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Inner/Outer: The Yoga Journey
16 September 2017

Inner/Outer: The Yoga Journey
16 September 2017

Inner/Outer: The Yoga Journey

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And to know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate... At the source of the longest river...


—T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"


A couple of weeks ago I participated in a yoga immersion workshop with Tias and Surya Little, of Prajna Yoga. Tias is someone I have wanted to study with for a very long time. That he and his wife Surya live and do most of their teaching in New Mexico is something of an obstacle, so I was excited to hear he was teaching on the Cape. The weekend was remarkable and satisfying on a number of levels. Tias Little includes the poem above in a chapter of his book "Yoga of the Subtle Body" describing the spinal base as the "source of the longest river," a river of tremendous power that flows through the spinal column, harnessed by movements within the pelvis and tailbone. The poem is an apt entry point for the weekend, which included a lot of exploration of asana from the lens of subtle body awareness. (Simply put, 'subtle body' refers to the energetic body, as opposed to the gross, physical body).

I am drawn to teachers who, like me, have been practicing/teaching yoga for 25 years or longer, and whose approach to yoga and teaching yoga has shifted, evolved, and matured in pace with their own aging and maturation. At 53, I cannot ignore the fact of my body changing. Bones have become more brittle, soft tissues less malleable, joints stiffer, and alongside these sometimes alarming changes, I have felt in recent years a deep and inward shift. My love for asana is still alive and well, but that love is increasingly in service to my desire to journey inward. I'm lucky that I have opportunities to teach a variety of classes at the studio, between flow classes, gentle classes, and moderate hatha work—which can be both fiery and deeply internal. Throughout the weekend, I felt entirely safe under Tias' guidance and loved working in the more subtle plane of asana exploration. Make no mistake: this man is an asana master and at 58 is still capable of impressive display, but my sense is that impressive display interests him less and less. His abiding interest is in exploring the world of the subtle body and where and how it intersects with the gross body. He is exploring metaphysical speculations as they relate to the physical body and through asana work, as well as meditation, helping students have a rich experience of the subtle body. While I love a vinyasa flow practice, I find that I am increasingly drawn to more subtle work, and in Tias Little I have met my guide. I hope to spend some time this year or next out in NM at Prajna yoga.

I noticed as I looked around at the 80 or so practitioners around me in that beautiful, resonant sanctuary in Orleans MA, that we were a mixed group. A lot of instructors, but a lot of newcomers too, a range of ages and ability. In chatting with one woman newish to yoga and in her early 30's, I noted a certain restlessness and impatience. I recognized my younger self in her. I remember at 20, 30 and even 40, feeling "greed" to do the hardest most demanding postures at workshops with master teachers. I remember tolerating the slow moments, the more contemplative portion of practice in workshops and immersions, but secretly feeling that it was just something I had to get through in order to get to the fun, fancy stuff. I was struck as I listened to my co-workshopper, by the contrast between that younger version of myself, and my 53 year old self. I love slow, deep practices. I am entirely happy to sit in meditation for 40 minutes, 50 minutes, and see what happens. The luxury and delight of a 45 minute guided meditation! The sweetness of lying on my back and for two hours diving into the subtlest of movements! To not be in a hurry to "get to the good stuff" is, well, the word that came to my mind that weekend was 'liberating'. And as soon as I thought that word to myself, lying there one afternoon with a shaft of sunlight filtering through my eyelids and Tias' warm and rich voice guiding my attention, I remembered I had used that exact word "liberated" in my mind some 20 years ago: After about 10 years of taking and teaching—exclusively—Iyengar Yoga, I walked into an Ashtanga Primary Series class in Encinitas CA and felt the exhilarating freedom that comes with unfettered movement. The word that floated up to me as I gleefully sweated through that first class, was "liberated." Now, it's the deep and nuanced stillness that frees me. I don't necessarily need the flow and sweat of movement to get me to a place where I can reign in thought and get into the quiet, still cave of my own inner self. I still love to practice and teach the flow classes and I don't anticipate giving that up anytime soon, but the real sweetness for me lies in the deep well of contemplation, and it's in that shift that I am finding my "yoga."

However you experience and explore your yoga, I wish you a fruitful and exhilarating journey, at the studio, on the mat and beyond.

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ACCOMMODATIONS:

The building itself was renovated to be energy efficient, and the room is moderately heated in cooler seasons to promote a good, healthy sweat, but not heated to an excessive or wasteful degree. There are cubbies in our large office to store your personal belongings, a spacious changing room, a comfy sofa and a water cooler (please bring a water bottle to fill, to cut down on paper cup usage). Two nice, clean bathrooms are located just down the hall. There are also cubbies in the studio itself for valuables, which students are welcome to use. We have a full lending library of yoga books, and encourage students to borrow freely. Gift certificates are available for purchase in any amount.

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GUIDELINES FOR PRACTICE

Please do not wear perfume or any strong scent

People with allergies can be very sensitive to scent. Also, lots of people sweating in a closed space is less stinky than lots of people all wearing different brands of perfume or deodorant.

Wear comfortable clothing

Not so tight it binds, not so loose it gets in your way. And please do not wear clothes that “gap” and are inappropriately revealing.

Practice on an empty stomach

If possible, don’t eat at least three hours before practice. If you know that this isn’t possible for you, eat easily digested food one hour before class.

No food or outside beverages inside the studio

If necessary, bottled water is okay, but remember we are trying to generate internal heat; constant sipping cools the body. After practice, drink plenty of pure water.

Bring your own mat

Shared mats are not hygienic; you may borrow one from us if one is available, until you are able to purchase your own, but please clean it afterward with the mat wipes provided. Please understand mats may be borrowed on a first come basis….we have only a few to borrow, and do occasionally run out of them.

Keep your eyes on your own practice

The practice is richer when it happens from the inside out. It’s not about comparing yourself with the person next to you. Be present with your own experience.

Be kind and loving to yourself

Rest when you need to. Honor where you are in your practice. Use the energy of those around to inspire, not diminish, you. Remember: you are perfect just as you are now, and yoga is meant to enhance that understanding and let that perfection shine. Have fun!

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Newcomers! 3 for $30

If you are new to Upper Valley Yoga, you can purchase a 3-class pass for $30! (For our first-time guests only, package expires 15 days after purchase)

Single Class, $16

Drop in to any regular weekly class

Single Class, Student or Senior* Rate, $13

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

10-Class Pass, $140

Expires after one year

10-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $120

Expires after one year

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

5-Class Pass, $75

Expires after 6 months

5-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $63

Expires after 6 months.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

Unlimited Yoga Passes

Monthly, Auto-Renew with credit card, $99/mo

Unlimited yoga. 6-month commitment is required; early cancellation fee of $50 applies if the auto renew is canceled before 6 months. This is the best value if you plan to attend at least 2 classes per week.

One month, unlimited, $140

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

One month, Student or Senior* rate, $120

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

3-Month Unlimited, $360

Unlimited yoga, 3 months

If you don’t yet have a mat, borrow one from us and please clean it afterward with the mat wipes.

We have a limited, need-based scholarship fund available for those who are struggling to pay for classes; please email or call us to inquire. We also gratefully accept donations for that fund in any amount. In addition, there are occasional work/study opportunities. If you are interested in being on the work/study list, please let us know!

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