…bikram, Iyengar…what kind of yoga to do you teach?
What an interesting question. On the surface there seems to be as many flavors of yoga as there are flavors of cereal. You’ve got the latest and most popular, traditional, highly spiritual and healthy, all these neat words. It can be confusing. I thought that exact thing when I started yoga though I also had this thought…”I don’t exactly know what kind of yoga I’m doing, but I do know that what I’m doing is making me feel like a million bucks”.
So, fast forward a bit, after completing training, I feel like I have a better idea of what yoga is. Webster says that “yoga” means “union”. Ok…so how does that relate to the cereal aisle. Because there is a metaphorical cereal aisle when you google “yoga class”. You’re going on vacation in San Jose and you want to go to a yoga class. The descriptions, or lack of, can be…interesting.
Is there some fundamental common thread that links all these words like power, vinyasa, hot together? Like for the general public, the common thread in the cereal aisle is that maybe we all eat cereal in the morning or with milk. Or in a bowl. Or not. 😉 Beneath all the uniqueness and variety…is there some common thread?
You can start by scratching the surface of yoga by going to classes for stretching and exercise. With a regular practice you start to feel stronger, better, calmer. Outside of the yoga class. So that is that????? This leads us to “union”. Union of what? The word yoga is a Sanskrit word “yuj” meaning “unite or join”. Unite or join the mind and body. There are seven words in that sentence. Those seven words could mean a lot of different things, just depending on you. Uniqueness. Thus the cereal aisle.
There are a plethora of paths to this union, this “mind and body” connection. Just like there are a couple of ways to eat breakfast. It’s about what floats your boat. Yoga is about what feels good to you, what resonates with you. Everyone is unique. It’s a cool thing. Keeps everyone on their toes. Keeps in fun, fresh and alive.
So back to the question, what kind of yoga do I teach? I’m a fan of accepting today for what it is. How I feel today. What condition my body is in TODAY. And I meet myself on the mat and ask myself “SELF, what do you need today? To have as much balance today as possible.” Physical balance, mental balance, emotional balance. Hopefully I can achieve a nice combination of all three for the day. For me it’s not about doing the perfect pose on the cover of Yoga Journal, though wouldn’t that be cool and fun. It’s about reaching towards doing the pose. Maybe you’ll never get there, but the journey sure is fun. So you look on the map, figure out where the heck you are today and what roads you’re going to take to get where you want to go. Step by step.
I teach hatha yoga, yoga that follows the traditions of the Shambhava School of Yoga. Yoga that comes from the heart. In my Foundations class, through the “common poses”, I teach students the basics of practicing yoga with the intention of helping students learn to find the “You Are Here” spot on the map. The athletes’ class is about strength, balance and restoration. The other classes…for the folks that find themselves in the middle. My hope is that I can help students learn to connect more with their body. With their mind. Find strength and balance there. Learn some new things. Then find more strength and balance in that new spot.
Strength and Balance = injury prevention. Be it torn up knee, stiff shoulders, achy back, poor sleep, stress related baggage, pain and suffering…all of this I like to refer to as road rash.
Everyone has somewhere they want to go. Yoga is an aide to help us get there. Like a compass that works with the map. Hopefully with less road rash than we have experienced in the past.