“Yoga isn’t PE class,” said Erich Schiffmann, as I sat in his workshop. He has a soft voice but you could tell he meant this. Schiffmann spend the next hour and a half talking about how one can yoke to the universe, little mind opening up to the possibility that we can connect with big mind.
I followed along, listening carefully. Schiffmann, who studied with Krishnamurti, Desikachar, Iyengar, then talked about a type of yoga he’s created called Freedom Form. The idea is to learn alignmentment, structure, correct posture, etc. and then move past all of that discipline to your own energy connected to the universe’s.
You do your practice without thinking about sequencing or alignment, just listening. Letting the whisper of sequencing be intuitive and heard in your mind.
“If you don’t know what to do, ask,” suggested Schiffmann. We tried it for about twenty minutes. I’d never had a home practice because I’d always gotten all bollixed up. How could I think about making up my own sequences and correct posture and do the positions at the same time?
But, I loved this exercise. By paying attention to my own energy, I understood what to do next. (Who knew that you could yoke your little pea brain with the big universe brain?)
Schiffmann further suggests that since we were all connected in the universe, all one in that Walt Whitman way, we needed to love one another.
Whoa! This takes some grasping.
My first thought was that I judge the people I choose to love. There is a hierarchy. It is easy to love my 15-year old dogs, there is no break in the lining of that feeling, ever. Sometimes, it is harder with my husband because I get angry or frustrated. Yup, I parceled out love and there was a lot of ego involved.
Leaving the retreat, I thought I would give Schiffman’s idea a try, just open up my heart to the big universe and let those feelings I had for my dogs wash over everyone. The first person was a gas jockey at the Citco station – that was easy. On my way home though I ran into a vet at the grocery store who’d ripped me off and expected my customary high hat, but I said a “hello” full of love. Guess what? It’s a much more fun way to move through life.
Cynthia Kling, Editor, YogaCity NYC