Collecting Waves

On my daily commute, I give myself ample time to get to work and typically stay in the right lane with other slower drivers.  Driving is fun for me.  I am proud to be a good, safe driver.    Yet at one on-ramp, I am always cut off.  Drivers overtake me on the inside and pull right in front of me, causing me to brake.  My irritation builds and I arrive at work annoyed at such aggressive driving behaviors.

Over the years, this has happened so many times that I began to protect the space in front of me.  Instead of leaving 3 car lengths, I close the gap so the cars that come barreling up can’t jump in front of me.  They try but my focus is on protecting my space.  I’m determined not to give in.

Recently a car in front of me braked sharply and without my usual 3 car lengths, I had to brake really sharp to avoid rear ending the car in front.  I said to myself, “I give up” and mentally raised my hands in surrender.

My annoyance stayed with me at work, I realized how ludicrous it was that I was trying to hold onto the space in front of me while driving over 50 miles per hour.

Jackie at Yoga Village

Jackie is completing the Yoga Village Teacher Training Program

When I really thought about it, I was shocked at my trying to hold onto, well, nothing really.  This is when I became aware of the silliness of my actions.  So I decided that the next day, instead of trying to hang onto my space or giving up my perceived space, I was going to surrender that space to the next, would be “cutter upper.”

The next day, a “monster truck” comes barreling up the on-ramp and starts to overtake me on the inside.  I let off the gas and waved him on by.  To my surprise, through his back window, I saw him wave at me.  As he pulled into the next lane, he was still waving.  It was such a great quality wave; I couldn’t stop smiling all day at work.  I felt great.

From that moment on, I have collected so many waves, even from pedestrians.  I’ve even begun to categorize those waves.  There’s the looking down, hand up wave, there’s the look me in the eye wave –sometimes with a smile– there’s the little finger wave as people walk past with a cell phone to their ear.  However, no one has done the queen’s wave.

Even more fascinating is how I notice my own waves and trust me, I make sure I do the full on smile, look you in the eye, open handed, surrender wave.

Now I realize the insanity of hanging on to this imaginary space  I discovered the difference between frustration of giving up and surrendering.  I saw the sweetness of surrender as it opens you up to so many new and positive experiences.  Of course it has made me a better driver and as I collect more waves, my heart swells.

Jackie Edgington

Make the Impossible — Possible!

Farrah in Handstand at beach

Impossible – now possible in handstand

There are so many things I have learned with Jaye, that I really don’t know how to even begin to explain how great of a being and teacher he is. I met him in Costa Rica in 2008 when he went to the studio I used to practice at for a weekend workshop. At the time, I had been practicing yoga for about 6 months and was a very constant student. I took regular classes 6 or 7 times a week and had only done 1 workshop in that period of time; though I had gotten physically strong and flexible, and had come to feel at ease within myself; I had not yet been exposed to much yoga philosophy and certainly not to Anusara yoga. It was such a great experience to have this magnificent, happy, sweet and approachable teacher talk about basic concepts of Tantric philosophy, explain to us the meaning of the mantra we were chanting and facilitate an asana practice that helped me go beyond my limits that I immediately knew I would always want to study more with him.

One of the most amazing things I accomplished that weekend, was loosing the fear of doing inversions (headstands, handstands, etc.) as Jaye made it seem easy and accessible to everyone. The entire weekend he was talking about “how to make the impossible, possible; the possible, easy; and the easy, elegant and refined” – and he gradually and slowly had everyone in the room do just a bit more, he made us go one step further every time, with a sweet and loving approach, which created a trustworthy atmosphere, enabling change to take place. I was inspired to try a little harder and at the same time without pressure and feeling safe, it was just magical : )

Since then, he has been one of my most beloved teachers & mentors, and has become a dear friend. In his presence, the best of me comes out, not only in my asana practice, but also off the mat. He has the capacity of making everyone feel appreciated and special, and he also has a very unique ability to explain complex concepts and ideas in a very simple way, which makes it very easy to understand for anyone. I always look forward to studying and spending time with Jaye, with his presence and guidance, life certainly gets better, more enjoyable and easy to live, specially through the challenges as he usually helps to make me see things from a different perspective.  I feel very fortunate and lucky to have Jaye in my life.

Farrah Yaspe

Circle of Fire

Circle of Fire ©Lynne Buchanan
All Rights Reserved

Sometimes in life things happen that do not go according to plan and which are beyond our control.  This week has made that very clear to me, both in society and in my personal life.  Given my new vow to pay attention and observe what is fascinating about even unpleasant situations, thanks to Dewitt Jones, I have noticed that my natural tendency is to shut down and protect my heart. The problem is that when I do that, I feel cut off and isolated and I don’t notice what is right with the world or experience the joy that is always there waiting to be experienced and expressed.  I recognize that pain is a given and suffering is optional, so I forced myself to go to my great teacher Jaye Martin’s advanced yoga class today.  He said we were doing a circle of fire practice and that we had to open our hearts completely to the energy and passion inside that motivates us to give up safety and explore unknown possibilities as we discover our authentic path in life.

The pinnacle pose was to be backbend drop backs with minimal or no assistance.  I almost got up off my mat and walked out the door.  For the past week, I have lugged two camera bodies and lenses all over Molokai and my left shoulder feels unstable.  Although regular back bends are no problem for me, I didn’t know if I would be able to support myself when my hands hit the ground and opening my heart was the last thing I wanted to do due to recent events.  Then I realized I was there and despite my apprehension this was probably exactly what I should do.  As Jaye talked about the circle of fire in our hearts and the divine energy inside us all, I recognized I still have this–we all do as long as we are alive–it’s just sometimes it gets buried so deeply that I forget and lose confidence in myself and my ability to find my way.  The unknown becomes a huge burden instead of an exciting threshold to cross over into a brighter future.  Sometimes it just takes a leap of faith, and the leap will be a whole lot more successful if I start jumping believing I am powerful and anticipating that my feet (or in this case, hands) will find the ground where ever that might be, instead of feeling like I will miss and crash and burn or get swallowed up by nothingness.

When it was my turn to drop back, I looked into Jaye’s eyes and realized I had complete trust in him to intercede if it looked like my shoulder would give out and I was going to crash on my head.  I didn’t even need to tell him anything was wrong.  I knew he would sense exactly how I would land as he watched the process and help me if necessary and only as much as I needed to be helped.  He is that good.  Yet, he wanted us all to start doing it on our own because we are all more capable than we believe .  His confidence in me motivated me to go for it.  All he did was touch my heart with one finger to remind me where it was, so I would lift it higher and not collapse.  It felt so good to fire up my muscles and charge my heart with the belief that I could do this, and I was well aware that the lesson I was learning went way beyond the mat.

I realized that as a photographer I do the same thing–I look into the heart of a flower and see the positive life force that makes it blossom and convey the fullness and beauty of what I see.  As I open to that energy, I discover it exists within me too and the clouds of self-doubt and unworthiness dissipate.  When we tap into this interconnectedness and lift each other higher, anything seems possible.

Lynne Buchanan, April 2013

Remember — Re-remember

Each time I come to the mat the yoga tradition of creating an intention for the practice comes to mind.  Often my intention is to dedicate my practice to someone close to my heart.  But sometimes during the warm up poses, my mind becomes so focused on the physical aspects of the yoga practice that I forget my intention.

In Jaye’s class this week it occurred to me that I’d like to give more power to the intention so that it is alive and fresh during the whole practice. Jaye enabled me to discover the discipline required to encourage the mind to return to that intention.

As I listened to Jaye’s detailed alignment instructions, he skillfully linked physical instructions with ways to encourage us all to attune to a higher purpose. Jaye instructed us to connect to that which inspires us and then remember and re-remember that moment.

Bill and Sally Watson

Bill and Sally

When I heard Jaye’s words, “remember and re-remember,” it helped me to come back to my intention for the practice that day – to honor Bill, a man who totally inspires me regularly through the actions of his daughter Sally, who has been a good friend for the past 7 years.  I remembered the time that Sally described her father’s life. Bill was a coal miner who got out of bed every morning and went to work in darkness beneath the earth and came home with clothes covered in the blackness that had surrounded him during the day.

Although I never knew Bill, I remember and re-remember the story of his dedication to his family and his clarity of purpose each day as he went back into the mine in order to serve a higher purpose – the well being of his family.  I am able to see how his actions and attitude influenced his daughter Sally, who in a seemingly tireless manner is always actively helping family, friends and neighbors in need. Thank you Jaye for enabling me to work on the skill of remembering and re-remembering Bill whose love and steadfast commitment continues to inspire me through his daughter Sally.

Rita Knorr, St. Petersburg FL

Jaye Martin and Tikkun Olam

It is hard to describe the joy I experience after each yoga class with Jaye Martin. For at least three days afterwards I find myself smiling uncontrollably. This is not merely the exhilaration of a challenging physical practice, although it is surely that. Nor is it the calming but alert buzz I feel from an intense moving meditation, although it is surely that too. It is also his uncanny ability to use themes for class that resonate deeply. Themes through which hatha yoga practice becomes a metaphor for all of life. Recently Jaye’s teaching tapped into a memory and life lesson that had been buried within me for decades merging the ancient tradition with which I was raised with my yoga life in a reinvigorating way.

Jaye’s class began in the usual way. He shared his theme with us. The theme was “process”, the notion that the process, the current, present moment is more important, more worthy of focus and intention than the goal. Up to this point we were on familiar ground – certainly to yogis and meditators. But as students of Jaye Martin know well, his themes are never merely the conventional aphorisms you see on new age tee shirts or bumper stickers. And again Jaye did not disappoint. The process of making our asanas more skillful, strong, graceful, more “perfect” rather than the attainment of some quintessential form – like the dazzling Yoga Journal magazine cover photos – the process is the yoga. And then Jaye took even this insight to an infinitely higher plain teaching that the process of moving towards your full expression of a pose is a sacred process, and a process that never ends. Because there is no such thing as ultimate perfection in nature, in the world, there is no perfect pose. For even once you attain a particular technique there is always more. There is deeper, richer, different work to do, and this work, this endless work, is sacred work. For if we were already “perfect” there would be nothing for us to do.

Harriet Roberts and Rabbi Rothman – Sea of Galilee

As I sat there in Siddhasana sparks of memory bubbled through me. I was back in my Synagogue listening to our beloved, twinkly eyed Rabbi, expound upon the age old theological conundrum of why God made a world that contained suffering and injustice. Why, Rabbi, we asked, why didn’t God make the world perfect without war or hunger or disease or natural disaster or evil? And I remember the Rabbi delicately merging compassion with intellect as he answered us with the concept of Tikkun Olam, the obligation to make the world a better place. That God made the big round world leaving a sliver of darkness, like a narrow crescent of the moon,  leaving the world imperfect so that we human beings would always have work to do. We would always have the sacred obligation to make the world a better place. That the world would never be perfect, if it were we would have nothing more to do. So the process of perfecting the world, in each action we take as compassionate human beings, that process is sacred.

As this memory flooded over me and we proceeded into our sun salutations I felt these ideas physically. With each placement of the ball mount of my foot upon the earth, with each expansion of my chest towards the sky, each movement, each flexion, each breath was now suffused with a reverential level of consciousness and executed with a new spirited precision.

I have come to believe with Jaye’s guidance, that yoga practice is a human metaphor for universal compassion – in any tradition. For just as the sacred work of bringing goodness and concord to the world never ends so does the process of “perfecting” hathayoga. Each class with Jaye Martin is for me a reinvigoration of Tikkun Olam. For each time I come to the mat I recommit to make the world a better place, one asana at a time.

Harriet Roberts – Sarasota, Florida

In Jaye’s Garden

Entering Jaye Martin’s class is like stepping into the garden of tropical plants that Jaye has cultivated in his front and back yard. He provides the soil, water, and nutrients (the inspiration) for us so that we are able to open like blossoms to our fullest potential.

As we explore various asanas with him in class each week, he’ll introduce gardening references—“Root your heels into the earth” or “Let your heart blossom”—to encourage us to think of our bodies and spirits as part of nature. In Jaye’s view (a view based on Tantric philosophy), the natural world is simply another expression of divine consciousness, always present, forever accessible, within reach in every moment.

“How can we make our poses more beautiful?” Jaye might ask at the start of class, and, as the class unfolds, this question might lead us to a new way of understanding how the more beautiful we make our poses, the more beauty we can bring to our lives.

In a pose like Downward Dog, he might invite us to be more mindful of how we set our hands on the mat or where we place our feet, and then encourage us to bring the same mindfulness to our daily routines so that, long after we leave his class, we become more aware of life’s beauty surrounding us and within us.

Jaye’s passion for anything that brings joy and beauty into the world—an exotic plant, a challenging pose, a seemingly mundane rock—shapes every story that he shares with us in class, every pose that he demonstrates. With each question, each observation, Jaye nurtures us with the same love and care that he showers on the delicate orchids, tender bromeliads, and sturdy palm trees that grow in his garden.

And after each class, we feel well nourished by his teaching. Why? It’s simple: he has taught us how to connect with our essential nature, to root ourselves in the present and open our hearts like unfolding blossoms to gain a glimpse of our true selves.

— Bruce Black, Sarasota, FL