Photo Rosalind Newmark
YOGA WITH MARY JOHNSTON-COURSEY
Why Tantric Yoga?
Beyond the physical practice most of us are familiar with, there is an underlying spiritual quality to yoga that ultimately leads to peace and inner steadiness. Yoga means union - the union of the outer self with the inner self, the union of the dark with the light. Through a daily practice, a daily connection to this wholeness, we cultivate stability and the capacity to move through life with grace and courage. We are able to digest whatever life throws at us and turning it into wisdom.
Tantra means to expand, to weave together, to accelerate; Tantric yoga leads us to manifest our heart's desires, to create our fullest life, and to live a life of joy and increased capacity. The Tantric approach is an accelerated path to joy!!!
Codified by Rod Stryker in the tradition of the Himalayan Masters, ParaYoga® furthers the lineage of Swami Rama, giving us access to profound and ancient teachings. A ParaYoga® class incorporates slow, dynamic movement to cultivate physical stability (sthira) and ease (sukha), inspiring those same qualities in the mind. According to Patanjali, we need both sthira and sukha to achieve our full potential. Combining mental and breath focus while practicing asana, we restrain the distracted mind, awaken the inner light of consciousness, and begin to collect and concentrate our own prana within us.
After challenging and refining the physical body through asana, we settle into the stillness of savasana and let go of the physical to become more aware of the subtle experience of our energy. As we come into sitting, Pranayama (breath control) stills the mind and soothes the nervous system, while Kriya links visualization with the breath to further purify our energy and accelerate our understanding. All practices lead to meditation, beginning the deeper process of inner transformation. In these quiet moments of stillness, we remember (smarana) the ease and joy of our own higher self - we "wake up" to what is always present within us.
As a committed yogi since the age of 20, Mary has diligently studied the art of physical alignment. In more than twenty years of dancing and choreographing, she has experienced alignment to be the underpinning of expressiveness and continues to seek out an alignment of thoughts to words to action and remain in integrity and alignment with her purpose. As a teacher, she offers all these nuances of alignment to her students.
A number of amazing and influential teachers continue to inform Mary's knowledge of how to utilize yoga, breath, and consciousness in the healing process - among them Donna Farhi, Judith Lasater, Elise Browning Miller, Rod Stryker, and finally Jenny Otto, from whom she received her Yoga Therapy Certification. Her own study of therapeutics began at the age of 21, when an accident left her with a concussion and neck injury. Her career as a dancer led to a beautiful sequence of injuries, each of which led to a deeper understanding of the body's capacity for healing and self-transformation.
A life-long meditator, Mary was initiated into Transcendental Meditation and mantra practice at the age of 15. At 20, she began to practice pranayama and mindfulness based meditation. She was first introduced to Tantric meditation when she met her teacher Rod Stryker in 2004. This truly rocked her world thanks to the profound understanding that the depths of experience and learning possible within meditation are truly limitless. The inner journey is infinite and profound. The more one learns by going inward, the more greatly it affects the outer life. It is a great joy to share this profound and joyful experience of meditation and to help others grow through this inner discipline.