Yoga with LeeAnn – Introduction

LeeAnn Matson-Thomason is a certified Hatha Level 2 teacher, completing an intensive study of asana, pranayama, and meditation designed for experienced teachers and students. Her teachers, Mark Uridel Sadani and Heather Kier encouraged her to further refine her personal practice and her teaching.

LeeAnn’s Hatha classes are inspired by Viniyoga and the teachings of Gary Kraftsow.  She has had the wonderful opportunity to study with Gary and Mirka Kraftsow, Leslie Kaminoff, Donna Farhi, and Srivatsa Ramaswami, among others. She incorporates pranayama and variations of the traditional asanas into her classes to allow students to create different physical and meditative experiences for themselves.

LeeAnn‘s yoga story

Who I am now and who I was when I first began my yoga practice (while ultimately the same underlying person) is very different.  I might describe myself today as a mother and wife who has a wonderful opportunity to share the teachings of yoga as I was taught, in the Vini Yoga tradition.  And yes, I do teach yoga classes – but I do not consider myself by any means a yoga master.  The more I learn about yoga, the less I feel I really know.  I share what I have learned with others so they may experience yoga as a practice leading to the elimination of suffering.

Let me tell you about my first yoga experience.  I was living in Monterrey, Ca. studying dance and theatre at the Monterrey Peninsula College in 1992.  I had an amazing jazz teacher, Debbie, who told us one day “In our next class I am going to share some yoga with you.  So dress in layers of clothes because your body temperature will change according to what we are doing.”  I left class wondering what she was talking about.  I asked a fellow dancer, “What is yoga?”  Meredith’s response was something like “Uh, it’s just a relaxing way to stretch.  No biggie.”

So I came to the next class in layers of clothes, full of wonder about what to expect.  I was taken through a sequence of postures and poses that stretched my body in such a wonderful and gentle way. I felt as Meredith said, relaxed.  In fact, I was so relaxed I felt like I could just stay in the last pose she called corpse pose, forever…funny name and how I felt I could stay in that state forever, right?

And so I experienced my first yoga class.  Relaxed, refreshed and back to life I went.  I left and really didn’t give it another thought.  About once a month Debbie would share another nice way to stretch with us.  And every time I felt so relaxed and yet ready to go in the same breath. Not ready to leave, but ready to move and do and take care of things.  But I didn’t connect the feeling with yoga quite yet.  I just knew I was doing some gentle stretching of the body, which for a dancer was great.

It is nearly 19 years from my first yoga experience and I’m still learning and taking it in, trying to not only practice these poses on the mat, but carrying the focus into my daily life to bring some balance and understanding to whatever life might throw in my direction.

I wanted to share this, not only to let you know that we all have our first experience with yoga, but also to remind myself that where I began and where I am now is so different.  As a teacher, it is important to remember when someone starts classes, that sitting still, focusing and learning how to breath properly is not easy and not even on most people’s mind.  We all come with different expectations, or without expectations, wondering what yoga is about.  I had a teacher once tell me that there are two ways that yoga happens for people – those who find the physical practice easy to begin with, then yoga becomes more challenging as time goes by and those who find the physical practice difficult and find that yoga gets easier as time goes by.  I think you can guess that I fall into the first category. Physically I could do anything my teachers asked but going deeper inside myself was a challenge.

I can’t wait to share with you how this practice has changed for me through the years and why I stuck with it and began to share these teachings.  It has changed my life in so many ways, ultimately allowing me to discover some of the real me, not just the words that tell you I am a mother, wife and teacher.

Sat Nam
~LeeAnn Matson~

Reflections on the New Year

Finding an oasis in the city like McKinney Falls, fed by Onion Creek, keeps ennui at bay.  Walking in the afternoon sun on the last day of our winter break, Bill and I had to really use a sauntering eye.  When the scenery is spectacular, it’s easy to overlook small delights.  Maximizing little pleasures has long been a secret to keeping my heart fire lit, so with time and fresh air the flame steadies.  I’ve been thinking about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and feeling chained by my work a day world. Time for meditation, reflection pictured below with shadow play to come. What is it about dreams, reflections, shadow and light that teases my imagination?

San Antonio Christmas and sauntering down 1826

It’s always nice to be with family for a traditional Christmas dinner. Our hosts, my sister Lucy and brother in-law Bill are beyond gracious. Growing up in a military family with a European mother and living oversees made me a world citizen before I knew I was American. In the last few years I’ve understood how much honor and courage means to me. It takes courage to face the ups and downs, the battle of life. Generally I prefer a more aesthetic approach, but one rises to meet challenges with grit, a quality I learned at home. Missing Aurora, who traveled north to Buffalo for a white (and frigid) Christmas, we were warm but not as bright.

The tables turned to more down home fare at the Salt Lick, as I meandered out to meet my sister Carol, Mike (my other brother in-law) and Dick, in from California and up for ribs. Holy smoke, I believe it has expanded threefold (like my waistline) but the food is still authentic and the people friendly. Except in the parking lot, where the feeding frenzy prompted snapping carnivores to lose some holiday cheer. We got our cheer back at the Duchman Family Winery (formerly Mandola’s) where we sipped some reds and whites, and split North and South. It’s probably clear to most who venture into this blog that I’m “big on Austin” but honestly, where else can you drive out in the country for great barbecue, enjoy the rolling hills and fields, cypress creeks, vineyards, an ass or two and Barsana Dham, a Hindu temple? The evidence speaks for itself. I hope you stay merry through the New Year and into 2011!

Sauntering around San Antonio

Bill and I had fun in San Antonio, staying at the Hotel Havana on the Riverwalk. I was given a membership to the McNay Museum as an early Christmas gift, signaling the start of a new series of photo abstractions. I’ve included a few, but most are in development. Friday evening we dined at the famed Liberty Bar in its new location in the King William district (housed in a former convent). A lovely meal, nice appetizers and a particularly tasty Cotes du Rhone, easily 3.75 stars. Apparently, Black Friday was cause for celebration and a river parade, adding a little glitter to the experience and a lot of traffic. The Havana Bar was a fabulous dungeon with underground cellar or hotel elevator entrances, good drinks and quaint alcoves. While it was busy, Bill, Carol and I managed to take over a sitting room with little fanfare. On Saturday we visited the Pearl Brewery farmer’s market, had a drab cup of coffee and a questionable taco. Off to La Villita looking for blankets then back to the King William district for an outstanding breakfast at Tito’s. For a convenient overnight trip, this was a lot of fun. I recommend everything but the Hotel Havana for a quiet night’s sleep. Charm trumps comfort there.

East Austin Studio Tour 2010

Perused several art complexes in East Austin: on Smith Road, Bolm Rd and Shady Ln then back to the Eastside Showroom for good food but alas,  poor service. Off to the Davis Gallery for an opening, and the Saxon Pub to see a classic performance by Miss Lavelle White.  Be forewarned, at the Saxon the headliner plays at 8:00 (WTF) so we missed seeing Malford Milligan.  Live and learn, even a well-worn path holds surprises.

Seeing life as art finds beauty in odd places.  I include a few random objects in the gallery below.  Makes for fun sauntering.

Sad farewell to Club 21

Club 21 cannot be replaced.  I took these pictures of the Lucky Tomblin Band playing there last October and set them to one of Lucky’s tunes.  A classic dance hall since the late 1800s.  If those walls could talk . . .