Do we want to be fit and fancy? Or do we want to be free?
Tales from a Teacher Training.
I’m taking time out from the studio for the next six days to immerse in a teacher training with The Practice in Bali. The Practice is a leading institution in lineage-based Traditional Tantric Hatha education.
This place called me to it. (I love it when this happens). No google searches and days of endlessly comparing and contrasting was necessary. I saw it and that was it. You know when you know!
But here’s why.
- Undiluted learning through lineage. Charlie Carter, my first and present teacher (and now friend) was taught by Yogarupa Rod Stryker who is also teacher of The Practice founder, Octavio Salvado. Rod Stryker comes from a long line of adepts that link right back to Patanjali, Kapila ‘the Father of Samkhya Philosophy) and the Sri Vidya Lineage – sourced in Artharva Veda (which is 3,000 to 5,000 years old).
- The scope of this training attempts to mirror the scope of Yoga. What does that mean? Well, although it is a separate body of knowledge, Tantra (Hatha Yoga) also incorporates both Yoga as the system and method to awaken clear perception, self-knowledge and knowledge about the world we live in. And it incorporates my first love, Ayurveda, which is the science and study of establishing and maintaining physiological and psychological balance and wellbeing.
- The Practice is located in Bali…. (any excuse to get my backside there one day is a good with me and COVID is the only reason I’m not writing this from some ocean-side internet café..)
It’s day one and I’ve completed the first morning of lectures and practices and I wanted to share this rallying call from Octavio.
“Do we want to be fit and fancy? Or do we want to be FREE!”
I’ve been hearing and trying to find the voice to echo this call since before I even knew that I was, or what that might look like in practice.
IT TOOK A HEALTH CRISIS
It took a health crisis for me to physically stop and slow down enough to check in with myself and even consider answering that kind of question. In that unpacking, I saw that what I was chasing as a root to happiness was just some pre-packaged, done-for-me idea of how to live and how to believe and what to dream and what it meant to be happy, or successful or good enough. I wasn’t free, I was an accumulation of conditioned thinking and being. I didn’t know who I actually was beyond all those coatings and layers, and I was lost.
I remember during that dark time, my dear friend and yogi, Alison, told me ‘sometimes life has to empty you out before it can fill you back up again.
It certainly did that.
And that brings me to the other thing I’m excited to share from today which is the 7 stages of Hatha Yoga.
THE SEVEN STAGES OF HATHA YOGA
The reason I’m excited is the first ladder on the path to yoga (union) or the first stage we all have to go through to be FREE, is strengthening and purification through the practice of Ayurveda. This was where I started my healing journey so it’s so cool that today I’m told that Ayurveda traditionally would be taught first.
Here’s why. You have to be established and be maintaining physiological and psychological balance and wellbeing before you can reach higher states of being and consciousness – or stepping into your fullest potential as a human being! Yoga is a practice to move us beyond the status quo, mediocrity, and ‘enoughness’. If we’re not in good health, we are not equipped to take on our greater purpose, our soul’s dharma, be our most phenomenal versions of ourselves.
So what does that mean?
It means we have to take a long hard look at our lifestyles at the same time as we step on to the mat to reestabilsh equilibrium.
We have to review the state of our diet, choices, habits, relationships, friendships, finances.
In that mix, yes, we do asana, but the poses (what we get mixed up as what yoga is), are simply our raining wheels to get us into stability and the strengthening of our physical self, so that we are prepared for the bigger journey ahead.
Now, Octavio describes ‘modern’ yoga as having done a ‘good job’ at making us collectively ready to move into higher stages of yoga.
But, he says, if you’re only doing asana to be fit and fancy that’s where your journey will end.
I’m being pulled to go deeper, and I feel it always have been. I’ve resisted the modern yoga model as a way of teaching at our YL studio. All I could access around me was yoga that was either hot, dynamic-based or performance led.
I love all those things, but it wasn’t enough! So the studio was born.
I had some of the tools, an inner calling, and tenacious dogged-determination that going deeper was what I need to teach (even though it maybe not what people wanted). And as the universe is so great at doing, it has delivered this course straight to my zoom screen to help me go there.
And that’s what I believe is an example of delivering on soul’s calling.
When the soul’s desire for fulfilment overrides everything, you’ll lean into that call even if everyone thinks it’s crazy, even if you don’t have the validation, even if you don’t have the support, even if you don’t have the finances, even if you think it’s crazy yourself.
It’s an energy that is seeded in you and therefore it’s outcome is supported by what created you! There’s no denying it.
Which is why it seems, the means to fulfil your purpose become available to you just when you are ready to receive them. It’s all in divine-timing.
Just like this teacher training.