Yoga is a word that has a lot of ideas attached to it about what it does, or does not mean. Many people understand it as an exercise of doing postures (asana.) At Sola we are interested in yoga as a holistic life practice. Derived from the Sanskrit root yug, yoga can be defined as a union, connection, or the process of yoking one thing to another. This might be the breath with the body, the heart with the mind, the mind with the spirit, soul, God or whatever your vocabulary is for the sense of something greater that we are all a part of. Therefore, the ways we teach and practice strive to reflect the understanding that everything is inherently united and inter-permeating with everything else.
Sola offers holistic, inclusive, and adaptive practices that appreciate the diversity of bodies and the breadth of human experience. We do not privilege one style over another, nor do we claim that any goals are more worthwhile than others. We understand that increased physical capacity leads to increased mental capacity; that more emotional connection to oneself results in more satisfying relationships with others; and that vibrant personal practices support socially responsible choices.
Sola's three primary values are inclusivity, sustainability, and relevancy.
In our programs and classes we teach inclusive asana by valuing function over form. We train our teachers to understand the underlying intent of movements so that they can be modified or adapted to suit their student’s and client’s unique needs and conditions. We teach an approach to physical practice that allows any person, regardless of their ability, the opportunity to successfully connect with body and breath in order to receive the benefits of yoga asana (increased harmony in the glandular/endocrine function, increased organ vitality, and body-mind integration.)
- We use language and activities that encourage participants to feel their own bodies and to cultivate non-judgement, friendliness, and intimacy with themselves.
- We use language and activities that are body-positive and inclusive of all gender identities.
- We strive for respectful, non-appropriative awareness of culture and tradition that acknowledges yoga’s Eastern roots while also celebrating the ways it has evolved and integrated in the West.
Sustainable For Our Bodies
Our aim is to give our students and teachers tools for building lifelong practices. We understand that bodies change over time and due to circumstance. Therefore we encourage adaptive practices that celebrate our body cycles and life cycles. In order to support these aims we focus on the following elements:
Experiential Anatomy: We teach teachers and students about anatomy through movement, touch, and felt-sense awareness. In our trainings and classes we take time to locate, name, and understand the function of our “parts.” In emphasizing anatomical awareness we create the conditions for physical practice that honors the needs of each individual without imposing generic alignment cues that only work for a few.
Intelligent Sequencing: Just like relationships with people, our relationship to our bodies develop over time, and adequate, appropriate preparation is what allows us to realize the potential of the postures. We emphasize the therapeutic potential of sequencing and offer our students intelligent methodology for working in and towards poses, in manners which realize the healing benefits of asana practice.
Mindfulness: We infuse our physical practices with the essence of mindfulness. Our teaching often focuses on more subtle elements of awareness and encourages active listening to one’s own body and needs.
Sustainable For Our World
The value of mindfulness-based practices such as the ones we offer, are that they instill habits of self-reflection and sensitivity in practitioners. That they fairly quickly result in increased intimacy with oneself, which then becomes increased intimacy in relationship - not just to other people, but to the spaces and resources which we share.
By addressing people’s bodies we understand also that we are addressing issues of violence, trauma, oppression, and shame. We understand that resolution and awareness, even on the smallest and most personal levels will result in resolution and awareness between people – in their relationships, lifestyles, and personal choices. We believe that sustainability begins with the small and personal, and that integration of our bodies, minds, and hearts is what will make our actions ultimately most effective.
We’re interested in practices that move beyond just theorizing that we are connected to the earth and one another, but which actively demonstrate that the health of our bodies, minds, and hearts is not separate from the health of our families, communities, and planet.
Yoga For Life Skills: Along with tools for self-awareness, movement, and breath, in our classes and trainings we also offer tools for nonviolent communication, and conversational space for people to reflect on how their yoga practice can integrate and influence other areas of life.
Yoga and Activism: Outside of yoga studios we continue to provide structure and inspiration for practices that enrich lives and relationships while supporting individuals to take action in the world for peace, unity, and equity. Our ongoing project Doing Theory is a bi-monthly newsletter that includes home practice guidance, inspirational talks and conversation podcasts, invitations to frequent participatory events, and access to local study groups that provide space for continuing reflection and learning.
Mentorship: We offer ongoing mentorship to support our students’ integration and success. Mentorship will look different for each person but may include: professional/business coaching; personal counseling; ideating and visioning; creative applications for yoga and meditation.