Hi Friends! Applications are now online for my 2020 200-hour TIAVY teacher training in Denver 🙂 Looking so forward to it this year. This will be a cohort of 10 or less people, so apply early for a spot, a discount and a chance at the work-study scholarship…
In this intensive training, we will explore key concepts in trauma resolution and apply them directly to our yoga practice. We will study fundamental features of trauma physiology and gain awareness of how culture, philosophy, the practice environment and student-teacher relationships influence the nervous system and perpetuate or alleviate trauma in ourselves and others. Most exciting of all, we will investigate how elements of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (such as bandha, mudra, pranayama, kriya, visualization and chanting) fit in alongside some of the most ground-breaking trauma theories available, potentially enhancing evidence-based yoga interventions for PTSD.
While trauma robs us of our capacity for joy, spontaneity, empowerment and connection, rehearsing these in our practice can serve as a potent daily reminder of our nearly unfathomable potential to live and to give. By inquiring deeply into neuroscience, psychology, yoga technology, our own personal circumstances and deepest intentions, we will begin or continue the never-ending journey of constructing a practice that truly serves us and our world. For way more infos and the application, please click here!
Registration is now open! Only 10 spots available. Early bird pricing through November 4th 🙂
Anybody looking for a refreshing and deep-diving alternative to the holiday madness? Come and join our Omen Days Retreat! We will tap into silence and listen to our bodies and souls through a variety of powerful methods: TIAVY (Trauma Informed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga), meditation, shamanic journeying, expressive/creative arts and movement, chanting, group process and divination… Prepare to enter 2020 rejuvenated, with a sense of clarity, purpose and readiness.
This retreat will take place at our home studio in Denver at the end of the year during the Omen Days from the Winter Solstice through the beginning of the New Year (December 20, 2019-January 1, 2020), a time considered by many cultures to be especially potent for doing inner work and setting the tone for the year to come. If you find you cannot join us for the entire time, a daily option will be opened after the Early Bird registration period is over.
There will be free time each afternoon for nature walks led by Jiyu, drawing and journaling, doing restoratives using our extensive prop collection, and optional add-ons like IR sauna sessions. You may also choose to add on a juicing and/or V-GF organic kitchari cleanse package for turbo detox and renewal.
The bulk of the retreat will be held in noble silence. For our purposes this means allowing ourselves to get away from talking about our usual concerns and identities and speaking only when necessary or when encouraged during group practices. (To whatever degree possible, you are invited to take a break from electronic communications as well, such a relief!) Through guided group and partner activities we will create space to feel seen, heard, held and thoroughly appreciated for the star beings we truly are.
New Year’s Eve will be an even bigger celebration than every other night and additional members of the community may join in. We will have a healthy & delicious V-GF potluck, dancing, kirtan/sing-along, puja to bring our intentions for the new year into consciousness, and finally we will sit or move in silence for the last hour of 2019. At midnight, we will salute the new year with 108 repetitions of the mantra LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU (may all beings be happy) and have a brief toast with tea, snacks etc. before retiring so as to be fresh for 7am ceremony on New Year’s Day!!!
Jen-Mitsuke will be leading all of the activities and also practicing and retreating along with you. She will teach TIAVY self-practice on Sundays as well as Christmas Day and New Year’s Day during this period (4x), practicing yoga right beside you on other days. You must therefore be familiar with “Mysore-style” classes and be confident in your own practice, as group yoga instruction will not be offered. (Seasoned practitioners in other lineages are also welcomed. Just let me know where you’re coming from and we can decide whether it’s a good match.) Shamanic journeying, expressive practices and group processes will be thoroughly explained, so no prior experience with those is needed. Please contact Jen with any questions or concerns.
Locals may commute daily, and for those from out of town, we may be able to offer you a couple of competitively-priced options for staying here with us. These accommodations afford varying degrees of privacy and comfort, and all involve a shared bathroom. Please inquire if interested.
PLEASE NOTE: We have expanded our schedule this month so as to accommodate asana from 6:25-10:00am (details below)! We have also added a new 5-class Punch Card. You must pre-register to join…
Got Yoga? Sauna? Ceremony? Creativity? We do! Start each day the Jen-Mitsuke and Jiyu way! 😉 We invite you to join us each and every day in November for Soulful Morning Sadhana at our extremely well-appointed and pleasant home studio in Denver. We encourage you to undertake a diverse and individually-appropriate practice that helps to ground you and serve that which is most meaningful to you in life.
- 5:55am–Doors Open
- 6:00am–Meditation & Puja / Ceremony
- 6:25am–Creative Free-Time (or Asana if necessary)
- 7:15am–Ashtanga Vinyasa Invocations
- 9:45am–Group Savasana & Closing Chant
- 10:00am–Tea with Friends
- 10:15am–Bring Your Best Self Out Into the World!
Feel free to include kriya, pranayama, meditation, strengthening exercises, preps with props and restoratives in your Trauma Informed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga routines! We have a plethora of specialized equipment for your enjoyment and encourage a non-competitive, relaxed, loving and therapeutic attitude. Need help tailoring your personal practice or incorporating additional creative or healing elements? Set up a private session with Jen!
Creative Hour (6-7am) will consist of a brief neuroplasticity-stimulating meditation for happiness and resilience followed by puja, chanting and drumming/rattling led by Jen. You will then have about 35 minutes (or more if you are not in a hurry to begin yoga) to engage in personal journaling, dream analysis, divination, artwork, and/or movement exploration as you see fit.
We have a variety of animal, tarot and archetype card decks as well as very simple crayons, pencils, markers and play-doh, but you may also wish to bring your own tools for enticing Psyche to share her rich gifts. (For example, Jen loves to write stream-of-consciousness, practice Authentic Movement, play with rocks, do Active Imagination with items from Nature, draw on her iPad and cut up magazines, etc… If you aren’t yet convinced, don’t worry, inspiration will come!)
You may attend whatever times work for you, but in order to retain a sacred and restful atmosphere, please refrain from arriving or departing during ceremony or group savasana (6:00-6:25am or 9:45-10:00am). You are welcome to do creative work during yoga time or yoga during creative free time if your schedule does not permit staying the full morning. 45-minute IR sauna sessions can usually be booked (at least 24 hours in advance) as early as 5:30am and finishing as late as 10:45am.
Because we are looking to foster a sense of regularity and support in community we are not able to offer drop-ins. We offer monthly memberships or multi-packs expiring the month of issue. Our friends from out of town or locals looking for a retreat may purchase week-long memberships on a space-available basis. We will be a group of 10 or less.
Please note, PRACTICE WILL END EARLY (at 7:30am) on the following days due to Jen’s shamanic training: Thursday 11/07, Saturday 11/09, Sunday 11/10, Thursday 11/14, Thursday 11/21, and Wednesday 11/27. We will have a full practice on Thanksgiving! We celebrate moon days by practicing 😉
Jen will lead the chanting, puja, drumming/rattling & meditation each day. Additionally, she will teach TIAVY self-practice from 8:00-10:00am on Sundays (November 3, 17 and 24). At other times Jiyu is there to supervise as Jen practices beside you. Contact Jen with questions!
- November Unlimited (includes 2 IR sauna sessions) — $180
- 15-day Punch Card (expires end of November 2019) — $150
- 10-day Punch Card (expires end of November 2019) — $120
- 5-day Punch Card (expires end of November 2019) — $90
- 1-week Retreat Card (space permitting) — $80
- 5-pack IR sauna 45-min Session (use in November 2019) — $75
- Single IR sauna 45-min Session — $20
“Trauma is the most avoided, ignored, belittled, denied, misunderstood and untreated cause of human suffering. When I use the word “trauma,” I’m talking here about the often debilitating symptoms many people suffer in the aftermath of overwhelming experiences… The field of psychiatric medicine has chosen to view most of the long-term effects of trauma as an incurable disease… I believe that trauma is not only curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening, a portal, a door, an opening to emotional and real spiritual transformation.
Though it is a fact of life, and it is, trauma does not have to be a life sentence. I have little doubt that as individuals, friends, partners, families, communities and even nations, that we have the capacity to learn how to heal and prevent much of the damage done by trauma, and in doing so we will be able to significantly increase our ability to achieve both our individual and collective dreams.” — Peter Levine in Healing Trauma: Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
If what Peter Levine says is true (and most trauma experts agree whole-heartedly), then perhaps all of us interested in the cessation of suffering might perk up our ears. As we will review below, ending suffering is the whole point of the 8-fold Buddhist path as well as the path of Ashtanga Yoga laid out by Patanjali. Sometimes, however, I get the feeling that we are so enthralled by tantra and transcendence, promises of love, light & levitation, or at least getting the leg behind the head, that we fail to understand that most of us have not constructed the most minimal foundations for eliminating the grossest forms of suffering in our lives.
How then, would we expect our efforts on the cushion or mat to be effective? As Peter notes, we greatly underestimate the impact of trauma and its insidious effects on our nervous systems. If we continue to leave these effects untreated, the value of our more subtle work will be lessened, or in fact, we may exacerbate certain kinds of imbalances and form unhealthy relationships that cause us to suffer more rather than less.
If we are honest, we see that many efforts are in fact not working that well, as some of the most “practiced” and “accomplished” teachers and students continue to propagate extreme suffering amongst themselves and others. Granted, these paths are generally thought to work little by little over countless lifetimes, and numerous stories glorify the brutality of certain gurus as catalyzing an enlightenment we aren’t even able to imagine, but nonetheless, what qualities do we really want to manifest in our own lives, and are our practices actually helping us become who we want to be in the world? Are we interacting with people whose qualities we would want to emulate or gawking over people who inspire a sense of other-worldly awe that bears little relevance to our embodied situation?
For those of you who fancy yourselves to be advanced tantric practitioners for whom this world no longer matters in all of its illusoriness and impermanence, you can continue to do your visualizations and just ignore this post. The work I’m talking about is for the rest of us, granted yes, those of us who are able to do the hardest-ever practice of admitting honestly that we are perhaps at an earlier stage on the path, or at least temporarily having to deal with circumstances that require attention outside of our traditional sadhana.
When I hear teachers I consider truly great, they seem to hold all life in high regard and have a keenly developed sense of wisdom and compassion, so I wonder whether some others are missing a certain necessary foundation. There is no use doing advanced practices when you are fundamentally unprepared. Would you put a spire into thin air without the rest of the building? Well you could, but results would be predictably disappointing…
I would like to briefly summarize my own personal story about healing from trauma, but first, let’s just start by reminding ourselves that our starting point is suffering! That is what these practices we are doing purport to alleviate. Almost sounds like a buzz kill… It’s less glamorous than a tight yoga butt or superpower. But actually, there’s a lot of magic in it, and starting where we are doesn’t mean we can’t touch into the mystical. In fact, we have a greater chance to do that when we can be real about our true biological needs and get them met.
In the Four Truths of the Nobles (commentary by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, the Buddha suggests that:
1) Suffering comes along with taking birth: “The obvious aspect of suffering is immediate pain or difficulty in the moment. Subtle suffering is more difficult to recognize because it begins with happiness. But by its very nature this happiness must change because it can’t go on forever.” (I often feel relieved to work with my psychotherapy clients rather than yoga students, because at least they understand the first Noble Truth and are actually looking for ways out.)
2) Suffering has a cause: “The truth of interdependent origination is that if we do unvirtuous actions, we are creating suffering.” (Even if we were to genuinely believe that a certain master’s apparently abusive behavior is intentional and meant for our spiritual development and even if we took something exceedingly valuable from our own experience with such a teacher, there is still no excuse for other students and teachers to perpetuate abuse as happens every single day whether subtle or gross. If that “guru” is truly beyond generating karma, that is exceedingly rare and the rest of us had better be very careful about the seeds we sew at every moment, because there is no way they will fail to come back at us sooner or later.)
3) The cause can be uprooted: “If we abandon unvirtuous actions, we remove the possibility of experiencing suffering in the future… Therefore the Buddha has said that we should give up the causes of karma and the disturbing emotions.” (If you are practicing with a teacher who greatly disturbs your emotions due to gaslighting or other means, it is time to consider whether you are developing “equanimity” and “taming your ego” by trying to ignore your feelings and suppress your gut reactions, or causing yourself a slow trauma train wreck that will surface at some point of stress down the road.)
4) We have methods (the 8-fold path) at our disposal to end future suffering: “correct meditation, correct mindfulness, correct intention, right view, correct speech, correct action, correct livelihood and correct effort.” (I would simply like to add that the Buddha grew up pampered in a palace. If your upbringing was a little different, you might need to do some preparatory work to get to the point where you are able to jump in to these limbs in a meaningful way.)
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Chip Hartranft edition) echo these 4 truths as follows:
II-15) Everything is suffering: “The wise see suffering in all experience, whether from the anguish of impermanence or from latent impressions laden with suffering or from incessant conflict as the fundamental qualities of nature vie for ascendancy.”
II-17) Suffering has a cause: “The preventable cause of all this suffering is the apparent indivisibility of pure awareness and what it regards.”
II-16) Suffering can be ended: “But suffering that has not yet arisen can be prevented.”
II-29) The 8-limbed (Ashtanga) Path is our method for ending suffering through the development of discriminative awareness (quite different than blind faith): “The eight components of yoga are external discipline, internal discipline, posture, breath regulation, concentration, meditative absorption, and integration.”
Having seen the 4 truths spelled out by Buddha and Patanjali, we can see that Peter has laid out something similar with specific reference to trauma. 1) He calls trauma a fact of life. 2) He implies that the cause (which lies in the nervous system rather than in an external event) is becoming increasingly well-understood. 3) He and others have seen thousands of people heal and blossom from the 4) methods that are currently being developed and refined. So there is hope, even if you have felt like a hopeless case for any number of reasons or started to wonder whether all of your efforts may be futile.
Thrangu Rinpoche in the same exposition I quoted from talks about the necessity of eliminating the grosser obstacles on the path before focusing on the finer details. Patanjali also notes the obstacles to yoga and some suggestions for getting them out of the way, but I believe many of us need more help, help that often gets poo-pooed in spiritual circles.
It’s time for a brief personal anecdote. After twice moving across the world for my yoga teachers and making every effort to practice diligently and well-roundedly over a period of the past 16 years, one of them asked me why my practice wasn’t working (since the “happiness” that he claimed comes as a natural result of the practice wasn’t manifesting in me. In fact, I was severely chronically ill, angry, pathologically depressed, and generally incapable of doing much of anything other than my practice and some minimal teaching). I really wondered why myself, since I believed what I was being fed, something not quite as simplistic but nonetheless along the lines of “Practice and all is coming!”
Well, long story short, having now trained in counseling and specializing in trauma for the past few years and having done quite a bit of shamanic and psychotherapeutic work in addition to my yoga practice in a healing vein, I am now feeling better. The yoga in the form I was engaging would not have sufficed. I would have continued to suffer tremendously (like mega-high-amplitude) and become all the more ill. I would have inadvertently continued to be isolated from the rest of humanity, which would have made all of my afflictions worse.
Know what? I had no idea that I had trauma. I considered myself very fortunate in the grand scheme of things, but lo and behold it turns out my nervous system had perceived a high level of threat for a long time and felt very, very traumatized. (Many people cannot point to a single event or set of aversive circumstances and therefore ignore the possibility that there is trauma stuck in their bodies and attribute their pains to other causes. In fact, as I myself found out AFTER graduating from counseling school and writing my capstone on trauma, my own memory and perception of certain events had been skewed and obscured in a way that makes trauma very slippery to pinpoint for many and very easy to deny in those of us who actually want to take control of our own lives and not sit around feeling fragile and sorry for ourselves).
The idea that our salvation is in our own hands and that we need to walk our own path and the teacher cannot walk it for us is quite unfortunate, as it feeds into our modern pathological individualism, incessant self-blame and pressure towards self-improvement, and desperate need to heal in order to even survive in a hostile economy. While ultimately true and liberating, a greater recognition that the teacher or our community or others around us could walk the path WITH us is direly needed. Indeed, these paths were developed with the expectation that seekers would have intact nervous systems and deep trusting relationships with truly accomplished teachers, conditions that are rarely met in the yoga world today, though I do not exclude the possibility that it could happen, or even deny that there have been times (for which I am inexpressibly grateful) when I have experienced it myself.
While we can dissolve many kinds of samskara/conditioning with pure awareness (if we are in a state where we are able to cultivate that), traumatic conditioning seems to be a special case. When we have been traumatized in relationship to others, we often need others to help us to repair ourselves. This is not a pathetic failure to practice correctly. This is the truth of interdependence, something a lot of spiritual teachers like to give lip service to but seem not to comprehend when they leave us hanging with a bunch of practices to do as if that is all we should need.
That is not all we need. Interpersonal neuroscience demonstrates that our nervous systems need others to co-regulate with in order to develop properly and that even under optimal developmental conditions, various forms of trauma can disrupt these systems to a point beyond what we can fix by a little bit (or a lot) of breathing or posing by ourselves or even with our million Instagram followers. 😉 We are all being bombarded through media with the suffering of an entire world teetering on the brink of disaster. Even when we feel we are on a conscious level cool as a cucumber, there may be parts of us that desperately need reassurance through mindful contact with others.
Hence, all the hype these days about self-regulation, be it in the yoga or therapy realm is really a lot of hooey if you are speaking to somebody with any degree of trauma load, which turns out to be quite a majority given that oppression can cause trauma, not just shell shock, and that trauma is now believed to underly a great majority of mental and physical symptoms and disorders, not to mention how we all have various forms of ancestral trauma that we can see in our genes as well as behaviors… In other words, if you have any kind of problem, consider trauma as a possible underlying factor and investigate whether you are suffering needlessly from it.
There is nothing heroic about suffering, whether it’s torturing yourself with an inadequate or inappropriate yoga practice, mild insomnia or something that seems far more grave. If you can just get rid of it, go ahead. If I had only known sooner, I would have had a very different life. (No regrets per se, like Peter says, it has opened my eyes to worlds I am so grateful to know, but then again, maybe the cost would not have had to have been quite so high… I also do not mean to say that it will be a quick fix. It has taken an extreme investment in my case and is still a work in progress, but some additional relief has come at every stage of intervention.)
So maybe you’re young and fit, love your yoga teacher and are enjoying your life. That is wonderful and please don’t think there is anything wrong with that either. However, if there comes a point where any of this shifts, and you find that what has worked in the past no longer serves you, that is when I hope you will remember that other kinds of help are available.
I do not mean to knock the methods and profound philosophical roots of yoga, which I do trust from my own experience as being extremely powerful under the right circumstances. I still practice and teach them with conviction, but not with the naivety I once did. I have started to see that so many of us need some supplemental work at some point or another.
I felt sooo much shame on my own path, wondering why I needed extra help when I pretty much collapsed after working so hard for so long and gaining so much training and apparent competence. In the end the mantras did less for me than a hug from a person who truly cared for me as a person.
There should be no shame in getting the help you need, and my hope in writing and teaching about trauma is to get the word out so that more people will understand how it is affecting us all, and how we can more skillfully and compassionately work through it and move on to the more subtle suffering that at least at first masquerades as happiness LOL! 😉
About 4 years ago, a therapist recommended that I practice with the sole intention of healing in mind. It’s fascinating to watch how I resisted that for so long, believing that I had so many other goals to simultaneously attend to. Whereas my teachers have always encouraged creativity and intelligent movement, and never pushed the strict routines recommended by most Ashtangis, there was still something in me that felt I had something to prove. I often felt that since I can do a certain level of practice, I should somehow try to maintain or exceed that, at least for a while.
Only now that I have set up my own space and spent years developing a trauma-informed paradigm that validates everything I believe in deep down can I actually fully let go and explore what the benefits are to diving inwards, without caring how it looks and without worrying that my social media following will dwindle. I’m finally at the point where I really don’t care. I see that my 4th series posts usually get twice as many likes, but I’m ready to work with the people (I know you’re out there) who want to work with whatever is available. Some days it may well be advanced series, but that is not the only way to have an “advanced practice.”
Whereas I’ve always incorporated a variety of practices and felt competent about knowing when to implement different techniques, I find that as a trauma survivor who has dealt with chronic illness for over a decade it helps to hear accounts like those of Angela Farmer above. For those who do not know her, she was one of the foremost Iyengar Yoga teachers, but for many years now she has been helping students to tap into their own discrimination and empowerment, which rarely unfolds when following rote sequences at peak difficulty day after day and year after year.
I love how she describes tapping in and listening to places that she would have to gloss over in a more active, rigorous or prescribed practice. It is true that for most of us we continue to hide the most tender spots, even if focusing very intently on internal forms and doing fine work in asana. It’s hard for me to admit, but emotions generally only bubble up for me in restorative work. Even though there have been times when I have felt great ease in whatever series, still some parts of me were perhaps performing rather than showing their vulnerable underbellies. It’s time for me to be a little more honest and let them come out.
I resisted getting a dog or roommate forever thinking they would disturb my routine and my practice, which I was clinging to since it helped me to function while dealing with a disease that made getting through the day virtually impossible for me. Now I realize that (especially with the trauma) I actually desperately needed companionship. Even in restorative poses on my own I was not able to reach anything that was asking for my tenderness. Only with therapists I trust and a couple of very special yoga teachers had I been able to peel away the multiple layers of facade and needing to excel and trying to prove that I’m ok and self-sufficient. Now, I find as in the case above, a warm fuzzy chewing animal putting pressure on my head and a fellow practitioner joining me for some practice creates a more profoundly real quiet and peace than the fake one-pointedness I sometimes felt in other practice situations that I now attribute to mild dissociation.
Angela mentions that her meditation experience is qualitatively different when she allows herself to practice in the way she describes. On the day I shot this video, I also felt a very different kind of stillness. I won’t say I’d never felt it before. In fact, sometimes I have felt tremendous benefit from practicing one or multiple Ashtanga series. It’s really a matter of trusting myself to see what I need on a given day and not falling into the trap that so many Ashtangis believe that this is laziness, or that failing to follow the formula nixes our chances for moksha in any upcoming lifetime. On this day it was clear that the inflammation on the backside of my body would not allow me to breathe deeply even in simple sun salute variations. After some brief standing poses I knew I could actually work more concentratedly laying down, oscillating between different patterns and easing my way inwards.
I am still a big fan of the series and likely will continue to implement them for years to come (or at least parts of them), but I will also be checking in with myself constantly to determine whether something else might be more appropriate and beneficial on any given day. Giving myself more and more of this permission feels like the real deal. It may or may not be glamorous, but I know it’s the real work. It’s the real me taking whatever responsibility I have for my real life. No guru I’ve met has convinced me that they know better than I do about my own state, but those I truly admire have also stepped up to find out what they uniquely can do in themselves to connect to darkness as well as light. There is so much value in the practices we have learned, but the value is in their skillful and compassionate application. I hope that those of us open to exploration will receive the support that allows us to proceed without needless doubt and unwarranted criticism. I hope that more and more brave spaces will pop up for us to look into what is truly possible.
Hi Friends, Jiyu and I are so enjoying our morning mini-retreats and hope you can make it to experience a very complete practice, which will then inform any one of the practices you do in the future! We have added options for 2 days/week, a 5-pack, and a single drop-in, depending upon your schedule. Please see full details here.
Jiyu also wants me to let you know that in the cases pictured, the students asked him to do these particular assists. He does not want you to feel that he will be giving paws-on assists without your explicit consent and guidance 😉 After all, we teach TIAVY (trauma informed ashtanga vinyasa yoga)! Looking forward to practicing with you.
Wishing you could go on a tropical yoga retreat, but have to stay home and work? Join the club. Get more benefit and less food poisoning by joining Jiyu (the teacher) and me (your dedicated fellow practitioner) for one or more 5-weekday morning self-practice retreats at our home in Denver! (Can’t pull off 5 days in a row? Jiyu and I still want you to have a taste of the delicious nectar of this experience, so we have devised drop-in or 5-pack experiences for students we have worked with in the past. We just ask that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with the protocol laid out here so that the flow is not interrupted for those of us already in the groove.)
I was listening to neuroscientist Richie Davidson in an interview lately, and he mentioned how much more potent retreat practice is for making modifications to brain structure and function. I have felt this on my many extended retreats. Although we will not be secluding ourselves for long periods, we will nonetheless propel ourselves into full potential mode with this amazing morning routine, providing a combination of the most potent practices plus a warm and friendly community vibe that we feel is essential for most of us to experience optimal benefit.
The mini-retreats will take place weekdays from Monday June 3rd through Friday July 12th. Start your day with a brief puja and shamanic invocations to sanctify and empower the space for healing, then dedicated time for kriya and asana, tea with friends, 3 kinds of meditation and pranayama! I have developed this schedule based on recommendations from my principal teachers Richard Freeman, Mary Taylor, Jennifer Hinton & Patrice Bazile as well as my own long-term practice and the scientific research on healing and neuroplasticity.
I am looking so forward to doing this that I am sure it will be my best summer ever! And Jiyu is sure it will be his best yet as well (after all it is his first)! Be prepared to relish some puppy kisses as Jiyu matures in his teaching role. In that regard, his ideas of trauma-informed adjustments are a little different than mine, and once in a while you might end up with a dog and/or bone on your mat, but he gives paws-on assists (like those in the photos) only with your explicit consent and very careful direction! Usually he aids you by his fantastic demonstrations of care-free relaxation. 🙂
The 6 available self-practice retreats are Monday-Friday (no moon days observed). If you are not able to make it every day that is up to you, though I would encourage you to think of this as a special opportunity to practice more consistently and intensely than you may normally be able to do. You may sign up for any number of weeks:
- June 3-7
- June 10-14
- June 17-21
- June 24-28
- July 1-5
- July 8-12
- 5:55am Morning Puja
- 6:00am Pranayama
- 6:30am Zazen Meditation*
- 6:45 Metta Meditation*
- 6:55 Competent Protector Meditation*
- 7:00 Ashtanga Invocation, Kriya & Asana
- 8:57am 4-minute Quiet Meditation*
- 9:01am Utplutih & Group Savasana*
- 9:15am Closing Chant & Tea with Friends
*Please do not come or go during the silent periods (6:30-7:00 or after 8:55).
Morning Puja: We will delineate our sacred space through the invocation of the King of the Nagas, the ultimate support, invite Ganesh to have a seat in our sacred space, and then call in benevolent spirits from the 4 directions and 3 realms to be with us and bring their wisdom, compassion, skillful means, guidance, help, healing and curative energies while we practice together.
Pranayama: If you have been given a breathing practice by a competent teacher, please feel free to do it. If not, you can schedule a private lesson with me live or on Skype to develop one, or you could download Richard Freeman’s Yoga Breathing (2 CD/ MP3 set) onto your phone and bring earphones to do CD 1 or 2 with him. (The first 3 practices take about 30 minutes and would be a great start for anybody who is new to pranayama. You can do them sitting up or laying down.)
Zazen Meditation (15 min): This is seated (or standing if needed) meditation on breath and posture. If you have your own silent meditation practice, you are welcome to do that during this time.
Metta Meditation (10 min): This is compassion meditation, which has the potential to very deeply change our way of relating in the world. If you are familiar with this practice, implement your favorite method. Otherwise a script will be included in the chant download.
Competent Protector Meditation (5 min): This exercise is meant to restore healthy attachment, which is a prerequisite for most all forms of healing. It has been recommended by neuroscientists, trauma therapists and shamanic healers alike. You will visualize a real or imaginary being capable of providing you with protection, support, companionship, wisdom, warmth, and all else that you need. You will bask in the feelings associated with that support in order to retrain the nervous system to feel safe and cared for, which will allow your own innate healing mechanisms and life talents to gain a stronger foothold in this universe.
Kriya & Asana: Kriyas you might want to practice before coming include skin brushing, oil pulling (swishing sesame or coconut oil in the mouth for 5-20min–do NOT swallow!) during your shower (possibly warm with a 30-second cold rinse at the very end to invigorate the nervous system), salt water flush, or while here, kapalabhati and uddiyana bandha kriya… (Need a brush-up or want to learn more? Schedule a lesson with me live or on Skype. For those signed up for a mini-retreat, I am offering a 50% discount on private lessons.)
You will be encouraged to enter finishing postures (following backbending) with 20 minutes remaining. These are some of the most detoxing and rejuvenating postures when we take our time with them. If not inverting, you are of course welcome to do restoratives, etc., just as you are welcome to make the rest of the practice your own. I have slings and every prop I’ve ever seen available for your enjoyment.
We will sit for 4 minutes following the yoga mudra/ujjayi postures prior to utplutih. At this point in the practice it feels most natural to sit quietly. We will then reap the benefits of a nice long savasana.
Tea with Friends (15 min): Time for satsang (spiritual company), a light snack if you want to bring one, and fun with the puppy. I will need to get ready for work by 9:30.
INVESTMENT & REGISTRATION–
Each week will cost $50, or if you want to go all-out, you can sign up for all 6 weeks for the discounted price of $250. There will be no refunds for missed days, and if you register but then cancel within 48 hours of your start date, you will still be responsible to pay for the week. You must register by reading and signing this form by Sunday 12-noon prior to the week you intend to practice in order to ensure that there is room. You will then get the exact address (near Water World, 84th & Pecos) and final details from me.
For those unable to book a full week, drop-ins are available for $25/day, 2x/week for $40, or if you plan on coming 5 or more times this summer, you may purchase a 5-pack for $85 upfront, good through July 12th. No refunds. Please follow the protocol above, registering by noon on Sunday before the week you first wish to attend so that I have time to plan and send you the infos.
Jiyu and I are looking forward to practicing with you!!! 🙂