Freedom Yoga Project.
“What is Freedom Yoga?” That’s the most popular question that’s been asked of me since the class description was first published on the Pure Yoga website. It’s also a good question; I’m introducing the Freedom Yoga Project – Blog, in hopes of getting some answers for you as well as myself. This is part of the process that makes up this other world experience, a true yoga experience, it’s made of everything, and everything is everything.
For months and now years, I’ve heard motivational whispers from those that have discussed yoga with me. Yoga is a topic that is personal, ones relationship with it strikes a cord for even the most reticent of individuals, though I am not reticent, my love for expression, and my belief in its healing ability tend to be easily sifted from conversations.
My first Yoga experience came in theatre school, studying behavior while simultaneously learning to actively listen, it’s an exercise created by Sanford Meisner , the BKS Iyengar of the modern acting culture. The Meisner Technique asks one to listen with every cell in their body, becoming sensitive enough to the subtle or not so subtle behavior that the partner they are working the exercise with, may not be aware of, then, tell them honestly – based on what it is you’re seeing, colored by your personal feelings, in that very moment. (My teacher would say as long as it is in the moment it’s always appropriate) This goes on and on, for two years (length of the program @ the neighborhood playhouse theatre school in NYC) under different variations of the exercise with the intention of invoking truth from each other. Just like on the Mat bringing unconscious behavioral patterns to our awareness, can be emotionally heartbreaking all the way through to euphoric, and often liberating from limitations. The time I studied this technique was awakening as well as my stepping-stone to taking the seat of the yoga teacher. Discovering that our bodies range of motion is directly related to our minds range or lack of motion; our emotional life exists connecting these two experiences. This proved to me it was possible to manipulate us to evolve our character.
The whispers rarely related to the above connection, what the whispers revolved around was how I should do a Hip Hop yoga class, okay, sounds cool, what is it? Back to where we started, I had no idea how to make that a reality, I already play Hip Hop music in class, and I’m not rare in that either, MC Yogi gave us Hip Hop lovers a rapping guilty pleasure. I love to Dance but have had fewer then 10-dance class experiences in my life, “I’m not developing a hip hop dance yoga class, at least not yet.”
So as I taught my class schedule, a handful of hot classes, Anusara’s, the Powers and Yin’s in between, in my mind there was this burning question how was the traditional going to manifest into a hip and dynamic offspring? I called my hot flow classes Funky Hot Flow, and made killer playlists. As successful and enjoyable as those classes are they just weren’t quite the feeling I was going for. I left the idea but it always lingered in both my head and the whispers.
It wasn’t until Mid March 2009 that opportunity and guts met. I received an email asking PURE YOGA Teachers for any fresh ideas for classes, I pressed the delete button and didn’t consider it; Until a few days later, between Tuesday Morning classes a time slot that normally ranges in activity from breakfasting with dedicated students, practicing asana and pranayama in the studio, to talking scheduling and administrative details with management . This wasn’t a normal day many major shifts in my life were freshly executed; I took a walk around the park behind Taikoo place. As the sun kept the city soft with her heat, she also spotlighted a group of elderly Chinese women doing a dance routine, I watched with amazement, as a whole new personality rose from these local women, a completeness, an involvement in the moment that inspired me, “to capture it” as Eminem say’s in his track "Lose Yourself" , and we must complete what we started as the women in the park finished the dance moves with the indulgence of Tai Chi.
For the first time since living in HK my heart and mind collectively opened wide, and the idea of FREEDOM yoga was born. In less then 6 minutes, as I returned to the studio, I gave the idea enough form to share it with my good friend and fellow teacher Lisa Mak. I said tough sell huh? Lisa listened, asked me to explain it again and again…till she said, “I wanna do this class!”
The class didn’t see the light of day till mid-June, but with the whispers, now sounding like full out voices something was about to happen.
Over the Next 6 weeks the “Freedom Yoga Project” Will follow the creation of the weekend work shop Freedom Yoga – From the Hips to the Hop… stay tuned.