I’m teaching an introductory course on Sundays and on Thursdays starting May 13. People
can sign up and come once or twice a week. If you know anyone that wants to join, the classes are small. They can still catch up with what we did Sunday on Thursday night. You can click here to sign up! We still have room!
The course will repeat a sequence of basic core poses so that students can gain some mastery with them. Each week I will focus on a different area. The first week, I am starting with the foundation -- the legs.
I study and teach in the Iyengar tradition. Mr. Iyengar taught in India until his death just a few years ago. He introduced the use of props to facilitate alignment so that the practice is truly accessible to all people, regardless of strength and flexibility. I’ve been teaching over twenty years, so I’ve learned some methods for overcoming all sorts of difficulties.
The practice of yoga explicitly engages the body, the mind, and the spirit. That’s what makes it different from physical therapy. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (written about 2000 years ago) Tapas, Svadyaya, and Ishvara Pranhidahana, are noted as the “Acts of Yoga”. Tapas means effort. Before we can make any change, we have to be present and struggle with what’s in front of us, but in yoga it is not all about “feeling the burn”.
The second part, svadyaya literally means self-study. So, while we are practicing yoga, we reflect on our effort. This is an unusual thing to do; movement is usually unconscious. Thinking consciously about our yoga practice has two important results. We become more fit, sharper with our muscles and our understanding of our body. But it is also a meditation. The mind naturally wants to think about its own thing and let the body take care of itself, and here we say no. We bring the mind back to immediate present circumstances.
And this is where yoga has an effect on stress. When we bring our attention to immediate physical sensations, we teach the mind to stay present rather than escaping into daydreams or getting sucked into anxiety producing thoughts. This strengthens concentration and resiliency. The third act of yoga, Ishvara Pranhidahana literally means surrender to God, but the word Ishvara here doesn’t refer to God as a deity. Ishvara is more like the fabric of life.
Humans don’t exist alone. We all come from ancestors, and we can’t be separate from our environment. Each of us is an inextricable part of the fabric of life. That is Ishvara. Surrendering to God means constantly recognizing that ultimately we are not in charge. As we practice, we learn this in our body. We want our body to do something and maybe it can’t. We must practice not being judgmental and not getting frustrated when things go wrong. Instead, we focus on staying present and aware throughout the effort. Even though yoga asana is a physical practice, we are using the body as a tool to train the mind. And of course the body gets trained too.
I hope every student learns to take themselves as they are without feeling that something should be different. This is the only way to be fully present. If you share what you are experiencing, I can offer adjustments to make the practice more meaningful and helpful. Joints should never hurt because all of the poses should be working toward expanding the joints. There is going to be a certain amount of discomfort as you build strength, but it should never be so much that you feel like you can’t relax. If you lose that feeling of surrender, it is too much.
The mind often has its agenda, and it doesn’t want to think about the body’s problems, but that isn’t what we are doing here. In yoga, we are bringing mind and body together so they can work as an effective team. My job is to guide each student toward a practice that serves their individual needs. I hope you can join me.
Click here for more information and to sign up. We can't wait to see you there.