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Yoga Workshop Review Cape Town: Ancient Practice for Modern Lives with Jim Harrington.

September 26, 2012

Workshop Review: Ancient Practice for Modern Lives by Jim Harrington.

Review by: Juanita Caprari.

I was fortunate enough to attend this well attended workshop of approximately thirty odd participants on Saturday 15th September 2012 hosted by Yogazone about the integration of contemporary Yoga Asana practice and Yoga Philosophy.

 

The afternoon workshop opened with the Tibetan Bowl sound and a few minutes of silent awareness. Awareness of being present as well as awareness and sensing of the energy of others present and then connecting with this presence by acknowledging and greeting fellow yogis.

An hour discussion facilitated by Jim then began which he pointed out may not have been the norm to past workshops he hosted which were all asana practice based. He feels it has become more important to also include discussion together as a group about yoga topics as one does in satsang, therefore becoming more involved in the community and philosophy of Yoga as opposed to perhaps an obsession of yoga asana practice. In so doing “we engage the thinking mind and the Yoga body” as Jim eloquently explained.

Jim’s manner and tone is always one of gentleness and serenity. His vast experience and ever learning knowledge is never droned out with ego and he respectfully pointed out that whatever points of view he expresses are purely his own opinion. Yet he encouraged people to disagree should that arise as such disagreement in discussion is part of learning and testing.

One of the main questions of discussion was: “ What is an authentic Yogi?”

Before Jim offered his opinion we joined together in groups of 3 for 5 minutes to share our individual answers. The responses were varied and equally valid. To tie in with the answers, Jim related a famous Hindu myth of Lord Ganesh, the famous deity with the head of an elephant, son of Lord Shiva and Parvathi. The myth is that a sage told Ganesh and his younger brother, Kartikeya, to circumnavigate the world 3 times and whoever would do so successfully would win the prize of a mango. Kartikeya mounted his means of transport and did exactly that, traveled around the world 3 times and then returned home. When he did so, he realized Ganesh had not moved at all. Instead, Ganesh stood and walked in a circle around his parents 3 times. The sage then awarded Ganesh the prize. Of course, his younger brother was stunned and upset. Ganesh explained that his world was his parents.

 

The moral of the story: Perception and everyone’s worldly perception is different and what is worldly and important is different each to his own.

Another interesting side to the myth of Lord Shiva is that he is known for both good and bad, i.e. He was one of those Sadhus known “to take the dark way” associated with violent ways. Yet Shiva also experienced a profound love life with Parvathi and this love affair was legendary. This proved that Shiva had both sides. He is also depicted with a blue throat. According to one myth he drank the poison stirred up from the ocean that would destroy the world to save humanity. He drank it but he did not swallow and thus the blue throat. Despite his “dark nature” he made a huge sacrifice to save humanity.

The moral of the story: Jim pointed out that there is a real connection of our humanity with the characteristics of Hindu god traditions because there is the common link of various facets and aspects of our nature that are positive and negative and therefore we should try not to run away from certain aspects of our nature

In one’s Yoga practice, there will be, at some point, some “poison” that surfaces and it is in our nature and power to decide how to deal with it

How does one transform something that originates form the dark aspect into something that is different yet positive?

So it comes to reason that processing and accessing is truly important as part of one’s Yoga asana and meditation practice. All facets of one’s nature, the positive and the negative that may and can arise need to be assessed and processed.

Therefore an authentic student and or an authentic teacher is one who is able to do so with truthful intentions, helpful intentions and selfless serving intentions. To be mindful that the focus is not purely on the third limb alone of Yoga, i.e. the asanas as then the true objective of Yoga becomes side tracked. Asana alone is not Yoga, it is a limb and path to self discovery and enlightenment. Jim pointed out that one should view asana practice as awareness of the body and to direct this thought energy to the various parts of the body in order to open up the energy channels of the body.

The last important topic of discussion before the asana part of the workshop was that of Tapas which is Austerity and Jim offered the meaning of “self imposed suffering with a purpose.”  How can a yogi incorporate this philosophy in modern day? The answers given by various participants were varied, informative and interesting. Self imposed suffering, whatever one chooses it to be, can make one stronger and happier if the purpose is a healthy and non-selfish one. Perhaps Tapas could be interpreted as self discipline. In one’s hectic modern day schedule and demands of work, family, children and social interactions, perhaps the Tapas is to make the time because of the stress and deadlines to go to that yoga class or do that home practice when you least feel like it. That requires a lot of perseverance and self discipline.

The last hour and a half of the workshop was an asana practice led by Jim, which was intense and amazing! He regularly gave instructions and input concerning positions for the shoulder, hip and ankle joints to facilitate safer practice and prevent unnecessary wear, tear and injury to the major joints and muscle groups. Minor adjustments that may even go slightly against teaching traditions yet Jim explained the reasons which ultimately serve the greater good and protection of the body.

For me personally, the physical practice was energizing, rejuvenating and informative. The discussion aspect was enlightening and truly inspiring. As a teacher and a practitioner, the workshop as a whole provided me with further insight and much needed re-connection of the meaning of Yoga: to “yoke” together the mind, the body, the spirit and the soul.

Thank you Jim!

Thank you Fulvio and Yogazone!

Namaste`

Juanita.

___________________________________________

Juanita is a certified Yoga teacher, Public Relations Practitioner and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UCT with majors in French & Italian. She started her Yoga practice in 2002. She has completed two Yoga Teacher Training Courses, the last one through Ananda Kutir Ashram, she has been teaching Yoga since 2007. Thanks to her Public Relations experience, Juanita discovered a love for writing and since 2007, after editing a book on Yoga, she has continued her love of the creative word by writing press releases, newsletters and articles highlighting various industries to the philosophy she loves the most, Yoga. Juanita is also the editor for Yoga Awakening Africajcaprari@mweb.co.za or visit the website www.yogamala.co.za

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tracey permalink
    September 27, 2012 9:14 am

    Thanks Juanita, A question that has been drifting in and out of my landscape. It always comes back to that which lives within and how That actions the practice in the world of things ….. namo namo.

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  1. Yogazone, Hot Yoga Studio Cape Town, South Africa « Yoga Awakening Africa News

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