I attended a weekend workshop with Erich Schiffman on 10/13-10/15. The workshop was had a theme of “finding your inner guidance” and was equal part lecture, meditation, and asana practice.
The workshop was two hours on Friday night, and four hours Saturday and Sunday. It was held at the Masonic Temple in Porter School. The room had big windows and hardwood floors. There were about 70-80 people, there was plenty of room, and the room was warm, but not hot. The workshop sold out very early on. It was run by Barbara Benaugh of the Yoga Studio.
Erich spoke of finding guidance from within yourself but connecting with a higher power, the infinite; although he said he could be Jesus, Buddha, or whatever higher power you connect with. He spoke with simple language, very clearly, and without notes. Before he spoke, he always took a breath and centered himself.
He also taught very useful but simple meditation techniques: ground yourself, grow up from the grounding, and then open the top of your head. I had a headache one day, and after using this technique, the headache was gone. It was stressful getting into the venue – lots of traffic, no parking, and my head was tight. The technique of opening up your head gave my brain the space it needed to relax. Erich emphasized to do small pieces of meditation on a daily basis – ideally AM and PM.
The asana practice was very similar to his DVDs. We did a short practice Friday night. Saturday was a hip opening sequence and Sunday, he was going towards backbends but he ran out of time.
Erich’s teaching voice is varied and smooth. He uses very simple and easy-to-understand language with not a lot of extra words. He goes up in strength of voice when you are at the peak of a pose and goes into different tone to emphasize the stretch or work of the pose. It works well.
His sequencing is brilliant. He starts off easy and slowly moves into more difficult poses – always getting you to back off a bit before the final pinnacle. It works amazingly well – by the time you are in the pinnacle, your body is completely ready and just slide into the maximum pose you are doing.
Erich taught from the stage but came done and walk all around the class. From what I could tell, he and his assistants did not do constant hands-on adjustments, but did do some. His assistants participated in class some of the time, and walked around some of the time assisting.
After class, my body felt open and alive. I wish we had time for more asana practice – I think the workshop could have been an extra hour each day. The meditation instruction will stick with me forever.