05/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Art Of Attention: Yoga As Scaffolding For Your Life

I'm honored to be traveling extensively to teach Anusara yoga to teachers worldwide. In weekend intensives, I'm hoping to communicate the crux of the method to already-experienced teachers from other traditions, in order to create an expansive and uplifting experience for their students all over the world. In doing so, I hope to transmit my humble gratitude for the gifts I've received in the past 10 years of study as a student of John Friend.

Of concern is how to communicate the most important aspect of this method, our attitude, the context we create for our practice. Anita Goa's current posting of an interview, in which I share my stance on Anusara highlights this well. This week, however, yet another vantage point has emerged, which I'll share here.

Our practice of yoga provides a scaffolding, a structure within which we can individually and collectively build an effulgent, evolving understanding of how we can bring more ease and light to the world in the smallest interactions of our days. We are responsible for what gets developed within this structure.

Five years ago, Dr. Douglas Brooks shared with us what I now understand to be the heart of Anusara, the heart of the very first Universal Principle of Alignment, known as Opening To Grace. This "opening" involves a simultaneous sensitivity with stabilizing, becoming the context for our practice and our path. The sensitivity is actually an active state that brings a high quality of attentive listening, allowing us to determine how to optimize the flow of any communication (either within ourselves on our mats, or with others in any conversation). The stabilizing is about grounding ourselves, a prerequisite for active listening. This sensitive, stable opening is an "initiation" of sorts: we initiate ourselves in a new perspective and receive a fresh look at the world with every opening.

When we are able to open ourselves through one attentive breath, we drop our resistances to our own grace as well as the grace of those around us and bring light to the moment- and we inspire anyone nearby to do the same. When we listen carefully to ourselves, to anyone, we offer love, light and reverence just by standing still. These are the gifts we offer - our listening, our attitude, our composure, our light - and these are exactly the gifts we receive in return. As Douglas pointed out, Grace's reflection is gratitude. And when we all move forward with this awareness, we expand the beauty within the structures of our bodies, and we expand our capacity for patience within the scaffolding of our practices.

As teachers, we see our gifts reflected back to us in the hearts of the students with whom we share our work. Even more importantly, as students, we open willingly, wholeheartedly, in order to experience Grace as the all-pervasive thankfulness that follows us and infuses our every interaction for hours after our practice ends.

In our hearts, from our hearts, onward and upward.