I think we all have them from time to time regardless of the nature of our practice. My belief is that when we engage our body and become very present to our whole being through the medium of our body – something magical happens. I think our bodies have amazing wisdom to share with us and are just waiting for that right moment to reveal it.
It first happened to me in my early days of practicing yoga while living at the Kripalu Yoga Ashram in the mid 1980’s. Back then Kripalu was a full on ashram and quite a bit different from how it is today. Our practices were fairly intense by today’s standards but they also were also very inwardly focused. I had several of those “aha moments” back then. Each one seemed to reveal something new. Something I hadn’t experienced or known about myself. Often, I would need to journal for hours afterwards to begin to make sense of the significance in my life and how it affected me now. Mostly I was able to. As a result, I became inspired in my quest to find out more about such moments, how to structure my yoga experience in ways that would lead to greater wisdom coming to me via my body, and also how to actually take that wisdom and put in into my life in a very practical and effective way.
I was also inspired by a few of my colleagues at that time who were having some deep yoga experiences – usually accompanied by a physical and sometimes dramatic releases of energy. Often though, that was where the experience would begin and end. The ashram was set up on the basis that a lifetime of practice as a celibate yogi would provide ultimate transformation. Just keep doing the practices was all that was required. Some counseling support was also available but there was no real need for a whole lot more or any hurry. I was a little less patient.
To me, life application was a primary goal in my yoga practice. As a householder, I needed to play my best game with raising children while engaging and contributing to a meaningful relationship. I also had the onus of taking care of the essentials for daily living. To me there had to be a way to harness the power of the body’s wisdom and to translate it into life changing opportunity and action here and now.
After a few more years of practice and some refinement of what I had discovered, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy evolved to a one on one “on the mat” way to tap into body wisdom and apply it to life. I continued to practice and teach the work in that form for over another decade attracting a growing number of clients and students. After teaching many workshops and guiding a lot of “embodied mindfulness” experiences in training programs and group settings, I discovered a way to lead and to teach the process in the form of a modified yoga class. The body experience of yoga and the inner experience of self inquiry. I now call that “dual process teaching”. In short, it means holding two distinct paradigms of education at the same time and leading the students in both simultaneously. As the teacher, you are both instructor and educator and you are clear, not only about the differences between each, but also about the approach, language, and way of being required in any given moment to facilitate both. As one of my teacher trainees once remarked “leading dual process is like multi-tasking using linguistic precision – kind of like juggling but always knowing which ball is in your hand while the words come out of your mouth from your soul”.
What continues to amaze me is how well it works when it is skillfully delivered. Over the last few years, I believe I have further refined the approach so it is both more effective and easier for me to teach to relay our students. I find this exciting. I think about the world we live in and how we become more and more distant from our deep inner truth and wisdom. Rarely do we return home to our own self, to our truth. Getting back to it is not so hard, but it does require a little patience and some skillful application. To be able to offer this kind of process in the form of a one hour therapeutic yoga class experience, to me, is a gift worth giving. It’s why I’m so passionate about our therapeutic yoga teacher training now and supporting our trainees in delivering this experience to others.
This March join me and our team at our Phoenix Rising Center in Bristol VT and learn how to lead a Yoga Class using the unique Phoenix Rising Dual Process approach. Find out more here……