6 weeks at AtmaVikasa: The road to a consistent self practice.

So how to summarize my 6 weeks studying at Atma Vikasa?

Well firstly let me say that this has been my first Yoga training course. I have always been reluctant to partake in a course just for the sake of a certificate and being considered a 'Yoga Teacher'; something that every man and his dog seem to be these days. So it took me a while to find and decide to choose AtmaVikasa. And I am confident I made the right choice. Also I didn't want to join a course without already being quite deep in the Yogic lifestyle. This past 2o months i have been living in Mysore practicing 6 days a week, only missing roughly 4 days due to illness. So the first thing I noticed after the course started was that I didn't feel too many physical changes. This was encouraging as I think usually most participants are coming from their hectic Western lifestyle and the sudden intense practice can be a shock to their system. For me I did most of my detoxing in the first few months of coming to Mysore, where i was sick several times, including a Urine infection. I didn't have to change my diet too drastically, only having to cut out dairy and sugar (something which I realised I was consuming too much of prior to the course) However at the end of each day, I was mentally very tired, absorbing a lot of new and interesting information.

In regards to the Asana practice the system Acharya teachers is very different than my usual Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. However it is just as challenging in a very different way. I have really enjoying holding (some) of the poses for extended periods. It was also very interesting and informative to go deeper into Asanas which I usually didn’t think too much about. Parsvakonasa is an example, as I have realised that it is much more complex than most people (myself included) assume. Savasana is another example. I have never really been taught more detail about Savasana, so from now on I will be paying much more attention to the physical aspects of the asana before commencing my 15 mins .  So overall practicing a different system and approach has been very interesting and I know when I leave Mysore and continue my self-practice I will certainly incorporate Acharya style and system.

I have found the Bandhas quite challenging. Only after 5 weeks do I feel like I have started to approach the correct Uddiyana Bandha, as for centre nauli, this is something I am not going to be able to find in the last week. I will continue to work on it after the course. I think for me it is very much a mental thing and if i concentrate and continue to practice, in time I will start to understand the physical and mental elements involved.  Also now I have incorporated Jala neti into my Sunday schedule. Sutra neti is still mentally quite taxing however I would also like to include this.

Chanting is something I have always enjoyed listening to, but never participated in, so it was a nice experience. Also it made me realise just how much there is to learn in Yoga. Learning all the 196 sutras seems like a demanding task, something which I would love to learn one day. Like Asana it requires daily practice, dedication and consciousness.

I found the Philosophy class very interesting. I was often laughing in my mind at just how accurate some of the descriptions or examples could be related to my life experiences. Again, my knowledge of the Sanskrit terms is limited, so this is something I would like to work on.

I think everyone joins the course for different reasons, and from listening to some of the fellow student’s talks it seems some have had to deal with a lot of challenging issues in their past or present. I have been amazingly lucky in that I had a very loving childhood and the last 12 years have been spent mostly travelling around the word. So it was quite eye opening and inspiring to hear how many have used Yoga to really help with their issues. Having not had to face challenges of this extent I feel it has enabled me to focus on the technical aspects of practice and made me realize that If I really want to live this life of Yoga as a whole I should learn and understand more of the philosophical aspects and terms, especially related to the Yoga Sutras.

Getting to the mat in Mysore is easy. We are only here for Yoga. There really is no excuse to not practice, however I know once I leave Mysore at the end of January I will continue my practice 6 days a week. However, I think the biggest thing I have learnt here from Acharya is that what is most important is not 'IF' you practice, but 'HOW' you practice. I can get to the mat on my own I am confident of that, but will I be as focused and conscious as when I am in a classroom? Will I put 100% effort into each asana? Will I go deeper inside to find that space that is possible when practicing? Or will I just go through the motions and get it out the way so I can feel satisfied that I got to my mat this morning? Archrya has taught me that getting to the mat is one thing, but practicing correctly is another. So this is the biggest thing I have gained from the course. Also I have realised that what is most important for me is maintaining my own daily self- practice at 100%. Only then will I consider teaching.  I am still in Mysore for 3 more months and will continue my Ashtanga practice until I leave, however I feel only once I have left will my real Yoga journey begin.

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