I admit it. When I see pictures and blogs about a wonderfully expansive yoga festival or workshop I get a little jealous and sort of persnickety. I sigh, humph, then remind myself that we all have different paths and I have chosen mine.
Back in college I read this book that essentially said we can have it all, just maybe not all at once. This is very comforting as I am the kind of person who wakes up and thinks I can clean the whole house, make phone calls, finish emails, nap, write a novel, learn a language, go climb a mountain or ford a stream and make dinner in a single day or weekend. While all of these things can be done and I intend to do them, they are certainly not all going to happen today, or this year, or possibly even this decade. Especially since it’s already past noon and my motivation to clean is waning. (Not to mention that I don’t live near any mountains or ford-worthy streams.)
A student once said, “One day I woke up and asked, when I am on my deathbed do I want to remember that I had an immaculate house or that I practiced yoga on the last friday in June twenty years ago.” I love this because at the heart of the question my friend is determining the true goals of her life.
In a weekend workshop a few years back John addressed this discernment process. The key, he said, to yogic decision making is to consider the four aims of life: Artha, Kama, Moksha, Dharma*. Lets take the example of deciding whether or not to attend a workshop.
Artha ~ Can I afford this? Will it place undo financial strain on myself or my family?
Kama ~ Will it give me pleasure? Will I enjoy this topic, group of people, geographic setting? Will I feel free to be my awesome creative self?
Moksha ~ Will attending this workshop help me contribute to the liberation of myself and others? Will it make me a better person?
Dharma ~ “Dharma always leads to harmony.”** Does this line up with my respond-abilities in life right now? Can I leave home for a few days without abandoning my family, job, obligations? Will my attending bring harmony or disharmony?
Answering each of these questions with thoroughness and honesty keeps me sane, grounded and able to move away from jealousy and into appreciation for the different journeys we all take. I did not attend the Anusara-Inspired Teacher’s Gathering at Wunderlust this year. It looked like fun, I would have enjoyed it. Kama- check. But I don’t have the financial resources at this time, nor am I willing to go into debt to get there. Also, my family goes on a vacation every year during the last week in July and I wanted to be with them. So I did. This time around family and finances took precedence over a week of rockin’ yoga in Tahoe.
It’s unlikely that I’ll attend any of John’s workshops this year, which seems a little weird for someone about to submit a certification video . But that’s the way it is. I attend regional events with other traveling teachers as well as teach and participate in my own local community. These are some of the ways that I am currently fulfilling the four aims of Artha, Kama, Moksha, Dharma. Next year I may travel more and that will be a dream, but for today, this is where I am. Today, my dharma is to be at home, and maybe clean.
* These questions don’t need to be asked in this order. Artha, Kama and Moksha all serve Dharma. For more info check out this blog from Anusara-Inspired Instructor Daniella Cotreau
**Another piece of wisdom from John Friend
Tuesday 7:30 – 8:30am ~ Yoga 1-2
Friday 7:30 – 8:30 am ~ Yoga 1-2
Cary Family Y
Schedules Varies.- Mixed Level, Yoga Basics, and Yoga 2.
Please click to view the complete Y schedule.
I teach alignment based hatha yoga in a fluid style infused with a spiritual theme made practical for everyday living. Which is to say, I keep you safe while moving at a reasonable pace to experience precision, harmony and grace in your body, mind and heart within the broader context of life.
I lead immersive experiences designed to probe and understand some of the more esoteric, philosophical and powerful aspects of the practice.
I weave in the ancient wisdom of ayurveda for an overall experience of wellness beyond the mat.
I bridge the realms where Christian Spirituality and Mysticism (an embodied experience of the Divine) and yoga meet. As Fr. Richard Rhor says, “Mystics are not special people. But everyone is a special kind of mystic.”
I help you learn to release tension and trauma in your body.
I seek to help you (and me!) truly learn to embody spiritual beliefs and values in every part of your being and have a tangible experience of the sublime that feeds and nourishes you in every moment.
All Classes are Hatha Yoga ~ Hatha literally means “to strike” or “to strike a balance” between “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), light and dark. In its broad sense hatha yoga refers to any yoga class that is based on physical movement or postures (asana). Just about any public, movement based yoga class you take is considered “hatha yoga” regardless of the style (Anusara, Iyengar, Vinyasa Flow, Prana Flow, Yin etc.).
Yoga Basics ~ An introduction to the fundamentals of yoga designed just for the brand-newbie or anyone wanting a step-by-step review of the basics.
Mixed Level classes are appropriate for physically active students of all levels of experience. Alignment principles are explored in detail through a wide range of standing poses, hip openers, backbends, handbalances, and inversions. Sequence and posture variations are offered so the practice is appropriately challenging for students of all levels.
Yoga 1 – 2
This class encompasses a more vigorous sequence of postures, giving students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the alignment principles through the practice. Focus is on further exploration of the standing poses and hip openers while also introducing deeper backbends, handbalances, and inversions. This level is appropriate for students who have some general yoga experience or are in good physical condition.
The workshops listed below are available as stand-alone weekends, retreats, master classes, sections of Yoga Teacher Trainings, or as an ongoing, monthly series. They can be adapted for the needs of your studio, church, Y, or student population.
Embody the Heart: Bringing the Beatitudes to Life
2 – 6 hours (offered in segments) or as a Full Retreat
The Beatitudes – or “attitudes of Being” – are at the core of the Christ teaching. By weaving the attitudinal stance offered in each Beatitude with speciﬁc alignment actions and yoga poses, the asana practice becomes a powerful way to embed these teachings into body, mind and heart.
This workshop series can be adapted and offered as an introduction for beginners, or as a deeper experience for advanced practioners.
Mandala, the Sacred Circle: Creating a Tool to Discover, Embrace and Share our Creative Ministries
Co-taught with Edna Marie Thomas (my mother!)
3 hours to a Full Weekend Retreat (best way to experience this!)
This workshop or retreat will offer an introduction to mandalas, their place in the Christian tradition and serve as a bridge to the practice of yoga both on and off the mat. Includes elements of lecture, hands on activity, and asana.
As with all of the workshops above, the asana can be adapted to serve the levels and interests of the group.
4 – 2.5 hour segments
“Yoga is the process of harmonious alignment with the vibrations of Life.” Yoga Sutra 1.2
With so many yoga poses, so many styles of practice and all those classroom instructions (or lack thereof) it is easy to feel like a perpetual novice. This workshop series focuses on a simple, effective and harmonious set of actions that work with the body’s optimal, natural design and that can be applied to any yoga pose or yoga style. Students will feel safe, conﬁdent and supported in their practice.
This workshop series focuses on physical alignment as a means to care for the body, mind and spirit.
Part I – Down Dog, Standing Poses and Baby Backbends
Part II – Hips, Hand balances and More Backbends
Part III – Forward Folds and Twists
Part IV – Backbends and Basic Inversions
Optional: Add Nourishing Rhythms – An Introduction to Ayurveda and Daily Wellbeing
Nourishing Rhythms: An Introduction to Ayurveda and Daily Wellbeing
3 – 6 hours (offered in 2 – 3 segments)
While Ayurveda is focused so sweetly on the body, at its core, this science of Life is about bringing the sacred into each moment.
Ayurveda – the ancient Indian medical system studying the science of Life – offers a rich way to engage with the elements of the natural world and care for the body on every level. This dynamic workshop will cover an introduction to the mahabhutas (5 great elements), an overview of doshic theory (personal constitutions: vata, pitta, kapha), daily practices for harmony and wellbeing, and asana to pull it all together.
“Your lecture was excellent and made it accessible to Ayurveda newbies.” ~ Astrid
The Koshas: Dialoguing with the Layers of the Self
2 – 4 hours
Like looking into a drawer full of clutter, we often experience life as jumbled. By organizing the drawer we can separate one object from another, making seeing things for what they are and ﬁnding what we need a simple task. Using the lens of the koshas – or sheaths that describe the layered aspects of body, breath, mind and heart – we can separate and organize our experiences, seeing each aspect of our lives for what it
Through asana as a moving dialogue with the koshas we isolate aspects of the Self and allow for a more expansive perspective; to see the drawer of our Self and all it contains bringing a level of clarity and maturity that empowers choice.
The Householder’s Path is an invitation to live the spiritual journey by meeting the sacred in every moment through contemplation, listening, daily practice, and hospitality for ourselves and others, even if in that moment one is getting the oil changed, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, balancing the checkbook, practicing yoga, walking in the woods, cooking a meal or enjoying the company of friends and loved ones. By embracing the daily-ness of life we recognize that mutuality of the sacred and the mundane.
This is not easy. That’s why it’s called a practice, a path. Such language implies choice. We chose where and how to place our attention.
Personally, I often fail – by which I mean I forget, get frustrated, depressed, angry, neurotic and resentful. But, there is always the opportunity to begin again. Even more radical is the opportunity to find the Divine within perceived failures of attitude and action. As Christine Valters Painter suggests, this is radical hospitality, to truly welcome ALL parts of ourselves.
Spirit grows and moves along its journey by embracing all aspects of life. Everything you see, do, read and think holds a kernel of the Divine. Everything that exists is pulsing with the sacred creativity of the moment. It is our work to see it.