The Making of a Hata Yogi: A Committed Atmosphere
When it comes to the transmission and teaching of yoga, Sadhguru has laid down a cardinal rule: “Without a committed atmosphere, there should be no transmission of yoga.”
Illustrating the utmost importance of this aspect, Sadhguru tells us an incident from his own life: “To tell you to what extent this holds, I must tell you this… I hope you understand this in the right perspective. My mother was ill many years ago. We knew that she was going to die. My mother was spiritually inclined and as her death came closer, she said, ‘I want to experience meditation.’ I said ‘Okay, I'll organize a class in the town, you come.’ She was in a bad condition but according to me, she could come and do it. But my father being a physician said, ‘No way is she going to leave the house for three-and-a-half hours and sit there. Do whatever you want in the home, but no going and sitting in the class.’ He is the senior man and you know how it is… but my mother repeatedly expressed, ‘I want to experience meditation.’ I said to her, ‘Convince him and come somehow. Anyway you are going to die. What is there if you fall dead in my class?’ She wouldn't have fallen dead and I would have made sure that she experienced something truly worthwhile but this didn't happen.”
“Twice I fixed programs so that it would be convenient for her to come and attend, but it didn’t happen. I refused to teach it at home in an uncommitted atmosphere. I am not interested in teaching any yoga to a mother or sister. If you sit with me you have to sit right. Otherwise there is no question because it will not be what it should be. That is how it is held, not because of some extreme attitude, but because we know the implications of what it is.”
So what constitutes the ‘committed atmosphere’? The participants of the Hata Yoga Teacher Training Program have had a session on how to create this. Sadhguru says, “A lot of care has been taken to organize the program in a certain way because how we set up the program is as important as how we conduct the program. We want the place to be set up in such a way that even as people enter the place they know this is a committed place. They don’t even have to go through the class, they can sense it. That setting up is very important. Without the right kind of atmosphere the right kind of things will not happen.”
So, the participants have been given guidelines on how to choose the appropriate location and hall for their classes, how to judge its size, the ambience and amenities that it offers. They have learnt how to lay out the class with respect to carpets, mats and cushions, how to install the dais, and set up the demo table, the audio system, and the screens/projector as the case may be. They have been instructed on what kind of attire is suitable for the teacher and the demo person. The importance of certain other details have been communicated – the significance of lighting a lamp, the placing of consecrated items, the arrangement of incense and flowers in creating the right energy support and ambience. More “mundane” matters are given attention too – lists of stationery material needed for the class and even how their yoga students should park their footwear outside the premises. This orientation has gone a long way in building the confidence of the group as it gives them a solid grasp of the practical details that they will encounter later on.
As always, Sadhguru’s reasons for this meticulousness are profound: “You must learn to do the simple tasks of your life and the most important tasks of your life with the same involvement. If you bring this culture into yourself, whether it is footwear or a crown, you handle it with the same care. Whether it is an ant or an elephant, you treat it with the same concern. When it comes to Isha Yoga Programs, the volunteers are going about as if carpets are some kind of precision instruments: it must be exactly where it should be. Everything in your life must be handled that way. That is a very good and conducive culture for a spiritual seeker, a culture of involvement with everything. It is not that one thing is important and another is not. Everything is important.”
Participant Julie says, “It is no surprise that Sadhguru teaches us that organizing the footwear outside the classroom is as important as showing up to teach the class. There is no need to leave yoga behind – before or after class.”
Many of the Hata Yoga participants took the opportunity to attend a couple of programs that took place in the ashram. One was Guru Pooja Training. Guru Pooja is held very sacred at Isha and the participants start their daily morning sadhana with this. Sadhguru says, “Guru Pooja is a tool, a certain method to create an invitation to the Divine. The invitation is sent in such a way that he has no choice. He has to be there. If you create such power about simple things that you do, then the benefit of sadhana will multiply manifold.”
Learning the ritual and the chant is an absorbing process and Leonor says, "We were chanting and chanting endlessly. At some point I learnt to let the chant come out from a deeper part of myself… letting it flow, surfing the waves of sounds. It was an answer to my longing to directly connect to the Divine.”
Another program that saw quite a few participants attending was the 5-day Samyama Sadhana. This silence program is open to those who have been previously initiated into the Samyama process and helps intensify one’s sadhana. One participant who attended shares: “I consider Samyama as the biggest blessing from my Guru. Attending the Samyama program a few years ago in many ways changed my perception of life. When the process was alive in me, I felt like nothing could touch me. In every situation I felt a certain distance between me, the mind and my body. But because it is so subtle, it is easy to lose it if you don't nurture it carefully… I was really looking forward to re-establishing the Samyama practice in my life. The Hata Yoga practices proved very valuable as I felt the necessary stability and stillness to sit for long hours of meditation. I could go deeper into the process because my body was cooperating.”
Editor’s Note: Isha Hatha Yoga programs are an extensive exploration of classical hatha yoga, which revive various dimensions of this ancient science that are largely absent in the world today. These programs offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore Upa-yoga, Angamardana, Surya Kriya, Surya Shakti, Yogasanas and Bhuta Shuddhi, among other potent yogic practices.