Hi everyone, I´m sorry that I disappeared from the online world for so long, but please understand that I was busy doing something very important 🙂 I redirected all my time & attention for the months of February and March 2018 to the prana vashya yoga teacher training led by Vinay Kumar at his Prana Vashya Yoga Shala (i.e. „shala“ means yoga school in Sanskrit) in Mysore, south India. (Ok, and then got busy travelling India and stuff 🙂 ) But you may ask who is Vinay Kumar and what is so special about this prana vashya yoga, let alone the teacher training?
Vinay is a Yogacharya (i.e. meaning yoga teacher – real yoga teacher, not just some exercise instructor/trainer) in the full meaning of its word. He started practising yoga at the age of 7, fell in love with it so much that he practiced asanas (yoga postures) till he would fall asleep on the yoga mat. This dedication resulted in him winning all yogasana competitions around India, and he even won the world´s most prestigious competition – All India´s Champion of Champions many times over.
In the meantime, he started teaching at the age of 13 when he also started practising pranayama (i.e. yogic breathing techniques which benefits go beyond one´s imagination 🙂 ). This made him realise the importance of breath in the yogasana practice. Hence being inspired by his extensive pranayama practice, he founded the prana vashya yoga method when he was about 18 years old. Around the age of 20, he stopped the competitions (there was nothing he hasn´t won by that time anyway 🙂 ), and decided to fully focus on teaching yoga. Out of interest, he did a master degree in psychology as well. As you can see, a truly active person 🙂
Now, at the age of 34, he is world-renowned yoga teacher who has his own yoga method and yoga shala, where people from all over the world come every year to learn from him. Although he is an exceptional asana practicioner, there is something more that attracts people to come to him; crossing continents, taking their savings for the journey, even leaving jobs, and coming to Mysore. Not only he is a great teacher, amazing kind humble human being, but he is also an inspirational yogi in the true meaning of its sense, who motivates people to go way beyond asana practice and really live yoga. He always puts a strong emphasis on regular practice of pranayama and living yamas and niyamas (yogic moral principles).
As you see, Vinay is an extraordinary Teacher, who inspires and motivates me (and us all) to practice and to explore our full potential. That´s why I wanted to do his teacher training. Yes, some of my friends ask why another teacher training when I have done already several of them, but please understand that this is a whole new level 🙂 His prana vashya yoga teacher training takes full two months, with days off only on Sundays & moon days (Although we ended up having classes even on the days off – the more classes with him, the better 🙂 . When you get such an opportunity, especially if it´s a semi-private class of only 7 people, right? 🙂 ).
The first month looked like this:
- 4 am (some people even at 3 am) – get up & get ready for classes,
- 5.30 – 7.20 am – practice of prana vashya yoga (primary or second series), then go home to get fresh,
- 9.30 – 10.45 am – chanting (i.e. mantra recitation) & pranayama practice, followed by Vinay´s pooja (divine worship) when we had a little break,
- 11.00 – 12.30 am – teacher training class, i.e. learning 7 kinds of sun salutions (3 hatha yogic ones, prana vashya, ashtanga A and B, guru namaskar) to understand the ideas behind various yoga systems, detailed focus on individual asanas in the series, theory classes on yoga philosophy & teaching. This was usually followed by 30 min. self-practice.
- Afternoon: writing homework, i.e. rewritting notes from the classes to create a book for our future reference (there was no book given for the course). A copy of each book was submitted to Vinay at the end of the course, so that he can check whether we got everything.
The first month was nice – I even managed to keep going to my three yoga sutra chanting classes a week with Ranjini, and three classes on upanishad philosophy & vedic chanting with Vigneshwar in the evenings 🙂 It kept me very busy, but I refused to give up because they are such great teachers and I consider it a marvellous opportunity to be able to learn from them.
And on top of that, Vinay´s explanations on yogasana techniques were simply amazing. I suddenly discovered that I am not as stiff as I thought I was, but I was just not using the most efficient techniques (I wish I knew that years ago 😀 ). Definitely the best quality yoga teacher training I have ever attended. I was simply very happy to be able to be there 🙂
Nevertheless, things changed it the second month. We got so busy that I had to drop Vigneshwar´s classes, for the final week also Ranjini´s classes, and eventually would even limit the sleeping time at night, and would not go anywhere except home & the shala…
The schedule was the same with a few changes: after 5.30 am class, we would stay in the shala to observe the next asana class and later assist Vinay or even teach instead of him sometimes. Then there was no break after pranayama, because we had to go upstairs to do sun salutions & Vinay´s killer abdominal strenghtening sequence. The rest was the same. Hence our first meal would be only after 1pm when we finished the classes, and we could not drink water for up to 6 hours, because it´s not possible to drink before pranayama & asana classes. Not eating was quite ok, but no water was a real struggle (at least for me). It got better though after Vinay recommended us to take a small candy instead of water, so that we don´t feel that bad, at least mentally.
However, after the first week of this new regimen when Vinay kept pushing me in asana & pranayama class, I felt drained and somewhat irritated with it all. It got really difficult for me to readjust so fast. Vinay noticed that something is going on (as he always does). So on the last day of that week, he would intentionally come to disturb my asana practice – he checked maybe even ten times whether I´m breathing properly in the rhytm and not taking extra breaths. He would put his head right beside the asana and kept listening to my breath … I must tell you, he is not only an asana master, but a master psychologist too. After that class, I stopped talking to him and I didn´t even want to look at him.
See, it´s very difficult to be angry/ignore Vinay when you look at him – because all you see is his good heart & pure intentions. So it´s simply impossible to have any negative emotions towards him. Also when I look at him, I can´t say anything bad because the bad words simply vanish, and I somehow forget about it. The situation ended up in Vinay calling me to the shala in the evening after the classes. I feared that he will kick me out of the training or something in those lines. But it was quite the opposite.
So we had a very long private conversation that sorted out everything not only for the past, but also for the future. It went from asana, pranayama, teaching to philosophy, understanding, and acceptance. We understood each others perspectives. See there is a major difference: the western mind asks why – why should I do this? why is this good for me? why does it have to be this way? We tend to be constantly questioning why (and trust me, I´m not different). But the eastern mind follows the teacher without any whys, they just do what the teacher says (western mind can think „follow blindly“, but it is not as simple as it may seem to be at the first glance). They do, and by practice they understand and get the answers.
I guess it is human nature to come up with questions, complaints, refusing to step out of our comfort zones because it is simply not convenient. The human mind by its nature is seaking for pleasure. So we complain: something is too hard, too much this, too much of that, not enough of this or not enough of that. We make excuses that we are tired, we don´t have time, we don´t want anymore, and the list goes on. Unless we realise what a nonsense we are doing, it may never stop. Only at the moment when we step out of our personal comfort zone, we can realise what we truly are. That is the time of real transformation. At the time of great difficulties, one can realise their real potential. We are much stronger than we could ever imagine.
So as the great saying goes „per aspera ad astra“ (Latin proverb meaning „through difficulties to the stars“), we all successfully survived the teacher training 🙂 It was hard for everyone, Vinay including. On the last day, we ended it in an old hatha-yogic way 🙂 We all went to do vamana dhouti (i.e. vomitting salty water to clean the digestive tract) in the park right in front of the shala 🙂 It was a party to remember 🙂