Living Yoga Philosophy and Practice
WHAT IS LIVING YOGA ?
Living Yoga is steeped in raja yoga (or ‘the royal way’). It is a practice of prajna or intuitive wisdom involving a direct, embodied and personal investigation of what it means to be a fully alive human being in and of the world.
HOW DOES IT WORK ?
In this practice, we use our bodies, minds and spirits as living laboratories. We learn what it means to be fully comfortable in our own skin and at home in our bodies. We examine our direct experience on the mat within asana, vinyasa and pranayama so that we can become more skilful at living our lives off the mat.
On the journey, we educate ourselves to sense, feel, map, track, register, visualise and embody. In other words, we learn to listen deeply to all of the levels of ourselves, how they are connected and how they influence one another.
This is a practice of introversion and learning to move from the inside out. It involves self-study or svadyaya and learning how to ask new questions to old problems. It is not a practice of secondhand answers from someone else’s body.
Although Living Yoga starts with the Holy Trinity of me, myself and I, and prioritises self-care as well as self-knowledge, it naturally extends to our relationships with others, and to how we want to be in the world.
In Living Yoga, we meet and greet our embodied selves in many ways. Our maps are grounded in ancient yogic wisdom and the modern interface with cutting edge neuroscience discoveries. One of our maps is the koshas as described in the Taittireya Upanishad. Koshas are sheaths of experience or interweaving frequencies. They include the physical body(annamaya kosha), the breathing and emotional body (pranamaya kosha), the everyday mind (manomaya kosha), the wisdom mind (vijnanamaya kosha), and the bliss body (anandamaya kosha).
In a Living Yoga Practice we explore:
- Asana, vinyasa, pranayama, somatic enquiry and yoga nidra.
- The embodied and intuitive wisdom inside us.
- How to find support for our physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual selves on the mat and extension in the world.
- How to become more self-aware and what to do with that awareness.
- How to sense, feel, map, track, register, visualise and embody all aspects of ourselves.
ANATOMY AND KINESIOLOGY – BODY SYSTEMS
This practice is strongly grounded in the experiential anatomy and kinesiology of each of our body systems including:
- The clear and strong support of our bones right down to their marrow
- The rhythm, flows, ebbs, and transformations of our fluids
- A visceral connection to the volume and wisdom of our organs
- The strength and vitality of our muscles
- The web, weft and weave of our connective tissues
- The clear guidance of our ligaments
- The use of embodied voice to speak our truth with confidence and clarity
- The role of the nervous system and its helicopter view over everything else
With practice we discover what it means to live in a democratic body community where we consciously use ALL the systems for support and where the weaker parts can help the stronger parts.
ASANA, VINYASA and PRANAYAMA
Within our asana, vinyasa and pranayama practice we explore:
- How to move from the inside out.
- How to move with integrity, authenticity, grace, poise and ease.
- How asana are vehicles for prana or vital life force energy to travel through and how to make the practice of asana and vinyasa a self-renewing experience that changes with our needs and stages in life.
- How to allow prana flow most optimally within us and conscious breathing practices to store pranic reserves.
- How to ride the wave of the breath; how the whole body breathes; the oscillation of the breath as a whole body experience.
- The origins of alignment and how impeccable alignment can instinctively and spontaneously arise (once we learn to listen and trust what we hear).
- How to find the most support, steadiness and ease in movement as instructed by Patanjali two centuries ago: Stirham Sukham Asanam – ‘the posture of meditation should be steady and comfortable’.
- How to train our attention and our focus so every moment is a practice of mindful movement.
- How all the keys to how much, how far and how long lie in the breath.
BLUEPRINTS FOR MOVEMENT – DEVELOPMENT MOVEMENT PATTERNS
The evolutionary blueprints for ALL human movement called developmental movement patterns. Every baby passes through these stages on their way to learning to stand on their own two feet and move about in a walking world. As adults we can revisit these patterns and revisit, strengthen or reinforce the weaker ones. Once we recruit these patterns within asana, EVERYTHING becomes easier, steadier, less effortful, more co-ordinated, integrated and authentic. Balanced strength, cohesion and flexibility arise naturally out of this ease.
In the developmental map, we learn :
- To identify old patterns (in our physical, mental and emotional bodies) that don’t serve us anymore, and establish and entrain new patterns that are more suitable for the present moment.
- What functional movement is; what movement medicine we need to be happy and healthy, mobile and vital our whole life long.
- How to access a ballast or central core of support (called the hara in yoga). This hub is like the centre of a wheel, it allows us radiate outwards while staying intimately connected to centre. This allows us move out into the world with ease without losing our centred self.
- Where movement initiates, how it travels and where it resolves.
- Proprioception or our ‘sixth sense’ and how we know where we are in space and in the world.
LIVING OUR YOGA
- How we meet ourselves on the mat, in the world, and in relationship with others.
- How to trust what we notice and act on it.
- A sense of self- agency or feeling of being in charge of our lives. Agency starts with interoreception or our awareness of subtle body-based feelings.
- How to make the mind embodied and the body mindful.
- How energy, awareness and consciousness inhabits our whole structure.
- What is in the shadow of ourselves and how to bring light to the shadow.
- How to build up a sensory memory bank.
- How to make the unconscious conscious.
- What is means to value curiosity, play, enquiry and exploration over more dogmatic or authoritarian teaching models.
- To acknowledge and know our heartfelt desires and how to follow them.