My role as a trainer is to teach you to teach Āsana not teach you how to practice Āsana…..

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Some thoughts from my Facebook Page I posted after as comments after reading and sharing a recent blog commenting on the Yoga Teacher situation in the US amidst the debate on supporting or not national Yoga Registration Standards Bodies and Government Regulatory Bodies having the last word.

To which I would add a personal reflection that I feel relieved that my priorities are re-focused on training students to be students rather than have to contend with the ever-increasing number of Yoga teacher Training Courses amidst the increasing trend of ‘fast-tracking’ within them of students towards training to be a Yoga Teacher or the current vogue of becoming a ‘Yoga Therapist’, amidst the ever-increasing number of ‘Yoga Bodies’ seeking to be ‘the’ verifier, approver or regulator of ‘standards’.

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What is healthy for the Heart of Yoga?

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There has been a surge of media attention in the UK on the health benefits of Yoga based on the results of a recent study published:

In the Guardian under the title ‘Yoga may provide similar health benefits to ‘cycling or brisk walking’.

In the Telegraph under the title ‘Yoga just as good as aerobics for cutting heart disease risk’.

On the BBC News page under the title ‘Yoga may guard against heart disease, study finds’.

Along with a more recent article in the Guardian under the title ‘Should Yoga be part of NHS care?”

All this is on the one hand seems great and on paper appears to be good publicity, yet it lands in an environment where we have a huge amount of information available on the potential dangers of unhelpful lifestyle on the heart and a huge amount of heart problems. It is almost as if there are parallels between the increasing weight of information and the increasing weight of the population.

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There is an increasing tendency in terms of Modern Therapeutic Yoga application strategies……

There is an increasing tendency in terms of Modern Therapeutic Yoga application strategies, especially when marketing Yoga therapy through group class situations, to create brand banding to identify ‘sufferers’.

Personally I feel it is not appropriate when considering Yoga practices for others to ‘lump’ people together as say back pain sufferers, or migraine sufferers, or insomnia sufferers, etc.

It is tempting, or even convenient, to propose a technique and then state that this technique will help this particular situation or problem.

However, my teacher taught me that Yoga is to be tailored to the needs and aspirations of each person rather than fitting the person to some ready made group standard technique.

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It is interesting that in this current boom of Yoga Vogueing there are two distinct camps emerging……

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It is interesting that in this current boom of Yoga Vogueing there are two distinct camps emerging.

That of Yoga within the field of extreme fitness and at the other end of the spectrum that of Yoga within the field of therapy or Yoga Tx.

The former is evident through the agenda and primary foci within the modern phenomena of Yoga Studios and Yoga Teachers competing to fill their many Warrior Athlete style Āsana classes with Exotic Sport names such as Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Hot Power Yoga, Boot Camp Yoga, Extreme Yoga, Fitness Yoga, Fitness Fusion Yoga, Crossfit Yoga, Pilates Yoga, Booty Ballet Yoga, Yoga Burn, Yoga Bums and Tums, et al.

These multifarious Exotic Sport Yoga options are often promoted by studios offering ‘as many as you can eat in a month’ style discounts and modern Yoga mat style cut ’em thin so you can pack ’em in facilities. Though these marketing strategies can also mean thats its increasingly difficult to develop a continuity of student profiling or a systematic developmental pedagogy, but what the heck its all Yoga.

On the other side we have the aspirations of Yoga Therapy, with becoming a Yoga Therapist an increasingly

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This approach is known as the Yoga of Rejuvenation and Prevention……

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3.Yoga as Therapeutic Healthcare

Now Yoga, as both a restorative and preventative, is applied as therapeutic healthcare to help people with problems or poor health. Here the approach needs to be very different for each person. One person’s potential to change their situation will be affected by their problem. Another person’s problem will be affected by their potential to change their situation.

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Yet ask any number of people what Yoga is and you are likely to get……

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The word Yoga is by now well known outside India. In fact over the last four decades we have seen it quietly and steadily taking root within our Western culture and language. Yet ask any number of people what Yoga is and you are likely to get many different responses.

These responses are often diverse, and sometimes contradictory. However, Yoga can generally be summarised into three possibilities or approaches:-

1. Yoga as Power

Firstly Yoga can be explained as a means to attain a degree of power or control over our body and mind.

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Teaching 121 lessons remained at the heart of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s priorities

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My experience of the application, or viniyoga of Yoga as a 121 personalised practice methodology transmitted from teacher to student has been formed by a 23 year apprenticeship through intensive immersions in personal lessons, from numerous visits to Madras in South India, learning Yoga practice techniques and theory and associated Yoga and lifestyle texts study under my root teacher TKV Desikachar.

My journey to this relationship with 121 lessons as an authentic and traditional medium for adults learning Yoga as a practice tool and study reference for our personal support and development started in 1972, as for most of us with joining a group Yoga Class. In my case from an interest in meditation coupled with an inability to even sit on my heels.

The following year, a lifestyle move to a small holding in the East of England and a dearth of group class choices anywhere around me led to a chance meeting at a Yoga Congress in 1974 with an individual student of TKV Desikachar who had recently returned from a 4 months study intensive with him in India.

This meeting led to me, firstly discovering that 121 lessons was the primary medium for teaching adults within the tradition of T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar and secondly a curiosity around the 121 process and what it could offer for my own attempts at establishing a home practice with both a consistency and a wider ranging developmental thread in terms of the many aspects of practice and study.

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What is the relationship between Yoga training as a Student or as a Teacher?

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What is the relationship between training as a Yoga Student and training as a Yoga Teacher?

Firstly –

The Yoga Studies Programme offers a comprehensive range of Personal Workshop and Course Modules for groups of around 4 students, totalling over 600 contact hours. The Modular Programme falls into the two groups, the Yoga Practice Techniques and Practice Theory Modules offer 300 contact hours study and the Associated Yoga and Lifestyle Texts Modules offer a further 300 contact hours study.

The 600 contact hours studying Yoga Practice Techniques and Theory or Associated Yoga and Lifestyle Texts can be undertaken purely as a student, without any obligation or need to simultaneously train as a Yoga teacher.

Each modular series, whether in the field of Study of Yoga Practice Techniques and Theory or Associated Yoga and Lifestyle Texts, is complete in itself and designed for Yoga students from any background or approach interested in exploring Yoga practice and textual study in small groups of around 4 students for personal development now, or if relevant in the future, professional needs.

“Training to learn how to teach Yoga is not the same as training to learn how to practice & study Yoga.”

This is unusual these days, as normally to access such a breadth and depth of Yoga training material a student would need to be a participant within a Yoga Teacher Training Course.

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Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

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Interview with TKV Desikachar

By Paul Harvey in 2000 whilst studying with TKV Desikachar in Chennai

Download or view this interview as a PDF

Paul thanks Desikachar for agreeing to give time for this interview and Desikachar replies with thanks.

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Personal Sādhana and Professional Teaching Today……

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Personal Sādhana and Professional Teaching

Chatting recently with a student about starting their first group class applying the principles of the viniyoga of Yoga. They were saying how the practice arts they had learnt so far had only been applied in the context of their personal Sādhana. As such what had been experienced felt very precious and they felt as if they didn’t want to share it with others yet.

They were reassured when I said I not only understood and agreed, but felt that too many want to ‘share’ what they have learnt far too quickly.

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Taking Yoga Further – Excerpt from Yoga for Every Body

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Students often ask:
“How do I progress?
How do I know when I’ve progressed?
Does it mean staying longer in a posture?
Does it mean practising more often or for a longer time?
What are the next steps?”
and so on

These questions can be explored by looking at Yoga from three different viewpoints. They can help us appreciate what it means to change the unhelpful patterns of behaviour which cause us problems and difficulties time and time again.

The three viewpoints are:
1) Practice
2) Lifestyle
3) Attitude

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Is there an equivalent of “redemption” in the Yogic system?

UnknownQuestion:
Is there an equivalent of “redemption” in the Yogic system? Getting out of the trouble caused by Avidyā?

Response:
A complex question as all the major Religious traditions have different views as to what it is and how it works.

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I feel reflecting on the recent three posts on Īśvara Praṇidhānā……

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I feel reflecting on the recent three posts on Īśvara Praṇidhānā from TKV Desikachar in relation to our actions needs to consider the Sat Viniyoga or appropriate application of the Citta or psyche in terms of:

Vikalpa or the ability to skilfully use imagination and fantasy.
Pramāṇa or the ability to skilfully use right perception.
Smṛti or the ability to skilfully use our memory of experiences.

And the Sat Viniyoga or appropriate application of Time In terms of its three faces – Past, Present and Future.
These two aspects psyche and time offer a myriad of combinations for reflection such as:

  • Past – “īśvara Praṇidhānā – How do we take the fruit of our action?”
    How skilful is my use of Pramāṇa around being present with possible impacts of previous actions?
  • Present – “The relationship we have developed with the fruits of our actions is īśvara Praṇidhānā
    How skilful is my use of Smṛti around being present with possible effects of current actions?
  • Future – “īśvara Praṇidhānā – What is our attitude towards our own action?”
    How skilful is my use of Vikalpa around possible outcomes of future actions?

I do feel that verses 10 and 11 Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two offer……


This post arose from a comment in a thread yesterday on my facebook page:
“I feel that by now you are surely off Yoga Sūtra 2.1?”
Its not something I think about often from that perspective so my thanks to Ivan for the following reflection:

“I do feel that verses 10 and 11 Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two offer an inspiration for the transition from Kriyā Yoga towards Aṣṭāṅga Yoga.

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Increasingly I observe Yoga teachers, even if not trained specifically in……

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Increasingly I observe Yoga teachers, even if not trained specifically in this area, offering private tuition or 121’s as an adjunct to their other teaching activities.

I also observe a proliferation of Yoga trainings for becoming a teacher within 121 situations, especially Yoga Therapy, often as an adjunct or ‘bolt on’ to group teacher trainings, accepting students even if from other approaches, styles or traditions.

I have increasing questions around the personal developmental aspects of these options within the context of them being acquisitional skill based professional add-ons to ones teaching repertoire.

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It is the student in us that must realize ‘Avasthānam’…..

This post continues from the quote below posted in January 2013:

“These days there is lots of talk on what is involved in training to be a Yoga Teacher,
however little talk on what is involved in training to be a Yoga Student.”

Developing this further I feel it is the student in us that must, through an appropriate Sādhana received within an auspicious context with a teacher, realize ‘Avasthānam’ in that the ‘Svarūpa’ or the ‘own character’ of the inner student ‘takes up its place’.

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