I had the amazing good fortune of attending the Yoga Games in Stockholm on Sunday. I learned so much from each teacher's class/workshop I attended. My schedule looked like this:
Raghunath: Yoga Sutras
Raghunath, a native New Yorker, gave an inspirational lecture and touched on many aspects of the Yoga Sutras. The talk was not as structured as I thought it would be (which was a good thing). It was clear that he was speaking from his heart and that made the lecture that much more captivating. He focused on how the modern day yogi can apply and make sense of these ancient philosophies. Like the yoga nerd that I am, I took notes during the lectures and are here are a few of the highlights that I was able to write down (apologies, Raghunath, if I am accidently misquoting you on anything!): "Yogis never say, "you ARE a liar" but instead, "you are ACTING LIKE a liar." "Our intelligence becomes refined by how we cultivate it." "What goes in your ears/eyes/etc. will eventually start to come out of your mouth." "Don't think less of yourself, think of yourself less." "Your real potential is found in the divine will."
These are all pretty powerful ideas, and I know they certainly align with how I want to live my life. Raghunath also spoke about the three things that describe the atma (spirit/true self): Sat, Chit, Ananda. First, Sat is eternal and always exists in the past, present, and the future. Following that, Chit is a voice speaking to Jiva at all times and we should in fact be listening to this voice much more instead of listening to popular culture and societal norms. Finally, Ananda is eternal bliss and joy. If you are interested in reading more about Sat, Chit, Ananda here is an interesting article I found helpful:
Also, here is Raghunath's website (he offers a 35-hour online training called Born to Fly that I am really tempted to take!) :
Patrick Beach: The Alignment of Arm Balances
After the inspirational lecture from Raghunath, I was ready to move! Luckily, my next stop was with Patrick Beach. Patrick led a really fun class and the energy in the room was palpable. He had everyone pulling themselves out of their comfort zones to get into some electric (and challenging!) arm balances. He was able to break down Bakasana (Crow Pose) and gave us several different ways to get into the pose. I know that I am guilty of following the same, well-worn path in this pose and so it was awesome to try some new techniques. Patrick also has stunning blue eyes and knows how to rock a man bun so that didn't hurt either:).
Here is Patrick's website (I believe his home base is in Oregon -- all my West coast friends should check him out!):
Michael Bartelle: Survival, Sex, and Spirit
Following Patrick's powerful class I headed upstairs to Studio 2 to meet Michael Bartelle. Again (yoga nerd), I wrote some key talking points down from Michael's lecture. He spoke about the Granthis, or knots within us. Brahma granthi is the lowest knot and coorelates to survival. Vishnu granthi is the second knot and is the navel of our sexual energy - which is said to be the most powerful energy. This is why many priests and sages take a vow of celibacy, so that this energy can instead be used to honor the divine. The third knot is Rudgra granthi, sometimes known as the Shiva granthi. This is where the ego lives and where fear of change, fear of letting go, and a fear of death can arise. Michael also spoke about the seperation of Shakti (the female) and Shiva (the male) from Brahman - where everything was the same. Tantric yoga teaches to harness that intense sexual energy in a way where you are not simply 'using' your partner as a means to an end but you are able to harness the energy to bring Shakti and Shiva together in a saatvic place. Pretty intense, right?
Following this, Michael led us through an energizing vinyasa flow and then a seated meditation using breathing techniques and pranayama to move energy through the grantis. He cautioned us against practising this at home - as it can be an overwhelming experience for many practicioners. I found a lot of benefits from the meditation and through Michael's guidance during the breath work - it really was a magical mental place. Similar to myself, Michael is an expat living in Europe (London, to be exact) and you can learn more about him on his website here:
After a break for lunch and some shopping around the Yoga Games Marketplace - it was time for my final session.
Patrick Broome: Yin Yoga
I really love me some Yin Yoga and was super excited for this class. Ranja Weis was scheduled to teach the class with Patrick but right before the session was set to begin, her name was deleted from the presentor's display. Not sure what happened to Ranja. Anyway, Patrick led a fantastic class where I was able to release my left hip in pigeon more than I ever thought possible. I knew I was going to have strange dreams that night - intense hip openers always give me strange dreams!
Perhaps my least favorite pose of all time is Toe Squat. If you are not familiar with Toe Squat, you sit on your heels with your toes tucked under. Pretty simple, right? And for some people, this pose is easy peasy. For me, it is a pretty intense sensation from the beginning. Patrick, in his no-fuss, no-muss German way, had us hold the pose for 3 minutes. And breathe through the pain. It was VERY intense for me but I held out for the whole 3 minutes and when we finally came out of the pose - I could feel my toes and my feet in a whole new way. If you have never tried Toe Squat - I definitly recommend it. Typically, the poses that are your least favorite are the ones that you learn the most from.
Have a peak at Patrick's website:
After spending all day at the Yoga Games I left feeling pretty buzzed off of all the energy and omms. Stockholm has been a bit of a yoga haven for me the past few weeks. Or, I suppose, I should say that I have created a yoga haven out of Stockholm the past few weeks. Going back to one of the pearls of wisdom from Raghunath - what you constanly see, hear, feel is what will soon start to come out of your own mouth. I envelop myself in yoga asana, philosophy, research, studios, and meditation for the better part of my days here and I am finally creating my own life how I truly want to live. And it feels really good.
Here are a few photos I snapped while at Yoga Games!