to directly connect with the water element of the body, close to 70% of our weight.images-3 Become a water balloon and feel the innate fluidity of the human body. Roll around, pouring yourself into various positions.

sea_squirt22. Use ‘vessel breath’ to activate gut body awareness. Here we take on the shape of the sea squirt and become an open tube.

23. A ‘Dive’ is an extended internal exploration of the inner world of organs, chi/prana, breath, motility, habits, weight and lightness, and more. Often 20 minutes to 40 minutes or more in length, these can be done lying down or supported, but can also involve movement.

Unknown-224. The ‘Long Walk’ involves using our hands to follow the shape of the pelvic bone form the sitting bones to the pubis. This ‘bridge’ of bone links back and front bodies, is a dynamic place to organize sitting, (we do not just sit on the sitting bones!), and offers a place to find lift and support when standing on one leg.

25. Flight of the eagle: Watch Caryn demonstrate here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbRxgIOQ2wE

Unknown26. Bridge Pose on a block. Grounding through the feet and feeling the pelvic bones firmly in contact with the block, begin to roll the inside of the pelvis in an arc toward the feet. FollowUnknown-1 the lift as it moves through kidneys, liver, heart, and finally throat. Let shoulders come off the floor as the head pivots away from the sternum, like in fish pose. Then drop kidneys, open back lungs and let head roll back to the first position, withoput losing the openness of the throat. This will help shoulderstand and variations.

images27. Embryology 101: front body / back body and the emergence of the median plane: Standing near to and facing a wall, imagine the wall becoming part of you, supporting the front body to open forward and out to the sides. Use your hand on the wall if necessary to reinforce sense of wall as part of you – your front field, your endoderm. Now feel the room behind you and allow your back body, the ectoderm, to open to include the center of the room. Expand yourself. Feel from the middle of your body an emerging of energy that becomes arms, legs, head and tail, the mesoderm.
Now turn around and repeat, this time with the wall as your back field and the center of the room as your front. Feel open, expansive, and allow the middle to emerge to birth arms, legs, head and tail. Now lie on floor. Floor becomes your backfield, the ceiling your front field and again, allow the emergence of the middle to grow your limbs. Find this is all poses.

28: Cosmic Body Meditation. 22The stellated octahedron. Visualize the points of light that create this sacred geometrical structure. Triangles within triangles in the two triangular based pyramids that create a three dimensional star of David.

Detroit 9:14 jpg




The survivors on Sunday!