Judas, oil on canvas by Sean Mellyn
The world is as you are. And the worlds of yoga are astonishing. Welcome to my world.
“I like enthusiasts of any kind.” – Roald Dahl
I started to wet my feet on the spiritual path of yoga during college. I had this way-too-early-in-the-morning-for-a-sophomore-stoner-course called The Religions of India that I was flunking. My professor was a mild-mannered Buddhist (very accepting) and gave me lots of options for experiential bonus projects to help bolster my grade. Meditation classes, yoga, an extra research paper on tantric art – and a most memorable visit to a central Pennsylvania Hare Krishna farm with him and a van full of blond Kappa Kappa Gammas – brought me up to B+. Yes!
So when I met my primary teacher of tantric yoga in my mid twenties, a mad professor and practitioner of another sort named Douglas Brooks, it was a natural evolution for me. I was already at home. Our lineage of Hindu tantric yoga called Rajanaka Tantra is an esoteric, Goddess-centered vision of spirituality – and immersing in this lineage can feel like a very intellectual, collegiate affair. And we get accused of being too heady all the time. Whatever, haters! There’s a yoga for everyone. Truly. And in NYC we have a world of options for yogic engagement. Best advice? Explore. Find your home. And because you’re a complex, diverse and wildly interesting Human Being, I bet you have more than one home. Rajanaka Yogis tend to also be at home in more than one place, so it’s a great path for enthusiasts of life’s diverse flavors.
Over the past few months I’ve found a most welcome home in spaces held by Natasha Blank. And I’ve found a new way to unpack my heady yoga with even more heart and soul. Before I ever even met Natasha I read a blog she wrote in which she promised to dance every single day. I was intrigued. I love dancing. My club-ravaged mind was one of the things that brought me to a yoga mat on a regular basis. I used Natasha’s promise as an example in my own asana classes to illustrate a theme I’d been playing with in my classes about the power of our spoken word. At the time I had started doing a lot of work around the integrity of my own word, making promises to myself for the sake of my own evolution and growth – and working with others to catch myself in and out of integrity. In the Indian cosmology a promise or vow is called VRATA. Making meaningful promises, and keeping them, is so very powerful.
So when my Monday evenings opened up and I could promise to regularly attend Natasha’s Get Your Dance On: Sessions – a special hybrid experience of yoga asana, full tilt dance party and restoratives at Atmananda Yoga on Irving Place – well, I knew that was a promise worth keeping. I’ve come to treasure Monday nights and am super thrilled to be co-teaching these sessions with Natasha, Abby Paloma and others on a more regular basis. Join us there sometime soon. Better yet! Come home to one of my homebase’s – Abhaya Yoga – THIS SATURDAY for Get Your Dance On. (We’ll skip the asana and Natasha will facilitate a dance party for yogis and their pals.) I attended several epic raves at #10 Jay Street back in the day. How cool that fearless leader Tara Glazier has the gumption to reclaim a slice of that lineage for us? And hopefully without some staggering drunk puking on your shoe. Cuz you’ll be barefoot. Yesterday when I was teaching there I noticed a new disco ball had been installed. Love it!
Get Your Dance On is a safe space to let it all hang out. To feel the depth of your humanity through a process of dance, just like you do in asana. Maybe more so. It’s a chance to get out of your head and into your body – intuitively and with wild abandon. And to those of you who say “I can’t let it all hang out on the dance floor without a few pills or a few tokes or a few drinks…” just stop it right now. Your words! They’re so very important. Let them create worlds, not limits. Get Your Dance On is a real practice. Natasha lays good ground rules. No chatting! And she always has amazing cues to foster individual and group expression. This practice is a chance to act a fool, to feel silly, sad, embarrassed, rageful, ecstatic, nasty, compassionate, proud, expansive, sexy. And more. Abhaya is a fearless home to feel it all. And Natasha starts at Abhaya THIS SATURDAY with a brand new sound system! March 2nd. 7.30p. Get. Your. Dance. On. Make it a regular promise. And feed your enthusiasm for this precious gift of embodied life.