The first time I heard the name Andrey Lappa, I was studying with Shiva Rea and we were learning the “Andrey Lappa shoulder opener”. Belly down with arms spread out to the sides, palms down, then rolling over to one side creating an amazing opening in the shoulder. As an athlete and a kayaker, it was a delicious release for a chronically tight muscle group. The gravity and weight of my body doing the work allowed my muscles to relax and the opening to deepen. I wondered who this mysterious yoga master was as I heard his name again over the last couple years. Imagine my excitement when I heard Andrey Lappa would be coming to teach at Flow. Our little studio? In our little town of Leesburg, Virginia? Wow.
I knew at once that I would take a much needed vacation from a stressful 9 to 5 job to dedicate some time to myself and my practice.
I must say I had some yogi jitters as the training approached. Too many hours at work, not enough time in the studio. Am I even going to be able to make it through 6 days of asana practice? Stop. Breathe. Relax. It will be alright. And it was. Actually it was more than alright, it was fabulous.
The lecture portion of the Universal Yoga training was fascinating and informative, punctuated with historical context and amazing stories of Tibetan monks, B.K.S. Iyengar, and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. I found myself hanging on every word, enthralled . . . . . and laughing. Andrey Lappa is a veritable encyclopedia of yoga knowledge, an organized and methodical teacher, with a great sense of humor.
Having studied yoga extensively over the last 5 years, I thought I had a relatively in-depth understanding of some of the more prominent limbs of yoga, like pranayama for example. But I was truly delighted at the level to which my understanding was increased through Andrey Lappa’s lectures. Aside from discussing pranayama in detail, we practiced some basic exercises, compared the different pranayamas, and examined the patterns of breath and their effects on both body and mind. Andrey Lappa’s approach to teaching yoga removes the mysticism and focuses on the science, the “why” and the “how” that truly allows us to understand the underlying methods and goals of the entire system of yoga.
After feeding the intellect in the mornings, the afternoons were for nourishing the body. For me, a not-so-flexible yogi, with a host of old injuries, I was amazed at my body’s response to the Universal Yoga asana practice. There was no soreness, no fatigue, only release. The practice was accessible even with my stiffness and as the days went by I noticed my body opening like the gentle bloom of the lotus. On the last day, I reached a depth in paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) that I didn’t even think possible.
This is the beauty of Universal Yoga. Andrey Lappa has distilled his vast knowledge of yoga into a scientific system, focusing on asanas which maximize opening and joint mobility. Of course, that is only the beginning. Universal Yoga is so much more than asana. It is the pathway to unification of balance, control, and creativity, across all layers of our being.
Andrey Lappa returns for another 6 days on Friday and I feel a frenzy of excitement and anticipation. Stop. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy.