My Approach & Yoga Philosophy
“We begin to see what IS the way and what is IN the way through practice.”
Are you seeking change? Are you looking for ways to know yourself? Do you want to see deeply into your imagination, intuition, strengths, weaknesses, and connection to Spirit or wider consciousness? Just by beginning to look, it is possible to discover what IS the way and what is IN the way. Information gathered towards change and transformation can guide us towards how to begin to move and discern our purpose.
The practice of yoga is a path that can open us to a process of self-exploration. Often this can be like digging, peeling back layers, curiously looking at things, discovery, and discernment all of which can bring us closer to understanding our purpose or personal sankalpa (meaning a vow to live into your highest truth.)
Life’s waves can draw us off course but dedicated practices, like yoga and meditation, continue to offer a constellation of insight and wisdom: calmness, clarity of consciousness, energy and aliveness to help us realign with our true selves. Yoga practice can be challenging, a personal battle with our resistances, fears and walls, and yet through it, we become a seeker, a yoga warrior, an explorer of ourselves trusting we can discover stronger ground, resilience and voice when we are living from our purpose as we know it. This deep practice cultivates compassion and loving-kindness as it develops the capacity to stay, to stay in the practice, to stay in the discomfort, to stay in the fire of transformation.
Central to my teaching is the power of intention; an intention is a conscious grounding connection to the present moment. An intention can be an area of committed personal growth, healing or learning, it can be relational towards self or another, and it can also be an outward commitment to service & community. It is something we reaffirm every time we practice, meditate, and connect with people or spirit.
Max Strom says in his book, A Life Worth Breathing,
It is the storm in your mind – the mental stress, negativity, and endless inner monologue – that causes so much emotional suffering and ill health. It is by teaching your intellect to become quiet, and learning to be still, that you become happier, healthier and more emotionally stable. Constant lurching into the future or dwelling on the past events robs you of the present. True joy is experienced only in the present, so you have to be present to experience it.
We may come to the practice seeking physical movement, breath, calmness, better health, and healing. As we engage in asana, pranayama, self-study and meditation, moments of insight or clarity will come. In these moments of buoyancy we might see beyond the moment we are in, see beyond the circumstances we are in; and here, in these small open spaces, we lean into, draw our body towards, take a step forward, and even leap into the yet unknown truth of what we are becoming.
What I have learned through practicing yoga, studying yoga texts, theory, philosophy and teaching is that we can, like it points to in the Gita, seek intentionally to become skillful at creating a strong personal container, our body and mind, and learn to live in the world, observing our field of experience just as it is, watching what happens as we respond, choose and react to all we interact with. Thus the name of my yoga offerings: Container & the Field Yoga. In my yoga teaching, I work alongside my students, encouraging them to be in the moment, opening their senses to their inner and outer life-landscape. Breath-centric movement invites individuals to stay in the moment and find a flow of breath, movement and mindful observation that serves them.
We can check in at the end of any experience… on the mat, in meditation, in study, nearly anything. In the book In the Shelter, Finding a Home in the World by Pádraig Ó Tuama, a theologian, poet and storyteller from Northern Ireland, I found an interesting perspective in one part of his book and have borrowed it; an idea of questioning comes up in the text as he relays a story about a spiritual experience that he uses when he offers religious retreat experiences to groups of young people. On one such retreat some Catholic teens were asked to do what is called an ‘imagination walk’; this is a quiet meditation where, in silence, they imagine a walk with Jesus.
“One teenage boy said that in his first imagination walk he was walking through the woods, but that it was worrying because the pathway kept changing. He found himself, eventually in a dell, where he met Jesus. He said that Jesus asked him three questions:
- How would you describe today?
- Have you seen or experienced anything interesting along the way?
- Is it working?”
Ó Tuama reflected that these imagined questions, so grounded in the moment, felt like an invitation to mindfulness. And as I read this passage I thought so too. I found the broader application of these questions a versatile approach to being present; an in-the-moment reflection is valuable. So after a yoga practice I ask myself these same 3 questions and they help me discern how to move down the sometimes worrying pathway of change I am on; is this the way, or is what I am experiencing in the way?
May we stir up a constellation of insights!
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