Yoga for Meditators

Yoga for Meditators: An Introduction to Mindfulness Yoga with Sara Elderfield

“Everything is interconnected. Our body and our universe are one. This concept, what we call ‘interbeing’ applies to everything.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

In the West, we tend to come to our yoga practice for different reasons. We want more energy, more flexibility, more strength, more resilient immune systems, we want to sleep better, think less compulsively … And as great as these things are, traditionally they are considered to be the obvious side effects or boons of a more stable and cultivated sense of sanity – a warm heart and a clear mind. Another way of describing this is that Yoga was one of the many meditation techniques undertaken in order to align the practitioner with an ongoing, balanced sense of the universal and the personal (i.e. not only concern and activity for ‘me and mine’ but all of life). This was the original purpose of yoga. This is reflected in the etymology of the word ‘yoga’ ‘… which  is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yug’ meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. It also means union and communion.’ BKS Iyengar. Yoga is both a meditation technique in itself as well as a way to prepare oneself for other forms of meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation

“Mindfulness is a popular topic at the moment but it is not new. It has been around as long as human beings have been considering the question “How does one cultivate a humane life?” Mindfulness refers to both a specific meditation technique and also a matrix of feelings or attitudes which are innate in a human being but also respond to conscious development. It describes the ‘spirit’ in which we approach any meditation but ultimately it also refers to how we might approach our own and others’ lives. This spirit encompasses a sense of openness, a friendly curiosity, kindness, relaxed attentiveness, happiness and a discriminating faculty which monitors in a non-obsessive way the overview as one goes about the business of practising a meditation or ultimately engaging with the teeming events and possibilities that make a life” – Richard Yin

Yoga for Meditators

These classes are for people interested in further exploring how their yoga practice can include and be supported by mindfulness (the spirit and the technique). And equally it is for meditators who would like some further insight into the relationship between the shapes we make with our bodies (postures), our feelings, thoughts and how we relate to them on and off our mats and cushions.

The classes will be based upon the Four Establishments of Mindfulness as found in the instructions on the Full Awareness of Breathing (Anapanasati Sutra) in which the 16 exercises offered by the Buddha can be divided in four groups, each containing four exercises. Each of the four groups corresponds to one of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness. The first group uses the body as the foundation or object of establishing mindfulness, the second adds feelings, the third further adds thoughts; and the fourth uses objects of mind (when we feel, we feel something, when we think we think about something) and offers a way to relate to these ‘objects of mind’ with more equanimity.

Sara Elderfield has been teaching yoga as a form of movement meditation practice for 18 years. She is also a Feldenkrais Method practitioner and meditator. These classes meld all three modalities as part of her ongoing interest in how our inner intentions are communicated in our posture or asanas (the general Sanskrit name for yoga ‘postures’) and how the shapes we make with ourselves can shift our experience of ourselves in our meditation practice and in daily life. Since 2000, she has been leading overseas retreats to Bali, Nepal, Tibet, Vietnam and France. The next retreats will be France in April 2016.

Pre-requisites: These classes have pre-requisites – to attend participants should have some prior yoga experience (so that you are familiar with a variety of poses and you are familiar with how to practice with non-violence towards yourself) or you can simultaneously take the 4 week introduction to yoga, Yoga for Beginner Beginners on Saturday mornings). You must also have attended at least one series of the “Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation” with Dr Richard Yin or “Introduction to Calm Abiding” with Michael Bobrowicz*. *Exceptions can be made for those who study with meditation teacher Chime Shore or have completed a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course in the style of Jon Kabat Zinn which includes regular yoga practice as part of the syllabus.

Dates: Thursdays - see timetable

Time: 5.30pm – 7pm

Venue: Yoga Moves Studio, 45 Evans Street, Shenton Park (opposite the lake).

What to bring: Your favourite meditation cushion if you have one. Yoga mats, cushions, bolsters and/or chairs are also available at the studio for use.

Bookings: As this is a series, please plan to be present for every class. Bookings are required. Please register your interest in attending by contacting Sara: sara@yogamoves.net.au or 0415 363 313.

Cost: By dana. Dana is often taken to simply mean donation or gift. Dana is a Buddhist teaching about generosity of spirit or the sharing of blessings, the aspiration to generate health and goodwill in all the cycles of giving and receiving; the transactions of daily life. In reflecting on the practice of dana one begins to understand the interdependence of life. Dana is a gift that supports the livelihood of the teacher. In turn the teachings offered are to support you in meeting with life with wisdom and compassion. Each participant arrives at the amount of dana voluntarily. Teachers of the Dharma are supported by considerate donation. Following Buddhist tradition, Sara charges no fee for this teaching.  It is customary to offer dana at the beginning of the class (there is usually a bowl at near the entrance). Giving prior to the teaching supports the experience of openness and generosity.