Oblique Strategies 7 Week Yoga Study

My recent mashup of two non related topics is the Oblique Strategies 7 week yoga study I'm currently doing at Jai Dee Yoga in Seminole Heights, Tampa, FL. The Oblique Strategies card deck is the brain child of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt (first published in 1975).

From the deck: "These cards evolved from separate observations of the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognised in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated.

They can be used as a pack, or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear..."
At the beginning of class, I shuffle the deck and pull a card. The card provides the direction for the them of the yoga class.

Week 1: Reverse.
Week 2: Courage!
Week 7:

The artwork for this yoga study is inspired by the album cover for "Another Green World" by Brian Eno. I reimagined it in photoshop and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out! If you'd like your own Oblique Strategies card deck, you can pick one up from Enoshop.co.uk

The Gifts of Imperfection 15 Week Yoga Study

Following quick on the heels of the Braving The Wilderness Brené Brown yoga study, I went back to my copy of The Gifts of Imperfection and pulled from each chapter as the theme for Saturday's yoga classes. I also raffled off three copies of Brené's book as the conclusion to the study series 

Week 1. Wholehearted Living
Week 2. Courage, Compassion and Connection
Week 3. Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging and Being Enough
Week 4. The Things That Get In The Way
Week 5. Cultivating Authenticity - Letting Go of What People Think
Week 6. Cultivating Self-Compassion - Letting Go of Perfectionism
Week 7. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit - Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
Week 8. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy - Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
Week 9. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith - Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
Week 10. Cultivating Creativity - Letting Go of Comparison
Week 11. Cultivating Play and Rest - Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
Week 12. Cultivating Calm and Stillness - Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
Week 13. Cultivating Meaningful Work - Letting Go of Self-Doubt and "Supposed To"
Week 14. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance - Letting Go of "Being Cool" and "Always In Control"
Week 15. Final Thoughts

Braving The Wilderness: 7 Week Yoga Study

I love Brené Brown's writing and as soon as her book Braving the Wilderness was released, I bought a copy and brought it into my Saturday morning yoga classes at Jai Dee as a theme of exploration.

Everywhere and Nowhere
The Quest for True Belonging
High Lonesome: A Spiritual Crisis
People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.
Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil.
Hold Hands. With Strangers.
Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.

12 Week Personal Transformation: A Yoga Study

At the tail end of last year, I began a themed twelve week journey through the "12 Laws of Personal Transformation" - taken from 40 Days to Personal Revolution by Baron Baptiste. Each class began with a quote that I'd found that fit the theme of the week and the challenge for me was to speak to the theme throughout the class.

My personal challenge this year has been to speak more from the heart as I lead asana. Having a predetermined theme at the outset of the class gives me a structure to work around, especially if the theme/concept is short and simple. The short theme/concept also helps when naming the audio recordings from class as I upload them online.

Sometimes I have recording failures (forget to start the recording, forgetting to shut down the recorder properly), but I managed to get a majority of these 12 laws recorded and shared online. You can find them in the usual places online:


Here is a list of the recordings I have from this 12 week journey:


1. Seek the truth. 
2. Be willing to come apart.
3. Step out of your comfort zone. 
4. Commit to growth.
5. Shift your vision. 
6. Drop what you know. 
7. Relax with what is.
8. Remove the rocks. 
9. Don’t rush the process. 
10. Be true to yourself. 
11. Be still and know. 
12. Understand that the whole is the goal.

Thoughts From Behind The Tech Desk

Sitting behind the Tech Desk at Level One offered me a unique perspective, literally and figuratively. I was apprenticing the Level One Baptiste training and I'd mentioned I'd love to learn about what's involved in running the Tech Desk. I got the chance to shadow & then run it on Thursday morning.

That Thursday morning started with meditation and then the group self practice - to recreate Journey Into Power from Integration through Igniting.

Let me take you back to my first self practice of Level One in 2016. I was in the front row, far away from the Journey Into Power poster of the sequence and poses. I began my self practice, moving through the Sun A Salutations but when I began the Sun B sequence, my practice fell apart. I didn't know what poses (or how many of which) made up one complete Sun B. I faltered, and came to child's pose. I thought that everyone behind me must know that I don't know what I'm doing. We were asked to memorize Journey Into Power before arriving for Level One. I thought I had done that, I thought I knew it from so many years practicing at Breath and Body. I was wrong. I felt defeated, crushed by my inability to know what to do next. I began to cry, feeling like a failure, like a fraud, like everyone could clearly see that I didn't know what I was doing. Crying and feeling worthless, I began again with the Sun A Salutations, not know what else to do. When we broke for lunch, I sought out a more knowledgable yogi and asked him what are all the poses for a Sun Salutation B and what is the ending pose?

It seems like such a simple thing, not knowing what the collection of yoga poses are that are a Sun B, but I made it into much more than that. I made that not knowing into a sign on my back that said "This lady doesn't know what she's doing. She's a fraud." I couldn't shake the feeling that my not knowing had been witnessed and judged.

Fast forward to that Thursday morning behind the Tech Desk. I had the opportunity to watch and witness the self practice of 150+ yogis unfold, at their own pace, with their own breath linking each pose to the next. There was no way I could tell who was doing Journey Into Power correctly or out of order, even if I had tried. Some yogis would sync up with one another as they flowed from section to section, others moved to a rhythm all their own. It was a glorious sight to behold. I felt such a powerful love swelling up in my chest for all the beautiful humans in the room. A room full of yogis moving with their breath from pose to pose, with nobody watching, criticizing, or critiquing. It was only then that I could see how wrong I'd been to judge myself so harshly during my first self practice. There was no critic in this room, only yogis moving with their breath, doing the work, feeling the ground under their feet and the breath in their lungs. The only critic in the room was in my own mind, of my own invention.

Fully realizing this, seeing it with my own eyes allowed me to have a different appreciation for the Journey Into Power sequence and the yogis that were practicing it. Seeing them move from Sun A to Sun B and on through the flow was beauty in motion. Moving for the sake of joy, from memory, for memory, for life, for love, for freedom and growth. Moving just to move. Not moving to be right or beautiful or better or perfect. Moving for love. Love of the practice, love of yoga, love of being alive, the love of being in community, the love of a shared experience.

Do the work and you will have the power. It is as simple (and as difficult) as that.

Baptiste Level One Phoenicia 2018 - Apprenticeship Complete

What happens behind the curtain to put together a Baptiste program like Level One is similar to the sorcery that is witnessed on Master Chef. Each person, each participant, each team role is a unique ingredient in the recipe. How it all comes together depends on the openness, and receptivity of each person gathered to take part in the Baptiste program. I've just spent a week with a group of amazing people in the Catskills Mountains in Phoenicia, NY. I had the extreme pleasure of Apprenticing the Level One Baptiste Yoga Training held at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center.

Without giving away too much, here's a rundown of what's involved. The apprentice team arrives on site a half day earlier than the participants in order to get settled in and have a team luncheon to meet all the other team members and begin to define roles, choose roles, define our personal "win" for the week and create a Team Promise.

As we were defining our wins and the parts of our team promise, I was chosen to be the primary scribe of the program notes. There are two whiteboards which the participants use to know where to be, when to be there and what the overnight assignments are. Once the session is let out, I'd go scribe on the whiteboard at the main Nolanda Conference Center, then make my way down to the Dining Hall to scribe down there. At the outset, I was uncertain as to how I'd make that trek to the Dining Hall and back in an efficient manner (it's a bit of a hoof), but Michael said he'd brought his mountain bike with him & that would make the trip to and fro easier. Later that day, I was told that I could take the golf cart to the Dining Hall to scribe! Super! This would let me get there, scribe quickly and then get back to NCC to help the other team members with their tasks. I hadn't driven a golf cart in over 15 years and man is it still fun! The one thing I didn't think about was how cold I'd be driving the golf cart after a hot yoga practice, in sweaty clothes, after dark, up to the dining hall! Woah was that a chilly ride!

Other team roles that could be selected were Wellness, Facilitator Hydration, Greeter/Sweeper, Marketplace, Meditation Blankets, Towel Table and Tech Desk. I also doubled as Greeter/Sweeper at the top of the trail head by NCC and split the rest of my time at Marketplace. Sweeping means to pass through the Dining Hall and breakfast and dinner to give everyone a time check letting them know how much time was left before program begins at NCC. Once I'd 'swept' then I took my place back at the trail head turn to NCC to show the way to NCC. Several participants told me that me being there helped them to not miss their turn to the conference center.

The setup/teardown of the chairs for the different inquiry/discussion sessions was the most challenging part of apprenticing. The program was sold out and the total number of Baptiste people there was 163 (I think; I could be off by a few on this number). Not all the chairs are the same size, type or weight. Some of them are old fashioned metal chairs and are quite heavy. When we all synchronized into a smooth system of passing the chairs - forming a human chain of moving chairs, the process went quickly. One evening we were able to completely tear down a full chair setup in less than twenty minutes!

Saturday morning I mentioned interest in shadowing the Tech Desk to Will, John and Michael and I was able to sit in and run the tech desk for the morning asana session on Thursday morning. Lots of power strips, batteries and many wireless mics make amplification of the whole event possible. The speakers in the corners of the room are TurboSounds iQ15 powered speakers, the mixer was an APB DynaSonics ProRack H 1020, four (4) hand held Shure PGXD4 mics, one (1) headset Shure PGXD4 mic, Baron's Shure QLXD4 headset mic and an ARTcessories AV Direct box to bring the audio from the Macbook into the mixing board via a mini stereo to RCA stereo cable. The room audio is recorded with a Zoom H4N recorder so that Baron can listen to the program afterward and reflect on how the program went and observe his facilitation of the program. Just that week, the Zoom had stopped working but luckily I had my Xacti recorder in my backpack. Will was able to use my Xacti to record the room audio until the Zoom they ordered showed up later that week. I had traveled to Menla with my work backpack full of my tech gear, so I was also able to loan my quick charge iPad plug and multi connector cables to Will for charing up Baron's phone. Luca Richards was there as Lead Content for the program and he got lucky that I had my USB-C to USB adapter so that he could print some of the program content in a pinch!

On Friday I was also able to come to the rescue with a loner 64GB SD card for Cordelia (Social Media/Marketing for the Baptiste Institute) to use to record the two discussion sessions of the last day. The SD card in Baron's camera (Leica V-Lux) which she'd been using was full of pictures that still needed to be edited and her laptop didn't have enough hard disc space to store them. Long tech story short - it turned out to be an amazingly good thing that I'd flown to Menla straight from a work trip, or I wouldn't have had any of those tech things with me!

Our team gelled quickly and we all worked well together. Our roles ended up getting more fluid on Thursday & Friday. Several of us switched roles, subbed for one another or trained another team member to handle their role as the program schedules shifted.

I found it fascinating to learn that the content of the program is fluid up until it is presented to the participants. The Program content and schedule is determined by the feel of the group and nothing is set in stone at any given time. Content is added in or left out in the same way that when you're cooking, you sometimes need to add more sugar or leave out the salt.

I had an amazing time catching up with old friends and making new friends that feel like family!

Apprenticing a Baptiste Yoga Training Program

Photo Aug 11, 8 18 28 AM

Soon I will be making my way back to Menla for a third visit! This time around I will have the extreme pleasure of apprenticing the 2018 Baptiste Level One Training. Just two short years ago, I was attending my first Level One training, now I'm going back in co-creation of the program as a team member and as a participant in the development of my own leadership.

Once again, I'm nervous about packing even though this is my third trip to Menla. This time I'll be flying to Albany out of St. Louis and I won't have the luxury of unpacking after a work trip and packing fresh for a trip to Menla. I know, I know, it's a small thing all in all.

I'm back to Menla, but into the unknown. Familiar surroundings, some familiar faces, but an all new experience. I know I will come back home re-energized and full of post-training Baptiste magic. I'm so excited!!

I am confident that very soon, other Tampa area yogis will be going off to their first Baptiste trainings and coming home ready to give back their fresh energy into the local yoga community. It's a beautiful thing and I'm very excited to be a part of it.