The SASSY Approach to Yoga and Life by Elena Voyce
The SASSY approach to Yoga and Life, by Elena Voyce
I devised the SASSY method (Soften, Align, Strengthen, Stretch, Yield), as a lifetime approach to movement and it underpins the way that I teach all of my courses. If you look at a yogic approach to softening and soothing, you will probably see this through restorative practice, through the rebalancing of the nervous system. Together with being a master at restorative practice, it’s important to appreciate other ways where people can feel softening, soothing and a safe, calming place. I studied other movement therapies in order to enrich what I think is the best combination for allowing different body and mental types and people from many different walks of life who are in pain and fearful, who may not be so convinced about being helped. Together with a good approach to a restorative class, you will approach other techniques that summarise the best parts from other techniques.
When it comes to alignment, we will constantly go back to understanding and reading the body. The first reading is what I call the aura reading, or the energetic reading. The next reading is the anatomical reading. That reading requires particular skills and techniques. Together with many amazing therapies I have and continue to study, I feel very lucky to have been able to study and keep studying with Thomas Myers, who really understands body reading and has used many yoga techniques, some of which you may be more familiar with such as the Iyengar and Anusara methods to help alignment. His approach is very skilful, at times using props for more kinaesthetic and kinesiological work.
Together with loving restorative, soothing, softening and aligning, I have worked with incredibly strong body movement experts and colleagues – some of which still work with me on my teacher training courses. I believe that strengthening is also paramount to teaching yoga – strength that comes from an understanding of the body, rather than just strength itself. I offer you different ways of strengthening the body which use props – that may not be conventional yoga props but which provide a way to wake up the inner strength and fire up muscles deeper, especially for people who are not ready to find this from yoga poses alone.
When it comes to the stretching path, we may feel at home coming from a yogic perspective. We love stretching muscles and creating new spaces and new lengthening. I feel that stretching should not come too early however, as it may create instability, work on compressing articulations and at times, cause more issues than benefits or enjoyment. We don’t approach practice through no pain – no gain, we are from the perspective that if you are in pain already, creating more would not be yogic as such.
Yielding is about finding a ground, foundation or comforting place. There are so many meanings of the word yielding. For me it is being grounded and supported by nature and being in union with our real self. It is yoga union as I see it.