San Francisco: YJ Conference (Seane Corn, Tias Little, and Michael Franti)
I started off day two of the YJ conference with Seane Corn and 200 other women in one of the grand ballrooms at the Hyatt Regency. This is the second time I have taken a class with Seane and she always gives me something to think about. The class, which was called Yogini, was about how women can be better connected to our power.
Seane began by talking about how her perspective as a woman keeps changing as she ages. Now 41, she talked about how, despite the bodily and emotional discomforts she sometimes feels with the aging process, she cares a lot less about what other people think than she used to. I can relate to what she is putting out there; I think younger women tend to be so affected (and hindered) by what they perceive the world's view of them to be. I am 32 and can finally say that I have moments where I let the outside world's criticisms roll over me—but I still give outside voices too much attention. Here's to maturity!
Seane says that one of the biggest problems we face as a society is personal self-doubt and insecurity, with which I completely concur. When we, specifically women, don't have faith in ourselves, we don't act. And when we don't act, things don't get done. So, how to engage with our own power? She suggests these starting points: Forgiveness of others. Radical self-acceptance. A commitment to self-examination.
If Seane's class opened my mind, Tias Little's backbending workshop, Freeing the Bird of Prana, opened my body. Whew! Backbending is not my forte and we moved through it pretty intensely. We worked the hamstrings and opened the shoulders first so that tightness in those areas would not affect our backbends, and then we moved into the back. Tias gives meticulous and precise anatomical instruction, and through his teaching made clear all of the impediments to backbending, such as tight quads and lack of space between the sacral and lumbar vertebrae.
Tias taught with two assistants (one of whom is his wife, Surya) and I received lots of great adjustments—I appreciated that, as sometimes the classes at conferences can feel impersonal. I also liked Tias' sense of humor. For instance, he admitted great enjoyment in saying "Now, bring your fingers to the top of the crack of your buttocks." A little comic relief when you're backbending for two hours (and near collapsing) is always welcome.
I finished my day by listening to Michael Franti's lunchtime talk about Power to the Peaceful, in which he made clear the connection, for him, between yoga and social action. During his talk, Michael told a story about a butterfly. On my walk home, I came into contact with this beautiful creature. Coincidence? I think not.