Friday, October 9, 2009


A reader recently commented about the body/mind/spirit connection and my response grew so lengthy, I thought I would just address it here:

There's definitely a strong spiritual component to my practice, though I don't often talk about it on this blog.

It definitely *is* true that I take a very practical and physical approach to practising and teaching asana. You won't find me waxing lyrical about my connection with the Chakras in my home practice or find me describing my student's 'auras' during a class. Astrology makes me roll my eyes. Much of typical 'yoga teacher speak' strikes me as flaky and cheese-ball.

My strengths as a teacher are in conveying proper alignment, how anatomy corresponds to movement and asana, and how to build a practice of yoga through modified variations of poses, especially those that are considered 'advanced'.

My motto is: “There is no 'can't' in yoga.” There's always a modification, there's always a way forward. The practice is never about reaching a final, 'perfect' pose and everything about the process, the journey, the steps taken along the way and the lessons learned.

I'm very much a 'scientist' when it comes to my practice and if something works for me, I consider it carefully. If I observe something in my asana practice that makes sense on a more energetic or spiritual level, I explore it further.

This is why I practice Pranayama. It's effective, it beneficial. The idea of energetic meridians in the body definitely resonates with me. I have my First Degree in Reiki (energy work and healing) and I believe that Reiki works on a subtle level. Much of my supplemental teacher training has been dedicated to yoga philosophy. I love chanting. My meditation practice (sporadic as it is) has been a great refuge to me in times of distress.

And here's something that may surprise you (or not): I have a mantra and use it regularly, using it in my day-to-day life and also practising Japa (repetition of a mantra with a mala, meditation beads).

The asana practice I talk about here is just one part of a larger picture.

Speaking of which... :-D

Today, I had two choices for my asana practice. I could do a longer but easier practice (hatha) or a shorter but more intense practice (vinyasa). I opted for vinyasa. I did a class called Hip Opening Flow #4 with Dawnelle (YogaDownload).

I really liked this sequence. It flowed well (no gaps or inconsistencies in the cueing) and felt very complete. The length was ideal - nothing seemed extraneous and it ended on a good note. I liked doing Savasana in a Supta Baddha Konasana at the end. I'm looking forward to trying the 40 minute version of this one.

Tomorrow, I'm back to Astanga.

Today, I'm making butter cookies to bring to Thanksgiving Dinner (we're celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving with friends on Saturday evening). I'm also making those sticky sweet Candied Yams with the little marshmallows on top. This is a uniquely American contribution (I grew up in the States) and my friends always ask me to bring the 'weird sweet potatoes' when I come to Thanksgiving.


Michelle said...

Well thank you for the explanation. I hope I didn't offend. I never knew you grew up in the US. Are you American?
Happy Thanksgiving to you Kai.

Kaivalya said...

You didn't offend! It gave me an excuse to blather :-)

Yes, I'm a dual citizen and I grew up in the US, all over the place, due to my family situation.

Flo said...

I loved reading this. I myself have not focused on Pranayama as much. However, I hope to learn more in my teacher training.

Kaivalya said...

Funny, I *hated* Pranayama in my teacher training. There was something about the instructor (she was a tad flaky) and doing it in a group setting that really turned me off. I teach it in my classes now, but sporadically and cautiously.

By the way, 'The Yoga of Breath' is a wonderful book for Pranayama. Also 'The Science of Breath' goes into both the physiology and yogic lore around yogic breathing.

Have fun :-)