In this weekend of workshops, Marcus Veda will look at how we can break out of the modern yoga mindset that more flexibility is always desirable; that every pose, every stretch needs to go further, longer, deeper. Do we ever ask ourselves, how much is enough? Can we instead strengthen and stabilize what we currently have, and where we are, in the physical body and the active mind? If the ultimate goal of our asana practice is to embrace Patanjali’s sthira sukham asinam, do we still need to get our legs behind our heads? From the dynamic flow of the first workshop to the stillness of the closing yin session, find your edge and be strong there.
(All levels welcome but some experience of Vinyasa yoga recommended)
Fri night- Take it up: Rocket Masterclass
The greatest hits of Larry’s Rocket I, II, III in a 2.5 hour-long, tempo-flow.
Rocket, so called because it takes you higher, is the dynamic vinyasa system with a rebel spirit. It was developed by Larry Schultz in the 1980s, borne out of traditional Ashtanga, but breaking the hierarchy of postures in an attempt to make the variety of the rich practice accessible to everyBODY. Unfortunately there is never enough time in a regular class to get through a full sequence and complete it with the closing pranayama and meditation. Tonight we take the whole trip.
The Masterclass was always packed with free-flowing asana, the focus on breath, not perfection. Only from a place of mindful stability can we move forward with control. Whenever there was an opportunity to progress a pose into an inversion or freestyle expression, Larry would call out “Take it up” and those who wanted to go would go, but those who were happy where they were could simply stay and breathe- neither being “ahead” or “behind”. The room is together as one with the essence of the practice is its rhythm, connecting the breath to the tempo of the specially mixed music. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a handstand, funky arm-balance or kicking back in child’s pose, as long as you’re sync’d in with your breath, you’re on the Rocket. Take it up, take it down, hold tight, it’s flight night.
(open to all levels of vinyasa yogin, but not absolute beginners.)
Sat AM - Open Heart Surgery: A backbending workshop
Backbending poses are about opening the front body and strengthening the back but so often we see people going for the maximum bend or most extreme shape possible, dumping or cranking into the most vulnerable parts of their spine. Because these junctions (sacrum/pelvis, lumbar/thoracic, thoracic/cervical) are already the most flexible, they naturally take the most stress. In this workshop we will try to spread the awareness -and effort- to the whole spine and more importantly, the supporting muscles of the core (front, back and sides), the shoulders and legs to make these golden asana whole body, not single point poses. Don’t break the chain.
We will get warm, get strong, get stretched and get in the right headspace before attempting these powerful poses, safely. We will focus on the effect on your nervous system rather than the shapes you make. From humble beginnings in Cobra and Sphinx up to the big wheels and beyond, moving to drop-back variations WITH CONTROL (for those who feel ready.) From the ground up, mobility not flexibility is the mantra. My teacher says, “You are only as old as your spine,” so keep it feeling young and healthy, looking for longevity over intensity.
Sat PM - Put your feet up: an inversions workshop
How to get up, into and out of hand-balancing poses so that they become part of the flow in your Vinyasa instead of the place where it breaks down.
Inversions and arm-balances are about approaching challenges in a new way and seeing things from a different perspective.
The beauty of these poses is not in the shapes we create but how they bring your concentration into sharp focus, controlling the wandering mind (citta vritti). In this way they really are about taking your practice to the next level- from asana to dharana on the eight-limbed path. From Bakasana, ashtavakrasana, pincha mayurasana to handstand, we will explore how to come into them, how to come out of them, how to reach a valid expression of the pose even if you aren’t in the fullest version
The great sage George Clinton (nearly) said it right, “Still your mind and your ass will follow.” With some tips, tools, techniques and tricks, we can begin to unstick the sticky parts of your upside-down practice, intention intact.
Sun AM – Mission Hips: a 360 approach to your Rocket Socket.
When it comes to your body, the hips take the weight– supporting the top, moving the bottom. Everything we do goes through this multi-functional, all-important junction, but so much of the focus on hips in yoga classes boils down to simply “opening” them, in a single direction - out. And this is usually in the form of passive stretching of the inner groins, the adductors. But there is so much more to healthy, mobile and strong hips than one narrow band of flexibility. In this workshop we will move through a dynamic flow, specifically targeted at strengthening the full circumference of the socket, not abandoning the inside/outside edges, but paying extra attention to the rest: The front – chronically tight and overworked hip-flexors and quads- to the back- over-stretched and under-appreciated hamstrings; and the biggest of them all (loved but often lost)– the glutes. What should be the powerhouses of most of our movements on and off the mat, are now (through the widely acknowledged epidemic of “glute-amnesia”) largely found sitting around watching the supporting muscles struggling to do their work. The lazy teenagers of the modern western body, they are at the root of so many of the physical complaints we see today- from lower back pain, to hip tightness and weakness, radiating out to the knees and up the spine... We spend too much time in modern vinyasa yoga stretching, or worse, ignoring them, when we need to wake them up and strengthen … While sedentary lifestyles mean they are getting shorter and weaker every day, we gotta fire them up: Use them or lose them.
The core also connects the breath to the hips, especially the frequently mentioned psoas- or “yoga muscle” and we will use the vinyasa- special connection of the breath to movement- to integrate the breathing muscles with the moving muscles and develop the awareness so that this integration can become the centre of your regular asana practice.
Sun PM – Yin & Gongs: a journey to the deep.
Thy will be still. A 2.5hr journey into yin yoga bathed in gong vibrations, to take you into a deep, transcendent meditation.
A much-needed complement to a regular dynamic "yang" practice and a hectic life of constantly “doing”, the slow, passive release of yin is above all a powerful gateway to meditation. With a focus on stillness, acceptance and observation, the long held postures can cut through the mind chatter, moving you towards space and clarity.
Stimulating the para-sympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system counters the effects of chronic stress, imparted as much by busy city-life as by our own constant interaction with people, social media and the ever-growing to-do list. This is a chance to stop and really indulge in the manifold benefits, for body and mind, of true stillness. How often do we get to stop, allowing time to melt away without some distraction or other?
While the poses create a constant physical point of focus, the resonant frequencies of the gongs help to attune brain waves, taking you to states usually accessible only to experienced meditators, psychedelic experimenters or during deep sleep.
"See your thoughts, don't be your thoughts."