In the west, we think of yoga as being about the physical poses – vinyasa, restorative etc. According to the Yoga Sūtra there are “Eight Limbs of Yoga” or eight practices that are central to finding a state of balance and clarity. One of those eight is about the physical “āsana” poses. I teach yoga with an equal emphasis on all eight limbs.
I offer workshops and classes. But the real transformation comes in the one-on-one mentorship. At the heart of the viniyoga tradition is the student-teacher relationship. In this context the teacher gets to know the student well – what’s working, what’s not, where you feel stuck, whether you sleep well etc. The teacher then gives the student a formal personal practice that usually includes āsana, prāṇāyāma, and meditation, as well as some less formal daily practices that will help move the student toward balance at the deepest levels.
The teacher develops the student’s practice. This is key. The reason is that if you develop your own practice you tend to avoid things you don’t like, and not work on things that you don’t know are problems. This is especially true in the more subtle (and more powerful) practices such as meditation & prāṇāyāma. You will end up being better at the things that you were already good at, and chronic problems (procrastination, relationships etc.) will be equally amplified.
To break this pattern you need someone who will ask you to do something that you wouldn’t have thought of.
The reason we can’t see our own limitations is that we have developed a view of the world that includes certain deeply held assumptions about how things are. This might be stories about our body, our talents, our innate worth, or about how other people are in the world, and what we can realistically expect. Some of these are right, and some are wrong. From the inside it’s almost impossible to tell which is which.
Further even if you can intellectually see that some of your assumptions are wrong it’s hard to see what to do to change them. For example, you may be able to see that technically you have all the intelligence and experience required to start your own business, but deep inside there’s a fear of failure that won’t let you act. Using willpower to overcome this just results in a sense that you’re driving with the breaks on. You know that you need to work on the business, but you end up vacuuming the carpet instead.
Yoga – when you practice all eight limbs with a qualified mentor – clears up those misperceptions at the deeper emotional levels that over-ride the intellect. Yoga is a full body, mind and spirit practice that works on all those interconnected dimensions at once. The result is a sense of freedom to act and a confidence that no matter what happens, you’re ready.
I didn’t make any of this up. I don’t teach anything new. I just translate the ancient wisdom so it works in the modern world.
The only thing I can claim credit for is noticing that this was a lineage worth studying, and doing the work myself.
I’ve lived this transformation. Now I offer to share it with others.