The team from Samyak Yoga interviewed by Kara-Leah Grant.
Tell me about Samyak Yoga. When was it established? What inspired it’s creation?
Rakesh: Three young teenagers trained in Yoga, Veda, Vedanta and Sanskrit for six long years under the guidance of many scholars, such as Dr. Ramachandra Bhat Kotemane, from an ancient system of educational institution named Veda Vijnana Gurukulam located in Bangalore and graduated from Svyasa Yoga University found that their goals, aspirations and efforts put together can create a new creative, cultural community in near future.
With a goal to prepare for the same, the three young men decided to travel around India and abroad and deepen their knowledge on Yoga Philosophy and practice from different masters.
After two years they returned back to their homeland and with their Master’s blessing they gained courage and strength to establish a Yoga School that gives equal importance to both Yoga Philosophy and its practice. With the inspirations gained they named their school Samyak Yoga on October 8th, 2009.
‘Samyak’ the word itself in Sanskrit means perfect and is also an abbreviation for Sanatana Atma Yoga Anusandhana Kendram which in English can be translated as The Centre for Research on Self-Yoke.
So far Samyak Yoga has been successful in this yogic path and has inspired yogic aspirants from more than fifty different nations.
What kind of programme does Samak Yoga offer? What do you teach?
Trupta: Samyak Yoga has a vision of creating a shelter to all the different seekers in the path of Yoga.
This “Ashram” is named “Svayam”. In order to create an Ashram for Yoga Sadhana, at Samyak Yoga we offer Yoga Teacher Training programs in two styles, Hatha and Ashtanga, in two locations in India.
Besides, we also offer yoga retreats and workshops. The main focus points of the training are the art of hands on adjustments, Yoga Anatomy, Yoga Philosophy in the backdrop of its implementation in the daily life etc.
It is Samyak Yoga’s aim to create finest yoga teachers who can, apart from yoga practice inspire the humanity by the way they lead the life.
OK – let’s break down some of those words and sentences and get to the nitty gritty, or more concrete details.What is a “shelter to all the different seekers”?
Arvind: Just as a house acts as a niche for all the members of a family, so it would be Svayam that would embrace all different spiritual seekers from different parts of the world in one place.
It is a dream to have a replica of a new world where each and every one will strive for peace and spirituality in life.
It would be a place where aspirants of yoga, Ayurveda, Reiki, Indian music, Indian dance, Thai yoga massage etc can get together and enhance their quality of life in their own aspired way by following the life-style set in the Ashram.
It would be a place of cultural and human reunion that would be past caste, creed, religion and beliefs.
Why did you choose Hatha and Ashtanga yoga as the styles you offer?
Trupta: As soon as we come across the word yoga, the very next image created in our mind is of different asanas, or of different yoga luminaries around the world.
Asana, being a part of the eight limbs (Ashtanga) is very much important as a yogic aspirant to understand and keep practicing all the eight limbs. So we believe ashtanga yoga helps in that matter.
As far as Hatha is concerned, we do have the other limbs taught during the hatha teacher training course and the change is only in the practicing style of asanas.
Since Hatha and Ashtanga have a traditional background which was learnt by us with dedication for six years from our masters, we feel we are one of the authentic resources to share the knowledge of Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga in both theoretical and practical aspects.
Ah… when you said Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga, I assumed you meant Ashtanga Yoga as in Pattabhi Jois, not as in Patanajali’s Ashtanga Yoga. I imagine this can be a common misconception.
Can you explain to the readers the difference between Pattabhi Jois’s Ashtanga Yoga, and Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga?
Rakesh: Ashtanga Yoga is the term first coined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. He has systematized eight (ashta) limbs (angas) in the path of Yoga.
Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga is an integral approach which consists all the layers such as physical, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual sheaths of the human soul. Asana (postures) is one among them.
Ashtanga Vinyasa is the sequential approach to the asana practice developed by Sri Krishnamacharya on the basis of Yoga Kuranta of Sage Vamana. Pattabhi Jois, the legendary yogi of 21st century has developed and spread this style taught by his master.
As Ashtanga Vinyasa seems to be a lengthy name, practitioners often call it Ashtanga, cutting the other half of the name! Ashtanga Vinyasa is a way of asana practice which comes under Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali.
All the styles focused on postures come under the roof of Asana. There is no other yoga higher than Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.
Another legend in the world of Yoga, BKS Iyengar too explains that what he teaches is not Iyengar yoga but Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali.
How important are hands on adjustments in creating an excellent yoga teacher?
Stephanie: Samyak Yoga recognizes ‘Hands on Adjustments’ as an art. As a mother understands the limits and efficiency of her kid, and accordingly trains him to walk, talk, and live, so is the role played by a teacher when he trains a yogic aspirant.
A yoga teacher has to develop the quality in observing the posture which can instill the insight to assist the student. The experience in my practice as a practitioner can give me the insight to understand, assist and adjust the student.
What do you mean when you say Yoga Philosophy in the backdrop of its implementation in the daily life? Can you give some concrete examples of what that looks like?
Rakesh: Philosophy has its existence to enhance the quality of life. It is not meant for only intellectual gymnastics. Yoga Philosophy is an integral approach free from all dogmas to practice in everyday life.
Yoga can’t be practiced only on the mat. That’s a tip of the iceberg. Yoga should be practiced twenty-four-seven every day.
We, in the Yoga Teacher Training discuss the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the perspective of Hatha Yoga, the Chakras and their influence, the chanting of the mantras in such a way that it can enhance the quality of life.
As Yoga Teachers, you should not only stick to the teaching of Yoga postures and breathing, but should lead our lives in such a way that the students should get inspired by the way you live your life. This can happen only when we implement Yoga Philosophy in the daily life.
What is a concrete examples of Yoga Philosophy in daily life? How do we live our yoga off the mat, and how do we teach students to live yoga off the mat?
Arvind: We at Samyak yoga practice and guide our students by encouraging them ‘not to have yoga in their life rather have a life of Yoga itself’. There is a huge difference between yoga in life, and life as yoga.
We believe that yoga in life means few hours of asana, pranayama and meditation practice and the rest of the time in a day is spent as any other normal modern life style.
Instead, if a life can be channeled towards a goal, a purpose and made a meaningful one, then every moment can be seen as a time of yoga practice because yogic practices such as Yama and Niyama can be practiced throughout our life. By doing so, our life blossoms in a beautiful way that we never feel like asking for more joy and grace.
To have such a lifestyle, the basic understanding about oneself and the world must be fine-tuned. There can be three different approach or understanding about oneself and the world around.
World as Market and Life as Business
If we are having this kind of mentality in searching for eternal happiness in life, then all our energy and focus is channeled towards money making and every action, thoughts, words and relations revolve around money.
World as a War-Field and Life as a Battle
With this approach our whole life becomes a race or a competition and we keep struggling for success and happiness and never care for ethics and values in life because in a war if someone has to survive then the other must lose or die.
World as a Philosophy and Life in it as an Experience
This is a yogic approach towards life where everyone and everything around the world becomes a source of knowledge about ‘philo’ – our soul.
With this approach every minute can be used for a beautiful and meaningful yogic growth striving to experience the beauty in life.
By having this third understanding firmly in mind, if every yoga practitioner steps off the mat then for sure life itself will be a yoga ,and not yoga in life for few hours.
What can students expect when the come to train with you? What’s the daily routine life? How many students do you train at a time?
Trupta: Yoga is an art, wisdom, lifestyle, and penance. Since everybody is potentially divine and has yoga hidden within, we strongly believe that we are just a channel to bring out this hidden treasure from our participants.
So as to perform this divine task and give equal attention to all our participants, we keep our students at sixteen to eighteen maximum.
Our daily routine is scheduled in such a way that we satisfy all the requirements to be a registered yoga school under Yoga Alliance, and also give equal importance to both practice and philosophy with its integral aspects.
The day starts at 6:30 am with meditation and practice followed with breakfast at 8:30am. From 10 to 11 am we have a session dedicated for philosophical discussions and lecture. The next half an hour is dedicated for the Pranayama practices. From 11:30 to 12:30pm we focus on art of hands on adjustments of each and every asana involved in hatha and ashtanga style.
From 12:30 to 01:30pm every student gets a chance to develop his/her teaching skills by teaching the asanas that they have learnt on the previous day to co-participants of the course. Then we meet back at 4:30pm for asana practice until 6:00pm. We finish the day with bhakti yoga where we sing kirtans/ spiritual songs.
We, the teachers are always available for our students, even after the evening session. Due to the transformation the yoga practice instills, students often face the turmoil both at physical and mental level.
The cleansing process of yoga practice takes the toxins out of the system. We often sit with the student personally and discuss the process of transformation.
About Samyak Yoga:
Samyak Yoga is ‘a platform where yoga practitioners, seekers, and teacher share the wonderful wisdom of yoga’. They are based in India but also operate internationally. They offer various styles of Yoga Teacher Training, as well as retreats. For more information about Samyak Yoga please visit their website.