“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

Monday, 19 March 2012

Richard Freeman's 'The Yoga Workshop' Boulder Col.

Practising and then listening more closely (while transcribing) Richard Freeman's back bending workshop at the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence last week has turned me on to Richard's teaching in a big way (see my comment at Claudia's yesterday). I fished out his Primary and 2nd series DVD's and practiced with them at the end of the week. I also found the Yoga Matrix Cd's hidden away on my back-up HD and downloaded his Panayama cd as well as his Book, Mirror of Yoga for my iPad, also made a link to his Studio talks. Sadly I can't make it to Boulder for a month intensive (although I did check out hostels in Boulder last night) but can kind of make my own month long, Richard Freeman intensive here in the home Shala.

UPDATED: Yogagodess has just posted on a downloadable Richard Freeman Into to Intermediate class on her blog .

Why such an interest all of a sudden, I mean I've had his DVD's and CD's for years but never really got on with them until now. Maybe it's just the right time, perhaps we're ready for different teachers at different times or different things they have to say at different periods of our practice, the gap between teaching and learning or rather appropriating, embodying. There's a lot of Richard's teaching I'm still not sure about but then that's part of the fun of it, exploring and trying it on anyway. My feeling is that Richard's is an approach to Ashtanga that seems somehow less far from my Vinyasa Krama practice and as I'm not prepared to give up one for the other the idea is to find way to balance and complement them both ever more effectively.

Besides I've spent the last few years just focussed on practice now I'm becoming more interested in the idea of skilful practice.

Also I loved the write up about his place on his website below, especially the highlighted section.


The Yoga Workshop


'lineage
An integral part of all classical schools of yoga is their lineage, or a tracing of their roots from teacher to teacher to teacher. The importance of a lineage to any tradition is that due to the interplay of different perspectives brought together by generations of teachers, the teachings automatically encompass subtle breadth and depth—a merging of awakening minds. The presence of lineage guarantees a transmission of the most essential and subtle experience of yoga which otherwise can be missed in the shadow of the ego.


The Ashtanga Vinyasa Lineage
Like all lineages, that at the Yoga Workshop is a hybrid of yoga methodologies and philosophies which converge clearly in the teachings of the early Upanisads and blossom later in the practices of Hatha Yoga and Tantra. The teaching at the Yoga Workshop is in the lineage of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.


The internal forms of Ashtanga yoga using bandhas, mudra and dristi with ujjai breathing are the pinnacle of Tantric technique brought to light in the broad clarifying context of Patanjali’s yoga philosophy and the non-dualism of the Upanisads. This traditional approach is recognizable in Hindu and Buddhist contemplative traditions as well as in the direct experience the practice uncovers.


These living lineages come to us directly through T.K.V. Krishnamacarya and K. Pattabhi Jois drawing the potent thread of yoga into the present from thousands of years since its formulation in Ancient India.


The current series in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system were developed by T. K. V. Krishnamacarya around the internal principles of vinyasa found in the ancient Indian text, the “Yoga Kurunta”. He instructed his student K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, South India to master and to use these series in teaching the Ashtanga Vinyasa system.


Richard Freeman, the Yoga Workshop’s founder, was one of the first Western teachers to be certified to teach by K. Pattabhi Jois. All teachers at the Yoga Workshop have studied extensively with Richard. This form of yoga has been practiced and taught at the Yoga Workshop for over 20 years.


At the Yoga Workshop
A fundamental aim of the teaching at the Yoga Workshop is to keep an open mind as we continually refresh the linage of Ashtanga Vinyasa system by making it applicable to the immediate condition of our bodies, minds and cultures.


We encourage students to read and ask questions about original ancient texts that have been influential in this lineage. Students are also encouraged to contemplate and question the ever changing context and landscape of yoga, both within their own practice (self reflection) and within the broader context of yoga as it evolves in the 21st century. We encourage the juxtaposing of our tradition with other traditions and lineages to challenge, to critique and to refine both ourselves and others.


As part of this we offer classes not only on asana, but also on meditation, pranayama and philosophy.


In Boulder we have the luxury of having many visiting Buddhist teachers and Rinpoches as part of Naropa University and the Shambhala community with whom we can interface. In addition we frequently have senior Iyengar teachers visiting the area. B.K.S. Iyengar is a contemporary of K. Pattabhi Jois and both were students of T.K.V Krishnamacarya, so Iyengar yoga is closely related within the lineage. We encourage teachers and students to broaden their perspectives by studying with senior teachers in these traditions as they deepen their yoga practice.


The practice allows us to see through the workings of our own minds, to ground our experience in the present moment and to have a compassionate and clear understanding of the ideas, beliefs and rituals which surround our yoga practice and daily lives. Ethical conduct, honesty and compassion are at the heart of the practice.


Heart of the Practice
As part of the asana practice, core strength and alignment are accessed by integrating movement with the structural patterns along the central axis of the body. This is accomplished by meditation on the structural tones in the pelvic floor which balance the body and open its midline into deep direct experience of the life process. In this way one can establish a genuine ground for the further practices of pranayama, opening of internal energy channels, awakening of kundalini, and meditation.


Within the Ashtanga Vinyasa system postures are linked together through flowing movement (vinyasa), and the joining of that movement with the gaze, the breath and the currents of internal sensations. There are seven formal series of postures which are each practiced in sequential flow. All series begin with the Sun Salutations and contain the same standing postures. All end with the same finishing sequence. The postures sandwiched between vary from series to series, and are designed to address specific issues, such as structural integration, cleaning the nadis, or strengthening the internal mudras. Most students practice the Primary or Intermediate series, and a few advanced students work into the Advanced series.


Ongoing Classes
All classes at the Yoga Workshop incorporate the internal, meditative approach integral to the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. Led classes are based on the sequencing and flow of the traditional series.


To help students deepen their practice, refine alignment or avoid injury, teachers may focus on particular facets of movement in the context of a series. Mysore classes are modeled after the self-practice asana classes traditionally taught by K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. A Mysore practice allows students to work on the appropriate series or therapeutic loop, with input and assistance from the teacher. Students chant together to begin the Mysore class and at the conclusion of class students practice the finishing postures together, ending with the corpse pose. We also offer special classes and workshops, detailing various aspects of the practice.'

8 comments:

  1. I applied to Richard's one month long a few years ago and did not get in, I think they were full already, or maybe I just did not make the cut, I have not finished second series after all, anyway, they are full this year too, they always get full so quickly! I think it must be a combination of the quality of the teachings and the cost which is pretty affordable (2850 or so)...

    I love this idea of taking a month to explore and go with his teachings that you are doing, very inspiring G!

    I also like what you highlighted in the sense that he goes by Pattabhi Jois teachings yet remains with an open mind in the direction of the workshop to work with the present bodies and minds of the people that appear, very rooted in the now, in what is real. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Grimmly

    My first Ashtanga Yoga DVD was Richard Freeman's "Introduction to Ashtanga " and his approach to Ashtanga Vinyasa is more Iyengar like as he comes from an Iyengar Background and I really like his approach and very much resonate with him .

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am a fan too. I attended a five day silent Buddhist meditation retreat at Eslalen last November and he was one of the teachers, along with Tias Little, Sarah Powers, and Patrica Sullivan. His dharma talk was profound. He is also doing a pranayama six month once a month live class on Soundstrue. We have done two and it is available for download. Again, a worthwhile investment for your library.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is interesting. I took Richard's workshop at the Confluence and it inspired me to do a "Richard Freeman festival" at home too. Hopefully I can make it to Boulder some day soon

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Claudia, he actually does a month long? I was kind of joking, I only noticed the week and two week courses. Love the idea of a month in Boulder, lived in the Rocky's for a while and crave mountains.

    My own month-long here though sounds a good plan, lots of material. I want to transcribe his DVDs now and make my own RF manual : ) he has so many little tips and tricks I keep missing, find I keep wanting to stop and rewind... the skin for example, dropping the skin at different areas of the body, fascinating, treating it like the organ it is, the role of skin in asana, who knew .

    Have you ever taken a workshop with him? I believe Lino likes you to have been on a workshop with him before allowing you on to his intensive, so perhaps it's the same thing. See you there one day.

    Love that section from his blog that I highlighted, every new teacher should get that tattooed on their arm instead of a line from Patanjali or a HYP.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Krishna, I like how he's incorporated the practices together, rather than imposing Iyengar on Ashtanga he seems to have brought the IYengar our of the Ashtanga ...if that makes any kind of sense. I'm having fun with it, savouring the asana anew.

    How was it Rene, it looked like it might be difficult to see what he was doing if you were in the middle and towards the back, plus he covers so much material in his workshop. I wonder how much you get to come away with, perhaps just those metaphors which then unwrap when you practice at home or in the shala.
    Has everyone seen the link on Yogagodesses' blog to his downloadable into to 2nd class?
    http://yogagodess.com/2012/03/19/richard-freeman-second-series/

    ReplyDelete
  7. my friend Olivia teaches at his place in Boulder - think it may be about time to pay her a visit and see what all the fuss is about as HK seems to escape his travel plans....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Grimmly,

    Seeing and hearing wasn't the problem, but absorbing it all was. At the end he said something to the effect of "Don't remember anything you heard in this class. If you practice, it will come back to you; if you don't, it won't."

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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