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Insight by Carl Faure

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As I write this we are midway between the first and second module of the Stretch Advanced Teacher Training. It’s the first time Calli and I have delivered this training, yet it’s been years in the making.

I took my first teacher training over 11 years ago and since then I’ve taken various teacher trainings, workshops and CPDs. I’ve also read countless books, all in my efforts to accumulate a greater understanding of yoga. But as I set about to write the advanced training I was stuck. With my teaching partner Calli, we sat together for long hours and discussed what we wanted to offer. Both of us had set about amassing knowledge for years and this was to be the culmination of that... but something was amiss, something wasn’t sitting right. We had good teachings to share but you know when the full energy of the universe isn’t quite behind your plans? Yep, it felt a bit like that.

Towards the end of last year I had spent some time cultivating a breathwork practice, and through this powerful work crystallised a fundamental understanding that was sitting just beneath the surface; that so much of my (our) suffering is down to un-integrated emotional charges in the body, and if I am to be free then I need to learn to feel them. I had understood for a long time through yoga practice that I was developing further somatic and emotional awareness over the years, and indeed this is one yoga’s great gifts, but nothing prepared me for the power of uninterrupted conscious breath.

I came back from the foundation Inspirational Breathing training with Nicola Price and shared the practice with my wife Sophie and also with Calli. Happily they were both able to immediately access the deep healing powers of this simple process. We had all experienced great shifts, not from working on external aspects of life, not by ‘fixing’ but by truly going within.

By this point I had already arranged to bring my good friend Conor into the teaching faculty. After sitting in men’s groups that Conor facilitated, I had experienced first hand to power of group inquiry work. We had planned to bring this therapeutic aspect to the training and now the triangle was complete: Talking modalities to make sense of our experience, breath to somatically integrate it, and yoga to bring freedom via disentanglement from our conditioning.

By the time we wrote the manual, the training had changed from being about knowledge that is accumulated, to recognising the innate knowledge in each and every one of us.

What follows is the manifesto for the first module, Insight which we ran in January of this year. Enjoy the pictures from our adventure in Rishikesh courtesy of our own Roberto Rubalcava. Thanks to Calli, Conor, Sophie and all the incredible students, can’t wait for part two in April!

“The first part of the Stretch Advanced Teacher Training is called INSIGHT. The second part is called SERVICE

It is our belief that when you examine the amorphous and changing history of the disparate psychophysical philosophies that have constituted YOGA over the millennia, what emerges, reaffirms and survives are the twin pillars of FREEDOM and UNION. FREEDOM from whatever groove we are stuck in, or ‘Samskara’s’ and UNION, which is NON-SEPARATE-NESS and for which you can also read INTIMACY. An intimacy with yourself and with the entire cosmos.

You are about to embark on an intense and personal (but ultimately non-personal!) journey to developing INSIGHT.

Knowledge of self, self-intimacy, self-reliance are essential to developing a deep trust of life and the benevolent universe. And when we nurture that in our selves we can then make ourselves available to the SERVICE of others.

This module is not about tricks, or wieldable knowledge, it’s not even about positive vibes or feeling better! It’s about getting better at FEELING and learning how to tend to yourself, nurture yourself and HOLD SPACE for yourself first, so you can in turn hold space for others.

We will honour the DIVINE MASCULINE as we create a safe and PROTECTIVE CONTAINER with which to do the work. We will evoke the DIVINE FEMININE to bring forth that UNCONDITIONALITY that we have craved from outside for so long.. We will learn to provide this for ourselves, so we can guide others how to provide this for themselves.

The GURU is here. And that GURU is you

As is written in the 9th century Siva Sutras and beloved by dear teacher, Jim Tarran:

करणशक्तिः स्वतोऽनुभवात्॥३७॥

"Karaṇaśaktiḥ svato'nubhavāt"

Karaṇa - Literally performance, action, dance (the original name for postural work)

śaktiḥ - literally power

svato - ones own

anubhavāt - experienced

The following translation is by Christopher Wallis:

‘’The true power of performance comes from ones own direct experience (of the core of being)”

Our philosophical world-view posits knowledge as something universal, accessible by all through deep insight (if we can just get out of our own way). Our philosophy is in beautiful harmony with our views on yoga practise: That we no longer ascribe to a top-down, mechanistic ‘dead-man’s anatomy’ understanding of our bodies, but when we move with INTENTION the muscles fire automatically. We recognise that movement happens due to well mapped neural pathways, and if we want to make any positive lasting change then we must first know what it is we are already doing. To find true INTIMACY, INTEGRITY and UNION, then we must INVESTIGATE, PAY ATTENTION and FEEL rather than following someone else recipe.

When we have done the cooking ourselves, then we are ready to SERVE.