1) Are Animalia Asana® practices suitable for beginners in yoga?
2) Is Animalia Asana® just a gimmick, straying from the original meaning of yoga?
3) Is Animalia Asana® a charity? A franchise? A social enterprise?
4) How often do you give funds to the charities?
5) Why have International Animal Rescue and Animal Aid been chosen as the two charities?
6) Is Animalia Asana® a new method of yoga?
7) Is every Animalia Asana® session a set sequence?
8) What is Animalia Asana’s view on vegetarianism/does one need to be vegetarian to practice with Animalia Asana® or train as an Animalia Asana® teacher?
- Are Animalia Asana® practices suitable for beginners in yoga? Animalia Asana sessions touch on philosophically and spiritually advanced matters and physically speaking all the sessions are advanced too – whether that be lingering a lusciously longer time in postures in a restorative Animalia Asana session or experimenting with several challenging physical postures in the standard set-sequence 90-minute class. That said, there is always the invitation to rest in hare pose (shashankasana) whenever your being needs and to rejoin the practice when you can. It is not a fast-moving/flowing physical practice, so you should not feel too overwhelmed or lost at any point. You can rest assured that each class will feature similar postures – and even the same sequence if you attend a set-sequence class – so you shall quickly feel more at ease with your practice and able to delve deeper. If you feel a strong attraction to the practice after some initial reading of the website and are generally in good health (check with your teacher for any specific conditions), then I would most definitely encourage you to give Animalia Asana a try!
- Is Animalia Asana® just a gimmick, straying from the original meaning of yoga? We hope not; that is not our intention. Indeed, our intention is to stay very true to the teachings (yamas & niyamas) of yoga. Yoga means union: union with the Ultimate (or another word you may prefer to use for this), which, according to yoga philosophy, is found within ourselves and within all beings on Earth, and thus which unites all creatures. Animalia Asana practices seek to remind us of this (or even initiate it within us). Animalia Asana seeks also to enhance this union, this connection, so as to create more compassion in society not only directly through the practitioner but also indirectly through seeing our practice as an embodied prayer and through the belief that we can contribute to shifting the energies amidst us. Animalia Asana is especially based on ahimsa (non-harming to all beings) and daana (charity), which are thought to feed all other teachings, though all yamas and niyamas are relevant and are explored.
- Is Animalia Asana® a charity? A franchise? A social enterprise? Animalia Asana is currently run by Treetops-Jen (Jenny Mace, registered IYN yoga teacher) as a social enterprise. It is not a profit-making initiative; 50% of the funds are donated to two charities and the remainder is reinvested into the initiative. All teachers who complete the Animalia Asana Training and then subsequently share Animalia Asana sessions are required to also donate 50% of the funds raised to these two charities if using the Animalia Asana name (on a trust basis in accordance with yogic teachings). They are independent from Animalia Asana though (self-employed). Currently, Animalia Asana is not a registered social enterprise due to the sheer cost implications of incorporating. This would be a potentiality for the future once further growth has taken place. In the meantime, we still wish to be held accountable and will be producing account records at the end of each tax year in April, which will be able to be downloaded from the website. Animalia Asana® is a fully registered and protected trademark. Teachers completing the training are invited to join the management committee if they so desire.
- How often do you give funds to the charities? This will be done annually at the end of the tax year in April. It will be made very public and open. It will be possible to download our financial documents for each year from the website. See previous question for further information on this.
- Why have International Animal Rescue and Animal Aid been chosen as the two charities? It’s an age-old quandary as to whether to focus on alleviating suffering that is taking place here and now or whether to focus on preventing such suffering from occurring in the future. Both are very wholesome, worthy and compassionate intentions. The notion of balance is also a key component within yoga. Bearing these factors in mind and heart, we thought it apt to support both endeavours. International Animal Rescue focuses predominantly on alleviating the suffering of animals across the world here and now; Animal Aid focuses on preventing cruelty to and the suffering of animals in the future. Both entities have an international outlook too, which recognises the interconnection of us all and the interconnected (at least in terms of technology, travel and trade) world we live in today. They both also work in a pan-species fashion, not favouring any one animal over another, just being guided by the level of suffering to deal with. Whilst in an Animalia Asana session, we recognise the human species as a member of the animal kingdom and we include humans in our intention for our practice (calling in the alleviation of suffering to all animals or one specific animal known to be in need). Yet, Animalia Asana feels that, across the world, most work is needed with non-human animals and that humans will simultaneously benefit in multifaceted ways. As a reflection of this, two non-anthropocentric charities have been chosen. This is also a reflection of the level of suffering and cruelty experienced by non-human animals that is caused by humans.
- Is Animalia Asana® a new method/type of yoga? It’s definitely not a new method/type of yoga. It is simply a description of what the focus is of the sessions that Animalia Asana teachers hold. Yoga is exceedingly vast, so it can help to specialise. Furthermore, as yoga means different things now to different people and manifests differently, it seems useful to clarify what any one individual’s or organisation’s yoga is all about that they are sharing. Physically speaking, Animalia Asana is predominantly hatha, alignment-based and restorative in nature, with a little bit of flow.
- Is every Animalia Asana® session a set sequence? It depends on who your Animalia Asana teacher is and what they feel moved to share (this should be clear from the class/session title and description that the teacher chooses). The predominant practice is a set sequence but there are other more organic sequences that can be shared too. Ultimately, as we are concerning ourselves just with the (at this time, roughly 50) animal-named postures, you can be sure that it shall be some of these postures that will be practiced. There are wonderful advantages to a set-sequence yoga practice including a greater ease of focusing, a growing relationship between you and the postures, the ability to compare the holistic experience from one week to the next and the ability to more easily sense progression.
- What is Animalia Asana’s view on vegetarianism/does one need to be vegetarian in order to practice with Animalia Asana® or train as an Animalia Asana® teacher? We believe abstaining from using animals and their products for dietary purposes (or any other) to be most in alignment with and nourishing of our higher consciousness, especially in regard to mass-produced, intensively farmed animals reared purely for this reason and under very harsh, unnatural and cruel conditions. We also view this as a natural extension of the practice of ahimsa (non-harming), asteya (non-stealing), aparigraha (non-greed) and even brahmacharya (respecting the creative sexual power of all beings, e.g., refraining from meddling in the breeding – and everything involved with this process – of other animals, which is rife in the farming industry and often in very inhumane ways) in addition to other yogic teachings and similar teachings in other belief systems around the world. Through Animalia Asana, we seek to recognise our unity with all beings, thus harming another is also ultimately harming ourselves. We recognise the challenges that arise from being raised in a society and culture that place a large emphasis on the consumption of animal products. We practice compassion, patience and understanding on this path. Acknowledging that you would like to move away from animal products is a great first step and intention is more important than perfection. Direction over absolute position. We see everything in life as a practice; perfection does not exist and every little truly does help. We also acknowledge that in a minority of cases there may be medical complications of opting for such a change in diet. We withhold judgement. Everyone is welcome at Animalia Asana sessions and on the training.
Do please let us know if you have any other questions
There is nothing so small and subtle as the atom nor any element so vast as space. Similarly, there is no quality of soul more subtle than non-violence and no virtue of spirit greater than the reverence for life – Mahavira (6th cent. BCE, “founder” of jainism)