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Is it for Me?
The Heart of Yoga course is for everyone, whether you have only recently come to Ashtanga Yoga or have been practising for some time already. If you are interested in really discovering what Yoga can do for you then here is an opportunity to make that happen. There is a very simple relationship in Yoga; the more you give yourself to it, the more you receive from it. And this does not mean just more doing postures, which can only give you so much, but rather, utilising many other aspects of Yoga as well.
The course will provide you with the means and support to integrate the practices and principles of Yoga into your daily experience, and to use them to enhance the quality and tranquillity of life you enjoy. This is as true for the Beginner as for anyone else. If you would like to use Yoga to develop more joy, greater awareness, increased compassion and improved health and well-being, then this course is for you.
Origins of the Course
In 2005, Paula and I were in Mysore, and in addition to our practice on the mat, we spent much of our time reading and studying. We began to reflect on the training courses we had been through and to talk about the elements that we felt had been missing from those courses. Before we knew it we were putting together the Heart of Yoga Course, an 8 -weekend exploration of the practices and philosophy of Yoga, covering the Ashtavangaani or Eight Limbs of Yoga as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra.
Details of the Course
Most courses we had experienced were almost entirely focused on the physical practice of Yogasana or postures . We wanted to develop a course, which kept the key aim of Yoga at its heart. The goal of Yoga is simple. It is to know peace and freedom in every aspect of life. It is not a physical practice only, but one of body, mind, emotions and spirit. It asks of us that we look deeply and carefully into every aspect of our make-up and ask the question, ‘What is the truth of who and what I am?’ The examination of ourselves in this way, at every level of our being, is what is meant by abhyaasa or practice, and the means we use to do it are the saadhana or practice techniques.
I. Tapah Saadhana:
These are the physical practices by which we cleanse and strengthen the body and nervous system and are comprised primarily of Asana and Pranayama, or postures and breathing techniques, which are the third and fourth of the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga.
The Asana component of the course has a number of elements:
- Technique – the ‘how to’ of each of the postures in detail
- Vinyasa krama – the correct sequence of movements and breaths.
- Drishti – the gazing points
- Sanskrit names
- Anatomy – the key anatomical features of how the body is designed and how to move it.
- Variations appropriate to individual needs
Similarly the Pranayama incorporates
- 5 preparatory techniques,
- Pre-prananyama techniques
- Pranayama anatomy
II. Dhyaana Saadhana:
These are the practices that we use to move inwards towards the experience of Dhyaana or meditation. They begin with the technique of Antar Mouna, meaning Inner Silence, a practice of Pratyahara, the fifth limb of Ashtanga, by which we learn to be master of our senses, freeing ourselves from attachments and aversions, which might otherwise rule us.
From Inner silence we move to the practice of the sixth Limb, Dhaarana, or directed awareness. The ability to focus the mind without distraction is the aim of Dhaarana. From our capacity to direct our attention towards whatever we choose, and remain focused without distraction, evolve the seventh and eight limbs of Ashtanga, namely Dhyaana, meditation and Samaadhi, or Integration.
Dhyaana and Samadhi cannot be practised. There are no techniques. Meditation happens, and joy and peace are experienced as ever-present, our essential nature underlying everything.
III. Shaastra Saadhana
This is the study of Yogic Texts, principally the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita, as well as books by BKS Iyengar and TKV Desikachar.
This is a key part of the course, opening up our understanding of what Yoga is for and how we should approach our practices.
The texts are magnificent in the simplicity and clarity of their insight into the human psyche and the difficulties we all experience in navigating our way through life.
The wisdom of Yoga is simple, not that this necessarily makes it easy for us to understand, or act on it. The Sutra, Gita and the other texts brilliantly reveal the obstacles to happiness that we place in our own way, and point towards the means of removing these obstacles.
The complementing of our asana and other techniques with the insights from these Yogic texts strengthens the foundation of our practice. Gradually we begin to understand the true purpose and benefit of Yoga and to experience this in our life off the mat. We become healthier, calmer, more aware and contented. The things we need come our way and there is less struggle and disappointment. As Guruji put it ‘All is coming!’
B. Other Course Elements
I. Food and Lifestyle
We will look into various aspects of how lifestyle can enhance or hinder the effectiveness of our practices. Put simply, we should have a harmonious balance of work, exercise, recreation and sleep. We should have a regular and balanced diet of easily digestible foods, purchased, prepared, cooked and eaten in a calm and peaceful way. All this is manageable if we learn how. This can have a profound impact on the quality of our lives and our practice and is a vital aspect of Yoga practice.
II. Yoga History and Other DVD’s
Every second weekend we watch a DVD. Each falls broadly into one or other of 2 categories:
(i) The Ashtanga Lineage and Practice
(ii) The origins, history and branches of Yoga.
III. Chanting and Kriyas
The oral tradition, or Sruti Paramparaa, is the way we use to learn the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. We will cover the first two chapters of Sutra, and learn to chant the Sanskrit in the traditional way, by listening and repetition. While this is always new and challenging for us at the beginning, as we become used to doing it we will discover the profound impact that the Sanskrit chanting has, both physically and mentally.
Translation of the Sutra and discussion of their meaning and how they can assist us in life and practice is part of this section also.
Kriyas are additional techniques used for cleansing the physical and nervous systems and we learn a couple in the course of the year.
More Information Needed?
If you are interested please speak to Paula or myself and we can answer any further questions you may have and give you more details as required.
Cost of the Course
The Course Fee is €1595. To secure a place, a Non-refundable deposit of €1000 must be paid as soon as a place is offered to you. The balance is due to be paid 2 weeks before the commencement of the course.
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