In my early days in yoga, navigating the sea of asana, philosophy and lineages was at best confusing. At that time in east Texas, there wasn’t a yoga community. There weren’t yoga teachers. I had to seek out yoga and this was at least a two hour drive, and more often a longer more costly flight across the country. Looking back, I am actually thankful yoga was not as accessible as it is now. I doubt if I could stream yoga, I would have committed as fully. I doubt I would have sought out my teachers with such determination. I am not sure meeting my teacher, Doug Keller would have come about.
My seeking took me all around the country. I would return from a conference or workshop with few skills and a deep desire to look like what I had seen performed. I would push and push my body into binds and positions which ultimately moved me into destabilization and pain. I had not yet adopted or understood the true gifts which yoga had to offer. It seemed to me at the time, yoga was something to be achieved and somehow the amazing feats of gravity and spinal contortions would give it to me. At least, I felt much better after a long demanding practice. While dripping in sweat, I could actually experience some glimmering moments of peace.
Eventually, I became a teacher and taught a pretty decent vinyasa class. I was adequately equipped with generic feel good themes and some Rumi quotes for my classes and life. After some years of this and a not so subtle yoga injury, I began to dig deeper. I believed there had to be more than what I was experiencing. I began to seek out my training in yoga therapy, as well as a deeper understanding of the philosophical and scriptural underpinnings of yoga.
Much like the physical contortions, I found the yoga texts and early schools of thought even more difficult to ascertain. Understanding the Sutras, nondualism and other philosophical ideas seemed out of my reach. I continued to clod along attempting to piece things together in a way which made sense both in my body and supported my spiritual aspirations.
I had picked up a book written by Doug Keller on alignment and energetics of alignment at a friend’s studio. Then almost synchronistically, found he was teaching “Exploring the Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga Practice” at a little Iyengar studio in Little Rock. Since my family lived near there, it seemed my stars had aligned. This workshop became the catalyst for the next 13 years of study. From this one short weekend with Doug, my practice shifted physically to one which was sustainable; and from a philosophical perspective, I began to gain insights to the deeper teachings of yoga.
Doug infuses his hatha yoga teaching with perspectives in philosophy and yogic wisdom. He teaches yoga from a therapeutic perspective and is constantly evolving asana to meet the needs of the individual. He interprets asana from sound biomechanics, movement principles, energetics and fascial line distributions. If you study with him for an afternoon, you will likely hear the answer to a question, “It depends.” I think this is an important teaching ideology. Too often we become attached to one way; our special way of dismissing other approaches and experiences. We do this without any critical thought. As our collective body of knowledge grows, yoga evolves. This is evident with Doug’s work and teachings.