ANYONE, that is looking for liberation in their bodies and minds can benefit from yoga...
... i don't actually believe in different 'types' of yoga - i believe that the intent and belief system behind yoga practice is the only defining thing, and in principle, ALL types of yoga practice are meant to bring integration, simplicity, liberated strength and supported freedom to both body, mind and soul, which makes defining yoga as different 'methods' completely meaningless and misleading... if the outcome of practice is anything other than release into a natural innocence, a healthy simplicity, then there is just misunderstanding in the interpretation of what is being taught.
The only thing that creates this confusion is the fact that many teachers repeat the information they think they are given without looking at the link between action and outcome. This simple equation can give any practitioner absolute authority in their practice, and makes understanding of each kind of yoga absolutely clear, because it is ALL THE SAME...
I would also go as far to say that the same intention is what makes for excellence in any expression of the self through the body, be it yoga practice, athletics, capoeira, and of course dance.
The best athletes look effortless in their sport, because they have the enthusiasm and heart to refine the nature of what they are doing, even if it means they have to slow down whilst they tune into the refinement, and in removing obstacles to fluidity in their movement, they liberate phenomenal power and ease in what they do and become almost super-human in their art.
Tthose that believe in punishing the body to achieve their goal will do precisely that, and they will look laboured in their efforts - it may achieve temporary success, but it won't last, and they will pay for it with their health in some way - probably preventing them from continuing to do what they love when the body-mind fight ends in one side winning the argument.
The best dancers seem equally effortless... the viewer doesn't see the effort involved, they only witness the expression of the heart and soul in the dancer's movement. For a dancer's body to be this transparent, there needs to be simplicity, non-conflict, fluidity, and a total trust in the support and resistance-free movement that can flow through the body and spine up towards the heavens, from the contact that is made with the earth.
Just as in the world of yoga, the dance world is full of technique and tricks that give the impression of an elevated body and heart, but only a performer with a genuinely integrated body, mind and breath can allow this openness to flow and express authentically and freely.
When I work with athletes and dancers, my work is identical to what I do with people that have injuries, health issues, missing limbs or emotional hardships. I help them find ways to remove whatever conflict or mistrust they hold in their bodies in order to liberate the human being from the heaviness and misunderstanding of that mistrust.
Those that dance or run JUST for the love it, have no problem with this shift of paradigm, and i can just give them principles to apply to their movement, for those moments when they are dancing or running and they notice a restriction and want to find a way past it.
Those that WANT to be dancers or athletes, and have worked hard in an attempt to control the body by learning techniques that give the impression of strength or freedom, generally have quite a long journey to 'undo' everything they know, and of all the techniques that have become physical habits, in order to rediscover the nature of what they have been taught.
When the paradigm is one of 'more pain, more gain', when the body is seen as something to control and push beyond its nature to achieve something 'better', their journey can be long and difficult, because to trust where there has never been trust before feels dangerous, to let go of control requires letting go of the ego and a whole way of seeing life. And even as things improve through changing intent, to notice that everything you have learnt before seems to be 'wrong' is deeply disturbing to the ego.
But when you realise that in attending to the most basic principles of; self-compassion, non-grasping of the goal, non-violence to the body, wrapped up with an honest and inquiring mind, and an enthusiastic dedication to the journey itself; to truly come to the realisation that in the removal of all the ego's desire to control and direct, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING becomes possible, there is a lightening of the spirit, an enlightenment, that can expand into life and the world around, and that expansion can be as a yoga teacher, a performer, or simply as a human being.
And as the dancer/athlete/acrobat, feels the body and spirit unite in the intention, they will most probably notice that the body naturally engages with everything they have ever been taught, not because they are 'doing' it, but because that's what the body does when you simply express yourself fully with freedom and joy...
The dancers I work with usually have strong but controlled and contrived spines, flexible but controlled and more often than not distorted joints (usually the knees, feet, and sacro-illiac joints suffer, sometimes the discs of the spine have collapsed in the aggressive attempt to appear more flexible and relaxed). And they come to me because their problems mean that they can no longer dance without pain (and of course dancing is their life if they are enthusiastic enough to distort their bodies in order to do it). And in the process of reintegration, the first thing that happens is that the dance is taken away from them whilst they go inside (instead of outside- into the world of performance and how they feel they are perceived) ... there can be grief in the loss (but because of the injury, the loss is there anyway). However, in surrendering to the journey, when freedom and fluidity start to return in parts of themselves that seemed permanently locked, there is a rush of joy as the light at the end of the tunnel starts to shine brighter and brighter.. and before long, the dance starts to return, simply as an expression of that joy.
One of my dearest wishes, would be to encourage those that have a passion for their art, to work with someone that truly understands that both emotional and physical joy are our natural birthright. The person they work with would need to have the understanding through their own personal journey, and the language through study and teaching experience, of the simple body mechanics/mind relationship that will help their student find that joy and simplicity as they develop their art.
I will be running a teacher training course in the UK from April 2012, in the hope that this understanding can spread worldwide. In the meantime, I continue to spread the word and the work wherever I am invited to teach.