What does it mean to progress in yoga?
This is a question I often ask myself and a question I am often asked. Does it mean that we need to be able to do more and more “fancy” poses? Does it mean we become stronger and more flexible, does it mean we understand the practice better? When we talk about yoga, are we just talking about Asana practice?
It’s an interesting question and I don’t think there is a definitive answer. In fact, I believe the answer would be different for each person and may be different each day.
I, like many teachers, hear the remark “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough”. It used to make me laugh, but now I actually inwardly roll my eyes, not because I have heard it all before, but because yoga really has little to do with flexibility. Someone’s flexibility has a lot to do with one’s mobility. Flexibility is a byproduct of someone’s level of balanced mobility.
I’m a teacher and in many directions, I am not flexible and I have limited mobility. It’s my mobility that limits the directions and shapes I am able to move in. The limits are only a conditioned perception, the reality is, there are no limits just the shapes my body can make and they are perfect. I am, more often than not, the only person in my class unable to flick my foot into my hand for a quad stretch, I have found this my best teacher, it has taught me humility and to honor my body, I do not see this as a limitation nor a failure, simply an opportunity to notice what is and is a space where I can exercise my ability to create change on any given day should I choose to go there.
Yoga is a practice of daily reflection, Yoga is a practice of noticing and being present. Yoga is the practice of showing up for yourself and honoring yourself at that moment.
We can all do this, can’t we?
We can all tune in and notice what is there, even if it’s busy, or angry, or sad, or heavy, or light, or quiet, or nothing. No matter what our state we can notice it. How deeply we notice is maybe where things get different and even difficult. Staying present, staying kind, staying aware, now that is where it gets hard. That is where the progression is, not in the practice itself, but in the noticing.
So for me, I think that an advanced or progressed practice is when we can stay in the present, with awareness, and without judgment. Where we can be all the things I mentioned above and simply notice them without judgment or trigger, simply letting those feelings be there and observing them. The shapes we take a merely a vehicle to get us to notice. To get us to focus on our body and our breath, create unity and awareness around both to distract us from the constant chatter of the unconscious mind, which is just trying to justify and arrange things to fit into a view of the world based on our conditioning.
Some days our body will open up and we move in a way that feels light and effortless, rejoice in these moments and be playful. Some days our body feels heavy and feels like we are moving through mud, honor that feeling too, go slow and nurture the movements and the shapes. Staying present to what is, is the key, this is where the progression is.
Sure we may get fitter and stronger and more flexible, these are added bonuses to a regular practice of Asana, but the real joy lies in the noticing, the witnessing, for it’s the listener that is the true self and it is wise and infinite and need not progress, as it is already full, complete and there.
What’s Happening This Month at CYS
We have a few changes to the timetable so please check the timetable closely when booking classes.
Fiona’s Tuesday Dynamic Hatha class is now 4:30 – 5:45 pm
Kat’s Tuesday Ashtanga class is now from 6:00 – 7:30 pm
This is a 15 min time change starting 12th May.
Thursday and Friday lunchtime Beginners classes are now available to Open students as F2F – Fundamentals Open class. These are beginner classes and will be themed according to the week of the course but are a great way to get in an extra class and brush up on your fundamentals of practice. We had this system pre covid and hope that it is helpful for you again. Spots are limited to 5 open students depending on the number of beginner students. These classes will start on the 27th and 28th of May. See the timetable to book in. The teacher will change with every 6-week course and is shared between Lorelle, Fiona, Jill, and Sarah.
Thursday 12:15 – 1:30pm
Friday 12:00 – 1:15pm
Eli is teaching a new class on Friday evening at 5:15 – 6:15 pm Week Day Wind Down is a yin/yang style of class with all her fun and quirky neuroactive bits and pieces. The class is designed to help you wash away the work week and move into your weekend feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to fully unwind. It is followed by meditation where Eli plays the bowls and we share in blissful vibration and silence together. The 2 classes make a great combination of self-love and we would love to see you there.
Meditation this month is dedicated to helping those in India and around the world as they struggle so terribly with Covid -19. Collective meditation with the same intention has been shown to have benefits to healing and creating change. So even if you cannot get into the class I would love you to take some time at 6:45 on Friday evenings to sit in quiet mediation with the intention to send healing, loving, supportive vibes to those in need in India and around the world.
If you would like to join me at the studio please do, booking essential. This is a free session but if you would like to leave a donation you are more than welcome to. Proceeds go towards sound and meditation tools, books, etc.
There will be a live stream of this class on Friday 21st May on Facebook. You can book in via our FB event page.
Alternatively, you might like to donate to Katie Welsh’s has set up a Gofundme campaign as she is raising money for India and has direct contact with people in the community, so your money will go directly to those in need. Click this link to donate: https://gofund.me/cefc1aa4
You may have noticed we have had a few price rises.
14 day New Student Pass: $40
Casual drop-in class: $25
Online singles: $15
There will be a small increase to our direct debits and some direct debit options will be removed to make choosing a plan easier. If you are already on a direct debit plan you will not be affected by any price rise unless your plan rolls over after 12 months or you change plans to increase or decrease classes.
We want to know what you have to say about CYS and how we can make our studio better. In the coming week, I will be sending out a survey. I would be so grateful to you for taking some time to fill it out and let me know your thoughts.
Winter is a great time for us to refine our thoughts and how we do things so I want to make the most of it and see what we can do better. Please keep an eye out for the survey.
The P-rating system is now in place and I hope it has been helpful to you in choosing an appropriate class. Please remember that you can still attend any class even if you feel it may be a bit strong for you. There is no better way to make improvements in life than pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and it’s the same on the mat, if your intention is to improve your movement, then challenging yourself in a stronger class can be helpful. Remember our idea of progression is anchored by our intention and the “why” of our yoga practice. For full details on the system click here.
We are looking forward to welcoming Sarah Owen again in October for more Yin Yoga Teacher Training: The Art of Holding Space (25 hour) This is another wonderful offering from Sarah and the teachings can be applied to many situations or careers in life. So even if you are not a Yoga teacher you might find this 4-day immersion hugely valuable.
When: Friday to Monday 1 October – 4th October 2021
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Times do vary for each day.
Cost: $650 (early bird – payment in full by 31st July 2021)
RRP: $695 (after 1st August 2021)
For more detail click here
Our next Beginners course starts on the 24th of May. If you are interested in taking the course you can still book a place. The early bird deal ends Wednesday 19th May. If you know of anyone thinking about starting a yoga practice you might suggest our course to them. It’s a great way to start a practice, to learn or brush up on the fundamentals of yoga practice, and to ease into practicing in a studio environment.