Why do we practice?

Most of us come to yoga as a way to help ourselves–to relieve pain, to breathe, to feel the body moving, to still the mind. And it works! Evidence based research is beginning to catch up to what we feel in our bones: that yoga just flat-out works. Studies have shown that yoga does, in fact, relieve pain, that it improves the quality of the breath, that it enhances overall physical health, and that it helps relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. We feel more connected. More bright. More free.

So we go along doing yoga for ourselves, and then one day, we realize that the benefits of our yoga reach into our jobs and our relationships. We feel ourselves getting angry about so-and-so, and we pause. We take a step back. We make a different choice. We share our light.

And finally, one day, we reach the conclusion that when we get on our mat, we’re doing it for the world. The time we spend on that two by six piece of sticky mat creates ripples that reach out into our local, and even global community. We don’t always know how our down dog will affect someone else, but we know somehow it will. So when we begin to feel the dark divisiveness of the 24-hour news-cycle, we step onto our mats, we practice, and we SHINE.

Here at The Essence of Yoga Center, our vision is the ‘higher purpose’ of evolving the consciousness of the planet, one student at a time, starting with ourselves.  We want to set new standards for yoga practice and teacher training that combine modern, evidenced-based, scientific research and reflective methodologies with ancient philosophy, and mindful, spiritual practices. Interested in learning more about our 200 and 300 hour Yoga Immersion and Teacher Training Programs? Contact us!

Sneak peek!

We’ve been continuing to work hard to refine our offerings for our 200 and 300 hour Yoga Immersion Teacher Training Programs. Whether you’re already enrolled, or still thinking about enrolling, but looking for a bit more information, check out the coursework descriptions for the first weekend of the 200 hour Yoga Immersion Program!

Saturday October 21

9:00am-1:00pm & 3:30-6:00pm

Breath and Posture:  Growing into greater harmony

  • Amanda McMaine, MS, E-RYT 500 YACEP Lead Teacher

Description:  What is optimal posture and how does it affect our future? Learn a safe way to practice yoga through the study of anatomy and kinesiology and refinement of basic postural poses.  Understand how to create optimal alignment and axial extension in the spine to support a sense of balance in the musculoskeletal system and ease in the breath. Learn common postural patterns and therapeutic applications to encourage a sense of safety and fluidity in movement. Breath work will provide a sense of embodiment, body-mind awareness, and freedom from unconscious restrictions.  This class will also introduce sanskrit terminology for postural poses.

2:00pm-3:00pm

Yoga Anatomy:  Postural Skeleton—The Spine

  •  Mark Bisesi, MD, RYT 200

Description:  What is the anatomy of the spine that supports our posture? Learn normal boney structure—joints, ligaments, tendons—and function of the postural skeleton.

Sunday October 22

9:00- 10:30am

Postural Poses & Breath Work: Establishing a personal practice routine

  • Cara Sparkman, RYT 500

Description:  How do we begin a personal practice routine following the principles of alignment-based, therapeutically-oriented asana? Review, discuss and practice asanas and breath work that are the building blocks of better posture in a safe and supportive yoga community of practice.

11:00pm-12:00pm, 1:00pm-2:00pm

Yoga Anatomy:  Postural Muscles—Inner core unit & postural diaphragms 

  •  Mark Bisesi, MD, RYT 200

Description:  What are the postural muscles? Learn about the structure and function of the three postural diaphragms and the inner core unit which stabilize and support our postural poses and breathing. Understand the differences between the intrinsic stabilizer and the extrinsic mobilizer muscles of the core.

2:00-5:00pm

Establishing a Yoga Community of Practice (CoP):  Learning circle rituals & reflective self-inquiry

  • Tanja Bisesi PhD, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP

Description:  What is a yoga Community of Practice (CoP)?  What are Learning Circles and reflective practices and how can they support personal transformation and growth within community?  Participate in a Learning Circle as we engage in reflective self-inquiry and establish a yoga (CoP) for ongoing personal and community learning and development.

 

(photo courtesy of Mandy Kiley, LMT, RYT 500)

Remembering…

It’s a beautiful crisp morning here in the jungle, by the ocean…and I am feeling more settled in some significant ways after 5 days here. Then there are ways that I feel quite unsettled in my mind, particularly while watching the news on my laptop each evening. I told myself that I would take a break from it, but it draws me, the actions of this new president…the frightening possibilities that threaten to separate us from the rest of the world and from each other. And then I remember…
I remember the unchanging presence that underlies this world of change, and I see that others are standing up, speaking out, from an awareness of this presence, whether consciously or not. This presence is the connecting force that draws us together when outer forces threaten to pull us apart, and one could give it many names…Love is the word that comes to mind at this time.
For 25 years I have been teaching a winter retreat in this lovely little village of Puerto Morelos, between the ocean and the jungle. Each year, I come early to prepare, to work out the many details of the workshop and to give myself time to open to the experience of creating space for, and guiding the group through a journey of self-inquiry and exploration in breath-inspired movement. Each year, I spend this time in contemplation of their needs, hopes, dreams, wishes, concerns, and anticipate a wonderful week for them as they decompress from their daily lives and open to all that this generous environment offers. This year, another feeling keeps creeping in…a sense of the anxiety and helplessness that they will be bringing…and my own sense of helplessness in being able to lift them out of that shadow state. And then I remember…
I remember what I have come to understand at a very deep level over my 40 years as a teacher, and continually remind the teacher trainees of to lessen their fears of teaching… the challenges that they face in feeling responsible for the students and their experience. I remind them to trust the practice, and that we as teachers are mere guides and facilitators of these ancient techniques that have been evolving through the years to meet the needs of our modern world. I remind them that our responsibility level is high, yes, but that the responsibility lies in our staying in the practice ourselves, to keep coming back to that unchanging presence that connects us all and reestablishing the balance between our outer and inner worlds in such a way that we can better serve our higher purpose. I remind myself, and them,that awareness is the key, practice is the tool, and Love is the answer. This is the Essence of Yoga.
Now…having remembered, I rest in the  knowledge that our week together will be a reminder for them, the students, of this awareness that the practice of yoga opens us to. And I am flooded with gratitude for the practice, for the opportunity to share the practice, and for life itself.
Namaste,
Amanda

Postcard From the Jungle

Our director and lead trainer, Amanda McMaine, just arrived in Mexico for her annual week-long yoga retreat. While she’s there, we’re all continuing to work together to refine our plans for the 200 and 300 hour yoga teacher training programs. Amanda sends this message of gratitude…

“I am sitting outside in the jungle , at our little table on the porch where we have our meals. The sounds are of the jungle birds and animals, the breeze through the trees which have magnificent huge foliage, and the ocean breeze in the distance. The papaya is amazing and the Mexican coffee divine…Michael has gone to the open air fruit and veggie market where the local farmers bring in their produce…a weekly shopping expedition. We will buy fresh fish from the dock this afternoon…It is warm and breezy and the air so very fresh. All of this makes the list of challenges about being here rather pale, or at least the scales tip toward bliss much of the time. I will not list the challenges! I am grateful…”

Allow, by Danna Faulds

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide…
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.

What We’re Reading – Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

“Writing as a practice.” When I first read this in the pages of Natalie Goldberg’s classic text, Writing Down the Bones (1986), I could not have imagined how profoundly it would impact my future yoga practice. The book was recommended for ‘perfecting my craft’—writing. As a writer, I searched for advice on creating more beautiful and meaningful written text, communicating effectively with my target audiences, inspiring creativity in my readers but…I hadn’t anticipated the life-transforming gift of this new and deep meditative, self-inquiry practice.

At the time, I was completing a 300 hour yoga teacher training with Amanda McMaine and exploring the physical body—bones, joints, muscles—and their essential role in the body’s form, the felt sense of energetic embodiment, and the safe practice of alignment-oriented, therapeutic asana. With ‘bones’ on my mind, the title captured my imagination. When I opened to the chapter on Writing as Practice, I realized, this was not a typical book on writing technique—I was holding in my hands the key to a whole new way to practice yogic presence, self-exploration and reflection, a practice that has become a powerful tool in my yoga toolbox.

Revisiting this book to prepare for the 200 and 300 hour yoga teacher trainings at The Essence of Yoga Center, I have been (re)inspired by the power of Goldberg’s descriptions of writing as practice. As a longtime, Zen meditation practitioner, she believes “that writing practice is learning to trust your own mind and body,” “to grow patient and nonaggressive,” to “stay present with whatever comes up and to “[e]mbrace your whole life.” This description is, in a nutshell, the essence of my personal yoga practice.

Now, with beginner’s mind, I dive back into this self-aware text, guided in my writing practice by Goldberg’s own words, “sit down right now,” “give [yourself] this moment,” “write whatever’s running through you. Don’t try to control it,” just “keep your hand moving.” Through disciplined yogic writing practice, I am able to “burn through” to what Goldberg calls “first thoughts,” the intersection between heart and mind, where my true Self resides and I find the teacher within.

post by Tanja Bisesi