Gary Kraftsow Workshop at Yoga Shala of Portland Recap

As you guys know last week I went down to Portland to see Gary Kraftsow. I didn’t really know what to expect, having had only learned about him through my teacher Kathryn Payne.

I carpooled down with Olivia Esuabana, a friend from the 500-hour teacher training, and a totally cool chick. It’s hard to describe Olivia. She’s got a cool Russian-spy accent. She studies Ayurveda in India. She’s in her 50s (I think), going on… like, 25. We met up at 6:30 a.m. in the morning and took the trip down I-5 South, wind in our hair, figuratively.

Gary’s workshop blew us away, literally, figuratively, and any other way you can think of.

I lack the words to describe to you how much I’ve learned, and how the material affected me. Just think of me sitting in the center in front of Gary (Olivia and I got to the studio way early, and the early birds get the front seat), and despite having slept only 4 hours the night before, my eyes were wide open, ears hanging on to every word from Gary.

I didn’t grasp everything he said. I couldn’t. The concepts he presented are profound and would take lifetimes to fully absorb. Nevertheless, they gave me a glimpse of what is possible. And that was the theme of the workshop: the possibilities for us as human beings to optimize our conditions, not other people’s conditions, but ours. Gary gave the example of an Olympic athlete and a paraplegic person, the end goal for them might be different, but they both have the potential to optimize their current conditions.

Our current condition is that of birth and death, health and illness, joy and sorrow, motivation and discouragement. Our current condition consists of cognition/ideation, mood/feelings, behavior, will & determination. In Sanskrit/Pali, we’re talking about bhava and buddhi, premasakti, annasaktisankalpa sakti, vyutthanaprakriti, and purusha. If I’ve lost you with these esoteric words, you now know how I felt. There were words/concepts that I had already learned, and there brand new ones that left me in the dust.

Lest you think that we were only discussing esoteric things, we (and by we I mean Gary) also talked about the exoteric concept of Digestion, Respiration, the Immune and Endocrine system, balancing the Nervous system and Parasymathetic nervous system. Gary approached the inner most worlds from the outside in, starting with what we can tangibly feel, our outermost layer: the physical body, or annamaya kosha.

Gary talked about tools to work with what we call goals and motivation, and I’ll write about that another day.

Overall, it was a fantastic workshop, and I recommend seeing Gary Kraftsow if you have the chance. He is a learned teacher with clear command of his domain, and he’s funny and humble at the same time.

Heading home, but the journey continues.

Heading home, but the journey continues.