Align, Flow, and Inquire

By Joyce Englander Levy, June, 2017

Yoga Shanti’s aim is “to offer the perfect combination of alignment, flow, and Inquiry.” In the spirit of inquiry, I often find myself reconsidering what this phrase means.

I can best speak to “flow.” For me, a good flow class is poetry. It’s as enjoyable as reading Shakespeare or Keats. It’s the rhythm, the timing, the repetition, the musicality, and the humanity that brings enjoyment.

This analogy occurred to me the other night after reading Dr. Seuss to my little guy. If my son stops and says, “Why?” after every line in The Sneeches, he misses out on the humor and joy of the story. Yet if he never asks, then he may miss out on the deeper meanings of prejudice that the tale is really about. So both his inquiry and his ability to sit back and go with the flow of the story are important to his overall development in the arts of language and humanity.

Likewise, if you go to see a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you may not understand every quip, but you go with the flow, and the story reveals itself to you. The mysterious parts you don’t entirely understand intrigue you, as you are carried along by the rhythm and rhyme of the story. What puzzles you makes you think. The more it puzzles you, the more curious you become, and the more you may begin to wonder, “But, why? But, how?”

So you dig deeper. You pick up the play to read. You find an essay about iambic pentameter. You take a course. You study with teachers and other students who are unpacking the play. In other words, you dive into the alignment, the bones, the anatomy of the play.

But, you don’t stop going to the performances. No! Now you can enjoy them even more. After slowing the passages down and consulting the OED, you go to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the park, and you follow along more fluidly. Now the subtleties speak directly to you.

This is all to say that I believe alignment and flow go hand-in-hand. To be growing, evolving, healing, learning, and caring, we must pause, ask why, dig deeper, seek, inquire, align our minds with knowledge and our bodies with our minds, and then keep flowing with the tremendous river that is life.

What I’ve realized is that offering “the perfect combination of alignment, flow, and inquiry” can be a group effort, led by all of our teachers collectively. In this way, the burden doesn’t fall on any one teacher to strike this perfect combination for their students in every class. The students who tap into the breadth of our offerings are really enjoying and benefiting from the various ways of wrestling with the mysteries of life and unlocking the rubik’s cube that is yoga.

Joyce Englander Levy

Joyce Englander Levy is a yoga teacher, poet, and owner of Yoga Shanti. She lives in NYC with her husband and son, and she is committed to helping her neighbors discover good health and peace of mind through yoga. Joyce is a well respected teacher, who considers herself a student first. She graduated with honors from Miami University with degrees in Linguistics and Psychology with an emphasis in poetry and how people learn. She completed her first teacher training while at University with Elizabeth Silas ­Havas, and April White Plank. She believes in long-­term commitments, and deep study. She has studied the mind-­body connection, and poetry her entire life. As a young dancer, Joyce learned that one of the best ways to harness the mind was through moving the body. She later discovered yoga, and saw that yoga, like dancing, was a process of flowing with time. Joyce has studied Ashtanga Yoga since she was 17 years old. Her primary teacher in the Ashtanga tradition is Eddie Stern. She began studying the mechanics of the body, the art of sequencing, and modern applications of yoga with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee in 2009, and she now works closely with her teachers to foster Yoga Shanti’s teacher training, and daily offerings as an owner of Yoga Shanti. Joyce was recently voted one of the 100 most influential yoga teachers in The United States by Sonima Magazine.

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