Freitag, 10. Juni 2011

Im Interview: Cindy Lee
About OM

Cindy Lee von OM YOga New York in Berlin
Auf einem kleinen College in Kalifornien, das sie als etwas „exzentrisch“ beschreibt, besuchte Cindy 1971 ihre erste Yogaklasse. Die folgenden Jahre widmete sie zunächst ihrer Karriere als Tänzerin und Choreografin u.a. für Musikvideos von Rick James, Simple Minds, Appolonia, dem Dirty Dancing Soundtrack – z.B. auch Cyndi Lauper’s „Girls Just Want to Have Fun“. 1998 gründete sie das OM Yoga Center New York, das inzwischen etwa 25 Lehrer beschäftigt (65 Asana-Klassen pro Woche). Cindy Lee praktiziert neben Vinyasa-Yoga auch tibetischen Buddhismus, der in ihren Yogaunterricht einfließt. All das hat mich natürlich neugierig gemacht, und so besuchte ich in dieser Woche zwei ihrer Open-Classes im moveo Yogastudio.

Während dieser fast vier Stunden lernte ich vor allem ihren unglaublichen Humor schätzen. Es ist doch immer wieder erstaunlich, wie ernst manche Yogastunden werden und wie verbissen man manchmal zwischen den Zähnen hindurch keucht: „Ich mach das hier, um glücklich zu werden... verdammt nochmal!“ Cindy hat es geschafft, uns daran zu erinnern, wie „weird“ manche Yogahaltungen sein können. Und um unsere Aufmerksamkeit in der Gegenwart zu verankern, baute sie viele kleine Überraschungen in die Praxis ein: Wir schnipsten mit den Fingern in Seitliegestütz/Vasisthasana, beugten beide Knie abwechselnd im Halbmond/Ardha Chandrasana, suchten unsere „dots of awareness“ (Töne, Gerüche, Berührungen und andere Fixpunkte für unser Bewusstsein), kamen ohne die Hände zu benutzen aus Gomukhasana und Ardha Matsyendrasana in den stehenden Spagat (Cindy gab sich Mühe, das Wort „Kuhkopf“ zu lernen, sie wolle das zukünftig gern in Unterhaltungen einbringen), übten uns im Handstand, kombinierten Wechsel- und Feueratmung, versuchten unsere Schultern nach unten zu bringen („Ah, you do have a neck! It looks like a tortoise coming out of its shell“), sangen das OM in der Kobra, versuchten Adlerbeine im Kopfstand zu machen, fingen den Atem in unseren Fäusten ein und ließen ihn ausatmend wieder frei (das Ganze in der dynamischen – d.h. in diesem Fall die Beine heben – unterstützten Brücke/Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), benannten die Happy-Baby-Pose in died-a-natural-death-bug-asana um, lauschten den Vögeln und atmeten uns ins Hier und Jetzt („You can't breath later!“). Danach hatte ich die Gelegenheit, Cindy ein par Fragen zu stellen:

On a small college in California, which she describes as something "eccentric", Cindy visited her first yoga class in 1971. The following years she devoted to her career as a dancer and choreographer for example for music videos by Rick James, Simple Minds, Appolonia, the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack – and Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". In 1998 she founded the OM Yoga Center in New York, which now employs about 25 teachers (65 asana classes per week). Cindy Lee practiced alongside Vinyasa Yoga and Tibetan Buddhism, which flows into her yoga classes. All this has of course made me curious, so I visited this week two of her open classes at the moveo Yoga Studio. During this almost four hours I got to appreciate her incredible sense of humor. It's always weird how seriously some yoga classes get, and how fiercely some people sometimes gasp between their teeth: "I am here to be happy ... damn it! "Cindy has managed to remind us how "weird " some yoga poses can be. And to anchor our attention in the present, she placed many small surprises in her practice: We snapped our fingers in Side Plank Pose/Vasisthasana, both knees bent alternately in the Half Moon Pose/Ardha Chandrasana, searched our "dots of awareness" (sounds, smells, touches and other fixed points in our consciousness), came without using hands into the standing split from Gomukhasana and Ardha Matsyendrasana (Cindy made an effort, to learn the word "Kuhkopf", she wanted to contribute in conversations), exercised us in a handstand, combined Single Nostril Breath and fire breathing, tried to bring our shoulders downward ("Ah, you do have a neck! It looks like a tortoise coming out of its shell"), sang the OM in the cobra, tried to make eagle legs in head stand, caught the breath in our fists and let it free (the whole in the dynamic - raise in this case the legs - supported bridge / Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), named the Happy Baby Pose to died -a-natural-death-bug-asana, listened to the birds and breathed us into the here and now ("You can not breath later!"). Then I had the opportunity to ask Cindy a couple of questions:

How did you discover Yoga?
I started going to Yoga when I was at college in 1971. It was a little college, that was very excentric in Southern California by the beach – and they had yoga.

How did you find your way of yoga?
Oh it was long time on the way. In between I started doing yoga in college, but then I was primarily a dancer and I got a masters degree in dancing, went to New York. But in America if you are a dancer it means you have to have another job. And I wasn't a good waiter. So I started teaching yoga. I started reading books and teaching myself and I went to other yoga classes in New York. So I read everything and just figured it out. I did that for about 15 years. Then in the late 80's I met my buddhist teacher, Gelek Rinpoche. Things really changed for me and I became very deeply drawn into buddhism. That strengthened my yoga practice. And then I stopped dancing. All I wanted to do is practice: dharma and yoga. I started kind of noticing that when I was teaching yoga some of the things I learned from my buddhist guru are the same things. So I asked him if that was okay, and he said yes. So it evolved naturally that way. So my method on yoga is a natural evolution of my own practise and who I am and what I like and what I feel. It is vinyasa, which is flowing and awakening to every moment, also falling in dancer like ... I like that movement. And alignment is very important so that you don't get injured. And the buddhist elements of mindfulness and compassion. All integrated! That was a huge process.

Most of the time when you learn yoga philosophy it is based on hinduism. What are the similarities between yoga and buddhism?
They are very similar. I mean, yoga has the 8 limbs and buddhism has the 8 full path. They are both explorations of yourself, and getting to learn who you are. So you can be of more benefit of yours and really live of a conscious life. I think there is a kind of a one big difference which is that yoga is more dualistic. It has the prakrti and the purusha. In Buddhism there is no dualistic nature, so everything is sacred, everything is good.

You named your yoga studio OM Yoga. What means the mantra OM for you?
Well, OM is almost everything and the same way nothing. We think of OM as really opening the possibility. When we chant OM it is like a cut through the conceptual mind and just opens us to what is happening right now. So it is a practise in a way of sounding your breath and connecting. In tibetan buddhism OM means union of body, speech and mind. So I think that is the experience, too, when we chant OM: We cut through our thinking mind, past, future, right here. The breath is the bridge of mind and body. Is that a god answer?

Oh, of course. In another workshop I learned from Max Strom that OM is not chanting to a god, it is not a cult. Many people who go the first time to yoga are a little bit frightened, that they would join a cult or something like that, when we chant OM. It is important to say to them what is OM, but without scaring them.
That is interesting that you are saying that, because you have been in my class two times. So you have seen different ways that I introduced this practice of chanting OM. And it can be different each time. It can be a way of just feeling your own energy, what you like today, your connecting to yourself, connecting to other people in the room, that community experience. One of the exercises in this teacher training with me here in moveo is: Each student has to introduce OM to the class in a way that makes it real and earthy and not scary for a new person.

The way of yoga never ends. What are you working on right now?
For me, myself personally and actually, I'm working on – I guess you can say balance, but taking care of myself better. Many people have this, but it is particularly to women that we put everyone else first. So I take care of my mother, who is very elderly, and it means a lot of care, and I take care of me employees, my students – and then a don't take care of myself enough. I know to haunting that's not good, but I started to breath. If I can give mysef time for my practise, my sleep and for things that are fun for me, then I am a better friend, a better yoga teacher, a better daughter and a better wife. So I'm working on that and it is an interesting challenge. But I think it is an important part of balance.

Danke, namaste.
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