In the world of yoga there is a tendency to practice either very dynamic and physically demanding forms of yoga, that fall within the great vein of hatha yoga, or thoroughly meditative approaches to yoga where the body is not used.
With Fenomeno Yoga I wanted to keep together the bodily dimension with the meditative one.
Hence Hatha yoga and Raja yoga coexist thanks to a method that singles out two different moments, the “moment of action" and the "contemplative moment", not necessarily subsequent in time.
In two words we can define this method as made up of "doing" and "letting happen".
So it is a type of practice in which you must be ready to feel the internal fire burning and also to shed a few sweat drops; but there are moments in which action is suspended and a different phase is entered, where you allow yourself to start exploring what was created. This is what yoga allows you to discover and what I call the phenomenon, “fenomeno” in Italian.
The metaphor of lighting a fire is very fitting to somehow represent this approach. An approach in which an action must be implemented, a demanding action like the one of setting up a fireplace, which implies beforehand searching for the wood, cutting the logs, putting them together, arranging finer branches and, underneath them, crumpled newspapers balls. So there is a lot to do to light a fire, but once you have lit the fire you must also be able to stop, because haste can turn into something almost compulsive, which prevents you from being with what happens, with what occurs, with the happening of the fire. Again, the trigger is necessary, and for the trigger you need a lot of ardor, but then you need to be able to pause on the fire, look after it, take care of the fire, and, thus, avoid overdoing, like pushing with the poker, or blowing, which would probably end up in extinguishing the fire; instead observation and care are needed in order to set a touch at the right time and revive it.
This metaphor helps us to understand the essence of this approach. So on the one hand there is doing, on the other there is letting happen, on the one hand there is action, on the other there is passion (in the etymological sense of letting oneself being imprinted).
All this is the applied phenomenological method, through which we can reach pure experience; therefore not the experience we usually deal with, which is mediated by the analytical and categorizing mind, but experience in its rawest form, that is in relational terms.
In summary: the first phase, the active one, we can call it, as the ancient Greeks did, the epochè, the second, the receptive one, is the phase of the widening of the field of consciousness.
The first phase is the one in which we must burn the past, burn the habits, the natural attitude towards reality, the mental patterns, the prejudices, in a word, everything that makes up the filter with which we usually meet the world and which, however, prevents us from experiencing it "as if it were the first time"; and then, once this has been done, there is the possibility of having access to a contemplative dimension in which what unfolds before us is simply allowed to happen, within the limits in which it is given to our experience. This second phase could be called, in philosophical terms, the "phenomenological reduction", which, despite the name, is a dimension of a widening of the field of consciousness, a kind of taking into charge the appearance of the world, beyond mental categories, beyond interpretative patterns: it is the givenness of what is, exactly as it is given: the phenomenon!
When getting back to our mats and our bodies, these apparently abstract theories get rooted in an intuitive and spontaneous understanding, felt in one's own psycho-physical complex, in one’s own flesh, and thus we become holders of a knowledge which cannot be said, but only experienced!
It is a particularly suitable and rigorous method to introduce Westerners to the experience of yoga, outside of excessive metaphysical interpretations and concepts that often load the domain of yoga, but are largely foreign to us.
In yoga, in fact, it is a matter of "removing" all that can be removed, rather than "adding", to try to reach the essence, which is never an inherent and autonomous substance, but something that arises in a weave of relation and interdependency. Ultimately this equals the discovery of a non-dual relationship between us and the world, where the boundaries between subject and object overlap and dissolve.
Giulia Moiraghi is a post-doctoral researcher in Philosophy and has been a dedicated Yoga practitioner for about 20 years. After a summa cum laude Master’s Degree in Contemporary Aesthetics from the University of Milan in 2005, she completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Verona in 2010. She is the author of In cammino verso la cosa. Heidegger dall’estetica all’ontologia, (On the Way to the Thing. Heidegger from Aesthetics to Ontology, Mimesis, Milano, 2006, monography) and has written several essays on philosophical subjects. She is a certified yoga teacher at the Cavedine Yoga Academy (3-Years Teacher Training – 1920 hours) and Y.A.N.I. member (National Association of Yoga Teachers) and teaches yoga and meditation since 2013 in Rovereto (TN), where she founded “Fenomeno Yoga” in order to create a bridge of communication between Eastern contemplative practices and Western philosophical research. The practice of asana and breathing techniques is developed phenomenologically, according to a method particularly suited to Western background and culture, that is, as an experience that holds at its center the "embodied" dimension of Being-there, a dance at the heart of Being, beyond any construction or ideology. In 2017 she published with Corriere della Sera: Cura e Ardore. Il rigore e la passione della pratica yoga (Care and Ardor. The Rigor and Passion of Yoga Practice), RCS, Milano, 2017. In September 2020 she will teach a course on Philosophy within the “Consciousness and Cognition Summerschool” of the University of Pisa.
A detailed exploration of this phenomenological method in connection with the yogic concept of Tapas has been presented in my recent book Care and Ardor, edited by Corriere della Sera and now sold out.