This Friday will be the second installment of Freeform Friday, a new drop-in class that meets the second Friday of each month. This is not a led class, in the usual sense, of a teacher in front of the room, telling everyone else what to do, how to align their bodies, how to breathe, when to move. This is a deeply led class, but the instructions on what to do and how to do it all come from within each of us.
I’ve been doing Freefom asana practice for 15 years, but this is the first time in all these years that I have offered this as a scheduled class. I think it’s a very important addition and one that I am thrilled to share.
The practice of Yoga is about living your life with the conscious awareness that that you and I (and everything else) are the specific expression of God/The Infinite/Source/Spirit, etc. When we abide in the awareness of this fact, we are living Yoga. When we’re living Yoga, we are in communion with Source. When we’re in communion with Source, we’re in an open, receptive mental space where insights, wisdom, and inner guidance about how to live our lives flows in. In my approach to Yoga, this is the whole point. This is what it’s about: Remembering who we are and letting this deep, inner truth lead and guide us so that everything we do and say contributes to the collective harmony and healing of us, individually, and our cosmos, collectively.
However, the problem that we find ourselves in is that we keep forgetting this truth. And, because we forget, we need some things, some practices, we can do to bring us back to experience of the fact. In the Yoga tradition, there are many practices to help bring us back into the experience of Truth. Asana, the practice of poses on the mat, are only one very small part. And, they can be done with or without the yogic mindset of experiencing our conscious awareness of our inseparability with God. Asana and Yoga are not synonymous. You can do asana all day long and never do any Yoga. And, you can do Yoga all day long (which is the point) and never do one single asana. It’s not just about the practices, but rather, it’s about the experience into which the practices take you.
Typically, when we go to “yoga” classes, they are asana classes, usually led by the teacher in the front of the room who tells everyone exactly how and when to breathe and move their bodies. This is very important for beginners, who don’t know what to do or how to do it. You learn the technique – how to place your hands and feet, how to breathe, how to align yourself in the poses – and train in the technique, over and over and over until the awareness of what you’re doing takes hold. Since you don’t know what to do at first, you need some guidance about it, so you surrender yourself to the teacher, and allow his/her guidance to teach you. This is the first step.
Unfortunately, many people consider this to be the only step. Once the awareness takes hold through all the training, many continue to make the classroom experience their only Yoga practice, never practicing on their own, outside of class. The student becomes entirely dependent on the teacher to tell him/her exactly what to do and when to do it, which is not, ultimately, what Yoga is about. What was a necessary technique to learn in the beginning becomes a roadblock to self-trust and creativity, hindering the free exploration needed for the Yoga to start blossoming and bearing fruit.
The next step is use all of this training as a springboard to dive off into your own practice, such that you make a shift from going to the teacher outside of yourself straight into the teacher within yourself. This is where the real fruits of the practice begin to grow. Instead of depending on someone else for guidance and inspiration, you begin to sink into the depths of yourself — into the ocean of Infinity as it comes up through your unique specificity, right there where you are — for personal insights and life directions. In the context of the asana practice, we begin honing this skill on the mat with Freefom practice.
If you’ve never done a Freefom practice before, I invite you to join me tomorrow night. It’s a beautiful and powerful thing to experience. I’ll put on the music and we will all tune into our creative Source, listening inwardly for directions on how to move or not move, and practice doing exactly what we are guided to do – on the mat, where it’s easy. What each of us does will look very different, yet we will all be doing the same thing: Yoga. And, remember, Yoga and asana are not necessarily the same thing; therefore, the Yoga might look like sitting and listening to the music, it might look like dance, it might look like traditional asana sequences, it might look like journaling, or meditating, or something else. Practicing this way translates directly into living this way, which is the whole point of the practice. The point is to not get better and better at the practices of Yoga, but to get better and better at having the experience of Yoga.
Being in a roomful of Yogis doing Yoga together, each of us completely tuned into our inner guidance, is indescribably liberating and healing. I hope you join me tomorrow night. The more, the better. All are welcome, whether you know zero asanas or whether you know hundreds. It’s not about the asana and it’s not about what the expression of your Yoga looks like. It’s about having the experience of being the open channel for your guidance to find expression in the world. That’s the Yoga.