The Making of a Hata Yogi: Sukham Sthiram Asanam
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 Sixteen, we take a look at the participants as they move their practices into a different dimension, and how they are responding to the process of learning to teach Hata Yoga.
Last week, we shared a few insights into the “teaching” aspect of the Hata Yoga Teacher Training Program. The participants have been responding wonderfully to some rather demanding requirements.
Talking about the Teacher Training process, Hannes says, “Suddenly I had to deal with so many aspects and multitask all of them: coordinating my demo person, observing every student in class while giving instructions on the right moment in a language that is not my mother tongue, keeping track of time, answering questions and most importantly, being conscious of myself and the way I am transmitting yoga to my students. The feedback that I received is of such great value to me. Each little detail of my teaching is pointed out. For example, how my posture is, my facial expression, the way I communicate with the class etc. All this feedback enables me to become more aware of my unconscious behavior and to work on myself. Now I know that if I manage to complete the training, I will be prepared and fully confident to spread classical hata yoga in the world.”
One thing that participants are now doing to deepen their sadhana is to hold asanas for longer durations. About the importance of this, Sadhguru says, “Asana means a posture. So when we do an asana, it is about holding the asana. It is a doorway and we are trying to open it in some way and hold it that way, so that it becomes a way for you to go in and go out. This being can flow in and out of that posture. That is an asana.”
On how to stay in the asana, Sadhguru says, “If you keep your body stressed, it will translate into mental stress. When mental stress happens it again reflects in the body in many different ways. This is also a karmic process. We want to take away the momentum from the karmic process by getting the body to a certain state of balance so that it comes to absolute ease.
Patanjali said, “Sukham Sthiram Asanam” – firm and at ease. It is very significant the way he said it. People always understand firm means to be rigid. No. It must be at ease but it should be firm not lax. This is the whole thing with most people. If you ask them to be intense, they will become tense. If you ask them to be relaxed, they will become lax. In laxity there is no life. In tension there is no life. Life happens when it is intense and relaxed.”
Participant Stephanie says, “Learning to be at ease in the posture becomes the main thing to focus on now. Flexibility is not the issue because it differs on different days. But we are now holding the posture for a longer duration, and the breath became the one-point focus during the process. I would say it is the only way to be.”
The participants are also bringing in awareness of the “subtle body” while doing their practices. About the subtle body Sadhguru says, “The subtle body has a physical element in it but it is not a physical process. It is a transition. It is etheric. Etheric means it is a link between the non-physical and the physical.”
Sadhguru elaborates, “We are asking you to imagine this subtle body because the distinction between what is real and what is imagination is not big. It is a very thin line. The real process is anyway happening, so if you assist it with the right kind of action and awareness, the real thing will come into your awareness.
Today, it is an established fact in neurosciences that unless you have some memory and imagination, your visual apparatus will not function. You always believed that your eye is a camera but without the computer behind, it cannot function. You can distinctly notice, if you build memory about something, within a minute’s time you can see things better.
You are unable to see so many things about which there is no memory. So we are just trying to build some memory and you cannot build memory without imagination. You always thought you cannot imagine unless there is memory. No, you cannot build memory unless there is imagination. So, we are asking you to imagine the subtle body.”
One participant observes, “Being conscious of the subtle body is adding depth to the asanas and Surya Kriya, because being focused on the breath, the sensations and the subtle body while relaxing into the posture feels completely engaging to a point that the mind has no time to wander.”
Chris, who was a yoga instructor for 15 years says, “The difference I found here at Isha is that it is such an inward-driven process that the physicality of the asanas is almost a backdrop to the inward journey. The approach of having your eyes closed in an asana completely transforms not only your focus but really the objective of what you are doing. It is drawing you in and it is keeping your focus there, which is really where the focus in yoga ought to be.
My vision and my drive for being here is to be able to return to my hometown and my community and offer the complete seed of yoga as a gift to people so they can transform their lives.”
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.