Every year Isha Foundation conducts a 21 week residential program at the Isha Yoga center in Coimbatore, training individuals to become Hatha Yoga teachers. Many people from around the globe come for this unique opportunity to become immersed in the Yogic sciences and share it with the world. Over the next few weeks we will hear the stories of a few teachers and their journeys before and after their training.
In 2013 I came across a program called Inner Engineering Online.
My first reaction was of skepticism and dismissal because I felt I had seen many similar ads for online meditation courses which I figured were airy and ineffective. I looked into the program for a bit and was introduced to Sadhguru. Upon further research I found that Youtube had a very large collection of Sadhguru's videos in which he spoke on a wide variety of topics with piercing clarity. After some time I was interested in what the Inner Engineering Online course offered which the youtube videos didn't. I registered for the course without any expectations but just to see what it was about.
I had always thought yoga was some stretching exercise trendy women would do in the city and never imagined becoming involved with it to any extent. At the same time, throughout my life, I was always looking to become involved in something beyond the traditional convention of society. Early on in my childhood I become completely disillusioned with school and at the time, the arts were the only thing which looked worthwhile to spend time on. Since my early adolescence I was interested in mysticism and the indigenous civilizations around the world which had it as a part of their culture. It heavily influenced my artwork and became the driving force behind my drawings and paintings.
One thing which immediately struck me when I began Inner Engineering Online was the authenticity of what I was experiencing. It became evident to me that yoga wasn't at all about twisting your body or wearing spandex. Its history as an ancient system which produced some of the most incredible human beings, scientists, mathematicians, poets and artists inspired me to dig deeper.
After completing the course I was enthralled and I noticed many changes in my approach to life as well as how I experienced situations around me. There was an option to attend a completion class for the online course where I was to learn a practice called Shambhavi Mahamudra, taught in the conventional in-person Inner Engineering program. To make a long story short it took me 6 months to attend this completion program and in those 6 months an incredible longing developed to have a tool which actually worked for inner wellbeing. I had earnestly tried many things in that time: Qigong and Falun Gong videos on youtube and meditation techniques talked about in books, but nothing had any effect. After completing the Inner Engineering program and learning Shambhavi Mahamudra, I was ecstatic that I had found something which changed my experience of life so profoundly. All along my efforts with art was to enhance what I otherwise had seen as the mundane reality of life. Now, the grandeur of life was impossible to ignore.
I quickly became eager to share these tools for wellbeing with everyone around me because of the benefits I experienced. If it worked for someone like me, it certainly would work for anyone else. I learned of the Hatha Yoga teacher training and the opportunity to impart these methods by training in the Isha Yoga center for 21 weeks. It was silly for me to consider any other type of activity to be involved in. My passion with art was largely because of the ability to express myself and connect with others. At the core, it was a desire to improve the viewer's quality of life (as well as my own) with something beautiful and moving. This pales in comparison to the impact and power Isha Yoga can have to transform an individual human being. To be involved in sharing this with others is an incredible opportunity and has intensified my journey in a truly remarkable way.
In my adolescence I always had contempt for human beings as creatures who were maiming and ruining the world. Sadhguru often says when people complain "I'm only human" its because they haven't realized the immensity of what it means to be human. Nowadays being human is almost seen as a handicap. In my experience, teaching Hatha Yoga and seeing what it can do for people (including myself) has proven to me that a human being is far more capable than what is expected right now. To live in a world where all human beings are blissful and joyful by their own nature and not by the circumstances around them, is something I very much wish to see, and very much want to be a part of making reality.
To be joyful and peaceful within yourself every moment of your life, to be able to perceive life beyond its physical limitations - these are not superhuman qualities. These are human possibilities. Yoga is not about being superhuman; it is about realizing that being human is super.