Mark Stephens' Musings

These writings are informal reflections on practicing and teaching yoga. Click on any title to read the entire piece.

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The Simple Reality of Teaching Yoga

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Sun, 12/15/2013 - 15:47
Teaching yoga is at once profoundly personal, predicated on sharing, and shaped by context. It is also inevitably surprising. We have no choice but to start from where we are and who we are, with whatever knowledge, skills, and experience we have in the moment. We also have little choice but to work with whomever shows up for class, teaching students whose conditions, intentions, learning styles, and needs are widely varied.

Groundedness & Spaciousness

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Wed, 12/11/2013 - 15:50
When casually standing or sitting, the tendency is to connect passively with the earth. The effect is that the body collapses into itself, each joint compressing as the body slumps and sags. But the moment you consciously root down into whatever is on the floor, the immediate effect is creation of space in the body.

Teaching Yoga & Student Leaning Styles

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 15:48
The primary goal in teaching asanas is to enable students to perceive and understand more clearly what they are doing in developing a sustainable personal practice, whether in a class or independently. But there are many different ways of learning that require a varied approach to teaching. How people learn is closely tied to what educator Howard Gardner (1993) refers to as “qualities of multiple intelligence,” which vary considerably in any given class of yoga students.

Sustainable Yoga

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Tue, 10/08/2013 - 15:56

5 Ways To Sustain Your Yoga Practice

If you’re like most yoga students, you imagine practicing for the rest of your life. There is little else that creates such a sense of bliss or that takes you so deep into simply feeling good, clear, joyful and connected with a sense of spirit.

Archtypes & Mythology: Hanuman – Leaping with Devotion

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Mon, 02/11/2013 - 16:00
Like Ganesha, Hanuman commands respect and veneration across Indian culture for his strength, humility, selflessness, devotion, determination, fearlessness, and commitment to spiritual discipline. The son of Vayu, the god of wind, and Anjana, a celestial being with the tail of a monkey (a vanara), Hanuman was the friend, confidant, and servant of King Rama. (Hanuman is also called Anjaneya, meaning “arising from Anjana,” for whom the Anjaneyasana, Low-Lunge Pose, is named.)

Archtypes & Mythology: Vasistha & Vishvamitra – Effortless Grace and Determined Practice

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Mon, 02/11/2013 - 15:59
The tale of Vasistha and Vishvamitra in the Ramayana tells of the dynamic tension in spiritual life between the ease that arises from contentment and the spiritual depth that can result from struggle and effort. Vasisthawas an enlightened spiritual sage who established a peaceful, self-governing, cooperative society where all were happy. He had a “cow of plenty” named Nandini with the power to grant him whatever he wanted.