you'll find some writings I've done, only partially edited, out
of my journal. Please let me know if you've enjoyed them, or
hated them, or anything at all.
what is yoga?
Yoga is to surrender the projections of the mind, then the true nature of the self can manifest. The activity of yoga is self-inquiry.
Yoga means union. Joining together. Integration. We interact in duality. We differentiate this from that - organic from inorganic - plant from animal - animal from human - self from other - mind from body from spirit . In essence we are all in this together. Without soil there would be no food. Without plants there would be no oxygen. Without animals there would be no carbon dioxide. Humans are actually animals! What would our heart be without our lungs. Humankind's quest for the spiritual indicates we don't recognize that everything is spiritual. Connecting to our spiritual nature releases us from that which binds us.
Nothing I can tell you is the truth. Everything you will find here is a concept. Concepts can only POINT towards the truth. Consequently they can also point you away from the truth. After hearing that in a talk by Wayne Liquorman I decided the only new concepts that are useful are ones that integrate or remove at least two old concepts. Concepts are what stand between us and the truth.
In Patanjali's yoga sutras, he refers to the Citta Vrtti, or the turnings of the mind, and identifies five kinds: (correct) knowledge, misconception (incorrect knowledge), fantasy, sleep, and memory. The opening sutras suggest that by stilling these fluctuations, we get in touch with our true self. Otherwise we identify with the vrttis AS ourselves. When you let go of anything you hold as true, only the truth comes back. In other words, if you love something, set it free.
The postures are used to challenge the body to bring out the tensions that show us what our patterns of projections are, sheding light on them, bringing them into our awareness so that we may deal with them.
The practice of hatha yoga teaches us to focus, be present, and let go of our long held misconceptions about who we are - let go of ideas of what we can't do, move into the realm of exploring the possibilities of our life.
These exercises help expose the unity of all things because as we peel back layer upon layer of tired, constraining, outdated concepts, we eventually encounter our true nature, the nature that is life energy. that is matter. that is consciousness. that is the drshtr (sp?) = the seer = the witness
In order to move in the kinds of ways a hatha yoga practice might lead you, we need to be extremely present to what is happening in our bodies as we move and change our shape. We need to look at the very nature of our limitations. In order to experience the nature of our limitations, we need to move towards them and experience them. Once we accept that they are actually happening, we can begin the inquiry into why they are there and how they serve us.
I think stretch is a really misleading word. Just like with a rubber band, if you just play with the elasticity of the muscles, it eventually goes back to it's old form.
That's using counter force to pull against a muscle that is tight because of a buried tension.
if you look to unify/integrate (yoga) the body, using the poses to help you find buried tensions in order to understand them better, and through that understanding let them go, then we're talking about yoga, self exploration.
When you untie a knot in a rope it's permanently longer, when you stretch a rubber band it goes back to it's old shape. if you tie a knot in a rubber band and stretch it, while it may appear longer from a distance, you actually tighten the knot.
Additionally, if we stretch rather than extend there is a tendency to stretch the tendons and ligaments rather than lengthen the muscles. This destabilizes our joints and creates an opening for injury.
Tensions in the body are the result of Samskara - unresolved past actions. Everything that has happened in our life that has not yet been resolved gets carried around with us - as memory, as physical tension, etc - until we eventually come to some sort of resolution about it.
The asana are used to move the body into shapes that challenge these tensions so that they are returned to the foreground where they can be exposed, then resolved, permanently. Muscular tensions are part of our muscular memory. The physical limitations we experience are due to our guiding principal of avoiding pain and moving towards pleasure. As we approach these old pains, the surrounding muscles grip to keep us from exposing them, and re-experiencing that pain.
However, when we do experience them and return them to the foreground, we are presented the opportunity to see them for what they are. With patience, forgiveness, openness, honesty, generosity, and an awareness of our full potential, we can resolve them and let go of them, permanently, by dissolving them in the light of our awareness.
Additionally, in my practice I find that I always encounter a psycho somatic limitation before I reach the physical counterpart. Letting go of the psychosomatic block first slides the experience of the limitation closer to it's origin.
How adverse are we to feeling things in our bodies that are rarely felt?
I believe the sensations most people think of as "stretching" are actually the sensations associated with resisting an opening. The sensations of release feel like a sigh of relief rather than a strain. Increased range of movement is gained by letting go rather than pulling against. The strained feeling's association with release is due to its proximity. We feel the strain that points our the tension. We watch that tension until we are no longer afraid of it, and we can let it go forever.
For instance: Are they there to protect us from injuring ourselves? Are they preventing us from moving outside the range of what we already know to be comfortable?
YUCK and YUM
Same goes for sensory experiences in the body. When we begin to experience a part of our body or joint that we don't normally move, we brace ourselves for the expected pain. That bracing is often the action that causes the painful sensations in the first place!
Turning Tension into Ex-tension
Prana, breath and spirit
We can live months, even years without eating, days or weeks without drinking, and minutes without breathing. When we are born we breathe our first breath, and that breath keeps flowing until we breathe our last breath. Breath is that subtle space where the spiritual meets the physical.
If we can accept that breath is at least very closely tied to our spirit, and we understand that we're all sharing the same air, it makes it easy to see how we're all connected. Living creatures have been recycling the same air since the beginning of life. Plants and animals symbiotically resotring air for each other.
This also makes me wonder what convenience is worth polluting our air, our spirit. And how can we justify cutting down the forests that enable us to breathe. But how to break out of our very lifestyle, and that of our loved ones? A bit beyond my field of expertise at this time. Perhaps visit here: circleoflife.org.
To even discuss the bandhas we need to look at what they are, what actions clarify them, and what they feel like.
Bandha, is often translated as locks. John Friend says they're more like canal locks than door locks, regulating the flow of air. I quite like that imagery, however it literally means "bound" or "to bind". So what are we trying to bind here?
The three most frequently referenced bandhas are mula bandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandara bandha. Together they are the maha bandha, or great bandha. In short, they refer to and enhance the 3rd and 4th limbs of ashtanga yoga, asana and pranayama. Asana is comfortable stability, mula is the stability, uddiyana is the comfort. Pranayama is the release of the breath, which jalandara, somewhat paradoxically, enables.
What they feel like, in general, in my experience, is a sort of energy vortex. What do they feel like TO YOU?
Remember that these actions are things that will help you find the bandhas, they are NOT the bandhas themselves
Now try this:
Hopefully that description was adequate for you to clearly feel the difference. Let me know if it is unclear.
Jalandara Bandha is a throat lock down at the nape of your neck. that's
where the sound should come from. Deep down inside your neck, at
the top of your lungs almost. This tends to create an ease of being,
which is often touted as the benefit of yoga.
Ashta-anga means 8 limbs
Yama: ethical regulations
Niyama: personal regulations
Pranayama: releasing of the breath
Pratyahara: turning the senses inward
Dhyana: meditative contemplation
absorbed in spirit
Dynamic Yoga was developed by Godfrey Devereaux, who did his yoga training in India with B.K.S Iyengar,and the unrelated B.N.S Iyengar. Godfrey also has zen training, training as a Montessori teacher, and training as a macrobiotic cook.
The Dynamic Yoga method was developed by Godfrey drawing from his experience as a yogi and an educator. He discovered that BKS Iyengar's zillions of micro-instructions all fell along the lines of spirals running through the body.
This is similar to a concept that has been independantly developed by yet another world famous yogi, John Friend.
The idea of a spiralic dynamic is nicely supported by the macrobiotic teachings that all energy moves in spirals (waves), which is what initially drew Godfrey's attention to them.
Using this information, Godfrey found that instructions like 'turn your left ankle in, open the back of your left knee to the wall behind you and rotate your outer left hip forward' could much more simply be stated as 'more inward spiral'.
I hope to pass this simplicity on to any student that cares to listen.
Dynamic Yoga is also about the discovery of the bandhas, energetic locks. More like the locks of canals than the locks on our doors, opening and closing to allow energetic flow.
My classes draw primarily from the Dynamic Yoga method, adding my experience studying Patthabi Jois' Mysore style Ashtanga, Gary Carter's take on Vanda Scaravelli's teachings, and various workshops in related disciplines. see my resume for complete details.
A flowing practice with an emphasis on the activation of the bandhas (energy locks), and directing that energy along the internal spiralic dynamic of the body. Sound complicated? It's NOT.
You will learn the basic principles of alignment that apply to any posture through increasingly challenging (and fun) variations.
Exploring your potential develops your potential.
*Interestingly, Kia Mieux, another teacher in the SF Bay area, is teaching a style she also calls Dynamic Yoga. I have not yet taken her class and cannot speak on the similarities or differences in our styles.