Freedom Yoga as a Lifestyle. Tips from Erich Schiffman!

If you have taken a class with me in the past few years, you know that I have been deeply inspired by the teachings of Erich Schiffman and Freedom Style Yoga.  His influence has really allowed me to expand my awareness of what a yoga practice should be, look, and feel.  I was SO fortunate to be with him last weekend at the Freedom Yoga Retreat in Yogaville, and to share the experience with Saylor and lil ommies Ada & Paige.
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The best part of practicing freedom yoga is when Erich turns on some of his favorite music and just lets the whole room do a free form session.  No prescribed flow, no adjustments, just movement. The energy, the art, the creativity that you feel is really amazing and palpable.  Encouraging Saylor to see and feel this practice was very special to me as we were able to intuitively connect over partner poses and the music, which is something we needed after a tough week.
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Being with Erich reminded me of some foundational principles to really integrating yoga into your life.  In October 2013 I shared some of my experience from Big Mind Live with Erich at Yogaville in 2013.  Now, I’m excited to share with you some of the BIG takeaways from our recent time together.  I hope you can think about these, let it marinate, and share with me what you think about freedom, yoga, and life.

Of course, once I was paying attention and thinking about freedom I started seeing it everywhere!
Like this powerful blog post from Liz Gilbert.
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Erich’s teachings for yoga and life:
  • Yoga is the inquiry into truth.
  • Yoga is conscious union with the infinite that is being expressed by you.
  • Remember to do a “Pause Practice” regularly, as often as you can remember. This is where you pause, exhale and relax.  Do this whenever you remember to do it, and as often as you can.  I’ll be offering a Pause Practice @ IMCW November 18th!
  • Go into listen mode more often. Be attentive and aware and universal.  Wisdom will have a place to come in.
  • Love is the willingness to recognize that which is real.
  • Regularly as yourself, “What is the Truth here really?”
  • Allow yourself to “silent mind it” and be willing to not know all the answers all the time.
  • Relax More. Love more. Trust more (and be brave in the trusting). This is not easy.  It’s simple, but not easy.
  • In your yoga practice- look for moments to linger, flow on, pause, slow down, and change it up. Channel your poses through the energy in your body.  Think about what you are energizing, what thoughts you energize, and what you give your attention to.
  • Find some patterns in the body that you like to practice.
  • When you start a free form yoga practice, start with the postures you know and look for options and choices in the poses, and get into it a little more with the breath to help guide you. It’s important to learn from a school of yoga, get the basic form and alignment, to have some discipline around the learning of the system BUT eventually the discipline dissolves and intuitive practice guides.  Do enough movements so that it feels GOOD!  It’s nice to do both formal practice and free form practice.
For more teachings from Erich, sign up to listen to his recordings and teachings here.  
Below are 2 videos- one about yoga, and one about meditation.

Final Thoughts
I encourage my students to try “Bed Med”.  Slide out of bed in the morning or into bed at night and just PAUSE a few breaths, sit and meditate here for as long as feels good- before you doze off or before you start your day.   Think of yoga and meditation as lifestyle. Remembering to relax and listen for Universal Wisdom is part of this lifestyle.  The yoga postures are awareness training, just a physical way for us to be aware of the subtle and to practice listening to our bodies.

Many of you know that behind the scenes I am a crazy voracious reader. I always have at least 3-4 books on my shelf, in my purse, my car, my life! I read something every day and I mostly love non fiction books around wellness, wisdom and wealth.  These are the categories I define as well being, self help, growth, transformation; all great stories of change and love and truth (i.e. freedom).

For the past 6 months or so I have been dreaming of a way to share my love for the teachings and thoughts in these books to a greater audience, and ta-da! The Omm @ Home Virtual Book Club for Inspired Women was born.  Each book has been carefully selected to help cultivate our awareness and understanding of the universal truths and wisdom practices.  Sign up here to learn more and to get the reading list, starting with October’s book  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  Our first online meeting will be on Wednesday, October 26th @ 7:30pm.  We meet on the last Wednesday of each month!  If you can’t make it live, a recording will be sent to you!

Take a moment to pause, relax, and listen before the holiday rush.  Join me at IMCW on Friday, November 18th from 9:30am-2:30pm for the Pause half-day yoga & meditation retreat.

Big Mind Live @ Yogaville!

“trust yourself to do what is right and navigate the way
trust yourself- this is advanced practice. ” Erich Schiffman

I have read, watched, listened to and practiced in my home with Erich Schiffman for a few years. I have seen him at various conferences and even attended a wee bit of his workshops in DC in 2012. This past weekend, I traveled to one of my favorite quiet and nourishing places, YOGAVILLE, to study for a weekend with him entitled, Freedom Yoga… “His unique Freedom Yoga offers an intuitive approach to Yoga as the art of living. Using this approach, you meditate (listen inwardly for guidance) when you sit quietly, when you practice poses and throughout the rest of your day. From this inner connection, you act as you are prompted to—from within. While not an inherently strenuous practice, it is an advanced one, requiring courage to follow your deepest impulses about what feels right and what doesn’t—which isn’t always easy.” From Yogaville website.

“Be the place where love flows through b/c it’s good for others and it’s good for you” – Erich Schiffman.

I adore what he has to say. He has been practicing yoga for 47 years and he is open minded, soft, clear, strong and humble. A true warrior. He talks about his growth & learning process, his understanding of yoga and meditation as it applies directly to his life today. I love his teachings b/c they empower ME to live fully in my own life, not according to some GURU. His postures are helpful for our bodies, they heal and connect us. He encourages us to practice “Freedom Style Yoga” which means that within the alignment and the boundaries of knowing posture.. we can play, we can explore variations, we can make it our own. It is Freedom. He teaches and supports us to sit in meditation, which is repeats IS the yoga. IS the most important part of yoga. His sequencing is as follows…

Chapter 1- Dharma Talk/ Discussion
Chapter 2- Meditation
Chapter 3- Asana, guided
Chapter 4- Asana- FREE
Chapter 5- Meditation

* all of this can be done in a variety of time frames AND by the end of the weekend, we voted for LONG Freedom Yoga and no guided asana.. it was SO POWERFUL to practice with a room of breathing, moving, being, loving Yogis- all doing what served and healed and stretched them. Us, somehow together and yet completely left on our own to be fully expressed as unique and beautiful individual selves! it was AWE -some.

“put THE KNOWN on pause. learn to shut up.
put a coma, in your commentary.” Erich Schiffman

Here are my favorite quotes from the weekend. You can check out more at ErichSchiffman.com. I subscribe to his website which is where I have learned from him over the past 2 years. He puts on classes, content, teachings, that you can explore, at your own pace and schedule.

“quiet the mind. zip it. mentally, in that moment of chaos. Then, you start feeling more authentic.
life will become more fun.”

“RELAX and be brave enough to do what your inner guide is telling you to do. ”

“meditation IS listening. thinking less and listening more.”

“intuitive practice IS advanced.”

“ways to meditate
1. buddha style
2. asana style
3. lifestyle “everything else”- the rest of the time.”

” SURRENDER- our deepest impulses are love. ”

“HOMEWORK TO START NOW!
relax ( whenever it occurs to you)
Practice LOVE More
Trust your deepest impulses of how to think and be. ”

“Be a loving presence. love is the willingness to recognize that which is truth”

“steps of meditation
align- get comfy
relax- settle in- wobble- to stillness
breathe- breath watch
love ride the breathe into the feeling
pay attention- listening ”

“when it occurs to you practice exhale, pause ( like now, and now, and now) ”

“HEALING means REVEALING”

“yoga is the inquiry into truth.”
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