Deepening Yoga Practice

Tiina Kivinen Blog

While I was on my holidays this august in thunder bay I had the intention of finding clarity and inspiration within my life's work. I was enjoying practice and allowing new intentions and inspiration to flow. People often comment that I must be so relaxed and tranquil all the time, with being in a yoga energy all day every day, but the reality is, even yoga teachers get stressed, overworked, and need vacation time!

So we went North West to my beloved Thunder Bay area with our golden chesapeake bay retriever Breeze in our recently acquired Prius hybrid car, also golden, KarMa :)During the trip we spent a few days at my families camp on Dog Lake. In the mornings I did meditation and Yoga and tea on the dock, followed by days of blueberry picking, canoeing, endless sauna and lake swims, and time with the sweet family. I adore being by a lake, and when we went out in the canoe, harvesting sweet gale, it's amazing the nectar that would flow. I had been seeking clarity about what would be the first Deepening topic for my new workshop series. Something about the northern air and lake made it all clear. ASANA. We start with Asana (postures). Not in learning the techniques so much, we do that all the time in class. But knowing that the physical practice is THE entry point for most people practicing yoga these days, let's dive into what that is all about!

Why do we practice asana? What is the point? What does asana have to do with the expansion of consciousness, with Oneness, with YOGA as an experience of the infinite? How sometimes asana can become a distraction from what is really going on in our selves…. Let's face it, the ambition to do the asana, get strong and look cool in the poses often becomes a focus for yogis these days. Interesting, yes? So when we get curious about our embodied experience of yoga, we can start to take a closer look at how we can cultivate a yoga practice that involves, but is not limited to, asana. Asana that brings us into a deeper relationship with ourselves, rather than a surface level play of form and fitness.

As well, I greatly honour how empowering it is to cultivate a physicality, and rejoice in the body healing and release that happens when we breathe into sensation! Asana is a powerful gateway for an experience of non separation, but without coupling an asana practice with conscious awareness, self inquiry and mindfulness, we risk recreating ego tendencies and missing the point. The wonderful Michael Stone says it well in The Inner Tradition of Yoga
' Formal practice matures as awareness interiorizes, not through constant attention to superficial form. Otherwise, asana practice becomes another field in which we act out the habitual patterns of an unconscious self'.

I am so excited to explore this topic with you! In this new series, we will be enjoying a 3 hr mini yoga retreat on one saturday morning per month through the fall. I plan to guide a 90 min practice to start, in depth, full of pranayama, asana and meditation! Followed by group discussion, exploring what some wise beings have to share on the topic, mixing in some juicy sutras from Patanjali and lots of creative process! And tea 🙂