Alison West

Director, Yoga Union

alison west

What draws me to different teachers expresses something of what I might like to bring to my own teaching. In one of my first teachers, Swami Sankarananda (now Robert Moses who, with my dear friend Eddie Stern, is now the editor of the spectacular magazine Namarupa), I discovered an intelligent Western mind open to the intuitive and deep art of yoga. It encouraged me to loosen my resistance to the full depth and splendor of yoga and the ancient texts through which it might be known. In Kevin Gardiner, a senior Iyengar teacher, I found a passionate student of the detailed language of asana through a deep devotion to Sri B.K.S. Iyengar. The loving discipline of Sri K. Patthabi Jois caused me to reexamine my understanding of the energetic aspect of the practice. And the heartfelt teachings of Geshe Michael Roach, who, along with the importance of meditation, emphasizes the need for a compassionate life of giving, has helped me to ramp up my efforts to launch the not-for-profit Yoga for The Homebound. Paradox is also my teacher – that viable opposites can coexist and that it’s up to us to find the way between the two, keeping the door open to both.

As time passes, and as I mature and study more, my practice and teaching increasinlgy weave together the strands of intellectual inquiry with intuitive wisdom and the subtleties of the inner body. Even in my most analytic, deconstructive, demanding physical classes, I hope that I am able in some way to keep alive the sense of an essential numinous, mystical, ineffable wonder and truth at the root of all we do.

Students who gravitate towards my asana classes are on the whole fueled by a sense of enquiry as well. Now that I am able to teach a teachers’ class on Wednesday afternoons, I feel a little freer in my morning classes to teach asana with fewer explanations and a more direct experience of the pose or breath itself.

Consciousness is the first Yoga Union principle of practice – ”conscious movement, conscious life.” If students leave class feeling more vividly connected to their own source of understanding or love, or breath, or body, then I feel something of value has been accomplished. I like to feel the same way after teaching.


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Your ability to access every path towards clarity Is an inhale, and I'm so grateful.

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