Richard Freeman Visits Sydney!
Written by John Cusack – teacher at Dancing Warrior Yoga
I recently had the pleasure of attending a weekend workshop with Ashtanga Vinyasa teachers Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor (a husband and wife team from Boulder Colorado). Being their first visit to Australia it seemed a unique opportunity for me to learn from one of the best in the business (Richard’s interest in yoga dates back to 1968 and spans multiple disciplines, not just Ashtanga Vinyasa).
The workshop was located in a beautiful old naval building by the harbour in Darling Point Sydney, and commenced with a two-hour session on a Friday night. The opening meeting began with minimal fuss and formality and immediately delved into the subtle elements of alignment, technique and breath for which Richard is well known. Right from the outset the wonderful complementary dynamic between the two was evident; with Richard being the eclectic, eccentric and laconic one whilst Mary was much more grounded and often played the role of conduit/interpreter for Richard.
After exactly two hours everything was wrapped up and over one hundred people made their way out into the humidity of the February evening keen to get home and rest up for what lay ahead. The remainder of the workshop involved a further ten hours of practice spread over two days, a tough ask even for seasoned practitioners considering the warmer weather. What Richard and Mary provided over the balance of the workshop was a piece by piece breakdown of the Primary Series with a few additions and select subtractions (it was put to us that when one had been doing something for such a long time, one had every right to stray from the strict sequence/official line and get creative playing the role of choreographer). As is always the case when participating in workshops such as this, there is an immense amount of information to take in and digest/process, and despite my best intentions (pen and paper at the ready), only minimal notes were taken.
Perhaps Mary put it best when at the end of Sunday afternoon she urged everybody to go away and forget everything that they had just learnt, trusting that the knowledge would be safely stowed away in the subconscious of all those who had attended, ready to fortuitously bubble up to the surface as and when it was required.
In summary, this workshop was an extraordinarily rewarding experience that will shape my approach to yoga both as a student and a teacher well into the future. My theory is that whenever one has the chance to be in the presence of teachers with the lineage, longevity and exceptional depth of experience of Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor, one should jump at the opportunity as some of their magic is bound to rub off on you.