Podcast of the Month – Living Yoga, Practising Life with Maurice McCann
Article of the Month – July 2016: A New Chapter in My Yogic Journey
Reflections on the 2016 Bali Retreat
Upcoming Events; Spring Morning Yoga Intensive (starting next week)
Yoga Students “off the mat” – Pete Crossley
Patanjali Yoga Sutra of the month
Quote of the Month
Instead of a video this month I have included a potcast of an interview I had with Deb Ozarko who describes herself as a cultural revolutionary, status-quo crusher, wannabe dancer, Ironman triathlon finisher, unapologetic vegan, voracious seeker of truth, radical critical thinker, and passionate lover of life. It was a lot of fun chatting with Deb. Check out her webpage http://www.debozarko.com/
Just over a month ago I returned from attending classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (the Institute) in Pune, India. People are still asking me how my trip to India was. As with the four previous visits to the home of Iyengar yoga, the experience was profound.
Anyone and everyone who has attended classes at the Institute will tell you that it has changed their outlook on yoga and probably on their life.
The first couple of days there were extremely difficult for me. I had just finished teaching a retreat in Bali and spending a couple of days with a very special friend whom I had recently realised a deep love for. The monsoon rains were heavy and relentless and I felt alone, as there weren’t many people in the practice hall the first day and very few westerners in the first class of the month. I questioned my reason for being in India and my motives for practising and teaching yoga.
My previous two visits to Pune coincided with some significant life events for me. In August 2013, my mother died and I came back to Australia after only attending three classes. This opened the window for my return in 2014, and it was 20 August of that year that BKS Iyengar (Guruji) died. I was blessed to be present to say goodbye to this wonderful and amazing man and to witness his cremation. Added to this the separation from my wife in July 2015, and some of the apprehension I was feeling the first few days into the July 2016 visit seem understandable.
The Institute, although nothing much to look at, has an amazing feel and is one of the few places in the world where I feel very much at home. In the past, the presence of Guruji in the hall always brought a sense of reverence to everyone present. This time around, although his physical presence was absent, there was an even greater feeling that the great man was still in the hall as everyone worked at their own pace to deepen their practice of the art and science of yoga and to connect to their Self. Added to this the wonderful teaching of Prashant Iyengar and the other teachers there, and it is no wonder that profound changes occur.
A typical day consisted of a two-hour class and a three-hour practice session. On some days the practice session immediately followed the class. This provided an amazing opportunity to integrate the teachings of the class into the desired outcomes of the personal practice.
This was my fifth trip to the Institute and I’m just starting to understand that yoga is much more than a physical pursuit. I have always recognised that asanas are a way to access the mind and to quieten the fluctuations. I started practising yoga in the early 1980s as a way to deepen my spirituality. After studying some of the texts, I heeded the warnings not to go too quickly into the “mind stuff” and decided to work with the body and the breath to build a solid foundation for the more intense practices. Having practised for over 30 years, I still feel that the foundation is not yet secure enough to unlock the power of the mind. I have tasted some its power and with it some of the possibilities of the “madness” referred to in the texts. This has prompted me to be even more cautious and to continue building on the foundation of the body and breath whilst slowly integrating the power of the mind into the practice.
Since my first trip to Pune in 2005, I have heard Prashant say, “Body for the mind, breath for the mind and mind for the mind.” The “mind for the mind” has always been a challenge for me. Through some amazing pranayama classes conducted by Geetaji and Pranshantji, I’ve experienced the powerful effect the breath can have on the mind. I have experienced this in my own practice in asana and pranayama. The tools for allowing the mind to work for the mind have always been there for me. They are quite clear in the texts I read in the early 80s, and on my first trip to Pune the details of the techniques were clearly taught. I have been experimenting with these tools all this time; however, in this most recent visit, I decided to increase my efforts of learning how to utilise these tools. Now I can see how the mastery of these tools is the way forward on my journey of yoga. I’m feeling confident in the practice and am now just starting to integrate my understanding of these techniques into my teaching. It is wonderful to see the students taking some of these techniques on board in the class and in their practice. It is also inspiring to see that some students are erring on the side of caution (as emphasised in class) when working with these techniques… they are not advanced techniques. They are basic techniques that have subtle but profound outcomes.
It’s always important to ask the big questions and review one’s life path. Having reviewed my reasons for practising and teaching yoga, I’m excited to say I still feel blessed to have found this path and I offer my deepest respects to the teachers in Pune, especially Prashant S Iyengar, and my thanks and gratitude to my friends and family and to the students at the Yoga Room for your ongoing support.
As a couple, we were looking for a holiday away with something different. Being occasional students of the Yoga Room, we thought it a good opportunity to get away and practise.
We decided to go with the flow of the group arrangements and see where it took us, in the spirit and philosophy of Iyengar.
This meant trusting in Maurice’s itinerary, arrangements and the people in the group (who we didn’t know), although we believed they would have a similar outlook or at least a shared interest in yoga. We met some great people who we have cemented good friendships with.
Our approach to this yoga retreat proved to be as enriching as the retreat itself. We were exposed to new experiences, environments and best of all, great people who had some great knowledge to share.
Being new and occasional students of yoga, we had in our minds that five hours of yoga a day was probably something we would not be able to manage, and so we decided to take it as it came and see what happened. Well, five hours of yoga a day did happen!! And best of all, it was tailored to the individual people in the group and was a terrific opportunity for almost one-on-one/small group tutorage at a high standard. The yoga was amazing and the discussions of yoga philosophy deepened our understanding of ourselves and our practice…absolutely invaluable.
The two different locations and retreats were simple, run by Balinese locals that Maurice had built a respectful and trustworthy relationship with over the years. That allowed us to relax and go with the flow. We were also able to undertake our own activities such as riding around the islands, swimming, massage, exploring, shopping and some fantastic snorkelling with the other yoga members arranged by Maurice …stunning scenery and all arranged with local Balinese people.
The food at the first retreat and surrounding restaurants was diverse and tasty, very much in line with Balinese culture as well as western style. The service and feasts we were provided with in the second retreat were outstanding and have helped reshape the way we feed our bodies and minds beyond the yoga retreat.
We are very grateful for the fantastic experience and were genuinely able to relax and focus thanks to our yoga mentor and holiday guide, Maurice. BEST HOLIDAY EVER!! (we are not sure how we are ever going to match it).
My time at this year’s 12-day yoga retreat in Bali far exceeded my expectations. I went wanting a relaxing holiday and to deepen my yoga practice, but what I received was much more.
The first six days of the retreat was in Nusa Lembongan, a small island off Sanur and only reached by boat. The island was a great way the begin the retreat. It gave me the time and space I needed to slow down and settle into the daily yoga routine of early pranayama (breathing) and yoga asana (postures) as the sun rose, and restorative yoga as the sun went down. I had time to myself during the day to relax and explore the island, if that’s what I felt like doing.
The next six days was at a retreat in the hillside village of Sideman, a couple of hours from Ubud, where I felt I could ‘go deeper’ into my practice. The environment was tranquil, extremely beautiful and without distraction.
As we were only a small group, the time we had with Maurice was invaluable because we had the time to explore, ask questions, and gain insight and understanding about yoga and the Iyengar method during our daily practice. The daily massages were pretty good too, as was the food that was organically grown and prepared by the local villagers working at the retreat.
I thoroughly recommend the Yoga Room Bali Yoga Retreat and can’t wait to go again next year. The best holiday I’ve had in a long time.
This intensive will introduce and develop the concept of balance of body, mind and breath to the yoga practice.
In this section of the newsletter we introduce Yoga Room students showcasing some of the amazing things they do off-the-mat and encourage you, where possible, to support their endeavours.
Pete Crossley, who attended this year’s Bali yoga retreat with his wife Joanna, has been attending yoga classes at the Yoga Room for the past six months. Joanna, who has been practising yoga for two years, believed it could be helpful for his flexibility. And she was right.
“I love how Maurice encourages students to focus on their individual practice,” he says. “This creates a unique experience where I get to focus on me – and I’m not distracted by engaging with others.”
Pete says he doesn’t currently attend enough classes, about one a month, but he feels the benefits nevertheless. Aside from more flexibility, he appreciates Maurice’s mentoring, and has experienced focus and an internal peace such as he has never experienced before.
Originally from Sydney, Pete moved to the Gold Coast 35 years ago. He has run his business Fotomedia for the past nine years with business partner Lincoln Williams. It is a boutique creative agency with studios in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Fotomedia provides full campaign, video production, animation, brand, digital and print. They film and edit TV commercials and corporate videos, and create campaigns from inception through to delivery. As an example they have worked with the Gold Coast Titans for the last four years, coming up with creative concepts through to TV campaigns for each season.
Pete plays golf and surfs in his leisure time, and as a foodie, he loves cooking for his family and friends.
For anyone interested in the services that Pete’s business provides, you can call anytime on (07) 5535 4015 to discuss how they can help you, or drop in for a coffee to see their work. You can also email at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out their website www.fotomedia.com.au
Chapter 2 Verse 49
tasminsati ?v?sapra?v?sayorgativiccheda? pr???y?ma?||49||
“Pranayama is the regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath with retention. It is to be practised only after perfection in asana is attained.”
BKS Iyengar. Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Pg 152
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed”
Yoga Room Burleigh Heads
+61 438 837 244