This five-day program with Mark Stephens offers in-depth immersions for teachers and serious students, plus master classes for beginning to seriously advanced students and teachers. Each session draws from ancient-to-contemporary yoga philosophies, a variety of yoga styles and techniques (including Ashtanga Vinyasa, Iyengar, Yin and Yoga Therapy), and offers a practical application of functional anatomy, biomechanics, and kinesiology. All also reflect and expand upon the suggestions offered in Mark’s four books, Teaching Yoga (2010), Yoga Sequencing (2012), Yoga Adjustments (2014) and Yoga Therapy (forthcoming, 2017).
Friday June 2
6-9: Master Class: "Integrated Practice: Asana, Pranayama, and Meditation"
Description: Most yoga classes in the West are at least 95% posturual practices, with ujjayi pranayama the only breathing techniques, and meditation often limited to a few minutes or less at the beginning or end of class. Here we explore a full practice, starting with sitting, breathing, more breathing with refined techniques as first decribed in detail in the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika, then an integrated asana practice in which we explore all families of asanas (standing poses, core, arm support, backbends, twists, forward bends, hip openers and inversions), then go far more deeply into refined pranayama and heart-centered medition.
Saturday June 3
9-1: Morning Immersion: "Surya Namaskara: Detailed Breakdown of 12 Asanas and Transitions"
Description: The entire foundation of all flow styles of yoga is rooted in the dynamic movement of Surya Namaskara, the greeting of the sun and the universe within each of us. It is here that we set the rhythm and mood for all that follows, connecting breath and bodymind in the gradual opening and refinement of the overall practice.
In this workshop we will look closely at each of the 12 asanas in Classical Surya Namaskara and Surya Namaskara A & B, exploring their various alignment principles and energetic actions, how the transitions between them can be approached to make them simpler, deeper and more sustainable, and what to be most aware of in guiding others in these movements and asanas. This workshop is designed for all levels of students and teachers, including beginners and advanced practitioners open to practicing beginners mind.
2-6: Afternoon Immersion: "Making Yoga (and Life) More Meaningful: A Dharma Discovery Workshop"
Description: Why do you teach yoga? How does this intention align with your core values, you’re your larger sense of purpose in life, with your sense of who you are? How do you approach your sense of skill and limitation as teacher? How might you best make your teaching more meaningful to yourself and to your students?
This workshop begins with basic questions of dharma to help build a clearer and stronger foundation for experiencing and sharing yoga in the most transformational ways you can. We start with simple yet profound question: who am I? Then we do deep inside to draw out and better understand what it means to take the seat of the teacher. With exercises designed to further clarify your sense of who you are, why you practice, and how you can connect all the dots of your life in your teaching, you will leave more motivated and prepared than ever for a lifetime of sharing this amazing practice.
Sunday June 4
9-1: Morning Immersion:"Refined Teaching of Backbends & Twists: Verbal and Tactile Guidance of Alignment, Energetics, and Heart-Centered Expansion"
Description: Detailed breakdown of up to ten backbends and five seated and supine twisting poses. We will explore contraction, traction, and levered backbends with forms in in which the arms are in extension and felxion, with close consideration of how to best to open and stabilize for each. These two families are covered together because twists offer the essential counterposes to a sustained backbend practice. With each pose, we look closely at helpful modifications and use of props, and variations for students who can go farther.
2-6: Afternoon Immersion: "Refined Teaching of Forward Bends & Hip Openers: Verbal and Tactile Guidance of Alignment, Energetics, and Release of Hidden Tension"
Description: Detailed breakdown of up to fifteen forward bends and hip openers. These two families are covered together because they a) share many basic forms and energetic elements, and b) are ideally sequenced close together as part of the more calming and integrative part of a practice. With each pose, we step into the Yoga Lab to learn how to look at, see, understand, and relate in a meaningful way with effective verbal and hands–on cues to students who exhibit different challenges and tendencies in that particular pose. Covers benefits, risks and contraindications, alignment principles and energetic actions. Also covers how and from what vantage point to best observe and demonstrate, helpful modifications and use of props, and variations for students who can go farther
Monday June 5
9-12: Morning Immersion: "The Art of Flight and Levity in Arm Support and Arm Balancing Asanas"
Description: Arm balances simultaneously require and help us to develop strength, flexibility, focus and openness. These qualities are heightened when movement into the pose involves hip rotation or flexion - poses like Bakasana (Crane Pose), Astavakrasana (Eight Crooks Pose) or the Mukta Hasta Sirsana Vinyasa (a sustained series of interconnected arm balances initiated from Tripod Headsdtand). More concentrated mental focus is harnessed when then moving into poses involve steadier balance, such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Handstand) and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance). Practicing these asana sequences safely and consciously leads to equanimity, confidence and personal freedom well beyond the mat.
In this session we explore how to approach hip-intensive arm balances with proper preparation, patience, intelligence, compassion and integration. We will look closely at the basic elements of each asana and work on cultivating the integrity of these elements as we integrate them into the fuller asana. We will also look at specific wrist and shoulder therapies to better sustain these practices. Along the way we will practice being present to the whole experience of the practice, consciously connecting the breath and bodymind moment by conscious moment.
1-4: Afternoon Immersion: "Tricky Transitions: Risk and Opportunity in Moving From Here to There"
Description: Most asana instruction focuses on asana qua asana, with most attention given to alignment and energetic actions in separate asanas. Yet how we establish these qualities in each asana is largely determined by how we get there. The form and energetics of our Chataranga – along with what happens in every moment of the movement into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) – will largely determined the qualities and experience of Up Dog itself.
In this session we look closely at transitions into and out of several poses in different asana families as well as the fundamental alignment principles, risks and contraindications, energetic actions, modifications, and variations for each of the constituent postures found in them. Detailed breakdown of common transitions that involve challenges to alignment and risk of injury.
5:45-7:45: Master Class: "Vinyasa Flow with Hip-Opening Arm Balances"
Description: This master class begins with warming Surya Namaskaras and Dancing Warriors designed to open and stabilize the hips and shoulders in preparation for a series of beginning-to-advanced level arm balances (including Bakasana, Parsva Bakasana, Bhujapidasana, Tittibhasana, Astavakrasana, Eka Pada Koundinyasana, Galavasana, Urdhva Kukkutasana and Uttana Prasithasana). This complete practice also includes wrist and shoulder therapy practices to ensure the full integration of the practice.
Tuesday June 6
9-12: Morning Immersion: "Beyond Patanjali - A Tantric Approach Pranayama, Bandha, Mudra and Meditation"
Description: As a dualist, Patanjali invites us to disengage our cognitive apparatus (pratyahara on the path to stopiing the movement of the mind), opening us to a pure meditative state (dhyana) and all-knowing or bliss (samadhi). We get into this through specific moral and ethical principles and practices rooted in Buddhism (yama and niyama), plus sitting (asana) and breathing (pranayama).
The non-dual philosophy of tantra takes a different approach, one that is all about opening our awareness to the fullness and wholeness of experience, completely attuned to all that we are as organic human beings, through practice that start in the simplest ways, such as being fully present to the experience of a dry leaf crackling under foot while walking in the woods, or being fully present in a conversation with your child or a friend, or…well, everything that allows us to experience all of which we are capable in every breath, especially tapping into intensity to feel most what it is to be alive and awake.
1-4: Afternoon Immersion: "What is Yoga? Origins and Innovations from the Vedas to Modern Postural Practices"
Description: How did we get from the priestly rutuals of yoga described in the four Vedas to the action-oriented (kriyas) of the Upanaishadic era to the absorbed meditation of Patanjali to the expansive energetics of various tantric practices to Chaturanga, Up Dog, Down Dog, from an often secret or obscure set of yoga practices to yoga as a Zeitgeist of modern culture in which to practice is so many different things to different people? What is myth, what is truth, and how do we tell the difference? And why does it matter?! This is a lecture and discussion…hopefully a lively conversation!
For further details and registration, please visit the Yoga Passage website!
“When someone mentions the gracefulness of the night sky, climb up on the roof and dance and say, like this?”