The physical practice of hatha yoga seeks to maximize freedom of movement while minimizing pain — especially chronic pain that comes from limited or imbalanced movement. This is a very practical part of the larger project of yoga, which is to bring about the greatest freedom and creativity in movement — in body, breath and mind — while recognizing and overcoming the causes of pain. This happens through connecting back to our own Self, our own self-awareness, from which insight and creativity flows.
Hatha yoga was never simply about stretching, or even seeking simply ‘fitness’ and strength, though it certainly includes the benefits of flexibility and strength. Hatha yoga focused on the blocks or ‘knots’ — physical as well as energetic and emotional — that get in the way of the creative flow of thought and movement, and which cause pain. This was described in terms of the flow of energy — prana or chi — through channels in the body on many levels.
In the newest therapeutic insights in contemporary thought, we are coming to understand the cause of much of our chronic pain as arising from ‘distortions’ in the fascia, a specific form of the connective tissue in our body. This description — and its treatment — is amazingly similar to the description given by the yogis, and the practice of asana is well-suited to overcoming these distortions. We can also recognize the root of ‘yoga injuries’ and pain caused by imbalances in yoga practice — as well as other disciplines of physical movement and sport — that gives rise to or intensifies these distortions.
This perspective is described as the ‘Fascial Distortion Model,’ and it is very practical. There are six types of fascial distortion, a few of which especially appear as the most common causes of pain in yoga and in life, and they are recognized easily by how the person describes or points to the kind of pain he or she is suffering. Three of these forms of pain-and-limitation-causing are especially relevant — and recognizable — to us as yoga practitioners and teachers.
Friday Evening: 6:30p - 8:30p, $45
The Bandhas and the Health of the Spine and Sacrum: An Exploration of the Core
This practice will include an introduction to principles for keeping the spine healthy through yoga practice, with special emphasis upon healthy twisting. Every asymmetrical pose in yoga (which includes most of the standing poses) involves an element of twisting, and proper activation of the Core is often left out, leaving us vulnerable to back and sacral pain.
This will be a well-rounded practice (though not too much backbending, it being a Friday night!) that will explore these actions in simple and user-friendly ways that will leave us with more ‘open’ hips and shoulders, and yet a more ‘quiet,’ nourished and happy back and sacrum.
Saturday Early Afternoon: 12:30p - 3:30p, $55
Prana Blocks and Fascial Distortions; Their Connection to Our Patterns of Movement in Asana
This session — which is accessible to and designed not just for teachers, but for all who are interested in the topic — will introduce the most relevant forms of recognizable fascial distortions in our practice. Though technically based, it will be presented in more yoga and user-friendly language, and geared toward understanding how to apply this awareness in asana practice. We’ll identify the Movement Patterns and their Pain Syndromes (from ‘stiff’ to ‘flexible’) associated with these distortions, as well as how to address releasing them. This will include a more in-depth look into the fascia itself — what it is, how it works, and how awareness of the nature of fascia can inform our practice.
Along with this information, we will practice, especially with an exploration of ways of entering into, flowing between, and holding poses that brings forth the energetic qualities held within the fascial matrix, the pranic storehouse of the mind-body.
Saturday Late Afternoon: 3:30p - 6:00p, $55
Practical Breathing with the Vayus, and the Deeper Power of Yoga Nidra
This session will begin with a talk exploring the deeper levels reached by Yoga Nidra, in the context of its original tradition and the evolution of its adaptations, and the connection of the more ancient ideas of the ‘Vayus’ from the Upanishads to this process. This will include some practical techniques for energizing the Vayus and our physical matrix of the breath in preparation for pranayama, followed by guided practices of pranayama, Yoga Nidra, and meditation.
Sunday Afternoon: 12:30p - 3:30p, $70
Untying the Knots through Asana: The Graceful Flow of Prana
This all-levels asana practice will address the power of principles of basic asana practice to undo the sorts of fascial distortions described in Saturday afternoon’s session — distortions or ‘prana blocks’ located physically in the connective tissue of the body that give rise to pain, a feeling of tightness or chronic soreness, or limitation in movement (sometimes after a practice, rather than during).
This will be a lively, engaging and informative practice that puts together both topics covered on Friday into one big user-friendly practice!
Full Weekend: $210
Doug Keller travels worldwide, presenting yoga teacher trainings, workshops, classes and lectures focused on his insights into what yoga has to offer as wisdom in the face of chronic pain and health issues. Doug has 30-plus years of study and 20-plus years of teaching expertise. Learn more about Doug Keller and his work here.