Mimi Kuo-Deemer's Yoga Classes
Buddha's Teachings: Yoga for Equanimity
This gently flowing yoga and Qi Gong class explores the fourth of the brahmavihārās, or boundless states, known as upekkha, or equanimity. This fourth abode is often the most misunderstood, as equanimity can easily be written off as indifference and not caring. The Buddha’s teachings suggest this is far from the truth. His description of upekkha is that it is a perfect, unshakable balance of heart and mind, rooted in insight. When we cultivate equanimity, we cultivate a state of being even minded and calm. In this state, we learn to trust, meet and respond to life in ways that let us care deeply and fully about what truly matters. We make room for joy, pain, sorrow and challenges. We learn to meet life in ways that neither opposes nor demands more from it, and can remain steady, trusting and open to whatever grim corners we may turn in life.
Buddha's Teachings: Yoga for Sympathetic Joy
This yoga class focuses on the third aspect of the Buddha's teachings to awaken the heart, Mudita. Mudita means finding joy in the happiness and success of others. It is the third of four boundless states, or brahmavihārās. This well-rounded class has a particular focus on the hips and the hamstrings, two areas where many of us are tight due to either a sedantary lifestyle, or strengthening workouts. Being happy for others when they are happy are we are not, or they achieve things that we haven’t not the easiest practice. Indeed, ours is a world where comparison, judgement, envy and aggression are rife. Learning to be happy for someone when they are truly happy and shining usually requires a deliberate effort. When we can summon sympathetic joy, the rewards are magnificent and freeing. Through a cultivation of mudita, we can pull out the weeds of pettiness, envy and comparison. We become less selfish and self-centred, and grow into more tolerant, generous and compassionate individuals. Our actions can then create a chain-reaction, where a joyful and charitable heart ripples out into the world. You will just need a mat.
Buddha's Teachings: Yoga for Compassion
This yoga class focuses on cultivating a strong and resilient heart that awakens karuna, or compassion. It is the second of four boundless states, or brahmavihārās. Compassion means to be with another’s suffering. It is the opposite of cruelty. It can be conflated with pity, which it is not. Compassion is born out of a selfless desire to stand in solidarity with those who experience misfortune. Misfortune does not have to be starvation, physical pain and loss; it can be as simple as wanting something to be other than it is, which the Buddha described as creating clinging as well as a pushing away of experience. When we begin to cultivate compassion, we start with extending compassion towards ourselves. By forging self-compassion, we create a springboard for extending compassion towards others and all beings in the world. This well-rounded yoga class focuses on heart opening and brings in qigong movements.
Buddha's Teachings: Yoga for Loving Kindness
This is a practice centred around metta, which means goodwill, care, or loving-kindness. It is the first of four boundless states, known as the brahmavihārās. The brahmavihārās are the Buddha’s primary teachings on how we cultivate an awakened heart. In this yoga class, we’ll do some heart-focused practices and gentle movements (including some inspired by Qi Gong) to explore metta, which is the wish for true happiness that you can direct to yourself and towards others. In Buddhist teachings, metta is the foundations to our heart’s love and strength as it is what guided the Buddha along his path to care for a world that was in so much pain. As we learn to cultivate metta, we can learn to support our capacity to extend care to ourselves and the world, and send wishes for true happiness to all.
Meditation: Intimacy with Being Here
In this mindfulness-based meditation, we will cultivate the intimacy of being here – continually present and awake. Sounds good, right? The problem is, we’re usually anywhere BUT here. Usually we are caught up in various stories, or contracted around our own set of problems. This is what the Buddha described as the I, ME, MINE condition. When we train our minds to recognise this happening, we can shift this state. When this happens, experience can open up again. We hear sounds around us, breath moving, body sensing and feeling. We can suddenly be here again, in the intimacy of things; awake to the miracle of being alive.
Yoga is a practice about seeing more clearly. In Sankrit this is known as vidya – seeing through the avidya and maya – the misunderstandings, ignorance, delusions and illusions of the world to the truth of what is within and all around us. To support this process, I’ve developed a concept and practice called Yoga 3D. The Three D’s stand for Decelerate (slow down when you’re going unnecessarily fast); Deaggrevate (soften what is tight, tense or makes you aggrevated) and Disentangle (simply and disentangle from anything unnecessary complex). We’ll theme these ideas through an active flow!
Qigong and Restorative Yoga: Finding Ease
Third in the series, Qigong and Restorative Yoga focuses on finding ease. This class opens the chest and shoulders. Often, ease eludes us because we feel tension, we feel stuck in our bodies. The qigong class starts with a qigong practice which fosters ease through tension release and heart-opening. We will then do some gentle restorative yoga practices to finish. You'll need a yoga bolster or sofa cushion, and a blanket for the restorative yoga.
Qigong and Restorative Yoga: Finding Balance
This is the second class in the three-part series, Qigong and Restorative Yoga. The first part of this class is a qigong elemental practice that will help balance the Chinese Five Elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water in your constitution. We will then do some quieting restorative practices to finish. You’ll want to have a yoga bolster or sofa cushion and a blanket.
Qigong and Restorative Yoga: Finding Harmony
Finding Harmony is the first of three classes in the series of Qigong and Restorative Yoga. It focuses on harmonising breath, body movement and the balance of yin and yang. It can be hard to find harmony in our lives of conflicting needs and priorities. Class starts with active qigong and then go on to a relaxing restorative yoga class. Ideally, have a yoga bolster and two blankets. Alternatively, you can also use a sofa cushion and two bed pillows.
Swimming Dragon Qigong
Gentle Yoga to Nourish and Support Series: (5) Effortless Ease
In this final class of this series of yoga/qi-gong moves to nourish, support and revitalise the body and mind, we orientate our practice toward effortless ease. In Chinese this is a concept known as wuwei, or effortless effort. It is something we cannot strive toward but rather a quality that arises spontaneously through steady cultivation and practice. As such, we will take the ideas of rooting, rising, aligning and balancing and see what is possible in working with the fluid flow of effortless ease.
Gentle Yoga to Nourish and Support Series: (4) The Yin/Yang Balance
With this class we take the ideas of rooting and feeling our body aligned between the skies above and earth below into a more full balance of yin and yang. This session will build a combination of strength and softness in the arms and hands and upper and lower body. When the energies of yin and yang come into balance in our bodies, it is known as the Tai Chi Axis.
Gentle Yoga to Nourish and Support Series: (3) Between Heaven & Earth
Building on the last class’s focus on rooting to rise, this yoga qi-gong class builds a combination of strength and softness in the arms and hands and upper and lower body. Bring energy upward from stable roots to the spine. We will work to lengthen it and feel how our bodies can become a healthy and nourished axis between heaven and earth.
Gentle Yoga to Nourish and Support Series: (2) Rooting to Rise
In Chinese, there is a saying ‘gen shen di gu’, which means when the roots and deep the foundations are strong. From Moving with the Breath, we shift the focus to rooting firmly down in the earth and allowing our bodies to rise from this firm root up toward the sky. We will practice some more dynamic standing poses after an initial warm-up we practiced in class #1 to feel this connection more fully in our body.
Gentle Yoga to Nourish and Support Series: (1) Breathe and Move
Start to move with your breath in this beginners yoga class. Feel supported, nourished and revitalised. This first class in this series begins with finding the breath, so the body and breath move together in simple sequences that help condition our respiratory and circulatory systems. This will allow you to feel more invigorated yet also relaxed, clear and calm. As well as being an accessible starting place for many students, this yoga class is also a nourishing standalone class for when you need to calm jangled nerves and return strong and grounded to your breath.
The Jewel of the Lotus Heart - Yoga,Qigong and Mindfulness
In Tibetan, there’s a mantra known as Om mani padme Om, or Hail the jewel in the lotus heart. The mantra suggests that through our practices, we can begin to polish a jewel that resides inside the lotus petals of our heart. When this polished jewel begins to reflect radiant light in all directions, we begin to awaken our innate qualities of wisdom and compassion. This mindfully paced gentle practice will integrate vinyasa yoga, qigong and mindfulness practices that can help the jewel of our lotus heart shine.
Harmonising Effort and Ease – Yoga, Qigong and Mindfulness Meditation
The Buddha emphsised using right effort in our actions and intentions in meditation and life. This practice looks at how we can approach strength building practices, especially in the legs, using right effort so that we create more space for awareness and less reactivity. We’ll also explore the idea in qigong of using intention, not force – or yong yi, buyong l – and apply it through a blend of yoga and qigong forms to explore how we can harmonise effort and ease.
Turning Toward Awareness: Yoga, Qigong & Mindfulness
Feel centred, grounded and start to fine tune your awareness with this gentle and beautiful fusion of yoga, qigong and mindfulness class with a focus on twists and forward folds. With a gentle start, working with mindful movement, this is a practice exploring how we might work with twists as a way to discover greater ease and space in our physical, mental and emotional experience of being human. With twists, we are invited to curve our awareness inward and we grant ourselves space to learn to respond to whatever experiences arise. From this, we allow ourselves time to build better resources to meet the business of our outward lives.