What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient system for living well that comes from India. It is more than 5,000 years old and includes moral conduct, physical movements, breathing, focus, concentration, and awareness/meditation. Together, these parts of yoga can help one return to their true Self and live in peace, free from suffering.
What is Qigong?
Qigong is an ancient system for living well that comes from China. It is more than 2,500 years old. Like yoga, it includes physical movements, breathing, concentration and awareness/meditation. The movements in Qigong are more gentle, circular and flowing like water.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is sustained single-pointed focus and is the most important aspect of a yoga or qigong practice. It is a state of deep awareness that is useful to slow ones thoughts. It helps the practitioner be less reactive and is useful for self-inquiry and contemplation. It is the path to liberation, freedom, and samadhi.
Can anyone learn to meditate?
Absolutely. Meditation is actually very simple. The difficulty comes in letting go of the distractions of the modern world. But meditation is a very natural state that the mind prefers. Once it is experienced, the desire to continue the practice comes easily.
Why should I meditate?
The benefits of meditation could fill this entire website. A few are:
- Less reactivity: Through meditation, one learns to pause when troubles arise and to breath and consider the true cause of the situation before reacting in a way that exacerbates a situation. Potential drama will roll off you.
- Be present: This means to slow down and to be present with everyone and everything around you. Meditation truly improves your relationships, your work and helps you enjoy life every moment. You’ll stop and smell the roses more!
- Health and well being: Meditation is proven to be helpful for many illness that are stress related, such as many Autoimmune diseases and blood pressure. It is also the only thing a person can do to grow grey matter in the brain. It actually increases the density of the hippocampus.
- Discover your true Self: Meditation with the help of a qualified teacher can lead you to life-changing realizations. Using self-inquiry meditation, one can peel away all the layers of the ego that cause suffering and lead us to true happiness – the kind that only comes from living the truth.
What is different about your teachings versus classes at the local studio?
A lot. Most studios exist for profit, so they work hard to get 20 to 60 students in each class. That forces a teacher to be generic and basic and leaves no time for individual guidance.
The studio setting has to appeal to all, so deep conversation about philosophy and ancient teachings is ignored or watered down into sound bites.
Many teachers have only a very basic 200 hour training and simply don’t have the knowledge or life experience to offer deep teaching.
There is no incentive to continue your work at home. You show up, are told every move to make, then you leave. You never have to engage in a real spiritual practice.
And lastly, in a large class setting the student doesn’t have to focus at all. In fact they ‘zone out’ because there is loud music, they are told every move to make. There is no deep focus or inward reflection.
How do I know I’m ready for your teachings?
Not everyone is ready for a deep practice. Here are some questions that can help you determine if you are:
- Do you feel trapped, frustrated, like you are going to burst?
- If you sit quietly do you know deep inside you are living a lie?
- Are you tired of merely surviving?
- Is your current life too small to fit your big dreams?
- Do you hear your soul/spirit calling to you?
- Do you have a spiritual practice but you have plateaued and need true guidance?
- Are you ready to finally have lasting relationships without pain and drama?
- Have you tried a number of things on your own and it just hasn’t worked?
What is enlightenment/samadhi?
My favorite definition is what the great teacher Gary Weber refers to as ‘uncaused happiness’. Imagine being happy all the time for no particular reason. Not giddy, false bliss, but true contenment and serenity. It’s a state of true lasting awareness and connection with something greater then yourself. Freedom from suffering that comes from seeing the deep truth.
What do I need to bring to a class?
Most of our locations have yoga mats and props, but you may wish to bring your personal mat. Always bring water, perhaps a pen and paper.
Am I ‘good enough’ for a retreat?
It is human nature to wish to do well, but you come to a teaching to learn. So anyone of any level is welcome to most all of our offerings. A few workshops may have prerequisites, but most do not. Come, learn, and grow.
As I get older I worry about my mortality. How can this help?
All suffering stems from attachment to this life and our bodies run deep. But there are wonderful practices to learn to detach from all parts of life in a healthy way, to learn and actually experience that we are not what we think we are. Upon realization of this, suffering can no longer reach you. It is hard work, but it is attainable.
Why do my relationships always turn out bad?
This is a big subject, but typically we are repeating patterns of behavior because we cannot see them. But through a deep practice you can identify and look deeply at how you have always behaved in relationships and why. Then you can choose a different path.
I am successful and wealthy yet I’m unhappy, why?
I’ll answer this with a quote from the sage Ramana Marharshi “Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.” Most of us have had the experience of delight at owning something new and shiny, only to lose our attraction to it in time. Yoga teaches us that contentment is the key to lasting happiness, being satisfied with who we are and what we have.
I want to meditate but I can’t sit still that long, no way!
Those who find it hardest to sit still with themselves need meditation most of all. All bodies can sit still for long periods, it’s the mind that is restless. But why? What is your mind trying to escape from? What thoughts are so troubling? Wouldn’t you like to know? Meditation will show you.
How can you help me with my "empty nest" syndrome? My kids are grown and I don’t know who I am any more.
Attachment to children runs very deep. It is common for a parent to define themselves solely by being Johnny’s Mom or Sally’s Dad. It’s possible to forget who you truly are, but you were something before children, you were something at age 1, 2, 3, etc. So now you must remember. Detachment is possible, it’s hard work, but it is most certainly possible.
I’m very type A and keep busy all the time, how can I slow down?
The type A personality is the over achiever. The good news is that slowing down makes you more productive. How? By teaching you greater focus and clarity. Meditators learn how to work very effectively and not just be busy all the time. It is possible also to learn to let go and trust that others can help you, which is the true key to productivity. A team is always better then any one person.
I can be intense and passionate, this can come through as creativity or I might yell at my kids and co-workers, can you help me harness my passion?
Learning to pause and breath as soon as you feel intensity is the key here and meditation is the way. In time, your reaction slows and you can feel each situation that arises, you can see it from all sides and stop taking things personally. You discover compassion for the other party involved and for yourself. As an understanding of oneness grows, no one can hurt you. You understand that all this time you’ve been hurting yourself and you can stop that behavior.
I want a closer relationship with my children, can your teachings help?
Many find that as they begin to live a life of truth, people are drawn to them. You may have experienced this when you meet someone who is calm and grounded. They are easy to be around. When you are at peace others can ‘feel’ that and will want to be near you. Also, as you learn to be more present, you’ll be a better listener, you’ll be more understanding, less judgmental and more giving. All of this is what your children want. They want your undivided attention and unconditional love.
I’ve already done a lot of yoga, will I benefit from your classes?
Most definitely. Having a strong foundation is a great place to start a deeper practice from, so long as you can cultivate a beginner’s mind. There are likely areas of the 8 Limbs of Yoga to which you could bring greater balance. If you trust in the new teachings and give your all, your ability to stay in deep awareness will strengthen.
I just want to move and sweat, can I do that with you?
No, that is not the kind of yoga that we offer. There are many studios at which you can get a great workout. We strive to offer teachings in much more than the physical aspects of yoga.
Can you help me with weight loss?
Yes. The reason most people yo-yo up and down in weight is that they never address the mind. Deep down you know there are reasons you seek the comfort of food and eat more then your body needs for fuel. Self-inquiry meditation is the most effective approach to changing this behavior. We will also use physical asana and all the 8 Limbs so that you become empowered and fulfilled from within.
What are the 6 Yoga Systems? Which do you teach?
The 6 systems of yoga are Hatha, Raja, Bhakti, Jnana, Kriya and Karma. Below is a brief description of each. We draw from each of these methods as appropriate for each student.
Hatha: The yoga of physical movement for health, asana, breath, bandhas, etc.
Raja: Classical or Royal yoga, adds concentration to calm the mind
Bhakti: Yoga of devotion, incorporates music, chanting to connect with the divine
Jnana: The yoga of knowledge, utilizes self-inquiry to discover the true Self
Kriya: A system including mantras, meditation, and other techniques towards controlling the life-force or prana
Karma: The yoga of Service or self-transcending, doing for others with no expectation in return