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An integrated yoga practice goes beyond postures

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Read the phrase “yoga practice” and what’s your next thought? Maybe, “I should practice more”. Or, “I haven’t practiced lately”. Or, “I don’t know how.”

And odds are those thoughts are about the postures, the asanas, of yoga.

The practice of yoga, however, reaches deeper into our lives than the poses. Yoga is action, skill in action, as noted in the Bhagavad Gita, and that skill refers not to poses but to the acts of yoga, whether it be to do no harm – ahimsa, to study the self or sacred scriptures – svadhyaya, or to live to the highest spiritual standard – brahmacharya.

The practice itself must remain interlinked always with detachment, a concept often misinterpreted as disinterest. Quite the opposite, the detachment of yoga means a perpetual state of wonder and curiosity. “When I practice in this way, what results?”

Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras

Most commentators on the millennia-old Yoga Sutras agree that yoga is a practice for those in the world. One of the most recent to comment, Gitte Bechsgaard, brought her interactive chanting and lectures to San Diego and Los Angeles in September 2013, with the recent publication of her book, The Gift of Consciousness: Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras (Book One: Samadhi Pada).

Her discussion at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles focused on the practice of yoga beyond poses and the necessity of detachment in the construct of yoga. Her analogy, which has been made by others, is that practice and detachment are like the two wings of a bird. Without both wings there is no flight.

Gitte, a 20-year student of yoga, founded the Vidya Institute of Toronto, which seeks to bring students to the integrated practice of yoga.

Asanas and more

Gloria Goldberg, a senior Iyengar yoga teacher, joins Gitte Bechsgaard next month at the LA institute to present how all the many yogic disciplines are complementary doorways on the path to yoga, to the stilling of the mind.

As the flier for their two-day, 10-hour workshop notes: “Just as an exquisite pearl necklace is formed of individual beads, so it is with Yogic practice: the limbs or aspects build upon each other and form a whole greater than its individual parts.”

Students will explore the yamas – great vows, niyamas daily disciplines, asanas – postures, and pranayama – breath practice. The workshop intends to strike a balance between practice and philosophy. Students of all levels are welcome.

More information: Two-day workshop: Saturday, Feb. 8, 2:30-7:30, Sunday, 12:30-5:30, Registration: $205 if paid before Feb. 1, $215 after Feb. 1. Single day registration is not available.

IYILA, 1835 S. La Cienega, Ste. 240, Los Angeles, 90035; 310-558-8212.

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