A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life & Sharon Gannon
I was lucky enough to take a Master Class with Jivamukti co-founder David Life last Friday. Sharon and David offered a week-long series of events after their New Year's Eve celebration. The master class was three hours of slow vinyasa, but I loved every minute of it. David was intense, but calm and conscientious. Even with 200 students mat-to-mat, he made constant adjustments (along with a half-dozen assistants). A few favorite lessons:
  • When moving from Down Dog to Warrior I, keep exhaling as you step the back foot forward. It will be more stable, you can inhale as you lift the torso and arms
  • Popping in the knees is a sign of compression in the joint. All those steps people take, especially city people who schlep a lot of stuff up and down a lot of stairs, load the joint. When lowering from Awkward Chair to Toe Balance, keep lifting through the top of the knee (and squeezing through the inner thighs) and the joint won't pop. Think UP UP UP as you go down.
  • In Nauli Kriya / standing Udhiyana Bandha practice, the only point of the hands-on-knees position is to let the stomach muscles relax. The back should be flat, there's no need for arching or tucking.
I'm marking my calendar for the whole week next year.
 
Super Rich with Russell Simmons, Sharon Gannon, and David Life


After the Master Class with David Life, the surprise guest of the day (Mr/Uncle Russell Simmons) sat around for a Q&A session with the audience. He also gave us each (200 of us) a copy of his new book, Super Rich! Questions from the audience were random, but interesting. Sharon and David jumped in for a few; here are some favorite points (paraphrased):

Q: How can we overcome fear, in our yoga practice and our life?

Russell Simmons: Just meditate. You can overcome anything. 

Q: Why is Jivamukti so expensive?

Sharon Gannon: Well, for starters, I don't think Jivamukti is very expensive. And the New York center supports 70 employees, their livelihoods. Half of its proceeds go to PETA, the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and other worthy causes. So your class fees are supporting those causes.The owners don't take any of the profits. Things are not always as they appear. 

Q: As students, we focus on TAKING classes. What should we be GIVING to each class?


Sharon Gannon: That is very nicely put. Thinking of the class as a circle, that we take each class and then we give something back...

Q: How do you all feel about the less-represented populations in yoga studios? 

Russell Simmons: I started a scholarship program for women of color to attend the Jivamukti Teacher Training program.

And some favorite quotes (tweeted):

"To find a guru, look for energy, not for the exotic" — David Life

"How to overcome fear? Just meditate. You can overcome anything." — Russell Simmons

"Three things to never leave home without: your keys, birdseed for the birds, and your mala beads to chant through difficulties." — Sharon Gannon

"Yoga should not be proselytized. People come when they're ready. Just celebrate when they show up." — Sharon Gannon

For more on the event and to win a free copy of Super Rich!, check out Yogoer!
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About the Author
Erica Heinz -- graphic designer, illustrator, wellness blogger, and yoga teacher -- founded Yogoer.com to make it easier for busy New Yorkers to stay fit. Ten years as a web designer taught her the challenges of balancing work and life; six months of intense yoga training showed her how to get the balance she craved. Since 2001, Erica has explored the full range of yoga disciplines, including Bikram, Ashtanga, Sivananda, Anusara, Kundalini, Forrest, and Body-Mind Centering. She has studied with Jhon Tamayo, Sabina Stahl, and Paula Tursi; Kudrat Kaur, Dharma Mittra, and Leslie Kaminoff. She was certified in Atmananda vinyasa yoga in 2004, and at The Breathing Project in 2009.
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