JAPAN Blog May 2014

Dear Yogis and Yoginis,

I was invited to stay my first night in Japan with my dear friends Madoka, Utaka ,and their sweet 4 year old, Aoi in Chofu,a suburb of Tokyo. Madoka has been a buddy from my first visit to Japan 10 years ago. I am so grateful for her love and support over the years around the Japanese kula. I saw her marry the man of her dreams, settle into a lovely house, finish her Rolfing training, get pregnant and give birth to the most adorable child on the planet. I so want to be able to speak Japanese to Aoi!! I also got to meet Sawako’s nine month old daughter, Mino. Having these two beautiful children together was heaven on earth.

I have just finished teaching 5 workshops in two cites in 3 days. The workshops went amazingly well. I was reunited with some great members of the Anusara® Yoga Japanese kula in Tokyo on Saturday after my second workshop. My first workshop Friday night was an exploration of the Divine Feminine explaining how yoga helps relieve painful symptoms of headaches, back aches, cramps, bloating and mood swings during menstruation and the transition through menopause. The second workshop was a challenging Intermediate to Advanced level Anusara® Yoga workshop on inversions, back bends, and twists called Purification of the Heart with deep core strengtheners, hand stands and lots of strong standing poses.

After a lovely dinner with the Japanese kula

I traveled to Ibaraki  2 hours  north of Tokyo,  with Tomoko Oda.  We arrived to discover that  a very inexperienced translator had been hired.  We quickly tried to find a replacement and then had to trust that somehow we were going to pull this off.  Tomoko is an amazingly gifted Anusara® teacher but has limited English skills.  Tomoko and our new translator Madoka teamed up to do a great job. Tomoko said to me afterwards that she intuited what I was saying some of the time  as she couldn’t always follow my English. She followed the flow and when she got tripped up, Madoka jumped in. It was tag team translating. 

The real miracle was that Madoka-san ( not my friend from Chofu) our translator, a complete newcomer to yoga,  had no vocabulary for Yoga philosophy whatsoever. She is the sister of Yuko, the hostess of our workshop. Yuko speaks no English whatsoever but so wanted her sister to come into yoga that she threw Madoka into the deep end hiring her for this translating position.


Madoka said that during the workshop something changed inside her. She was moved to tears at lunch describing the experience of listening  and translating  the teachings. At the end she said she would be starting to take classes from her sister and other teachers in the community. It was amazing to see the light go on in her eyes and in her heart.

Many of the students were moved to tears as I described losing my dear friend, Arnie,a couple of weeks ago. I shared that this great loss has in a way  made me even more determined to celebrate every day. It told them that we never know how long we have to be on this planet. It might be the last time I see them. That the sages say we should  live every day with death on our shoulder. We need to wake up to how incredibly special this experience of embodiment is and how grateful we are to have a beautiful yoga community that encourages and supports us in times of celebration or great loss.

The 3 workshops here in Ibaraki were very fun. The first two challenged both the beginners and the teachers in the room to move to the next level with full Vasisthasana grabbing the top foot, Forearm stand and Scorpion, full wheel and Natarajasana ( the Dancer pose).  The last workshop was about growing a lotus. Using the imagery of the lotus being planted in the dark mud and rising towards the light, we grounded ourselves with deep hip openers, pranayama and meditation to find a deep connection the essence of who we are. The group got very still and indrawn at the end of the day. Everyone lingered asking for a million photos.
A small group invited me out to a quick dinner with delicious fresh sushi, tempura, salads, veggies and a wonderful fresh Japanese beer.

Now for two days off!  

Tomorrow I go for an adventure to the beach and a local botanical garden that is one of the 4 best gardens in Japan.  More fresh seafood, fresh air and sunshine are in store. It is hot and humid during the day and cool and damp at night.
I will send more fun stories later.

I am so grateful to the Japanese community for opening up their hearts, families and homes to me.  I cannot even remember what my life was like without these adventures to Japan.
I am sorry I missed Yasushi this trip. He just released his first DVD! Congratulations, Yasushi-san!

More later,