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Harnessing Inner Power

In the shala in India, Tantra yoga classes start by lying on the floor, eyes closed. We would wait until the teacher came into the room, only knowing to begin by listening to their words from the back of the room. They did not introduce themselves, nor did they explain. They simply spoke the words. At first, I was confused and a little angry because I didn't know what was happening. I had to look at the other students to see what some of the asanas were, but then I found a relaxing calmness in the bellowing voice from the back of the room. I found freedom in which I could express myself in the manner I wanted to on that day. Over time my asanas grew into what my body needed. I was able to close my eyes and enjoy my asanas without having an external reality of a teacher changing positions on their cue. I found my strength, and I realized that this way of teaching was far more powerful than how I was taught to teach in the west. I stayed for a while at that ashram and eventually became certified to teach this style of Traditional Tantra Yoga. I am now back in the west, where we are accustomed to hastily driving through traffic, running into a studio, to follow the leader in our yoga classes. In my experience, the mainstream yoga class in the west is generally about the teacher and not the student. It is expected that the teacher stands at the front of the room, introduces themselves, leads you through a routine that they created paired with a playlist that they made, and you follow. I ask, is this your practice? To follow? Or do you seek a practice that cultivates personal freedom and strength?

When I lead Tantra classes, I am with you! I am there to support you and to guide you gently. I am there to help you rediscover your power and your freedom. I am there to help you receive all the pleasure that yoga gifts to us. We, as Tantra teachers, encourage you to discover what feels good to you in that moment of your practice. We allow you a space to close your eyes, drop out of those thoughts and be. An outstanding long-time student once said, "I love coming to Tantra because I don't have to do yoga….I can be yoga!" I love this. Tantra creates a moment in time when the student can "BE" yoga. In Tantra classes, the teacher urges you to relax and listen. As the teacher, I will do my job and lead you into a state of yoga, moving body and breath. We do not care if you are "doing it right" what does that mean anyway? Who's right? You are you and as long as you are not hurting yourself and it feels good, do it. Enjoy your practice. It is, after all, your practice. Asanas are indeed designed to heal the body in specific ways. They open up pranic passageways that allow energy to flow and heal. There is a certain degree to receiving the healing benefits from "performing" asanas correctly, but eventually, you will get there and your reality of the asanas, at this moment, is not my reality to impose upon. The true meaning of yoga, at its core, is meditation. Pattabhi Jois, the Father of yoga, says, "The moving asanas are the only way to quiet the body for meditation." Traditional Tantra is a moving meditation in which once you release the constructed thought that "I can't put my legs behind my head," and when you do, you actually can.

How Traditional Tantra is different:

Mental and physical blockages:

"Life happens between movement and rest."- Osho

Traditional Tantra Yoga will help identify, acknowledge and remove mental and physical blockages. What are your blockages in your practice and life? What are you thinking about before going into the backbend? Does my wrist hurt? Am I not strong enough? I'm too old? What will my life look like when it is upside down? How are you feeling? Panic? Fear? Pain? What if you were in a complete state of meditation? What if you were not thinking about anything? Then, as I have seen many times, the students will flow into challenging asanas with ease. Personal empowerment is a beautiful gift that teachers can bestow within their classes.

Allowing students to look inside and face their challenges and mind Chitta. It is one of the best lessons I have learned through yoga. This method of teaching yoga can be thought of as a parallel to the theory of quantum physics, which tells us that we all create our realities. So why should we, as teachers, say to the student which fact they should be? Is it not our path. It is the students. Do we teach to gently guide students to a place where they can make their own choices? I have found that our students are so trained in the west to follow the leader that even when we allow them to take this power, they feel like they still need to flow with the class. This is all external conditioning. If we were to teach our students to take their time and release thoughts of the external world, they could embrace the flow they need at that time.

Music:

Traditional Tantra Yoga Classes are not taught with music. We believe that one must become comfortable with the sounds around our silence. We believe that it is a distraction. In a world with endless distractions, I think that the yoga classroom should be a reprieve from such distractions. It should be a place of contemplation and relaxation. I have been practicing yoga for over two decades and teaching for one. When I go into a yoga class and hear a song I like on the playlist, I am removed from my practice, and I start to become more aware of the beat of the music than the flow of my breath or the feel of my body. I become entirely disconnected from my practice.

Flexibility and relaxation:

Traditional Tantra yoga is not about being flexible, but you will become flexible. My teacher always says that "our bodies can do everything they have ever learned. We need to get out of their way." We have learned to keep our bodies in flight or fight mode to continue to stay busy. In this world, "relaxing" is generally a negative word. We have programmed ourselves to keep moving, keep creating, spending, and keep using our energy. How does a car run without fuel? If we keep running on empty, our bodies start to use up our reserves, and then we get tense, stiff, depressed, and more. If we do not learn how to replenish our body with the fuel it needs, then we will eventually crash. I know that relaxing is hard to do, and I love how people become more aware of self-care. Traditional Tantra Yoga Classes are a small retreat for your body and mind to relax and let go of what is unnecessary. Once we find ourselves in our most relaxed state and let go of all the tension in our bodies and the distraction in our minds, we can move further in our asanas and our life.

What are you looking for in your practice?

If your answer is a distraction, this practice is not for you. The method of Traditional Tantra is the opposite of distraction. Instead, it focuses on a deeply internal, subconscious mind and bodywork that meditation will allow you to discover.

How to receive pleasure?

Pleasure is often associated with sex because pleasure is a feeling of good sensation in the body. When talking about pleasure in this article and in my classes, I intend to associate it with feeling good within the body. However, that may be for you.

All things in life should give you pleasure. Everything you do should provide you with pleasure; therefore if you are in a class where the teacher is insisting that you stay or come out of an asana before your body has received such pleasure, then you are not in control of your reality. And if you are not in control of your reality, who is?

Ego

Our egos are constructed as children. We build them to protect us against insecurities and painful situations. They help shield us from the harsh world we live in, but they also shield us from our realities and our true sense of self. It is a constructed reality rather than an actual reality. It's ok to let go. It's ok to drop the story we have created around who we think we should be. This is a great lesson learned in yoga.

Unlearning conditioning:

In the west, we are taught to fall in line at a very young age, sit quietly, don't disrupt the class, only raise our hand, and then when called, on-speak. We are taught to follow the leader, and we are conditioned to ignore ourselves to be able to work within our society. We are taught to color within the lines, not to deviate from the rest of the group. But, I have a secret for you THEIR REALITY IS NOT YOURS!!

Ask yourself what your reality is? Do you feel the strength within you to follow your path? Do you hear the little voice inside your head reminding you that you can be anything you want to be? Do you see it? Do you sense it? Can you smell, touch and taste it?

All these things we are taught live in conscious thought. The study of Traditional Tantra teaches us to drop those thoughts and tap into the subconscious because we can rediscover our true selves from there. When we know our true selves, we can live and do the things that make us happy with a veil of confidence. If we, as western yogis, are worrying about coming out of an asana at the same time as the rest of the class, instead of staying in a little longer because it feels good, or the opposite of coming out right away because it does not feel good, then that worry is coming from a place of conscious thought, and it is not true to your true self. We as teachers must give the space and create the time, and we as students must take back our freedom and power within our practice. We must breathe and release the thoughts that have become conditioning that keeps us from our true pleasure. We must learn to stand on our own and take back our lives.

In conclusion, the choice is yours. You must ask yourself, why do you do yoga? If you would instead be told what to do and play follow the leader, please do what makes you happy. But if you would like to cultivate personal strength, freedom, pleasure, and enjoyment from the science of yoga, linking body with breath, the choice to meditate, and the power that comes from constructing your reality, please do that. Please embrace your power. Open your heart to receive all that is waiting for you. Drop away and release those conscious thoughts to allow your subconscious to shine through.


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