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Studying Yoga in India

Posted Apr 30 2008 7:30pm 3 Comments

Does anybody actually study yoga anymore? Time and time again I see that people classify taking a few workshops with a teacher as studying with that teacher. It seems a far cry away from the study of yoga in India when a student relocated to be near the teacher (typically at a very young age) and then proceeded to study for years with the same master. Now THAT'S study if you ask me.

When I first started to get serious about yoga, I liked the idea of having a teacher but I couldn't seem to find one. Over the course of my studies I tried different types of yoga -- all in an attempt to settle into a practice that felt right to me and to find a teacher that I wanted to study from. I thought about going to India but my schedule/lifestyle just didn't allow for that. I know I will get there but for now I am studying with a local teacher (gee, it only took me years to find one!). Yes, folks, yoga requires some perseverance and persistence. Actually yoga isn't the only thing that requires those two things, but that's a whole other post.

The point is that exploration is good. A few years into practicing a style of yoga that started to feel a bit shallow and Americanized to me, I yearned for something deeper...and then I went in search of it. I'm always amazed at the number of people who say that they tried yoga once -- one style, one teacher -- and decided that it wasn't right for them. I understand that a lot is out there and it can be intimidating -- and expensive -- to find something that works for you. Regardless, I'd say the effort is well worth it.

If you're thinking of traveling to India to get a taste of teachings steeped in ancient tradition and philosophy, a recent Business Week article lists India's top five yoga centers.


Comments (3)
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Actually "yes" some still study yoga. Some actually still practice it once the mat is rolled up and the studio door is closed.

Someone recently asked on a yoga forum about preparing for their upcoming teacher-training. What should she get. And I simply responded that any study she did now would benefit her and ultimately the students she will teach. It did not have to necessarily fit into the published curriculum of the training.

I've studied with my teacher since 2003. Before certification last year I apprenticed for two years. I still continue to assist with workshops, attend weekly classes, and go to the monthly OTTC (ongoing teacher training class) when time permits.

At home I've got large post-it notes, you know, the BIG ones, with the kleshas, yamas, and niyamas on them. Oh there's another with anatomy. However, by NO means do I consider myself immersed. Nor do I even think this stuff is outstanding. Of course as a teacher I should live my life in a certain way - not one of perfection but one that is in integrity with what I teach.

I don't think commitment to yoga and India are mutually inclusive. I would of course love to go to Pondicherry and visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

I know what you mean Nirmala. I'm feeling that as a teacher I have an obligation to do more than skate on the surface as far as training goes. Still, I've met others who are so much more committed than I and it's had me wondering how much is too much. My current teacher seems to schedule her life around her yoga trainings. She goes to India for extended periods (a month or longer) reguarly. I see both the pros and cons of both. It's made me think about my commitment to yoga and to my students. I suppose I'm going for a more in the middle approach. You're right though -- it's so different in India than it is here. No necessarily better or worse, just different.
Interesting comments, Diane. I know a lot of yoga teachers who haven't immersed themselves deeply in the study (and science) of yoga. I think that traditionally, many years of study were required of the yogi in training before he or she could take on other pupils, but I think that nowadays the emphasis is less on the kind of spiritual attainment yogis of yore were striving for and more on the layperson incorporating some of those ideals into everyday life, particularly in the west. So I'm wondering if intensive yoga study might be a little too overwhelming or out of context for people who want more of a crash course? Granted, the crash course path means that you could be sacrificing useful content for the Cliffs Notes, but in many ways, the time commitment required is one that I really don't think most people, yogi buffs or not, would be interested in.
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