“Yoga is light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.” - BKS Iyengar
Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) week 3 has finished. We are halfway through the course - time flies!
Lila, Mal, Michael, Theo and Clarissa, our yoga facilitators, have covered all the yoga postures (asanas) we have to be familiar with during this course in the first two weeks. Asana in Sanskrit means ‘that which is steady and pleasant’. Asana is thus a posture that we can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless. Any posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yogic posture. To be able to hold any asana for a period of time with comfort, we need the right alignment. So that’s what we’ve been focusing on over the last few weeks. And then the big moment came: on Monday we co-taught our first public yoga class with all the YTTs. It was a wonderful experience!!
The breath cycle of life
Breath is the king of the mind. By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience control, silence, and quietness of the mind. In Sanskrit this is called Pratyahara.
So aside from the postures, we are learning a variety of breathing techniques (pranayama). Pranayama is made up of two Sanskrit words: prana (life force) and ayana (restraining, extending, stretching). Ken and Karen, two of my yogi friends, gave a beautiful drama performance about the breath cycle of life today. Whatever technique - fun, quirky or serious - can help us to memorise what we are learning, we are applying...
What is yoga?
Until I made my way down to Krishna Village a couple of months ago, I always thought that yoga was a healthy, strengthening type of exercise. But yoga is truly so much more than just a physical practice – it has become such an amazing teacher in my life!
What started as a workout and a challenge became a ritual, which in return led me to a path of understanding more about myself. It continuously guides me to honour my body and my soul in a way that I have never done before. I am learning what it means to listen to my movement in concert with my current level. Before yoga I was always moving too fast and feeling pushed to achieve, reach a goal, and win. As we all are, I am still learning. Yoga leads me into a place where breath and movement determine who I become every day.
What is yoga? If practiced correctly, it is centred around a mental experience. Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit. Yoga calms the fluctuations of the mind, as I mentioned in last week’s blog post. To learn more, read the Yoga Sutras – they outline the art and science of yoga for the purpose of self-realisation.
Deepening our understanding
Yoga is like music: The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create a symphony of life. Yoga doesn’t just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.
The person who helps us access this transformational side of yoga is Michael, our philosophy facilitator. By studying the Bhagavad Gita and Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras with us, he helps us unlock the Astanga Yoga System. Some of the classes are certainly challenging and there are many concepts to remember and understand. But the deeper we delve, the more interesting it gets and the more profoundness we find in those ancient teachings.
One of the main purposes of yoga is to create a peaceful state of mind as a basis for successful meditation. In other words, it is the preparation for Dhyana which is Sanskrit for meditation. Meditation is uninterrupted train of thought, current of cognition, flow of awareness towards a particular thing, person or sound. The body and the mind can be a huge distraction while you are meditating. As the physical body effects the mental body, the mental body effects the energy body. The fruit of a solid yoga session is a successful meditation practice. The goal of meditation isn't to control our thoughts - it’s to stop letting them control us.
That all being said – let’s jump on the mat. There is so much more to achieve on the mat than on social media! Namaste until next week!!