SPIRIT ROCK: Dharma and Yoga
2018 Teacher Training Curriculum Details
January 8-12, 2018 | Session 1: Foundations of Body, Mind, and Heart
with Djuna Mascall
In this session we address the foundational asanas with a focus on standing postures and the feet as the “foundation to the temple of the body.” This work is supported by the core teachings of the Buddha and Yoga Dharma. The training is centered around alignment based asana and somatics training from the perspective of gaining sensory awareness and grounding the practice in mindfulness. Through lecture, images, and hands-on learning we study the anatomy of the feet, legs and pelvis as a means of bringing greater intellgence to the asana practice and strengthening teaching ability. The anatomy study will foster an internal or mindful awareness through deepening knowledge of the body and it’s structure.
Central to this course is the training of the mind and heart. We will connect with the triple gems of the Buddha (Awakened Mind), Dharma (the Teachings of the Buddha) and the Sangha (the community of practitioners). Our daily practice will include the practices of Shamatha and Vipassana with the support of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the Ashtanga Yoga system will be illuminated through readings of the traditional texts, poetry, and contemplation for an embodied connection to the Dharma.
March 12-16, 2018 | Session 2: Mindfulness of the Breath
with Djuna Mascall
The emphasis in this course is on cultivating your deep connection to the teachings and your personal practice as the wellspring from which you share Mindful Yoga. We contemplate which aspects of yoga and the Dharma bring you alive and awaken your heart, which in turn becomes your offering. Intimacy with the breath is central to this session. We explore the anatomy of the torso, hands, arms, and shoulder girdle as gateways into the upper torso. We detail the structure and function of the diaphragm, lungs, heart, and kidney/adrenal complex in relation to the breath. Through asana sequencing we will learn how to stabilize and open the shoulder girdle and upper chest. The asana practice will include arm balance, inversion, backbends, and practices to restore the organic body. Pranayama or breath practice is taught as “the art of listening”; cultivating an intimate relationship with the breath and viewing the breath as the vehicle for insight into mental and emotional wellbeing.
We will study the story of Siddhartha to support our realization of interdependency, nonjudgemental awareness, and the impermanent nature of reality.
May 21-25, 2018 | Session 3: The Wisdom Body
with Djuna Mascall
This session is an exploration of the emotional body. We recognize that an understanding of the subtle or emotional body is essential to yoga practice and teaching ; our held tensions and beliefs are stored in our tissues and nervous system, and effect our deep biorhythms and wellbeing. This session addresses the neck, jaw, and cranium, and details yogic and meditative practices to release physical strain as well as psychological tensions. The anatomical study will illuminate the delicate structures of the throat and jaw. We look at how proper alignment of the skull brings balance to the entire system both in asana and sitting meditation. In addition, we address the nervous system and the triune brain through the current teachings of neuroscience with the aim of calming the habitual stress response. Through inversions, supported asanas, somatic practices, and chanting we learn to pacify the nervous system. This facilitates a spacious mind, the possibility of insight, and heart opening. We will emphasize pratyahara, or tending to the senses, through working with the eyes and tongue, deep inner listening, and tracking internal sensations. By pacifying the senses we enable the inner journey. The meditation practice highlights mindfulness of emotions and past experiences as well as the Five Hinderances. We study the Brahma Viharas as powerful means for connection to Buddha nature and the antidote to stress, psychic pain, and anxiety.
February 2-4, 2018 | The Yogi and the Buddha
with Tias Little
February 2, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, February 3, 10:00am – 5:00pm, February 4, 10:00am – 5:00pm
One of the core aims of yoga and meditation practice is to cultivate spaciousness, levity, and clarity in both body and mind. In this 3-day workshop, Tias guides a series of sessions to open, balance and deeply connect the mind and the body towards awareness, concentration and loving-kindness practices.
Supple Hips, Quiet Mind
It is important for students of yoga to have open hips in order to be still, stable, and centered in seated meditation. This class is an immersion to generate fluidity in the hips through both mobilization and stabilization techniques. Tias guides a series of movements to stretch, unwind, and free the powerful musculature around the hips prior to sitting.
Session 1 - From Inside-Out: Practice for the Core
A primary aim of yoga practice is to build a strong yet pliable interior core. The challenge in yoga is to bring lightness and life to the core without tightening or causing unnecessary constriction. One of the primary aims of this class is to mindfully build core stability. We do this through balancing poses for the arms and legs. This immersion helps cultivate the deepest vitality in the body while cultivating feelings of levity and grace.
Session 2 - Meditation and the Cranial Sacral Pulse
The cranial sacral rhythm passes from skull to spine to sacrum and informs the subtle movements of prana inside. In this class, we bring awareness to the cranial bones, the connective tissues within the skull and the movement of the brain in order to support feather fine states of concentration in sitting practice.
Session 1 - The Middle Path of the Body and the Buddha
The Middle Way is a place free from extremes that polarize, isolate, and cause imbalance. The Middle Way is accessible mystically and physiologically as the central axis through the body. One of the names for the mid line is the Madhya Nadi or middle channel. This class stretches the spine – the vertebrae, the discs and surrounding musculature – to harmonize and illuminate the central channel.
Session 2 - Developing Diamond Mind and Spacious Heart
One of the aims of yoga is to embody loving-kindness (metta) and to develop a “diamond mind” that clings to nothing. In this class we cultivate a vast open heart and a crystal clear awareness, one that has the power to cut through mental chatter and distraction. Whether sitting or practicing yoga postures, we cultivate spaciousness, levity, and clarity in both body and mind.
February 10, 2018 | Buddhism and Yoga: Integrating the Traditions
with Sean Feit Oakes
Buddhism and Yoga are two major branches on the family tree of South Asian spiritual practice, whose roots we can glimpse in ancient texts called upaniṣads. Both branches focus on transformative practice aimed at the end of su)ering and stress. From a deeply interwoven beginning, each tradition branched into many di)erent schools and practice systems, remaining in dialogue and sharing ideas and practices for 1500 years.
While it is common to think of meditation and mindfulness as Buddhist, but postures and breathwork as Hindu, the relationship between these modes of practice is much more interwoven. In this study and practice day, we will look at new historical evidence of the deep relationship between the Buddhist and Hindu systems, and learn beautiful, gentle practices that are shared by the two systems. This course will change what you think yoga and meditation are and give you tools to deepen your practice, whether your primary practice is Yoga postures or Buddhist meditation and mindfulness.
February 11, 2018 | The Neuroscience of Awakening
with Rick Hanson
The latest brain research has begun to confirm the central insights of the Buddha and other great teachers. And it's suggesting ways you can help your brain to enter deeper states of mindfulness and concentration, love and happiness. Suffering, joy and freedom all depend on what happens within your nervous system. Skillful practice thus means being skillful with your own brain. Register >
This experiential workshop will offer user-friendly information with lots of practical methods. No background in neuroscience or mindfulness is needed. We'll cover: the relationship between body and mind, mind and brain; strengthening neural factors of mindfulness; the role of concentration in practice; practical help from brain research for steadying the mind, quieting it and bringing it to singleness, and how attending to our physiology (mindfulness of the body) affects the mind state and the nature of the thoughts arising.
April 21, 2018 | Sequencing Mindful Yoga
with Djuna Mascall
This course includes the critical skill of sequencing a class to guide the body to open safely and deeply while allowing the mind to focus on a given theme. We cover teaching to the appropriate level, how to build asana sequences, pacing, and deepening students’ understanding of their bodies.
Students will learn to weave the Dharma into each class.
April 22, 2018 | Trauma and Spiritual Practice: Mindfulness and Embodied Healing
with Sean Feit Oakes
Many people come to meditation and yoga to help heal old wounds, both physical and emotional. In this study and practice daylong we will explore how the nervous system responds to stress and danger, and how that natural response is a)ected by trauma, developing into habitual states of anxiety and overwhelm. Trauma is not just caused by intense harmful and shocking experiences, but also by long-term stress and subtle emotional threat. Meditation and yoga can be very helpful in a trauma healing process, but do not automatically resolve these deep wounds, and may even be destabilizing for some practitioners.
The day will include an introduction to current trauma resolution theory, and speci’c mindfulness and movement practices that can support healing and resilience. The class will be appropriate for those who su)er from the symptoms of trauma, as well as professional caregivers, family members, and teachers of both meditation and yoga. We will discuss contraindications for common practice instructions, and ways to care for ourselves and others in spiritual practice and daily life.
June 1-3, 2018 | Integrating the Teachings
with Djuna Mascall
In this three day course (Friday through Sunday) students have the opportunity to teach to their peers and receive feedback and guidance. Students learn to offer mindful yoga with clarity and conﬁdance. We cover class planning and structure, prop use to support all bodies, demonstration, and directing students’ awareness to their internal experience rather than the achievement of a pose. Additionally, we will emphasize how the use of language, silence, voice tone, and word choice strengthens mindful awareness when teaching yoga.
Online Course: Intro to the History of Yoga: Philosophy, Practice, Transformation
with Sean Feit Oakes
An 8-week course of foundational study of yoga from a historical perspective, including:
• a timeline of yoga traditions from antiquity to the present
• philosophy & practices of “Classical Yoga” (text: The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali)
• basics of Buddhist philosophy & practice
• what Tantra is (and is not)
• devotional religion, mythology, gods & goddesses
• philosophy & practices of Haṭha Yoga (text: The Gheranda Saṃhita)
• history & politics of globalized yoga in the post-colonial period