Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Delighting in Dru

“You put your right foot in,
You put your right foot out,
You put your right foot in and you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey ...”

This was my introduction to Dru Yoga.

Because I deferred my teacher training module, I decided to explore other forms of yoga and other teaching styles. I had read many positive comments about Dru Yoga but could find little information on how Dru differed from other traditions. So, I decided to enroll in an eight-week Dru Yoga course at the local community college.

I was a bit apprehensive—the course description said “particular attention is focused on correct alignment of the body” and the enrollment confirmation said to bring water and money to purchase bolsters, blankets and eye pads! Was Dru Yoga going to be like Bikram Yoga where the room is heated? Or was it more like Iyengar Yoga with its preciseness and props? Then we started with the Hokey Pokey and I wondered: “What have I got myself into?”

However, by the end of that first class I was smitten and halfway through the term I started to question whether I should transfer over to Dru Yoga teacher training.

Dru Yoga could be described as a form of Vinyasa or Flow yoga if it wasn't interspersed with periods of stillness to allow discovery of the Dru points, “points of stillness where the energy can become powerful for you”[1]. To me, Dru Yoga feels like a fusion of Yoga and Tai Chi. We still practise asanas, mudra, pranayama and relaxation of yoga but we keep our joints soft and flow between asanas like in tai chi. And we do not seem to go straight into an asana—we perform preparation exercises to strengthen or stretch muscles—or we are told exactly how to set up. For example, we perform a series of gluteal strengthening exercises before we practise shalabhasana (the locust pose).

So, how did the Hokey Pokey fit into the yoga class? It was part of the activation phase. A Dru Yoga session comprises activation, energy block release, asanas and then relaxation.[2]. The activation warms up the body through movements that are “free, flowing and fun” and can be as simple as “playing your favourite music and enjoying the feeling of rejuventation”[1]. Our activation phases have included dancing the Hokey Pokey, bouncing to tribal rhythms and swaying to Billy Preston's interpretation of My Sweet Lord. The energy block release works through the joints and the spine to remove tension and stiffness. The asanas can be single postures or a sequence like surya namaskara (the sun salutation). Sometimes we will practise pranayama before moving into the final relaxation.

Within Dru Yoga there is a lot of focus on the spine because the chakras (energy centres) are located in the spine and the chakras distribute energy (prana) to the different levels of the body (koshas). My teacher was a Hatha Yoga teacher for almost 20 years before she discovered Dru. She felt that Dru Yoga was a style that worked on all the levels of the body—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual— but, from a teaching point of view, also had a language that supported the concepts behind the techniques.

What do I love about Dru? I love the flow, the precision, the feeling of flexibility and looseness after a session, the centring of the mind and body after activation. My problems with sciatica have reduced and it is a style that seems to fit in well with my busy lifestyle. I think it is a style that will appeal to many busy corporate employees but also gentle enough for those who are not so physically strong or flexible. I'm planning to complete my Satyananda training this year, partially because I never seem to finish anything I start unless I have a deadline, but also so I can start gaining experience as a yoga teacher. Unfortunately, to transfer to Dru Yoga teacher training would entail another three years of study because I cannot receive credit for the study I have already done under Satyananda. However, there is nothing stopping me from taking concepts I have learnt in Dru and incorporating them into my teaching style. I'm sure every bit of knowledge and experience I gain will help to make me a better teacher! :-)

More information

  1. Dru Yoga; Stillness in Motion, Chris Barrington, Anita Goswami, Annie Jones
  2. What is Dru Yoga?, Trudi van Dorp
  3. Welcome to Dru Yoga video

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