200 Hr – Yoga teacher training – Hong Kong
Finally, the day arrived that I decided to quit my job as a Marketing and Sales Manager and become a Yoga teacher. I signed up for my first 200-hour Yoga certificate in 2009.
Prior to that I was like any other commoner; I hated anybody who talked about religious and spiritual matters or any text that talked about spirituality; “Who needs spirituality?” I would scoff. Well, suffice it to say that I was never neutral in my opinions or observations that I made about religious, spiritual or other matters like Yoga, meditation or supernatural or metaphysical topics.
‘I built up my own life through hard work and dedication. I toiled on my own and, so far, I’ve been managing quite competently. I can say that I’ve done pretty well for myself up till now. Why do I need such “non-relevant pursuits ‘. I was of the firm belief that only people who were weak in the head or who lacked proper insights or knowledge needed such empowering techniques.
I leave it for the weak at heart and in the mind, to make efforts to boost themselves and their personalities up. I leave it to the other people to believe what they will but all these mumbo jumbo is not for me, not now, not ever.
It was not as if I was a renegade, a rebel or a non-believer. It was simply that I was a person who was healthy in mind, spirit and physically; I was also equipped with the right type of education and a solid, balanced upbringing afforded by my parents. We had love, our fair share of fights, tiffs, quarrels and arguments.
Like other human beings, we also had our shortcomings and faults. We screamed at each other when incensed and even resorted to exchanging blows in some of our wild dog fights.
But, my thinking was never hardcore or one-sided. Surely there is something out there that is not like us. Maybe there are real ghosts, spirits and magicians in addition to other evil and some good beings whom we could never fully comprehend.
So, it was rather confusing and I had many other things in my life going on so I left it aside until 2013.
Then, I heard about Anusara Yoga Certificate; it was a one month course. Anusara Yoga is a branch of Hatha Yoga which is a modern adaptation that was created in 1997 by John Friend.
Its basic philosophy of letting yourself flow with grace in your movements and flowing along with the tides of nature is a slight westernizing of the Hindu spiritual schools of thought. Anusar means “according to”. It is more a tantric traditional derivate of Hatha Yoga and it propounds the teachings from four highly respected and authoritative texts of Indian spiritualism and tantric traditions including the Bhagwat Geeta
The physical aspects of Asanas are also closely knit in the practice of Anasara Yoga.
It entails a call to fully enjoy the life which is a benign gift which is the western culture permeating the strict Hindu traditions and philosophy.
The daily regimen of inculcating the teachings both physical and theoretical sessions would start everyday with a two hours intensely sweaty yoga session. Was the profuse sweating also another form of cleansing, I used to wonder? But, sweating and exhaustion were the order of the day as my body started reaping the benefits of the rituals.
When it became unbearable, I would just feel like looking up at the hot, blazing sun and feel like screaming out my frustration at the top of my lungs; but, wiser counsel, maybe due to the discipline and control being acquired, would prevail and prevent any such outbursts.
Yes, my body and soul were both being tempered and strengthened. Some days my body would be in such pain that all I could think of was running away; run away as fast as you can, but the lure of the course would return with renewed vigour ‘I’ would be ever eager to join the course at the end of the day.
Our opening Mantra everyday was the Anusara Mantra:
Namah Shivaya Gurave I offer myself to the Light, the Auspicious Lord, Who is the true Teacher, within and without,
Saccidananda Murtaye Whose form is Being, Consciousness and Bliss,
Nisprapancaya Shantaya Who is transcendent, calm,
Niralambaya Tejase Free from all outer support, and full of light
The subject of this course was ‘What is freedom’? Of course everyone had a different idea. To reach Freedom you first need to discipline yourself. What I loved the most in this one month’s course was the classes in which we learned about the 5 elements:
It was explained that these elements can be applied to anything; the following teachings were instilled in our minds:
Keep an open mind to all suggestions – open, listen, positive, compassion
Focus on being stable – stable, strong, hugger, trustworthy, principle, reliable
I have to do this right – humility, flow, down, in, calm, social, accommodating
Relax my face and show no expression – intensity, dynamic, determination, up, out, focus, fun
Keep my focus which is staying at the moment – air, light, peace, expansion, extend, creative, Breath Universal principles of alignments.
Opening to Grace
The practitioner intends to place him/herself in alignment with the flow of the Supreme Consciousness. For asana practice, this includes having an attitude of soft-hearted devotion, and open-mindedness. Refinements of this principle include, “inner body bright”, “outer body soft” and “side body long.
“Muscular Energy – A drawing of energy from the periphery of the body into a central location in the body, called a Focal Point. Muscular Energy seeks to increase stability, strength, and physical integration in the pose.
Inner Spiral – An expanding spiral of energy. In the legs it runs from the feet up through the pelvis into the waistline area to rotate the legs inward, move the thighs backward, and widens the thighs and pelvis. In the arms Inner Spiral spins the forearms inward from anatomical neutral.
Outer Spiral – It is a contracting spiral of energy. In the legs, it runs from the waistline area down through the tailbone and out through the legs and feet to draw the pelvis and thighs closer together, move the tailbone and thighs forward, and rotate the legs outward. In the arms, this Outer Spiral spins the upper arms out and away from each other from anatomical neutral, refining the heart-opening action of the Anusara practice.
Organic Energy – An outward extension of energy from the Focal Point through the core lines of the body to the body’s periphery; this increases expansion, flexibility, and freedom in the pose.
I simply loved anatomy classes since I liked to get a glimpse of what was inside my body; to see the bones, the organs, the muscles. We had a daily hour of yoga philosophy, learning Sanskrit, remembering all the Sanskrit names of the poses.
After having learned all these things it is impossible to accept that everything is self-will. Your body is made up of these five elements. You belong to this universe and the universe belongs to you. How you behave, what you think the universe knows and feels you we just have to be aligned with it.
Yoga makes your stiff ignorant body and mind questions things, makes you want to seek the answers, allow you to become aware of your body, your surroundings, the way you think, the way you are wired. I would say it is a vigilant soul-searching or self-searching and rewiring to see yourself fit in this universe.
The start of my inner identity and its alignments had begun.
Everyone in the city should, at least once in their life, pick up a yoga course.