Kalarippayat - When the Body Becomes All Eyes

Entering Gaja Mukha - An introduction to Kalarippayat The entrance of a traditional pit Kalari is often referred to as Gaja Mukha, the elephant face. Three and a half steps down into the clay pit, lit by the dim lamps of the altar. Here the student begins his journey into an ancient art... What is Kalarippayat? Kalari is often referred to as "the tantra yoga of martial arts", building its principles upon the 96 Tattvas that constitute our universe and the eternal dialogue of Shiva and Shakti. It developed at the junction of the indigenous Dravidian culture of India and the Vedic culture that migrated from the north. Kalarippayat literally means "training ground-exercise" and the term "Kalari" can be used both to describe the practice, as well as the space in which it takes place. It has been a major influence on the development of yoga and ayurveda since ancient times. When the Body Becomes All Eyes Kalari and Yoga share many principles and a lot of terminology. However, there are also obvious differences. Kalari stresses the tantric concept of living in this world, strongly emphasising the expansion and development of the senses, as opposed to the classical practice of pratyahara, or going inside. This paradigm is commonly referred to as "when the body becomes all eyes." Another unique principle is called "embodying the animal spirit", a psycho-physical practice in which the student embodies the animal spirit, actually taking on the animal's attributes, not just mimicking its shape or posture. Kalari Chitsa Last but foremost Kalari is a unique healing system. This branch is called "Kalari Chikitsa" and the Kalari Masters are considered the neurologists and orthopaedists of ayurveda, containing a unique system of massage-treatments as well as nadi- and marma-therapy. Only a practitioner who is well trained, both physically and spiritually, can bear the strain of the intense treatments, where strokes are often administered in the same deep and energetically powerful animal-stances that the practitioner has been practicing for years, before finally being taught the massage. Kalari in Practice In short, the actual practice presents itself in class as a blend of yoga and martial arts. The most important principles in every class are grounding, flow, rhythm and alignment. Other Key principles include the concept of Siva and Sakti, expansion of sensory awareness ("When the body becomes all eyes"), embodying the animal spirit and the continuous flow of opening and closing movements. About Gerhard Schmid Since 1999 Gerhard has embarked on a powerful journey, training up to six months every year with his teacher C. M. Sherif Gurukkal in Kerala/India. Gerhard has intensely explored not only the traditional Martial Arts side of Kalari (Payat), but also the healing art (Chikitsa). He is trained both in nadi and marma therapy as well as in foot massage (Chavutty Uzhichil) – a complex full body treatment given with the feet of the therapist. His inspiring classes are deeply rooted in his fundamental knowledge, his descriptive approach, his love to share what he was granted to discover, and his great sense of humour. His ability to lead each student according to his/her individual potential makes every class an experience of growth and joy – for beginners and advanced practitioners alike. About Parag Mody Parag Mody has studied and taught various Japanese and Chinese martial arts for almost 20 years, and has been focusing exclusively on Kalarippayattu for the last six years with his teacher C. M Sherif Gurrukal, He is also a practitioner and teacher of Hatha Yoga. In his classes, he teaches the foundation for physical and inner awareness, and shows how the practice can be used to actualize change in one’s life. Kalari Seminar with Gerhard & Parag: Saturday, Oct. 11th & Sunday, Oct. 12th at 1:00-4:00pm, at Bija Yoga, 1348 9th Ave, San Francisco 94122 Cost: $50 for the weekend or $30 for Saturday only. For registration, go to www.paragmody.com, or contact Parag at paragmody@gmail.com Space is limited and the workshop will fill up fast – early registration is required to guarantee a spot!

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