Oct 12 – Oct 14
Yiannis Andritsos immersion weekend
So what did you do this weekend? Did you spend 15 hours in practice and workshop in a yoga studio?!!! I did!! Ahhhhhh!!! Although I learned a lot, I’m glad to be done, showered and home. This was our last full weekend of teacher training stuff, but it was jam packed and a lot of it was very deep so I’m mentally and physically exhausted. Yiannis, our leaders for the weekend sessions specializes in Dharma Yoga, which is a Hatha-Raja inspired practice passed in authentic tradition by Sri Dharma Mittra.
Friday evening’s practice was crazy! It was different than what I’m used to so I was a little resistant to that. In other words, Hatha yoga does not have the flow that Baron’s sequence does so that was different. I felt frustrated because he did a lot of work with headstands and handstands without warming up and I’m just not there yet. Plus I was towards the back, which I never usually am. There were some cool challenging poses for us to try and that was cool. We did a lot of different pranayama exercises, some I liked and some were just okay. I also liked the aum’ing and all the chanting, but overall I just was out of sorts on Friday night. He was very hard to hear when he was talking to us so that was difficult and a bit stressful too. Plus, I had my review of my class right before the workshop so I was feeling a bit rushed. The review went fine, but I was just rushed.
Saturday morning was focused a lot on pranayama (breathing exercises) before practicing. I am starting to really like and learn the Mantra for Purification – it is supposed to be passed on verbally and is not written down. So, trying to learn it just takes repetition and practice. This chant is usually done before the practice in order to remove obstacles that would get in the way and it is supposed to cleanse the space. I was still not crazy about Hatha yoga at this point. I just need my power and want to sweat!
The evening session was a lecture on the Yamas. I enjoyed this a lot after I stationed myself really close to Yiannis at the front of the room so I could hear well! Ahimas is the most important of the Yamas…if you follow this one, the rest will follow. The last thing we did that night was a deep relaxation exercise. It lasted probably 40 minutes all together. It was awesome! So much so that I totally fell asleep during it and my teacher training friends all heard me snoring (well, they called it deep breathing!!!). Too funny!
Then today, Sunday, the first session was the one I had been waiting for! It was challenging, a little bit more of a flow and I was finally sweating!! Woohoo! I probably was less resistant too, which is probably why I enjoyed it more. I had some success in challenging poses which felt good too. I liked how Yiannis encouraged us to concentrate and relax in the poses. For example, rather than going into shoulder stand, holding it for like 10 seconds and getting out of it, Hatha yoga teaches, to hold the poses for a little longer, relax into the pose and concentrate on the space between the eyebrows. At first it seems contradictory to both relax and concentrate at the same time, but it really is possible and cool. I found I could go deeper when I did this, plus it just helps develop concentration.
The afternoon session was a lecture focused on psychic development. This is a technique that involves a number of techniques in a certain order. There is the Mantra for Purification (purity – removing obstacles) and the Mantra for Unification (I am You, You are Me). Then there are 3 techniques for the aura. All three are different pranayamas (breathing technqiues) that were cool involving alternate nostril breathing and other various techniques. Then there is the closed circuit pranayama, chakra breathing technique and then ending in the visualization exercise.
The evening session was a lecture focused mostly on the koshas of yoga. These are the five different layers of the self. This I found facinating. I took some notes from the sesion, but I found a website that described it even better here (plus the words are spelled correctly here!)
In the yoga framework, these levels are referred to as the five sheaths of our being, or the Five Koshas. To understand the Five Koshas and the role they play in yoga, it’s easiest to think of the Koshas as a series of Russian dolls, each embedded within the others. Starting from the outermost layer and moving towards the core, the Five Koshas proceed from outer to inner in greater and greater levels of subtlety:
Annamayakosha-The Physical body. This sheath represents the physical body, the ‘regular’ gross expression of our body that we can see, touch and feel. The Sanskrit word Anna means food, and the word maya means appearance. This is the sheath of food, nourished by and created by our daily intake of food. The Annamayakosha is our physical body, the most familiar aspect of our being. As we practice yoga asanas, the physical body is the starting point of our experience.
Pranamayakosha-The Energy body. According to yoga therapy traditions, this is the second layer of our being. Prana means energy, but not energy in the usual Western meaning of the word. Rather, prana is the life-force, the vital energy which flows through and enlivens all our physical systems. The breath is the most physical expression of prana, and prana is closely related to the breath. Breath awareness and breathing practices, called pranayama, increase and facilitate the flow of prana in the body and balance the flow of the life force to all the physical systems.
Manamayakosha-The Mental-Emotional body. Manas means mind, and the Manamayakosha is the layer of our being expressed as mind, emotions, and feelings. These are the mental faculties with which we absorb, process, and interpret input from our life (presented through the senses of the physical body). It is like a supervisor in a factory, which unfortunately often mistakenly takes on the role as manager.
Vijnanamayakosha-The Wisdom body. The fourth Kosha is considered part of the subtle body. Vijnana means knowing, and this sheath represents the higher mind, the faculty of wisdom, which lies underneath the processing, thinking, reactive mind. This is the level of our being, that has the higher wisdom to guide us through life and lead us to higher and higher levels of truth and integration. It represents the reflective aspects of our consciousness, which allow us to experience a deeper insight into ourselves and the world around us.
Anandamayakosha-The Bliss body. This is the fifth and final sheath of our being. Ananda means bliss, not bliss in the sense of emotions, such as happiness or pleasure, but an expanded, unbounded experience of reality. The ancients viewed the experience of the Bliss body as an experience of the deepest level of our being, an unbounded, blissful state of peace, joy, and love.
The Koshas are viewed as different, beautiful manifestations of our essential universal nature. According to yoga philosophy, this is known as Atman-the unbounded, universal Oneness of all that exists. These koshas do not act separately, but interact with each other, as well.
Yiannis talked a lot about the supreme teacher, relying on the supreme teacher for help and guidance and needing to have faith in your life. I liked all of this and realized this weekend yet again how connected all the religions and philosophies are. Yes, we are indeed all the same – on different journeys, but searching for the same thing.