Each workshop topic below can be presented within a 2 or 3-hour time slot, with ample room for dialogue and experiential learning. I make good use of Powerpoint to stay on message, but also make a point to follow the lead of whatever questions come up in the room. Over the course of a weekend, several subjects and experiential sessions can be threaded together to endow participants with a vivid and actionable appreciation for the complexity of contemporary Yoga history and study, or Ayurvedic worldview and practice.
You can contact me directly to program a presentation for your community.
Defining Yoga: Navigating Private and Public Discourses with Integrity and Respect.
It’s natural for everyone to have a private definition of yoga practice. What could be more intimate and personal than the sensations and meanings of movement, breath, meditation, and contemplation? And yet, if we stop with our private definitions, we miss out on not only the historical richness and diversity of yoga literature, we run the risk of further fragmenting a heritage that has struggled to survive colonialism and now globalization. In this discussion, we’ll explore the difference between “yoga as a personal journey” and yoga as an historic spirituality with specific roots in Indian wisdom practice.
The Trouble with Adjustments: Problems and Possibilities.
In many yoga spaces, teachers and students share the expectation that adjustments are a standard part of practice. But this aspect of modern yoga is marred by an uncomfortable history. At the dawn of the global movement in 1930s India, adjustments in key learning spaces such as the Mysore Palace merged with the somatics of corporal punishment. They conveyed assumptions about spiritualized pain and surrender, delivered through a pedagogy of unquestioned charisma and presumed consent. In combination, these factors have led to decades of blurred boundaries, sexualized touch, and general intrusion. If you’re a yoga teacher and you want to adjust people, this discussion will help you get square with this history first. It will help you think about how you will protect your students from it, especially in an unregulated industry. It will offer guidelines for moving forward in the creation of safe and student-driven yoga education.
(This presentation has been filmed and is viewable here.)
Does Yoga Support Social Justice Work? No and Yes.
The Bhagavad Gita was the favourite book of both Gandhi and his assassin. European fascist movements of the 1930s were fascinated with yoga. And today, practicing yoga is not a reliable predictor of one’s political persuasion. The Yoga Sutras will not teach you about reproductive rights, rape culture or white privilege. The Hatha yoga texts are in no way feminist. Is it a mistake to believe that practicing yoga makes you a better citizen or ally? In this discussion we’ll explore how social justice work really begins with education that comes from beyond the yoga mat. And — how those who are working in social justice movement really can trust yoga practice to help build resilience.
Intro to Ayurvedic Worldview and Practice
Yoga has its own medicine, called Ayurveda — which seeks to illuminate our ecology, and to harmonize with it. This presentation will be a primer in the essentials of Ayurvedic holism, foundational energies (elements), modes (gunas), and bodily flows (doshas). The language of Ayurveda connects desires to the tissues, digestion to will, fertility to joy, and the body to the seasons. Together, we’ll explore basic intuition techniques, simple assessment tools for exploring constitution of self and other, and workshop whatever questions about personal health and balance arise from our discussion.
Stressed? Disorganized? Looking for a natural rhythm? Ayurveda puts daily routine at the centre of self-care. This presentation will process on the timing of solar and digestive cycles, and how to smooth over the transitional moments in your day in which you may be prone to low energy, wild food cravings, or emotional burn-outs.
In Ayurveda, food and the capacity to digest it mirror each other which means that understanding what is right for you to eat is a very personal journey. Wouldn’t it be nice to build a supportive diet naturally, based upon who you are, rather than what’s in vogue? Ayurveda gives a powerful language for doing just that. We’ll look at the typical states of digestive fire, and what foods best nourish us in the tasks of cleansing, repairing, or building. We’ll look at tastes and timing, raw veganism and omnivorism and everything in between, and echo the fundamental Ayurvedic principle: “Food is the first of all medicines.” Then, we get to share our food challenges and potential solutions from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Bringing the knowledge of the dhatu/doshas to the lunar cycle can be revelatory. Understanding the building, “cooking”, and clearing phases puts the monthly journey into context. In the opening presentation, we’ll look at menstruation and constitution, signs of menstrual health, regulating cycles through diet, herbs, and exercise. We’ll also look at how to nurture menstruation through the perimenopausal stage.
Maintaining Health Through Stressful Times
If your professional or parental commitments are completely overwhelming, what are the simplest and most effective ways of preventing drops in immunity and seasonal illnesses? In Ayurveda, it’s all about pacifying vata: the principle of change. In this presentation we’ll look at concrete dietary, herbal, and biorhythm techniques for daily stress relief, present simple slow-cooker recipes and other techniques for feeling cozy in the midst of chaos.
Intro to Ayurvedic Psychotherapy
How can an embodied psychotherapy begin to heal the split between perception and consciousness? How is the palette of emotions as necessary as the range of tastes? What might the concepts and experiences of earth, water, fire, air and space have to offer to the discourse of psychotherapy? We’ll focus on elemental categories of experience described in both ancient and modern sources, and how they can form the basis for an embodied and empowering poetry for psychotherapeutic exploration and exchange.
Pomegranates, Almonds, and Ghee: Ayurveda in the Bedroom
The nutritional basis of fertility. Conditions of pleasure and libido. Gendered “essences” and dynamics. Aphrodisiac therapy. Timing as per constitution. Frequency as per constitution. Exploring common emotional blockages that map into reticence. Sex and the phases of life. These topics and more — all up for discussion in this evocative and encouraging presentation on the flower of Ayurvedic knowledge: reproductive health.
A Double Birth: Pregnancy and Birthing Care in Ayurveda
An engaging tour through fertility enhancement, pregnancy experience by constitution, the doshas of each trimester, diet, birth prep, birthing experience as per constitution, and the first 40 days of the mother-child bond, which Caraka says sets up both for the next 40 years of health. A solid introduction for pre-and-postnatal yoga teachers, doulas, midwives, and parents-to-be.