Master Teachers

I took a master class from Natasha Rizopoulos this past week and have been nudged toward small changes and deeper refinements. One thing she said continues to reverberate. “Bring intelligence to the dull parts of your body.” It reminds me of something the French poet Paul Valery once said, “The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” Do you find these statements dissimilar? Are you sleepy?

Many of us are asleep half the time. We move through Asanas, even life, in a daze only semi- aware of the endless refinement profound change requires. Pushing our inert spirits from the gross to the infinitesimal transforms dreams to reality, conquers difficult Asana, and difficult decisions.

Learning from Natasha is a reality course in Virgo technique, for “Virgo seeks self through what they learn.”* As a teacher, she embodies what is best of this Mercury ruled energy. Her requests for re-discovery and reassessment between sensation and discomfort, between what the body imitates, and what it is actually doing, charge students to fully awaken, to bring not only intelligence, but care, to the dull, unreceptive areas in the body.

One must be fully awake to make choices between disparagement and discrimination, between potency and assimilation. This is Mercury’s domain, for it rules the ideas behind words, the choice of words, and their execution. The higher initiative of Virgo’s diligence is ingenuity in service so that the harvest prosper. Each choice must be correct, if not perfect, to create vision through practical reality.

We learn as much from how someone instructs as from the teachings themselves. We know the body responds to loving attention, not criticism. We learn that careful observation is a powerful tool. Becoming a student again, with a wonderful teacher, is the best reminder of how we learn, why we love what we love, and how we hope others learn from us. If I cannot become fully awake, growing my patience, and discrimination, loving the dull, sleepy parts of my body, I cannot teach this to others. In forging dreams from dross material we become our own best teachers.


Asana: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana/King Pigeon Pose. Sitting on floor, bend L knee, pulling leg in so heel is placed in front of groin, knee on floor. Take R leg directly back, rotated in, so length of leg, and top of foot lengthen on floor. Lift torso up, pushing chest forward, opening solar plexus, lengthening neck back. This is enough.
If you wish to continue, bend R knee, lifting L arm overhead, grab R foot, or you can lift both arms up and back to grab foot. A deeper addition is to clasp hands behind by rotating L arm out, up and back, to clasp R hand, with arm rotated in, back and up. Tuck R foot into R elbow, (as in photo.) Repeat other side.

Health Notes: This pose, opens outer hip rotators, (piriformis muscle for one) enlivens the lower/lumbar spine, and brings more blood circulation to the pelvic area. All varieties of the Pigeon Pose help keep the urinary system, and gonads in good condition. By stretching upper body and neck, the parathyroid, thyroids, and adrenals are fed with greater blood, adding vitality and health. If you are working to control sexual desire these poses can be helpful.

Astrology Notes: We are not in Virgo territory, though any time is a good time to become more discriminating. We are in the last week of Cancer, another nurturing energy. Virgo cultivates and changes through the airy signature of Mercury, while Cancer nurtures from the watery rulership of the moon. One is mental the other emotional. Cancer “seeks self through what it feels.”*
* Both the Virgo and Cancer quotes are taken from “Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology.”
Alan is another great teacher who fully embodies what he disseminates. If you could have only one Astrology primer, his is the one to choose.

Ayurvedic Notes: Summer, in the northern hemisphere, is the domain of hot, sharp, intense Pitta. Imbalances come from overdoing, over perfection (read Virgo gone amuck), over heating. Because pitta energy lives strongly in the solar plexus, stretching those muscles helps maintain balance in pitta’s season, as well as for those with a dominant pitta dosha. Helpful poses include, Camel, Bow, Pigeon, and Locust. Avoid headstand, Plow, and other inversions.

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