Monday, October 20, 2014

A Definition

One year ago: no yoga for months. Last class in 2013 kicked my butt.  
One month ago: started learning the Ashtanga intermediate series on asana days
One week ago: started independent drop-backs and standing with one leg behind the head.

Bheemashakti yoga is such a different approach to movement. I expect I'll keep changing how I describe it as I learn more and experience it for myself, and also as the methods and the faculty and teachers evolve. The first few months I tried to explain to some coworkers what it was, the confused explanation came out as: "It's like strength training. We do sets and reps based on yoga asanas." No interest.

Bheemashakti categorizes the asanas into 7 categories or "dimensions". There are basic exercises for every category to increase flexibility and strength together using repetitive movements and a certain kind of breathing. After one has a firm physical foundation, the student transitions into asana practice and has an infinite variety of asana-specific exercises to choose from.

The all-levels class is a totally different format from any yoga class.  All-levels classes focus on the leg dimension. Those totally new to physical practice do "pre-foundational" versions on the floor; others do "foundational" ones on a barre. You can see Jonathan do them here. Sometimes the faculty will throw in some sun salutations or a dose of the Ashtanga primary series, but oftentimes it is a purely Dimensional practice.

What draws me to this method is that it takes each student from where they are to a stronger, more flexible place in an efficient manner. It is infinitely adaptable in this way: I started as flexible and as strong as limp spaghetti; well, maybe slightly stale spaghetti. I was challenged but not flattened by my first class; I am still challenged in the all-levels classes even though I am also in all of the advanced classes.

It is also completely transparent. A student can easily look around the room and see how one goes from "simple stretching" on the floor to standing splits because everyone is doing a version of the exercise tailored to their strength and bendy-ness.

As the curriculum currently cycles through all seven dimensions every week, no facet of one's practice is left behind.

Jonathan's teaching is compassionate and thoroughly educated; there is a continuity of a teacher's care to inform my practice in a way that I have never had. Each week I go to a new level.

I want to tell the sun and the moon and the world about this method. I want to tell everyone about how I was so weak and stiff in some places, weak and floppy in others and now my body is once more the finely tuned instrument it was when I was a martial artist. One does NOT have to stew on a plateau for months or years before seeing progress in the physical practice. One can move forwards and grow with CORRECT practice.

I am so grateful. 

(Deep TV voice-over) Bheemashakti yoga: cultivate your yoga practice and watch it flower!

1. Bheemashakti:
2. Kapalabati Breathing:
3. Kriya:

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