Self Teacher Study – Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II

Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II

This is the second half of my review of Erich Schiffmann’s Freedom Yoga Immersion. As inspiring as this online course was I did see a few red flags along the way. To be honest, I almost stopped watching at Day 4. But I pushed through and remembered to use what works and leave the rest. Here’s what I left behind and what I’ll take into the future…

#1: Watching Television. At one point a student asked if it was possible to practice “being online” while watching television. Schiffmann said yes, but I do not recommend watching television.

#2: The All One/One Love lectures had a heavy New Age-propaganda spin to them. I detected elements of “idiot compassion” (a phrase coined by Chogyam Trungpa) and the psychological warfare tactics described by KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov.

#3: The Milarepa Necklace. Schiffmann was seemingly unaware of the implications of wearing an image of this Tibetan yogi and sorcerer. This is not to be taken lightly. Not from anyone, not even an eccentric long-haired hippy.

#4: Food/Vegetarianism. I do not recommend attempting to replace food with love. Love is an emotion. You have to eat to survive. What you choose to eat has a direct impact on your physical and mental health.

#5: Free Will. Schiffmann believes that the best use of free will is to not use it. When it comes to spiritual practices it’s very easy to get lost in the “follow the leader” mentality. Handing over your free will to whatever you believe might be your intuitive connection to the Divine… well, that requires a high level of discernment, training and self-cultivation.

The Slow Path is Best

Learning how to engage with your intuition takes time. Traditionally, a guru and an aspirant would test one another over ten years before entering into a formal student-teacher relationship. I would suggest taking this same approach with your intuition. We’re talking about unraveling a lifetime of habituated thought patterns in order to understand who you are. And that’s just the beginning!

By all means, connect with your intuition through your body. Practice letting go in savasana (a preparation for dying). Get comfortable with feeling open, expansive and unguarded. Practice listening to your inner guidance in this relaxed state. Ask for guidance that is in alignment with your highest good. Connect with your desire to know.

Something’s going on here, … , 

Little Dharma Sessions

Coming back to what worked. I’m so grateful to have been able to take this training for free. The two parts that were most helpful were Schiffmann’s encouragement to:

  1. Write more. I so appreciated the recommendation to jot down my on-the-mat inspirations, and to continue writing articles. He called these practices “good little dharma sessions.”
  2. Do my yoga with people. This idea challenges and inspires me so much that I’m thinking about offering a class that includes a free-form practice component. To explore my own take on Freedom Yoga.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in developing their own yoga practice.

Body as Clay

Body as Clay

Imagine holding a ball of clay. It’s damp to the touch, cool, heavy for its size. Press your fingers into the surface. They leave a slight indentation. Press again and again. The outer layer begins to soften from the warmth of your palms. The surface glides with the motion of your fingers. Your hands grow tired but you keep working. The middle layer softens but the inner core remains solid. You dig in to reach the center, pulling the ball into new shapes. The clay is pliable, ready to be molded.

It’s the same with warming up our bodies in yoga, where we start with gentle poses before diving into more dynamic ones. With class sequencing the basic rule is to warm up for five minutes in an hour-long class. A personal practice allows for much more flexibility and the freedom to decide how long you want to warm up on any given day. Which is, in my humble opinion, absolutely essential.

A proper warm up is a very personal process. 

Most adults have developed some level of compression in their bodies, either from an active or an inactive lifestyle, or simply from the continuous gravitational pull of the planet. Yoga helps to realign our bodies into a state of balanced, expanded strength.

Think about your normal routine: which “postures” do you spend most of your time in? Sitting, standing, sleeping, and any number of repetitive movements all create imprints on your body-memory. Stress patterns (physical and emotional) are another factor, as well the effects of diet and lifestyle. Sam the carpenter would do well to warm up in a way that is very different than Susie the weekend-warrior-waterskiier. While Sam might need to warm up for forty five minutes, Susie’s ready to dive in at the ten minute mark. No matter what our level of experience may be we all have our own unique learning curve.

One other thing about the importance of warming up – consistency is KEY. Even five minutes a day is going to make a huge difference. What doesn’t amount to much is dabbling here and there. It’s like the clay ball analogy; if you stop working the ball loses its malleability. Starting over is okay, but when you decide to gain some traction you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like: The Bowl of Light

Yoga WOW

Emily Seymour Yoga WOW

Long-term consistency trumps short term intensity. – Bruce Lee

Have you ever wanted to try a yoga class but wasn’t sure if you’d like it? Or maybe you held back in a challenging vinyasa class because you didn’t want to burn out? Ever wish you could take a yoga class that gave you a road map to follow?

Enter the WOW. I’m pleased to announce that I’m rolling out a brand new class series this summer. The Yoga WOW (Workout of the Week) is a customized class that I’ve designed for Integrate CrossFit in Salida, Colorado. Inspired by the CrossFit WOD model, this class is great for yogis and CrossFitters alike.

Yoga WOW is not a typical gym-yoga class. If you’ve ever seen a CrossFit facility you know that it isn’t an average gym. While gym-yoga classes tend to be promoted as a supplement to other exercise routines, Yoga WOW is designed to support you with creating your own yoga practice!

What happens in a Yoga WOW? Each class is one hour long. Students arrive a little before the class starts and begin warming themselves up. We’ll chat for a few minutes about the WOW list of exercises. The list is posted in the gym and on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for students who want to do their own Home WOW. Each month has its own theme that focuses on a primary category of poses. There’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to yoga, so this class includes plenty of variations to choose from. The general class structure includes:

  • 5 mins Warm ups/Introductions
  • 5 mins breathing
  • 15 mins sun salutations
  • 15 mins WOW poses
    • Peak Pose of the Week
  • 5 mins cool down
  • 5 mins corpse pose
  • 5 mins meditation

The goal of Yoga WOW is to give students a basic outline of a personal practice. Once they get familiar with the format they can start playing with variations and designing their own sequences. Over time a personal practice becomes a choose your own adventure experience!

Want to learn more about designing your own Yoga WOW? Book a FREE no-obligation consultation today. 

On a Moving Meditation Mission

Emily Seymour Yoga Moving Meditation MissionI’ve been a people watcher for almost two decades. I gather information from watching the way that people move, how they hold themselves, and so on.  I’m not as good as that guy on Lie to Me, but I can read body language pretty well.

I had a bit of a revelation at a 5Rhythms dance class in Manhattan. These classes are incredible – anywhere from fifty to one hundred people come together for two glorious hours of moving meditation. The music is perfectly orchestrated and the teachers are phenomenal. At one point I paused to look the sea of people and it hit me:

People need to move more.

If you think that this is a strange response to watching a group of dancers, you’re absolutely right. It IS unusual and it caught me a little off guard. I was observing how the class was moving as a whole; particularly the WAY the people were moving. A lot of bouncing (which is great for spinal decompression) but something wasn’t connecting.

And then it clicked.

In that moment I could see the impact of modern day lifestyles – particularly the effect of sitting in chairs. I mean ALL chairs – desks, couches, cars, airplanes, trains, buses, bicycles – even toilets! I could also see the impact of sitting and watching TV. The effects extended beyond their physical bodies, and I could see the effect of being routinely cut off from the lower power centers of the body.

It’s no secret that sedentary lifestyles are a slow killer. We know that moving is essential for good health, that it prevents Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. And with that understanding many people go to fitness classes, the gym, or exercise for maybe a few hours a week.

What I realized in that moment is that it’s not enough. Adult bodies were designed for movement, not to sit around, or work at a desk for 8-10 hours a day, or have our legs go numb in seated meditation. Even if you do work out on a regular basis, those benefits are being undone by too much sitting.

So I’m on a mission to change this. I’m encouraging people to move their bodies a whole lot more, in ways that help them integrate the upper and lower halves of their bodies. It sounds basic enough but the process of actually doing it takes some effort. There’s some lifestyle reconstruction involved and a willingness to open our minds to change.

Sun Salutation CircleExercise is a way of giving your body a gift.

A good way to start this is by finding ways to move that your body enjoys. One of my favorite moving meditations is the sun salutation series. Sun salutations are a great way to energize and open your whole body. There are many ways to modify the series to suit a wide range of ability levels. They can even be used for weight loss! I teach the sun salutations series in my Foundations Training course.

Ready to get moving? I’d love to hear from you. Schedule a FREE no-obligation consultation today: Book Now

Self Teacher Study – Find Your Yoga

So I thought I’d share the story of when I first started practicing yoga. I didn’t like it AT ALL and left my first class thinking that yoga just wasn’t for me. This was back before yoga became popular and I was living in my small hometown in Maine. One day I was walking down main street and saw a sign advertising ‘Free Yoga.’

I decided to give it a try… 

I was completely at a loss. The teachers were chanting the whole time and didn’t offer any kind of introduction or provide any printed lyrics to read from. I sat there breathing the heavy incense smoke and feeling totally awkward until it was time to leave. Now I know that I’d stumbled upon a Kirtan, but without any idea of why we were doing this practice it was a pretty tough way to start out.

I left that class thinking that yoga was not for me. 

It took a few years before I tried taking another class. This time it was with a different teacher at another studio. The format was much closer to something that I could wrap my mind around. It was like a gentle dance class and the final meditation was simply wonderful. The teacher was a sweetheart who would always greet her students with a hug. The gems of wisdom that she taught made a lasting impression on me.

After a few classes I was hooked and it became my mid-week ritual. I wanted to share the experience but couldn’t find anyone to go with me. I remember stopping by the town bar before class and trying to rally a few friends to go with me (yeah, no luck there). People were either too tired or just not interested. So I kept going by myself every week.

I recently met a woman who told me point blank that she doesn’t like yoga. She’d only been to one class and said that was enough for her. She coaches a high school girls basketball team and believes that she’s too competitive for yoga. She also admitted that she didn’t like being singled out by the teacher who was giving corrections during class.

I completely understand where she’s coming from, but I still hope that she can find her way to another class someday. She could probably benefit from one-on-one training, where she wouldn’t have to worry about feeling competitive or embarrassed. Ultimately she is the only person who is going to change her mind.

This is a common issue with group yoga classes, where first timers decide to try a class with no idea of what to expect and get burned out from the experience. If you’re new to yoga I encourage you to try a few different styles. You might find this flow chart handy as it could give you an idea of what kind of yoga class would be right for you.

What was your first yoga class like? Was it enjoyable or was there something about it that didn’t suit you? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below:

Flow Chart Yoga