I just finished a dharma yoga workshop with Yoshio Hama and damn do I feel good. Since it was my first dharma yoga class, everything was completely new, fresh, unknown. Yoshio is a sweet combination of gentleness and strength who shares the teachings of dharma yoga with accessibility, humor and grace. I never felt lost or confused- the entire session I knew this is exactly where I was supposed to be.
Yoshio explains the base of dharma yoga in clean and simple terms. Do everything as an offering. Every moment, every day, be in your yoga practice. He furthers that yoga is not merely confined to those one or two hours when you are doing asanas on the mat. Yoga must infiltrate every aspect of your life. When you brush your teeth, do the dishes, walk your dog- do it all with intention and consciousness.
Another core principle Yoshio discussed was ahimsa or non-violence. When we hear this word “non-violence” we automatically think of violence on a grand scale. We might think, “Well, I didnt punch anyone today so I’m living a non-violent life- I’m practicing ahimsa!” But ahimsa goes deeper than that. It is about having compassion not only for others but for all living beings- even that pesky fly swarming around your nose as you meditate! Another intriguing point Yoshio touched on was practicing ahimsa toward your own self and to not create discomfort in your body or mind. When you are in a pose and you cannot go as deep into it as you want, just relax and let it be. Dont be violent with your own body and use force in order to obtain a posture.
A point in the workshop that really stuck with me was the sequence on handstands. I personally feel a sense of dread come over my body when my yoga teacher segways into the handstand practice. It is an asana I have yet to attain, in large part because of fear. The fear of falling, the fear of looking clumsy, the fear to break through a barrier I built up in my own mind of what my body is capable of. Now don’t get too excited, I didn’t magically pop into a full handstand during the workshop. But my perspective on handstands did have a successful shift. Yoshio explained that on average it takes a person about 800 attempts to get into handstand correctly! Yes, you read correctly, 8 followed by two zeros! It seemed overwhelming at first but then he dug deeper. Practice it 10 times a day and within a few months you can get there. “Through a physical practice you start to overcome your fears,” Yoshio explains. And the only way to get there is through a dedicated, constant practice. He suggests integrating this little exercise into your daily life. While waiting for water to boil for tea or when waiting for the metro- practice your handstand!
Now these are not the only principles of dharma yoga but they are a solid base. And Yoshio believes the rest of the practice flows from this solid foundation. Do what is right, dedicate, practice and the rest will flow and progress naturally.
I’m grateful my first experience at the Barcelona Yoga Conference was Dharma yoga with Yoshio. It opened me up, physically and mentally, and inspired me to approach my own practice with more compassion and patience. If you practice, it will come…
Try more classes from Yoshio and other amazing teachers from around the globe at the Barcelona Yoga Conference, www.barcelonayogaconference.cat.
See you on the mat… Shine on, beautiful souls.