Welcome and Pre- Reading
Thank you so much for your interest in the Freedom Through Movement Self/Leadership Immersion. This article goes into more detail about the topics we will cover the approach of the course, and also offering some further reading to prepare you if you decide to attend. Every course is unique depending on who attends and what is necessary for you as individuals, Yoga practitioner and if applicable – Teacher. With this information I am sure you will be able to gauge whether this is what you are looking for be able to make an informed decision about whether it is the right immersion for you.
Background of the Immersion
After working at the Yoga Barn in Bali for the past eight years whilst teaching on multiple different Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) courses I have had the privilege to work with literally thousands of practitioners and teachers. The longer I have spent exploring Yoga (I began a serious study of Yoga in 2001) the more I have come to see the discrepancy between is considered the aim of Traditional Yoga (liberating insight) and the image and often the content of contemporary Yoga. With the guidance of some incredible teachers (most notably Denise Payne, Emil Wendel and Mark Whitwell) I have had the ability to design courses that aim at teaching the wisdom tradition of Yoga and its applicability to Every Body – regardless of age, perceived physical ability and income bracket.
The Self/Leadership course is named as such as before we can even begin to start to want to “lead” others it is vital that we open up to the gems of Yoga within our own life. It is my perception that due to the pressures and constraints of many standard one month 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) courses, participants are busy learning “how” to teach rather than how to personally “embody” the teachings.
The aim of this particular immersion is to offer an opportunity for those who have already done a YTT to further deepen their own intimacy with Yoga and explore what they are going to teach and why. However, it is definitely not a requirement to have done a YTT. The course material is rarely covered in as much depth in a regular TTC. The less “experience” you have it often means that the more open you are to a different way of both practicing and teaching. This immserion is also full of great content regardless of whether you have any intention to teach or not. Often times people join my immersions with no desire to teach and yet months or years later find themselves sharing their knowledge and passion with family members or friends who could really benefit from the huge gifts of Yoga.
The Self/Leadership Immersion is aimed at allowing you to really dedicate time to explore your relationship with Yoga (free from the brands, styles and image of much contemporary yoga) both on the mat and in relation to its extensive history and philosophies. For those who wish to teach or who are already teaching the group work, discussions, presentations and outdoor adventures will equip you with more clarity and confidence with how to really active and teach Yoga.
What we will cover:
“No one is wise by birth, for wisdom results from one’s own efforts”
– Tirumala Krishnamacharya
The most important kind of leadership is Self Leadership. Each aspect of this course will build the platform for you to do some essential self reflection as a service to your own health and wellbeing, as well as an offering to your personal and professional relationships. Together we will activate Yoga through asana and active discussion and debate of key principles of the Yoga Tradition. This will give you clarity on how to take responsibility for the direction of you life, how you walk your talk, and lead by example. Life is too short not to participate in its direction.
Each morning we will have an extended morning asana practice to connect breath with the body movement. This process tends to automatically activate the internal locks of the bandha and gives rise to natural and meditation in motion. This will be our foundation for moving through both simple and complex sequences and groups of poses (listed below) as a way to demonstrate how to tap into other paths of Yoga through the postures alone and to really dive into the 5 koshas by tuning in-to your own practice.
On the mat this means shifting focus from following external alignment cues to and alternative prioritise what it is important to you as practitioner. Focus will be on how to listen in, and build awareness about your own unique alignment from how you feel your body. We will explore the multiplicity of purposes of postures and how you can find maximum stability rather than simply flexibility or by compromising the flow and rhythm of the breath. (This will support the development of your self-practice and ability to teach, as outlined below.)
These three weeks of intensive morning practice is great opportunity to really learn more about your body/mind rather than giving that power away to a yoga instructor. This is really about activating Yoga and freeing it from the corporate styles and brands that is becoming increasingly common within the industry. We will test how different bodies with life experiences respond to the same queues and instead cultivate a tried and tested method that sets you up to be able to teach others the same art of tuning into their unique body/mind. You will have plenty of insight how to really incorporate Yoga into the postures whilst experiencing first hand the therapeutic force of Hatha Yoga for body/mind.
Specific workshops will be taught in how to practice/teach the following:
We will also have classes on Restorative yoga and Yin yoga in order to allow you to tap in, shift patterns and learn more about your own body/mind.
We will approach self-practice as the main tool for you to teach asana as well as to deepen your awareness of the 5 koshas and vayus. It is in self-practice that you really embody the wisdom of the poses and instead of having to remember or learn another’s cues, you practice until you don’t need anyone else to tell you how to move. You know! And by knowing you are more than qualified to share it. I will be there to give tips, suggestions and advice. I will also help you to plan your sequences, by following the breath, following a progressive wave of poses and adapting depending on energy levels, injuries and moon cycles.
We explore how traditional Hatha Yoga bandhas can arise naturally through the postures and the importance of mulabandha, uddiyana bandha and jalandhara bandha for opening up to deeper realms of your self practice. I will give you tips and ways to teach the bandhas as well as for therapeutic uses.
I will teach you (amongst others) kapalabhati, bastrika, sama vritti (square breath) and nadi shodhana pranayama to enhance vitality, benefit circulation, increase connection with the gut and its huge intelligence, detoxify the entire system, shift ingrained patterns of body/mind and tap into wider aspects of awareness.
We will work with Mantra as a way to discipline the thinking mind, focus attention and awareness, and align with the more subtle vibrations of the cosmos/Yoga/life.
You will learn dozens of mudras and a mudra sequence to harness the subtle energies and foster specific mind states.
I will share several Tibetan and Zen Buddhist analytical meditation techniques for your own personal use as well as to teach. The aims of these meditation techniques are as a means to identify areas of unhealthy attachment and aversion, limited ways of thinking/perceiving and to generate compassion and forgiveness.
What Aspects of Yoga philosophy does this course cover?
During the three weeks we will explore Yoga through its specific paths and how this relates to our practice on the mat, our daily lives, the times we are living in and ultimately how they can help us to teach Yoga. We will hone in on the following:
The Yoga Tradition:
- Put your yoga into context: Brief overview of Yoga History & Philosophy
- Take a look at the myths of Yoga: Definitions, labels, women and Liberation
- What’s it all about? Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and how to work with the 5 kleshas
Life is the Teacher:
- Devotion to Life: What does it mean to trust life fully?
- Put Yoga on the Mat for the benefit of all your relations
- To welcome the cycles and spirals of life as your greatest teacher and how to reflect this in your own practice and classes
A life of Service:
- Focus on Karma Yoga as a path of liberation
- The lessons of the Bhagavad Gita & why it has influenced key leaders in the modern world
- Yoga Activism: Get savvy on what it means to work for change! What works, what doesn’t, what’s truthful, what’s kind & what’s aligned with the unique gifts you have
- What are you practising and what are you Teaching?
- Gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of contemporary Yoga
- Study the work and teachings of one of the founding fathers of your Yoga teacher: Krishnamarchya
- Develop a critical and constructive eye for how to move within the increasing commercialisation of Yoga
To optimise the content of these topics we will really utilise our sangha through sharing and group discussions. You will be supported to design and share presentations, teach specific topics and do your own research on what you feel is beneficial to your learning, practice and life. You will be invited to step to what is the edge of your comfort zone and to trust that you are fully supported by the group and myself.
Each day we will create a safe space for you to practice active listening, break down our stereotypes, shift stories and deepen your connection with every one (regardless of your perceived relationship with them). This will be a time to practice self-discipline in putting work and attention into what is important to you and supporting others to do the same.
You will have a chance to facilitate, teach, inspire and be radically inspired. These sessions are often the most incredible and unique of the whole immersion.
In order allow you to tap into the power of Nature and the power of Life (the beautiful intelligence of which you already are). We will explore:
Voice activation techniques
Acroyoga and team building methods
The power of Sound Healing
Adventures into the wilds of Bali
A message to mothers:
I am in awe of mothers with young children who have little time for themselves let alone to continue their own study. Please know that you are more than welcome on any of my immersions and are free to come and go as the commitments to your childcare demands. In Bali there is fantastic and affordable childcare that could make this more than very possible for you.
Recommending Reading before the course
You will receive a manual specifically written for the self/leadership course. In addition, below are a list of books and online resources which have personally contributed to my own practice, life and teaching. Although it would definitely be of help to familize yourself with the material before hand, the list is extensive as the study is endless. There is no expectation or pressure to have read any of the material before hand.
Campbell, Joseph (2012) The Hero with a thousand faces: The collected works of Joseph Campbell
Feuerstein, Georg (2011) The Path of Yoga: An Essential Guide to Its Principles and Practices
Singleton, Mark. (2010) Yoga Body: The origins of modern postural Yoga
Watts, Alan (2003) Become what you are
Whitwell, Mark (2004) Yoga of Heart: The Healing Power of Intimate Connection
Desikachar, T.K.V (1999) The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice
Gandhi, Mahatma (2011) The Bhagavad Gita: According to Gandhi, by
Ghandi’s non-violent movement of Indian liberation
Jenkinson, Stephen (2015) Die Wise
Levine, Peter (1997) Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma – The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences
Mallinson, James & Mark Singleton (2017) Roots of Yoga
Mipham, Sakyong (2006) Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies For Modern Life
Rome, David (2014) Your Body Knows the Answer: Using Your Felt Sense to Solve Problems, Effect Change, and Liberate Creativity.
Saraswati Satyananda Swami (2013) Asana, Pranayama, Mudra and Bandha
Stone, Michael (2011) Awake in the world: Teachings from Yoga and Buddhism for Living an Engaged Life
Trungpa, Chogyam Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (2002)
For a more comprehensive background to the History of India check out the BBC Documentary Series History of India
Uma Dinsmore-Tuli has compelled an incredible resource for Yoga teachers and pracitioners alike that firmly places Women and a Woman’s Body on the mat! Check out Yoni Shakti: A woman’s guide to power and freedom through Yoga and Tantra http://www.yonishakti.co
Thank you so much for your interest in the immersion and I trust you find what you are searching for.
With the most love and respect,