By Heidi Michel Fokine, June, 2014

We all use our five senses to experience and navigate through the world around us. But in order to gain “right relationship” with the world and our highest selves, yogis focus on the inner world. We do this through the practice of pratyahara, which means “to draw the senses inward.” (Pratyahara is one of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga set down by the great sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras—so it’s a pretty important thing to look at if you’re interested in yoga.)

When we practice pratyahara, we soften our skin, release the inners ears, and relax our eyes. This is just a start, but already we begin to have an inkling of the vast interior space of our being. We gain insight and intuition. All the “aha moments” experienced in yoga class are a result of tuning in to our bodies, minds, and hearts.

This is an exciting start to spiritual practice. Just by turning our attention inward and listening, we hear and receive guidance. With practice, we begin to trust the invisible. It takes a leap of faith to listen to our inner voice, and a further leap to respond to the messages sung to us through our bodies.

Paying profound attention to the self is not unlike diving into the ocean. It can be scary, and we worry about what might come out of the depths; but there is nothing more exhilarating. As Rumi says, “Don’t be a cup with a dry rim.”

Happy Summer 2014

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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