The overall approach to Asana is somewhat two-fold. This work is done with the spirit of detailed individual alignment that supports access and clarity in the Asana regardless of the style you practice. The Asana is also taught in a way that allows for slow movement and transitions, so that there is an awareness of an intelligent sequencing from form to form (the true meaning of vinyasa).
First the student learns the forms and in practicing them over time; strength, stability, flexibility and mobility naturally arise in a balanced state. Struture, alignment, modification, breath and bandha are incorporated.
From there the Asana practice gives an opportunity to experiement and explore on a more subtle level. One can explore or manipulate the energy or flow within the Asanas and how it effects the various koshas (layers) or Mind, Breath or Body.
The overall method is also used to create a pratyahara, mindfulness and meditative quality in the Asana.
Growth takes place as the qualities of steadiness, readiness and ease are found within the forms. The Asanas will deepen in terms of strength or mobility, and they deepen because the experience becomes deeper within them. Naturally, a solid Asana practice can be seen as cleansing, detoxifying, and promoting general health and maintenence in the body and mind.
The general approach and foundation of this work is grounded within Kaivalyananda’s system (Lonavla, India / O.P. Tiwari). There are other modern and ancient influences/methods which accent and support the Pranayama system that Stephen teaches.
The system is set up so that the student can progress safely and effectively over a long period of time - therby allowing the Pranayama practice to create a steadiness, balance and lightness within the Mind and Pranic (subtle layers). Work is divided into a) cleansing techniques, kriyas which stablize and create sattvic (harmonious) feelings in the nervous system, b) concentration methods for the mind, and c) traditional breath techniques (Pranayama) both with/without retention (kumbhaka) or breath holds.
This system is excellent as a “stand-alone” practice, as a tremendous support for Asana practice, and as a gateway into the Meditation states.
The techniques for meditation or concentration range from various single point concentration methods, Insight methods, and also incude techniques from the Mahayana traditions which include Metta (Loving kindness) and Tonglen (transforming of suffering). This work is adjusted according to the student, the situation, and the needs. In general, the over-arching view is to create reflective space for silence, stillness and steadiness.