Adventures with David Swenson…

One word for my weekend… Amazing. I loved every bit of the yoga, travel, site-seeing, and food. I have learned more from David that I can put into words. He leaves me with a want to study with him again! David has this amazing fun demeanor that makes you laugh. He has a wonderful way of conveying hard-to-grasp concepts in a fun and easy way. I was browsing his website and found a Q&A section that I liked a lot: Thoughts. His website is
We not only learned about yoga asana, modifications, and how to get into harder poses. But we learned that asana isn’t the most important. Will it make your life any better if you can do the Advanced A series? No. David also gave a whole new meaning to bringing awareness into our practice by comparing our bodies to a car. If you are driving down the road and your car starts making a “thud, thud, thud” noise, what do you do? Do you speed up and ignore it? Do you stop and look at it and say, “eh, we can make it 100 more miles?” No, you pull over to the side of the road immediately, change the tire, and go about your way. So why do we ignore our body’s “thud, thud, thuds?” If your knee is hurting it is sending you a message, “Hello Lindsey, this is your left knee speaking. We’re having a little discomfort down here.” And maybe I ignore it because I really want to do that next asana. “Hello Lindsey, just in case you didn’t hear the first time. This is your left knee. Ouch, ouch, ouch!” And I ignore again because I really have to try that jump-through… “HEY! Lindsey! Left knee here! Ouch, ouch, ouch, OUCH!” Not only did this make me laugh, but it really sank in. We’ve all heard our teachers say, “listen to your body” but this made it even more clear.
In the last class of the weekend we had a philosophical discussion on the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Why do you do yoga? Fitness? Stress relief? Or maybe to make yourself a more peaceful person? If you go to yoga, does it make you a better person? Not by any means. Just because the person next to you in class can put their foot behind their head does it make them a more “enlightened” person? Absolutely not. What if that person is horribly mean outside the yoga studio? In simple terms, the 8 Limbs are about how to apply yoga to your every day life.
The definition of Ashtanga is “8 limb path.”
  • Yamas: self restraint, vows of abstension, control
    • Ahimsa: Non-Violence
    • Satya: Truthfulness, Honesty
    • Asteya: Non-stealing, or Non-misappropriating
    • Brahmacharya: Chastity, Continence
    • Aparigraha: Without possessions
  • Niyamas: fixed observation, rules, precepts established orders
    • Saucha: Cleanliness, Purity
    • Santosha: Contentment, Peaceful
    • Tapah: Fire of Ordeal, A Burning Desire
    • Svadhyaya: Study leading to knowledge of self
    • Ishvara-Pranidhana: God or Higher Self the target of concentration, surrender
  • Asana: posture comfortably held, seat
  • Pranayama: regulation of breath, restraint of breath
  • Pratyahara: withdrawal of senses
  • Dharana: concentration, fixing of the mind (mono-task, stay present)
  • Dhyana: meditation, contemplation, reflection
  • Samadhi: profound meditation, putting it all together
We had a two and a half hour discussion on all of this so it is definitely not possible for me to explain it all or even explain half as well as David did. But maybe it will spark an interest in your practice.
David also mentioned that no matter the reason that we come to yoga, whether it be fitness, a simple want to do the poses seen on magazine covers, stress relief or anything else… we all end up in the same place. Yoga has this magical power to make you crave more. Why? We don’t really know, it seems to be magical. But at the same time, “yoga is not easy” (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois). Putting all the 8 Limbs into practice is not easy. Pattabhi Jois is not talking about putting your foot behind your head, he’s talking about applying yoga to your everyday life.
David ended the discussion with a question that I want to pose to you.
Is the world a better place because of our presence in it?
Wonderful food at The Laughing Seed vegan restaurant.
After an amazing & enlightening weekend with David Swenson!
New friend! Marian Bull.
Wouldn’t be the same without my best yoga bud! Susan Hall.
Scenic ride home.
In addition to wonderful yoga inspiration by David, I met an amazing new friend. Marian Bull is a fellow yogini in search of yoga and she will be embarking on an amazing journey to Mysore, India in January 2012. Follow her blog posts to “live vicariously” through her experiences in India! I love meeting new friends!
I also have a big “thank you” to extend to my friend, Swapna Gupta. This weekend would not have been possible with out you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Karma is a wonderful thing and you have a bountiful amount coming your way!