WHY AXIS IS HEADQUARTERS FOR DENVER’S YOGA UNDERGROUND?
Axis Yoga Trainings first got started in 2003 at the intersection of 14th and Ogden St. in Denver. With its unusual pay by the hour model, public studio space with warped floors and a single bathroom we prevailed. Subsequently, our yoga training roamed around the city for a few more years, setting up in dance studios, retreat spaces, and even a yoga studio before eventually finding a permanent home in 2009.
At one time the training was offered on a donation basis. When my kids were little, we exchanged tuition for babysitting, hosted charitable events, allied ourselves with Yoga for the People. Many people of color who have participated in our program have expressed how much they appreciated that our culture felt safe and welcoming. From the very beginning, as expressed by many students the AYT’s underground community “has always felt “different.”
Denver is a Mecca for yoga-asana. Corepower® got their start here, while international teachers live and present here, and thousands of people practice at Red Rocks on any given weekend.
Not everyone sees themselves in these lime light arenas. Some feel awkward or intimidated. Maybe they do not want to be the only person of color in the crowd. Maybe they have a larger body and are not sporting the right apparel, or they want to know more about meditation than sun salutations. Perhaps they are just simply leery of too much gloss.
Axis’ Underground edict creates a refuge for people who do not see their values markedly reflected in mainstream culture. They seek more depth and quietly plot a different path. Underground values doing inner work over instagram feeds filled with slanky asanas.
Yoga itself was born out of the forest. Its sacred texts, most of which are not available in English are written in Sanskrit, an ancient and mystical language. Much of yoga’s history has been passed down through oral tradition and has remained hidden from view, lest the power of the teaching be defused.
Western culture on the other hand values external, material accomplishments much more than the quality of our innerlife. “I’ll be happy when ________.” Yoga has found an odd home amidst American culture. Festivals, chain studios, exotic retreats, and designer apparel has become a billion dollar industry in the West.
In the midst of the fanfare, the actual yoga part can get overshadowed. The Underground is a place to step out of the mainstream and enter the quiet cellar of your own being. It’s a place to still the mind and commune with deeper forces within your own heart to discover lasting peace.
Axis holds space for you to become immersed in both the physical and meditative practices. Our presentation is rooted in traditional knowledge. We go underneath the surface of the mind and weed out those tendencies that keep us stuck in the same-old patterns and plant new seeds of inner and outer renewal.
The Underground is a place to unite with like-minded seekers who recognize one another through an unspoken language. Underground is a worldview that values simplicity over consumerism; has empathy for the less fortunate, welcomes diversity and is open to critical thinking and self-reflection. It recognizes that you are the source of your own bondage and liberation.
Truth is simple. Suffering is complicated.
Yoga is low tech. Nothing outside of you is required to practice yoga. All we need is a body, the ability to breath, and the mind. That’s it!
Yogic methodologies maximize the wisdom that is already present within the breath, the body, and the mind. By changing the ways in which we breathe, we can change our mental state. If our breath is rough, so to will be our thinking process. If our breath is smooth, so to will be your thoughts.
These principles are already interwoven into our organism. We can tap into their potentials through yoga practice and move towards greater peace and awareness. It takes dedicated focus to begin to recognize these delicately interwoven patterns within our breath, body and mind. And distractions don’t help.
“What does not add will subtract.”
Playlists that dominate the space, getting lost in one’s reflection in the mirror, or excessive drive to do the most extreme version of a pose, drown out our ability to listen to the body and become established in a yogic state of mind. Too much stimulation can undermine the most crucial piece.
As the pace of modern life continues to accelerate, and our attention becomes increasingly dispersed, we need our lives to be simple. The primal mammal within all of us needs to slow down and make time for its native rhythm. Yoga practice needs a similar tempo in order to offset the excess within our lives and fulfill its deeper intent.
On the street, Underground looks like….
- More Tattered Cover and less Barnes and Noble
- Having Siddhartha, Autobiography of a Yogi, Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth on your bookshelf and an acoustic guitar in the corner of your living room. (Admittedly, I do not have a guitar but still love the concept).
- Not feeling rushed because you are using the crosswalk
- Knowing a first world problem when you see one
- The silent rebellious act of riding your bike, planting a garden or meditating
- Slow burning coals, and less like flashing short-lived flames
Axis is a sanctuary in which to take refuge from the vicissitudes of life. It is a welcoming space to remove obstacles and experience joy. It is also a place to be nourished and be renewed. We laugh in the Underground among the joyful company of our peers. It’s where we learn to share yoga with others and reconnect with our soul.
Being Underground means you value your character above the things you “own”. You are the source of your own happiness because you know how and where to find it inside, as opposed to relying upon the mainstream world to give it to you. Those who’ve put in the time into the Yoga Underground whether it’s in Denver or anywhere else will bring peaceful revolution with them wherever they go.