Slightly Off Centre

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On the playground there is always that one kid that, rather than sit on the teeter totter (otherwise known as a seesaw, depending on where you grew up!) stands balancing in the middle with one foot on each side… teetering back and forth. Francisco used that analogy this week at his event here in Toronto and it just made so much sense to me.

Yoga brings us emotional coherence. And emotional coherence is the kid standing in the middle of the teeter totter, teetering back and forth between the opposing forces of positive and negative emotion. You might think… why don’t you want to be all the way over on the seat of positive emotion? Experience as much joy, elation and bliss as possible? Be as far as possible from the negative seat on the other end of the teeter-totter?

Well, because of the pendulum swing. The more time you spend in a place of extreme elation the harder the swings back will be. And they will happen. Life is full of ups and downs, good and bad things happen, neither of which lasts forever.  

What swings one way always swings back the other. If you swing too far in one direction the swing back to the other is harder on the system. When you desire to always be joyful; when you attach yourself to that state; when it ends, the impact will be more devastating throwing you off balance.

So what does Francisco advise? Go for slightly off centre. Stand on that teeter totter slightly towards the positive state of being. Be there. A state of feeling fine.

A consistent yoga practice can help get you there. Yes please.

Namaste.

Heidi Philip, Kaiut Yoga Teacher, Toronto Canada

My Emotions Are In My Body

We all have restrictions. We experience them in our bodies as we move around. We often feel our limitations accentuated by rigidity and stiffness in our joints and pain in different parts of our bodies.

What I have learned practicing Kaiut Yoga is how some of my restrictions originate in my emotions and in my mind.  I always kind of knew this but there is a difference between the knowledge I had and the knowing that I now feel. My knowing came slowly, unexpectedly, naturally, trickling into my entire being during the course of the last two years of practicing Kaiut Yoga.  And it remains a work in progress.

I am finally getting it. Getting it deep inside. I now understand where my personal work lies.  As I am practicing Kaiut Yoga I am becoming consciously aware of my emotional and mental restrictions. As I sit in Sukasana curving my spine forward, dissolving the restrictions in my hips, I often grasp a new understanding of what I need to let go emotionally and mentally.

Kaiut Yoga is here to stay.  It is not a sport. It is not entertainment. It is not a trendy practice to be followed like a hobby.

It is simple, wise, honest and natural. It is the heart of a healthy and joyful life.

Susie Friedmann

Kaiut Teacher, Toronto, ON, Canada

Just Melt

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I am sitting in Sukasana. Kaiut Sukasana. My right shin bone is lined up with the top of my mat and my left foot is placed under my right knee. I feel "sensations" but it is not pain. My right hip slowly opens… my left knee is talking to me. My upper body is folded forward with my arms extended on my mat in front of me. The top of my head rests on the floor. The pose is similar to a drooping flower. For me, this is kind of a miracle.  

Over three years ago, after just waking up from anesthesia, my surgeon told me that my hip was one of the worst hips he had ever done surgery on. Reputable hospital. Great surgeon. Not words of encouragement...

Leading up to my labral hip tear, I had had countless years of physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage, Rolfing, acupuncture, steroid shots, cortisone and more. No one could explain what was wrong with my back except that my sacrum was collapsed to the right and I had a herniation in my neck.

Last September, in class, Francisco has said that unless a person was in an obvious accident (e.g. a car accident), back issues usually stem from the hip girdle. If only I had met Francisco almost three decades earlier!.

Post-surgery was hard...four months into recovery I went for a check up and found out I was not healing. I already knew that. Many months had passed and still my recuperation was impossibly slow. Finally, I was told I needed a hip replacement but because of my hip dysplasia, the replacement metal hip would keep slipping out of it's metal socket. So this wasn't an option. Physical therapy forever...also not an option.

Dealing with extreme pain is exhausting. And depressing. Especially when there seems to be no answers on how to manage it besides PT and drugs. I have been in the fitness business for over 20 years and I specialize in working with people coming out of physical therapy (post rehabilitation). I have a pretty good understanding of the body. Yet here I was, struggling to get through the day while helping others recover from their own injuries. (Francisco asked me what I did for a living. After I replied he said, "you just got to laugh otherwise..."). Yes, irony at its finest.

Then one day last winter, my sister called from Toronto. She had a friend, Alina, who had discovered a type of yoga called Kaiut. It was helpful for people with biomechanical issues as well as injuries. So I called Heidi. I told her about my hip and my fibromyalgia. She said Francisco could help. I went to Toronto and took her class. Then I signed up for the September teacher's training.

The first day I almost dropped out because my body was in so much pain and I was afraid of getting hurt. But I didn't. And I didn't. As the days passed, I started to get it. Although Sukasana was something that my hips (especially my right one) just could not do, and my body was still in pain, I was no longer fearful. I trusted what Francisco was saying and doing. I felt he really cared and that he completely believed in what he was teaching AND he used gravity as a beneficial thing! (I wish my face felt the same way...).v

I went home and practiced my Kaiut alphabet. I took some time off as per my doctor's recommendation to just stop and rest. So I went to Toronto to stay with family and heal.

In February, I unexpectedly got the opportunity to attend the Kauit retreat in Brazil. There I was infused with so much healing energy the universe couldn't have set it up more perfectly. I stopped taking my pain meds and started to listen to my body. My repeated mantra of "just melt" was working. So was the Kaiut.

Today I can sit in Sukasana. My knees slowly drop towards the floor. My hips start to open. I can bend forward and allow my body to "feel" without interpreting it as danger. The memories of pain and trauma stored in my body are starting to melt away.  I realize that it is a process, a practice. Mentally I can't completely understand it but I know the intelligence of my body does. I am healing. I finally found the answer. And it lies deeply within the layers and layers of Kaiut.

Namaste,

Angela Varcasia

Total Body Guidance

Medical Exercise Specialist and Yoga Teacher in Westchester and NYC

Coming Full Circle

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When I started practicing yoga nearly a half a century ago, I had no idea what to expect.  As the daughter of an Indian philosopher and a professor of Eastern religions, I grew up hearing that the Western appropriation of all things Eastern was mostly corrupt, or at least profoundly compromised. My dad argued that yoga was not meant to be simply exercise. Yoga was based on a rich spiritual tradition that aimed to integrate mind and body to achieve oneness, unity with God.

I, however, had totally assimilated. I was American. So I too experimented with various types of yoga: Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Bikram (hot yoga), Ashtanga, rope and suspension yoga and Davannayoga. While most of these forms of yoga are available in NYC,  I found teachers in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Mexico, Switzerland and even India during my travels. Except for a brief experience with Iyengar yoga in Pune, India, I pretty much bought into the idea that yoga was exercise.

About ten years ago I started practicing regularly at my neighborhood yoga studio that catered to Columbia University students. Just starting my sixth decade at the time, I was very pleased to be able to keep up with folks in their twenties through rigorous Hatha and Vinyasa practices that challenged our bodies and guaranteed heavy sweating.  Needless to say, I frequently had to stop for weeks because I had sustained some injury while practicing. I learned to truly appreciate savasana!!

As I aged, stiffness in my joints made yoga poses more difficult and I realized  that all my attempts to find a suitable yoga practice was not helping me become aware of the uniqueness of my body.  In 2012 at a Ayurvedic hospital in Kerala, I discovered Feldenkrais. When I returned to NYC, I started attending classes at the Feldenkrais Institute which I followed immediately with a class a few blocks away at the Iyengar Yoga Institute. I learned that a lot of yoga practitioners did Feldenkrais to become more aware of their body. This seemed oddly ironic and confusing. Wasn’t yoga intrinsically about being aware of one’s body?

In 2015 when I had to have a complete corneal transplant following 7 previous eye surgeries, I stopped all yoga practice. I was afraid to lose vision in my good eye.  Last summer while visiting friends in Boulder, I was invited by a friend to a Kaiut Yoga class. She assured me that it would be good for my aging body. Well, after one class I was curious. And after four classes I was hooked.  

Until I started Kaiut yoga I was fortunate to have two young yogis guide me with great wisdom through all sorts of health issues. My plan was to return to them for guidance.  While I often feel guilty for abandoning their teaching, Kaiut yoga has been about coming home for me.

Two of Francisco’s instructions have mostly deeply informed my routine practice.   Awareness of my personal “golden layer“ helps me understand and respect how deeply my body is able to explore each pose.  And “chronic presence ” that I strive to maintain at each practice is my path to exploring the oneness and unity my dad maintained was the essence of yoga.

Namaste

Chelli Devadutt, Kaiut Yoga Teacher

Finding Common Language In Brazil

My timing was more perfect than I could have ever planned. After our Carnaval retreat I went to visit the studio in Curitiba for a week. For the six of us from the retreat, Francisco had scheduled a special daily class in English from Sunday through Thursday.

“Where will you be after Thursday?” I asked him at a lunch one day in Curitiba.

“I’ll be teaching a teacher-training in the mountains, a one-hour flight south from here,” Francisco answered.

“Oh, I would love to come to that,” I said spontaneously.

And so it came to be that Francisco invited me to join his weekend training in Gramado, a little tourist town close to Porto Alegre. The timing to connect with my already booked flight to Zurich on Sunday night happened to be perfect. Things were in the flow. I booked my flight to Porto Alegre and was set for my next adventure. Francisco made everything very easy for me. He connected me with his student and franchise owner Camila, the organizer of the training, who invited me to stay at her house. Once again I was touched by the generous and cordial hospitality I had encountered in Brazil everywhere.

Traveling on my own without speaking any Portuguese, was at times spiked with hurdles. Three Uber drivers refused to drive me to Gramado from the Porto Alegre airport because it was too far. My running in and out of the airport departure hall with my bags to reconnect with wifi and Uber felt almost comical. Finally one driver agreed to drive me in his small, but clean Peugeot. After two hours on highways and then up a winding road, we arrived in Gramado.

Gramado had a strong feel of a mountain town in Europe or Canada. Was it more like Banff in Canada or Davos in Switzerland? I couldn’t tell. There was something missing. We past lots of hotels and tourist shops. Then it struck me. There were no mountains! (That’s because we are on the top of the mountain, Francisco told me later).

The Uber driver finally slowed down and pulled over right in front of a funeral parlour. In fact, we seemed to have arrived in the funeral parlour district of Gramado. All the buildings up and down the block were all funeral parlours! The driver and I looked at each other and we both knew this couldn’t be right. I find it amusing how everything thing can be in such obvious flow and then these off-the-wall difficulties get thrown into the mix by reality.

Then somehow, with lots of gesturing and then my driver phoning Camila, we realized it was a Siri mistake! We drove a few more minutes and found the right address.

Camila, a slender, very beautiful woman in her thirties, with wild dark hair, warmly welcomed me to her house. I felt immediately comfortable with her and her artistic, funky but modern abode. She spoke little English but we got by with theatrical gestures and laughter.

Then she motioned me to follow her to the second floor of the house adjacent to hers. I must admit I was stunned when she opened the door to a beautiful Kaiut yoga studio with about 30 neatly laid out mats and colourful bolsters. At that moment we both knew that we understood each other deeply. Here in her studio, we were speaking the same language: a relaxing of the nervous system - being present with pressure in the joints - letting gravity do the work - trusting our body’s intelligence - kind of language. This cellular language had changed both our lives. We smiled and knew how deeply connected we were.

The next evening the teacher training with Francisco started in a different, bigger studio. There were about 50 people from all over, mainly the South of Brazil. Francisco told me he was very proud of the progress the students in this training were making. They meet with Francisco for one weekend a month for a year. The atmosphere in the room was lively, happy and excited. Everyone was welcoming to me, offering me matte tea they drink with a silver straw out of beautiful cups made from gourds.

On the first evening of the training, Francisco spoke of his franchise model. I didn’t understand a word, but could make out “Telluride” a number of times. I knew he was talking about Yvonne and her studio there. How beautiful that Yvonne in Colorado was inspiring people in a mountain town in Brazil! When I asked Francisco later, he told me that his students kept asking questions about Yvonne and her studio. He said that telling them about it made them feel connected to a bigger vision; an international community.

That night there was a bright “Kaiut rainbow” connecting two mountain towns in two different continents. It seemed to have quite an effect on everyone. As it turned out, the number of students interested in opening a franchise highly exceeded Francisco’s expectations. He was delighted at the idea of a strong community forming itself through the different studios popping up in Brazil.  

Since my arrival in Brazil, I had been steeped in Kaiut yoga. I’d practiced many hours a day during the Carnival retreat and then at the studio in Curitiba and I could really feel the potential of such a community. These beautiful students in Brazil are maybe about to model a fresh way to collaborate in opening studios and succeed in yoga in a real sense.

Also I noticed that when six or more Brazilian people gather after dark they very likely will put on music and start dancing different styles of salsa and tango. So one thing is for sure, in these new studios to be, there will not only be legs up the wall and Virasanas in all different angles, there also will be dancing.

Namaste,

Lela Iselin, Kaiut Yoga teacher in Edmonton Canada & Switzerland

www.lelaiselin.com