A message to my YogaDownload.com students: Master the basics. Do not be seduced by fancy shapes and complex movements. Slow down. There is unimaginable depth to the simplest of yoga gestures, and rushing - both the rushing to more "advanced" practices, and the rushing through each individual gesture - always results in delaying our progress and stunting our growth. If you observe beginning qigong practitioners, they perform large physical gestures to move vital energy through the body and through space; however, if you watch the great masters, they hardly move at all - but the result is infinitely profound. It is just so with yoga - the more advanced the practice, the more subtle; and the deeper one's realization, the more simple it reveals itself to be, and to have always been. So refrain from succumbing to the temptation of the external - dive deeply into each gesture and every single breath, and realization will surely come more quickly.
In your words, what is yoga?
Yoga is felt experience of oneness with all of existence, and the practice that leads us to that realization. To me yoga is not a belief system, an ideology or a doctrine; it is the unmistakable, experiential knowledge that we are all one interdependent process. From a relative perspective, it is true that I am "someone" with a name, an identity, likes and dislikes, someone who was born and will die; but from the ultimate perspective of yoga, I am also everyone and everything - one endless, birth-less, timeless process, a great universal dance of continual becoming and un-becoming. And while this realization may seem far off, or it may appear that the path there is murky and unclear, it can start very simply; the path to yoga can start when we turn towards our challenges, rather than away from them, and cultivate gentleness, steadfastness, compassion and a sense of humor, instead of our usual, hardwired, evolutionary tendencies towards fight or flight. For these purposes, I know of no better laboratory and exploratorium than the yoga mat and cushion. The practice of yoga is not ultimately for this body that will inevitably age and die - but the path to yoga runs, first and foremost, right through it.
What teachers/teachings have impacted you the most?
I owe a profound debt of gratitude to many teachings, lineages and traditions, both for expanding my understanding of the mind-body at large, and for confirming, through consistency within each of them and with each other, that my discoveries in yoga were on the right track. While much of my knowledge of asana has been gained through self-study, I have received tremendous gifts from the teachings of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, especially the Nyingma lineage and institute of Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche and his senior students in the west, the koans and practices of the Zen tradition, the incredible guidance of Pema Chödrön, chiropractic neurology and biophysics, the vast knowledge of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, especially through the eyes of the brilliant Kimmana Nichols, Sebastian Bruno and the ThaiVedic school, and finally Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Brian Greene and the scores of other scientists, especially in cosmology and particle physics, whose discoveries and observations continue to validate and confirm many of the classical teaching of yoga and the Buddha.
What inspires your teaching?
During more than the first decade of my practice, I was deeply dissatisfied with the answers that yoga teachers gave to my increasingly incessant questions. Teachers often contradicted each other - and themselves - on everything from proper asana technique to yoga philosophy, and I was left feeling confused and thirsty for knowledge. Though I have learned much from many teachers, it was through arduous personal studies in both anatomy and scriptures, as well as tens of thousands of hours spent in exploratory practice and in trial and error, that I eventually discovered consistent and profound clarity and reliability on the path of yoga. Therefore, the primary inspiration for my teaching is my deep and burning desire to make the journey of others quicker and easier than mine has been. My deepest wish is that everyone who benefits from my teaching accelerates their transformation through yoga, and that the resulting increases in patience, serenity and kindness ripple out for the benefit of all beings.
Shy Sayar is a teacher and therapist with over 5000 hours of experience bringing yoga to students of all levels, treating patients, and training yoga teachers around the globe. Shy believes in Teaching People – Not Poses, since the practices of yoga are infinitely adaptable to fit the practitioner’s stages of development, and there is no need to push the body into arbitrary shapes. Instead, his Tantravaya yoga method integrates the classical Eight Limbs of Yoga, equally cultivating the body, breath and mind to bring each practitioner to optimal, holistic health.
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