The Authentic Teacher Abides Within

My prior post was so satisfying, for all the reasons I mentioned within it, that I’ve gone and started a trend for myself. I’ll be posting at least every week and be including a word from many (all eventually) of the fine yogis of Near East Yoga, as it goes. If you want to offer up a personal profile of your own, please email me your words and a recent non-asana photo.

These profile posts are intended to expose the dedicated folks of the yoga community to each other, plus introduce them to folks new to the Near East Yoga community and in turn, take a tilt at deflating the false mantle teachers can fall under, often placed on them by human nature itself. I include myself in this group. We are group of peers, in our power and on our path. At least I hope so.

The fact is, among us, there are yogis in their own rite and that the process they choose to explore is not simply the domaine of a teacher, but instead the domaine of all yogis. Wise knowledge, adequate shelter, or even the cult of celebrity aside, no one but ourselves is responsible to cause us to understand what being whole and in our power looks and feels like. The yoga practice is intended to be a method for self discovery and only until we take the steps ourselves, we remain limited.

Until we seek out and execute , for ourselves, the same insights our fore bearers did and integrate them, we won’t have the transformation we seek and worse, might be relegated to receiving instruction and advice from teachers that are either mistaken or limited. The Sadhana and the Sadhak (student) combined are what accesses the deeper teacher. We owe it to ourselves to take the harder path, explore deeper within ourselves with the tools we have sought out and gained and with them, i nvestigate the truth of who we are and wake up.

At a crucial point we need to apply what we have learned, go try yoga/life out, and share this power of transformation with our sangha and continue to hold space for others who seek the state of a higher vibration yoga practice affords. This vibration comes via a commitment to holding out, though the hard stages of digging into our patterns and processes that need to be known and integrated or discarded that keep us from knowing what and who we truly are.

While it can be quite easy to hide in the monastery, or wander from class to class and not fully engage in the process of uncovering, and illuminating our true self, the results can be hardly rewarding. A life in authentic yoga trains us to explore and experience what lies deep under the surface of our daily thinking, seeking minds and we owe it to ourselves to know all we can about what yoga offers us and to put it to use. This comes only by trying out the suggested path and know it for ourselves, then seeing if we can walk the talk without the protection afforded by hiding from ourselves, abiding in only safe places.

Who can answer the deeper questions about yoga and its results? Only folks who Invest the time and the effort to hold a steady path and at the same time, risk losing the supposed safety of letting their association with a lineage, teaching or teacher, protect them from living a full and meaningful life. It’s a conundrum for sure, take the teachings, remember the teachings and then go try out the teachings. Where does the real power in yoga abide? Who is the ultimate teacher? These questions are the stuff of deep, personal inquiry that only authentic yogis can answer. To be authentic, therefore, must require asking some tough questions and knowing the truth abiding in those answers. This is not always an easy place to abide.

Regarding folks who take practice and get results, I am referring to folks engaged in a dedicated sadhana ie prescribed method, rather than those who take classes here and there but abandon ship when things get to boring or happen to confront the ego. This idea might irritate you, who am I to delineate!? Well, I take the risk of your disapproval but Im fine with that. If you think I’m referring to you, I probably am. If not, then you probably can relate.

Read on in this post what our good friend Max offers as his take on what yoga is opening him up to receiving. He took a long trip, around the world for a long while and walked in the light of practice and result. And from what I understand it wasn’t easy but was incredibly rewarding.

Here’s a few words from Max-
Six years ago I walked into Near East Yoga for the first time with an open mind and an open heart. I had no idea what I would find there. Perhaps just another studio, like the many I had visited before, or another teacher, not unlike the dozens I had practiced with previously. What I found was so much more than that. I found a community of kind, unassuming, supportive and dedicated practitioners who each bring their own unique and inspiring qualities to contribute to the studio’s energetic fabric. I found a teacher with great experience who is passionate about transmuting the teachings of a great lineage of yogis to others, while tailoring it in an accessible manner to whom he is instructing. I found the practice itself, the most potent teacher of all, and the unifying thread that binds the sangha together. And finally, the space, a sanctuary of Spirit to contain it all, embodied as a beautiful mandala tapestry that could not exist without all of it’s integral parts.

Having some yoga experience before I arrived at Near East, I didn’t exactly start from scratch, but it took some time for me to become proficient at the primary series. Under Casey’s expert tutelage, I slowly learned and memorized the primary series, periodically adding asanas until my practice included the entire series. Along the way there were, and still are, moments of instability, as I teetered on my planted leg in a balancing pose or hadn’t worked out how to coordinate my breath with a movement to achieve the desired effect. There were also moments of elation, when I figured out how to balance in handstand coming off the wall, or managed to wrap myself in an advanced bind. In both instances, and all the spaces in between, Casey was there to offer his experience and insight, and that of his teacher, and teacher’s teacher.

Though there are still swings in my practice, it, like myself, has steadied over the years. After I learned the mechanics of the system, the movements became innate, allowing my mind to not worry so much about what was coming next, but instead to concentrate on drishti, bandas, and most importantly my breath. The whole practice is a container for the breath, and when I am fully present, I can still my mind on the inhale, the exhale, and the Sandhya, the moment between the two. The practice has become a mirror of my Self on many levels. It reveals if I have been eating correctly, getting enough sleep, overstressing or overindulging. There is no place to hide from myself once I get on the mat. And when I don’t get on the mat often enough, it speaks to me then too. For me, the big moments of getting something ‘new’ are less frequent these days, but my consistency and commitment to the practice, the process not the goal, has given me a foundation of equanimity and lightness that serves me far better than forcing my body into Hanumanasana, which I’m saving for the next lifetime.

In the larger context of the vicissitudes of life, I view the Ashtanga practice itself as the space between or Sandhya, the sweet spot of balance lodged between chaos and calm. The practice of yoga; physically, philosophically, and spiritually serves as a vehicle that allows me to both be present with where I am, and also takes me to where I need to go. It helps me to navigate the unexpected turns, the unknown obstacles and the unlearned lessons, delivering me safely to my destination – the next moment, with feelings of peace, compassion and love.