An Important Last Question. By William Hufschmidt
During last month’s Anatomy program, a student asked me a question that I had never before been asked, nor considered: “What qualities did the teachers in our lineage (Swami Kripalu, Amrit Desai, Yoganand) mirror for you, William, that you have incorporated into your own practice?”
There are benefits from yoga that we can only know because we make the discovery from within our own personal practice. What we learn cannot be learned from someone telling us, and once we experience it, we can’t un-experience it. Firsthand experience is required for the discovery and uncovering. How do we let our yoga practice reveal to us an experience that will allow for something new to coalesce into awareness?
The Pranakriya and Kripalu Yoga lineages include stories of how the yoga of asana was revealed to Swami Kripalu (Bapuji) through his repeatedly practicing the one asana and the one pranayama as he was instructed by his teacher, Swami Pranavanandaji (Lord Lakulisha). By living a renunciate life and doing intense sadhana, something new awakened in Bapuji. Amrit Desai also experienced an awakening from the practices and teachings that he learned from Bapuji. In turn, Yoganand experienced results from the practices and teachings that he learned from Bapuji and Amrit. And by exploring the asana and pranayama techniques that Yoganand taught me, I had an awakening of awareness that was not available to my consciousness prior to practicing these techniques.
I don’t know what to call this awareness. “Enlightenment” feels like a preloaded term anymore, and I most certainly don’t regard myself as having any degree of mastery/perfection. Instead, I can admit to having a greater sense of calm in my being and an enhanced respect for who I am as a person and the gift that is my body. In many programs I have said that this practice helped me learn to feel comfortable in my own skin and to enjoy being alive. That is siddhi enough for me!
These days, I work with the concept of “embodiment.” My practice is the driving force behind my studies in anatomy, bodywork, embryology, and developmental movement. Really – how we build our bodies. My personal practice and my teaching include forms and patterns of movement and breathwork to help us cultivate a richer embodied life experience.
In my virtual weekly yoga classes, we explore different developmental movement patterns and sequences that we discover and employ while growing ourselves from infancy to adulthood. All of these movement forms, these “Embodiment Forms,” are patterns that can be windows and doorways to dive inside ourselves and learn more about what we are truly capable of as a human.
Because we are self-assembled creatures, we form and create our own embodiment; we are ever-growing and ever-replacing ourselves. I form and reform myself in every moment of my existence, in a perpetual process of becoming.
So I’d like to empower you to explore – what wakes you up in these yoga practices? By practicing yoga, what are you becoming? What “turns you on” and makes you feel “Fully Alive” in all the ways you can be? Because if there is only one energy in the universe that has an infinite number of forms, are you allowing yourself to have a sense oneness with that energy in ALL of its forms?
At this point in my life, after 3+ decades of yoga practice, and 2 decades being immersed in and teaching from the Pranakriya/Kripalu lineages, I feel with clarity that the results and fruits of our practice are the experiences that you yourself reveal and uncover, for your awareness to witness.
Through these practices, you are creating yourself again and again. Take a moment to consider if you are recreating what you were previously, becoming a repeat of what you’ve already discovered. Or, are you allowing yourself to become something different, to become the YOU that emerges next in your one brief and unique life?
In the spirit of becoming the next thing, I have chosen to take the off-ramp from teaching with Pranakriya, and to step back from training yoga teachers. As of November 2021, I will no longer be directing Pranakriya trainings.
I have incredible gratitude for all the students I have met over the years and for all the questions you have asked me to consider, because your questions have helped me to see and to think into places where I could not yet see or explain.
I also have so much appreciation for all the studio hosts who supported and marketed my programs, housed me, fed me, and kept me safe with all the airport pickups and drop-offs. Your generous hospitality made it possible for me to take all those trips away from Atlanta to be with you and your students.
Words can’t express my eternal gratitude for Jacci, Chris, Betsy, Emily, Shelbi, Niisa, Pam, Vladimir, Kim, and all the other Pranakriya directors over the years. Each of you helped me to learn and grow through our shared journey.
Back in 2001 during my 72-person Kripalu 200-hour training, a man named Yoganand presented a History of Yoga lecture and then led morning and evening sadhana for my class. I remember leaving those first practices with him and thinking: I want to learn how to create yoga experiences like Yoganand. For the past 21 years of my teaching career, Yoganand has been my primary influence as a yoga practitioner and teacher, and I feel eternally grateful to have absorbed and experienced so much.
As I take these next steps, I plan to stay in my chosen home of Atlanta, GA, and nurture my 20-year bodywork practice of offering Thai massage and Structural Integration (Rolf Method). Going forward, I will also be teaching Thai massage one-on-one with students, in case you’re interested in learning.
This past summer, I started my own online yoga teaching platform: www.yogawithwilliam.com/teaching With 7 weekly classes, I offer Breathwork, Slow Flow, Morning Yoga, Gentle & Restoring Yoga, as well as my Embodiment Forms classes that focus on moving better in our bodies. I invite you to join me for a Zoom yoga class! All classes are donation-based, and memberships and recordings are available.
While I’m saying good-bye as a director of trainings and programs for Pranakriya, I am saying hello to my next decades as a student of yoga and then sharing what I discover in the classes I’ll continue to offer. I so look forward to crossing paths with you again! ❤