The Making of a Hata Yogi: Giving Thanks
Week 19: The Isha Hata Yoga Teacher Training Program is an endeavor to bring back classical yoga in its purest form and to train teachers who can impart this phenomenally powerful science. In this series, we will be following the participants through their exciting 21-week journey.
At Week Nineteen, the participants of the Hata Yoga School observe the American festival of Thanksgiving.
As each one of us feels at some time or the other, there is much to be grateful for in our lives and in the world around us. And so when the appropriate occasion presents itself, what can be better than offering thanks? Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in North America to commemorate the settling of pilgrims from Europe in the new land. The participants of the Hata Yoga School were in for a surprise on this day – they have enjoyed many Indian celebrations such as Navratri and Janmasthami but the Thanksgiving feast was an unexpected one!
For the group, it was a particularly poignant occasion, for they all felt that there was so much to be grateful for, so many people to thank for the life-altering experiences they had had for so many weeks at the Hata Yoga Program. Elisa says, “This Thanksgiving was the first time I was spending it away from my immediate family. Despite this, I was at home because I was surrounded by my new family, a family created from a very special circumstance: Hata Yoga Teacher Training.”
“Back home in the US, there is a tradition in my family in which everyone at the Thanksgiving dinner table shares what they are grateful for. That very day, I had forgotten that it was Thanksgiving and ironically I spoke to a friend about my gratitude for all the beautiful lessons and experiences I've received these past five months. Unknowingly I managed to carry out my family tradition in India. This time I was thankful for something I can honestly say I carry dearer than my life: Hata Yoga. Words hold little meaning in comparison to what my experience has been, so gratitude is the sincerest way I can express myself.”
The dinner was a rather special event. The menu included an array of dishes with Mexican items like burritos, tortilla chips and guacamole thrown in with traditional American desserts: apple crisp and pumpkin cake. Special appetizers and a wonderful tropical fruit colada were also served.
The kitchen team and the volunteers started preparations for the special meal quite early. The entire menu was so exotic and new, it attracted a lot of attention in the huge Isha kitchen. “What is an avocado?” people asked as the guacamole was being prepared. Twenty minutes to the meal, nothing was set up! But luckily, extra helping hands arrived just in time, the finishing touches were given and the main dishes were laid out on the dot.
The burritos were made on the spot, and the participants, especially those from the Americas, were delighted to see refried beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole being added to giant tortillas. The ambience was special too: lamps adorned the whole mandapam and tables were arranged so that everyone could sit together. Everyone came back for seconds and a cheer went up when the feast was done.
Julie says, “The Thanksgiving meal was an unexpected delight. The volunteers are so amazing, they really went above and beyond in putting together this meal. We even had candlelight and music. Everything was yum.” Vasundhara says, “This was by far the most exotic dinner we have been served by the volunteers during this program... It was an amazing experience.”
In other news, the group has been learning Surya Shakti. They have already been practising the phenomenally powerful Surya Kriya, but Surya Shakti, which Sadhguru refers to as a “far-off relative” of the more spiritually-oriented kriya, is highly useful as a physical aid to build muscle and become physically strong.
They have also been getting some very individual attention with their practices. They not only do “partner corrections” where teams of two work together to fine-tune their practice but they are also benefitting from sessions in which a teacher oversees the practices of each participant. Stephanie says, “The feedback I have received from the corrections are precious to me. They serve as a mirror to me, because the next day, I was extra conscious of the placement of different parts of the body and the sensations generated from that. Now I know what my tendencies are... placing the foot in a particular angle or lifting the arms a little higher than it should be etc. This requires a constant conscious effort for the body to register. I can see how exchanging feedback with other participants helps to heighten the intricacy and accuracy of the practice in the long run.”
“On the other hand, being able to evaluate and give refined feedback to others requires a certain clarity and mastery over one’s own practices. At the end of the day, the sadhana is the core of the programme and everything that has been taught to us so far... everything sprouts from how we keep up with our sadhana.”