This is essentially no different than your standard book, article, essay, or movie. The key here is to present a teaching, and then stay on track with that teaching through repetition. The challenge most teachers face is the fear of repetition, there is a strange idea that the student knows, or has already practiced everything they have, and so seemingly the students should get it on the first time. This is simply not true, anything any of us has every studied, took repetition – otherwise the word “studying” wouldn’t be necessary, because we would all just get it the first time someone said it. SO, Thematic Through Lines are to present a teaching which requires self study on the part of the student.
CREATING YOUR DHARMA TALK
The Dharma Talk, or introduction is just like the opening to a great movie, or first paragraph of a book. Yes you can theme a class without an introduction to the theme, but you might find yourself having to explain too much throughout the class, making it harder for you to communicate all of the other things going on in the class such as the sequence or alignment, etc. I suggest if you want to make the experience smooth and more easeful that you include a dharma talk. A well executed Dharma talk can be 2-5 minutes long. They can also go up to 15 minutes long, however you run the risk of losing the interest of your students at that point simply because most humans cannot sit on the ground comfortably for that period of time, and their attention span may not be ready for that kind of experience. On the flip side if Dharma talks are your strength, then students will certainly come to you for that particular purpose, and they might prefer a longer introduction, after all this is what attracts them to you. Personally, I find short dharma talks to be highly effective, and to the point, and yet I struggle with keeping them short, and so every time I go to teach I remind myself to keep it clear, and concise.
To begin the process of constructing a Dharma Talk that will unfold into a thematic through line first
Choose a Yoga Sutra that resonates with you right now – this might be something that you are currently passionate about studying, or something that you need to hear. Yes, we always teach most passionately about what we are most interested in. On the flip side, you may have a student raise a question that triggers your interest in sharing a teaching from the sutras. In any case pick one out. (yes there are many other ways and sources of a theme, but we start with the yoga sutras)
Journal and Reflect on this sutra in order to get all your thoughts, arguments, excitements out on a page. This will get your inner mind organized. It will also help you to figure out what your personal opinions are which may or may not be appropriate to share, or it may help you to understand why you hold such opinions, for example it may be coming from your samskaras or ego.
What “problem” does this teaching solve? for example the teaching of Abhyasa solves the problem of students not being consistent with their efforts.
What are some challenges that may come up for the student when practicing this teaching. For example a challenge of Abhyasa would be lack of motivation or inspiration – forgetting why they set out on the journey.
Ultimately what is the point of this teaching? this is similar to step 3, however instead of highlighting the problem, we highlight the result. So instead of saying “the problem is I want something but I am lazy”, we now affirm “Even though I struggle with lack of motivation, I remember Abhyasa – the routine effort of practice and I show up anyway, and then I get to enjoy not only the fruits of my efforts, but also the feeling of integrity, and self pride – I did what I said I would and what I wanted to do”. Highlight the results of applying the teaching
For right now there is no need to perfect any of this, I would just like you to begin the process. The 5 steps above, are a jumping off point to help stimulate your creativity. If you come up with more or difference steps that help you become clear on a teaching you can of course use them.
The Resistance Response is something I decided to name and identify in order to better converse about it and diminish its power over our process. It is natural to come up against it, in fact if you didn’t than it would mean you simply were not practicing Kriya Yoga: Tapas, Swadyaya, Ishvara Pranidana – Rigor, Awareness, Surrender. It comes up like an animal backed into a corner – scared for its life, and ready to fight. There are many ways to approach it, I suggest to go about it in a loving way, acknowledging that The Resistance Response is a twisted version of fear for our survival playing out in the mind. Its the fear that the constructs of the mind must stay as they are or we will not survive. The yogis call this Abhinivesah, it is one of the distortions of the mind that can be released through Kriya Yoga according to Patanjali.
Notice the surge of emotion that puts you in that defensive, protective state
Notice the tendency to use Blame, Avoidence or Numbing in order to protect a Samskara or Identity
Acknowledge this as the Resistance Response when it arrises by naming it
INQUIRE instead of DEFEND aka ask “what is here for me?” “where is this coming from?” “Why do I feel the need to defend this?”
This sutra is the most important sutra in Patanjali’s Yoga sutras because after much explanation of why we practice yoga he finally tells us what is required of us to practice yoga. Kriya, means action, yoga – unite. To practice the union we take action and that action requires that we put in the Tapas (effort, rigor), develop Swadyaya (self awareness, self inquiry, self study), and Ishvara Pranidana (surrender to the order of the Universe). Many of the practices to follow, including asana, pranayama and meditation are just subsets of these 3 MAJOR practices.
The Practice of Kriya Yoga (Uniting through Action) is a 3 fold path
Ishvara Pranidana: Surrender
In this class we learn to apply this sutra to our yoga practice, in particular to our pursuit of handstand, which requires tremendous rigor and routine practice, awareness of the body, and surrender to the time it takes for our body and mind to be ready for the posture.
THEME REMINDER: TAKE NOTES ON HOW THE THEME IS DELIVERED, WHEN POSTURES DO I SPEAK ABOUT THE THEME IN? HOW DO I SAY IT? WHAT DO I SAY?
What is a thematic Through Line? A thematic through line is a term used by Chromatic teachers to discuss the message, or story that is told throughout a yoga class. It is capable of taking an ordinary physical class, to an extraordinary life changing adventure. It either will come naturally to you or it will scare you completely and you will avoid it at all cost. For me? It scares me, every single time, but I offer it anyway because it really isn’t for me, its for everyone that shows up to practice yoga. For some of you this will be the easy part, and anatomy and sequencing will be the challenge. WE ALL have our struggles, and thats what makes teaching so fun if you allow it. First step to theming is to pay attention to themes, and messages as they are taught.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN OBSERVING
Observe the class and write down notes about your experience and write down what you think the theme is.
what is the message I am trying to get across?
How does it make you feel?
What did I say that was affective, and what inspired you?- write those lines down so you have them for yourself for later.
What would you have phrased differently either to be more effective or to be more authentically you?
NOTE: You might also go back to previous classes in this course or any other course that you know had a strong message, and perhaps observe and write instead of practice, or practice and take notes. If you know other teachers that do well with delivering a theme, observer their classes as well.
It may be helpful to read these pages prior to doing this meditation rather than after, however doing the meditation first might enhance and facilitate a deeper understanding of what the text is communicated with us. In particular pg 172 discusses meditation for Samskaras.
In this meditation we go through the same template that I gave you for self guided experience. Using the sound of OM, or chanting, singing can be added after pranayama or used in place of pranayama. Repeating the sound of OM can help bring the nervous system into a state of equilibrium which makes it easier for us to hold concentration long enough to relax the movement of the Vrtti’s. When the Vritti’s are stilled then we can see the structures below the surface that give rise to the Vritti’s – our Samskaras. In theory, to discuss this it doesn’t really make sense. I suppose I can give you all the analogies in the world and try and describe what its like to see our Samskaras, but it reality it can only be experienced through Abhyasa – Repetitious Effort, Practice. Once seen you may react in a myriad of ways. Revealing a Samskara for some can be incredibly scary and/or intense because it’s likely rooted in deep past fears that we have been living with our whole life but didn’t realize were the fuel behind everything we do and not do. You may also feel a major sense of relief upon the revelation of a Samskara – it could leave you feeling empowered, light and joyous because now you know what has been weighing you down.You may also come up against a major war, the samskara will likely defend itself as its entire existence relies on you not knowing its there, and you not doing anything about it.
This meditation is about 20min long. For me personally, when I began meditating, it really wasn’t until the 30-40minute mark where I would finally give up the major fight with my ego, lack of attention, and inner child (joking but not really joking). I would also go through a whirlwind of physical movements which are known as Kriyas. They are essentially involuntary movements “actions” that they body just does to release whatever it needs to. Once all the movement of my mind and body ceased then I finally would have the opportunity to see a Samskara.
By the way, once you see a Samskara it doesn’t disappear – In my personal experience it has taken up to 6 years to dissolve certain samskaras once they have been revealed. Part of this is because it seems that I personally need to see the root of how the Samskara was formed for me to let go of its power over me. This may just be my personal nature. I have heard from others that upon seeing they felt an immediate release form its hold.
The Fight, Flight, Freeze response is a magnificent mechanism that humans are gifted with, and likely has played a major roll in the evolution of the human race. It only presents us with a problem when physical danger crosses over to Egoic or Samskaric danger. In other words when our Identity, belief systems, thought or emotional patters are at risk of change, a trigger of hormones kicks into our physical systems preparing us for a fight. Literally neurotransmitters like adrenaline, and cortisol are sent in excess through the system, preparing you to fight, run away, or freeze/faint/checkout. So now you have this running through your system, and yet there is no physical exertion or fight to be had. That energy needs to be moved, and so it comes out in our self expression, actions, behaviors. Yes for some it will be physical violence, but for most it will be “reactivity”. We will start Blaming (fight), Avoiding (flight), or Check Out/Numb (freeze).
As discussed in the video there are 3 forms of blame that we will take on: Blame others, Blame ourselves, Blame outside forces.
What to Do About it?
Knowing that this happens within us helps us with the practice of self inquiry – Swadyaya. Knowing that these will be our responses when triggered, we can catch ourselves in the act of defending our Samskaras and Identities. We can wake up, and get out of our own way. If we don’t wake up than our mind will work against us. The Buddhi, will intellectualize why we are right, the Manas will either shut down its attention or only pay attention to what is validating its argument. The Ahankara strengthens as it wins the battle, “you see, I am right”. The Samskaras will strengthen “See this IS how the world is”.
Instead you have the option not to go down that road. Instead you can catch yourself when you start blaming yourself, others, or outside forces, and you can say “What is here for me?” or “Why is THAT my reaction?”. NOW, your Buddhi flips and b begins to work for you, it makes a case for dissolving your samskaras and egoic constructs. The Buddhi is now reflecting the highest light within you instead of the darkness.
This mind chart is a visual to help you compartmentalize the various parts of the mind. According the the yogis we have these three parts of the mind, Buddhi, Ahankara, and Manas – Intellect, “I” Maker, and Sense Perceiver & Attention. I put them in this order specifically because we will be diving into the Tattva’s soon – the Tattvas are essentially the principals or levels of reality – essentially a chart of how the universe is creating, sustaining and destroying itself all the time. More on that later. Patanjali’s Yoga sutras is aimed at what we can “do”, or “practice” in order to address the challenges of the Prakritik world. Tantra philosophy agrees with Patanjali in that it says we do need to take “do” and “practice” but we also need to “Know” how the universe operates in order to exist within it. Of course Patanjali agrees, as he does take sometime to explain Purusha and Prakriti but he’s far more focus on the “doing”. Some philosophy’s disregard all the “doing” and say that you can’t address the problems of your prakritik nature whilst doing prakritik things – one can only transcend the physical world through accurate knowledge. Tantra says you need both Knowledge and Action that they require each other. In addition Tantra explains that knowledge informs action and action informs knowledge. Tantra is also not really telling us that we should transcend anything, for we are already transcendent beings – we simply need to wake up to it so we can live more Gracefully in the world, and embrace the Fullness of the human experience.
This is why I am taking some time to really help you get a grasp on the structure of the sutras and tantric philosophy – the knowledge of understanding how things work can help us gain greater insight into ourselves, our behaviors, reactions, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and so on. In this section we go over the 3 parts of the mind. My hope is that this knowledge helps you to better witness yourself, and develop a strengthened practice of Swadyaya – self study.
Tantra Illuminated by Christopher D. Wallis
Read Pg 124-135
As much as I would love for you to read Tantra Illuminated in full, I dont know how practical it would be, and honestly it could be an entire course or 3 courses in itself. That said I am going to be pulling information from this book and it would be helpful to read certain parts. The challenge of it however is that you may have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about in certain paragraphs without the preface of previous chapters. I will try and bridge the gaps for you as we go and highlight the more important pieces that I believe will be most applicable to teaching yoga in the modern world.
On page 124 you will get a look at the Ttavas – dont worry about grasping the whole thing right now just Pau attention to Purusha, Prakrti, Buddhi, Ahankara, and Manas. This is where most of our study so far has been focused. When reading through the pages, Id like you to pay close attention to the way he talks about these. You will be quizzed based on those sections (Tattvas 12-16).
Self guided meditation plays a Vitale roll in helping you establish a connection to your own experience within the practice, and gives you a sense of ownership in that experience. Like asana, we often believe our success to be because of our great teacher. While our the guidance of a teacher is excellent and can really ignite a fire within us, that same teacher, with the same skillset cannot ignite the flame for everyone – and that is because each individual has their own choice, and free will to take or not take personal action as the please. Self practice is not better than guided meditation but rather it is the necessary compliment that strengthens our attention over time. Once our ego gives in and allows meditation into our identity we then will feel confident enough to share it with others. We will also feel authentic about it when we do, and that is because meditation will be something that we do, not something that our teacher tells us to do. So what are the steps to self guided meditation?
Before we get to the exact steps to guide yourself lets first go over what you need to do in order to establish the practice:
Establish a time of day that you will meditate
Decide on an amount of time to meditate, I suggest 5 minutes.
Use a timer – you can set an alarm on your phone or you can use a meditation app that has incremental timer such as insight timer or just breathe. Just type meditation timer into your app or google play store.
I do not suggest music for your daily meditation – If you wish to sit with music, establish a separate music based practice. Without music you will be forced to guide yourself, and you are more likely to witness the challenging landscape of the rise and fall of thoughts in your mind.
Find a routine location to meditate. When I started I would meditate on my subway rides home from work in Manhattan – I would set a timer and go inward. If you have the opportunity to be in a quiet space than great, however it is not a mandatory part of the practice.
BODY: Guide yourself through the 3 major curves of the spine – low back arched, upper back rounded, neck arched. Be sure head and shoulders are place in line with pelvis (slightly back from most of our habitual postural patterns. (1-2 minutes)
BREATH: After guiding yourself through your seated posture, begin the sound of Ujjayi breath. Establish a few rounds of subtle but audible breaths.
BREATH: Begin pranayama, there are many different pranayamas, the most basic yet likely the most effective for a daily practice is called Deergha Pranayama or 3 Part Breath. This means breath into your belly, ribs, and shoulders on the inhale and in that order. Breathe out in the opposite order. There is a slight ujjayi throughout so you can control and slow the tempo of your breath.
BREATH: Optionally add a Kumbhaka, breath retention, or better said lingering of inactive breathe – neither inhaling nor exhaling at the top and bottom of the breath. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to the space, stillness between the breaths. This is the easiest doorway into the experience of Samadhi, ceasing the fluctuations of the the mind stuff (vrittis).
MIND: release effort with breathing and allow your body to be breathed by life. Sit in observation of the experience of being alive. When thought or emotion or behavior arrises, simply observe, and label it, then return back to observation. Again and again you will be pulled but the push and pull of the Guna’s within the mind, simply observe it, label it and return back to focusing on the experience of being alive.
RETURN: Return to breath. If you have an interval timer you can set it for 4 minutes to give you a bell. at the 4 minute marker you can come back to intentional breathing for a few rounds.
RETURN: Return to the body, awaken the fingers and toes, rub hands together and optionally place them over eyes, heart, belly, and then massage legs and if accessible, your feet.
5 Minute timer will sound and you are complete. I suggest immediately journaling your experience even if its a few notes – it will help to intensify the affectivity of your practice as it becomes cumulative.
Patanjali establishes that the universe presents itself in two ways, Purusha, and Prakriti, That which is always changing (Prakriti) and that which is unchanging (Purusha). Because we as humans are Prakritik by nature, and we live in a world that is also in constant change, there is a peaceful, Joyful, stillness in the state of Sattva (balance) that is considered ideal – it allows us to get closes to our essence, or the core of who we are as Purusha – unchanging. This philosophy from the tantrik perspective doesn’t establish that Purusha and Prakriti are separate from one another, but rather they co-exist simultaneously. Pursha is all prevading – which simply means that inside of all thinks changing and forming exists the Changeless and Formless. Because of this, we have the capacity within us to experience Purusha through the practices of yoga says Patanjali.
Tapas is one of the most important discussions in the yoga practice because it is the inevitable experience of transformation. Yoga, to yoke, or unite, is about bringing together, or merging the limited human perception with the limitless unbound potential of universal intelligence or simply put Uniting that which is Prakritik with Purusha. That is a lot of fancy language for uniting the micro with the Macro, or the mind with infinite intelligence, matter with formless, Human with Spirit etc. WHENEVER we unite two things there is always friction, it is that intensity, rubbing, that Patanjali refers to as Tapas. It is IN THE FRICTION where we establish the ability for transformation to occur. It is exactly like taking two sticks, rubbing them together in oder to light a fire. Rubbing the sticks together creates heat, friction, intensity, and eventually gives way to fire. It is in that fire where transformation occurs.
One quality of a beginner yogi is one that avoids the friction, or cannot endure the intensity of it long enough for the flame to ignite. The Advanced practitioner not only endure the intensity but enjoys the discomfort – that is they literally become Joyful at the opportunity of Union. Why do they feel Joyful in the discomfort? Simply because they have stepped into the fire enough times to realize that on the other end of the intensity is the magnificence of transformation which leads to personal growth, and the shedding of thought, emotional and/or behavioral patterns that no longer serve them.
This is just like the body builder vs the average gym goer. The Average gym goer lifts a weight until they feel tired and then they put it down and move to the next exercise. The body builder begins their practice once they feel tired, rather than putting the weight down, they kick into high gear, and dig deep within them to do 2-3 more repetitions, even if it means finding someone to support them on that last lift. The reason is, they know that its in those last few reps that their muscles break down enough to be rebuilt into something stronger and more powerful. The yogi does this as well but instead of lifting weights with their physical body, they do it with their mind.
The Guna’s from Patanjali’s view are forces of nature that are constantly occurring, and because of the strength of Rajas (energizing), and Tamas (decaying) we need to practice consistently and rigorously with purpose in order to maintain the state of Sattva. Sattva is the state in which we have the capacity to experience longer lasting Joy. In the Sattvic state we have greater access to higher intelligence that is in alignment with that which is unchanging. It is because this state of being is so challenging to maintain that the entire practice of yoga exists. It is the collection of practices that help us to maintain a more sattvic state of being both in mind and body.
Please take notes, and watch several times to get a strong understanding of “Guna Theory”
Patanjali amongst other’s texts like the Bhagavad-Gita talk about the rigor of maintaining a Sattvic state of being – keeping our mind and body in a balanced optimal state gives us the greatest chance at not getting beat up by the push an pull of Rajas and Tamas. While Alan Finger’s translation is that the push and pull are natural states that when in balance lead to Sattva, this is more of a modern Tantrik interpretation. More Vedantic interpretation which is the lineage of Patanjali, would explain that Tamas and Rajas are not energies we want any part of, and yet like magnets we are so easily pulled toward them.
Each interpretation has its beneficial teachings within them. In any case they both maintain that the Sattvic state is the ideal human experience. In that place of equanimity we can experience the microcosmic changelessness that is closes to the Macrocosmic oneness that is Absolutely Changeless. Sattva is still a Guna, and it still exists in the Prakritic world of matter and change, so while it is not changeless, it is the closest to that experience that we get as humans. In the state of Sattva it is easier to go to sleep at night, wake up in the morning, make better decisions, be productive etc. But to maintain Sattva, we must put forth tremendous effort to withstand the storm of Rajas and Tamas that is always upon us.
In the above chart, I drew Sattva as a big circle. I think to be more visually accurate that circle would have to be much smaller in order to be indicative of how delicate this state of being is, and just how hard it is to maintain it. It is far easier to fall into the push and pull of Rajas and Tamas.
These 3 identity types can be used as ways to self inquire about our internal patterning and attitude toward how we approach life. This does not mean that you are stuck in one way of experiencing, this is about discovering your tendencies, and go to mindsets. Likely much of your core values are wrapped up in one of these 3, and it can be useful to understand this so you can catch yourself before you have gone too far in that direction. Knowing that you are actually all three, thankfully, you can also make the choice to switch in and out of them to your advantage once you have developed the capacity to see yourself clearly. For example if you tend to just be the doer you may sit down one day and make a plan, checklist, or do some research, contemplate, meditate or engage in conversation to stimulate the thinker within you – This will likely lead to more accurate and effective action.
Please take notes while watching the video, and self reflect. You will be asked to submit your self reflections in the final quiz of this section.
Many of you watching this may not care what the purpose is, you just want to learn and get into it because you like the way it makes you feel or how it stimulates intentional thought. Others of you will really want to know why the heck you are here, and what is the purpose of reading ancient text, and “are these ideas outdated?” and “I thought I am supposed to be in the here and now why read something from the past”. The Ego within us rejects change because its spends so much time trying to solidify its identity and sense of “I”. Its continuously looking to defend a false construct and belief system. If your belief system doesn’t already include “deep thinking” “spiritual” “philosophical” “contemplative” or other words similar to that than the ego will likely reject this entire training. EVEN IF you know intellectually that this is what you need to do, the intellect and ego are different parts of the mind, so it isn’t that simple to know what is good for you and to get fully on board with it. With that said, your ego is likely to reject much of this training – this is why I say to keep a journal throughout. You can be completely honest and clear when you write down your thoughts. After the training, 2 years, 5 years from now if you go back to your journal you will undoubtably be able to see just how much the teachings of yoga have affected you – they take much time to settle in, and they are FOREVER changing us – we will never be done transforming and learning from the yoga practice.
Please take notes throughout the video and listen to the key points that jump out for you.
Here we take a slightly different look at Abhyasa, asking ourselves to reflect upon the quality of our efforts and what we are exerting our will. Think of action as a finite resource – you only have so much of it in one day, week or lifetime. How do you want to spend it? Where do you want to spend it? What exactly do you want to be spending it on?
Most of use waste our energy on things that don’t really matter to us and don’t fulfill our soul, and the interesting thing is we all know we are doing it, and yet we continue to do so anyway. Haven’t you ever procrastinated doing the one thing you know you should be doing? Instead you wind up doing a billion other things instead? yes those other things needed to get done perhaps, but still this is just an example of how we will put our effort into actions that don’t serve our highest – likely because they don’t have an affect on our ego – insecurities and identities etc.
These two teachings from the yoga sutras are perhaps the some of the more tangible and directly applicable of them all. Not only are they easier to self reflect upon in our personal life but they also match very well with the physical practice of yoga. I find that they make for magnificent themes throughout yoga classes and they are easy discuss in a very natural manner. Partially this is because they are less provocative than many of the other teachings – they dont directly attack our ego as much unless we are strongly identified with being a workaholic and we believe that that is actually an excellent thing for ourselves. On the flip side if we are strongly identified with the idea that hard work is a bad thing than the ego might get offended as well. The thing about it is, even those of us that are overachiever understand how easy it is to burn out. I almost always teach this two as a unit, because its more likely that the ego will get on board and the intellect won’t over complicate and argue whether or not one is good or bad for us.
If you see a “Materials” tab at the top of the lesson, always click on it. This will include important information for the following lesson or the section that you are in. For example, if you click in now you will see the list of books I just mentioned and a written version of the reading assignments.
PLEASE NOTE THE HEART: ALL VIDEOS IN THIS COURSE MUST BE PLAYED UNTIL THE VERY END IN ORDER TO PROGRESS FORWARD. IN MOST CASES YOU WILL NEED TO MANUALLY MARK THE LESSON AS COMPLETE BEFORE MOVING FORWARD. WITH SOME LESSONS WHERE THERE IS NO CONTENT TO READ, IT WILL BE AUTO MARKED COMPLETE.
It is with great pleasure that I get to share this course with you. Along my personal path of yoga, I have always been drawn the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of the practice. I do not diminish the importance of the physical practice by any means, however it is important recognize that the modern yoga practice has gotten wildly popular based on asana. And with time the other aspects which are equally important have fallen off. Partially this is due to marketing – it is easier to sell something that is visually promising than something that cannot be seen. Another reason is because of the vulnerability that is required when approaching matters of the heart and mind. Like the body, you cannot get stronger if you are not willing to see where you are weak, but unlike the body we cannot ignore the weaknesses of our mind as easily. This is mostly because we can use the mind to heal our body, but it is harder to use the mind to heal itself.
We must define the mind if we are to be talking about it. One of my favorite authors is neuro-scientest Daniel J Siegel. I had the opportunity to attend a seminar with him at a university in NYC, where he spoke to all of the students who were there studying some form of mental health, either to become psychologists, psychiatrist, councilors, etc. He opened the conversation with a question:
“you are all studying to be mental health professionals correct?”
“yes!” said the entire audience
“Who here can define the mind?”
He went onto explain that the entire mental health industry is formed around something that we have no collective definition for. How can we bring health to something if we can’t even define what it is we are trying to heal? Now we all can define the brain because its a physical entity, but it is not the mind.
The yogis tell us that the mind is consciousness’s way of processing the human experience – like a digestive track for the input that is received in life. It produces thoughts and emotions as a way to take in, process, digest everything that happens to us. Mental health to the yogi is like hygiene for the mind. The mind is an organ of perception and it must be kept clean – if it is overloaded we cannot see things as they are. The mind is like a lens on a camera – if not kept clean, than all our experiences are tainted by the layers of dirt. So how do we keep our mind clean, so that our experiential digestion process can work optimally?
These two are the ultimate cleansing process for the mind. Self inquiry is done through active questioning of ourselves and our experience. Meditation helps us to clean the dirt, Self inquiry helps us understand where the dirt came from and why we didn’t clean it sooner. Meditation keeps the dirt from building, self inquiry inspires us to keep meditating.
To be clear as yoga teachers we are not psychiatrists, psychologists or anything of that kind, we are not here to fix anyone or prescribe them with type of medication. We are simply sharing practices to assist others in maintaining health in their mind. Like the asana practice, we aren’t doctors and we can’t fix injuries but we can share the physical practices that may result in a healthier physical body. It’s a fine line, and so long as you are simply sharing a path with people and are aware that the path you share will work for some and not for others, than this is all you can do.
How To Teach Self Inquiry
If self inquiry is something that I do personally than how can we teach that to others? By sharing the teachings of yoga and other philosophies we present context to inspire others to ask questions. By sharing our personal experiences we may also inspire others to look within themselves. The teaching of yoga are like a road map inward, they present triggers for us to see the dirt on our lens, but of course only we have the power to do the work. No matter how much someone else try to inspire us, we still need to do the work ourselves. And so the same is true when we teach and share the teachings of yoga – we are their to present the opportunity, and the path along with its pitfalls, and we can even light the way and give step by step instructions, however it will always be up to the student to walk the path or not.
What you will learn in this course is something called Theming. You likely have heard of it, or even themed classes already. My intention is to support you in being more impactful with your themes by adding a layer of structure, vulnerability and courage. Do you need to theme a yoga class for it to be excellent? No, as we already know we can have a powerful experience in our body just from strengthening our muscles and moving our joints. However to support others in deepening their experience with self inquiry, which leads to self awareness we must support them by presenting ideas for them to contemplate. When you are teaching retreats or trainings you can certainly separate asana, meditation, and the teachings of yoga by offering different time slots for each. The teachings can be shared in discussion format, the way I will share much of them with you in this course. However with modern day yoga we dont always have the opportunity to share all sides of the practice, as people aren’t dedicating their whole day to practicing yoga. So to accommodated modern yoga, we can bring these practices into our asana classes through a process I call Layering. If you took Chromatic Yoga level 1 than you are already familiar with this concept, we will simply apply it to teaching the other aspects of yoga.
FIRST, lets get into self study. We will begin with the study of Samadhi.
First, I want to take this time to congratulate you for the effort you have put in so far to your training and study. Thank you for putting your heart into this training and for taking on the challenges it may have presented you along the way.
Now you are on the final stretch to complete the course and all that is needed is to complete the final exam. Your task now is to go back and start taking the quizzes within the course that you have already taken. When you get a question wrong, go back and rewatch the video in that lesson to study and integrate the information that has slipped. It is completely normal to not retain and integrate everything you have learned, this process will solidify knowledge so you can take it with you the rest of your life. Don’t skip and just settle, this isn’t high school, you aren’t taking an exam to get a good grade, you are taking the exam to support your growth potential and to increase your confidence and your ability to help your friends, family, and students.