|late July gardens, 2010|
Last week on my birthday I listened to Mark Whitwell’s talk on the new website Yoga Teacher Telesummit. I have to admit that I did not finish listening to his talk because my birthday arrived with gorgeous weather and I was compelled to practice my other yoga — gardening. A beautiful day is wasted sitting in front of the computer even if it is spent listening to Mark. You can read my other posts about Mark here.
However, I did write some notes as I listened and what Mark talked about bears repeating: yoga is about the breath first and foremost, as Krishnamacharya taught.
Mark believes that “yoga [in America] has painted itself into a corner by a few obsessed people.” He said that exaggerated postures done by people of certain body types is not what yoga is about — yoga is about connection, our connection with the intimacy of Life.
Mark feels that the source scholar of yoga, Krishnamacharya, has been forgotten and it is “time to put scholarship into what has been popularized”; i.e., put the principles of Krishnamacharya back into what has become popular. When this is done “yoga then becomes efficient, powerful, and safe.” It becomes the “direct tantra of intimacy”, the nurturing reality of what yoga really is.
Mark said that five things must be remembered in order to accomplish this:
1. Body movement is for the breath, not the other way around — body movement IS breath movement. Breath starts and ends every movement.
2. Inhalation is receptivity from above — the receptive aspect of life; exhalation is from below — the abs in and up, the chest secondary, strength receiving.
3. Ha-tha Yoga is the union of opposites in your own system: sun/moon, male/female, strength that is receiving, softness supported by strength, yin/yang, shiva/shakti.
4. Asana creates bandha and bandha serves the breath. Bandha is the “intelligent cooperation of muscle groups” in our system. They are in polarity of above to below, inhale/exhale, strength to receptivity
5. Asana allows for pranayama and when you do pranayama in the way that is right for you then meditation arises naturally, this is what Krishnamacharya taught. Meditation then comes as a siddhi, it is a seamless process. Understanding that Krishnamacharya referred to the combination of asana and pranayama as sadhana — (sadhana being “that which you can do”, that is, the asana that is right for you as Krishnamacharya taught) mediation will arise as a result of YOUR sadhana.
Mark said that sleep arises naturally and spontaneously, you can not force yourself to sleep, it just happens. In the same way you can not force yourself to meditate, meditation arises spontaneously after your sadhana of asana + pranayama.
As much as I adore Mark, I canceled my teacher training with him at Omega in August. It would have cost me over $1000 and that is the price of a plane ticket to India. I have a chance to study yoga therapy with AG Mohan, another one of Krishnamacharya’s long-time students.
Sorry, Mark, but I will see you somewhere in 2012. Ma India is calling me home. Again.