Facing the Shadow.

Via on Sep 27, 2010

DHARMA MONDAYS: Shy Sayar’s weekly blog on Elephant Journal.

This weekend my old friend and teacher Martin Hunke taught a Shadow Yoga workshop at my studio, 7th Heaven in Berkeley, California.

I was exposed to shadow yoga—long before I became a teacher myself—through Joey Huynh, my teacher for eight years, who became a student of Shadow Yoga creator Shandor Remete for the last three or so of those years. I have always credited Shadow Yoga at the top of the list of influences on my Upeksha Yoga—along with the Tibetan Kum Nye Yoga I had studied at Thatang Tulku Rinpoche’s Nyingma Institute in Berkeley. One of the things that these three practices (Shadow Yoga, Kum Nye and Upeksha Yoga) have in common is an emphasis on a subtler level of experience—the mind, senses and the emotions—as well as an attitude that yoga is an unspectacular event, an internal affair designed less to showcase our strengths and more to expose our weaknesses, that we may grow where we need to grow most.

Following Joey, I too ended up teaching at Martin’s studio, Inner Heat Yoga in Berkeley, until it closed when Martin got married and moved to Berlin. I have since grown to teach workshops, retreats and even teacher trainings, offering my own humble insights as “Upeksha Yoga” and crediting all the many styles that I had tasted for all that I had learned and proceeded to teach. While I never called my classes Shadow Yoga (and did not, by any means, have the mastery of that practice to justify doing so), I was very excited about the Shadow Yoga elements in my teaching and made a point to include “Shadow Yoga” in my bio. This last Saturday morning, when I met Martin at 7th Heaven, he asked if I were free after the workshop, expressing his wish to take a little time to speak with me. I was very pleased, as by the end of his time in the U.S., Martin and I had become very fond of each other, and hindrance of our friendship by the sudden appearance of the Atlantic Ocean (not to mention the width of North America) between us was a genuinely sad development for me.

After the workshop, Martin and I sat down and talked about our lives, our relationships, and Shadow Yoga. He said that another teacher in the area asked him what the deal was with this guy, Shy, who claims to teach Shadow Yoga. So, I am taking this opportunity to announce: I am not a Shadow Yoga teacher and never claimed to be one. In fact, I don’t think I was really ready for to face my shadow when I first received some instruction from Joey and Martin a few years ago. Today I feel that Shadow Yoga is like graduate school in yoga – deeply internal, mentally demanding and purposefully designed to nitpick on our greatest weaknesses, as westerners who grow up sitting in chairs and thinking far, far too much. Preying on joint stiffness and weak, underused leg muscles, it is as though the practice wants to teach you how not to run out of the room screaming when you want to do so the most. I am humbled in the face of its insight.

So now I started a count: today is day ___ of my daily Shadow Yoga practice. I think I am finally ready to face the shadow. I am probably wrong.

About Shy Sayar

Shy Sayar is a teacher and therapist with over 5000 hours of experience bringing yoga to students of all levels, treating patients, and training yoga teachers around the globe. Shy believes in Teaching People – Not Poses, since the practices of yoga are infinitely adaptable to fit the practitioner’s stages of development, and there is no need to push the body into arbitrary shapes. Instead, his Tantravaya yoga method integrates the classical Eight Limbs of Yoga, equally cultivating the body, breath and mind to bring each practitioner to optimal, holistic health. While the ultimate aim of yoga is to reveal the interconnectedness of all beings as the expression of one eternal life, Shy’s teaching refrains from overstating esoterics and focuses instead on bringing about this awakened consciousness by emphasizing the ease of the breath, the integrity of the musculature at work, and the serenity of the mind. Shy is the founder and owner of Yoga One Studios in Northern California. He has offered coursework on education and pedagogy, as well as yoga philosophy and classical Indian literature at the University of California, Berkeley. In his yoga teaching, Shy integrates his experience in higher education with skillful attention to different learning styles, making even the most complex teachings approachable to every student. His unique Tantravaya Yoga Therapy method has shown remarkable results in posture correction, pain relief and improved balance, as well as healing emotional trauma and addressing the roots of psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. Himself an avid athlete, Shy works with both elite and amateur athletes – including equestrians, runners, climbers, et al. – in order to maximize performance while preventing injury, as well as expediting recovery from injury. He is internationally recognized for offering the highest quality Yoga Teacher Trainings around the world, with exceptional emphasis on the sciences of anatomy and physiology, classical and contemporary theory and philosophy, and the most extensive practical training. He also specializes in teaching anatomy, physiology, diagnostics and therapeutics in teacher training programs worldwide.

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