1. Establishing Presence, Opening the Heart:
How can we practice ‘Presence’, stabilize our awakening, realize the unbounded present moment, silent and still, un-graspable and yet, ever available, and rest here, abide here, as the world of form, the manifest universe, unfolds in its own way, in its own time; and from here allow the heart to open into its natural fullness so we can engage our karmic path with both wisdom and compassion.
2. Learning the rules of the world of form, as expressed in: the yin and yang, the tamas, rajas and sattva, the balance of opposites.
3. Studying the nature of the gross body, matter, the sthula sharira, through gravity and weight, muscle, bone and connective tissues, anatomy and kinesiology; using Tom Myers’ ‘Anatomy Trains’ model and other fascial continuities that link movement and perception, and enhancing perception and sensitivity through the practice of yoga postures and flow, gestures and movement.
4. Investigating the level one of the energy body, the physiological or pranic realms through breath perception, observation, and guided practice of asana and pranayama.
5. Exploring ‘mind’ and ‘mind activity’ as expressed in attention, perception, memory, discrimination, identification, discovery, emotions, actions and creativity.
6. Discovering and aligning the energy body with the ‘Cosmic Fields’, using gravity, asana and the imagery of sacred geometry. Building a strong and grounded connection to the ‘Heart Toroidal Field”.
Specific Explorations :
(for the first half of the course; more to come!)
1: Develop familiarity with basic standing poses as ‘tools’ for somatic discovery. These include uttanasana, prasarita padottanasana, trikonasana, ardha chandrasana, parsvakonasana, parsvottanasana, parvrtta ardha handrasana, parvrtta parsvakonasana. Please add your own favorites to this list if necessary.
2. Use these poses to explore the three basic movements of the hip sockets: flexion/extension (or forward and back bending…do not confuse spine with hips!): lateral flexion and extension or ‘fish body’: and rotation or twisting. Again differentiate hips and spine here.
3. Practice dog pose and all variations, including ‘flipping’. Learn to art of ‘double action’ or opposite extension.
4. Grow yourself a tail and use it in all poses to ‘trifurcate’ the mula or root chakra energy. From dog, begin with simple inversions and add sirsasana and sarvangasana when ready. Also simple back bends (sphynx, cobra, up dog, ustrasana, and twists.
5. Become familiar with the ‘Deep Front Line’ of the Anatomy Trains lines. Find it feel it, work from here, integrate perception, stabilize your presence here.
6. Learn the role of props as tools to provide support and leverage to help open up the body. Blocks, belts, bolsters, blankets, weights (sandbags or barbell plates) and chairs are the main ones. Foam rollers and therabands are also wonderful tools. Use for supported bridge and variations to refine double action, aka integrating prana and apana.
7. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: First Pass: get a feel for the structure of the book, the nature of sutras and the different types of information conveyed. Next: Choose a 12 or so key sutras, ones that you can work with. Include as essential I-2 – 1-4, II-46 – II-48, II-1 and I-33. Live with them. Sleep with them.
8. Read some Dan Siegel to get a sense of interpersonal neuro-biology and modern neuroscientific models of mind. What is neural integration and how does that relate to yoga? What is emotional self-regulation?
9. Observe your own ‘ahamkara’, the I making’ aspect of mind activity. Shift it from ‘identifying with’ the thoughts, ideas, beliefs and objects in the mind to ‘spacious emptiness’ aka presence. Make friends with the many ‘voices’ or ‘parts’ that have important roles to play in mind. Create teams of parts that can complement each other as they perform their duties. Just be clear that, although they may pose as “I”, they are imposters. “I AM’ is limitless, luminess emptiness…
10. Listen to ‘awakening teachers’ through their cd’s (‘Sounds True‘ has an extensive collection), or even better, live and in person. Read their writings. Soak it in until awakening becomes second nature. Then keep re-minding your self, ‘stay awake’, ‘stay present’. The reminders are everywhere! My personal living favorites are Adyashanti and Eckhart Tolle, but there are many awakening teachers out and about these days, each with their own unique gifts and gaps. Ramana Maharshi and Sri Nirsagatta Maharaj are two giants of the last century.
Work on your levitation.