Ages ago, the sages of the Indus Valley practiced yoga in its purest simplicity. With no distractions around them, these yogis were able to focus on each concentrated breath. The yoga we practice today, however, incorporates contemporary equipment that was unknown to ancient practitioners. Many modern yoga classes incorporate music that reverberates through the studio walls, and props such as blocks and straps to create comfort zones for the new beginner. For many, yoga has strayed too far from its origins.
Celebrity trainer Mark Blanchard believes that new applications to the yoga classroom cause many students to digress from true meditative focus. As a solution, he created Mark Blanchard’s Progressive Power Yoga – a revival of the classic regime mixed with his own form of Vinyasa flow. This undecorated form of yoga forgoes today’s trendy additions for a completely new and challenging workout. The blue sky graced with delicate clouds that covers Mark’s studio ceiling symbolically welcomes students as they embark on their spiritual journeys.
Mark strives to keep his yoga teachings pure, choosing to focus on surrendering the body to the practice without the concern for perfection.This concept may at first appear daunting to new students, who often feel compelled to rely on props and aids in order to achieve the flawless Triangle Pose, or Downward Facing Dog, but Mark insists that yoga “isn’t about attaining.” Rather, “it’s about practice.” And practice means accepting human mistakes.
Depending on an aid for a pose, or resting on the wall for a handstand, Mark says, is entering the ego and judging what one can or cannot do. Handstands against the wall are no longer handstands, but wall-stands. Progressive Power Yoga instructors push their students to learn non-judgment, for it is then that students can advance in the study of yoga. For serious yogis, Mark is adamant in his belief that we must allow ourselves to fall if we need to.
This philosophy is exceptionally visible in Mark’s Progressive Power Yoga System – The Sedona Experience DVD set. Inspired by the workouts held in his own studio, the DVDs feature students of all skill levels, so everyone can have someone to identify with. Beginners and advanced yogis can workout side by side and experience the practice at their own individual pace and level, in the comfort of their own homes.
The “progression” of Progressive Power Yoga is an accurate description for the style that Mark calls his own. “Life is a progression from breath to breath, and what happens today may not happen tomorrow,” he says. In his yoga classroom, he encourages everyone to progress as students, but to also grow as people. Moreover, Mark never teaches with the same agenda twice, creating new and innovative classes with every visit to the studio.
Particularly groundbreaking is the omission of levels from his studio. Mark believes that levels are restrictive and limiting, and everyone should practice at his or her own comfort state and pace. “Yoga practice, not yoga perfect” is his motto.
More than a studio, Mark Blanchard’s Progressive Power Yoga in Studio City is also home to the Illuminarium Gallery, where “the poetry of motion meets the poetry of shape and form”. A collection of yogic art from artists all over the country, it supports unique and non-commercialized work, from blown glass vases and sculptures to wall tapestries.Returning to yoga’s roots, Mark Blanchard embraces the purity of yoga, and teaches his students to love the practice the same way.