Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pratyahara with Kira (Ryder) Sloane - WOW!

Michigan Yoga Association with Kira (Ryder) Sloane (left front) May 1, 2016
By the photos and words announcing the Michigan Yoga Association workshop A Sense of Self: The Practice of Pratyahara with Kira (Ryder) Sloane,  I looked forward to a fun-filled and easy-peasy experience. Kira has a reputation for being energetic, light and entertaining. I hadn't seen her videos nor had I even heard much about her before, so a new experience and hopefully I'd learn some good stuff.

But, wow. What I received was so much more than I can even articulate. Ah, but for you, I'll try.

First you all must know this; Kira Ryder Sloane is so wise and absolutely steeped (or "sauced," as she says) in the real practice of yoga. I should have realized by the title: Pratyahara. Inward-turning. Steeped in the senses. Turned on and tuned in. Tuned-in in such a way that you are "knowing the senses rather than controlling the senses." Knowing... rather than controlling.

As teachers and students of yoga, Kira gave us another way to look at the first rule of restraint of yoga, from the first limb of yoga, yama. This is ahimsa, usually translated as "nonviolence." Rather than nonviolence, she invites us to hear non-violation. Our first precept is to not violate ourselves. From that, to not violate one another, in any way.

The teachings of yoga, Kira reminds us, only exist in our relationships. The most essential ingredient for teachers, in passing on the teachings of yoga is safety. No one will dare move from their old habits and stuck-ness and blossom into their brightest expression if they do not feel safe and supported. "Who are you when you can feel safe enough to be yourself?", she inquires.


We practiced, sometimes with partners. And we listened. We studied the structure of the ears. We brought attention and awareness to the breath in the nostrils, and then to the breath in the lungs and then to the heart.

Our hearts yearn for deep and honest connections– with our loved ones, our families, and with God (or whatever you call That). The heart, we found, is very tender and pliant (a video of a soft and moist human heart cradled in a gloved hand). Listen to your heart's longing and feel the truth – for Yoga teaches that we already, always ARE connected.

We practiced letting go and the use of constraint in yin-like postures, having the patience to wait until the next right move comes along. Patience, coming from the same root as the word for suffering, "looks like you are doing nothing," when in fact you are coming to know your self. "It's not about understanding yourself, it's about with-standing yourself!" Kira brought forth a lesson about understanding, patience and practice; "The Boddhisattva sets herself up with the most difficult situations to see how well her practice is working." Don't you just love that?

With only these few nuggets from the yogini of the heart, Kira Ryder Sloane, I hope you have a sense of what your senses can reveal about your sense of Self. Kira is especially interested in how the sense of Self  translates to different cultures, and how to communicate the connection feeling when the culture has no words for it. As president of Yoga Anytime, the popular yoga video channel, Kira travels extensively. In Kalamazoo, she led us on a travel adventure as "yogi scientists," trekking through the wilds of our true selves, collecting intimate and personal data that will be invaluable in mapping the Way.

Thank you, and a deep bow to Kira Sloane and the Michigan Yoga Association. For up-coming cutting edge workshops from this state-wide wonder, go to www.myaweb.org. Namaste.