Yoga Ashrams India – What’s it? Why Do we need it?

Most of the Yoga practitioners and Yoga teachers have heard of “Yoga Ashram”. And Many of us have wondered, got curious about Ashram. Some of us have already been to “many Yoga Ashrams” which are everywhere in the world now. What is the meaning and concept of Yoga Ashram? How typically a Yoga Ashram looks like? Is there any symbolic meaning behind the creation of Yoga Ashrams? What are the main goals of Yoga Ashrams in India?

Yoga Ashram and Yoga Master India

Teachings in Yoga Ashram

Yoga Ashram – Sanskrit Meaning

Ashram or Ashrama comes from Shrama and means “making a meaningful effort in the path of Self-realization”. Often it is the place or group of people who are together making an inner research towards liberation are considered as “Ashram”.

How typically an Ashram looks like?

Ashram generally is set up away from the crowd, from the worldly affairs so that the research inwards will be easier. Generally headed by a Guru, a tradition of Gurus Ashram will have a community of people working together in the path of spirituality.

Does a Yoga Ashram have a symbolic spiritual meaning?

Yes! Yoga Ashram is a space where in the inner research takes place which is heart. Every aspirant in the path of spirituality has to create and reside in a Yoga Ashram which is inside. Your physical body should be considered as a Yoga Ashram and the Heart is the core, the center, the Guru of the Ashram. The Heart has to be kept pure, serene and holy so that it can lead the entire Ashram (Body) in the right path of spirituality.

What is the goal of Yoga Ashrams in India?

Though every Ashram can have its own way of life style, customs and goals, the foundation was to help each aspirant to find the light within, the Guru within. The Guru in the Ashram won’t ask the disciples to follow him but to follow their heart. He won’t ask them to keep himself as the Guru, but will guide them to find their Guru inside.

You need a spiritual, eastern or mystical insight to understand the concept of the Master. A Master is one who does not teach, but guide. He does not even create disciples but shows the master inside you. He clears the way for you to become a master!

Yoga Ashram is a place or should be a place where in the seekers are guided, not asked to follow to seek the master inside and find the union with that Guru who is nothing but the “Light”.

Best Yoga Ashram

Samyak Yoga Ashram, India

It does not necessarily be a physical place too. A place, space wherein you find the unity with your own Light, the real master. You can also create a Yoga Ashram in your heart. A serene place, undisturbed, calm and a lab for inner research with balance in all actions.

Samyak Yoga Ashram in this perspective is an effort to find the union with light, guide the seekers to find their own masters and be the Guru. Let all Yoga Ashrams, Yoga Ashrams with physical existence too find the union with the master in the hearts and minds of seekers, the light inside and spread the message of union, Light and awareness through actions.

Some Popular Yoga Ashrams in India can be as follow:

1. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, Tamilnadu

Courses offered: Collective Meditations are held. But there are no mandatory meditation practices.

2. Mata Amritanandamayi Ashram (Amma Ashram), Kollam, Kerala

Courses offered: Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique, Meditation and prayer sessions and Karma Yoga.

3. Art of Living Ashram of Sri Sri Ravishankar, Bangalore, Karnataka

Courses offered: Art of Living technique, Meditation techniques, Vedic Maths etc.

4. Sri Ramanashram – in the name of Yogi Ramana – Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu

Courses offered: Vedic Chanting and Puja (worship) in the temple.

5. Shanti Kunj Ashram (also called as Gayatri Parivar) – Haridwar

Courses offered: Spiritual development, Music and advance Yoga Courses

6. Samyak Yoga Ashram – Mysore, India

Courses offered: Professional Yoga Teacher Training Courses in Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Yoga

7. Shivananda Ashram – Neyyar Dham, Kerala and Madhurai, Tamilnadu

Courses offered: Yoga Teacher Training Courses in Shivananda Yoga

8. Paramartha Niketan, Rishikesh

Courses offered: Yoga Teacher Training Courses, Meditation techniques

9. Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu

Courses offered: Tours to pilgrimage centers and trekking to places of Yogic Significance, Meditation classes

10. Vipassana Meditation – Many Locations

Courses Offered: Vipassana Meditation Courses are 10 days and held for general practitioners, children, Executives and Old students of Vipassana Practice.

Voice of a Yoga Teacher – Can my voice influence the outcome of my Yoga Class?

Have you ever heard yourself after speaking or recording your voice? Many feel that their voice is totally different than what they hear normally or what they feel their sound would hear like. Does this happen to you too? Then for sure as Yoga Teacher you might wonder how your voice would be heard when you teach. Is it good or bad; audible or not; rough or soft; base pitch or high pitch …? These are few simple questions that that might arise as a Yoga Teacher or ‘to-be-yoga teacher’ because, YES, THE VOICE OF A YOGA TEACHER WILL HAVE A GREAT IMPACT ON THE OUTCOME OF EVERY YOGA CLASS THAT YOU CONDUCT.

As a yoga teacher I always wonder how we can use our voice as a tool to enhance the results of our yoga session to make our students happy and feel that yes they heard what they expected. I personally found five major factors that were helping my voice in a better way to give a positive outcome. We should know how to use our voice properly during a yoga session and also during other times to have a best communication to happen. Without lengthening my blog I right away mention the five aspects to remember when we speak during our yoga sessions.

Voice of a Yoga Teacher

The Voice of a Yoga Teacher

1. BREATH: BREATHE PROPERLY. SUCCESS WILL FLOW SLOWLY.

Communication is possible only if breathing happens. Breath or the Prana in yogic terminology is considered to be the advocate of our communicative words. Anatomically, our voice depends upon the efficiency of our breathing. Our breathing in turn depends upon the efficiency of our lungs. We should first of all know how to breathe during a yoga session. As a Yoga Teacher, we might have to speak a lot so we need a lot of energy for that which we might have to channelize through our breathing to all our cells. So complete ‘yogic breathing’ is a good technique to practice to improve the lung capacity. While teaching, use all your lungs to fill in the air and let the diaphragm be moved as you fill the lower lungs. Short breath means only the upper lungs are filled which is otherwise known as clavicular breathing which might cause the squeezing of the throat and voice might not come our properly. Young naive Yoga Teachers find it very difficult to breathe completely due to stress or tension or anxiety about the success of their teaching session.

2. POSE: KNOW YOUR POSTURE AND MAKE YOUR VOCAL GESTURE

Every word spoken might help the students guess your pose or posture that you are in. If you are not comfortable in any posture that you demonstrate, that for sure, will result in giving a major impact on your voice. For example if you have not warmed up for the morning session and try demonstrating sun-salutations for three rounds with explanations, then the flow of Asanas will impact your breathe and in turn your voice. The impact of Sun-Salutations on your breathe will speak a lot about your practice than what you say to students about it. Every movement that we make has an impact on our voice. We cannot speak normally when we stretch our neck back for Ushtrasana (Camel Pose) or Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose). So know and understand the impact of the postures on your voice and speak accordingly.

3. VOLUME: YOUR VOLUME STANDS A SUCCESS KEY OF YOUR SESSION

Physical consciousness of your students in each asana depends upon the voice that leads them and keeps them focused on their practice. If your volume is low and not audible, that certainly lets your student withdraw from their focus. Using your voice at its suitable volume is a very important tool to command the attention of your students on what you speak and convey. Every word that we speak should have an exact volume that is audible to each and every student present in your class.

4. DICTION: EXPRESSIONS OF WORDS

Communication happen at its best when every thought is expressed with exact wordings phrased with best choice of words and delivered with the best style possible. So it is very much important to be choosy with the words that you use to guide your students in every posture. For example, in Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward Dog), you expect your students to have a straight spine and shoulders not tight. When they are in downward dog pose you can deliver the same as a command that follows – “inhale: come up on your toes | pressurize your palm | roll the deltoids out | lengthen your spine | push your seat muscles up towards the ceiling |exhale: bring the heals down on the mat | use your core… etc.

5. MODULATION: LET YOUR WORDS FLOW SMOOTH AND SHARP

Once you understand the pose, have proper breath timing and are using exact words while delivering the command with a proper voice, another important ingredient to add is the ‘voice modulation’. Modulation of the voice and its tone while delivering your commands will make your guidance perfection-packed. Chosen words can be elongated, stressed, sharpened with our voice and beautify your commands which will in turn keep all your students focused on what they listen, see and practice.

YES, YOUR VOICE WITH THESE FIVE INGREDIENTS WILL HAVE A POSITIVE OUTCOME OF YOUR CLASS FOR SURE

Logic, Experience and Beyond – A Story

Yoga is about the explorations of experiences which can’t be explored. The Yogic Journey is about refining the lens, the perspective so that the world inside can be better experienced.

Here is a small yet beautiful story exploring the world that is unexplored in “Your Sacred Self” by Dr. Wayne Dyer

Yoga Blog India

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”

Love and Light

Samyak Yoga

Yoga Practice – How to be regular on the mat?

When you are in an intensive Yoga Teacher Training working on and working in every day for a month, you will explore a lot of things about the alignment of the postures, adjustments, teaching techniques, how to sequence the Yoga Class, beautiful Yoga Philosophy and of course some chanting of Asanas and Mantras. You feel alive, happy and seems like you can do a lot more than you thought you could.

Teach Yoga and Practice Yoga

Beautiful. Yet, once you are back home and start your job or even start teaching Yoga, the real world expects you to do a lot more things apart from teaching and practicing Yoga. If you are working in front of the computers, you feel just to get up and practice but you can’t. Even if you take a Yoga Teacher’s job assuming that the life will be all about teaching and practicing Yoga, it might not be the same.

Most of the Yoga teachers and practitioners have been facing often this hurdle on how to keep our Yoga practice regular. The students would think that you can do a lot of postures, super fit and have a regular practice. But in the reality you might have been juggling and trying to find the right balance of teaching and practicing.

This was also a question of a few students from Samyak Yoga Family and here are the key things you might like to implement in your practice.

1. GET UP EARLY IN THE MORNING

This is the golden Key. There is no other alternative. Once you get into the daily life of the day, it will be a hard job to come back on the mat and practice. this is applicable even for Yoga teachers. You might have to take classes after classes or sometimes you will have some meetings or other things to do in the evenings. Make sure that you get up early in the morning.

2. STICK INTO THE TIME NO MATTER WHAT

I know its easy to say and hard to do. But stick yourself to a time early in the morning and make sure that you won’t compromise anything for that time. Treat that time as a gift to yourself which can’t be taken by anyone for anything. A specific time for the practice every day has the ability to bring a lot into the practice on and off the mat in the life.

3. PREPARE A SEQUENCE OF THE MONTH

If you have been an Ashtanga Yoga practitioner, you can keep the Ashtanga Primary Series practice for six days or Five days while focusing Sunday for Sun-Salutations! But you can also keep three days of Ashtanga Primary Series, two days for other postures (preparation for the Primary Series Practice, such as Back-bends, Balancing, and Hip-opening) while Sunday can be dedicated for Sun-Salutations. As usual, Saturday can be treated as Meditation day!

If you are a Hatha Yoga practitioner, you can create a sequence of the month. Make sure that you have a good set of easy, intermediate and advance poses and this sequence in general can be a foundation for next month sequence too. You can also make two sequences which you will practice each three-times a week.

The same can can be applied for Pranayama and Meditation. Keep a dairy of your practice and try to put the progress into the words. I know all these need again more time to work on, but that’s how the life is.

4. TAKE CLASSES FROM OTHER TEACHERS

Go to nearest Yoga studios to take classes from other teachers. It gives an opportunity to understand and progress in the teaching and can also make you humble. It helps you as a teacher and as a practitioner too. You can also take the classes from other teachers in the same studio in which you work as a Yoga Teacher.

5. INVITE PRACTITIONERS FOR SELF PRACTICE

Once in a while, invite your students, or teachers, practitioners for the self practice. It can also be Mysore style of Ashtanga practice or a set of postures crafted by each one of you. All can sit together to prepare a class module and practice together like a Mysore style. It brings more creativity into the class sequencing and you will be able to get more inspiration, practice at the same time.

Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Mysore

Regular Practice can definitely do the wonders. Be patient and work in every day no matter what.

with love and light

Samyak Yoga

Can I teach Yoga after Teacher Training?

Passion for Yoga Teaching

Can I Teach after my Yoga Teacher Training

Passion is the key to teach Yoga. This might sound philosophical, but if you don’t have the passion to teach and share this knowledge, you will end up feeling another fitness trainer. You might feel out of the place after few months or years of teaching. It has to come from your heart. Though it will be commercially viable, the goal of teaching yoga shouldn’t be the commercial gains. Your goal is to share what you love and name, money come along. this is the key of success in all fields as a matter of fact.

Preparation for Yoga Teacher Training

Practice well before you decide to take a yoga teacher training. Go to different studios and take different Yoga classes with teachers. Find out the best style suitable for you. If you have a good yoga teacher, you feel connected to his/her teaching, keep practicing with the same teacher. Try to observe the alignments, breathing and be aware of the results of proper, regular practice.

Make a research for best Yoga Teacher Training

Once you have a proper practice, make a research of a proper Yoga School for your training. There are different standards followed by different schools. The goal of some teacher training schools to give you proper understanding of the postures and practice of different classes. Some might focus on philosophy of Yoga, Meditation or often singing and Bhakti Yoga. If you want to deepen your understanding of the practice of postures and Yoga anatomy, take the teacher training which focuses on Yoga Anatomy and Alignment. Look at the syllabus of the Yoga Schools carefully and choose the best that is available.

Teach after Yoga Training

When you are thinking to become a Yoga Teacher, you should get the opportunities to teach Yoga during the training and get the feed-back from the lead yoga teachers. Practice of teaching Yoga is the key in order to become a Yoga Teacher.

Often Yoga schools claim to provide all information such as Ayurveda, Buddhism, Shamanism, Tantra, Bhakti Yoga, Gita, Upanishads etc and unable to focus on training the participants on how to teach Yoga. Hence a thorough research as well as discussion with the teachers of the school would be beneficial.

You also have to keep in the mind that the Yoga School is registered with Yoga Alliance as most often you need the registration as RYT 200. But just because a Yoga School is registered with Yoga Alliance, the school does not have to be the best one. Yoga Alliance does not look into their Teacher Training Structure. Therefore, spend some time to understand the teacher training structure of the school.

“Be present” in Teacher Training

Try to shed all your ego when you arrive into Yoga Teacher Training. Keep your intellect fresh to observe, absorb and analyse the teaching every day. There will be days your body or mind says “I can’t” and often leading to “can I really do this!” Yes! There will also be days the philosophical sessions asking you to analyse your own understanding about you and the world outside. Keep a dairy and write down the thoughts arising in the mind every day. Be committed and try not to get distracted by anything apart from the goal of learning how to teach.

 Take an Extra step to get more in the training

Often your approach to the practice and teaching of Yoga during the training leads the teacher to give you the feed-back. Take an extra step to talk to the teachers, ask questions, get the real feedback of your classes. Give an impression to the teacher that you are focused and very much interested in learning how to teach Yoga.

After your Yoga Teacher Training

Teaching Yoga is different from practicing. You might have seen wonderful practitioners and their teaching might not be the same. Do not wait thinking that you are not ready.  Teach Yoga in Dance Schools, Parks, Nursing Schools, Country Clubs, Hospitals etc to keep your teaching going. Teach wherever it is possible. Teach free classes, donation based classes and grab all opportunities to keep your Yoga teaching regular.

Make an online presence

Create a website. Often you can get a free, simple website for time being. There are lot of websites offering free websites. You can also create a simple blog using Google blogger or word press. Your online presence would help the Yoga community to notice you.

Approach the nearest Yoga Studios

Approach Yoga Studios the location you live in. Do not make a telephone call. It is better to approach them directly and Talk to them. Most often it works!  They might ask you to take a few classes in the studios before hiring you.

Keep practicing and preparing Yoga Class Modules

Even after your official beginning of Yoga teaching, do not stop practicing. Keep a regular practice of Asanas and Pranayama. Always spend some time to prepare creative class sequences. Be passionate to practice and teach every time on the mat.

Finally, teach from the heart and spread the Love and Light. After all, its the Love and Light you want to share though your yoga classes.