Development in yoga:
what yoga teachers forget to tell about
Over the past decade yoga has become a kind of trend in the world of fitness and sports. Some people are attracted by oriental mystery of this practice and desire to solve the mystery of the Universe, others are willing to develop an extraordinary flexibility and control of the body and thoughts, the third part is following the idol star showing incredible poses.
The number of yoga schools in Europe is growing as well as the number of followers of those who pretends to be a master. But there is a reverse side of the popularity of this spiritual and recovering practice- its commercialization which of course affects the quality of teaching and knowledge of both teachers and their students. Following fashion trends or inner desire to do something special people have to find answers for some questions before they start practicing yoga. Which school to choose? What yoga teacher to trust? Are breathing practices dangerous for mental health? If yoga conflicts with a faith someone confesses? Ayurvedic physician, founder of CALENDULA clinic, Dr. Dmitry Skopintsev shares his thoughts on this issue with us.
There are many creative people in the world. And there are those who are quick to grasp. This occurs in a variety of spheres including yoga. There are many examples of people who had a famous teacher, achieved a good stretch, learned to perform difficult asanas and decided to teach others yoga. Having charisma, charm and other qualities such people manage to attract an audience – most people are drawn to more energetic persons and creative people are just like that. It is great if such a person who became a teacher has been studing yoga at the “cellular” level, gaining an understanding of anatomy, physiology and spiritual aspects and able to explain to the followers all the mechanisms and processes that take place in the body during practicing exercises and meditation. Master of yoga who never held in his hands Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and not possessing knowledge of the human body, who has not received a blessing from the mentors and teachers in the form of points for passed exam or initiation, causes questions. Even despite the fact that he can be a good, kind person…
The depth of knowledge
During recent decades yoga has become the object of science. Scientists continually explore its effects on stress and health and therefore recommend certain complexes as physiotherapy and psychological practice. But yoga is more than the physical, mental and breathing exercises. It is the scientific knowledge about the physiological and mental processes in the human body and mind. And gaining such a knowledge needs only one requirement: you have to learn everything in every detail.
Let’s draw a parallel with a car. Everyone loves to drive a good car. It’s nice to sit inside a luxury class car where everything is thought out and counted, where you feel comfortable and safe. Basically a miracle of engineering is put in every car. But some models are the result of the latest scientific research of automobile companies, while others are created on the purchased or exhaust technologies. In the first case researches are kept in secret, they are transmitted within the same company. Engineers must have more than only diploma, they must develop their knowledge of mathematics, physics, mechanics and other applied sciences. Every professional needs constant learning and growth.
Now let us look at practice of medicine. A patient has a tumor. А surgeon assigns an operation: after removal of the lesion tissue the person has pain but after a while he feels healing. Now let us imagine an enthusiastic, positive minded physician or healer who persuaded not to remove a tumor, he is sure that everything is all right. A patient has an euphoria because the doctor said that everything is fine. But disease continues eating the person. In the first case life can last for 30 years more, in the second one it can be over in 3 months. To trust amateurs is dangerous for our lives.
You surely wonder in what way it concerns to yoga? You see a master who is a good and positive person. It can be satisfying at some phase of training process, especially when you come to talk, to do twisting and stretching as much as you able to do it. But if your goal in practicing yoga is spiritual and physical progress you need to know thoroughly how everything works.
- First of all each asana affects certain chakras through Nadi that are energy canals considered as an analog of the nervous system in the subtle body. If Nadi are clogged an energy can not circulate freely and accumulates in any part of the body. It affects the physical and psycho-emotional state of a person in negative way.
- Asanas system is constructed in such a way that each asana can manage energy canals and form certain associations in chakras. These associations are transmitted to the central nervous system in order to stimulate stable reflex during the re-execute of postures and hence the change of pain threshold. Changing the body’s pain threshold means the strengthening of the autonomic nervous system, the absence of a pathological reaction to a irritator.
- Complex of asanas should be built according to individual abilities and needs of a person because each of us has his own threshold of pain.
Many yoga teachers do not know how to build a set of exercises, which pain threshold should be displaced, what things the body has not to respond to.
With the right approach to the practice yoga gets into unconditional reflexes of a person and changes his attitude towards the environment. Over time it causes some energy movement using which a person can influence the environment, in other words he can get the superabilities. But such yogis are very few and fortunately they do not exhibit similar features on humans.
Subtle matters of knowledge
Performing a particular asana you must understand how an energy and a physical mechanism runs. As example let us take so-called «pose of the corpse» Shavasana. You lie on your back immobilizing, relaxing and focusing on the rhythm of breathing. At first glance it is a simple exercise. But the key of this asana is a proper breathing and alternating muscle relaxation. It has to make Ida and Pingala that are two large canals of the subtle body along the spine to come to a calm, thereby enabling to feel Sushumna (the central nervous spinal canal through which the Kundalini energy rises). First of all to learn to feel it is the task for a teacher who has knowledge of anatomy and physiology, graduated Ayurvedic medical school, where the energy canals and their relationships with the nervous system are learnt in every detail. By the way during studies the same thing takes place as during yoga class – it means producing of reflex. А certain image is producing in a mind till automatism occurs. It is one thing when you read about a liver and know that it is located on the right side of the body, and the other thing when you read a hundred times about it, you saw it, you learned how it works, etc. If you imagine all this in every detail you will have an image(in other words energy phantom) of liver. And you are able to affect an organ using even your thinking ability!
A master of yoga showing any asana has to see this asana in every detail, in his mind this image-phantom lives. If a person clearly imagine what happens in the body, asana will not cause a harm to him, he will not have a sore back or headache in the morning. Оn the contrary the work of all organs and systems will be stabilized, canals will open, an energy will circulate freely. Stagnation that is a trigger of the development of diseases will disappear, and so on. It happens because a stream of graceful mental energy constantly runs through the canals and the master’s thought forms. А true teacher does not scatter an energy, he accumulates it in order to direct it to the physical and the spiritual growth of students.
A master’s objective
In order to harmonize the physical and mental state it is enough to practice a limited number of asanas. A master’s objective is to create for a person a set of exercises practicing which he will stop getting sick, form a tolerance to pain and external factors, develop a deep physical strength, strengthen the nervous system. A master must have the skills of pulse diagnosis, to be able to trace the students conditions using other physical indicators as well. You can come to this yoga teacher class 1-2 times a week to get an explanation of asana performing in every detail. On the first lesson a teacher can say that everything is fine, but next times he should pay your attention to the things you have not noticed before to deepen your knowledge and abilities. This is what the teaching means. A mentor has to know on what points and in what order he must to do accents.
Another mission of the teacher is opening the ways that make people successful, to know how to control passion, emotion, lust, etc. The regular performance of 3-6 asanas and pranayama breathing exercises will help achieve the desired result.
Many Christians stand in front of a dilemma: if you decide to practice yoga whether it will be a betrayal of the faith and of the Church in which you were baptized? In fact sometimes you can fall into the trap of stereotypes about the confrontation of Eastern and Western philosophy of world creation. But it all depends on what meaning you personally put into this.
If you look at yoga as a practice that allows to know the divine nature of a man, to perceive God as the Messiah, to sympathize with his suffering on the cross, at the same time to become physically fitter and stronger that allows you easily withstand the service, for example, in the Orthodox Church, there is no betrayal in it. When somebody limits your will, imposing gods that you do not accept internally, forces to recite the mantra in an incomprehensible language, of course, this is a cause for concern. An appeal to God without understanding the meaning of spoken words is rather a narrow-mindness which leads away from the true faith.
You can often hear a primary mantra Om on yoga classes. The sound of “Om” is a sacred, it symbolizes the ultimate reality (Brahman) and the Universe itself. In the Christian tradition at the end of each prayer they say “Amen”. In fact “Om” and “Amen” have the same semantic value, but because of the vocal differences are pronounced differently. Here the important aspect of knowledge comes to the stage again. We must learn and understand the deeper meaning of everything we say. Another important thing is a condition that comes after school practices. If you have become a better, more warm-hearted and responsible person, for example, if you saw a person who needed support and helped him, and have not noticed it before then your “Om” has come to the right place. This is its spiritual meaning.
If we want to drive a high-tech car, fly first class, love beautiful women, live in harmonic, correctly constructed houses we must learn. Otherwise we will envy people who drive good cars, live in comfortable houses, love beautiful women and we will make excuses why we do not have the same…