What Is Shadow Yoga?

Shadow Yoga is a system of development in the Hatha Yoga tradition as taught by Shandor Remete (Sundernath) and Emma Balnaves. The practices are rooted in the Nath lineage, which influences the many disciplines we think of as yoga today. Shadow Yoga is a context for learning as much as a physical practice, and is distinct in three important ways:

Preludes: Through his early study, Sundernath discovered periods of learning/preparation common to martial arts and dance forms. While drop-in classes and short series can serve many students well, learning the Shadow Yoga preludes in a committed course enhances purpose of practice and self-development. These vigorous sequences improve physical, mental and energetic function based on the principles of marma, nadi and vayu.

Progressive learning: Shadow Yoga is system of personal development, and all students start with foundational work (drop-in, preludes or otherwise). We emphasize fundamental principles that will serve the student over the long run, building knowledge and experience over time.

3. Teacher as Mentor: Shadow Yoga teachers are students first and foremost, and spend years in apprenticeship before receiving permission to teach. The result is skilled guidance based on experience, an ability to adapt practice to individual needs, and the patience to teach a progressive format.


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How is Shadow Yoga different from other types of yoga?

Shadow Yoga is a complete system of learning, based on a lineage dating back to 2500 BCE. At Continuum, we offer a la carte learning options through stretch clinics, restorative yoga and drop-in classes for a range of schedules, interests and budgets. Quarterly, course-based classes set forms known as Shadow Yoga Preludes, which provide an opportunity for deeper learning and serve as a foundation for meditative activity.

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What am I committing to when I start Shadow Yoga?

A single, drop-in class offers a good taste of Shadow Yoga and an opportunity to spend time with the teacher. These classes occur on Monday or Tuesday evenings at 6:00 pm. There is also a sliding scale stretch clinic for athletes, desk workers, or anyone who would like an efficient, guided stretch practice to balance body and mind. We also have restorative yoga at 12:00 on Friday. Learning the Shadow Yoga preludes requires a weekly commitment on Saturday mornings. As with anything, the rewards of Shadow Yoga are proportionate to your investment.

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What are the preludes? How long does it take to learn them?

The preludes are sequences - unique to Shadow Yoga - which build power in the feet and legs and enkindle the inner fire known as agni. The preludes lay a foundation for later practice including asana (seat), mudra (seal) and laya (absorption). The three preludes are:

1. Balakrama (Step to Strength)
2. Chaya Yoddha Sanchalanam (Churning of the Shadow Warrior)
3. Karttikeya Mandala (Garland of Light)

With practice, the preludes form a strong foundation for progress. The pace of learning depends on the composition of the classroom, the complexity of the prelude and the length of the course. Mastery is gained through consistent effort over time.

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Why is it called "Shadow Yoga?"

The term "Shadow Yoga" originally comes from the early Hatha Yoga text, Shiva Svarodaya, which deals with aspects of the subtle breath. We are all composed of layers or shadows ("koshas" in Sanskrit). Functioning at these levels (physical, intellectual, energetic, emotional, etc.) is important, but does not represent the limitless nature of the life force. Shadow Yoga helps us see beyond these layers to the true self.

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I've heard that Shadow Yoga incorporates martial arts. Is that true?

In addition to decades studying yoga, Shadow Yoga's founder, Sundernath, investigated the martial arts and dance forms of southern India and found a common thread - a period of preparatory work - that was largely absent from modern yoga. This omission placed students at a disadvantage in moving beyond the physical aspect of practice because, as he writes, "preparatory forms are essential for the learning of and the unfolding of the energetic principles of the yoga practice." (Shadow Yoga, p. 6) The gross physical body helps us discover the subtle body, but over-reliance on the physical will actually block awareness and create further attachment. The overlap with martial arts stems from a shared emphasis on preparatory activity, and the importance of cultivating the proper mindset for progress.

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I already practice (vinyasa, kundalini, restorative) yoga. Can I do both?

To observe the impact of your efforts, it can be useful to stick with one program for a while. This can be difficult in the modern marketplace, however, so at least keep the material you are learning in Shadow Yoga separate from other systems. Mixing techniques and philosophies from different traditions dilutes them all, and prevents an understanding of what each one offers the practitioner.

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Do you offer membership or additional classes online? What is included in my class fee?

We try to strike the balance between affordable, accessible opportunities for learning and generating enough revenue to keep the doors open. As an intimate school setting with one teacher, we do not rely on volume to generate revenue but rather focus on the quality and depth of instruction. Most of our fees are sliding scale, meaning we are partnering with you to create a sustainable business. We operate under the principles of satya, or honesty, and are transparent about our pricing structure. We ask that you pay what you truly can within our range of options.

The cost of classes reflects carefully crafted, small-group instruction from a guide who is fluent in the language you are learning. Your fees contribute to a clean, comfortable space, insurance and utilities, software licensing, marketing, operating expenses and payment processing. Our cost structure helps to maintain the integrity of Shadow Yoga, which will never be mixed with other styles in an effort to fill classrooms. You are also supporting a locally owned, independent, woman-led business and benefitting from a generational lineage of teachers . . . something vanishingly rare in today's marketplace.

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Why is there just one teacher, and what are your qualifications?

Working with one teacher is common in a traditional lineage. A consistent teacher gets to know you and can offer practical, personalized guidance. Becoming a recognized Shadow Yoga teacher requires significant resources over many years, and a commitment to long-term education, both as a student and teacher. Many Shadow Yoga teachers run independent programs (outside of a multi-style studio setting) allowing the focus of their work to remain clear.

Personally, I have many hours of formal training and certification, and I led teacher trainings for years. Ultimately, 22 years of study and permission to teach -- both from my direct teacher, Mark Horner, and from Shadow Yoga's founders, Sundernath and Emma Balnaves -- are the most important credentials I have.

I spent several years studying Structural Yoga Therapy with Mukunda Stiles (Structural Yoga Therapy), and am certified to work with individuals or groups in a therapeutic context. As a former therapist, I have experience working with indivduals with complex histories, including veterans, court-ordered parents and at-risk youth.

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Do you offer teacher training?

Our focus is cohesive, high quality instruction that will serve students over many years. Apprentices may occasionally be brought on as part of a natural progression of interest and commitment.

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I'm a yoga teacher. Can I use Shadow Yoga in my classroom?

While there is nothing proprietary or patented about what is shared in the classroom (print and online publications are copyrighted), teaching bits and pieces of a new system can be problematic. The impulse is understandable, as is the desire to offer students something new or unique. But without the time-earned, experiential understanding of the system as a whole, the students, the teacher and the lineage itself are compromised.

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I'm injured, older, or out of shape. Can I do Shadow Yoga?

Not everyone can or should do every kind of yoga, but everyone can do something. The best starting point for most students with concerns is to attend one of the public classes and talk with the teacher. Together, we can discuss your situation and come up with a plan. Often, minor modifications can be made so a student can work comfortably within a group setting. Other times, the best choice is a private session, where the practice can be individualized. Anyone can attend restorative yoga classes.

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Do I have to sign up for a course? Can I just drop in?

Yes! The drop-in option is ideal for new students and can also supplement course work. These classes are grounding and invigorating, and will introduce or reinforce important principles of Shadow Yoga. If you decide to go deeper, the next step will be signing up for one of the Shadow Yoga prelude courses.


About angie

I've been a practitioner of yoga since 2001, when I met my first teacher Mark Horner. I strive to create an honest, interactive learning environment where you will be challenged and supported.

I've been exposed to many styles and teachers of yoga over the years, all of which has reinforced my confidence in the potency of Shadow Yoga. Teaching it is a true privilege.
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