Category Archives: Class Theme

Remember — Re-remember

Each time I come to the mat the yoga tradition of creating an intention for the practice comes to mind.  Often my intention is to dedicate my practice to someone close to my heart.  But sometimes during the warm up poses, my mind becomes so focused on the physical aspects of the yoga practice that I forget my intention.

In Jaye’s class this week it occurred to me that I’d like to give more power to the intention so that it is alive and fresh during the whole practice. Jaye enabled me to discover the discipline required to encourage the mind to return to that intention.

As I listened to Jaye’s detailed alignment instructions, he skillfully linked physical instructions with ways to encourage us all to attune to a higher purpose. Jaye instructed us to connect to that which inspires us and then remember and re-remember that moment.

Bill and Sally Watson

Bill and Sally

When I heard Jaye’s words, “remember and re-remember,” it helped me to come back to my intention for the practice that day – to honor Bill, a man who totally inspires me regularly through the actions of his daughter Sally, who has been a good friend for the past 7 years.  I remembered the time that Sally described her father’s life. Bill was a coal miner who got out of bed every morning and went to work in darkness beneath the earth and came home with clothes covered in the blackness that had surrounded him during the day.

Although I never knew Bill, I remember and re-remember the story of his dedication to his family and his clarity of purpose each day as he went back into the mine in order to serve a higher purpose – the well being of his family.  I am able to see how his actions and attitude influenced his daughter Sally, who in a seemingly tireless manner is always actively helping family, friends and neighbors in need. Thank you Jaye for enabling me to work on the skill of remembering and re-remembering Bill whose love and steadfast commitment continues to inspire me through his daughter Sally.

Rita Knorr, St. Petersburg FL

Jaye Martin and Tikkun Olam

It is hard to describe the joy I experience after each yoga class with Jaye Martin. For at least three days afterwards I find myself smiling uncontrollably. This is not merely the exhilaration of a challenging physical practice, although it is surely that. Nor is it the calming but alert buzz I feel from an intense moving meditation, although it is surely that too. It is also his uncanny ability to use themes for class that resonate deeply. Themes through which hatha yoga practice becomes a metaphor for all of life. Recently Jaye’s teaching tapped into a memory and life lesson that had been buried within me for decades merging the ancient tradition with which I was raised with my yoga life in a reinvigorating way.

Jaye’s class began in the usual way. He shared his theme with us. The theme was “process”, the notion that the process, the current, present moment is more important, more worthy of focus and intention than the goal. Up to this point we were on familiar ground – certainly to yogis and meditators. But as students of Jaye Martin know well, his themes are never merely the conventional aphorisms you see on new age tee shirts or bumper stickers. And again Jaye did not disappoint. The process of making our asanas more skillful, strong, graceful, more “perfect” rather than the attainment of some quintessential form – like the dazzling Yoga Journal magazine cover photos – the process is the yoga. And then Jaye took even this insight to an infinitely higher plain teaching that the process of moving towards your full expression of a pose is a sacred process, and a process that never ends. Because there is no such thing as ultimate perfection in nature, in the world, there is no perfect pose. For even once you attain a particular technique there is always more. There is deeper, richer, different work to do, and this work, this endless work, is sacred work. For if we were already “perfect” there would be nothing for us to do.

Harriet Roberts and Rabbi Rothman – Sea of Galilee

As I sat there in Siddhasana sparks of memory bubbled through me. I was back in my Synagogue listening to our beloved, twinkly eyed Rabbi, expound upon the age old theological conundrum of why God made a world that contained suffering and injustice. Why, Rabbi, we asked, why didn’t God make the world perfect without war or hunger or disease or natural disaster or evil? And I remember the Rabbi delicately merging compassion with intellect as he answered us with the concept of Tikkun Olam, the obligation to make the world a better place. That God made the big round world leaving a sliver of darkness, like a narrow crescent of the moon,  leaving the world imperfect so that we human beings would always have work to do. We would always have the sacred obligation to make the world a better place. That the world would never be perfect, if it were we would have nothing more to do. So the process of perfecting the world, in each action we take as compassionate human beings, that process is sacred.

As this memory flooded over me and we proceeded into our sun salutations I felt these ideas physically. With each placement of the ball mount of my foot upon the earth, with each expansion of my chest towards the sky, each movement, each flexion, each breath was now suffused with a reverential level of consciousness and executed with a new spirited precision.

I have come to believe with Jaye’s guidance, that yoga practice is a human metaphor for universal compassion – in any tradition. For just as the sacred work of bringing goodness and concord to the world never ends so does the process of “perfecting” hathayoga. Each class with Jaye Martin is for me a reinvigoration of Tikkun Olam. For each time I come to the mat I recommit to make the world a better place, one asana at a time.

Harriet Roberts – Sarasota, Florida

In Jaye’s Garden

Entering Jaye Martin’s class is like stepping into the garden of tropical plants that Jaye has cultivated in his front and back yard. He provides the soil, water, and nutrients (the inspiration) for us so that we are able to open like blossoms to our fullest potential.

As we explore various asanas with him in class each week, he’ll introduce gardening references—“Root your heels into the earth” or “Let your heart blossom”—to encourage us to think of our bodies and spirits as part of nature. In Jaye’s view (a view based on Tantric philosophy), the natural world is simply another expression of divine consciousness, always present, forever accessible, within reach in every moment.

“How can we make our poses more beautiful?” Jaye might ask at the start of class, and, as the class unfolds, this question might lead us to a new way of understanding how the more beautiful we make our poses, the more beauty we can bring to our lives.

In a pose like Downward Dog, he might invite us to be more mindful of how we set our hands on the mat or where we place our feet, and then encourage us to bring the same mindfulness to our daily routines so that, long after we leave his class, we become more aware of life’s beauty surrounding us and within us.

Jaye’s passion for anything that brings joy and beauty into the world—an exotic plant, a challenging pose, a seemingly mundane rock—shapes every story that he shares with us in class, every pose that he demonstrates. With each question, each observation, Jaye nurtures us with the same love and care that he showers on the delicate orchids, tender bromeliads, and sturdy palm trees that grow in his garden.

And after each class, we feel well nourished by his teaching. Why? It’s simple: he has taught us how to connect with our essential nature, to root ourselves in the present and open our hearts like unfolding blossoms to gain a glimpse of our true selves.

— Bruce Black, Sarasota, FL