The fascinating journey into the world of Yoga
By- Samera Ma Sananda Zagala
We danced in the rain, rolled in the mud, laughed and cried, roared like a lion, chanted to the moon and sun, played drums, awoke Kundalini, blew the conch, carried Lord Ganesha to the pond, experienced the power of Shakti, fasted and danced at Durga Puja, breathed, burnt Ravana and his nine evil heads, did Chid Shakti Prakriya Meditation, transformed Karma and lit the oil lamps for Diwali (festival of lights). These are some of the highlights I was blessed to experience – thanks to the great teaching of Dr. Omanand (Guruji) – during my time at Paramanand Institute of Yoga Sciences & Research in Indore, India.
I spent two and a half months enrolled in the 500 hours Yoga Therapy Teacher’s Training Course. This course opened up the world of Yoga for me; a beautiful world which I was not aware of before. I was fascinated to explore and to experience all its facets: Yoga postures (Asanas), breathing techniques (Pranayama), Meditation, Yoga Philosophy, Yoga Therapy, Anatomy, Ayurveda and much more. I soon realized that Yoga is more than postures and making our body flexible. If we are ready, it might open a whole new world to us which goes beyond our body, mind and senses. It connects us with ourselves and the universe. As we studied ancient scriptures (Gherand Samhita, Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and others) I gained a deeper understanding about Yoga as a way towards self-realization and freedom. Self-realization is understood as the awakening of our consciousness and its connection to our True-Self.
Our True-Self, which can be masked by many layers of suppressed emotions such as pain, fears, sadness, guilt, shame, anger, helplessness, rejection and behavioral patterns, which we collect through various experiences in our life. For example, many of us experienced that they received love and attention when they behaved the way their family or people wished. So we learned to adapt and to mask ourselves. Yoga is one way to transform and to heal these emotions, to change and to dissolve destructive behavioral patterns – to liberate us and to let us find our True-Self.
Yoga is not a religion nor is it in competition with any religion. Rather Yoga is of universal value and available to everybody. The scriptures of great Yogis like Patanjali or Adi Shankaracharya describe the path of Yoga through various ancient techniques and share with us their deep knowledge and wisdom. While studying at Paramanand Institute under the guidance of Dr. Omanand (Guruji), we studied these scriptures. This experience, I believe, is one of the greatest assets of completing my Yoga Teacher’s Training there. Let me take you on my journey into the world of Yoga and share some of my experiences with you.
When I signed up for the course at Paramanand Institute I did not have any idea what to expect. As I am quite the beginner in Yoga, I was a bit worried about how it might be and if I would be capable of following the physical and theoretical subjects. But, I was eager to learn – at least what I thought Yoga was before coming to the Institute. I arrived there in the afternoon, some senior students kindly welcomed me and introduced me to the Ashram life. When they told me that this place not only focuses on teaching Asanas and that it is rather different to other Yoga schools, I knew, I made the right choice.
During Asana class, I was constantly challenging my body. But, despite the sweat, sore muscles and fatigue, I became stronger and more flexible each day. At the same time I learned to be patient and accept my physical limits for this moment and myself the way I am, trying not to compare myself with others. Sometimes I had wonderful moments, when I fell into the Asana, my movements became one with my breath, I did not feel my body anymore, I meditated. In those moments I experienced Yoga – the union of body, mind and soul. Or as in Patanjali Yoga Sutra mentions “Sthira Sukham Asanam“ (2.46): A physical position that gives pleasure and stability is called an Asana. Not only did we practice Asanas and Pranayama, we studied them more in depth during Anatomy, Physiology and Yoga Therapy. This increased my understanding about the diverse aspects of Yoga. The holistic approach of teaching Yoga impressed me and even after all the intense studies I still feel like I just scratched the surface of Yoga.
If you are open for more than the physical and theoretical part of Yoga, Paramanand Institute offers you quite an extraordinary experience: Chid Shakti Prakriya Meditation (Consciousness Power Awakening). Guruji is guiding this unique technique of meditation which helps us to transform, to remove obstacles and to heal blockages – purify our body, mind and soul. Through his exceptional skills, the meditation sessions are quite intense and transforming. We utilized Asanas and Pranayama to awaken Shakti (the energy) to transform and purify our bodies. According to Guruji, the divine powers are in all of us. He says: “Meditation is the best medication.” Going beyond our mind, being aware and present, observing our thoughts and emotions and realizing that we are pure consciousness and energy.
At the beginning I could feel my Manipura Chakra (Solar plexus/Navel Chakra) moving on its own during meditation and let my belly shake. I was scared at first and did not understand, how this was happening. But Guruji kept saying: “Let it happen, let it go, don’t suppress your feelings, don’t resist, allow the happening and support it – it is divine.” So I let it happen and went on to experience the energetic and spiritual level of Yoga. It is hard to describe what exactly happens on this part of the journey. To the outside it looked like I lost totally control as my body kept shaking in all directions, my head spun intensely and my hands were hitting my knees. I focused on my breath and my third eye and the divine Shakti came into my body – in waves, sometimes stronger, sometimes softer. Besides seeing beautiful colours and patterns – pulsating and moving, many times I could also feel the energy rising along my spine upwards to my head, incredibly powerful and intense – awakening of Kundalini Shakti, as Guruji calls it.
He taught us several techniques to awaken our Shakti which helps us to purify our nadis and chakras and connects us with the divine energy. Having no control over your body but being totally aware of everything around you – is quite scary at the beginning. But thanks to the wonderful guidance of Guruji, I felt safe and became more confident in allowing whatever was happening. Feeling this amazing energy during meditation, experiencing the invisible subtle dimension of your inward journey is a great bliss which I am ever grateful for. After meditation I sensed the changes in different ways like feeling more balanced, lighter, relaxed, clear, accepting myself and my hypersensitivity. I know Yoga comforts me but I did not have any idea how powerful and life changing Yoga really can be. It is an incredible and adventurous journey to my True-Self and I am very happy and truly grateful to be guided by Guruji.
Divine Shakti is in all of us and we are more than our body and mind. Are you ready for the journey into the world of Yoga? No ticket is needed, just practice Yoga and be present – now!
Samera Ma Sananda Zagala completed the Yoga Therapy Teacher’s Training Course at Paramanand Institute (500 Hours, RYT). She lives in Germany and works as a project manager in the field of communication.