Upa-Yoga Sessions in Rajasthan Schools
Snehal and Monika, two volunteers conducting Isha Upa-Yoga sessions for schoolteachers in Rajasthan, tell us how change is happening in the “land of kings”.
After Sadhguru conducted the Inner Engineering program for Rajasthan’s Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, and her government, the government has been inspired to bring yoga to the state’s schoolchildren. As part of the International Day of Yoga, Isha Foundation is working with the Rajasthan government to bring simple yoga practices to the state’s schools, and 9426 physical education (PE) teachers underwent training to conduct these “upa-yoga” sessions for the students.
Yoga is a powerful system of self-transformation. As Sadhguru explains, “Yoga is that which renders you to a higher possibility in your life. If something has the power to transform, it has the power to cause damage if mishandled. So yoga needs to be handled in an extremely committed atmosphere. But something that large segments of the world are not aware of is that there is a possibility of doing what is called upa-yoga. This is something that gives you physical and psychological benefits but doesn’t touch the spiritual dimension. Upa-Yoga does not demand that level of commitment nor does it cause any problem if you do it improperly because you can’t do it improperly – it’s very simple!”
However, the journey to equip and instruct the teachers has been a hectic one. The Isha volunteers had just 6 days to train nearly 9500 teachers. Snehal, one of the volunteers involved in the process shares:
“3 volunteers stationed in Jaipur made a multi-day-night effort to get the training material for 9500 people ready in a matter of two days. The government staff also supported us in delivery of the materials efficiently.
The training sessions were being conducted in mid-summer, and the Rajasthan heat was quite intense. Despite the high temperatures, our volunteers conducted back-to-back sessions, each running upto 4 hours.
Initially, it was quite a challenge to create the right atmosphere for the sessions. The PE teachers were here in the middle of their summer vacation and were in the mood to chat with each other. Moreover, with the sun showering them with heat, they did not seem too keen to go through yoga practices. But we began with an Isha Kriya session, and by the end of the kriya, 70% of the group had settled.
Many were shy and hesitant initially to do the upa-yoga practices, but they slowly opened up. By the end of the training, they thanked the volunteers and shared how they liked the whole effort of taking this to the students.
Initially, many teachers had questions about how they would conduct these sessions at school, where reliable electricity and audio visual equipment is often lacking. But soon enough, they came up with their own solutions, and many decided that they would bring their own TVs and do whatever was possible to make the sessions happen. They were also very happy to hear that the government was providing a budget to make these sessions a reality.”
Monika Agarwal, who conducted another session, describes her first experience of conducting an upa-yoga session.
“I was nervous and hesitant, but as Sadhguru says, we have to break our boundaries. So I decided to take the session confidently, and as the first session came to an end, I found it very easy and was also very excited.
We had faced some technical problems initially, including a virus in the laptop and a software crash, but luckily, one of the government co-coordinators had a laptop which I borrowed, and began the session.
On the first day, the participants left their footwear all over the place, and we spent quite a bit of time arranging them into neat queues. But on the second day, we saw the principal and government coordinators doing this. I was very touched seeing this transformation in them.
I had committed to take three days of sessions, but at the end of the third day, I decided to do all six days, and with Sadhguru's grace, everything was managed very well.
What I saw among the PE teachers was that despite initial unawareness about yoga, most of them were all-praise for this step taken by Isha and the government.
I feel we should conduct such programs at regular intervals, in order to create some continuous engagement with yoga, so that it becomes an important part of school life, just like other subjects.”
The PE teachers will be conducting sessions for students as part of the regular school curriculum, beginning on June 25. The students will surely find the sessions as “enlightening” as the teachers.