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Space Creates Freedom

The season of Fall is a time when everything seems to change. The solar light, lower on the horizon, softly imbues the kaleidoscope of colored leaves as they dance their last dance before turning to compost. The day-to-day human activity mirrors the newly opening sky of bigger expanse, with new projects, dreams and ideas brewing. The fall winds blowing leaves to and fro show us what space is: movement, change and freedom.

How many of you have used the phrase “give me some space” when feeling overwhelmed or ungrounded. What is it we are describing when using the word “space”? It’s a word we use often and in many different applications. I think back to something I often used to say to my students in the heat of a practice; “find the space in the pose – space creates freedom, freedom is Truth, Truth is Divinity”. Words originally inspired by a great Indian teacher, B.S.K. Iyengar. What about Oxford’s take on space? Space: a word referring to a state which is defined as “a continuous unlimited expanse” amongst other more practical examples such as “the interval of time in the space of an hour”, or the “time spent alone used to think”, The Canadian Oxford. Space is an interesting word representing the seen and the unseen, the actual and the imagined and the conceptual and the theoretical. Most importantly, though, it can refer to a quality that arises when there is no resistance.

In the Yogic tradition space would relate to air as one of the five elements in the ancient science of Ayurveda. In that reference it also has quality or characteristics which could be understood more by what space is not – dead space (air). The yogi’s went further to describe the various movements of air (space) as Vyau’s.

We here at Trinity are committed to holding a space for you, and if that isn’t in a teacher training program perhaps it will be in one of the other fabulous programs we are developing. Trinity is planting a full crop for next year with the unveiling of our new programs as well as a full roster of 200 hour training programs.

We had a great retreat this summer with our Level 3 course in Squamish. Twenty two new grads ready to fly and unleash their talents into new places and spaces. We had a wonderful time swimming, dancing under the moon, serenading the bears, all endowed with the gentle caresses of summer breezes, huge motherly trees and lots of open space.

For completion of Level 3 students are required to write 2 papers, of which I have the fortune of reading. The depth and quality of thought that goes into these pieces is admirable and I find myself feeling like these should be shared. In general I would say the wealth of knowledge and personal insights that are presented throughout the courses are phenomenal and has inspired Trinity to create outlets for this information to be shared.

One of the biggest reasons people come to yoga is to feel like they count and are cared for. Holding a “space” for others is a selfless act that has no agenda or attachment to the outcome. It is this quality of space that when given to ourselves or others is the greatest gift of all. “Sacred friendship is a way of being, an intimacy with oneself and the world that invites the presence of another into that space.” (Steven Smith, 89)

At the end of this newsletter I would like to ask that you all hold a space for Trevor Dickson a fellow Trinity grad and dear friend of many. He has recently left this realm and will need our love and support as he passes through the various stages of transition. He will be missed and remembered by many including his children and family. Let us hold them in our prayers as well.

Treasure all your moments,
Mary-Jo

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Styles of Yoga

HATHA YOGA

This is a term, which actually means the practice of the physical postures, also called asanas – which could essentially mean all styles of physical yoga. Generally though, a class called “hatha” will be an eclectic blend of a few different styles often with a more gentle approach.

IYENGAR YOGA

If you are looking for detail, therapeutic yoga or a very thoughtful and precise class this is the style for you. B.K.S. Iyengar the founder of this style has been prolific and unwavering in his contribution to the world of yoga, and stands as one of the world’s most influential yogis.

All teachers of this style go through a rigorous certification process and are often very dedicated and devoted to this style. A class typically utilizes props in the form of blocks, straps, bolsters and blankets to assist students toward exploring the poses more fully with regard to their limitations or injuries. Classes are slow moving and poses are often held for much longer than in other styles of yoga.

BIKRAM YOGA

This is the “Hot” yoga you may have heard of, with studios designed to reach the heat of India, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Founder Bikram Choudhury developed this sequence of 26 postures to encourage the proper functioning of every body system. The sweat that you are sure to experience at one of these classes is said to cleanse and move toxins out of your body. Many proponents love the workout for the effects of weight loss and purification. Classes are often full and repetitive. Not recommended for anyone with heart problems, high blood pressure or pregnancy.

KUNDALINI YOGA

A Kundalini yoga class is a dynamic practice incorporating breathing techniques, chanting, mantras (sacred sounds that empower the mind), and kriyas (action or ritual of energetics). Kundalini is an ancient form from the tantra yoga tradition, until 1969 or so, a closely guarded practice passed on only to select initiates. Yogi Bhajan, the North American rescource and leader for this powerful form of yoga brought it to North America because he believed Kundalini would help people to find their birthright to be “happy, healthy and holy” and to reach their full potential. You won’t do many postures in a kundalini class, but just the same you will more than likely work very hard. You may encounter a more traditional looking yoga teacher often with a headdress and off white clothing. The protocol for a Kundalini class is often more formal than some of the other styles, but it is well worth the experience and not as intimidating as it initially may appear.

VINYASA YOGA

Vinyasa comes from the Sanskrit “nyasa” which means “to place” and the prefix “vi,” “in a special way” – as in the arrangement of notes in a composition, the sequence of steps of a dance, or the linking of one posture (asana) to the next. In a yoga class you will experience this as a flowing sequence of specific asanas coordinated with the movement of the breath. The most common form of the Vinyasa approach in North America is the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga of Patabbhi Jois.

By all rights if taught with sensitivity to the essence of vinyasa – a method that assesses the needs of the individual or group and prescribes a complementary, step-by-step practice to meet those needs – vinyasa can be a much more balanced and artful approach to practicing a series of postures.

ASHTANGA YOGA

One of the more popular forms of yoga tody, perhaps for its challenging fast pace, Ashtanga is also a hot form of yoga, so be prepared to sweat. The Ashtanga Vinyasa system of Patabbhi Jois is based on six different “series” or sequences all increasing in difficulty. The first sequence called “The Primary Sequence” is most commonly taught, and incorporates breathing (pranyama), gaze (dhristi), and energetic locks known as “bandhas”.

The philosophy behind this system is that by doing your practice daily you are in effect releasing and purifying the body, known as “tapas” and that that is all you need to do in order to attain the goal of yoga. According to Jois, this system if followed completely will incorporate all of the “Eight Limbs” of the philosophy and practice of yoga as taught by the great sage Patanjali.

This is a great practice for developing strength and flexibility at the same time. It has the potential to accelerate the progress of a student quickly, if followed as prescribed – six days a week. For those who are not able to devote that amount of time it is an excellent system to learn to incorporate breath and movement as well as an awareness of the eight limbs.

POWER YOGA

Perhaps the person responsible for the term “Power Yoga” is a woman from New York, Beryl Bender Birch. Her dedication to the Ashtanga system and desire to teach it to North Americans led her to come up with a term that American’s could relate to, as “Ashtanga was too foreign of a word to describe a system of yoga that was dynamic and could provide a good workout. From there Power Yoga is a term used to describe not just the ashtanga system, but a whole array of various interpretations of dymamic “vinyasa” flow sequence’s. Generally a class called “Power Yoga” will be some form of a “Vinyasa Flow” with an emphasis perhaps on strength and endurance.

KRIPALU YOGA

This describes a center as well as a style of yoga as developed by yogi Amrit Desai and the staff at Kripalu – a center for yoga and health in Massachusetts. Kripalu yoga follows three stages – willful practice (a focus on alignment, breath, and presence of consciousness), willful surrender (a conscious holding of the postures to a level of tolerance and beyond), and meditation in motion (the body’s complete release of internal tensions and a complete trust in the body’s wisdom).

ANUSARA YOGA

Anusara means “to step into the current of divine will”. A very heart centered and thoughtful approach to yoga practice, Anusara Yoga is a integrated approach to hatha yoga that blends the human spirit with the precise science of biomechanics. Anusara defines itself with three main areas of practice: Attitude: The practioner balances an opening to grace with an aspiration for awakening to his or her true nature. Alignment: Each pose is performed with an integrated awareness of all of the different parts of the body. Action: Each pose is performed as an artistic expression of the heart in which muscular activity is balanced with an awareness of the expansive state of inner freedom.