We believe that the practice of yoga is not an ascent to a higher state of consciousness but rather a return to a natural state of being. Yoga is about remembering, not about achieving physical mastery, acquiring new faculties, or attaining enlightenment.
We don’t believe that there is an absolute “right” pose or a “right” way of breathing. We lead people through a range of possibilities so that they may discover what is healthy and right for them.
We believe that the safest, most effective, and most enjoyable style of yoga practice is a healthy blend of alignment and movement. We make alignment fun through creative imagery. We make movement safe through intelligent sequencing.
We honor and respect each person’s individual faith, and we aim to foster an atmosphere of inclusivity rather than imposing a certain type of spirituality.
In contemporary civilized society, there are so many distractions that overwhelm us and throw us out of balance. While we might not recognize the underlying cause, we certainly feel the symptoms of being out of balance – a general sense of irritability, depression, and anxiety, just to name a few. Or, at the very least, most of us experience specific symptoms of imbalance, such as back pain, headaches, and sluggish digestion. The practice of yoga represents one reliable way to restore an individual’s sense of balance. It is a time-tested method for self-care and sustainable wellbeing.
Unfortunately, most people believe that yoga is only about flexibility. Or perhaps it is associated with exotic seeming rituals or New Age spirituality. We would like to reframe the word “yoga” to convey “balance” so that it is stripped of these associations. Balance, in the deeper sense, could be defined as a state of physical, mental, and emotional harmony characterized by a freedom to respond appropriately to the ever-changing demands of the present moment. The whole beauty of Hatha Yoga, which is essentially the yoga of embodiment, is that by keeping this and other concepts grounded in the physical arena, we avoid the tangle of language and mental distortions that are the bane of so many philosophical debates. In other words, how exactly does our lack of balance show up in the body? What does it look like? Quite simply, most people’s structure is out of balance with respect to gravity. This is the norm, not the exception.
We believe that what typically passes for normal postural and breathing patterns is not natural. And this is precisely the advantage of practicing yoga poses. We ordinarily do not feel our misalignments because they are so familiar and deeply entrenched. Over time this familiarity distorts our sensory awareness and makes it unreliable. By taking ourselves out of habitual postural patterns, we are able to revisit a new and yet pleasantly familiar experience of balanced alignment. Consistent practice helps this experience build up in our systems so that we can reinstate our choice as to how we hold ourselves and move ourselves and use ourselves in the world. Thus, the poses are elegantly sophisticated tools for modern living. And the great thing is that ANYONE can use them.
We do not care about a person’s nationality, gender, age, race, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or anything else that people use to divide and categorize themselves. The fact that we are all biological bodies dealing with the same gravitational force and sharing the same atmospheric air is enough for us to meet on common ground.
None of the statements mentioned above is intended to eliminate the mystery from the practice or make it seem technical and dry. On the contrary, we hope that any movement toward authentic balance on the physical plane will help us wake up to the wonder of life. The fact is that the body and mind are not separate, but two aspects of one thing. And so it follows that a more balanced body will correspond to a more even-keeled mind. With more equanimity of mind, we often times see things that we previously ignored or took for granted. This is how yoga can be corrective vision for the spirit. As the Indian philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, once said, “To be spiritual is to be sensitive to life.” That is our goal: to be awake and sensitive to the miracle of this life that we have been given.