Today I sat with Mark Whitwell, a teacher that I have had the privilege of working with over the past 15 years or so. I can claim “early adaptor” of Mark’s unique teachings. In a world filled with Marketing and Yoga: i.e. commercial “body beautiful” branding of different yoga styles, Mark remains committed to teaching the essence of Yoga. Even after much exposure to his teaching, I remain awed at his ability to cut through to the core of yoga- free from culture, style, competition, perfection, body obsession and to remind us of why we love yoga in the first place. I believe that what Mark is trying remind us of with his breath-based simple yoga practice is similar to what David Foster Wallace speaks of in his beautiful Kenyon College commencement address. Listen to that here and you will understand a bit of what I write. )
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
Foster Wallace reminds us of the water of existence just as Mark does with breath/body practice and ( Mark) adds something slightly different in also leading us to the water of our yoga practice. It’s as simple and obvious as breathing and yet we forget that we are breathing. He points us to embodiment with utter simplicity. He distills the remarkable esoteric teachings of yoga ( Via the teacher of teachers, Sri Krishanmacharya) into a few sound principles without boring us to sleep with the pedantic “restraints and responsibilities” many of which deny the body and the feminine. Here they are: practice yoga and intimacy daily, ( 7 minutes per day is a good place to start to remember that we Are) inhale and exhale, receive strength (feminine intertwining with masculine), there is no male without female, asana prepares us for pranayama which prepares us for bandha and for intimacy Meditation arises as naturally as grace (siddhi) not through tortuous labor.
Mark points us to the ineffable. “Here is water” he seems to be saying looking around the room: “You are This, participating in Life Itself, as Yourself.” And there is no need to look any further.