I’ve found huge inspiration, wonder and life-changing approaches by looking more deeply into Yoga and Zen. I'm really pleased to now be offering Zen Yoga at Studio 70 with my first workshop this Sunday afternoon.
One thing that pretty much everyone agrees on is that yoga means union; of body and mind, of you and the universe/the divine, of yin and yang, of good and bad, of breath and movement, of energy. So as long as something’s being united (ideally with more of a passive letting go than an active effort) then you are practicing yoga - this leaves quite a lot of room for manoeuvre.
What is zen? It is the child of the father buddhism and the mother daoism; both parents are spectacularly against the concept of concepts and would no doubt sternly reprimand the child if (s)he were ever to fall in that direction. Zen is kensho; seeing your true nature, which brings us back to union: of everything and nothing, of dual and non-dual, of separation and non-separation, of flow and attachment.
I am working Zen concepts into themes for my yoga classes such as grounding, who we are, energy, body and mind exploration, balance. Hatha yoga plays a big part in this, embodiment is more easily achieved with physical movement, and embodiment is union.
Along with hatha yoga:
There’s quite a bit of meditation, finding stillness in movement and movement in stillness;
We work with ki (chi in Chinese, prana in sanskrit, the body’s energy) both in the central channels and meridian lines of the body and as an all encompassing force;
In some classes there'll be the option to explore:
yoga nidra (sleep yoga - accessing the theta brainwaves which made people like Einstein and Kekule such geniuses);
pranayama/qigung (breath and energy work);
chakras/dantien/tanden (energy points centred on the body’s central channel);
mantras and bijas (chanting);
and/or reido - spontaneous yoga, giving the body control of its movement rather than the thinking mind.
There’s often a bit of discussion throughout class with everything ultimately pointing to ‘sunyata’; the primordial emptiness, unless you’re not really feeling this in which case we can just skip it. Chatting about the underlying philosophy and how you're getting on helps to develop the invaluable skill of uniting your formal focussed yoga practice with the rest of your life. It’s all really just the same thing.
I warmly invite you to join me this Sunday from 1.30-4.30pm for my Zen Yoga workshop.