Stay Connected:

A Master Class with
Seane Corn

Magazine: YOGA CHICAGO
January-February 2011

 

A MASTER CLASS WITH SEAN CORN

 

A Master Class with Seane Corn | By Bess Gallanis

To become a yoga teacher is a transformational journey. It is not necessarily an easy-jDurney. You will face physical challenges, internal obstacles, and survival fears.

To get there from here, you need an understanding of the mind, body, and spirit. You must be willing to identify your own blockages, judgment, and resistance. Each challenge will awaken new and empowering self-knowledge and spiritual power.

When the journey ends, you must return home to do your job: transform these lessons into teaching yoga.

If you are familiar with the Hero's journey, the ancient and universal story about transformational journeys, you also know that you will need a teacher to guide you on the path.

Master Vinyasa flow yoga teacher Seane Corn is educated, - knowledgeable, and articulate about the psychological dimensions Seane Corn in tittibhasana {firefly pose}. Photo by Eric Asia We practiced many, many slow sun salutations and held some poses for as long as three minutes. Slowing down the practice keeps the focus on breathing-and staying with the breath is the basis of Vinyasa flow. Long holds create a challenge-and an opportunity-to explore how you deal with internal of yoga and street smart about life. Her legendary rapid-fire dialogue is in equal measures poetic, ecstatic, and raunchy. Fueled by spiritual passion, she can make sense of God and love, trauma, and triangle pose all in the same breath.

"What motivates and inspires me most is bringing spirit into the yoga practice," Seane says, welcoming a class of about so yoga teachers on the first day of a weeklong advanced Vinyasa flow teacher training held at Moksha Yoga October 4-8. "There is no separation between mind and body."

In her hands, Vinysa flow yoga practice is a powerful vehicle for psychological and spiritual exploration. Seane is a spiritual tour guide with an intimate, insider's · knowledge of the three domains of consciousness: physical/mental, energetic/ . emotional, and psychic/symbolic.

If you choose to travel with her, be warned : resistance is futile. Remember, the Hero's journey is not necessarily easy.

Seane Corn Firefly poseWe begin our journey at the beginning. The purpose of asana is _to create space, move energy, release tension, and detoxify the body. Vinyasa flow accomplishes this with grace and creativity, which is what draws people to this practice. The great downside of Vinyasa flow is the high potential for injury. Unlike more structured traditions, like Iyengar or Ashtanga, alignment techniques are not consistent across Vinyasa flow styles, teachers, classes, or studios.

What is consistent, though, are the injuries: sciatica in the lower back or neck; twisted knees and tendonitis in the wrist, elbow, and shoulders are the most common.

Focusing and grounding practice in technique is our first lesson.

"Teaching alignment in a studio class is necessary and can be done without losing the passion that draws people to Vinyasa flow," says Seane. "You can be smart and safe. and challenge your students by teaching the pose well."

Seane's alignment technique emphasizes the principle of " ... stability over flexibility." We learned to sequence and cue poses from the ground up based on three pillars of stable alignment: the feet and ankles, which support the knees; the pelvic girdle, which supports the lower back; and the shoulder girdle, which supports the arms and neck. We practiced every day for two hours or more. Seane stuck to basic yoga poses with some variations to maintain interest and created sequences that worked up to a peak pose. She emphasized pose alignment technique and intelligent and logical sequencing that fully prepared the body for the peak pose of the practice.

According to Seane, "Time and heat is the only way to maintain elasticity in connective tissue."
 
We practiced many, many slow sun salutations and held some poses for as long as three minutes.  Slowing down the practice keeps the focus on breathing - and staying with the breath is the basis of Vinyasa flow.  Long holds creat a —and an opportunity — to explore how you deal with internal conflict.

l'm no stranger to injury; tendonitis in my right arm provided the excuse to avoid my yoga mat for almost a year. On the first day of class, I worried about injuring my arm further. My inner voice, that voice of fear and insecurity, chattered on and on, anticipating an impossibly complex pose or a scary posture. In the middle of this debate between me and my inner voice, something happened: my arm opened up. The muscles released, the tendons stretched, and my entire arm opened like a flower blossoming.

"What is within is the first barrier," Seane tells us.

Seane is a passionate student of the ancient chakra energy system. She studied extensively with Caroline Myss and Anodea Judith, both leading interpreters of the psychology and symbolism of the chakra energy system. Her Chakra Flow program is a yoga conference and studio workshop favorite.

 "The chakras are a road map to your body's expression of your psychology," explained Seane in our afternoon lecture. "The body remembers everything. It is a storehouse of all your life's experiences that leave an energetic trace: the scared child, isolated teenager, frustrated young mother." ·

The chakra system absorbs information and energy throughout your life and stores these experiences in an energetic database. Repressed unresolved emotions congest the chakras, creating imbalances of deficiency or excess that are expressed as physical, mental, or emotional pain. "I don't read minds, I read bodies," Seane says. The yoga teacher who understands chakra architecture can read students' bodies energetically and emotionally. A tight hamstring or lower back pain becomes a clue to reading a . person's psychology and behavior.

"Tension is unresolved emotion, tension is protective. In yoga we release tension, but that release also makes us vulnerable," Seane told us as we prepared for a chakra flow Vinyasa practice. "If I am •living in separation from my inner self, the confrontation starts within me. I must confront the parts of myself that are between me and God, me and others."

Asana is a very powerful tool to rebalance the chakra energy and to begin the process of reintegrating into wholeness. The alignment techniques we learned stimulate the body's energetic imprint, and heat and long holds unclog blocked chakras.

Seane CornIt was the last day of the five day program, and I arrived at the studio expecting a light practice. Seane announced that this was her last opportunity to serve our experience. "We are going to bring chakra balancing right into the body as a direct experience through yoga," she told us as we prepared for our final practice.

She did not disappoint us. She led us on a Vinyasa flow journey through each chakra, interpreting the psychology and emotional meaning expressed through each part of the physical body. Seane's reputation as a gifted communicator was on full display. It was part poetry, part yoga rap, and an altogether absorbing dialogue-which was her intention. "The information is landing directly in your body," she said. "As I'm speaking it, your chakras are absorbing my dialogue." The long holds in the chakra practice are intended to produce a" physical breakd own. The emotional release will imprint as a new, positive experience. As we moved through this practice, the emotional tension in the studio was palpable.

It's been a long time since my yoga mat brought me to tears. After two minutes holding a modified side angle (holding the forward ankle with both hands), I star ted choking back the tears. I'd like to tell you that I breathed through it and reached deeper for the spiritual resource fullness to hold the pose a little longer.

Instead, I collapsed on my mat. I was quivering, but still solid.

To live in the light you've got to know the dark; this is the lesson of the transformational journey. The path to spiritual wholeness is to accept both the light and the dark sides of your own nature. This is to be whole, spiritual, and human. Our transformational journey ended with these final words from Seane: "Do your job. Be of service. Go home and do your own practice."

A lot of celebrity surrounds Seane Corn, but you won't hear about it from her: If you want to know more about her Nike ad campaign, TV appearances, and her celebrity students, you will have to read about them on Seane's Web site. What you will hear from Seane are stories about her spiritual journey, domestic life with her longtime companion, Art, and about the grief and loss she feels from the recent death of her fath er. She travels lightly, dresses simply, and is present and focused on se rving her students' experience of yoga.

Recommended reading: Eastern Body, Western Mind, by Anodea Judith

Anatomy of the Spirit and Sacred Contracts, by Caroline Myss

In visible Warfare, by Mona Miller Seane Corn utilizes her national platform to bring awareness to the HIV/AIDS crisis, along with the Cambodian Children 's Fund. She trains leaders of activism through her co-founded organization Off the Mat, In to the World®, started in 2007 with Halo Khouri and Suzanne Sterling. Her award winning DVDs include Vinyasa Flow Yoga , Yoga From t he Heart, and Detox Flow Yoga. For more information about Seane, her teaching, and workshop schedule, and free downloads of yoga classes, see her Web site at seane corn. com. Follow her on Twitter @jerseycorn l. You can also read her blogs at oprah.com.