Since first stepping on a mat in 2001 to later running a yoga school, I have had the privilege of witnessing the construction and subsequent dismantling of the bell curve known as western yoga. Almost twenty years later, I repeatedly ask: what practices, beliefs and studies had real impact in my ability to stay centered in a paradoxical world? For me, this journey has never been about garnering credentials. In fact, many of my greatest teachers have never done a day of asana in their life.
In that, defining how or what I teach is also a challenge; long ago I stopped declaring devotion to any particular style. I honor all paths, yet for me personally, defining or sticking to one particular schema gets in the way of listening to what is called for. From the very beginning, I have been interested in the elements that propel a a yoga class to a place beyond the five standard senses.
Western yoga has been around long enough that we have all come to expect safe alignment, adjustments, intelligent anatomical and physiological sequencing. If we are lucky, a few humorous quips and appropriate personal attention. The teachers who truly stood out to me were the ones that could lead a class whilst simultaneously and skillfully engaging the multi-layered realm of spirit. Some people would use the word shamanic, some would say pranic or tantric. I would say present and listening. For me, if there isn’t a subtle shift in paradigm, then the work needs more attention.
As a teacher and trainer there are four main skill sets that I draw upon:
I have spent many years practicing a form of subtle body awareness and manipulation known as Pranic Healing. Naturally this flows into teaching yoga in a way that is geared toward correcting energetic misalignments that present in both individual and group settings. Often a group of people and the surrounding environment will form an energetic mandala with particular strengths and weaknesses. Guiding that mandala to balance is a big part of moving classes into an experience that is more personal and resonant with the energies of the moment.
One of my YTT’s engaged in a form of traditional kundalini yoga, known as spontaneous yoga under the lineage of Swami Rajarshi Muni. The sadhana of this yoga focuses mainly on opening the pranic channels within the individual. I have witnessed the ability of this lineage to bestow shaktipat and learned early on that prana is a powerful and wise teacher.
I am engaged in an ongoing apprenticeship with the Shipibo medicine traditions of the Amazon. In extended isolation in the jungle, the impediments caused by unhealthy attachment and denial of shadow aspects become glaringly and painfully obvious. Like Bill Plotkin, I believe the teachings of non-duality need to be contrasted with work in the day to day emotional and subconscious realms of man.
Finally, I have also been an ongoing student of the hellenistic, renaissance and modern western astrological traditions. Where possible, I attempt to teach in a way that harmonizes and/or enhances mundane planetary influences.