Nevine Michaan developed Katonah Yoga with her teachers and from her insights in over 40 years of practice…
The first time I joined Nevine’s class, I quickly felt as if she knew me. She set me up in Bound Angle Pose and started to assess my body, reading where I was oriented and what I need to do to get what I want. It was the beginning of an incredible journey of learning, mastery and self-adjustment that continues to this day, where I now teach at her studio!
Katonah Yoga synthesizes Hatha Yoga, Mythology, Taoist Theory and Sacred Geometry. It is a recipe for finding joy, for finding center, circumference and the space within. The Universe is awesome. It is intelligent and functional. It is mystical. It teaches techniques to enable me to participate in its intelligence by accessing universal archetypes and applying it to my personal practice. As yoga is the dialogue between body, mind and breath, I use techniques to find joy. Much as a baker knows what ingredients to put together, calibrating his oven and using measuring tools to come up with a cake from his recipe, the practice teaches techniques to get what I want and to get where I am going. It teaches how to mediate polarities (such as hot and cold) by the archetype of a triangle: Strength, Structure, Stability and as applied to the body - Stable in the Base, Capable in the Middle and having a higher Vision.
Asana is origami for bodies. Paper origami done right is a cup that holds water or a boat that floats. Asana that functions is a fold that has no creases. It is the principle of balls fitting into mitts, hands into gloves, and feet into shoes. Imagine a pebble in one's shoe and suddenly, it is not comfortable. So it is with asana. It is about having that connection so that current runs through me. When I get into a hang and my knees fit into my armpits and my heels are enveloped in my palms, I am soothed to heal. The body is designed to fit. I do not use feel. I measure. For example, to measure hip distance, I put two balls of my fist between my foot arches. In time, I learn to self adjust using measure.
There are three principles of all esoteric dialogue: Polarity, Pattern and Repetition. The practice is how to balance the polarity with me in the middle such as balancing grace and effort. (refer to Teach Yoga article Balancing Grace and Effort) Nature follows patterns: Spring follows Winter; Summer follows Spring, and so on. When I understand the pattern, I can use it to my advantage and improve my wellbeing. With my understanding of patterns, through repetition, I can master certain skills and techniques and eventually do it with effortless effort, Wu Wei. Hence it is not that the weather is bad because there is a blizzard. I prepare by having warm clothing on and being in a warm place.
I actively engage my mind in this ongoing dialogue of where am I? and where am I going? Not just physiologically, but also neurologically. I am able to read bodies in teaching yoga classes because one's physiology is one's neurology. Using the map of the Katonah Magic Square, I weave my narrative through the Golden Thread with my body as my vehicle and my breath as my fuel. In my home practice, I use a breath count. I go through my poses with this image bank, always fitting, measuring and self-adjusting. Through repetition, I build strength and stamina. My body opens, my breath eases and I develop being in the flow. I practice with joy, ease and grace!
*Originally posted at Teach.Yoga
Note: The teachings, metaphors and language of Katonah Yoga as I share in this journey are by Nevine Michaan and her teachers. Any omissions and errors are mine.