Ashtanga Vinyasa teaches us to listen, deeply, as we move on the rhythm of the breath. We practice in silence to listen. And we teach in silence to listen, so we can meet our students more nearly where they are. In place of words, we often use our hands. We use them to support, adjust and guide our students deeper into the experience of the forms, without breaking the silence and engaging the thinking mind.
At other times, we forgo using our hands, and we break the silence with verbal cues or explanations, for that is sometimes exactly what the situation requires. Hands-on-assists are appropriate only to those who are open to receive them, without fear, intimidation or. And sometimes just holding space, in noble silence, is a better way of giving support. Knowing who to assist, and how and when to assist them, is an intuitive art. This art is informed and guided by the capacity to listen.
Hands-on-assists align with the inherently tactile nature of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. They are a vital tool for Mysore teachers, yet they can be precarious. To be skillful, they must be focused, lucid, receptive and precise, and they must draw from a deep experiential sense of alignment. Moreover, they must come from a selfless and loving impulse, without selfish motive or personal ambition, especially on the part of the teacher. If they are lacking in any of these, they become obtrusive, dangerous, manipulative or worse.
In a safe and supportive Mysore room, we discover together that Ashtanga Vinyasa is not a competition, nor an attempt to reshape the body into the images of our projections, but an exploration of the intertwining realities of the imagination and its subtle and visceral embodiments. Only when we take this realization to heart, and we practice accordingly, do we become prepared to assist.
In this two-week intensive, we explore the art of assisting. We consider how and when to use our hands, and when to use other, equally rich teaching methods so that we may support our students in finding their way. In a safe, warm and supportive environment, we discuss the issues of intimacy, privacy and vulnerability that come along with assisting, and we consider the crucial matter of sustaining the same kind of environment as we teach, that is, an environment of mutual trust, which quietly welcomes open and ongoing communication.
On a more technical level, we work through a wide spectrum of adjustments from the Ashtanga system, learning to be supportive and enriching without using significant force. There are no formulas for assisting, but there are patterns of alignment and form that provide insight into understanding the dynamics of assisting. Using these patterns as a guide, we work through the postures one by one, experimenting with them on our fellow teachers, conversing about them, and learning from the experience.
This workshop is designed to help Ashtanga teachers of all kinds hone their ability to assist in a way that is appropriate for the unique bodies and circumstances of their students. There are no requirements of teaching experience or postural proficiency, but participants should be grounded, steeped in daily practice, inspired to serve others, and wide open to learn. All who meet these requirements are welcome to attend.
Our immersion will be held at the Boulder Shambhala Center, in the beautiful Shambhala Training Hall. This is a spacious and light filled space, lined with tall windows, high above Spruce street. Having been used as meditation room for decades, the space has a vibrant and open atmosphere, perfect for our contemplative explorations.
Mysore 7:00 – 9:30
Assist 9:30 – 12:00
Lunch 12:00 – 2:00PM
Workshop 2:00 – 4:30
Morning Mysore Practice will be held on Saturday, September 5. Sunday, September 6 will be a day of rest.
$1200. Registration is secure upon $400 deposit, with the remaining balance due on August 3. Refunds will be issued upon request, minus $100 for administrative fees until August 3. No refunds will be issued after Aug 3. To register, make your deposit by clicking the “register” button below. You will receive a confirmation email promptly.