Tapasya Mission for 2015
Dear Yoga Students,
Things have been changing at Tapasya Yoga. We are moving the classic Bikram Yoga practice in a new direction, and change can be hard.
Repetition and regularity are keystones of yogic practice. We know how helpful it is to get in your flow and dial into the routine. It is one of the elements of a Bikram practice that sets it apart from so many American yoga styles, that the system is constant and dependable. The predictability and the rhythm of the practice are quite attractive to many who come to us.
We also know that this attractive quality of predictability must be kept in perspective. After all, one of the first aims of yoga is to bring out your original creativity by removing or revising your rigid opinions and notions about self and life. Adaptability is the path to genuinely healthy growth.
In practice, consistency and regularity must always be balanced with adaptability and evolution. If there is no evolution, the transformative practices of yoga become brittle and lose their original power. I have found this to be a problem in many yoga schools. Yoga teachers are not sufficiently empowered to grow the technique on a local level in response to new information and individual students’ needs.
The strict Bikram dialogue is a ready example of this brittleness, but the problem is by no means isolated to Bikram. In many yoga systems, Teacher Training means a packaged commercial product which churns out a large number of teachers in a few months or less. There is no question that this can quickly weaken the practices, which are meant to be dynamic and progressive in nature.
Yoga teachings must never be fit into a neat or simple package, just as we human beings must never reduce ourselves to simple formulas, statistical averages and stereotyping. The presence of mind and adaptability of yoga teacher and yoga technique are fundamental to everybody’s growth and success in the long run. A few months of training is great, but the community must always be learning and growing through experience.
The path of yoga is the path of the unique individual in search of their own true self. Yoga should not be hemmed in and standardized to fit just the mass or the average.
In Tapasya Yoga we are not out to disassemble Bikram’s routine. There are plenty of elements from Bikram that we genuinely love. There are lots of wonderful elements of yoga practice from other systems, meanwhile, that are lacking in Bikram. As honest yoga teachers we must bridge the gap. That is the goal of the Tapasya Yoga system, the cornerstone of our mission.
Here are a few ways that we are moving forward with that in mind.
Side Bends and Spine Twists
Bikram class starts with a side bend, and ends with a spine twist. Beyond those poses, the focus is mainly on forward bending, backward bending and joint-specific postures. Without adequate side bending and spine twists, it is very difficult to correct postural imbalances. Often we notice the differences between performing a posture to the right and to the left. With proper side bending and spine twisting it is much easier to find balance in your body. This is a major element of what we are working on right now in Tapasya Yoga.
Prop support has been a part of yoga since long before the yoga mat came around. Use of pillows and cushions, blankets, straps, walls, etc. are often necessary in developing a conscious and wholesome practice. We doubt if there is anybody who cannot benefit from a prop in one posture or another. The use of props has been explored in many yoga schools for a long time, while others still hold on to a more austere approach. We have been experimenting with prop support using straps, blocks and walls with many great results. This is something we encourage everybody to keep an open mind about.
Seeing Each Student as Our Teacher
More than anything, we feel that a yoga style will grow best when it understands you, the student. By helping you, and addressing your needs, we will be ready to better help everybody. Each person has a unique life, a unique sense of self and purpose. It is our goal in all cases to help you find that clear sense of your self through yoga.
Please accept this letter with our kindest greetings. If you would like to share any of your own thoughts, you can post a reply to the blog on our website or reply directly to us.
Schuyler and Ammie