Adam Keen – Nantes
FRIDAY JUNE 2ND
18.30 – 20.30: Philosophy Chat, Q&A
A chat on the philosophy of The Bhagavad Gita and what it has to do with yoga asana. Or, how we might find its principles reaffirmed in our physical yoga practice. How to continue the yoga practice when we step off the mat in daily life.
The Bhagavad Gita is a science of emotions in action. Just as The Yoga Sutras are often referred to as a science of the mind. An immensely practical book if you read behind the obvious injunction to simply follow your dharma. We will enquire as to what, exactly how this might look like for us in the current age. The BG is far from a dusty old medieval battle in a faraway land.
The battle is inside us all, between the fear of turning away from the world towards self-obsession. We need courage, leading to a final understanding that the only (happy), outcome of this is to embrace the world. To share ourselves, our care, and our creativity, with it.
The inspiration to do so is always through clarity. A better grasp of the deeper instruction, of the book will affect the change that we ultimately want to see. This will lead to a meaningful and connected life. One must dive into this book and make it a companion in our daily life. The aim is that students will discover their personal relationship with this seminal yoga philosophy book through this discussion.
SATURDAY JUNE 3RD
8.00 -10.oo: Mysore
There are ways to adjust and be adjusted that are not dangerous, intrusive and don’t involve being pushed into the postures. Instead, they use energetic pointers and resistance stretches so that everyone can progress naturally and safely as their own body dictates.
This session will be a practical exposition of how the deeper work in what we are doing relates to compression; the ability to balance opposing forces in your own body, in contrast, to simply pushing your body in one direction only. This is not only likely to keep injury free, but also actually a way more effective way to make real and sustainable progress.
Everyone will be treated as an individual here, everyone will be given ways to move forward without simply being stopped because they can’t yet achieve a certain expression of a particular pose. Everyone regardless of level or ability will be given equal time and attention.
10.30-12.30: Fundamentals of the Inner Stretch
The foundation of the inner stretch is based on the idea that we are not stretching away from ourselves; in one direction only, but rather towards ourselves. In other words, we are balancing opposing forces in the body making a kind of right tension we could call bandha. This is very different to the general trend of stretching away from us, in one direction only; wherein we only end up over-stretching in fact, our ligaments and joints (whilst our muscles stay as tight as ever!).
So, what we are really talking about here is a kind of compression or way of holding the body in balance. Very different to pushing and pulling it into making shapes; the real work in the asana is in creating a tension between opposites when having made the asana. To this end, the asana itself is only the beginning, a template.
The real work starts once we have made whatever degree of that suggested shape, we are able – which doesn’t matter as regards the physical degree. Instead, the important thing is to develop the shape, and manifest it from the inside out, so that the asana is expressed in a natural, gentle, yet potent way in our own body. Which is in seeking balance between reaching out of ourselves, and, pulling back into ourselves.
This workshop always surprises. But, not for long. Once participants have experienced the difference between the true yoga stretch and simply pushing to make the shape of the asana, they are almost always converted. Then, the rest of the workshops build upon this foundational principle, adding in the application of this principle into practical challenges as well as developing the foundations by tracing them to their root source in the diaphragm.
14.00 – 16.00 PM: Principles of Bandha: Jump Through & Jump Back
Whether you are completely lost as to how to begin lifting your bodyweight, halfway there although, you could use a little help, or, completely there, but feel like you might benefit from making the effort more efficient, this workshop will likely be most helpful.
Primarily focussed on the ubiquitous jump-through/back movement, we will explore in depth exactly what is happening in this complicated movement that takes a split second to do, whilst often a lifetime to master.
Of course, almost everyone has attended a workshop along these lines. However, this one promises to be different. If you break the movement down into bite-sized chunks and then apply the power of imagery and visualisation to it, you will find a direct pathway to the often-unconnected inner muscles required.
Indeed, this movement is not unavailable to most physically (even if you have short arms!). Instead, it generally demands the right mental keys in our awareness to unlock our latent potential. Come and find your inner language to connect to a place deep inside of you where this movement can be nurtured and built in the way you do it.
8AM – 10.00AM: Mysore (as above)
10.30 AM – 12.30 PM: A Gentle Way Into Backbends
Using the beginning part of the intermediate series as a gateway, this workshop builds to hopefully the most comfortable, almost enjoyable backbend you have ever done. Indeed, backbends don’t have to be frightening, not even challenging; it’s all a question of how cleverly we can approach them. There will be no reason to dread the backbends after this session.
A lot of this involves the much-neglected importance of the cross stretch. In fact, from upward dog to all other backbends you’ll encounter, this medial direction is fundamental yet often not on our radar.
The second principle, one that has a little more exposure, is that backbends are all in the legs. It’s how we use the legs, more specifically, in fact, the feet, that makes all the difference to how stable and safe the structure of our bodies are in what can be a vulnerable position to be in.
With careful use of these techniques, we can usually work much more efficiently (and, most importantly, pain-free) than we often do. Everyone can access the stretch; it’s just a question of how we go about it. Also, in learning the first, more gentle and introductory backbends of the Intermediate Series, you will be amazed at – if you do them efficiently – how much of an impact they make with the final backbend we all do the end of our practice.
Adam Keen completed the Advanced A sequence of Ashtanga yoga in 2013 with Sharathji in Mysore (authorised level 2 in 2012). He has been a yoga practitioner since 1999, starting with hatha yoga while studying philosophy at university.
Adam has taught internationally and spent over ten years running a Mysore program in his native London, UK. His style is open, non-dogmatic and eclectic while remaining rooted in an appreciation of the tradition as taught in Mysore. He has a unique way of making everyone welcome and meeting students where they are.
When not practising yoga, Adam likes to cook – in his earlier years, he was a chef at a Buddhist centre and worked, whilst studying yoga, running yoga-retreat kitchens. This took him to Purple Valley Yoga, where he met his wife Theresa and then boss 15 years ago.
Still a philosophy student at heart, Adam shares his thoughts and experience daily on social media, where you can find him discussing many of the questions that come to our minds, but we’re afraid or not sure how to ask. He is also the host of the Keen on Yoga Podcast.