Christopheray has been practicing yoga for over 40 years. At the ripe age of 71, he is more vital, forward thinking and present than ever. He attributes this enviable balance to his yoga practice— which is strongly weighted in Pranayama. Informed by the Iyengar Yoga tradition and blended with the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda (founder of the Integral Yoga Institute), Christopheray has a solid mantle from which to share his personal philosophy, lifestyle and unique teaching style. For many years, he has been a trainer and mentor to many successful teachers— generous in sharing wisdom and supporting yoga education. One of his students best describes him:
“Stepping onto the mat in C-Ray’s class is a little like going down the rabbit hole; a mini-adventure that is equally invigorating, scary and joyful. He teaches with rare, unpretentious skill that combines deep respect with refreshing irreverence and just a hint of streetwise swagger. By challenging his students to question the habitual and risk the unexpected, he guides his class towards a practice that is authentic, surprising and inspired." — H.C.
I had the pleasure of meeting with him for a chat:
C-Ray: The first thing I do when I wake up is take the time to stretch while in bed. When I walk the dog, I do a walking meditation, followed by a sitting meditation—at least 20 minutes of Pranayama*. Meditation sets the tone of my day. My practice continues with a review of the asana sequence I will be teaching that day. In the afternoon, when I am out, I find time to do an asana wherever I am such as a forward or back bend with the support of a mailbox, tree, or fence! And in the evening, I choose to practice calming poses such as Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and Halasana (plow pose.)
*Note: Prāṇāyāma (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम prāṇāyāma) is a Sanskrit word meaning "extension of the prāṇa or breath" or, "extension of the life force". The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prana, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and "ayāma", to extend or draw out.
C-Ray: My main focus is on shape and direction. And my thrust is to teach simple poses that are done intensely.
C-Ray: By observing the breath, it calms the mind and keeps one in the present moment.
C-Ray: I use the Zafu Meditation Cushion during my pranayama morning practice and for hanumasana (monkey pose, see image below). I love it because it is structured yet soft…and it doesn't need to be hidden away. I also love my two woven blankets because they support my body and the cotton breathes...firmer yet softer than the acrylic Mexican styles. Actually, I always bring one of my PRITI blankets with me when I teach. I know the subject of germs at gyms and yoga studios has been in the media. So I remain loyal to bringing my own germ-free cotton blanket wherever I practice.
Aging contributes to stiffness, injury and inflammation. If I don't practice, my body is going to stiffen up. It is essential that I ease into a pose and hold the pose longer. With the use of PRITI props I can hold a pose longer. The firmness of the blanket gives me feedback and rebound effect yet the softness allows me to surrender and stay in a pose longer. It's like complementary opposites. The use of the PRITI props assist me in staying in the pose longer so I can get deeper clarity; and the longer you stay in the pose, the more beneficial it is.
I also must practice every day to keep my sense of clarity.
C-Ray: One of my interests is what I call "Yoga for 50 or Better." It is essential that this age group practice to maintain healthy joints, strong muscles and a clear mind. Certain conditions that happen to the body when they get older—injury, arthritis, inflammation, sense of weakness—can benefit tremendously from yoga.
Also, I am currently teaching yoga workshops using the chair. This is not your grandmother's yoga! The chair does not lie and allows you to correct and break away from your habitual ways of practice.
Stay tuned for Christopheray's next yoga with a chair workshop called "Moving Beyond" : April 13th from 130 P.M. - 3:30 P.M. at Jaipure Yoga in Montclair, NJ. For further information for Christopheray's private, public and corporate classes, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sri Swami Satchidananda speaks about how to find permanent happiness : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fb44mVpJYq0
Hanumasana using Priti zafu meditation cushion and cotton woven blankets
Hopping into Sirsasana (headstand)
Sirsasana (headstand) on a chair.