Reciting the Yoga Sūtra from the heart

In yesterdays post I wrote about the surge of enquiries looking for training bolt-ons to add the viniyoga of Yoga tools for ‘Yoga as Therapy’ to their professional teaching repertoire.

This led onto exploring the process of learning that Yoga can be applied as a therapy from the very first stages of our study. We all get ill or injured from time to time and need to understand the process of applying Yoga for ourselves in many ways according to our day to day situation.

This led onto appreciating that the core principles in the viniyoga of Yoga need to start to be integrated from the Foundational level prior to the Teacher Training level, as applying Yoga as a Therapy is not a training hierarchy of Yoga student, Yoga teacher, Yoga therapist.

I also differentiated between the training priorities at the Foundational and Professional Practitioner Teacher levels and the refinement of these pre-existing skills within the Postgraduate Further Studies Programme.

Thus the Foundational training levels have Yoga study, practice and planning homework as part of its brief. The Practitioner Training levels have a lot more of this along with a study and homework in the fields of Anatomy and Physiology, Western Pedagogy, Counselling skills, etc.

Also, at the Practitioner training level are various internal and external teaching assessments along with many hours of case study work from both group and 121 teaching situations. Added to this is a supervision structure where the trainee takes their 121 and group teaching to their Yoga teaching supervisor for discussion for at least the first year of their ‘live’ teaching.

This set the context for appreciating that the Postgraduate Practitioner Programme is not a training course but a Further Studies context where we do not actually learn any new skills, rather it is a context for the refinement of existing skills. From this I talked about the issues I would be confronted with if I accepted students into this level of training without the prerequisite viniyoga of Yoga ‘tool box’ already in place along with an adequate understanding of the principles of application.

This distinction between the Practitioner Training and Further Studies Programme is also reflected through the assessment criteria in that at the Further Studies Postgraduate level there are no external study add-ons, no homework, no internal or external assessment, no supervision hours, no long hours spent on practice planning projects or angsting over getting it ‘right’, etc.

Instead the student spends their time between meetings studying and reflecting on chapters Three and Four of the Yoga Sūtra using support questions on the Yoga Sūtra to guide their deepening with the complex ideas within these two chapters. The course completion requirements are also minimalist. Here the student needs to offer either a hand written summary of their interpretations of the chapters or, with the advent of modern technology, an online version replete with full Saṃskṛta diacritics.

Here I feel the importance of taking responsibility for correct pronunciation of these powerful concepts should not be compromised by the sloppy pronunciation becoming so apparent today. The power inherent in Saṃskṛta is realised through correct pronunciation.

So where am I going with this?

Coincidently after writing yesterdays post my first 121 student of the day is a participant in the current Postgraduate Practitioners Further Studies Programme and amongst our other work together, they had a proposal for me as to the Further Studies course completion requirements. They asked to have much more time to reflect of the guideline questions and the Sūtra involved beyond the two years of the course.

This I can understand as the Sūtra really are Spiritual Jerky and even a single verse can require years of chewing to bring out its flavour.

However they also had an alternative completion proposal, in addition to their long term ongoing written study. It was to learn to chant, by heart, the entire four chapters of the Yoga Sūtra including all the opening and closing prayers.

This was an offer I could not refuse and I am touched by their commitment to Yoga as a process of transmission from the inside rather than the more usual processes of learning Yoga as information from the outside.

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