Last weekend, I watched the movie Hidden Figures. It’s a movie based on the true story of three notable black women's significant influence to get a man on the moon. The quote above is a tribute to one of the powerful lines spoken in this movie. The leader in charge of getting the precise calculations for getting the capsule out of orbit hinged on the people on his team being able to work together. I interpreted it as pivotal: “If we don’t break down these belief barriers, we’ll never get a man on the moon!”
Recently, a new student came to try a Kaiut Yoga class. From my conversation with her and from what I have observed, she’s young and exploring lots of different yoga classes, and she seeks to understand the different styles.
Kaiut Yoga is not a mainstream style of yoga. It’s only been in the United States for about 15 years, and many people aren’t sure what to make of it.
I’ve been reflecting on how Kaiut Yoga is carving its own path through mainstream beliefs. One of those beliefs is that for yoga to be yoga, it has to have an origin in a specific place. If we don’t honor that place through our words, teachings, etc., it’s not yoga.
The student who came to my class for the first time to try out Kaiut Yoga had these questions to ask. They are good and have challenged me to think more deeply about why I practice, study, and teach this method. At this moment, it’s the most effective way I know to communicate inclusivity and acceptance. For me, yoga is for humanity and always has been.
B.K.S. Iyengar, who brought yoga to international acclaim, said that yoga “originated from India, that’s all, but it concerns the human being. (Ancient Hindu scholar) Patanjali said, “It’s a universal culture." Patanjali never said it was a Hindu culture."
These are the things this new student asked me:
How do the different movements relate to benefitting our nervous system?
The Kaiut Yoga method was created empirically and scientifically, which took years, based on chiropractic, yoga, and other healing techniques. Kaiut Yoga is a reinterpretation of yoga into a new method; it’s firmly based on the original vision yet adapted to the needs of a 21st-century reality. The primary work of this method is nervous system health with the side benefit of improving function, chronic pain, etc. The student's job is to align the nervous system toward growth and repair mode or rest. We do that using physical sensation, perception and awareness. We use these as an anchor for our brain to move toward a more profound presence, even spontaneous meditation. The brain releases mental and emotional attachment, supporting a clear mind-body connection to the areas needing healing. Over time and with consistent practice, the student's nervous system becomes more regulated and balanced. The practice of nervous system regulation leaks into the student's daily life, and they are, as a result, more present. Relationships improve, circumstances improve, etc.
Which elements of traditional Eastern/South Asian yoga practice are applied in this method?
Yoga is about the cessation of all opposing forces. Many, if not all, elements are implicitly addressed in this method. One of the things that differentiates Kaiut Yoga from other practices is its inclusiveness of all people and humanity. As a teacher, I wear neutral colors, teach in a place that feels as neutral as possible, and use language and words that feel inclusive to everyone. We use Namaste to close each practice because it is the most inclusive. Our primary focus is nervous system regulation and restoring function where it has been lost.
We support students by understanding them. If a student tends to go beyond what's available, triggering an emotional response, it's my job to back this particular student off so they can learn where they can be with those parts of their body in a way that supports a state of presence. Many consistently move into pain, trying to achieve a particular shape or pose. This habit is quite hard to break for many. My job is to back students off so they can get closer to a present state. When a student attaches to an emotional or mental response, their mind moves away from connecting fully with their body. It's an avoidance pattern, and we all have it.
We all avoid the areas that need our mind connection. We lose the connection over time if we don't consistently stay present with them. It's the use-it-or-lose-it principle. It's my job to support students so that they can be with the areas of the body that need healing. Yoga has always been about bringing function back into the body. We focus on helping students regain grip strength, kneel comfortably on the floor again, get back to everything they love to do, improve mental health and relationships, etc. At first glance, this is a practice for people 55 and older. With a closer look, we understand that we all have softer keyboards and sit in chairs for extended periods. We are all influenced by a modern society that praises achievement, pushing through, and adding excitement to the nervous system. These factors, over time, lead to a system charged with anxiety and functional loss in the body. Kaiut Yoga addresses both.