Shiva Shanti Yoga Manual by Felise Berman
In my attempt to understand the deep philosophical system of Yoga I read and study continually, it has become a lifelong endeavor. I began my teaching and healing work first in Buddhism, then moving into Metaphysics and Meditation before becoming a Yoga teacher. It was clear that I needed to understand the many facets of Yoga before I attempted to produce a body of work that defines me as a Yogini.
I have been somewhat dismayed by the Western versions of Yoga and do not understand why the entire system is negated in most modern/western yoga schools. The current trend has been to focus on the workout and the athletic or physical aspects of yoga and although I am inspired to see the mass population showing interest in yoga, I hope it’s a key to unlock the more profound and esoteric or mystical aspects of YOGA as outlined in the Ancient text.
The Asana section of Level One in Shiva Shanti Yoga focuses on the physical but also presents an in-depth understanding down to every minute detail and alignment point. This portion of my manual has become a book. Every word was carefully thought out and put together over many years. I hope to encourage you to refine the poses and implement a complete understanding of each Asana and all elements of Yoga.
Having a spinal fusion in 2008, 15 years into my yoga practice created a new paradigm for me, and I decided that my practice needed a gentle flow, I firmly believe the many years of practicing upward facing dog compromised a predisposition related to my spinal mobility. I also believe it was exasperated by just following the teacher’s instruction and not listening to my body. The first level of Shiva Shanti Yoga has been created to ensure you are practicing with total awareness. When anyone in the yoga community would imply my injury was from taking care of an ailing mother or any other common emotional struggle, I would feel an immediate untruth. My father and brothers both have had spinal injuries. I feel very strongly that my injury is a combination of a life of dance and yoga as well as my historical makeup. The human body is scientifically engineered, and we must treat it properly with an understanding of our Doshas and Karma, balanced or imbalanced. I created a safe yoga practice for those interested in combining vinyasa with alignment while maintaining safety as my priority.
After years of teaching I noticed not everybody wants to sweat when they take a yoga class, not everyone likes music, and some say vinyasa flow does not agree with them while others claim to get bored in alignment based classes and some people LOVE a hot class, and some do not. I will say this, I love all types of yoga, as well as having taken them all, but most importantly I do my best to stay open minded. We are each unique and driven by the makeup of our bodies, mind, and soul. As a teacher, I think it is paramount to honor my students and their capabilities, as well as their Dosha. Most importantly I encourage you to listen to your body for there is always a dialogue going on with every cell in our anatomy and DNA. I do not disagree that thoughts affect our body, not only YOUR thoughts but the thoughts of people that surround you, negative and positive. Your mind, your thoughts your demeanor have an impact on your diet, body type, and disposition. I have learned this; our minds must be purified and reflected upon as well as our bodies, and with a disciplined practice you can have a substantial impact on every aspect of your life.
I would like to remind you asana is only one element of life celebrated with yoga as its canvas. There are plenty of teachers who focus on Asana, and with Shiva Shanti Yoga I choose to focus on so much more. I have come to realize the vast need for living a Yogic lifestyle and have explored comprehensible steps that work well for the western mind. I am committed to focusing on the lineage of yoga and its source. I am also hoping to learn more about Yoga before I leave this body, my journey as a teacher is lifelong, and I am always a student first.
You will begin to see my work, and throughout my life, I have attempted to explain yoga, not as a money making profitable scheme nor to create a not for profit organization. My work incorporates balance equanimity, timing, creativity, spirituality, integrity, and life filled with all of the above.
I hope there will be at least one teacher or student who will find this book useful.
Om Namah Shivaya
Felise (Shivadasi) Berman
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