The Full Dimensions of Yoga: A New Perspective with Doug Keller
A Three-Day Workshop for Yoga Teachers and Inquiring Students
May 19-21, 2023, Arlington, MA
Combining modern science and contemporary language, Doug Keller takes a fresh look at the therapeutic value of yoga practice, with a new perspective that is at once profound, yet accessible and practical. By using a multi-layered approach to enter the inner world, you will discover a new experience of yoga through the foundational practices asana, breath, and meditation by one of the world’s foremost yoga therapists.
At The Arlington Center, 369 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA
• Friday, 6:00-9:00 pm
• Saturday, 12:00-3:00 pm; 4:00-7:00 pm (1-hour lunch break)
• Sunday, 9:00 am-12:00 pm; 1:30-4:30 pm (1.5-hour lunch break)
A Journey Through the Five Vayus
The main theme of this three-day workshop is our relationship to our nervous system in yoga practice and philosophy, and its vital role in our physical, mental, and emotional wellness.
To highlight this theme, each of the five sessions will be organized around one of the five ‘Vayus.’ Vayu’ is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘wind’ or power of the life force or Prana and is an aspect of the nervous system which governs the functioning of the mind and body.
Altogether the five sessions will provide a full and integrated experience of yoga and what yoga has to offer, in terms that make practical sense.
PDF downloads of the slide presentations will be provided.
Every session will include an asana and pranayama practice, with the asana segment focusing on a particular area of the body or aspect of the practice which illuminates the theme in a practical, experiential way.
Session One: Vyana Vayu ~ Sensation and Space
Healthy Shoulders and Spacious Breath
Vyana Vayu includes the aspect of sensation — which helps explain pain syndromes in the body, particularly in the muscles and joints. As we work with this Vayu, we bring attention to the perception of ‘space’ in the movement of our joints, by which our nervous system governs muscle tone through a mechanism known as the ‘arthrokinetic reflex’.
• Overview of the workshop and an explanation of the Vayus and the relevance of these ideas to our modern understanding of the healthy functioning of the body and mind.
• The asana practice will focus on joint movement and freedom in the shoulders (and how shoulder tension influences the health and freedom of the neck), as woven into flowing vinyasa practice.
• With pranayama, we will explore the ‘space’ of the breath, the role of sensation as well as vibration/mantra, and their relationship to mind and emotion.
• With these themes, on the first day, we’ll set out the foundations of a complete yoga practice.
Session Two: Prana Vayu ~ Awakened by the Sun
Healthy Spine and Dynamic Breath
Prana Vayu is related to the ‘sympathetic’ aspect of our nervous system. More than just a ‘fight or flight’ reaction, on the positive side, the sympathetic nervous system keeps us alert, engaged and interested in our life. The challenge is to harness and direct this dynamic energy without being overwhelmed or overstimulated, which can lead to irritation or fatigue.
• We will explore a dynamic and stimulating asana practice focused on ‘functional’ lines of movement that engage our ‘core’ through dynamic breath and movement. This is particularly beneficial for the health of the spine and low back.
• Our pranayama experience will emphasize the importance of the stimulating and focusing ‘Sun’ aspects of pranayama, while still balancing these practices in a way that produces a ‘sattvic’ state of calm, centered enthusiasm, and positive engagement in life.
Session Three: Apana Vayu ~ Calmed by the Moon
Healthy Feet and Grounding Breath
The Apana Vayu is related to the parasympathetic nervous system, and the ‘grounding’ and calming aspects of practice which support the parasympathetic nervous system in maintaining our health, mental clarity, and emotional resilience.
• The asana practice will explore proper ‘grounding’ through our foundations — the feet, which influence the stability of the knees and freedom in the hips. In addition to working with therapeutic issues in the feet, knees, and hips, this will introduce the emotional dimension of feeling ‘grounded.’
• Through the lens of pranayama, we will look at the calming or ‘Moon’ aspects of the breath.
• Also of interest, is the central role of our ‘yoga nerve’ — the Vagus nerve — in maintaining health
Session Four: Samana Vayu ~ Balancing the Sun and the Moon
Healthy Low Back And Breath As Mantra
Samana Vayu represents that active state of equilibrium between outer and inner, where Prana and Apana, manifest in equilibrium and healthy functioning, as well as in states of meditation. Classically this Vayu has been associated with digestion, but it is also concerned with the third aspect of our nervous system, the ‘enteric’ nervous system which governs our hormonal system.
• The asana practice will explore the ‘enteric’ nervous system in terms of the health of the sacroiliac joints and low back, as influenced by the psoas muscle and its supporting muscles. This goes more deeply into the realm of breath and emotion in the experience of asana practice, as well as the profound role of the ‘bandhas.’
• In pranayama, we will go deeply into both breath as “dharana” (a method of focus for the mind), connected with visualization, feeling, and emotion, and also breath as mantra, related to the idea of the chakras.
Session Five: Udana Vayu ~ The Power of Intention and Mental Focus
Healthy Neck and Focused Mind
Udana Vayu is the ‘fire’ of yoga, and as such drives the intention and clarity of one’s practice. Through this Vayu we explore the transformative power of yoga practice in mind and emotion as well as in body. We will also look at the subtle influence of our mental intentions and the “vrittis” (the whirlpool of thoughts that surface in consciousness) on our overall health.
• The ‘fire’ of Udana Vayu is related to later ideas of the “Kundalini”.
• The asana practice will center around the health of the neck (and how different kinds of neck tension impact the health of the shoulders) — with practical variations for the release of neck tension with the proper application of Jalandhara Bandha.
• The pranayama practice will explore deeper levels of meditation working with ‘”drishthi” (the influence of the gaze or focus of the eyes) and Yoga Nidra, as guided by intention, mantra, and visualization.
Doug Keller has been teaching workshops and trainings in the therapeutic applications of yoga for over thirty years, and is known not only for his effectiveness in communicating this ever-evolving approach in these workshops, 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