ON TEACHING YOGA
500 RYT book report © 2014
Text by: Alexey Baykov
500 RYT book report © 2014
Text by: Alexey Baykov
1. Shawasana (Savasana)
I’m very thankful to the Yoga course, where I got to know about the real meaning and function of Savasana, which is not just plain belief but real personal experience.
The overall, even worldwide misinterpretation of Savasana, which is believed is equal to Meditation technique, makes teachers give a lot of intructions and lead students resting on the floor, which erazes the function of Savasana. And the students can understand real goal of yoga, but stay followed by the teacher, which is an attachment that usually leads to wrong assumptions about Yoga.
Also there’re “styles of yoga” (in Russia and Ukraine) which make students feel so tired because of muscle work overload that the body-mind structure being in shock makes students feel numb in Savasana, not because of letting go and surrender with total awareness, but because the whole organism is in stress and it switches off itself, not to let ego-driven mind kill the body.
However the function of yoga to lead awareness towards the inner most realms of the koshas, and Savasana play the important role to “reboot the system” on its own, giving the Nature to do its own work, to let mind surrender to Buddhi and get revelation and healing.
Thus, students will not only experience what they need to experience guided by their inner Higher Force, but also they get opportunity to understand what Surrender is, to feel what pure Awareness without thought is – because it could be cognized only in personal experience, as for no words can reveal this phenomenon.
I really like the metaphor about “cooking the cookies in the oven” telling on the process that happens in a yoga class. So that sculpting a form of a cookie is the yoga sequence, and putting cookies into the oven is Savasana, and after Savasana when the students are ready (with a connection with their Buddhi) they can do the profound part of yoga class – pranayama, dharana, dhyana and samadhi (meditation).
2. Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is one of the highly exciting and intriguing topics of the 300 hours Teacher Training course, as it’s maybe the most mysterious technique in yoga, which touches upon modern psychology aspects, especially archetypes of the mind that were discovered by Carl Gustav Jung.
It is interesting how a teacher can match levels of consciousness given by ancient yogic scriptures and the aspects of human psyche that are deeply studied by contemporary scientists.
It is stated that in the process of Yoga Nidra when mind is exploring emotional opposites, it may experience images of archetypal expressions which are associated with those emotions.
Visualization of the archetypes in one’s mind indicates entering Vijnanamaya Kosha, which is connected with so-called collective unconsciousness, which was presented by Carl Gustav Jung in his works, including the Red Book. In this layer a yoga-teacher (yoga nidra guide) deals with one’s unconsciousness and deep programming of personality which could be associated with samskaras.
Thus, archetypal images are used as the language for intercommunication with Vijnanamaya Kosha.
In the process of yoga nidra all disciples are lying with eyes closed, and so a teacher uses the language that everyone in the class can speak. However it is essential to take into account the mother tongue of people in the class, as for at this state Manomaya Kosha is behind – it persist in the dormant state.
As I studied English language since I was 5 years old – all my personality was formed and established in Russian paradigm, which means that all deep associations and emotions are attached to Russian culture.
Also from my personal experience of receiving yoga nidra guidance in English, several times I found myself in a state, when I was deep in meditation and totally conscious, so I heard the words, which should be images of archetypes, but there was no reaction – I was hearing just sounds with no emotional attachment to them.
Because teachers should take into account first of all students’ needs and capabilities: “great care must be given to relevancy of these images to the participants with consideration to social, religious, cultural, and moral understanding” and even if there’s a close relationship of cultures and archetypes it is important to present Yoga Nidra in the language that is native to the disciples.
3. A Private Class
Teaching yoga in a private class, as I understand it, is a big accelerator of students’ practice, as for there’s a real contact with a teacher, who should create an atmosphere of trust, light and ease, so that a student can feel comfortable to ask wherever he/she wants, to re-ask, to clear the mind and be ready to practice one-on-one, devoting all attention to the inner state of body-mind-spirit structure.
It’s important to create a specific contact, which is not cold or dominant, and the same time not bosom-friendly or even sexual. Light and sincere, friendly and detached, joyful and intelligent - is the conscious attitude that the teacher should express and be a lively example to his student, so nothing (if a student have in his intentions) could be hooked – the teacher stays clear.
It’s really important to have a worksheet during the interview, because some students are very expressive and it’s very hard to follow all the thoughts with their paths and transitions. Also a teacher should ask to clear the meaning of words and sentences, which a student say, as for “most people aren’t clear about what they are not clear about”.
It’s just like a psychotherapist work – to listen attentively and note what is relevant to the needs of a student in context of yoga practice, especially the aspects that are behind the words and gestures.
So it is necessary to clear one’s mind to be empty not only to be a good listener, but to be able to store most of the information till the end of the class, so that a teacher will be able to write down everything he heard and saw after the class, when nothing can disturb and a whole image of a student will be revealed on paper.
As any yoga class, be it private or group, is limited by time, so it a real art to give such a pack of information (philosophy, yogasana adjustments, techniques, etc.), so that a student is satisfied – it’s a real pragmatic psychology, which could be mastered over time.
There is still a puzzle and a challenge for me to understand how does a teacher having one body structure (prakruti – nature / vikruti - imbalance) with learned and absorbed all yoga techniques possible, can really feel a student with totally different prakruti/vikruti of body-mind and “prescribe” to her/him a relevant sequence to direct this unique human being to his own path. This a huge responsibility.
I believe this ability is available only for a Buddhi-mind, so with devotion and mantra some per cent of Grace could be given to an ordinary yoga teacher. Bless us all.
ॐ Sri Sat Guru Paratman Namah