Though yoga is thousands of years old, the drop-in class format is quite recent. Instead of a daily regimen customized and regularly updated by a guru, modern practitioners largely rely on being led through a practice that is designed to be safe and broadly appealing (marketable) for a target audience.
On the plus side, yoga is more widely available than ever before. No more quests to find a cave-dwelling sage. No inconvenient mandates to change your life. The practices are available in an infinite variety of dosages and flavors.
What is lost is coherent pedagogy and commitment. Learning yoga through attending drop-in classes is somewhat like trying to learn calculus via articles shared on Facebook. You may be exposed to good information, but there is no progression of understanding and no motivation to master the material.
For this reason, we strive to offer class series and intensives throughout the year. Yet we'd like to bring more educational depth to our drop-in classes as well, especially since many of our students attend very consistently.
In this vein, Lela and I have decided to lay out a year-long curriculum for our weekly classes. The format follows a 4-stage model of yoga articulated by our teacher Rod Stryker. Each season we will focus on one stage. Thus, students who attend regularly for a year will have a chance to watch the whole yoga zodiac pass by. We will also schedule workshops to align with this progression, and perhaps start a book club. By becoming more clear in our teaching intentions, we hope to deepen our commitment to being a center for yoga education and lasting change. As always, we appreciate your feedback and suggestions for topics you'd like to learn more about.
Earth Practices / Summer
The first stage focuses on the physical foundation of our human experience - the body. We will study the landscape the body (bones, muscles, organs, glands, fluids) as well as our relationship to our different parts. Topics will include experiential anatomy education, freeing our posture from "do's and don'ts", the dialogue between effort and surrender, the skill of relaxation, and what it might mean to "cleanse" the body.
Moon Practices / Fall
In the yoga tradition, the moon is often used as a metaphor for the mind. Both are constantly changing, and both “reflect” other energies. Our focus will be using postures, breathing and meditation to calm and then stabilize the mind. We will explore different yogic models of the mind and their intersection with cognitive science. Lots of meditation.
Sun Practices / Winter
As the external sun fades, we pursue greater sensitivity to the inner sun, or prana, the ever-shining vitality that animates the mind and body. We will study the energetic landscape of internal winds (vayus), channels (nadis) and vortices (chakras). Lots of breathing.
Fire Practices / Spring
Fire is a metaphor for spiritual transformation, the force that transmutes the unknown into the known, the mundane into the sacred. Fire practices point towards the final destination of yoga - experiential knowledge of the Mystery. We will use practice and self-reflection to help us clarify who we really are, what we really desire and what is ready to be burned away.
Of course, every single class may not fit into this structure, and our other teachers may choose to head off in other directions as they see fit.