In a culture where yoga is equated with postures that look a certain way, practicing has become, for some, nothing more than putting in the time to eventually achieve that dazzling pose worthy of a magazine cover. Some yoga practitioners openly aspire to advanced poses: “Oh, I want to do Scorpion Pose! I’ll be able to nail it within three months.” But there is no bucket list in yoga. If it causes striving, then it’s not yoga. True yoga is the most natural thing and has more to do with releasing than with adding or achieving something new. As life continues to get more complex with each passing year, this statement only grows in truth.
Magic happens inside the cycles of breath, especially when coordinated with movement. Among inhales and exhales is where the union is. Hatha Yoga, which includes almost every posture-dominant style of yoga in the western world, comes from the Sanskrit words “Ha” and “Tha”. Ha is the sun, the masculine, the giving. Tha is the moon, the feminine, the receiving. Yoga is their union – the integration of strength with receiving and ease, bringing all elements of you into a coherent whole.
Mark Whitwell is the real deal, a deep well of yogic knowledge, and one of the few explicitly non-dual teachers who also teach asana as a methodology (not the endpoint). He was a student for more than two decades with Krishnamacharya and his son, Desikachar, even living in their home for a while. (Krishnamacharya was a brilliant Indian scholar of Yoga and Ayurveda and is respected as the teacher of our teachers – such as BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and AG Mohan – and the father of modern yoga therapy.) I was honored to assist Mark during a weekend workshop at the Kripalu Center a couple of years ago where I witnessed massive transformations in his students in only two days. Mark ended their intimidation and striving and turned their yoga into something organically nurturing. As Mark often says, “Do your yoga. Actually. Naturally. Not obsessively.”
We are fortunate to have Mark coming to Austin later this month – grab this opportunity to study with this empowering master!
** From Yoga of Heart: The Healing Power of Intimate Connection, pg. 39.
Advanced Yoga for Everyone with Mark Whitwell
June 22 – 24, Yoga Yoga Westgate
Free Friday Lecture (June 22 7-9 pm): The Principles of Yoga According to Krishnamacharya