Yoga FAQ’s

yogalogoThis is a list of the most frequently asked yoga questions I receive. It is by no means exhaustive and will expand as deemed necessary.

Q: I’ve practised hatha yoga before; what’s different about the yoga you teach?

A: The physical practices taught by Drew Stallcop – asana and pranayama – are rooted in the tradition of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The term ‘hatha yoga’ is often misconstrued. Many people, even long time practitioners of yoga, think ‘hatha yoga’ is a style of asana practise. Any yoga that uses asana (postures) and pranayama (breath control) as a means of uniting the mind and body with the spirit, could be called hatha yoga.

In other words, every ‘style’ of yoga in the Western sense is hatha yoga, including but not limited to: Ashtanga, Iyengar, Viniyoga, Purna Yoga, etc.

The main difference is that Drew doesn’t only teach asana and pranayama, he teaches an integrated and complete system of yoga. It uses ‘hatha yoga’ as well as other ‘yogas’ to achieve the aims of the practice. In any given class, workshop or private session, Drew may draw from such diverse sources as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the works of Sri Aurobindo, the Vedas, social psychology, the field of modern personal development and personal experience.

Many teachers and styles claim this but when you show up to a class it’s just asana and maybe some pranayama. Through his study of Purna Yoga Drew learned to integrate all of the aspects of yoga into his classes, workshops and private sessions.  In addition, like any dedicated teacher, Drew incorporates his personal experiences of the methods, techniques and philosophy of yoga into his teaching. In other words, Drew’s teaching has a foundation based on tradition and lineage which is enhanced by his many years of experience as a practitioner of the science of yoga. For more information on Integral Yoga, see Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga and Fire of Love by Aadil Palkhivala

Q: I really like to get a workout when I do yoga. Do you teach dynamic or power yoga?

A: Drew teaches a complete system and embraces different styles of asana practice. The important thing to remember is that he teaches people and not poses or sequences. So if you are ready and it is an appropriate level class then the answer is yes.

However, if a student comes to class with no sense of proper alignment or it is clear they are working from ego or force rather than feeling, the pace and style of the class will likely change or they will be advised to attend a different class. I love a dynamic practice! But as a teacher I need to see that you can keep your knees, shoulders, SI joint, lower back, neck, etc. safe. I also need to see that your are working with awareness and not performing gymnastics.

Q: Why should I not wear black or dark coloured clothing when practicing yoga?

A: First, black or dark colours absorb too much light. This makes it difficult for your teacher to see whether you are safe. Yes, I know many modern ‘yoga teachers’ wear black clothes to class. My opinion is that this is unfortunate and misguided.

Second, we emit light. We also absorb light. Light is the essence of our physical manifestation. We are beings of light, moving through matter, returning to light. When you wear black you are blocking the flow of photonic energy in both directions – in essence, dampening your vibrational energyThis reason is both more scientific and more esoteric and it is congruous with yoga. No yogi in history wore black clothing. 

Third – and this comes from a professional musician who used to wear black every day – bright colours make you feel better. Don’t believe me? Test it. I challenge you to avoid black and dark coloured clothing for 21 days. Wear bright colours as often as possible. I’ve still not met a single person who followed this who didn’t notice a difference. Do I still wear black? Yes, when it is necessary for a music job (musicians wear black so they are not seen) or for mourning.

Q: Is yoga a religion?

A: Yoga is not a religion but is a psycho-spiritual system of personal development with its final goal a unification of the ‘natural self’ with the ‘Divine Self.’ Here’s an explanation in the words of the Mother of Pondicherry:

Imagine someone who, in some way or other, has heard of something like the Divine or has a personal feeling that something of the kind exists, and begins to make all sorts of efforts: efforts of will, of discipline, efforts of concentration, all sorts of efforts to find this Divine, to discover what He [It] is, to become acquainted with Him and unite with Him. Then this person is doing yoga.

Now, if this person has noted down all the processes he has used and constructs a fixed system, and sets up all that he has discovered as absolute laws – for example, he says: the Divine is like this, to find the Divine you must do this, make this particular gesture, take this attitude, perform this ceremony, and you must admit that this is the truth, you must say, “I accept that this is the Truth and I fully adhere to it: and your method is the only right one, the only one which exists” – if all that is written down, organised, arranged into fixed laws and ceremonies, it becomes a religion.

~excerpt from Difference Between Religion and Yoga by the Mother. Available from the bookstore of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

 

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