Dr. Lakshyan’s personal statement on yoga philosophy/methodology
Methods and Goals:
Yoga is a vast subject of never-ending depth. Yoga helps us to realize our full capacity for being human. Regardless of tradition or ‘name-brand’, as yoga teachers, we teach what we know. We share what has aided our own progress and what sustains our own well-being.
In my teaching less is more. Perhaps we could call it: ‘Undo-ism’, since the goal of practice is to ‘undo’ physical, emotional, and mental tension, and thereby, restore your health. Too often, a forceful and exaggerated practice reinforces the illusion that only something outside of your self can give you health.
The difficult hatha yoga Asana (‘Asana’ in Sanskrit means: seat, position, or attitude) is not the one with the fancy technique, the pretty looking one, or the fashionable one. The difficult Asana is to be with yourself, to be with your strength and weakness, to be with your pain, and at the same time doing no harm since you are being completely honest. The difficult task in Yoga is to face the truth of your self.
Since the job of facing up to who you are is so formidable, your perseverance and repetition of practice will guide you to go deep, and will lead you to success. Because of this need for steadiness and regularity, I teach sequences which should be practiced regularly and for mastery. From Beginners to Advanced levels, I start with a core of traditional therapeutic practices. These core practices gradually and naturally evolve into technically more difficult techniques that integrate aerobic fitness and flexibility. My teaching style invites you to go deep into your being by cultivating a meditative attitude of surrender along with precision in technique.
The ‘backbone’ of my Beginner’s Course is a systematic and therapeutic series of about 25 essential practices including: general stretches, backward bends, forward bends, simple inversions, twisting, deep relaxation and basic breathing techniques (Pranayama).
This Beginner’s series evolves. While you work meditatively and within your limits, you will learn variations, step by step, that take you to an Intermediate level of practice.
At the Intermediate level, my approach adds about a dozen more core Asanas, and greater depth to Pranayama practice. The focus at this level is on both the fundamentals of alignment and on bringing the meditative state into standing poses. The Intermediate course is also an introduction to the early “Jumping” series of BKS Iyengar. As with the Beginners program, step by step, you will advance in level of practice.
If you are regular in your practice and like to focus on fitness, the Advanced course encourages you to challenge your limits. Here, more advanced “Jumpings” serve as a springboard to integrate a variety of technically more difficult Asana and Pranayama practices. At times I will use inversions at the start of the Asana practice, and we may work in pairs.
My approach to the Meditation course is also based on the Raja Yoga of Patanjali (also called: Ashtanga), which is at least 2500 years old. While asana practice is the external means, meditation is the internal means and the most significant level of yoga practice. As in the Asana classes, my teaching of meditation is systematic. By receiving a solid foundation that can evolve, you will gain experiential understanding of the skills needed to become long-term meditator. In this ‘How to Meditate’ course, I use traditional practices found across cultures, as well as techniques often associated with personal growth.
– Lakshyan Schanzer