Hatha Yogi Journals: Tales of Transformation
At the close of the 2016 Isha Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Program, several of the new teachers share their inspiring stories of transformation leading up to and during the months of intensive training.
The New Girl
Sharing by Vishakha Rana
It is not unusual to hear that most of us are victims of stress, anxiety or some physical ailment, some of which are psychosomatic in nature. The origin of my physical ailment goes back to 2006, the reason being chronic-circumstantial-stress. After years of pain on half of my head, face, jaw and tongue, I was diagnosed with “Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia (ATN),” a brain nerve-pain condition that originates in the brain and branches out to the three nerves on the face. This is considered as one of the most severe pains.
I was aware of my stressful conditions for more than 2 decades, occurring for multiple reasons, but did not envision myself dipped in pain, perennially. I had to learn to live in this excruciating pain. Sometimes I would suppress it with medication, and other times by pretending its absence. The medication was intended for my lifetime, but I chose to bear the pain over the medicine as the compounds in the medication banned me from operating laptops or gadgets and driving vehicles or doing any other activity that required high concentration or focus. I trashed them within four days and never visited neurosurgeons thereafter. It became a serious battle to live in pain while trying to lead a normal corporate and social life. Speaking became tough sometimes, as well as managing the swellings on my face and not being able to rest my head on a pillow or even comb my hair properly. Nevertheless, I did everything mechanically with grit and determination to be able to conquer this condition. The only other way was surgery in case the condition got worse. I could neither imagine nor afford it.
In my search for answers to the numerous “what’s and why’s” about life and its rules, karma and retribution, self-healing and home remedies, conquering the mind to regulate matter and obliterate this disorder, I spent at least ten years exploring books, meditations, simple forms of Yoga, Buddhism, therapies, talks by spiritual leaders and so on. The results were not concrete until I came across a video of Sadhguru’s.
Nothing is a coincidence, they say, and the chain of events that followed proved it, in my experience.
At the outset, my analytical and logical mind was impressed with Sadhguru’s intellect and articulation. I found him to be a very intelligent man with strong presence, deep compassion and a pleasant personality, despite not having met him in person. I liked Sadhguru’s sense of humor, vitality, and his lively demeanor. I continued to follow his blogs and tried to implement his teachings in my life in bits and pieces. Considering my preliminary understanding of the organization founded by him, Isha Foundation, I decided to learn Yoga and become a Hatha Yoga Teacher. I was driven to learn Yoga in its most classical form and felt blessed to learn it from a living master. I had set out to attain the physical benefits that I had imagined Isha Hatha Yoga would offer, but little did I realize that my Hatha Yoga practices were working at a much deeper and fundamental level. My mental and emotional states improved so dramatically that they captured my attention with the conspicuous changes I started to notice in my disposition towards people, situations, and life in general.
Being a skeptic, these are no ordinary changes I experienced. They underwent innumerable quality tests and hit success.
Something was significantly transforming within me that not only culminated into a drastic drop in my nerve pains (without any medication or struggle to suppress it) but also in my inner growth and evolution. All I was doing was Isha Hatha Yoga practices and Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya that I was initiated into in an Inner Engineering Retreat Program offered by Isha Foundation. The external situations in my life were not getting better, but my ability to handle them was getting notably enhanced. Reduction in stress-induced anger, increased sense of calm and balance were assisting me to bolster my relationships with deeper investment of compassion and integrity that I was learning from Sadhguru during the training period. I took stock of the output I was able to produce at work and it turned out that my time management was many fold better. As for productivity, I was doling out the work of 5 hours in 1 hour, efficiently and effectively.
My reactive nature was gradually becoming responsive, and concentration and memory levels were raising notches up. These changes greatly helped me in dealing with “crisis” at home and work, with the balance and operational excellence that such situations demand. My body was getting toned, and lifestyle disorders such as backache, fatigue and disturbed sleep caused by sedentary work-life were getting obliterated from my system.
“Such is life” was transforming into “Life is beautiful!”
My family and colleagues could see notable changes in my personality, enhancement in leadership skills and decision making ability, and improvement in handling stressful situations at workplace and home. I was highly appreciated for meticulous performance and attention to details by colleagues and leadership team at my workplace.
The outcomes in my physical appearance pleasantly surprised people in my circle. ATN pain reduced by 80%, allowing me to experience days and weeks of painlessness.
The extreme personal and health challenges that I was going through directed me to seek Yoga that not only transformed me into a new person at the physical and inner level, but also helped me be in the grace of Sadhguru. It seems that a beautiful seed of grace was planted within me right from the point of first contact with Sadhguru that was further nurtured by Classical Hatha Yoga Daily practices.
Life is beautiful and so is my Union with Yoga.
Learning to Live
Sharing by Justus Grigaliunas
It was seven years ago that I began my journey to Yoga, one reason being my desire to try something new, and another, to align the body and become healthier; I had a few spine and digestion problems.
When I started to play with life, I tried so many things that are generally very interesting to the majority of people: money, cars and other pleasures. I realized that still something was missing. So I started with some meditations and practices through the internet. But these practices worked only at the surface level. Also, I was contemplating about the direction I would like to take in life and wanting to do something that could be useful to other people as well. Years passed by and I met many Yoga teachers along the way, but nothing seemed to work to my satisfaction even when I started more powerful Yoga practices. Consequently, my body was in bad shape, and within a month I lost 20 kilograms. Doctors could not diagnose anything, and my Yoga teacher also didn’t know what to do. I was in such a terrible state of health that I believed that the summer of that year would be my last to see.
Sadhguru has spoken about receiving the right things from the right source. My teacher mentioned that there is only one man who could help me; the old bearded man in India. And that is where my journey to Isha Yoga and even a deeper journey with Sadhguru commenced.
Downloading the Isha Upa-Yoga practices from the internet became highly fruitful. I practiced them every day for a few minutes. Within the span of two months’ time, my body regained stability and I felt alive again. My spine started to get better even with these simple Isha Upa-Yoga practices, and doctors were amazed at such a possibility through Yoga. I enrolled into Isha Programs and headed out to the UK for them. I learned powerful Isha Yoga practices such as Surya Kriya that help transform the system.
My experience with personal meetings with the Isha teacher was very pleasant. I was impressed by the attention to details and care for each aspect of teaching. During the class, I felt that little things that were not at all working earlier were starting to fall in place for me. Upon the completion of the program, I realized the immense power that Isha Yoga offers, and that’s when I wanted to share this with the rest of the world and help bring calm, relaxation, stability and health to the lives of others. I decided that the direction of my life would be to become an Isha Hatha Yoga Teacher.
I started practicing for longer hours, thinking that I would get my body ready within five years to become a good teacher, but within the span of just six months, my body became much stronger and more capable. I received encouragement from other Isha teachers from my country, which helped me sign up for the teacher training. Hence, I enrolled myself into Isha’s Classical Hatha Yoga Teachers Training Program in India.
Before coming to the program in India, I traveled around my country offering Isha Upa-Yoga sessions for International Day of Yoga. This volunteering experience made me very strong and also gave me a taste of what it means to conduct a class and provide participants with a good experience. In one month, I conducted thirteen sessions in schools and youth camps. I was booming with energy while conducting these programs. It served as a good preparation for the teachers program, which was also very transformative.
It may be difficult to explain it all in words, but the least I can say is that fundamentally I became strong from the outside and stable from the inside. Now it is easy to go through difficult situations, tasks and whatever appears in front of me. I simply carry out all tasks in the best way I can.
Now I understand what means to be alive. I am grateful that Sadhguru gave me this opportunity to become a tool for human wellbeing and this possibility to share his knowledge with others.
Sharing by Siddhant Gupta (Vasu)
The beginning of this intense 21-week journey started “In the Lap of the Master” during a program of the same name held at IYC. During the program, I heard Sadhguru say that Hatha Yoga is the path to take if one wants to build a strong foundation within and get rid of all the compulsions that come in the way of one’s sadhana. This just reassured me of the decision that I had taken, and now all that was needed from me was to be open and receptive to whatever came my way.
I have to admit that the initial few weeks were really painful, from waking up at 4:30am for the morning sessions to adjusting to a two meal a day system. It took me a few weeks to get used to the schedule, and before I knew it, the program was already at the halfway mark. But this shift from pain to joy was a quick one, and through it I experienced something far deeper and more profound.
I also got a chance to participate in the Bhava Spandana Program during the course of the HYTT program, and apart from the experience that I had in BSP, it made me realize how much the HYTT program and the people there mean to me. The powerful Shakti Chalana Kriya and the Shoonya Meditation were additional tools that I had the opportunity to learn as a part of the Shoonya Intensive program.
Apart from missing the vibe of the ashram, what I really will miss is spending time at Dhyanalinga, Linga Bhairavi, taking dips at the Suryakund, the number of trips that we went for as a whole batch, and above all the Darshans with Sadhguru!
As the program nears to the end, I can say for sure that it has brought about a phenomenal change in me, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It has been nothing less than an enriching experience for me.
I feel extremely privileged and humbled to be one of Sadhguru’s mediums to spread his words and fulfill his dream of taking Yoga to as many people as possible!
Editor’s Note: Dates for Isha Hatha Yoga Teacher Training 2017: July 9 - December 3. For information about next year's Hatha Yoga Teacher Training, please visit www.IshaHathaYoga.com.