Rediscovering Freedom: the Therapeutic Wisdom of Yoga with Doug Keller
A Three Day Virtual Training for Yoga Teachers and Inquiring Students
Friday-Sunday, May 13th – 15th, 2022
• Friday, 6:00-8:30 pm EST
• Saturday, 10:30 am-1:00 pm; 2:30-5:00 pm EST (1.5 hour lunch break)
• Sunday, 10:30 am-1:00 pm; 2:30-5:00 pm EST (1.5 hour lunch break)
• Cost: $225 for the whole training, or $50 per session
Please Note: If you are registering for only part of the training please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and specify which session(s) you will attend.
After the restrictions of the past couple of years, ‘Rediscovering Freedom’ is the perfect theme for this three day training, with a practical, focused purpose of more deeply exploring the therapeutic applications of yoga. Prior to preoccupations with ‘stretching’ and strengthening, the intrinsic value of yoga practice resided in explorations of freedom of movement within our bodies, even when that freedom seemed quite limited. Our yoga practice offers us tools for exploration, and through them we find freedom and self realization.
This training includes ideas for working with physical limitations that are quite often linked to pain patterns, and are often the result of injury — and these ideas will be especially helpful for teachers working with students with such limitations.
The format of the presentations will be ‘lecture,’ but with practical, experiential examples of applications. Moreover, each session will include a short asana series that will help you feel how these ideas can be incorporated into a more extended practice — and inspire you in your own sequencing and creativity!
• High-quality video recordings and notes will be available for 8 months after the training, allowing students to review the materials at their own pace, supporting a deeper learning experience.
• All sessions will include a short practice.
• The sessions will range from the practical/experiential to the philosophical/experiential, all with a thread of understanding that will illuminate your yoga experience.
• Session One: Rediscovering Freedom: Keys to Understanding Pain Syndromes — New Perspectives on the Therapeutic Wisdom of Yoga
We begin with an introduction to themes for the training on rediscovering freedom: the role of joint play and the arthrokinetic reflex in pain syndromes and movement limitations, and what that means for a more insightful understanding of yoga practice. This will prove to be especially relevant to our treatment of the shoulders during the weekend, but as a simple and practical starting point for a Friday evening, we’ll work with the feet, knees, and hips in an evening-appropriate series that explores some new ideas and perspectives for the feet.
It’s traditional to think of the ‘foundation’ of the body in the feet in terms of the ‘four corners’ of the foot. But this doesn’t really fit with the anatomy of the feet as seen in dynamic activity. A more accurate and practical model for ‘grounding’ the feet in standing and in movement will be introduced, and we’ll explore how this way of understanding is more beneficial to the knees, particularly when we rediscover the freedom of contralateral movement that is vital to healthy movement. .
• Session Two: Making Connections: A Key to a Deeper Understanding of Asana Through Functional Lines of Movement
In addition to the myofascial lines described by Tom Myers that govern posture, the ‘functional lines’ that govern movement provide keys for understanding the value of asana practice, especially when it comes to rethinking more traditional instructions for asana that don’t really fit our anatomy. A practical focus for this session will be on the problem of sciatic pain, and how the principles of functional movement laid out in this session help to relieve problems of sciatica in yoga practice rather than cause them! The latter half of the session will take these ideas into practice, with special focus on hip actions and openings, all of which will build on the idea from Friday night that exploration of unforced freedom of movement is the first key to strength, flexibility, and greater freedom from pain.
• Session Three: Keys to the Shoulder Girdle ~ Opening the Wings of the Breath
The shoulder girdle includes three moving parts, collarbone, shoulder blade, and armbone (humerus). For healthy, pain-free movement of the shoulders, all three parts have to work together well.
This session will be a detailed look at the role of these three parts and their joints, especially as they relate to shoulder issues. Principles for warmup will be introduced, with applications in asana. This will include an examination of common shoulder aches and pains and their causes, especially shoulder impingement and rotator cuff problems. Special attention will be given to the ‘wings’ of the shoulders, the shoulder blades.
There will be plenty of ‘light bulb’ moments for working better with your shoulders in yoga poses, and in life.
• Session Four: A River Runs Through Us: From Psoas to Neck
The connection from sacrum to cranium consists of rivers and tributaries, from the psoas to the multifidus muscles and more, all intimately tied to the flow of the breath and actions of the senses, and subtly influencing the freedom of the shoulders as well as the neck itself. Moreover, these are intimately joined to subtle shifts in the nervous system, from parasympathetic to sympathetic, and influencing the ‘enteric’ or hormonal system of the gut as well. This session will be a practical exploration of these subtleties.
The session will start with practice, from psoas releases linked to the breath, to subtle releases for the neck, tied to eye movements and breath awareness. Context will be provided for these simple practices, especially focusing on the role of the Vagus Nerve in relation to the breath — as well as ‘blocks’ that arise from neck and shoulder use. These simple awareness practices will lead to some practice of asana, exploring keys for unlocking greater freedom in the neck, shoulders, and breath.
• Session Five: Freedom as Swatantrya, and the Development of the Idea of the Chakras
Kashmir Saivism was a philosophy that deeply influenced the development of hatha yoga. It presented an empowering philosophy that was an alternative to traditional ideas of liberation (as escape from the rounds of rebirth) and illusion (maya). It is especially relevant to our present times, as we seek to navigate circumstances that have worsened our feelings of contraction and of being un-free — combined with myriad illusions created to play upon those feelings of contraction. Saivism didn’t promise or counsel ‘escape’ — but rather provided a sort of ‘self-defense’ course by which we don’t get swept up in illusion. Because we understand it — its nature and its power.
Parallel to this was the development of the idea of the chakras, especially from the time of Patanjali onward, and particularly in more esoteric circles of tantra. How these ideas evolved and came to be embraced and transformed by Saivism and incorporated into hatha yoga is a fascinating and illuminating story, and one which helps us to appreciate the practical tools and insights offered by hatha yoga, including Yoga Nidra, combined with the powerful meditations and dharanas offered by the Saivite philosophies that informed and inspired hatha yoga. Doug will give you a fascinating journey into the evolution of the idea of the Kundalini in yoga, its relationship to the ideas of the chakras as rooted in the ‘Kulamārga’ and beyond, and a firm grasp of the threads of thought and practice that go into the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the first seminal text of hatha yoga. This journey will include some experiential techniques with the breath and dharana, to complete the weekend.
Doug Keller has been teaching workshops and trainings in the therapeutic applications of yoga for a decade, and is known not only for his effectiveness in communicating this ever-evolving approach in these trainings, but also for his extensive writing on the topic in magazines, journals and his two-volume work on ‘Yoga As Therapy.
He is also, in addition to his traveling and teaching, a Distinguished Professor at the Maryland University of Integrative Health in their Master’s Degree program in Yoga Therapy. This program is state-approved and accredited for granting a Master’s degree in this field, and is fully accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Visit Doug at www.doyoga.com