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Friday, November 15, 2013

Ways and Means

Yoga. Definition of the word....Union. To yoke together. According to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.....stilling the thought waves of the mind.The great  Erich Schiffman relates it to moving into stillness. As a yoga teacher, watching what is offered as Yoga in many studios makes me shake my is the antithesis of stillness. Constant photos of people contorted and people in the flavor of the month Maya Pincherasana ; handstand pics abound. This can actually push potential yoga students away from the practice. It intimidates and gives them a false picture. This modern model of Yoga  is all about the ego, the "ahamkara", the mind that says I look damn good in this pose. That's what it becomes, just a pose. No substance, no reflection, no connection. People get so wrapped about the physical and their prowess they don't look within. I have heard students leaving an over packed class comparing each other and how such and such looked. Really, are you kidding me? Yoga happens when you connect  to yourself on the mat , not on the mat next to yours. You can't imagine how many times a new student greets me with "I'm not very flexible." So sad. Little secret here folks- in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika there are only 15 poses....many seated. The goal of these was to prepare the body for Yoga....or cessation of the thought waves of the mind. I somehow don't think that is going to be acheived in a class where the soundtrack, how many arm balances you do, and fast paced juicy flow are the focus and  the teacher is more of a performance artist than a teacher. Many are telling students to push harder, exceed their limitations. You see, when you take the time to deepen into a posture, watch your breath, and feel the lines of energy that emanate through the body, magic can happen. You find the space between.  Stepping back and becoming the witness to your practice. You hit that aha moment where you connect so deeply you can stay in this space forever. You step away from yourself. When you take that first bite of bliss, you are hooked. I have been there and want to help my students get there.  Delicious, sweet, and life altering. You begin to change your perspective about what really matters.
This is where Yoga happens, the mental chatter stops. Asana is the ways and means to a much deeper practice, getting out of your head and into your heart.