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The Subtle Body
12 July 2018

The Subtle Body
12 July 2018

The Subtle Body

I’m home after my month of intensive training with Prajna Yoga founders Tias and Surya Little. Happy to be back in New England! If you’ve read these posts over the past month, you have a sense of what my time was like. If you’ve seen me back teaching in the past few days, you might sense how renewed I feel, and how happy I am to be back in my own home Sangha of UVY. 
Here is what I posted on UVY facebook, shortly before leaving:
And so my month of training and learning at Prajna Yoga finishes. These two amazing teachers pictured below, Tias and Surya Little, were endlessly patient, inspiring, compassionate, kind, exacting and brilliant. I'm so grateful and humbled; and exhilarated to be returning to my home Sangha of Upper Valley Yoga. It's been an incredible ride. And 2 minutes ago, after a month of relentless heat and drought, the skies opened and the rain is now just soaking down in the sweet relief of monsoon. It's beautiful and so perfectly timed, to mark our transition from this incubator of love and learning, back to our lives of, well, hopefully the same! So many amazing people shared this journey and I'll miss each one, and continue to hear their voices in my head. Like the desert getting its long awaited drink, I feel quenched and renewed. I hope to see you soon at UVY. Love and Namaste, Leslie
Our final module was “The Subtle Body” and was a deep dive into both the structural and energetic elements that involve the shoulders, neck and cranium (think inversions and pranayama). This was a plunge also into the supremely and infinitely subtle play of the mind and the senses; and the deep, nurturing work of “Satya”—an amalgam of Feldenkrais and Thomas Hanna’s Somatic movement, developed by Tias.
In this module we returned full circle to Tias and Surya’s unique braiding together of the wisdom traditions of Zen Buddhism and yoga. We were invited to embrace states of “not knowing”, both in our practice of vipassana and of yoga asana. “not knowing” is opening oneself up to possibility. Otherwise, we can easily be held hostage to expectation. Open to possibility, we can more accurately determine right action, and right effort. “Upaya” is when we can act in the way we actually need (it means skillful, or right, action). Upaya comes about through this kind of “not knowing”. In teaching, and practicing yoga, this is when things come alive, feel dynamic and authentic and keep us in the flow of presence.
I’m still in the sorting out process, what I learned, how it affects what and how I teach. I do know that I will do more training in Satya movement, because I believe strongly that along with all the other kinds of asana practice, slowing down and refining our ability to feel/sense on more subtle levels is invaluable. The effects of the Satya work made a lasting and nurturing imprint on my nervous system.
In my own practice, I have established a solid, regular meditation practice, which feels so good and so necessary. I am hopeful it will stick more solidly this time around. I have a renewed commitment to daily practice of headstand/shoulderstand, as I find the practice of inversions vital and essential to my well being. I’m still struggling to make handstand and half arm balance workable and less painful again, in my very unstable shoulders, but I approach the poses each day with an open mind and open heart (and props). As one student remarked at the end of the training, after mastering a pose she has struggled with for years and years: “I’ve told myself for so long I cannot do that pose. Now I find myself wondering what else in my life I’ve told myself I can’t do.”
I’ll leave you with the seven “roots” that Prajna Yoga defines as its central teaching. They are plucked from the two wisdom traditions, buddhism and yoga. They feel like true expressions of the two people that lovingly guided, supported and sometimes pushed me, over the course of the month:

  1. Maitri, or metta. Kindness
  2. Prashna. Inquiry
  3. Aparigraha. Non-clinging
  4. Pratiya-samutpada. Seeing onself as relative to the whole
  5. Aprapti. No final attainment
  6. Virya. Having energy and courage
  7. Vishvasa. Trusting the way.



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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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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.

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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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