Are you ready for a fresh take on asana practice? A class with JinSung can open up new perspectives and a new layer of inner awareness. The poses are familiar, but the instructions are different; the flavor is different. When I talked with JinSung after class, I started to understand why.
JinSung came to asana practice after nearly a decade of intensive Taoist breathing practice. The beginning stages of this practice of “no-mind breath” are intentionally simple: the teacher provides just enough understanding so that the student can do the practice and experience the results. JinSung is decidedly wary of the mind”™s cleverness and our quest for more and more knowledge. He points out that we are all living in a “How To” culture and this attitude can interfere with our practice and our progress.
“We have to recognize that we are all modern people,” JinSung says. We are “too complicated” and we need to do something about it. We need to get simpler. We need to be able to feel the nervous system without any clever thoughts. To start with, we need to get healthy.
JinSung teaches asana practice with a focus on the breath, but also an unusual focus on relaxing the organs. When teaching an asana, he guides students to maintain the posture in ways that don”™t work the internal organs. For example, in Trikonasana, is the work of the leg creating more ease in the organs? Are we asking the organs to do something unnecessary? He sees the postures as shapes that can help the organs, can help the physical body purify itself.
Why focus on the organs? “The mind is the flower of the organs,” JinSung explains. If the organs are happy, the emotions are calm and the mind is clear. In their healthiest state, each organ is only doing its primary function as part of the body”™s “digestive art.” The heart is pumping blood; the lungs are digesting air; the liver is filtering toxins and so forth. Working together, the organs are digesting energy and spreading it throughout the body. When happening optimally,” this digestion supports your energetic power to sit in meditation and be healthier in everything you do…and, you have a better chance for awakening.”
JinSung sees yoga as a “spiritual science” for experiencing profound health. “Opening of the chakras is the ultimate expression of healthy digestion,” JinSung says, “which provides greater possibilities for spiritual strength.” He focuses on that aspect of hatha yoga that supports spiritual health through understanding the underlying dynamics of the organs. He is greatly inspired by B.K.S. Iyengar, who JinSung considers “a master of applying the principle I have faith in.” JinSung sees Mr. Iyengar”™s poses, in Light on Yoga, as illustrating a tremendous ease of breath and ease in the organs. JinSung has studied with senior Iyengar yoga instructors such as Ramanand Patel, Don Moyer and Kofi Busia.
While his asana practice is intended to cultivate health, JinSung considers the pursuit of health a double-edged sword. “You can get attached to health,” he reminds us. And, your practice can lead to sensuality””which is “not good or bad, just empty.” He questions the idea that the body always knows what is right for it. Taking the example of a smoker, addicted to nicotine, he points out that this person”™s body is telling them it wants a cigarette, but that doesn”™t mean this is what is healthy for the body. Then where can we turn? JinSung assures us, “the breath knows.”
JinSung”™s asana practice is deeply focused, but when the practice is over, it”™s time to be a human being. “If you can”™t completely put down your practice when you”™re done, you”™re better off being a farmer!”