By Heidi Michel Fokine, April, 2010

Being is relaxed. Our deepest self, highest self, essential self, however you want to say it, is relaxed. Not collapsed. Relaxed, open, flowing with life force. All the benefits of yoga practice come by aligning with this essential beingness. Many yoga classes begin with a few moments of meditation and breath awareness. It’s a time to empty our minds and focus on the present. All too quickly most of us turn to concepts of right and wrong to organize our posture. In doing so we rely on accumulated knowledge from the past to adjust alignment, rather than what is arising that very moment in our bodies.

How often I have had an “ah-ha” moment, made a discovery that eases up a posture only to end up losing it for another favorite discovery down the road. I think this is a natural part of the process and certainly has kept my interest along the yogic journey, but I also sense it’s superficial nature.

Lately I’ve been playing with a different approach and I offer this experiment for your perusal:
Choose a posture that you can stay in for a few minutes. Set the pose to the best of your ability, back away from the “edge” a bit and stay. Breathe and observe how the pose begins to shift. Allow yourself to let go of the mental concepts that could be confining the flow of energy. Instead, ride the energetic currents inside the form. Relax into it. Then take this experiment into your normal practice.

In my experience I often hear voices of my past teachers, verbal cues for refining a posture that worked for them that I hadn’t fully integrated or hadn’t understood. Not only will you have an authentic yoga experience but you can connect to the generosity of your teachers and the entire lineage of this art form.

Heidi Michel Fokine

A daydreamer by nature but not lacking the determination to pursue technique as a means to realize the dream, Heidi studied modern dance at North Carolina School of the Arts, graduating with a BFA in 1981. While working as a professional dancer in New York City she discovered yoga at Jivamukti in 1991, which led her to study in the Iyengar tradition with Genevieve Kapuler and Rodney Yee. She has also studied Light Body energy work and meditation with Diane Goldner, and movement with Martha Yoshida. She is currently studying Q'ero Shamanism with The Four Winds Society and is a full mesa carrier. Heidi acknowledges the influence her wonderful teachers and students have had on her life including her parents, sisters, husband Chris and sons Elias and Wyatt. She has been teaching on Shelter Island since 1995 and at Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor since 1999 and was part of the faculty of the Yoga Shanti Teacher Training 2009-2014. She leads retreats and offers a 200hr TT at The Giving Room in Southold, NY.

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