Weekend Workshop with Doug Keller

April 14-16, 2023

The Full Dimensions of Yoga

Full Workshop $295  https://square.link/u/QJIUK6Wt

In this year’s workshop, we’ll take a somewhat different approach from what I have done in the past. The 5 sessions will be a deep exploration of yoga, through asana, breath, and meditation, as a multi-layered approach to the inner world and experience of yoga. This year will have elements of the therapeutic value of yoga practice, but from a different perspective.

The main theme is our relationship to our nervous system in our practice, and its vital role in our wellness — physical as well as mental and emotional wellness. While more traditional hatha practice put this in terms of the Prana and the nadis, we’ll come to appreciate those ideas more in relation to more contemporary language.

To help highlight the focus of each session in relation to this theme, they will be organized around the five ‘Vayus.’ Each ‘Vayu’ (a Sanskrit term meaning ‘wind’ or power of the life force or Prana) expresses an aspect of the nervous system which governs the functioning of the mind and body.

Each session will include asana and pranayama practice, with the asana practice focusing on a particular area of the body or aspect of the practice which illuminates the theme in a practical, experiential way. The afternoon sessions will tend to be more active asana sessions, while the afternoon sessions of asana more calming and oriented toward supporting the pranayama.

April 14th, Friday Evening: Vyana Vayu: Space — Movement and Sensation

2½ hours – 6:00-8:30 pm – $60 https://square.link/u/RTyD7zF8

The session will begin, of course, with an explanation of the Vayus and the relevance of these ideas to our modern understanding of healthy functioning of the body and mind, and of practice. Then we will proceed with Vyana Vayu.

Vyana Vayu includes the aspect of sensation — which helps us to understand pain syndromes in the body, particularly in the muscles and joints. The key to working with this Vayu is to pay attention to the perception of ‘space’ in the movement of our joints, by which our nervous system governs muscle tone through a mechanism known as the ‘arthrokinetic reflex’.

    • Applications in asana practice will focus on joint movement and freedom in the shoulders (and how shoulder tension influences the health and freedom of the neck), as woven into flowing vinyasa practice.
    • This theme continues into the realm of pranayama, exploring the ‘space’ of the breath, the role of sensation as well as vibration/mantra, and their relationship to mind and emotion.

April 15th, Saturday Morning: Prana Vayu — Stimulated and Awakened by Life

3 hours – 9:00 am-Noon – $65 https://square.link/u/vnvetegW

While the more familiar ideas Prana and Apana are always intertwined, we’ll begin by emphasizing the theme of Prana Vayu, along with an appreciation of the role of the ‘gunas.’

Prana Vayu refers to stimulation of the ‘sympathetic’ aspect of our nervous system, which is more than just a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. It’s the stimulation we receive through the senses in daily life as well as practice which keeps us alert, interested, and engaged in our life. The challenge is to receive this stimulation without being overwhelmed or overstimulated. Overstimulation leads to aggravation of ‘Rajas’ guna, and irritation, while overwhelm and overload can lead to a ‘Tamasic’ reaction of fatigue and even the kind of ‘shutdown’ states associated with trauma.

    • Applications in asana practice will explore a dynamic and stimulating asana practice focused on ‘functional’ lines of movement that engage our ‘core’ through dynamic breath and movement. The benefit of this is especially for the health of our spine, and low back in particular.
    • We’ll continue with this theme into the realm of pranayama, with emphasis on the stimulating and focusing ‘Sun’ aspects of pranayama — their purpose, and how we balance these practices in a way that produces a ‘sattvic’ state of calm, centered enthusiasm and positive engagement in life.
    • On the therapeutic level, this theme of ‘Prana Vayu’ will introduce us to the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the problems of overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system leading to health problems involving inflammation and pain.

April 15th, Saturday Afternoon: Apana Vayu — Self-Aware, Centered, and Grounded

2½  Hours – 3:00-5:30 pm – $60 https://square.link/u/Csm2hrqg

In this session, we’ll explore Apana Vayu and the ‘grounding’ and calming aspects of practice which support the parasympathetic nervous system in maintaining our health, mental clarity, and emotional resilience.

    • The asana session will be more brief, as befits the afternoon, and will focus on areas of ‘grounding’ — through connection to the feet and hips.
    • The theme continues into the realm of pranayama, with emphasis upon calming or ‘Moon’ aspects of pranayama, exploring further the balance between sun and moon that reflects the fine balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems — and the central role of our ‘yoga nerve’ — the Vagus nerve — in maintaining health and calming the aspects of our nervous system that otherwise perpetuate inflammatory conditions.

April 16th, Sunday Morning: Samana Vayu — Equilibrium

3 Hours – 9:00 am-Noon – $65 https://square.link/u/RX38Tisu

The balance between outer and inner, Prana and Apana, manifests in equilibrium and healthy functioning, as well as in states of meditation. ‘Samana Vayu’ represents that active state of equilibrium.

Samana Vayu: is concerned not only with digestion, but with the third aspect of our nervous system, the ‘enteric’ nervous system that governs our hormonal system. The role of yoga in helping to regulate our hormonal system has long been misunderstood through overly simplistic ideas of hormonal stimulation, despite the fact that hatha yoga has long had a clear interest in its function, along with healthy digestion. This session will introduce a proper and more practical understanding of this vital ‘Vayu.’

    • Asana practice will explore this area of Samana Vayu in terms of the health of the sacroiliac joints and low back, as influenced by the psoas muscle and its supporting muscles. This goes more deeply into the realm of breath and emotion in the experience of asana practice, as well as the profound role of the ‘bandhas.’
    • In pranayama, we will go deeply into breath as dharana (a method of focus for the mind), connected with visualization, feeling/emotion, and breath as mantra, related to the idea of the chakras..

April 16th, Sunday Afternoon: Udana Vayu — the Power of Intention

2 Hours – 3:00-5:30 pm – $60 https://square.link/u/DZ3gdALR

Udana Vayu: the ‘fire’ of yoga has to do with the intention that drives our practice, and the clarity we bring to our practice. Exploration of Udana Vayu is an exploration of the transformative power of yoga practice, in mind and emotion as well as in body — and of the subtle influence of our mental intentions as well as  ‘vrittis’ upon the health and function of our minds and bodies.

    • The asana element will be relatively brief, with some exercises and variations in poses meant to align the head and neck with the breath, and release neck tension.
    • This will include elements of breath and ‘drishthi’ (the influence of the gaze or focus of the eyes) and the subtleties of Jalandhara Bandha, in both asana and pranayama practice.
    • These practical elements learned in asana will be incorporated into breath practice, supporting our focus as we explore deeper levels of meditation and Yoga Nidra, as guided by intention, mantra, and visualization. The ‘fire’ of Udana Vayu is closely related to later ideas of the Kundalini, and we’ll be exploring the experiential meaning of this.

The five sessions will offer, as much as possible in the time we have, a full and integrated experience of yoga and what yoga has to offer, in terms that make practical sense, through a balance of learning and practice.