Nicolai’s return to Salt Lake City has been scheduled for April 5-7, 2019!
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Sometimes the best yoga teachers aren’t always the ones who teach postures. Take, for instance, Nicolai Bachman, published author of many popular yoga books on Sanskrit and Yoga Sutras, who visited Centered City Yoga, in Salt Lake City this spring of 2018.
Nicolai began an amazing weekend of yoga instruction by explaining some of the ancient history of yoga and Vedic philosophy. The first word in the Ṛg Veda is agni. Agni is fire, or better yet, it is transformation. Agni is the core of all yoga, as we are constantly transforming our mind, breath and bodies as we refine them with our daily habits and practices. Anything thrown into the fire changes, so we as yogis can actively choose to transform our own lives with yogic practices rather than driving in the ruts of our samskaras (our habitual patterns).
Sitting up in the beautiful, dimly lit Crown Room of the CCY studio on a Friday evening as the sun was setting was the ideal space for a restore yoga practice that involved chanting in each posture…from Nicolai himself! This is like being at a live performance, as we have all heard Nicolai chanting on our iPads and computers, but to be there, in the same space, having the magical, vibrational tones of ancient Sanskrit permeating our practice is something that can only be experienced and not described!
Saturday was a full day of learning about the Aṣṭanga Yoga from Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras. Of course as yogis we have all heard bits and pieces of the sutras, but have we ever considered how to apply them practically to our own lives? Nicolai masterfully wrote a very large book called The Yoga Sutras, which includes 7 cd’s and a set of flashcards so that one can learn and practice these sutras in real life.
One topic that Nicolai teaches that I find the most powerful is Kriyā Yoga. Kriya yoga is the practice of change, which is the core of yoga if you recall from above. Remember our friend agni? Well tapas is our fire for this practice. First, we begin by deciding on a new pattern that we would like to create in our life. Tapas is the practice of creating the change – what we will do to reprogram the thoughts and actions to achieve this. We would then apply svādhyāya and īśhvara-praṇidhāna to support this practice. Kriya yoga is essentially the last three niyamas (the second limb of ashtanga yoga).
Finally, on Sunday we had two topics, the first being the stories and Sanskrit of pose names. Being that Sanskrit is the language of yoga, I think it is really important to have some understanding of the language, as many of the words introduce concepts that cannot even be translated into our own language. To understand Sanskrit is to understand yoga. It was especially nice to get a little clarification of the difference between tadasana and samastitihi (which outside of ashtanga is just samasthiti).
The final topic introduced was the parallels of Ayurveda and yoga. Both are transformational, both require patience to create healing and change, both are fully customized to the practitioner, and both come from the same source. Being vegetarian, I enjoyed the comparison of both sciences to a vegetarian lifestyle. Yoga embraces vegetarianism to transform ourselves with ahimsa. Ayurveda only looks at the qualities of things – one person’s medication is another person’s poison, so if you can digest meat, then it may be alright to eat it.
I feel so fortunate that Centered City Yoga was able to host Nicolai in Salt Lake City, as he brings another deep facet to our yoga community. Yoga can be a little evasive for those who haven’t studied much of the philosophy and history, but I can tell you from my own experience, that this is where the heart of yoga lies…in the wisdom and language. It is through this knowledge that we can create our own beautiful practices and individualized yogic path.
Each student attending the workshop was very fortunate to have spent a weekend with such an accomplished yoga teacher, Nicolai Bachman. We look forward to another successful and enlightening event in 2019! And for those of you I left hanging on tadasana and samasthiti, they are the same. 🙂
– Maria Radloff
Ashtanga Teacher at Centered City Yoga
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