"I LOVE YOGA"
After many years of watching hundreds of sweet souls from all over the planet become certified instructors of Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, I decided at the beginning of 2011 that this would be the year I would finally take the plunge.
I was one of sixty-one yogis enrolled in the training, and for many of them, this was their first certification with Chopra Center University. We all journeyed together over the past year, attending the Seduction of Spirit meditation and yoga retreat, and the Journey into Healing mind-body immersion workshop. We connected with each other through the monthly webinars, conference calls, and our various Facebook communities In the meantime, we all had been reading, studying, practicing, and taking pre-tests for many months. We met for our first yoga training week at the Chopra Center this summer, then came back together for our second intensive earlier this month.
Opening Our Hearts . . .
The love was palpable and resonates between us still at this very moment. The level of support, encouragement, and guidance we all received from each other and our teachers was beyond words. When the heart is open, unconditional love flows effortlessly.
And now, nine years after first coming to the Chopra Center, I am finally a Chopra Center certified Vedic Master! It feels truly fulfilling to have passed all the tests, on-the-mat practicals, and requirements of the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga teacher training.
The experience has transformed us all in ways we could never have anticipated.
Diving Deep into the Heart of Yoga
Most people know me as a meditation and Ayurveda/Perfect Health teacher. And even though I have practiced yoga (mostly asanas – the poses) on and off for more than twenty years, it is Ayurveda and meditation that have consistently resonated with me at a deeper level.
From my earliest experiences with these timeless tools, they have very practical applications in my day-to-day . . . at work . . . at home . . . in each moment of everyday life. And I have eagerly woven both bodies of knowledge and their daily rituals through every fiber of my being so that my inner dialogue reflects my outer dialogue. But everything I once believed changed the moment I enrolled in the yoga teacher training.
First off, I stopped thinking about yoga as the physical postures and began immersing myself in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, where he lays out the eight limbs (ashtanga) of yoga – essentially the steps we can take to move us closer to states of one-ness or union. The first limb is the yamas (personal codes of behavior). Then come the niyamas (universal observances), pranayama (breathing techniques), pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), asana (the postures) – and the meditation techniques dharana (attention), dhyana (single-pointed focus), and samadhi (the divine state of consciousness).
Over the years, I have read many versions and translations of the ancient text the Bhagavad Gita in which Lord Krishna, disguised as a charioteer, guides the warrior Arjuna through an understanding of yoga, love, devotion, dharma (or purpose), life, death, karma, and faith. Yet as I studied the Gita now – it was like it was a brand-new book – in fact it was an entire expanded body of knowledge. Something that had been so familiar . . . with the most subtle of shifts . . . became new. Studying the wisdom teachings of yoga essentially created an entirely new perspective for me. Everything seemed a bit more exciting flavored with an eight-limb, non-dualistic, Bhagavad Gita, YOGA orientation.
To put it plainly – I LOVE YOGA . . . not just the Sun Salutations developed by David Simon, Claire Diab, and Deepak but the conversation around the mental, physical, and spiritual union that is going on in every moment. The sweet stillness of body-centered restful awareness; the way my physiology feels after an hour of present moment awareness through the flow of ancient postures; the way I now celebrate breathing for hours after a yoga class; the way I sleep after a week of cleansing yoga classes; and the way we all think when we live the eight limbs.
Back at the Sweet Spot
After two months of at-home study – all of us thousands of miles apart yet connected by the tether of webinars, emails, and conference calls – my fellow yogis ventured back to the sweet spot for our final week of testing and certification. Strangely, there was very little anxiety in the group. I expected us all to be nervous . . . out of sorts . . . or panicked that we were not prepared. But out of each of us flowed only trust . . . only love and commitment. We had done the work . . . immersed ourselves completely . . .and now we all were feeling the elevation from being on this path.
Our conversations were about consciousness as a second language. I was surprised that so many fellow teachers in training were going to combine these teachings with their current areas of expertise – management consultant, HR manager, artist, filmmaker, parent of two young ones, wrestling coach, life coach, acting coach, marketing manager, spouse, chiropractor, spa owner, body builder, meditation teacher – and the list went on and on. Yoga will become the union of this timeless teaching and their current dharma or purpose in life.
As I looked around at my fellow yogis, I began to journey in my mind through the many expressions of myself that I could flow combining my current expertise and these beautiful teachings of union translated for us by Patanjali around 200 A.D. Asking the soul questions (How can I help? How can I heal? How can I serve using my unique gifts and special talents?) made the difference for me.
Union. One-ness. Unity. Isn’t that what we’re all seeking in some way? A return to source . . . a journey back to our very essence – the part of us that flows through everything else in the universe. The part of us that is timeless – never born, never died.
Cleansing the Lens of Perception
Whether you are interested in practicing or teaching yoga, you have an opportunity in this moment to perceive the world in a new light. The Bhagavad Gita tells us that there are four types of yoga: 1.) Karma Yoga – or the yoga of action; 2.) Bhakti Yoga – or the yoga of devotion; 3.) Gyan Yoga – or the yoga of the intellect; and 4.) Raja Yoga – the Royal Path or the yoga of daily practice, which includes connecting each day to meditation and yoga.
Simply by asking the question How can I serve? each day and then going into the state of meditative restful awareness, or into the body-centered restful awareness of yoga, the answers will begin to flow. We will have greater awareness of each moment and be connected to a deep energy to help and heal others. An energy of inspiration and gratitude for all that has been given and all we have received.
Yes, I can now stand on my head along with my other sixty fellow yogis performing sirsasana pose. And I can pretzel myself into garudasana (eagle pose). But if that was any of our goals before, I don’t think that is the goal any of us are now seeking. We have embraced all eight limbs of yoga, beyond simply asana, to include the philosophy and 5,000-year-old-wisdom that remain relevant and profound today.
We have all journeyed so deep to the center of ourselves that we are now part of a sweet, timeless collective, and I feel the deepest gratitude for the developers of this spiritual yoga program: Deepak Chopra and David Simon. When I try to sum it up, it’s overwhelming. If you are a Seven Spiritual Laws yogi, I salute you – WOW, what a gift you have given yourself; and if you are considering adding yoga teacher training to your life tools, I encourage you to take the first step and reach out to CCU to learn more.
Whatever you decide to do, take a step towards your deepest core. Learn. Share. Teach. Or Master. The possibilities are infinite.