Teaching Schedule

Intro to the History of Yoga: Philosophy, Practice, Transformation
Sun, June 21 – Sun, Aug 13, 2020
Online Course

This 8-week online History of Yoga course is a university-level introduction to Yoga history designed for dedicated students of Yoga and meditation. The course includes lecture, practices, and reflection to support culturally literate contemporary practice through pre-recorded self-study as well as live community calls. 

Our 2020 cohort is forming and begins on the Summer Solstice, June 21st. Join us and lay the foundation for a lifetime of study and growth.

Learn more & register.

Home Retreat: Living the Dhamma
Wed, July 8 – Sun, July 12, 2020
Online Retreat

Living the Dhamma will be our second “home retreat” conducted entirely online. The retreat will be mostly self-paced, with meditations and practice instructions to work with on your own, plus 3 daily group calls on the Zoom video platform.

The focus of this retreat will be on embodied practice, working toward continuous somatic awareness as the foundation of daily life practice. We will work with proprioception (posture and gesture awareness), interoception (sensation awareness), and orientation (environment awareness), and maintaining embodied awareness throughout the day.

As always, we will ground our practice in the method of mindfulness of breathing known as the full-body breath, supported by somatic movement practice and gentle energy work with the Haṭha Yoga disciplines of prānāyāma and bandha. As we’ve been doing lately, we’ll also ground our practice of orientation in the felt sense of place and time as both somatic (individual) and ancestral (transpersonal) action. In order to be fully where we are, we must be present with the history of the land we live on and the bodies we live in, and that means reckoning with our colonial legacy both internally and externally.

Learn more & register.

Trauma and Spiritual Practice: Mindfulness and Embodied Healing

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Online Daylong

Many people come to meditation and yoga to help heal old wounds, both physical and emotional. Trauma is a nervous system injury, caused by shocking or dangerous events as well as ongoing relational and systemic threat. Meditation and yoga, as nervous system interventions, can be helpful in healing, but like all interventions must be used with sensitivity.

In this class, we will explore current trauma resolution theory, and learn gentle embodiment practices that can support healing and resilience for everyone. The first half of the day will be focused on practice, and on working gently and skillfully with our own nervous systems. In the afternoon we’ll look in more detail at nervous system physiology and the relationship between the Buddhist teachings on liberation from suffering and the resolution of trauma, both individual and collective.

Hosted by Insight Santa Cruz.
Learn more & register.

A note as we meet the unfolding Coronavirus crisis

Blessings & mettā to everyone, and prayers that all of our families and communities are as safe as possible.

Like many teachers, I’m happy to offer support whatever I can in service of inner well-being and resilience through what may be a long emergency. While our hyper-connected modern society is startled out of complacency by the pandemic, practitioners in many contemplative traditions may find ourselves with skills and a perspective that can be helpful in this time. If you’ve been practicing with Buddhist or Yogic material for some time, you may be better equipped to deal with this — emotionally, spiritually, or existentially — than you think.
The teachings of the Buddha remind us again and again of the impermanence of conditions, including the seductive conditions of comfort, health, wealth, and power. And they remind us of the death of interconnection we are immersed in, which we may often forget, or take for granted.
Here’s some writing I did recently, suggesting a shift in perspective that I hope may be helpful in this moment:
I take this moment as an invitation for our human cultures to learn something that is hard to admit, and even harder to stabilize and truly begin to act from: our way of life, globally, is not only unsustainable but dangerous, and the root causes of our current moment are obvious to anyone willing to look. Greed is praised as a virtue in the worlds of commerce and neoliberal Capitalism; hatred is praised as a virtue in the forms of nationalism, racism, and the many forms of systemic oppression; and delusion is praised as a virtue in the growing distrust of public norms, information, science, and material truth itself. When greed, hatred, and delusion are not universally acknowledged as defilements, but even praised as appropriate responses to the world, crises like this will be far worse than they might otherwise have been.
Blessings to everyone reading this, for your own safety and peace of heart, and that of your families, communities, culture, and the beloved Earth we all share.
With love & mettā,
Dr. Sean Oakes
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