Aren’t we all seekers? I have always been a seeker and believe that this is how Yoga came into my life, like a perennial river that continues to flow forever, it continues to inspire me to seek, to look within, regardless of where I am and what my circumstances may be.
A fascinating discipline
As a child, I was absolutely fascinated by Yoga because I was in awe of my Mother’s daily practice. Be it snow or sunshine and no matter which day or season it is, she will be up and ready for her Yoga sadhana sharp at 5 AM. Even today, she maintains the same routine. I was drawn towards her self-discipline or as we call it, tapas.
It was also the surroundings and the environment I grew up in, which ensured that there was no escape from Yoga. In fact, the flow of Yoga in our lives was so natural, that we always approached it as a way of life and not as a tool to achieve this or that.
I come from a village that goes by the name Vashist in Himachal Pradesh. It is named after Sage Vashishta who is believed to have meditated here for years and had authored one of the most important yogic texts for mankind, Yoga Vashishta.
Start with asana
What started as a physical practice soon turned into a deep practice of awareness. Asanas made me realize that I am beyond this physical body. The practice showed me how this body works as an instrument to explore something divine within.
Have you ever tried strumming a string instrument whose strings are out of tune? It is mere noise, isn’t it? The instrument is completely incapable of producing any melody until the strings are tuned to the right pitch. Similarly, unless we take care of this physical body and fine-tune it so it can work in harmony with the creative energy, we will never be able to grasp that which lies beyond the physical state.
It thus becomes our responsibility to make personal commitments and healthy decisions for our own wellbeing. Once we give ourselves the much-required tenderness, love, and care, we can make ourselves capable of sharing it with the world.
The sooner you find time for yourself, the sooner you’ll find yourself.
The practice of Yoga has definitely made me live my life to the fullest potential and share the radiance of health, happiness, and love with other beings as well. This is how the practice guided me towards teaching Yoga and sharing its benefits with others.
We grow stronger when we share
Before I started my career as a yoga teacher, I used to work as a mountain guide and a full-time climber in the Indian Himalayas. I had learned Yoga from a local teacher in my home town and continued my daily practice under his guidance.
The practice came to much help when I started my work as a climber and it was around this time when I also started giving asana and pranayama lessons to clients who were having a hard time acclimatizing to high altitude. The classes were not a part of their itinerary as such but I felt amazing sharing my knowledge and tips with members of our guided mountain climbing expeditions.
The members loved it too and started requesting for more sessions almost every day. And this is how I started teaching and soon realized how practicing along with them made me feel much stronger, focused and even improved my performance as a guide in-charge of leading groups through the mighty mountains.
The best thing about climbing the Himalayas is that it makes us realize how small we are and yet capable of doing big things.
Mountains are of course serene and beautiful but they can also be extremely dangerous if you are not prepared and not well equipped to deal with situations the terrain may throw at you. Yoga has come to my rescue in these tricky situations and has guided me to move forward towards accomplishing new heights.
Not a workout but a work-in
Just as we have to work to earn money and livelihood, it is up to us to also earn our mental and physical health; or else, it won’t be long before all our wealth is spent on maintaining our health. My advice to all yoga practitioners out there would be to see Yoga as not just a workout but a work in.
It’s not something we do for a few hours on a mat and then just walk away towards our worldly temptations. The practice of Yoga is a way of life where we cultivate auspicious austerities which reflect in our day to day life. To walk on the Yogic path is not easy but it is definitely possible.
Yoga won’t take us anywhere far or high…rather it brings us back to the source, back within, in union with the absolute divine.
You have to be determined to find out the ultimate truth. You should not just practice, but you should practice with awareness. When you raise your hands, don’t just raise them, allow your whole consciousness to rise up with it. When you bend forward, surrender completely.
Bring this depth of meditativeness not just on the mat, but also when off the mat and into every activity you indulge yourself in. Then you will not just live… but you will live life fully, with awareness.
Exploration of a versatile practice
For the last couple of years, I have been traveling around India to places like Mysore, Rishikesh, and Kerala to learn Yoga from Himalayan swamis, Buddhist monks, and experienced teachers. While exploring these various forms of Yoga which evolved in India, I noticed how the practice changes from place to place.
The fact is that Yoga has always been evolving to suit the conditions of an individual. In Sanskrit it is often said, ‘Yoga Desh Kalpa Paristhithi’, which in a way refers to Yoga being a very versatile practice to suit one’s needs. Desh in the above phrase means the place, Kalpa means the season or time and Paristhithi refers to the situation of an individual who is practicing.
This denotes that the practice of Yoga needs to be adjusted keeping the above aspects in mind so the individual can benefit from this holistic practice. For example, there are certain Pranayamas that cool down your body and there are certain practices that will heat up your entire system. Now, for a person like me who is living high up in the mountains, opting for asanas and pranayamas that lower the blood pressure and body temperature in the winter season can actually cause much harm than benefit.
Thus what I teach my students is as per what they need and their ability to grasp and practice at that point in time. I don’t think it is right to stick to just one style of Yoga, instead explore a little and understand what will benefit your students the most in the given situation or circumstances, at both physical and mental levels and adjust the practice accordingly.
If you want to teach…
Remember that just a month of teacher training certificate (TTC) will not make you a teacher but it will definitely add more knowledge, experience, discipline, and awareness to your practice so you can continue to grow as a practitioner; a true practitioner is a true teacher.
Follow your fears and your dreams will come true.
You have to drop all your preconceived ideas and expectations about what Yoga is. When you sign up for a TTC, strive towards becoming a good student first, this way you naturally are a great teacher in the making. Yoga gurus are like beads on a single thread; an endless chain of good students passing the torch ahead.
Yogi, from Indian Himalayas
Fitness trainer, Climber, Skier, Photographer