Zen Yoga classes are friendly and fun. All ages and abilities are welcome to any class, especially beginners. Using yoga postures, qigong - ancient energy work working the meridian lines, breathing techniques, mindfulness, and meditation this yoga will allow you to feel relaxed and energized. You will find that zen yoga is dynamic and restorative.
Leave your to-do lists behind, don't worry about the future and enjoy being present. Please book ahead, though not necessary. Space can be limited and class sizes are often kept small purposely.
For regular students, if there is something you would specifically like to learn and cover in class, please let me know. Common topics are yoga for back pain, and other types of chronic pain, yoga for better sleep, yoga for stress and anxiety.
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WHY ZEN YOGA
Zen Yoga is an ancient energy system from East Asia.
Many people don't know there are so many styles of yoga. Even laughter yoga! Zen yoga is very new to the west; it's only been around for about 10 years. Hatha, Vinyasa Flow and other Indian styles of yoga often focus on building outward...outward from the body where Zen Yoga focuses inward. The 'cornerstones' of Zen are mindfulness, energy, and alignment. In all Zen Yoga classes, we do qigong, ancient Chinese energy work, which is much older than Tai Chi.
Qigong is known as China's 3000-year-old system of self-healing. Qigong (and zen) have nothing to do with religion. Qigong is a form of continuous movements that focus the breath, helps people with mental clarity while they focus on being present. It gets you out of your head - thinking of how your day went, stresses you may have and worries over the future.
It doesn't matter your shape, fitness or flexibility. It's about taking a break from the stresses of life, from the past and from what may happen in the future. It's about the present moment. It's all we've got! We can't change a lot of things in life but we can change how we approach each moment.
ORIGINS OF ZEN YOGA
I'm often asked about this and it's a fascinating story.
Zen Yoga was brought to the west by the Zen Master Daizan Roshi. Daizan was the first English man to achieve the status of Zen Master in the rigorous Rinzai tradition. So who is this Zen Master responsible for bringing positive change to so many people's lives?
Julian Skinner was born in Chatham, UK and went on to be a scientist. During this time he began studying Sōtō Zen under Rev. Master Daishin Morgan at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in Northumberland in northern England. Given permission to enter full-time monastic training as a postulant in 1989, he was ordained as an unsui or novice monk on April 4, 1991.
Within Zen monastic society, the hierarchy is all-pervading and rigid. For the first seven years, Daizan lived in the zendo, the meditation hall, with three by six feet of space on the meditation platform and two cupboards, one for bedding and one for robes. Daizan Rōshi reflects: "As junior monks, we were almost never alone. Every action 24 hours a day was expected to be obedient to instructions, undertaken mindfully and with consideration for others. The monastery is a pressured environment. The image used to exemplify it was the rock tumbler; the months and years of living cheek by jowl gradually smooth off all the rough corners so that each monk becomes a polished jewel.” He received dharma transmission on December 21, 1995.
In 2003, Daizan began training with Rinzai Zen Master Shinzan Miyamae Rōshi of Gyokuryuji Temple in Gifu, central Japan. The temple was the former hermitage of the outstanding Rinzai Zen reformer Bankei Yōtaku Zenji (1622–1693).
Shinzan Rōshi, something of a maverick in the modern Zen world, intended the tiny temple to provide a basis of true Zen training outside the Rinzai mainstream which has become increasingly focused on providing high-price funerals. Daizan eventually became fukujushoku, vice-abbott, continued his study of zazen and zen yoga and studied the kōan curriculum of the Mino branch of the Inzan lineage of Rinzai Zen, completing it in 2007.
On May 8, 2007, Daizan received inka from Shinzan Rōshi. He returned to the UK to begin teaching Zen.
On midsummer morning June 21, 2007 Daizan Rōshi began a walk from the south tip of the Isle of Wight to the northern tip of Scotland. Wearing his monastic robes and kasa (hat) and carrying no money, Daizan Rōshi walked up the centre of the island of Britain finishing on Cape Wrath at the north of Scotland. The 777-mile walk took 64 days.
On 28 May 2011, he was installed as resident teacher at Yugagyo Dojo (Zen Yoga Camberwell) in London. The event was presided over by Shinzan Rōshi. He has served as a resident teacher at the Buddhist Society in London and is an appointed trainer with the College of Mindful Clinicians. He has been involved in Zen teaching at Oxford University and is particularly involved in the “Managing Your Mind” programme of postdoctoral study.
In March 2015 Daizan Rōshi, together with co-translator Sumiko Hayashi, published the book "In Heaven's River: Poems and Carvings of Mountain-Monk Enku", a tribute to the life and art of Enkū, the 17th century Japanese itinerant wonder-working mountain monk, sculptor, and poet. In July 2015, he published the book "The Zen Character: Life, Art and Teachings of Zen Master Shinzan Miyamae" to coincide with Shinzan Rōshi's 80th birthday and an exhibition of his calligraphy in London. In June 2017, Singing Dragon Press published Daizan's third book "Practical Zen: Meditation and Beyond".