On Yoga and Warriorship

Look, I’m not an expert, really–though I do have several pieces of paper which some might say would make me somewhat so. This is a personal (albeit educated) musing on the pairing of yoga practice with many other movement arts, martial arts included.

If you’ve never had a movement class with me, here’s the nutshell of my style: I like to call the style “bird’s nest.” Basically I do a mix of a few to several techniques and arts that I’ve learned over the years, based on what’s most appropriate for the class goals at hand. Once when I was offered an Intro to Film course to teach at Metro, I mused that anyone would assume I

Me and Mary at the Boulder Quest Center dojo, "combat yoga," as she called it.

Me and Mary at the Boulder Quest Center dojo, “combat yoga,” as she called it.

were qualified to do so. I muse about this every time I teach World Visual and Performing Arts at DU: do I know lots about visual art, and know what I’m talking about? Heck yes. Could I show you my expertise on paper? Mm, not so much, unless junior high and high school drawing classes count. My Mom was listening to my musings and replied, “Well, you’ve had a lot of good education, and you remember everything you’ve learned.”  I wonder how many of my students will retain how much of their education once they find themselves having to educate someone else (whether they become teachers or not), but I digress…

So in any given movement class you’ll get a yoga-based warm up, probably some Pilates to get your core strong, then any number of activities from the martial arts and/or acting vocal-physical prep I deem most appropriate for the class. A Pi-Yo course (already mixed yoga & Pilates) may do some ninja fascia exercises or dragon walks, but a stage combat class might actually do 100 sword cuts. Actually when I did Pi-Yo at the martial arts studio, I had them do 100 sword cuts too. A martial arts class might get a lesson in actor breathing and projection to help with ki-ai, a stage combat class might have a day where we hit and kick an actual punching bag so as to feel what a real punch feels like. A yoga class might get Lessac, Alexander, or Linklater technique for spine alignment and posture.

I happened to muse about this today because I wonder if that experience is a good way to focus on the lesson of the day (many directions to one end), or if it starts to feel like jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. Any former students, weigh in and let me know your take on this bird’s-nest education idea. The reason I ask is that I think much education could benefit from this bird’s-nest approach, especially in writing, use of webtools, etc. Why wouldn’t yoga and warriorship intermingle (in ancient times, they did). Today in the information age methinks a mixed, postmodern approach might just be the way to go.   ~Jenn


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