Self Teacher Study – Freedom Yoga Immersion

Self Teacher Study Freedom Yoga Immersion

I just completed Erich Schiffmann’s Freedom Yoga Immersion on Yoga Anytime. This online platform is “a community of yogis dedicated to the global sharing of the teachings of yoga.”

Erich Schiffmann is an American yoga master who has been called one of the innovators of modern day yoga. When this series came out in 2015 he had been teaching for 42 years and practicing for 48 years. His primary teachers include Krishnamurti, Desikachar, and Iyengar. Schiffmann is one of my yoga teacher’s teachers and his book “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness” is a personal favorite.

I’ve never studied with Schiffmann so you can imagine my excitement when I saw a coupon code on his Facebook page for a 30 day free trial of Yoga Anytime. I jumped at the opportunity and signed up for his five day immersion. It took me three weeks to complete the seventeen hour course.

The immersion was divided into philosophy discussions, guided meditation and asana practices, as well as Schiffmann’s signature Freedom Yoga practice. I skipped the silent Freedom Yoga sections and just observed the first couple of asana practices (videos are not my favorite learning style for asana).

Whenever you’re starting with a new teacher it’s always best to keep an open mind. If the “cup” of our minds is full it can be difficult to absorb new teachings. And when it comes to learning yoga use what works and leave the rest. So let’s start with what worked…

My favorite part was the guided meditations. Schiffmann is an expert meditation teacher. He understands that meditation is the main practice of yoga, and that meditation is what promotes and facilitates the realization of what yoga is about. Some of the meditations were absolutely delicious. I enjoyed his directions to “snuggle” parts of my body into the mat and to “squeegee myself clean” when doing body scans.

Schiffmann emphasizes the idea that yoga is a lifestyle – that it is so much more than “metaphysical P.E.” (love this!) Regarding the asana portion, I appreciated his preference for the “simple stuff.” He describes the asana practice as being very easy although the mindset is very advanced. The sequences are effective at opening the channels (nadis) in a gentle way that is suitable for all levels.

I enjoyed his stories about his yoga journey. He described a turning point of when he felt like he was always doing someone else’s yoga. After years of disciplined practice he said that his yoga felt like a dud. It was only when he learned how to channel lines of energy through his body that he became empowered with his own practice. This marked the beginning of Freedom Yoga.

Goof Off with Purpose

Schiffmann is an advocate of learning how to channel our own practices. He recommends beginning with systems of your choice. The discipline of learning established systems is important as it helps to “get you in the game,” but being dependent on a teacher is kind of a drag. Once you’re trained the practice begins to teach you and that’s when it becomes fun again. Otherwise it can feel like you’re stifling yourself. As you dive deep and allow free form movement to occur eventually it will flower as an intuitive practice.

Getting Online

The main technique (discipline) of Freedom Yoga is listening. Schiffmann describes this process as “getting online” or cultivating an intuitive connection with the infinite. He recommends beginning just by getting curious and presenting the question:

Something’s going on here , … ,

Stay tuned for Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II.

Get Your Evolution On

Sri Aurobindo Superman Evolution

With the recent release of the new action film Lucy it seems fitting to discuss the controversial topic of superhumans. As a small disclaimer, this subject requires the willingness to go beyond what some might consider to be a “rational” thought process. By all means, I encourage you to exercise your discernment muscles. But I will say that it helps to approach yoga philosophy with an open mind…

There are many different kinds of superhumans which can essentially be divided into two categories-natural and artificial. According to Wikipedia, “A super race is a future race of improved humans that is proposed to be created from present-day human beings by deploying various means such as eugenics, genetic-engineering, yoga, nanotechnology, and/or brain-computer interfacing to accelerate the process of human evolution.”

The branch of superhuman development that involves yogic technologies is part of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga:

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) developed a system of yoga called Integral yoga to transform selected humans into a new super race called the Supermen that would have a fully and permanently awakened kundalini and thus become siddhas with various siddhis (paranormal powers) such as the ability to observe chakras and auras with the third eye, to travel by astral travel at will, to be able to subsist adequately with full bodily functions on small amounts of vegetarian food, to go long periods without sleep, to communicate by telepathy and to levitate. The function of this new super race would not be to dominate others but to lead humanity toward world peace. – Wikipedia

Paranormal powers without the use of drugs, surgery or technology might sound more like fantasy than science fiction. Social conditioning based on the 300-year old system of Western science has made it difficult to comprehend such things. No matter what your belief system may be remember that there is no one-size-fits-all method to learning. I recommend that you use what works and leave the rest. Personally, I don’t believe that vegetarianism is the ultimate superhuman diet.

The science of yoga is designed to assist with paranormal evolution. The siddhis are part of the journey but they are not the end result. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work but ultimately the Slow Path is the best way. While the quick fix of hotwiring our brains and bodies into an artificial state of advanced evolution may seem tempting, it is unlikely that these future technologies will be available to anyone but the super-elite. And if by some slim chance they were available to the general public I wouldn’t trust them. The potentially damaging effects to the subtle body isn’t worth the risk.

What do you think about super-humanism? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.