I have just returned from another wonder-FULL workshop with Mark Whitwell and feel inspired to write. Mark is a gifted teacher and every time I attend a workshop with him, I feel like I have stepped back in time and am experiencing yoga the way it was meant to be. I am so grateful that he is spreading the true spirit of yoga and authentic teachings that seem to have been neglected or even lost in today’s smorgasbord of yoga.
I have been fortunate enough to study with many well-known teachers in the Krishnamacharya line and each one has been a gift. But Mark is the one who put all those gifts together and wrapped it up with a big beautiful bow!
I began practicing yoga as a teen but I never really felt that the teachings being offered me were complete. Something was missing. One wise teacher said, “Are you practicing yoga or making an asana out of yourself?” My real yoga journey began a couple of years ago. I was intrigued by the title of Mark’s workshop Advanced Yoga for Perfect Beginners and I signed myself up. Little did I know how much this first workshop would affect not just my teaching and practice but my life experience.
I was so impressed with Mark from the first moment we met. This stunning gentleman with long graying braid entered the room and asked me with his charming New Zealand accent, “Have we met before?” Not in this lifetime Mark! But I felt like I was greeting an old friend. That day I felt deep love and respect for Mark and this yoga, a renewed connection with my own yoga, and was reminded of the profound intelligence within.
Mark spends much of the workshop time in open discussion with us about ancient yogic philosophy particularly the teachings of Krishnamarcharya and U.G. Krishnamurti and how society and religious dogma have brainwashed us into denying the perfection and supreme intelligence that already exists as us. There was no ego, no showing off, no “shoddy spiritual goods” to sell. He will challenge your core belief system and ask you to be skeptical of anyone who is selling you a system of salvation and to reject anyone or any system that tells you that you need to do this-or-that to be “better” or “improve” or to become more adept or spiritual. You are missing nothing. How refreshing! Then we moved to very simple Ujjayi breathing (inhale from above, exhale from below) to connect with this beautiful, nurturing source that is the power of our breath. Next we were prepared for an uncomplicated asana practice. The breath and body now moving in harmony. We ended with some easy chants and a relaxation. As I lay there swallowed in a sea of love, the tears rolled down my cheeks filled with an overwhelming sense of peace and joy. This authentic yoga practice is steeped in simplicity and logic. Anyone can do it. What a relief!
It was quite refreshing for me to have my deepest beliefs confirmed – there is no pose to perfect, no enlightened state to attain, no place to go. We are somewhere and we are already perfect and enlightened! Yoga IS our direct participation in this nurturing source.
There is something about Mark and the teachings that resonate deeply with me and speak to my heart. It is a SIMPLE yet powerful and profound teaching that is very hard to put into words. This yoga is truly from the heart. Thank you Mark for being “no more than a friend, no less than a friend.”