How does the european yogi differ to the hindu yogi? Are the differences in body postures as well as in physical and mental abilities clearly visible for you when you teach in Europe and when you teach in India? Some believe that due to those differences yoga wasn’t meant for white people, do you find this to be true?
Good question! Yoga practice is beyond cast, creed and culture. The history of yoga and various historical enquiries show that it was practiced by all civilizations. One of the basis for this thesis was historical evidence which they found on an old coin during an archeological analysis. The practice of yoga has always been there to help explore the consciousness and the relationship between the mind, the body and the soul.
So we are all yogis then?
Haha! Yes! The world if full of yoga practitioners! Every individual is practicing yoga consciously or unconsciously from birth to death. Our first postural performances take place in the mother womb during our journey from zygote to a baby. So yoga is an integral approach for the life’s journey. Nothing matters – whether you belong to East, West, South or North. Europe, America or Africa. Yoga practice has been done by all of our ancestors, and we are too, practicing for our future generations to continue.
Of course the western world is putting more emphasis on the scientific and the analytical aspects of the yoga practice. In the east, yoga practice is based more on philosophical and mystical approach, in order to help explore the human consciousness and to answer the question that lies beyond the body and the mind: “who am I”? We practice to free ourselves from suffering, to transcend the meanings of life and death. But the evolution of consciousness reaches beyond the cultural civilisation frames and is open to everyone, despite gender limitations, skin colour, etc.
Now yoga is becoming the modern day culture. The west has taken in yoga with a very serious and professional approach. When I am teaching yoga in the west, my approach is more scientific, medical and therapeutic. I am mainly working on health management, helping to ease the pain and suffering. Everybody knows yoga helps, but how does it do this? I am here to help answer these questions and broaden the understanding of yoga as this is what my Guru has prepared me for and this is my mission, my dedication.
In India my approach is based more on philosophical and mystical approach but I teach the capsule yoga program for everyday life here as well, helping develop healthy body and mind.
So the practice of yoga is for everyone. For each person to attain freedom from suffering, either physical, mental, emotional, psychic or spiritual. Yoga has the capacity to create a better life. All that is needed is the openness and the right attitude for spiritual attainment.
I have also come across an opinion that yoga was not created for women? That it was initially strictly a male practice. Is this true?
Definitely not! Yoga was made for everyone.
In the scriptures of yoga, Shakti (the wife and female aspect of Shiva) who was lord Shivas first disciple, asked to know the freedom from suffering, freedom from life and death, she asked to know the wisdom and secrets of moksha and salvation. The first preacher of yoga was therefore Lord Shiva and his first devoted student was Shakti herself.
The practice of yoga is about creating balance between the masculine and the feminine aspects of our personality. It is designed for us to experience the spiritual aspects of awakening for the higher state of consciousness to take place. And this is why Shiva’s picture – called ardhanarishwar is half female and half male.
Feminine aspect represents the mental, lunar force – ida nadi and the masculine aspect represents pingala nadi – the solar force, when the two are in harmony, the spiritual force awakens bringing the higher state of consciousness.
In yoga and spiritualism women are being worshiped as a divine, supreme power and on a spiritual path women must be honored and treated in a highly respective manner.
So can women be Guru’s too?
Of course women can be Guru’s! They only need to transform the I-ness, devote themselves to love and caring for others, serve others.
What is the road to becoming a Guru? How does it happen?
The word Guru is a combination of two words: Gu means darkness and rum represents removal, Guru represents the removal of darkness, the devotion to showing the right path with the right understanding, the selfless service for humanity.
Have you ever encountered a moment of doubt in your journey? A day when you said to yourself: „that’s it! I’m sick of it! I don’t want to be a guru anymore! I quit!”?
Hahhaa! No and I am also assuring you this moment will not come, because I have faith, trust, love, respect and surrender for the great mystic wisdom. For me yoga is not only asana, pranayama and meditation. For me it is a mystic subject with multi dimensional approach to which I have devoted my past 20 years. I see yoga as a philosophy, psychology, physics, life science, mystic science and as the biggest secret of all of life’s secrets. I am happy to say that I am married to yoga and I will be honored to die with its wisdom.
Yoga is not only asana, pranayama and meditation (…) It is philosophy, psychology, physics, life’s science, mystic science and the biggest secret of all of life’s secrets.Guru Rajeshji
You are a Kundalini Yoga teacher, we europeans get to hear many urban legends regarding the kundalini awakening. Is it safe? What kind of precautions should we be taking when practicing Kundalini Yoga? Or any other form of yoga as far as the work on chakras is concerned?
Kunda means pit, depth and alini means lying the energy. So kundalini is a form of energy lying/sleeping in a deep well/depth. The ultimate aim and purpose of yoga practice is to awaken, arise this energy. Any kind of yoga practice: Raja yoga, bhakti, gyan, kriya, mantra, hatha, etc. they are all working towards it’s awakening.
After evoking the kundalini we need to have the proper skills to handle and channelize this energy. So we need a master or a Guru who has encountered this power. Sattwic diet, sattwic lifestyle, keeping the purity of the heart and mental strength are the common requirements for kundalini sadhana. You need to master the asanas, pranayams, align your chakras, all without ego and free from the negative aspects of life. Tantra is just another way of awakening kundalini. In the west people are mostly fascinated with the sexual tantra practice but in it’s proper form it needs a lot of preparation.
What does the kundalini awakening feel like?
Kundalini awakens in three aspects: sattwa, rajas and tamas. Sattwic way is the way of light, the wisdom, the connection, the vibration, the music, the unstruck sound within you. Rajasic form is the power, the strength and the wisdom to serve. Tamas form carries a lot of risk, it may bring you to a crazy state or distort your personality. So that is why the purification of the body, the mind and the emotions as well as higher wisdom need to be attained before the awakening. If someone is not in a proper shape and in a proper expression of their own personality, they definitely need to heal first and take on a slow practice under the proper master guidance.
Are there any other ways to align your chakras and awaken kundalini apart from yoga?
You can take on other forms of self development like committing to selfless service, mantra, tantra, karma yoga etc. Psychotherapy is also going to tune in and align the mental powers, bring wisdom, sense and perception but chakras must be worked on and harmonized with yogic tools.
And now for the strictly practical “every-day” life advice: how to spot a good yoga teacher? What are the signs that we can trust someone in this role?
We can tell by their energy level and by their heart. A good students finds a good teacher intuitively. The same way the students search for their master, the same way the master is always in search to find his beloved students.
If you could advise only one asana to people, which asana would it be?
Shavasana (corpse pose). Practice it daily and see the results.
Hari Om Tat Sat! Thank you humbly for this enlightening discussion.
Rozmawiała: Anna Schreckenberg