Nine Stones, Three Pillars

Our Path to Knowledge

We offer Nine Stones…. A philosophical template that can work with any style of yoga practice at any level. At the foundation level, we have Stability, Strength and Flexibility. As we Transition, we learn Precision, Diversity, and Metta. As we integrate, we learn Sustainability, Pure Action and Equanimity.

We also offer three Pillars: Accessibility, Diversity, and Sustainability. These form the foundation of how we cultivate kula and offer seva.

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The Twelve Practices

Imagine you are on a path, and you carry tools with you to help you along the way. Which tools serve you on this path? What lights your way? If you see this path as a method to go inward for self examination, and discovering ways to support how you move in the world- this is the teaching of Amara Vidya. We believe in the concept of the Higher Self, and use techniques of yoga to ensure that which serves the practitioner best. We believe in using a combination of techniques that cultivate balance in living, to foster and nurture the stability and strength to reach out and help others. In Amara Vidya, we also recognize that as we journey, along the way we discover ideas that guide us to stay the course. We see stones as a representation of tools to help us find those great ideas on our quest.

This description of the Stones and Pillars are suggestions only. We encourage each practitioner to spend time with these tools in a way that is meaningful for them. We learn that some tools do not serve us at this time, but later become integral to our daily routine. We teach a more thematic approach to these stones and pillars in a way that can be personal to each seeker.

The Stones of personal practice

  • Stability
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Precision
  • Diversity
  • Metta
  • Sustainability
  • Pure Action
  • Equanimity

Stability – Our first stone on the path. In a physical practice, that we maintain the health of our joints and ensure we only perform that which respects our body. Off the mat, that we work toward that which supports us: recognizing the people, places and things that protect us from harm. That we can explore risk and challenge from a safe point of stability, and permit a freedom of exploration from a stable foundation.

Strength The second stone that operates in tandem with stability. From a physical practice perspective, muscles must be strong in order to stabilize and move joints well. The recognition that vulnerability to other perspectives isn’t weak, it’s strength- strength of morals, strength of care, strength of an ability to challenge oneself and to remain humble.

Flexibility – A practice both on and off the mat. In Amara Vidya, we learn to approach improved range of motion and more open-chain kinetic practices AFTER we have built stability and strength. That the goal in any physical aspect of yoga is not to strain, but to challenge with a careful applied effort. We respect appropriate Range of Motion, and everyone’s natural ability or adaptive ability is OK.

Precision – A deliberate act of focus in thoughts, words and action. When communicating, to recognize that there is different meaning in the words we use. Intent is key, and striving to impart your intent clearly is the goal. One thing we here at the school stress is the understanding of “filters” or “lenses”. These are both impediments and opportunities for insight, depending on how and when they are applied.

DiversityDifferent from the Pillar, we appreciate diversity of approach. This is about respecting new research, respecting others in their unique application, and being open to respect of cultural diversity. Acceptance of who you are and your background is a part of your journey, there is no need to adopt another person’s cultural identity or religion in order to practice yoga. That said, sometimes going deeper into learning the roots of Indian culture and practices can resonate with someone on a genuine and authentic level. It’s important that an appreciation for the “salsa” the mix that adds flavor and spice to life remains a part of your personal journey. To recognize that life is more like water, and that harmony is achieved through recognition that different things, ideas, even people will add to how you balance your life and your practice. Respecting that other people may find value in something you do not is a way to promote diversity. 

 Metta – A Buddhist concept meaning “Loving Kindness”. It is not passive but rather an active process. Just as kindness is an active form of compassion, to use metta is a form of service performed with a loving/nurturing attitude. Metta was used as a concept in Thai Massage by monks who gave back to the community that supported them.

Sustainability Different from the Pillar, we appreciate sustainable practice. It is a recognition that to sustain is to choose a path of “enough”. Ever looked around at those who view the world as never having enough? For example, someone complaining that they’re hungry and there’s “nothing to eat” while standing in a kitchen full of food? Learning when to recognize what it means to live seeing the world as “good enough”. Doesn’t mean you stop striving, doesn’t mean you get rid of all of your worldly possessions- just learning how to recognize everything you use is meant to serve you. Also that every action you do is to not step on those around you but to work within an ecosystem of community. 

Pure action – An active form of Saucha (a niyama in Patanjali’s 8 limb teaching), it is approached as more than physical cleanliness. It is also an act of examining that which serves us and those around us, and that which is “polluting us” or unnecessary (not serving us). It is also a call to recognize that which we cling to (or hoard). If Aparigraha, or Non-hoarding is the Ethical precept, Saucha is the discipline of application.

Equanimity“is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.” – hence, why it is at the end of the path. The purpose of using the 9 stone path is to cultivate an ability to tap into Equanimity when needed. We maintain the quest for equanimity is similar to the sutra “yogas chitta vritti nirodaha” (yoga is the harnessing of the mind chatter). 

The Pillars of action beyond the mat

  • Accessibility
  • Strength
  • Sustainability

Accessibility –  Right now, we are proud to be a part of a global non-profit, Accessible Yoga that networks and advocates for greater accessibility in yoga

Diversity – we participate in communities and initiatives that promote representation, nutritional advocacy, and ecosystem. The Yoga and Body Coalition is one such network.

Sustainability – We ask teachers to come together and support one another, and to know when to refer out into the community, We are growing work with the Yoga Service council to build sustainable hubs for this type of work.

    The Philosophical Experience

    The Finger Labyrinth Meditation

    How to use the 9 Stone Finger Labyrinth

    This labyrinth is a tool to help anyone meditate anywhere (yes, you can even get a 3D printer for those visually impaired to be able to feel the ridges!). Please download this image to a size you can easily trace this labyrinth with your finger, and follow these steps:
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    1. Before you begin, choose one of the words along the sides. Pick the first thing that resonates with you in this moment, and consider repeating the word several times as a thought, and idea, a prayer or a particular challenge you’re facing can crystalize this word in your mind.
    2. Place your finger at the start of the path, and work your way toward the center. Take time to ensure you’re following the path just as you would walking a hedge maze.
    3. When you’ve arrived at the center, note there is a lotus. This is a representation of going deep within, looking inside oneself and examining that which you observe. Note the light within.
    4. Keep your finger at the center point. Recall the word, and that which attached itself. How do you feel about it in this moment? What is the quality of your mind in this moment? How does your body feel in this moment? What sensations arise for you?
    5. Whether or not anything feels resolved, there is a moment when you know you are ready to re-enter the world. Your time for introspection has ended, or you are aware that some external factor is calling you back out. Maintaining your finger on the labyrinth, trace your way back out into the world.
    6. As you gradually move further away from the center, notice the sensations arise as you “prepare” yourself to move in the world. Notice what sensations arise for you: do you feel like you are “waking up”? Or are your thoughts quickly jumping toward future actions and events? Is there anxiety and impatience dogging your ability to remain slow and steady? If the latter two come to mind, slow down, and observe your breath. Do not attempt to resist the urge to rush forth, or feel cross with yourself. None of these sensations are “wrong” or “bad”. Acceptance is the key to knowing how to best recognize them as they arise. Attempting to silence these emotions and sensations is as challenging as it is to silence a toddler having a temper tantrum. How would it be to simply accept them, make friends with these feelings, and generate some compassion around them. Much like the toddler, these are feelings that are resisting control. The old adage of “that which resists, persists”. Consider for a moment what might happen if you simply rested for a moment, and allowed that sensation to subside, or pass. Is it possible? If not today, what about tomorrow?
    7. Once you have emerged, recall the word you chose once more. How do you feel about it now? What thoughts arise now? Has something evoked a particular response? If you selected a challenge, is there ease around it? If you selected a prayer, have you received spiritual nourishment?
    8. Whether your goal was achieved or not, set the finger labyrinth aside and continue with your day. As you prepare for sleep, recall if anything new has arrived in your mind. If you feel compelled to practice the labyrinth again before you sleep, do so. Give pause and contemplate what served you about this exercise. What would you alter, what worked?
    9. As you rise the next day, you may forget that you practiced this. Note that you have spent time working on a samskara, or planted a seed of thought and effort. Choosing whether or not to nourish and cultivate the fruits of your labor is your decision.

    Benefits of Meditation

    Improved Focus

    Decreased Anxiety

    Overall Sense of Wellbeing

    Our Programs

    We Specialize In

    Private Yoga Class

    This is for anyone who feels unwelcome in a “typical” yoga class, or for people who enjoy online yoga but need someone to check in. It’s an opportunity to have your own yoga coach.

    Yoga Training 200 hour

    For anyone who wants to go beyond a random drop-in class. While few people could teach after the 200 hour training, we strongly recommend you use this program for personal development.

    Retreats

    We offer

    • Personal Yoga Retreats
    • Vacation Packages (non-yoga people can tag along!)
    • Yoga Immersion retreats (ideal for teacher training programs)

    Online

    We offer recommendations of top teachers who offer programs we grant teaching credit toward, in addition to online content we provide. You can take it at your own pace.

    Yoga Alliance Certification

    We offer Yoga Alliance certification to ensure you can get access to teach anywhere in the world.

    Professional Teacher Training

    We offer a comprehensive program that enables you to cultivate teaching beyond “cut and paste” and “parroting” methods.