Last year, in July 2007, I spent a week up at Brietenbush Hot Springs attending the first level of training for Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. I learned adjustments and assists for several poses, many of which were new to me. I found this to be a deeply affecting retreat but I remained uncertain if this was the direction I wanted to head in.
I had been studying Kripalu yoga with a teacher at Yoga Shala in Portland, however, the timing of it sometimes made it challenging to get there each week. I was really needing a more intermediate class, however, there weren't any taught at times I wasn't working or teaching yoga already. I found Prananda studio purely by Google proximity search, it is the closest to my house. I liked the teachers' bios on the website and decided to drop in.
Over a year later I keep going back and the feeling of being at home there has grown. In some ways I have found it easier to feel like I fit in with the group of people who make up Prananda, students and teachers, than I have felt in my Zen community! I thought about the teacher training program for many months. Finally it was truly obvious -- I want to become a certified teacher so I can be offering yoga to a larger audience than the community center where I teach. The place I felt at home studying yoga offered training, it seemed to be the right fit to pursue my longer commitment to training there.
I'm starting this blog, Yogastha Kuru Karmani, to track my studies in this program. I know I'll continue to use it beyond that as a place to house bits of information about the study and teaching of Hatha Yoga. During the 27 weeks of my current program I will also be putting writing assignments here as well as thoughts on what I've learned.
Why "Yogastha Kuru Karmani"? I had a desire to use Sanskrit to describe this blog, something that reflected that it was related to my studies of yoga. In doing some translations I came across the word yogastha as having a meaning that is "abiding in the discipline of yoga" and it felt like I was on the right track. When I researched this word further, wanting to really get into that hint of definition I found that it is part of a famous quote in the Bhagavad Gita.
This is something Krishna says to Arjuna, "Yogastha Kuru Karmani". The Gita emphasizes that this means**, "Wherever you may be, and whatever you may be doing you must be in a state of Yoga. You must be closely linked up with the Universal Soul. You must be closely linked up with the Divine, and thus linked up, you must perform your activities." (**reference for this translation)
That sums it up pretty well. The study of Hatha Yoga must be joined up with the concept of the Divine. For me, with my Zen practice, I see the Divine as the BuddhaDharma. If yoga means union, it must be that each thing I do must be in union with the the teachings of Buddha and the many Dharma teachings available now.