Thomas Michael Fortel
is a longtime yoga practitioner/teacher, influenced by the Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Anusara styles of Hatha yoga, and drawing from his devotional experience in Bhakti yoga. He travels widely, sharing his love for yoga.
One of the great benefits of ongoing yoga practice is the development of our ability to pause, and to rest in the posture of observation: an inner state of conscious awareness. This can mean being in a place of deep relaxation, yet alert and aware as we observe inner reality and outer environment. Yogically speaking, this occurs primarily through the practices of pranayama (conscious breathing), dyana (meditation), and asanas, the postures of yoga.
Creative Inspiration is a basic weekend art workshop, an exuberant Art 101. No experience is required. “One might imagine that the energy of life comes through us, not from us,” writes Thomas. “Like a tree in the forest, we receive the energy of the sun through the crowns of our heads and ground this energy into Mother Earth through our legs and feet. In this way, the energy of inspiration and creativity is free, and available to anyone who takes the time to focus and channel it.
Taking the time to go on retreat is a wonderful spiritual practice. Often on retreat, we enter into the cradle of nature where the pranic force (life energy) is magnified and completely available for anyone who comes. In a similar way, the practitioners of yoga have journeyed for thousands of years to the ashram (yoga community) to engage the practices of meditation, pranayama (conscious breathing), chanting, and Hatha yoga. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, the word “shramas” means fatigue, and “ashram” means removal of fatigue.
We can think of each of the yoga postures as a metaphor or an archetype embodied in physical posture: it may be the hero’s pose or the warrior, the eagle, or the posture of the sage. The practice of yoga clearly reflects the multiple layers of human existence, and it gives us a way of being in the world and in the life of spirit — alma — or soul. By doing the physical practice of asana (postures) and the breathing practice of pranayama, we are able to open the inner doors of understanding and potentially access the deeper meaning of our lives.