Jason Birch & Jacqueline Hargreaves: Immersion, Lectures and Workshops 2013
July 22 - 26, 06:30-08:00 & 08:30-10:00
Kriyas, Pranayama and Meditation
with Jason Birch
July 22 - 26, 06:30-08:00
It is often taught that one should begin the day with postures (asana) in order to prepare for subtler practices such as pranayama and meditation. However, there’s much to gain from beginning the day with pranayama and meditation, before practicing postures. Firstly, the breathing practices can generate vitality and reduce tension in the body so that postures are much easier to practice. Secondly, meditation creates the introspectiveness, mental focus and sensitivity that makes postural practice safe and effective. In fact, without a meditative focus, postural practice is simply a crude form of exercise. This immersion will look at the best ways to practise Kriyas (cleansing practices), Pranayamas (breathing practices) and Meditation early in the morning before the practice of postures.
Mindful Movement (Asana/Mudra) and Deep Relaxation
with Jacqueline Hargreaves
July 22 - 26, 08:30-10:00
We will begin our morning postural practice (asana) with mindful movements and attentiveness to the breath. We will listen intently to the feelings within to develop a respect for our intuitive responses. We will learn to use minimal exertion and effort to enhance (rather than deplete) our vitality, moving our spine through its full range of motion - forward, backward, twisting, lateral, traction and inversion. Inverting the body, regularly and steadily, is one of the most powerful mechanisms in Yoga for inducing a state of tranquillity: the breath becomes subtle, the body, warm and soft, the mind, clear and quiet. Ready to seize each and every moment in its fullness!
Experienced Practitioner/Teacher Immersion
LEAD WITH INSIGHT
July 22 - 25, 13:45-16:45
Doing Yoga versus Being Yoga with Jacqueline Hargreaves
July 22, 13:45-16:45
Yoga offers a different way of knowing the world. Through the practise, we begin to realise that striving to achieve (e.g. a certain posture) or comparing ourselves to others (and their abilities) only exaggerates our mental disturbances and can leave us feeling dissatisfied, unhappy and even anxious. By contrast, paying attention to the spontaneous present moment and its richness through our bodily sensation seems to dissolve mental agitation and leaves us feeling at ease and content. In this module, we will look at ways to practise and teach Yoga that shifts our perspective from the judgmental inner critic to that of the inquisitive experiential Yogin. We will consider modern scientific research which shows that increases in positive mood and wellbeing are directly related to becoming more aware during ordinary life experiences, where as, decreases in negative mood are more closely related to acceptance of thoughts and emotions without judgment. We will discuss how the shift from ‘doing’ yoga to ‘being’ yoga results in happiness and wellbeing.
How to teach and practise Pranayama with Jason Birch
July 23, 13:45-16:45
Many modern styles of yoga focus so much on postures (asana) because Pranayama is so difficult to teach beginners, particularly in a class situation. Also, the practice of Pranayama is not as accessible as postures, and so many teachers do not continue the practice of Pranayama long enough to master the basics, thereby allowing them to teach it confidently in class.
This class will look at the practices preliminary to Pranayama (the Satkarma) which can be taught safely to beginners in classes. It will also look at how teachers can develop their practice of Pranayama in order to balance and further their practice of postures and meditation.
The Power of Bhavana with Jacqueline Hargreaves
July 24, 13:45-16:45
Patanjali’s Yogasutra (1.33) states that we can assist in settling the mind by cultivating feelings (bhavana) of friendliness, compassion, joy and equanimity. In our meditation practice, we are probably more familiar with being disturb or unsettled by events that cause the lingering feelings of anger, hostility, suffering, sadness and so on. These are obstacles to Yoga.
Modern research has now proven that in just 9 weeks, meditation that focuses on loving-kindness leads to an increased sense of purpose, boosts positive emotions and reduces feelings of isolation. As we attempt to experience ‘unity’ (Yoga in its true sense), we will look at how to cultivate these Bhavana in our everyday practice and teaching of Yoga, so as to experience deeper meditation and greater clarity of mind.
How to Talk about Yoga's Tradition when Teaching Yoga with Jason Birch
July 25, 13:45-16:45
Yoga teachers and some publications often make some ambitious claims about the benefits of yoga... Students should always be aware of any statements beginning with: 'According to tradition...' and, 'according to the ancient yoga texts...'. The most important questions to ask in regard to such statements, is which tradition is being referred to and does it have anything to do with the yoga being taught. This module will look at the claims made by Patanjala and Hathayoga on the benefits of yoga, in particular, the physical and psychological benefits and how best to communicate these to students who are practising modern yoga.
Philosophy Lectures with Jason Birch
July 22 & 24, 18:45-20:45
The meaning and essence of Hatha Yoga
July 22, 18:45-20:45
Most modern styles of Indian yoga derive from Hatha yoga (i.e., the forceful yoga), but do you practise forceful yoga? What does ‘Hatha’ yoga mean? And why has it survived for so many centuries and been practiced by so many different people? This talk will try to identify the real genius of Hathayoga which has given it the edge over other types of yoga in India.
Modern versus Traditional Yoga, is there an authentic yoga?
July 24, 18:45-20:45
As yoga becomes commercialised globally, the big dilemma it faces is authenticity. Ever feel like your yoga teacher is making it all up? Do you need to go to India to learn authentic yoga, and if so, which Indian guru is teaching it? The long evolution of yoga and its more recent renaissance make it difficult to know what is authentic and what is not. A look at the broader history of yoga and its changes over the past 50 years reveals that in many respects, history may be repeating itself and the answers to the question of authenticity may lie elsewhere.
July 27 & 28, 08:00–10:30
Moving Mindfully, Feeling Deeply: Yoga in this moment
with Jacqueline Hargreaves
July 27, 08:00–10:30
In this workshop, we will feel the soles of our feet on the earth, explore the temperature of the air against our skin, and enjoy the immediacy of life in this moment! By replacing the ‘judgmental’ mind with the ‘inquisitive’ mind, it becomes possible to explore our bodies with child-like wonder using mindful movements to alleviate physical tension and enhance vitality. This has the surprising effect of cultivating body awareness and inducing a deep state of calm and ease. We will look at the detrimental effects of stress and how it often results in excessive rumination, feelings of isolation and disconnection from the precious experience of living.
Regardless of your current state of health or constitution, the practice of Yoga is designed to have an immediate impact on the way you feel, think, breathe and perceive. It is a mistake to think that you must be fit and flexible to practise Yoga and that you cannot practise it if unfit or unwell. Once the techniques are learned and their effects understood, Yoga becomes conducive to profound insights and true happiness in this moment!
Essential Hatha Yoga
with Jason Birch
July 28, 08:00–10:30
This workshop will look at what is essential in a Hatha yoga practice. Though there are numerous practices and different styles of yoga, there are some fundamentals which make physical yoga effective. The language of the fitness industry has taken hold of yoga, reducing the practice of postures to 'stretching' and 'strengthening' exercises, and perhaps this is enough for those who are content with a 'workout'. As modern exercise systems subsume these aspects of postural work, it is worth looking at other aspects of yoga which remain outside the fitness model. Indeed, the language of past physical yoga traditions has more to do with vitality (prana) and stillness (niscala). A combination of the two induces a profound state of
meditation. This workshop will look at how cleansing techniques (satkarma), postures (asana), bodily seals (mudra) and breathing exercises (pranayama) can be combined to make meditation accessible. Modern research is beginning to reveal the numerous psychosomatic benefits of meditation and, when properly combined, the physical yoga techniques are the most effective way to harness these benefits.
This workshop is suitable for those who have some experience with basic yoga postures and a reasonable level of health.