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Principles Not Poses

Updated: Jun 24



Definition of principle: a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.


Why? Why am I doing this (insert anything I am doing here)? Like, why do I practice yoga? Who am I becoming through this practice - through this pose? Why do I return again to this place?


I’ve been asking myself these questions a lot lately. Maybe you have too. This last year has challenged us all to get to what’s really important - to get clear on our why - so we can spend our one wild and precious life well - cultivating true prana that nourishes our soul - not feeding on crap synthetic prana that bleeds us out.


This is what I know is true. Yoga lives on the inside - and then I express it out into the world. I express the life I am living from the inside out onto the world. However, many folks see Yoga Journal covers and Instagram posts and think it’s all about the poses - the outside. “I can’t do that”, they say. And they may be right.


Treating yoga like it’s the poses, treating it like the poses are the end goal, treating it like how it looks on the outside is what matters most - is an aesthetic approach. Treating yoga like this creates it as a performance. It makes it performative.


Yes, I’m aware the poses are important. Right alignment creates right medicine in the body. But, when we stop there, when we stop at the alignment - how the body looks on the outside - we can miss golden opportunities. Like, once we get them in a shape, now what? And so what?


Why are they - why am I - in halfmoon? So I can snap an internal picture, get the gold star, hang it on my wall of accomplishments with my other degrees and certificates? What a boring black hole of bullshit.


What if I went deeper? What if I used the skin and muscle and bone to go underneath the skin and muscle and bone to truly receive the benefits of the pose - and got to the why?


Approaching yoga from how it feels from the inside is a functional approach. Approaching yoga as a set of PRINCIPLES NOT POSES creates an opportunity for us to go inside to what is driving the poses, the practice - to what is driving us. It moves us from the gross outer physical body to the subtle inner energy body. It allows us to activate, dance with and feel our freakin lifeforce, prana, chi, mojo - whatever you wanna call it. It allows us to experience who we really are - in the moment, in the pose practicing our principles.


Yoga teachers! What if we used the poses as a gateway to something more empowering? What if we used the poses as a tool to discover the deeper principles of the practice? What if we asked ourselves and our students:

  • What is the intention of this pose? What is its purpose?

  • How does my body feel in this pose?

  • Where do I feel it in my body?

  • What am I actually feeling in my target areas? In other words, what parts/areas of my body is this pose meant to activate - stretch or compress or twist?

  • Can I feel any sensation in my _(location)_?

  • What kind of life is my body living right now?

  • How am I using my body’s energy right now?

  • What am I placing my attention/awareness/drishti on? (Could be joints, body regions, sensations, moving energy)

  • What do you hear/feel when you listen?

  • What is blocking your experience of space in this moment?

  • AND LASTLY, why did I give that last cue?

When we get clear on our why as a teacher calling cues, we encourage our students' clarity in their poses and practice. Period.


So, if you wanna go beyond and underneath, if you wanna dig the marrow outta what is it to be a fully present, fallible, student and teacher, challenge yourself to focus on your focus. What are you seeing? What are you saying? How are you living your life in the moment as a yoga teacher?


Challenge yourself to see what you did not see before.


Challenge yourself to not just see a foot - but toes, toe tips, toe webbing, toe knuckles, arches, inner arches, outer arches, ankles, inner ankles, outer ankles. Talk to their baby toe knuckle. Talk to their big toe tendon. See it and tell them what to do with it. Connect to all parts of them. Remember, love is in the details.


Challenge yourself to see all the parts and details of your students, in their physical bodies and hearts. Look them in the eye. See what’s in their soul - and be with them.


Cuz, that’s what we all need now as we are called to yet again take off our masks - to truly see and be seen. We need to connect actually and physically - to embrace the power of being with other beings of power - IN PHYSICALNESS - by LIVING OUR PRINCIPLES - through our POSES, practice and life.


The 2021 Namaspa Summer Theme: Principles Not Poses

The 5 Organizing Principles of True North Alignment and True North Alignment Principles


The 2021 Namaspa Summer Theme: Principles Not Poses

The 5 Organizing Principles of True North Alignment and True North Alignment Principles


Monday May 30 - Sunday, June 6

Be intentional in creating the physical foundation of the pose and being up to something bigger than yourself.


Monday, June 7 - Sunday, June 13

Balanced Action: Create Sthira/Sukha


Monday, June 14 - Sunday, June 20

The 5 Pillars: Put in and keep present→Drishti


Monday, June 21 - Sunday, June 27

The 5 Pillars: Put in and keep present→Ujjayi


Monday, June 28 - Sunday, July 4

The 5 Pillars: Put in and keep present→Bandhas


Monday, July 5- Sunday, July 11

The 5 Pillars: Put in and keep present→Tapas


Monday, July 12 - Sunday, July 16

The 5 Pillars: Put in and keep present→Vinyasa/Flow


Monday, July 19 - Sunday, July 25

Total Body Integrity: PULL IN, PRESS DOWN, LIFT UP to integrate - create muscle to bone connection (pull into centerline and core)


Monday, July 26 - Sunday, August 1

Total Body Expression: PRESS, LIFT MOVE AND FULLY EXPRESS OUT (move out from centerline and core)


Monday, August 2 - Sunday, August 8

Ground Down Like Earth: The Power in Feet and Legs - Root Chakra


Monday, August 9 - Sunday, August 15

Flow Like Water: Soft Joints and Neutral Pelvis - Sacral Chakra


Monday, August 16 - Sunday, August 22

Build An Inner Fire: Muscle Contraction, Core, Solar Plexus - Manipura Chakra


Monday, August 23 - Sunday, August 28

Soften Like Air: Thoracic Spine, Shoulder Integration - Heart Chakra


Monday, August 30 - Sunday, September 5

Create a Space for Something New: Neck and Head Integration - Throat Chakra


Monday, September 6- Sunday, September 12

Back to School with Bigger Visions: Tension and Release - Ajna Chakra


Monday, September 13- Sunday, September 19

Up to Something Bigger: Asana as/and Meditation and Inquiry - Sahasrara Chakra


Monday September 20- Sunday, September 26

We are all connected!: Partner Yoga and Assists







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