Updated: Aug 3
Of the three distinct focuses of spiritual practice that developed in india's vedic history, i've focused most of my practice efforts on Hatha yoga. Though practices focusing on refining mind i, Jnana Yoga, and practices focusing on Devotional Heart, Bhakti Yoga, are valuable, working directly with the body just seemed to naturally, and even more directly influence these other two aspect of my being. As the theory goes the body is the battery or the cesspool for all the beauty and shit that flows through us. And since, in this physical lifetime, we are living it all through this physical structure, it seems and feels real and right to at least fully include, if not hold in primary focus, a Hatha foundation of spiritual practice.
Ashtanga Yoga, Movement and Meditation
Let’s start with three valuable Prerequisites. Ineffable practices, describe so well by some special people, that have molded my life (ruined the old one ;-) for over 2 decades now. These body based practices are Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Rolfing Structural Integration and Buddhist Meditation. Although not clear at that time, these all stemmed from childhood curiosities of Human Behavior, Anatomy and Engineering. At that young age I was more curious about the why of "Problems" and refining something about the inefficient process than to just perpetually apply patches that basically ignore the process and the lesson to learned by looking deeper. As an automobile and motorcycle mechanic, broken machinery provided ample opportunities to exercise this.
Not losing the lesson
This mindset proved valuable at other levels like working with my personal machinery (how so many athletes view their body early on). Rather than drowning in frustrated reacting and denial of athletic injuries which actually caused more damage than the initial injury itself, a space for accepting, caring for and eventually learning from them emerged. And interestingly this perspective also started observing the interpersonal psycho-emotional arena of energy wasting Human drama that we all get caught up in at times. Whether mechanical, mental or emotional situations, a greater context of "efficiency for sustainability" emerged that helped me in sorting out old habits of emotional drama. As i started seeing through my polluted programing, I felt less drained and more energised by, and began to remember and so act on, fragile insights the lessons those situations had to show me. Forget the exhaustion the drama left me with, i was always frustrated with losing the lesson in the thick sauce of the drama habit. ;-)
As Rolfing, Meditation and Yoga found me over the years, they each proved great tools to stabilized the drama habit and made more space for that curious place in me to explore. So I wasn't so surprising to learn that they all basically found each other during the ‘60s in Big Sur California. This womb of Gestalt therapy and the breathing heart of the Human Potential movement, Esalen Institute, was just the starting point of this synthesis as during the 70’s, major players in these depth practices all interestingly settled in Boulder Co. Ida Rolf (The Rolf Institute), Chogyam Trungpa RInpoche (Shambhala Center and Naropa University), and Richard Freeman (The Yoga Workshop) settled in and began cross fertilizing each others mad methods into a growing conscious community of amazing beings to pass on the teachings to.
Initially exploring these methods indirectly through books, I only lived 500 miles away so could travel there often enough for direct practice with teachers in the lineage. Some of the oldest students of Ida Rolf, and Trungpa Rinpoche and actually catching Richard Freeman for his last ten-ish years of regular teaching, these people could both describe the ineffable processes of their practices, but ultimately guide me into the experience, empowering me to view this body awareness thing from many perspectives (Yes, I took The Red Pill). Felt like I literally "Fell" into Rolfing and Ashtanga (More on that later) shifting my time squarely onto a path dedicated towards practitioner/teacher in both of these depth practices.
A potent double major that had the meditation resources at Shambala and the student trade resources with Naropa University as the womb. So many things were getting fertilized on this new journey of studies that it soon took me to Mysore to study with Guruji and the Jois family. This five year pressure cooker, in the shala and out, immediately provided a constant waitlist of Rolfing clients and all Ashtangis where I accumulated vast experience and understanding of how this practice “can” like Rolfing, reorganize and integrate a body to higher orders of function and sustainability which also refined my practice attitude from my ways of body abuse my early Ashtanga days were more about. Yes, for the Yoga to work, the ego must let go, eh?
So, these are the basic roots, where all the content I post, publish, blog or blah blah about comes from, that will help me gradually and wholistically explain the “method to my madness” as teacher in the Ashtanga room in the most simple and practical way possible.
A tall order that leaves me no space to indulge in any Yoga world chewing gum posting flowery passages with blessed bodies busting out amazing asana in mesmerizing locations to mindlessly entertain you with. Plenty of that bloat oozing around on the internet to get emotionally High on, yeah? And, in the grand Ashtanga world that ain’t much different, I just don’t have that body, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And even if I did, this depth is too sacred to me to waist mine or anyone’s time on in superficial, overdone ways of what is now considered “good marketing?”. Better I try to guide y’all into the science and art of re-owning “Ahimsa through Body Awareness” for the Ashtanga Practice, the rich ocean i’ve been swimming in for over 20 years, and hopefully catalyze your practice into a more stable openness that might help unlock more levels of your evolution.
Anyway, great perspectives of these body practices are well describe by Richard Freeman, Reginald Ray and Ida Rolf (all in an envelope of Fritz Perls). I highly recommend you get" The Yoga Matrix", "Buddhist Tantra", and "Rolfing". They will prepare you for easier digestion of what i will be building in the spirit of Yoga Chikitsa and Nadi Shodhana.
"The Body as Medium of Our Practice" (Scroll to the “Samples” video)
In Disk 1, track 9 of the Yoga Matrix Richard lays out the grossest aspect all us humans live in where all other subtler aspects of our organism sprout from and feeds back into.
This small excerpt transcribed:
“The body is like our medium in Yoga practice, especially in the physical practices of Hatha Yoga where we do yoga postures. It’s like dough, and we take the dough of our body and we squeeze it, we roll it out, we stretch it, we compress it and then we steam it or bake it in the oven of practice. We will divide it up with the mind, we’ll separate different actions and then we'll put them back together.
So it's like we're milking squeezing and then releasing the body. And doing this, a kind of juice comes out of the body. Just like if you squeeze dough enough sometimes you get a, a fragrance, a kind of juice. And, this is, metaphorically, the Juice of Wisdom, or insight into the true nature of the body, and through that, directly into the true nature of our minds. And so yoga brings out the most hidden process of our minds. The surface process of the mind is not so hard to see. It’s happening all the time. But in order to find the juice, in order to find happiness, we have to find the hidden process of mind that’s deep down, entwined, intermeshed in the very core of our body.
"The Body" (Scrole to the “Samples” video)
In track 6 of Buddhist Tantra Reggie talks about the importance of the body:
“…We live in a culture that is phenomenally, remarkably, extraordinarily disembodied. People tend to look at their bodies like they look at their cars or their house. Their bodies are possessions that should be used and manipulated to produce the greatest possible effect, to impress other people, to increase one’s status and so on. We live largely in terms of our heads. Our heads are our house, our palace and our entire world is composed of all the servants and all of the masters running around in our head. But we have little or no sense of our bodies. This causes tremendous dislocation in our sense of being human. We feel no connection to our world. We feel little connection to other people. We make ourselves ill and we lose all of the wisdom that is continually arising in our body. And if we ignore the wisdom of our body like some people do, we begin to have accidents and then we get sick and die. Within the Vajrayana tradition the body is the temple of enlightenment… within the body are all of the power, and the computation, AND the wisdom of enlightenment. If we know how to explore our body, if we know how to sense our physical person, then that is virtually the same thing as the realization that the Tantra talks about. And as I mentioned before much of the work in Tantra is working with the body. Awakening the body, bringing the body to life, and finding out how it is with us, and what it means to have a body.
He unfolds this reality in a free sample from Disk 2. (Click the “Samples” tab)
Ida P. Rolf
From Rolfing and Physical Reality, p87 Ida states:
“If we are going to try to change a body permanently, we have to recognize a relation of body and gravity. And we have to know what to do about it. There is only one pattern in which a body can be aligned so that gravity can pull symmetrically.
The wonders of Rolfing are occurring only because of gravity and only because we know how to use gravity to create wonders. It is gravity that is the tool; it is gravity that is the therapist. All we are doing is directing the flow of gravity by virtue of organizing the body as though it were an electric wire so that gravity can flow through it.”
“. . .When Ida Rolf integrates structure, as nobody else can, she improves functioning . . . .Rolfing was a revealing and unforgettable experience for me.”
From Gestalt Therapy,
This is the mind/body quote where Fritz Perls summed up the root of all these embodiment depth practices.
Questions and comments in the FB post work best, see ya there.