Monday, March 1, 2010

Blissful Monkey: Jamaica Plain

Elizabeth Tremblay

Yoga: Theory, Culture and Practice

Laura Douglas

March 1, 2010

Midterm Project

Blissful Monkey: Jamaica Plain, MA

At Blissful Monkey there are a wide range of classes that can be taken from prenatal yoga to Mom and baby, children and Prana Vinyasa Flow. On Monday Feb 22nd I had a new enjoyable experience while attending a mixed levels course at Blissful Monkey. I went to class in the morning and we watched the movie about the fire yogi which truly opened a new understanding for me of yoga. Later that day I went to work and that night went to a yoga class. While attending the class I found many similarities to our typical class practice which helped me get through it. The instructor had a humorous way of teaching which made me feel more at ease in the relaxation of my mind. However, since I was there to learn and focus on many aspects of the studio itself I wasn’t completely in the mindset I was hoping for. This experience encouraged me to want to go again and truly be in the moment.

Upon walking in the door of the Blissful Monkey Yoga studio it was empty, the only person there was the instructor whose name is Kerry, it was quite small and had these big lanterns up on the ceiling. I was really shy at first and felt more awkward as people came walking in the door only I told myself I can do this and was really excited because we were all there for pretty much the same reason and there was nothing to be scared or embarrassed about. There was no information about the place anywhere and I was told it was all online. Since I do not have internet at home and barely have the time to research during the time I am at school, most of my research is based on my experience and the little information I have gotten before attending the class. The mixed levels class I attended is a moving meditation with a combination of Vinyasa and Kirpalu with the form of Ivengar which I do not know much about but would love to do some more research on. When I asked Kerry about her style she told me she bases her class more on Vinyasa. Yes this was a challenge for me yet it was relaxing to an extent. I later figured out that Vinyasa means breath-synchronized movement and understood why she was constantly telling everyone to breath into the position which was the difficult part for me that I slowly began to pick up on and overall the instruction was well given and I was able to follow.

We started off with introducing ourselves and stating why we are there as well as any requests which I. In a seated position we chanted three ohms together, did the eye warming and after taking a few deep breathes we got into the dog pose a lot. We moved our hips to get somewhat comfortable and warmed up. Going in and out of that dog pose in-between every pose we did, which got to be a little annoying for me. Constantly getting told to breathe into the pose I reached some positions I didn’t think Id be able to ever do but by focusing in on my breathing I was able to do it and not even think that there was a possibility I couldn’t. I really enjoyed doing the pigeon position by which I actually got really comfortable in believe it or not. Then there was the Bow position which I remember doing in class, only I got further with it and felt as if I could rock front and back on my stomach until she told us to try going to one side, I felt a balance not only with my body but it was the breathing that got me through it feel amazed. I did the first stem to the bridge position and stayed with my legs straight up for the shoulder pose. I later understood my efforts or discipline when I left feeling more alive than I did when I walked in the door. I had my socks off for once since everyone else did and felt funny when it was time to really relax and lay down and everyone was putting their socks back on and blankets on their body. At this point there was no guidance and just breathing on my own pace. Later instruction was given to lie on our sides and was asked to think of three things we were grateful for. At this point in the practice I seriously had tears in my eyes and remembered Rambou Swami letting my mind and body listen to it’s self. I was then wondering if this blissful moment was suppose to happen to everyone and if that’s where the title of the place came from. We then closed the session with one final ohm.

At Blissful Monkey they say their only rule is“If you are not having fun, then you are not doing it right!” and I truly believe they are right when it come to their studio. Each practice is intense and carries the joy of connecting the mind, body and heart for anyone as the instructors believe that the practice of yoga is its own reward.

On the website I found a few quotes which helped me understand the name of the studio and its relation to the communication one has with self. Ven Chan Master says “Our minds are like a wild horse and the intellect is like a monkey, it will run and jump all about causing you to become distracted and scattered and loose a lot of energy. What a great shame it would be if you allowed the monkey of your mind squander your internal treasures”. This quote alone helped me understand the studios modern approaches to yoga in our culture. Everyone had their own and different approaches to yoga, some used props and some didn’t, some had their own mats and had a deep dedication to show up every week or once a day and some went in the morning and at night. When I asked the instructor a few questions about this she told me everyone just comes based on class schedules and what is convenient for them. I picked up that there are lots of regulars who come as well as plenty of people who go there for occasional classes or just to learn and have a new experience.

The instructor was available for conversation after class but it wasn’t all that helpful for me as I was told to look on the website and everyone basically left or booked it as soon as the class was over. I let it go considering it was 8:30 pm and there was nothing to be upset about, I can always go again. Since I personally have been in the process of letting things go, Yoga has been helping me understand it more deeply to discipline the negative thoughts about any of the bad thoughts that come to me making my life seem like such a struggle. This very day I did yoga in the morning and at the end of my day, sent me home feeling very refreshed. When I researched and found out more about Blissful monkey, I was sort of getting upset that there wasn’t much about the place or history. I came across another quote by Dr. Brenda Sho Shanna in reference to Buddha I could relate to better. “The Buddha said that all suffering is caused by the three poisons that all of us contain- greed, anger and delusion. Rather than live them out, build them up, identify with them or struggle against them, we see them for what they are and let them go”. This is exactly what my whole day felt like and leaving the past in the past and thinking of the present moment. I can not go back and tell my boyfriend to not move to LA until we can go together, I must let it be and know he is still happy with me today even on the other side of the country. I may not have internet or hot water but I am alive and living, getting by without it. Juggling school and two jobs is so tough and tiring but I’m getting closer to where I want to be approaching everything on a daily basis one at a time and yes I can make it trough today without thinking of what tomorrow will bring.

Staying focused with school has been difficult for me and dealing with each homework assignment one at a time can be even more difficult. On the first page of the website it says “Taming the monkey mind requires stamina, flexibility and strength – the same qualities that we develop mentally and physically through the practice of yoga.” I believe I am finding ways to tame the monkey and yoga is one of them.

Letting go of the fact I was late for class or wasn’t caught up with a reading really kills me to the point where it ruins my day. In thinking about three things I am grateful for, my mind wandered all over school, work, my boyfriend and my home life. I then wondered what was so grateful about them all. I let it all go and realized I am grateful to be alive, have people who love me and made it into my dream school by which even though Its my fifth year and I’ve struggled to be where I am today, It doesn’t have to be that much of a struggle because no matter how much education lies left ahead of me doesn’t matter as long as I got today and can focus on what’s going on now rather than later or earlier in the day.


Address: 663 Centre Street

Jamaica Plain, MA 02135

Phone: (617) 522-4411

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