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  • The Examined Life by Bram Levinson

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    Bram Levinson

    Bram Levinson

    Author, Yoga Teacher, Retreat Coordinator, Mentor

    Author of The Examined Life (www.theexaminedlifebook.com), Bram Levinson is a nationally known yoga teacher, blogger, mentor and lecturer based in Montreal. An enthusiastic yogi since 1999, he began his Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training with Darby, Shankara & Joanne. With additional training from Luna Yoga's Jennifer Maagendans, Bram incorporates all his experience on and off the mat into his yoga classes, workshops and lectures which offer insight into alignment, breath awareness, and the ability to use laughter to get through the more challenging postures, sequences, and difficult moments in life. He is an iRest® Yoga Nidra Level 1 Trained Teacher, as well as an alumni ambassador for Lululemon's Ste-Catherine Street location. He has been on the faculty of the Montreal Yoga Festival, as well as multiple Wanderlust Yoga Festivals. His yoga retreats bring students across the globe 2-3 times a year, with previous locations including Istanbul, Berlin, Tulum, Santorini, Paros and Mljet in Croatia. Bram is forever grateful to the Darbys, Jennifer Maagendans, Richard Miller, and Joan Ruvinsky who initially offered illumination on his yogic path. His insights and observations can be followed on his blog connect to the sky at http://bramlevinson.wordpress.com, his website at www.bramlevinson.com.

Immersed in Niyasa

Posted by Bram Levinson on March 31, 2012

20120331-132033.jpgAs many of you already know, the past few years have been formative ones for me, almost Richter-scale-esque on many levels. My time at Centre Luna Yoga continues to be a real gift, and because it’s the closest thing to a Jivamukti studio that can be found in Montreal, I have been majorly influenced by the teachings of Jivamukti founders Sharon Gannon and David Life. After years of reading their wisdom, of reading their focuses every month, and of operating under their influence, I have to admit that despite the sense of familiarity I developed from having them as indirect teachers, I was still somewhat intimidated at the thought of actually being in their presence. The past few years culminated in my finally taking a 3-hour class from them yesterday…and if I felt a kinship towards them and their approach to yoga before yesterday afternoon, I now find a real sense of admiration for them…and possibly a tiny bit of love :-)

Hearing people around me constantly refer to Sharon and David almost de-sensitized me to how approachable they might actually be, but this weekend’s classes gave me a first-person perspective on how witty, down-to-earth, and refreshingly informative AND approachable they both are. Despite leading amazingly active and challenging classes, they managed to keep us all laughing in a state of unwavering presence, focused on their instructions and anecdotes, all the while speaking to us directly, in language we could understand and relate to. They never speak in obscure language or talk down to their students, and for such revered personalities in the global yoga communities, I found the combination of both their energies absolutely inspiring.

Our focus for the weekend was presented to us as the role of the student and the role of the teacher, and we’ll continue exploring the subject as we work through the weekend.

We woke up this morning with a heavy blanketing of snow muffling all sounds, something I found conducive to spending the day nestled away studying and learning from Sharon, David, and each other. As we continue to explore our selves and our practices, one thing has kept coming back through Sharon’s teachings: the concept of Niyasa, which translates to “to place consciously”. As some of you already know, there have been moments in the classes I teach where I encourage people to move/breathe/set intention “like they mean it.” The Sanskrit word Niyasa never presented itself to be included in my vernacular until today, but essentially the concepts are the same. To practice Niyasa fully is to be aware of the most seemingly innocuous and insignificant of moments, and to do whatever we’re doing with complete awareness, with complete consciousness of our actions. Like we mean it. Because we mean it. Because it’s an expression of our intention. Because everything we do and say and communicate with these bodies that we’ve been graced with has the potential to be complete, to be a direct expression of truth, of light and of consciousness. Niyasa has now nestled itself into my consciousness, and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it, I’m sure :-)

We go back to Sharon and David’s house for lectures, meditation, chanting, and a Q&A period after the lunch break. I am fully immersed. I am full of joy, really and truly. I’ll sign off now with something I overheard Sharon whispering to someone she was giving a massage to in Savasana: Be Happy. Chant it in your head. Be Happy.

And now incorporate Niyasa. Love to you all :-)

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