Contact info:

Stacy Ingham teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in the tradition of the late Sri K Pattabhi Jois, and the Moon Sequence from Matthew Sweeney's Vinyasa Krama. Ashtanga Yoga of Cary (AYC) encompasses classes Stacy teaches at studios in Cary and Apex, NC. A variety of classes are available from introductory/led classes to a fully accessible Mysore program open to all levels and abilities. Please contact Stacy directly for registration and location information and any other questions.

email Stacy Ingham
by phone: 919-880-9409

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Mysore Intensive February 2012

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

DG Kovalam 2015 - Dip the Toes or Jump In?

I’ve always been the person who gets into the pool slowly.  Dipping in my toes, then sitting on the side with legs in the water, and eventually sliding into the cool water slowly, so as to avoid the cold shock, which is always refreshing and what was I hesitating for?

This is Week Three of David Garrigues’ month-long program in Kovalam, India.  I’ve settled in to some routines, and let go of some of the fears I had coming here - around food, bugs and just generally being on the other side of the world, away from anything familiar.  I have a practice schedule and an apprenticeship schedule.  I have found a few favorite places for meals and snacks that I’ve deemed “safe” and quite tasty.  And developing friendships with my fellow DG compatriots as well as some of the locals is very comforting.  Beach time, shopping, and massages also help pass the time :-)

At the Open Market in Trivandrum
I don’t feel so alone, but I do still miss home.  I’ve been dreaming and daydreaming about the silliest, most mundane things about home...Target, Harris Teeter, Mellow Mushroom, and my favorite cozy purple chair in my kitchen.  

Oddly, I don’t mind so much that I have to brush my teeth with bottled water, and that the toilets and showers are a little weird.  I’ve become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells, like burning trash alongside the road, the constant honking of horns in traffic, and the frenetic pace of traffic here, with four lanes carved out of the two-lane roads, and very often oncoming traffic swerving out of the way just in time (or my driver swerving out of oncoming traffic just in time!).  

At the Open Market in Trivandrum
But then again, I feel like such a lame duck being so happy with myself for making this trip and adjusting to this place, when I meet so many people here who are travelling all over the world on a very regular basis.  This is just one stop on their tour of the world.  Some are seeing the world before settling to get married, have babies, etc...and some are finally getting around to this kind of trip like me, others do this kind of thing all the time, either for work or vacation.  

An impromptu Cricket game
It strikes me that many people here with me are at (or coming to) some sort of crossroads or transition in their lives.  And what better way to make that transition than taking some time (some real time, not just a few days), immersing in a study of the self and practicing being in uncomfortable or fearful places in a little safer place...with a teacher who understands that growth and knowledge of the self only happens when we purposely put ourselves in fear, and is willing to take us to these places...regularly :-)

We chant and discuss the Yoga Sutras on Wednesdays, and last Wednesday David had something to get off his chest.

By way of setting the stage, we reviewed the idea that meditation is the experience of yoga, a stopping of the mind, and also a technique, and what we are going for with this nirodhah (stopping of the mind activity) is equanimity, clarity, centeredness so that anything that comes up will not throw us into reaction.  The vrrti (mind activity) we are trying to stop is constantly pushing and pulling us, churning, and the more we identify and attach to that churning, the deeper the samskaras (patterns, grooves, attachments) become.  When we are able to separate from these attachments, we can have equanimity...samadhi.

Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras gives us 3 practices from the Niyamas: Tapas (intensity in spiritual practice), Swadyaya (personal study), and Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to practice/study) which are tools to help bring about Samadhi, and for attenuating the effects of the 5 Kleshas (afflictions).

Avidya = Sanyoga = no distinction between Purusa (self) and Prakrti (material world)
Asmita = “I-Ness”, Ego, an affliction of Ahamkara (Ego)
Raga = attachment to pleasure
Dvesa = Aversion to pain
Abhinivesah = Clinging to life

When we operate in our lives and in the world from a base of these kleshas, a cycle is created and patterns are formed (Samskara).  Then we identify with these patterns, cling to them, and kleshas are formed.  When we are able to stop this identification/association, we can, over time, clear those patterns and stop the cycles.

David told us about what he calls the “Fortress of Sameness”.  We tend to build ourselves a wall with these Samskara (patterns).  There is so much fear involved in needing to repeat these patterns we’ve created.  We LIKE this material world we’ve created.  We naturally develop associations from our daily experiences -- “Cake tastes good, I like cake, I must try to have cake again, what if I can’t ever have cake again (Oh NO!)”...OR “I didn’t like how it felt to be yelled at, I must try to avoid that, I won’t do anything that might bring that about again!”...OR “I like living in this world, I’d like to live as long as possible, I’ll do anything I can to preserve this life/body”  But the fear involved in falling into these patterns is STRONG, PERVASIVE, UNCONSCIOUS.  And the “Fortress of Sameness” is our hideout from this fear.

David’s job is to PURPOSELY PLACES US IN that we may enter into a relationship with this fear, striving to turn it around.  

“TAKE A GAMBLE” David says.  Our practice is about churning, stirring up the strong energy of these patterns and afflictions, entering into relationship with them and TAKING A RISK.  


BUT...Take these gambles using SKILL IN ACTION. Use props so as to gamble with limits.  Find alignment and breath in asana.  This equanimity of alignment and breath is unbiasing. And this equanimity checks the cycle of Samskara...doesn’t make new patterns, and slowly erases old patterns.

JUMP IN THE WATER...maybe check for crocodiles first ;-)

Monday, February 9, 2015

DG Kovalam 2015 - One Week Down, Three to Go!

The first week was a little rough, but David has been kind, and the timing of last week's Moon Day on Tuesday was perfect.  

I'm settling in now, and getting used to the schedule, the heat, the food and the culture of this little beach town.  Foreign languages are all around - Russian, German, you name it (because I can't!  I don't recognize most of them!).  I'm completely amazed that the locals can understand and even speak at least a little bit of most of these languages - I feel like such a slacker only knowing ONE language!  

We've found several restaurants - many vegetarian, a few with ayurvedic options, and some with more western dishes, for a change of pace.
Alan Restaurant - a favorite
I'm here this month partly as a student, and partly as an apprentice, so I've had the privilege to watch David work with the students a bit.  Today it struck me that he is asking several students to figure some of this stuff out themselves.  To be creative in how they use their bodies and make these shapes.  To endeavor to solve these problems independently, and to have trust in themselves to do so.

Its a theme I've discovered over the past year apprenticing with David.  He's not into telling us what to do. He wants us to figure it out for ourselves to a certain extent, and he'll let us know if we are getting off track. This can of course be frustrating - ok, infuriating - sometimes, but for me it is just what I have needed - an antidote to complacency.

Our schedule for this month includes only a couple of times per week where David is talking to us - lecturing or instructing - so the content of these sessions is concise, valuable, and universal, meaning it applies to all (or most) students, whichever series or pose they are practicing, or how long they've been practicing.

We heard about the Asana Allies - Drishti, Bandhas, Breath, Vinyasa, and Asana - specifically the Single Asana, Samastitih.  These techniques help us to arrive at a perceptual experience of the world and us in it. To percieve the patterns that connect out of random chaos - what is the pattern that connects the individual patterns?

Asana as Yantras - physical shapes to meditate on, made up of lines organized around the joints, and working to make sure these lines are unbroken.  Animation of the body around the unbroken line (as in Samastitih) illuminates the line, and illumination of the line frees the breath.

We broke down Surya Namaskar A, clarifying each of the 10 positions as a stopping place - stopping the body and stopping the mind (including a brief look at chaturanga!) And we received a mantra for those of us needing to build strength in the upper body through chaturanga - "Hips Down, Chest up!" :-)  

At the core of all this we are aiming to harness Prana, and the main ingredient in Prana? ---- DESIRE
Desire has two broad directions - 1) More of everything!  and 2) the opposite - liberation from everything
And we all have a constant struggle to balance these two...pushing and pulling, churning...

David told the story of the Demons and Gods battling over the magical elixir that gives eternal life, and churning the ocean with a great mountain (with Vishnu taking the form of Kurma, a tortoise, to keep the mountain afloat!).  The Demons pulling one way, the Gods pulling the other.  Before the elixir was released from the bottom of the ocean, there was poison, and then the elixir was released.  Don't worry, the Gods won out in the end...

After practice...#ashtangabitchslapped

Sunday, February 1, 2015

DG Kovalam 2015...India!

So here I am in India, still a little shellshocked by the long travels and the unfamiliarity of everything here. Today is our second day here in Kovalam, and Dave and I are still getting our feet under us.  Below are a few photos of our journey and where we landed.  Right now I'm feeling so grateful to have landed softly. Thanks to some good recommendations we have a great home base from which to explore.

It's such a different place, but also very much the same.  We found a nice beach a little off the beaten path, and swam a bit, remarking how similar it is to our favorite beaches in North Carolina.  Same water temp, same type of beach and sand, and same kind of surf (not too big, not too little) - but on the other side of the world, and with the freshest coconuts and papaya and pineapple!  The people here are kind, friendly and helpful, and love to talk about themselves and their culture.
Beginning of our first flight...still quite chipper!
End of the line...slightly less chipper
At the Maharaju Palace - Nice place to land in India!
Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam
Lighthouse Beach - Evening
As for the yoga (oh yeah!  THAT'S why we're here!), we had a chance yesterday to gather and meet and chat a bit with David.  Lots of familiar faces and a few new ones.  As my dear friend Suzy (who recommended our hotel and shared her experience with me so generously) would say, "It's like camp!"

Today's practice was a little easier than I expected - definitely a lot warmer!  The space is quite nice, with plenty of room, and a nice breeze every once in a while (though I'm told it will be hotter before the month is over).  After practice we had Sunday Talk with David, with him answering a few questions and explaining the schedule for the weeks ahead.

I get to assist David in Mysore tomorrow...looking forward to all the teaching and learning!  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Begins...

I'm working back into my regular practice...feeling stiff and creaky after a few weeks of "maintaining" through the holidays.  I thought I was doing pretty well with keeping time and space for practice, but then I got THE FLU.  

So... I actually took a couple of days off, and got back to the mat with little resistance - in no small part due to the strength I've gained in practice over the past year under the guidance of my teacher, David Garrigues.  That and some changes in diet...more on that in another post...

But then the HOLIDAYS hit!  And priorities changed.  My family was home, and my parents and inlaws were here, and I wanted to spend time with them for the short time they were here/home/visiting.  
Here's the whole gang ready to see a Christmas Play :-)

So practices were short, less focused...long story short, Third Series was on hiatus for 3 weeks.  Which isn't really a problem until its time to bring it back into the schedule...hence...I'm working back into my regular practice.  Patience and persistence are the name of the game this week.
The view from my mat

So now we begin a new year, and each year I make a resolution to write and share more on this blog, so that is on the list again this year.  

I'm hoping to share some of the insights that come to me as I practice...or (as more commonly happens) as I dry my hair :-)  Maybe a few practice notes and maybe some inspiration in there occasionally...

For right now, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite blogs, and encourage you to follow as well.  There is a great community of Ashtangis out there on on the interweb - so much talent, sharing, support, and inspiration - which we all need at times, like when our friends and family look at us funny for getting up so early and refusing that glass of wine, or cake or whatever.  

A person could literally spend all day trolling the internet for Ashtanga videos, clips and websites.  Start with these, and be sure to set a reminder for yourself to go run that errand, or attend that meeting, or pick up that kid...its easy to lose track of time once you get started...

David Garrigues: Well of course you must read my teacher's blog!  David shares some of his journal entries, profound knowledge and inspiration from his experiences as a teacher and student.  He also has a YouTube channel and is a prolific poster on all things asana and theory...You won't regret a minute on this one.
Ashtanga Dispatch: Peg Mulqueen teaches in the DC area and has been blowing up the Ashtanga scene lately with podcasts, a magazine, and much more...and she's a total sweetheart!
The Confluence Countdown:  Started literally as a daily countdown to the first (or maybe second) Ashtanga Confluence in San Diego, it has now evolved into a great source of news and developments in the yoga world, specifically Ashtanga, and some personal insights.  
My Yoga Blog: Ursula shares some interesting technical insights into poses and invites us along on her personal journey as well.  

Ok - start clicking!!



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Does It Have To Be So Hard?

So I'm just off of a weekend workshop with David Garrigues Hosted by Suzanne and Nikos at the Ashtanga Yoga Club Durham...DG5: Strength of an Elephant

The theme of the weekend was strength (obviously) and how and where to develop that strength within the Ashtanga practice.  Finding our foundation was a big part of the weekend as well...getting our strength from the ground.

Going into the weekend I was feeling strong...I've been practicing along, doing my thing and feeling pretty good about it..."This will be no problem!"  I thought...WHAT A FOOL I WAS!!!  Is should have known better!  I've been to workshops and intensives with David before.  He is a soulful, joyful and caring teacher...and also fearless and demanding!  There is no cheating in his class!  Especially this weekend, where the theme is strength, and many of us have become masters of dodging those opportunities in the practice to build it.  The Artful Dodger was banished this weekend!

We began Friday night with a break down of Surya Namaskara A - movement by movement, breath by breath - holding the beginning and ending points of every position, and every point in between.  We found our "Pillar of Light" in Samastith, shining our light from the pelvic floor up and out through the crown of our head.

Saturday we continued our quest for foundation and light-shining through the Standing Sequence and roughly half of the Seated Poses of Primary Series, pausing for a bit to cover the ever popular but elusive Jump Back and Jump Through...IT TOOK 4 HOURS...

I have to admit I found myself a little angry with David (HAHA!!) about half way through this adventure...but I got over it.  After all, I definitely found my foundation and pillar of light, and had a few revelations about teaching and adjusting.

And seeing how thoroughly I had my ass kicked (I'm still a little sore!) made me feel like a beginner again...and isn't that a GOOD THING?  Shouldn't we all continue to be beginners on our mat (an off for that matter!).  Shouldn't we always be looking for ways to go deeper, find more, experience more connection with ourselves, and our awareness?

All this also made me wonder if the fact that I mostly practice by myself at home, without a teacher watching is hindering my progress.  There is something about having eyes on me that makes me push little harder, transition a little cleaner between poses, and stay a longer in the poses themselves.  And doing that always results in a satisfaction that is unrivaled by getting to that breakfast a little sooner!

David says WE (teachers, ashtangis, what have you) don't MAKE the practice hard.  It IS hard.  And we go into that with pleasure, without dodging the bits that make us sore or tired or angry.  Working hard is a pleasure, not punishment.  This is TAPAS.

And the rewards are great!  We are developing a CAPACITY for WORK and STAYING...even (and especially) WHEN ITS HARD.

Through this repetition and reflection - going back to the mat every day and reflecting on our progress...trying and failing and trying again in a new way - we are developing a HABIT OF STRENGTH...