Sunday, November 22, 2020

Wendy Teasdill on Integrating Philosophy in Yoga Teaching and Practice

In this interview, Wendy Teasdill talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by, about her book, Integrating Philosophy in Yoga Teaching and Practice: A Practical Guide.

“At the end of the day, I think we find our own path.” ~Wendy Teasdill

Wendy began her involvement with yoga to help her deal with her hepatitis, which required her to undertake a lifelong regimen of rest and proper diet. As she was an active person, she got into yoga through pranayama, which are specific breathing exercises intended to enable one to tap into, and accumulate, cosmic energy. 

Wendy then investigated Iyengar yoga, which is yoga developed, practiced and taught by a man named B. K. S. Iyengar, who had gotten into yoga to improve his own health. Iyengar yoga involves precise approaches to the asanas, long holds and a lot of discipline which reflected Iyengar’s own being a hard taskmaster. Wendy did get a lot of training and a firm foundation in yoga discipline and training, but when she got pregnant, Iyengar yoga didn’t entirely work for her, so she developed her own, personal style. This was because Iyengar yoga, like most yoga that were first brought to the West, were “very masculine,” as these were designed for male bodies, and not all of Iyengar yoga applied to female bodies, particularly pregnant female bodies. Wendy notes that people should follow Iyengar’s example, but to not necessarily all of the methods taught and develop their own, personal style.

Where yoga during pregnancy is concerned, Wendy notes that the more challenging poses shouldn’t be practiced. As an example, Wendy mentioned how the downward dog pose caused her to throw up, and why, and instead focused on doing the cat position instead. Wendy also mentioned that, due to the influx of progesterone in the pregnant female body, some challenging yoga poses might be easier to do, as the pregnant female’s body is more flexible. Wendy does not recommend that one do such challenging positions, as once the progesterone is gone, one could end up with overstretched and damaged ligaments and tendons, which could result in pelvic problems and vertebrae going “out of whack.”

Wendy has always liked writing throughout her life, so writing books seemed natural to her. She has written all her life, and writing books were as much for herself as these were for others. Where Integrating Philosophy in Yoga Teaching and Practice is concerned, Wendy hopes that all yoga practitioners can get something from it. The book itself contains the answers to the questions that she had when she started out in yoga, trying to make sense of the rationale and the philosophies behind it. Where the philosophies are concerned, Wendy focuses more on the philosophies defined in yoga itself, rather than Cartesian dualities which, she notes, are integrated into the structure of the English language. She points out that the mind-body connection is a recent concept in Western philosophy, whereas this could be thought of as being a part of one of yoga’s main philosophies, which is that “All Is One.” (The other main philosophy is the separation of the divine from the worldly.)

Wendy points out that the word “yoga” means, “to unite,” and that the poses that are associated with yoga weren’t originally part of the practice. These physical exercises became part of yoga practice later on, to the point of their becoming a dominant aspect of the practice, and are intended to help unify one’s mind, body and spirit. Wendy also notes that there are several different styles of, and so many approaches to, yoga, which are intended to suit different natures, and that creation, maintenance and destruction are the modes of nature, with each person having personality traits in each of these modes.

Where contemporary issues are concerned, Wendy believes that people can get insights and answers to questions, sometimes to the point where the questions disappear, and doing so requires practice. She points out that the questions asked are strongly influenced by one’s background, social conditioning, one’s friends and the media around, and that yoga takes one to a place where things are not conditional, enabling a different take, insight and approach. Yoga, Wendy remarks, enables one to find points of rapport rather than separation, and the information in the book enables one to get a stepping stone to understanding. Wendy then gives an example of how focusing on the pelvis can help one progress in one’s understanding.

“It’s an endless journey,” Wendy remarks where life is concerned. “We each have to make it for ourselves.”

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