#8 Dancing Your Yoga with Sun Salutations and Dancing Warrior Series and Feeling Yoga as Prayer
teacher training- https://vimeo.com/42162242
sun salutations - https://vimeo.com/26344102
dancing warrior: https://vimeo.com/26345030
Qoya honors yoga as a time-tested philosophy and practice of human development and explores places that can be integrated with a more feminine approach.
What exactly is yoga?
It's a good thing to explore before we focus on adapting it to be more feminine?
The common term yoga is often defined in the West as: a set of postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) that increase strength, flexibility and balance and integrate mind, body and spirit.
Sri Aurobindo, a visionary, avatar, author and yogic leader teaches the definition of Yoga as "applying knowledge, action and love in service towards the evolution of consciousness."
In Qoya we love that, as Qoya means a female manifestation of higher consciousness.
Deepak Chopra describes yoga as a state of being in which the elements and forces that compromise your biological organism are in harmonious interaction with the elements of the cosmos. In yoga—in union with your spirit—your desires and the desires of nature are one.
In Qoya, instead of holding postures in stillness, can we allow our body to move subtly with the breath? Can we allow ourselves to dance and express ourselves in the structure of sun salutations? Can we also explore the of attainment enlightenment by being in a deeper relationship of joy and gratitude with the present moment right now?
When Rochelle was in India, a woman came up to her at a temple and asked if she was a yoga teacher. She said yes and the woman told her she had an important message for her. She said, “You have to teach them that yoga is prayer, not just movement. Promise you will teach them.” Rochelle kept her promise and asks you to invite students to think of their yoga as prayer. You don’t have to have a running inner dialogue of “prayer” just a shift of perception to feel your own body’s movements as sacred, whole and holy.
Familiarize yourself with the different sun salutation and dancing warrior sequences in the videos. As you teach them, I want to offer you the metaphor of moving like a wave in the ocean.
One reason is to feel the rhythmic flow of the breath and the body. Also, to realize/remember that our bodies are 70 some % water and the earth is 70 some % water, so we want to tap back into that feminine experience of rigidity and truly feeling our flow- in our breath, in our body. The rhythmic repetition of sun salutations and dancing warrior sequences are one of the best ways to create that. Please share the metaphor of like a wave in the ocean and have fun!
In Qoya classes, sun salutations are danced through, doing each movement 3 times.
Inhale arms up over your head, bring into prayer position and circle back around.
Half-way lift. Inhale as you come up half way to a straight spine, stretching from your lower back through the crown of your head and exhale bending your knees as much as you need to, to fold in half kissing your shins, hugging your calves and closing your upper body to your lower body like closing a good books.
Hands touch the floor and float your right leg back to a runnerʼs lounge.
Inhale rounding your spine like cat/cow as you life your hips, looking in towards your heart. Exhale, arching your spine like cat/cow as you lower your hips to feel a deep stretch and open your heart, looking up. *Ok to use blocks as you are developing hip flexibility.
Hip Opener (optional)- Bring the back knee down, balancing by pressing your front big toe down and sucking your stomach in for support, gently guide your hips forward and back as you circle your hands by your heart to open your hips. This is a great time to bring the focus or intention to everyoneʼs attention. Hands touch the floor in front of you and step back to Downward Dog.
Downward Dog. Practice variations to learn the alignment, shift weight and then dance through downward dog by guiding hips forward, bending your knees, then pushing your heels down and thighs back. Imagine you are drawing a circle with your hips and give yourself permission to be playful with the movement.
Lift leg up and come forward to opposite leg runnerʼs lounge. Inhale rounding your spine like cat/cow as you life your hips, looking in towards your heart. Exhale, arching your spine like cat/cow as you lower your hips to feel a deep stretch and open your heart, looking up.
Hip Opener (optional)- Bring the back knee down, balancing by pressing your front big toe down and sucking your stomach in for support, gently guide your hips forward and back as you circle your hands by your heart to open your hips. This is a great time to bring the focus or intention to everyoneʼs attention.
Step both feet together and start again, doing the sequence 3 times.
Helpful instructions for Sun Salutations
Before even beginning, take moment to guide the woman’s awareness to her breath, her feet connected to the earth, her spine lengthening up.
For the first set take it slow and take time to move through the postures slowly, instructing the women to explore and find how the postures feel best. Take time to offer modifications, like child’s pose instead of downward dog.
• Inhale lift your hips and round your spine.
• Exhale stretch your hips down, heart opens, chest up
• Make it rhythmic like a wave in the ocean as your hips raise and lower. • Feel the rhythmic pulse
• Inhale lift and round
• Exhale hips open, heart opens
• Feel your breath move through you
•This is all about how it feels. Find a depth where you feel rooted to the earth and lifted at
the same time.
In the second set, instruct the class to feel the movements animated by their breath, deepening the breath- movement connection that defines yoga. Or practice feeling connected, rooted through your feet.
• Feel your breath move you/your body
• imagine/feel there is no beginning or end to your breath
• Inhale with every cell in your body
Between the 2nd and 3rd set is a good time to instruct the class to take move in any way that feels good. Then for the 3rd set they can integrate the sensations of this free movement into their yoga practice.
The 3rd set can be an opportunity for the women to practice the sun salutation on their own, or flow through the warrior series postures on their own. This is a good time to encourage them to enjoy the movement from one posture to to the next, to dance their yoga on their own time, and to revel/linger/rest in the postures they like best.
• Start to feel more creative expression.
• Feel an expression of yourself through your body.
• Feel connected to your physical form.
• Be really nice to yourself.
• Find your particular flow- this will probably be different every day. So give yourself space for this.
• Feel your body stretch deeply.
Dancing Warrior Series
There are 3 main poses in this sequence.
Side Angle Pose
● Step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor, bring them into prayer position in front of your heart.
● Turn your right foot out to the right 90 degrees and your left foot slightly in. Align the
left heel with the right heel. Bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Also strengthen the left leg by pressing the outer left heel firmly to the floor.
● Make sure your knee cap is in line with the center of the ankle of your bent knee and your knee is not bowing in or out. Right foot should be completely parallel with the line of the mat.
● Imagine a wave in the ocean and start to inhale, lifting your hips and bringing your hands in prayer and then exhale, bending your right knee, stretching your arms away from each other and then inhale, hands in prayer, lifting your hips a little bit, then exhale, bending your right knee and stretching your arms in opposite directions.
Keep the movement in your legs the same and with your hips low switch your arms so the arm that is on the side of the straight leg reaches down your leg and the arm on the side of the bent knee reaches up to the ceiling. Inhaling lifting hips and as you exhale, deepening the stretch in the hips and really feeling the stretch of up and down in both directions. Do this several times.
Keeping the movement of your legs the same and shift your right elbow to touch your right knee and your left arm up to the diagonal. Inhale into your left rib cage, lifting your hips and then exhale as you melt into the stretch of your hips, deepening the reach through your fingertips. Each repetition opening up space for more movement. Do this several times and then switch side.
Start teaching this sequence 7-10 repetitions each posture (Warrior II, Reverse Warrior and Side Angle) on each side. Then go to 3 repetitions each side, 2 repetitions and a then do a couple of rounds of each pose one time each.
Instruct women to:
- move their body subtly with their breath
- to allow space for dance and expression within the structure
- to be in a deep relationship of joy and gratitude with the present moment - feel the rhythmic flow of their breath and their body
- feel their body move like a wave in the ocean
- feel simultaneously rooted and lifted
Very often in typical yoga practice these days, students struggle to achieve more depth (beyond what feels good). By instructing students to DANCE their sun salutations and warrior series and FEEL their body/movement, you can encourage students to stay within a depth that is comfortable- so they can move!
Many women who are new to teaching are most intimidated by teaching the yoga component of class. Remember that we are providing basic instructions for yoga postures and most importantly teaching women how to feel them. You are qualified to do this! Practice reciting the Sun Salutation and Warrior series in the manual to become comfortable with the simple instructions. Practice the online yoga series on embodyqoya.com to feel, embody, experience and own the Qoya approach to yoga. Arrive at the place where you are feeling yourself practice the postures with your full personal expression present. Bring this vibe to your students!
Other internally validating instructions:
Bend your right knee and stretch deep into your hips
Feel your hips opening
Feel yourself dancing into your yoga
Look for the perfect stretch for you.
Feel the control, rooted through your feet as you stretch towards the sky.
Dancing your yoga, melt into your stretch.
Inhale lift, exhale melt into the stretch.
Find the perfect depth for you right now.
Feel rooted and lifted, move like water you are, and dance your warrior series!
Yoga and Ceremony
The devotional nature of Qoya yoga practice, and the way we embrace yoga as prayer make it an appropriate place to include ceremony. The main ingredients of ceremony are honoring and gratitude, and the intention is not trying to manipulate or change things, but to honor them as they are. It is aligning with the spiritual perspective of trust and honoring the gift that is being given, even if you have a personal preference for it to show up in a different package.
Some examples of Sun Salutation intentions that bring in ceremony:
Feel your movements as prayer.
1st set: simple slow instruction to guide women’s awareness to how it feels
2nd set: Intention of gratitude for the wisdom and inheritance which your ancestors have passed on to you
3rd set: Honor your freedom to choose how you live your life, how you express these gifts.
1st set: honor the blessings and challenges of the past
2nd set: honor the blessings and challenges in present time
3rd set: have students stand at the back of the mat, and guide them to visualize yourself standing on a hilltop. your entire life lies out behind you and below. the learning and the joys, the victories and the sorrows. everything it took to bring you here. There is a threshold right in front of you. on the other side of it the light is bright and its not clear where the road leads. Observe it all, bless it all, release it all. for it is in letting go of the past that you reclaim your power. Step through the gateway now and dance your third set of sun salutations honoring all the blessings and challenges to come.
Honoring the gifts
1st set honor the gifts you bring to the world
2nd set think of someone else and honor the gifts they bring
3rd set honor the gifts of this moment
1st set honor the beauty of the earth
2nd set honor the beauty of the people
3rd set honor the beauty of your existence
Music Suggestions for Yoga
Alexi Murdoch – Shine
Of Monsters And Men – Slow And Steady
Benjy Wertheimer – One River
Curumin – Esperanca
Amadou & Mariam – Chérie
DJ Cheb I Sabbah – Maname Diname
Professor Trance – Medicine Trance
Erykah Badu Featuring Zap Mama & Karon Wheeler – Bump It
Medeski, Martin & Wood – No Ke Ano Ahiahi
Angelique Kidjo – I’ve Got Dreams To Remember
Mimi Maura – Hacia La Eternidad
Ben Harper – Blessed To Be A Witness
Groove Armada – At The River
David & Steve Gordon – Shaman's Drum Dance Mickey Hart – Light Over Shadow
Bliss – Song For Olabi
Ali Akbar Khan – Two Lovers
Bliss – Song For Olabi
David & Steve Gordon – Eagle's Rhythm Gift
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
Chloë Goodchild – Om Shiva!
Krishna Das – Ma Durga
Cheb i Sabbah – Koi Bole Ram Ram
Karen Drucker – Thank You For This Day
Groove Armada – At The River
Medeski, Martin & Wood – No Ke Ano Ahiahi
Air – J'ai Dormi Sous L'eau
Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra – Mali Sadio Blur – Tender and Foday Musa Suso – Ocean Wave