All Posts from April, 2010

Yoga talks

April 26th, 2010 | By Shelley Eades in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

A last minute trip this month, took me away from my work at Bernal Yoga to the Art Creation Foundation for Children in Jacmel, Haiti. I found myself surrounded by the bursting energy of about 40 children, many of whose schools have not been in session since the earthquake. I don’t speak Creole, have no background in French and was at the mercy of dictionaries, hand gestures, charades and translators which is frustrating for a gal like myself who likes to talk quite a lot.

In an effort to encourage young Haitians to tell their own stories on what’s happening there, my friend Jennifer & I were training kids to work as photojournalists through her nonprofit Zanmi Lakay. Often our Haitian colleague Georges would patiently translate for me as we taught the kids. When Georges was too busy doing other things, my limited vocabulary of words like hello, thank you, good and beautiful, just simply wasn’t enough. The kids & I wanted a real conversation.

One afternoon my translating companions Georges and Jen were in a long meeting and I couldn’t just sit there in a room full of beautiful, lively children with nothing to say to them. So I took a breath, touched my toes and worked my way down into crow pose. They were delighted and within a minute three little boys were next to me, palms pressed to floor, proudly presenting their own sweet versions of the pose. By this time a small boisterous crowd had gathered, pleased as punch with the arrival of something new in their world.

I took another breath, kneeled down and put my elbows on the floor. They giggled, wondering loudly, in Creole of course, what would happen next. I understood them and delivered an answer to their curiosities. I cupped my hands, put my head down, tightened my tummy, lifted my knees and stepped up onto my tippy toes. “OHHH” they responded, not expecting this.

They leaned down to meet eyes with me, trying to guess where this was going. Next I slowly lifted my right leg, then my left and floated up into headstand. You would have thought Michael Jackson had arrived by the excitement this ignited in the kids. Now I was speaking their language! I twisted my legs to the left, then the right, back to center, slowly touched my toes back down and took child’s pose where at least 20 warm little hands reached out to greet me. Finally, we’d had a whole conversation all on our own, thanks to yoga. It was fabulous!


April 15th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I spent the weekend at Bernal, well not the whole weekend, but I went to class on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the memories I have from those three classes have sustained me throughout the week. For one, I was able to hold tree for the longest time I could remember (important not to grasp onto that too much because lo and behold, on Tuesday I was moving all over the place!). But as KT said on Saturday, we do the same moves again and again—tree, warrior one, warrior two, triangle—and every time, there is something the adjust, something to shift, a way in which we carve the sculpture of asana a bit more.

What was special about the weekend was that as usual, every teacher offered a nugget of wisdom. On Friday night, in Emily Dillof’s Jivamukti class, she reminded us of the importance of intention. While she said, we are all good people, being constantly aware of the intention of our actions and speech helps us be more aware of the ways in which we can be kind to others. That intention comes into practice as well, as we start our classes with an intention, a dedication, a purpose beyond the physical and emotional reward we get for practicing yoga. I remembered how special it is to think of someone for whom you are doing this practice, a stranger, a partner, a family member, a friend. It makes a world of difference.

The next day, in class with Elizabeth, we were all getting into crow pose. Crow is one of those poses where I have always thought, this ain’t happening. But then one day, I got my knees up on my upper arms, balanced and touched my toes. It did happen. Well on Saturday as it was happening, I fell forward and started laughing. And Elizabeth said, it’s great to be able to get into a pose but in the end, it really doesn’t matter, none of it matters, it’s just the process that counts. And everyday, that process evolves.

Finally, KT on Sunday. She always brings great things to class, her energy,  her humor and warmth and a poem. As I said earlier, this week she reflected on refinement and how every day, every moment, we have this chance to be free, to refine our choices and perspective and open up to possibility, to change. Here’s to that transformation.

Back to back

April 6th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

There’s something to be said for going to yoga three days in a row. My lovely friend Anna was in town from NYC and said she wanted to go to as much yoga as she could while she was here. So what better place to take her than Bernal!

Each class was special in its own way. Elizabeth Herrick stands out because of what seems to be a deep practice of meditation. It was a chilly and sunny Sunday, and Elizabeth ended class with a deep and guided meditation that prepared us for a peaceful and vibrant day. It also reminded me how much yoga is not just a practice of the body but is actually a practice of the mind. As many teachers will say, our practice does not end on the mat. In fact, it is off the mat where some of the most fundamental practices come. Elizabeth is a very caring teacher, always noticing each and every person in the room and considering where we are and where we are moving towards. She is conscious of every movement and how it has developed over time. And she is keen to remind us to not force, say, chatarunga. Even if we go down a tiny bit, might as well go down in the correct way.

The next day, Anna and I took KT’s class. It was packed, even though she thought people would be celebrating Easter. She reminded us how this is a time of renewal, of change, of shifting and growth, of shedding the old and engaging with the new. Through twists and standing poses, headstands and balances, we were reminded of this chance for renewal, and for change.

Then Monday, Stephanie Bernstein led us through a fast paced, vinyasa driven class where the time seemed to just fly by. There’s something rewarding about taking a class in the evening after work. It’s like a little gift to yourself. And Stephanie suggested time and time again to thank ourselves for being there, for doing this practice and sticking with it.

As for practicing three days in a row (soon to be four), I am all for it. I noticed how much stronger I became in that time, how my tree became more stable, my warrior three more open and my acceptance of things not necessarily shifting, well, more accepting.