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Yoga Teacher Training – Day 6

by on February 7, 2013

I have just returned from viewing the sunset at Juhu Beach.

Sunset at Juhu Beach

My mom watching the sun set over the Arabian Sea

As the sun fell over the horizon, I instructed my mom in Talasana. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, straight back, raise your hand forward as if shaking someone’s hand, keeping it straight, lift it all the way up, and stretch overhead. Then flip the palm, stretch the arm back, and down. Repeat other side.

Such a simple asana, yet it felt so good to perform it there in the sea breeze. We’ve covered this asana almost every day since I started my course, and as my mom and I compared notes (she just attended a weekend health camp where they taught the same pose, with slight variations), I realized how making a single pose a fundamental part of your practice can shift one’s perspective on so many things, such as body, mind, and spirit. It also highlights the depth of yoga instruction at the yoga institute, where different types of students are taught different versions of the same pose to different complexities. Besides TTC and health camps, there’s so much additional activity here, including yoga training for school kids, and even Mumbai Police!

Speaking of complexity, we covered a lot today, starting with a lecture on body awareness in day-to-day activities. We may attend yoga classes, but how many of us maintain awareness of our spine, eyes, gums, diet (!), and breath? Do we notice when we lose that awareness? etc. etc. Followed this lesson with a stretching session. Again, here the philosophy is to establish a stretching routine that is separate from an asana practice. While asans are dictated by the rules of not eating beforehand, being clean (inside and out), and so on, stretching may be performed at any time.

Then came a lecture on purpose, delivered by none other than the queen bee herself (scroll to bottom). This is one of my favorite topics that I was turned on to by reading David Deida (15-min video here). Today’s lecture covered purpose vs. materialism, had an essential message that the material world keeps changing, and our purpose in yoga is to find what is permanent. Hint: it’s consciousness.

Then came some back bending asanas, with my same complaint that no modifications / tips were provided to reduce back pain or prevent compression of the neck. Followed by lunch, a nap (~20-minute savasana), and a session of neti. Followed by a lecture by Prabhakar on the yamas and niyamas. Although we’ve already covered this material, Prabhakar’s message was more about the consequences or effects of observing these. Two new words today: vasana is an improper desire (as opposed to a normal one), and Oaj, the power to say no, thereby properly practicing brahmacharya (a tough one).

Final lecture of the day was probably the most intense: a primer on the Bhagvad Gita. I tuned out at first, having concluded in the first few minutes that this was going to be a summary of something that I already knew. Then, I heard the words “desireless action” followed by “pure mind”, and realized this was some real information being disseminated here, and started taking notes. Basically, it hit me that the sequence of “humility -> purity -> service (love for others)” taught in the Gita is the same as the Tantric path of selfless compassion.

Another major lesson here was that not only will such a framework make you happy in performing your action without focusing on the fruits of the action, but it also ensures that you will get the fruits of your action! In other words, the Gita teaches us that Excellence (at any task) is the goal, and Excellence is the result, bringing with itself whatever typically comes with excellence.

The story also covers love (for everyone, including Krishna’s mother and best friend), humility, and purity. Unfortunately, the lecture ended with a bit of a preachy tone by our lecturer (her name is Gita!), with a statement about how reading the Gita provides answers to any problems in life. A student (my buddy Harsh) raised his hand and asked her for specific examples…she had a pretty good story about her husband’s kidney transplant – but I don’t think a real connection was made with the holy book itself.

Nevermind – again, it spurred our thinking processes, and gave me some fuel for thought (and for writing this). Goodnight, and stay tuned for the next one!

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