PRACTICE WITH A PURPOSE
No doubt about it – yoga is life changing. There are so many tangible and valuable benefits of yoga practice, that it’s easy to confuse them with the purpose of yoga. When we go deep enough, we end up at a very important question - why do we practice?
Yoga offers a journey of self-discovery. It's the process of figuring out who or what you are, and who or what you are not. Regular, steady practice will quiet the mind so that you can gain clarity about your true nature. When we live from this space of being rooted in our true nature, life naturally shifts. Yoga is transformational – not because we have taken on a regimen of self-improvement, but because we have come home to our Selves.
Practicing with this purpose is key to harnessing the depth of what yoga has to offer. My aim is to teach in a way that illuminates this purpose and supports you in a quest to reach your highest potential as a human being.
Just as many rivers flow to the sea, there are many purposeful ways to practice asana. You are sure to find a method that floats your boat! In my teaching, I utilize many of the principles and techniques from the Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Viniyoga methods of yoga.
ALIGNMENT, ANATOMY, AND BIOMECHANICS
Within each yoga pose lives a set of therapeutic benefits. Through intimate knowledge of asana alignment and knowledge of the body, we can access these benefits and maximize our time on the mat. Working intelligently with alignment is not about being rigid, dogmatic, or perfectionistic. Rather, it offers us a quality method for self-care, a mindfulness practice, an opportunity to learn more about our bodies, and a way to grow more skillful over time.
Developing a smooth, long, even breath cycle is an important part of any vinyasa or Ashtanga practice. Breath initiates movement. I typically use the Ujayii breathing technique in class as it helps us to access our core, lengthen the breath, build heat internally, and encourages pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) through sound. Breath-work offers a way to calm the nervous sytem and balance our energy levels.
Yoga is one big mind game! During classes, I utilize many techniques to help train the mind and focus attention. Some of these techniques are: alignment cues and physical principles, breath-work, bandhas (energy locks), intensity of practice, quality of movement, stillness, and drishti (gazing point). As the yoga unfolds within us through consistent practice, our attention span and ability to focus will grow. We gain the ability to live in the here and now, where joy and peace exist.
As a Californian living in a modern world, I am well aware that I have taken on an ancient practice from the other side of the planet. It is not my intention to culturally appropriate or colonize yoga through the use of mantra, but to connect to its origin. This vibration of sacred song has been passed down teacher to student, from ancient to modern times. When we sing in class, we are continuing that vibration and offering our devotion, respect and acknowledgement to those who have practiced before us. We symbolically transcend the barriers of time and space to honor the origins of this practice.
Just as a single yoga pose has a set of therapeutic benefits within it, an intelligently crafted sequence has its own sum of effects. I have found that sequencing is one of the most powerful tools I can use as a teacher to affect the power of this practice. Strong sequencing takes into consideration current scientific knowledge of biomechanics, exercise science and and anatomy to access the body's natural intelligence. It allows us to move without pain, to grow in strength, stability and openness over time and greatly reduces our risk of injury. An intelligent sequence accesses the koshas and chakras, culminating in a satisfying experience both physically and energetically. Vinyasa yoga is a relatively new form of yoga, and we are crafting its evolution every time we sequence a practice, or practice a sequence.