The Stories we Tell

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This Sunday, the Yoga Loft offers a workshop devoted to Indian mythology. Led by Yoga Mittra facilitator Genevieve Pujalet, the workshop is a chance for interested yogis to learn the lengthy history and fascinating stories behind some common yoga poses.

Pujallet said  that the workshop will offer benefits for all yogis, particularly those looking to deepen their practice. Contextualizing the asanas in their lengthy history, she said, can help students reclaim some of the mystery and feeling they felt when first practicing.

“Once people have been practicing for a while with any amount of consistency, there becomes this rote, muscle-memory way of going about practice. In some ways, that’s good: it allows us to go into that zone and get outside the everyday mind. With respect to meditation, that’s a good thing. But what also happens is, yoga kind of becomes a thing to check off our to-do list. And when that’s what it is, it doesn’t have as much meaning and purpose,”

The workshop will break down poses including virabhadrasana(Warrior) 1, Astavakrasana (eight-angled pose), garudasana (eagle pose), natarajasana (Royal Dancer pose), and hanumanasa (monkey pose, commonly known as the splits). Each of these poses is more than just a sequence of cues designed to turn on certain muscles, Pujalet said. They have histories that are thousands of years old.

For teachers, incorporating this ancient mythology gets their students use their practice to connect to the broader world, and becomes yet another tool to get students thinking about something else besides themselves. It also infuses a given pose with energy they can carry off the mat.

“You give students that sense of purpose or meaning. It helps you as a teacher to remind people that there is deep hist philosophical behind these poses, that you’re not just working your muscles and getting a good sweat,” Pujalet said.

The stories are often tangled and funny, with a playfulness that resembles the ancient Greeks. They offer enlightenment and entertaining for both the novice and seasoned yogi, and the workshop is open to students of any level. While moving and demonstration will be an option, students are also welcome to contribute by speaking and journaling.

The workshop runs from noon to 2 p.m.

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