Recently I published a blog on the mantra “saha navavatu, sahanau bhunaktu…” which is an expression of respect and commitment to learning between teacher and student. It has served as a foundation for the development of my own credo — my pledge to you. I share this humbly and with the hope that it will support us in navigating the teachings and promote good will on our path to yoga.
Accept/Protect us both together.
- This is a partnership, not a dictatorship. We’re entering into this quest for yoga in a mutually beneficial and supportive manner. There is no room for power dynamics, except to empower you to stand on your own and gain clarity around that standing.
- There is no judgement or competition here, and I’m not trying to fix you. We’re all pure at our core. Yoga is a practice we can use to get closer to that core so that we move in the world in a way that is more peaceful and true. When we come together to practice, I’ll do my best to support and guide you through the process of finding steadiness and ease that will allow your thinking mind some space to relax and open up to reveal you.
Nourish us both together.
- We are inclusive — ALL are welcome. Acceptance, compassion, and loving kindness for one’s self as well as those we’re practicing alongside are key to sustaining this partnership, and these traits are ultimately what will lift us all up.
- This is intended to be a sacred space wherein we are free to explore what’s happening within ourselves without fear of being judged, scrutinized, or criticized. We do this by maintaining an ease of presence cultivated by attention to posture, breath, and gaze (tristhana — the three pronged platform for the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga). We also do this by not taking ourselves too seriously and through acknowledging one another, celebrating our differences, accepting our ups and our downs, and welcoming the laughter and/or tears that sometimes come.
May we work together with great energy.
- Physical prowess is not placed on a pedestal. We view postures as a means for steadying the mind, not as goals in a project plan. Our work is made easier on every level if we, as Patanjali directs us (1.33), get happy for those who are happy and celebrate the efforts of those who are virtuous. It is this attitude that will contribute to equanimity of mind and sthira sukham in our postures (2.46).
- “Great energy” is supportive, positive, devoted, disciplined, freely given, and focused such that it draws us into our senses and creates TAPAS — suprasensory consciousness/awakeness. In that spirit, practitioners are empowered to:
- speak up, ask questions, and/or say “no,” — do this especially when something introduces feelings of discomfort, uncertainty, or otherwise does not agree with their view of their own path;
- take control of their own practice — it is YOUR practice, and I encourage assumption of responsibility and initiative with regard to development;
- learn from others — I don’t consider myself your end-all-be-all, and I encourage you to explore learning from other teachers.
May our knowledge and strength increase.
- My/our focus is on the full spectrum of yoga practice. Many of us totally dig the posturing, and that’s great — let’s run with it! But yoga is so much more than posturing. Let’s also remain open to the other seven limbs (ethics, self care, breath, inward sensory exploration, concentration, meditation, and enlightenment) and open to the possibility that our interests may shift.
- We will tailor the method to suit the individual, not the other way around. The postures are not molds that you’re to be shoehorned into. When you work with me, we’ll approach each new thing from the perspective of your growth and what will work best to support the development of your practice.
May we not resent one another.
- Permission and consent are the norm in our practice together. I will offer guidance and adjustments, but you are welcome to decline either. It is your choice, and it’s my intention to empower you to communicate your needs.
- There are no rules, only guidelines. In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga we’ve been given a structure through which we can develop our respective practices. The structure is not meant to confine us, and it is not useful to apply it strictly and without consideration for our differences and limitations.
Peace, peace, peace.
- Purposeful patience is celebrated. This is a long-haul endeavor from doing to BEING. What it comes down to is a good will, good faith, collaborative effort to cultivate the conditions for you to have a direct experience of something beyond the normal material-based clinging and attachment to bodies, things and experiences that are in constant flux and lacking lasting substance. Practice has the potential to loosen the grip of these forces that typically drive our actions and connect us with our spiritual reality. It’s an experience worth waiting for.
*Special thank you to my dear friends Jen René, Maggie Lively, Mike Stefani and Jessica Morrison for their insightful reviews of this blog.