"There is no 'bad yoga,' only yoga." --Mark Whitwell, Yoga of Heart
I'm a big fan of Mark Whitwell. Perhaps it's that we're both students of Krishnamacharya and tantra. Or perhaps it's just that I like his style. It's unpretentious and true. I remember sitting in one of Mark's workshop, listening to him discuss practicing yoga “on a daily basis, actually and naturally, not obsessively," thinking that this man understands the true meaning of yoga. Mark believes asanas should be practiced “without any idea of attainment of a pose or holding a pose.” He says, “There is not a model of ‘You have to get there.’ No one has to get anywhere. You are there already. It is the wonder of life.” See what I mean -- what's not to love there?!?!?
Mark's teachings bring up the question that I continually ask myself -- why do I practice yoga? After all of these years, I can proudly say that it's not to achieve a wicked handstand or execute a perfect crow. I'd say that I practice because it doesn't occur to me not to -- practicing yoga feels natural to me. I think Mark would nod in agreement to that sentiment -- my yoga is about being me and being one with all that is not trying to be something or someone or somewhere else or separate and apart from the world.
Mark is bringing his teachings all over the world with his newly-launched The Heart of Yoga Foundation Peace Project. Their mission is to "teach people about their own power and beauty through real yoga; to teach them that no matter how bad things appear, there are ways to heal ourselves and regain our natural capacities for relatedness and joy and gratitude." They're doing this by building yoga communities in troubled parts of the world. You can learn more about Mark's efforts with the Peace Project in the video here.
And while I'm on the topic of Mark -- he has a new DVD coming out that is perfect for beginners or anyone wanting to revive his/her practice. Real Yoga for Real People is the title and in addition to interviews and teachings from Mark, the DVD includes 2 yoga practices. Here's a preview.
I'm thrilled that Mark is spreading his teachings throughout the world. He's a gifted teacher with real heart. I'll close with a little advice from Mark that I think applies to just about anyone in any situation:
"When you get stuck, do your asana and pranayama, actually and naturally. You are life itself."
Thank you for this beautiful post--I will definitely check out Mark's website. I have gotten into this place in my life in which I feel the desire to integrate all parts of myself and all of my life experiences, good and bad, and I find that yoga and meditation are perhaps the greatest factors in helping me along the road to simply being and accepting myself as beautiful and whole. Thank you for the reminder.