Inner Landscape I, 2008
“Being open to everything doesn’t mean you accept anything”
John Friend at the Anusara Certified Teachers Gathering,
May 17, 2010
The Sanskrit word shri means discernment – that which is auspicious, abundant, and life-affirming. Wrapped up in this word is the notion of selectivity, of educated choice. In yoga, in relationships, in life, shri tells us not to align with anything that comes our way, but to be discerning – to cultivate our own eyes, our own ears, our own palates, our own individual practices. Shri invites us to choose with wisdom.
There are teachers from all over the U.S and the world gathering in the Hindu Society in Morrisville, North Carolina for the annual Anusara Certified Teachers Gathering. We pull into the parking lot in the warm humidity of the North Carolina rain, grabbing our mats and bags and running in, having taken a wrong turn a few miles back in the rental car. We rapidly place our mats and grab our notebooks while waving to friends we haven’t seen in months or more across the room just as our teacher, John Friend, begins to speak.
John talks about our commonalities and our differences as a rapidly growing yoga community, addressing how we can expand and grow while maintaining our authenticity. We explore this idea of expansion from our own individual centers through asana and meditation throughout the rest of the day. To expand as a centered community we must do the exact same thing individually, cultivating our own strengths and particularities within a greater context.
John Friend speaks at the Anusara® Certified Teachers’ Gathering
The particular form or iteration of a pose that is efficacious for the person on the mat next to yours is not necessarily what best suits your own body and way of moving. John always speaks of our “optimal blueprint”, meaning that which is optimal for each person based on their own individual body, mind, and heart. In other words, don’t make trikonasana (triangle pose) look like the one you see on the poster, but use your knowledge of who you are, where you are coming from, and what your capacities are in order to move into your own optimal trikonasana. The pose is a set of parameters like an equation. You are the variable. So in the ever-shifting variable of you, where does the pose reside?
The more deeply we cultivate our own individual gifts, the better able we are to grow in an optimal manner – we become richer, more fluent in the physical, verbal, and spiritual articulation of our own selves. The best we can offer to our community and to the world is the most refined, substantial aspect of who we are.