"How do I begin?" It's probably one of the most asked questions when we want to start a spiritual practice, exercise routine, diet, new discipline, begin a project, write a book, or whatever. The first step from nothing to something. MP Pandit wrote about the
importance of intentionality in starting and maintaining spiritual practice in his 1980 book How Do I Begin, A Primer of Affirmative Spirituality. In the first few pages of the book he stresses the importance of practicing asanas or movement, indicating that we should not get lost in pure physical gains but form a thoughtful relationship with the physical part of our nature:
"How do you awaken consciousness? First, respect the body, treat it as a potential temple to be raised to a high level of awareness before it can become as alive, as vibrant as your heart or the mind. Observe its movements, its reaction, study them carefully and follow that directions that are articulated in
its responses. The readiness on your part to listen to its promptings and respond to them furthers the body's communication. Every movement of exercise must be done with full attention, with a word to the concerned limb to cooperate. Coax the resistant parts, do not coerce the, Follow an order of exertion and then relaxation to each part . If you can combine the breathing with each movement, that introduces a rhythm. Treat the body as a friend and it will befriend you in your
I've always loved that last sentence, "treat the body as a friend and it will befriend you in your requirements."
Jocelyne and I have been thinking quite a bit about different pathways of Yoga, and how to begin a yoga practice, and have been putting together a schedule of classes and courses that we think (and hope) will give a well-rounded practice for any level.
If you're looking to get started with Ashtanga Yoga, or are just interested in some different approaches to Yoga, here's some of the pathways we're working with for our program at the Broome Street Temple.
1. Intro to Ashtanga Yoga 1, for those with no experience in Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga, this four-week online course introduces you to a self-paced practice in small groups, with Sonal and Sandeep. Our next batch starts on May 2nd: https://eddiestern.com/product/intro-to-ashtanga-yoga-level-1-may/
2. Intro to Ashtanga Yoga 2 picks up with whatever you last learned in the Intro 1 course and takes you to next steps. This is also online, with Paloma (also taught in Spanish): https://eddiestern.com/product/intro-to-ashtanga-yoga-level-2-april/
3. Ashtanga Yoga Level 1, with Jocelyne, is a one-hour in-person class at the temple on Saturdays at 11am. You'll practice sun salutation A, standing postures, a few seated postures, and close with a breathing practice and guided meditation. It's a great class for
beginners, those new to Ashtanga Yoga, or those who are re-starting their practice after a break! https://eddiestern.com/product/ashtanga-yoga-for-beginners/
4. After that, you could pretty much come to any class you like on the schedule. For those who want something a little dynamic, but not Ashtanga Yoga, you could try One Hour Asana. For Ashtanga Yoga, but a little less dynamic, you can try One Hour Ashtanga.
5. Later in the summer, we'll be adding in an Ashtanga Yoga Level 2 that incorporates more back bending postures, and some pranayama.
May 1st is our last day of classes until we start again on May 9th. May 2nd till May 8th we are closed for both in-person and online classes during my spring semester final exams. After we open again on May 9th we'll be open straight through till the end of June, with
no week off in June.
That's all for now - we appreciate your feedback and input as we develop an expanded yoga program. And we look forward to seeing you at the Temple!
Eddie and Jocelyne