Technique & Beyond
Every yoga teacher training program works with a process of immersion, in addition to providing technique and theory. The immersion is to move the teachers-in-training beyond technique and theory, as important as they are, so they experience the “yoga” of yoga. Otherwise, they teach yoga like athletics. When I began training teachers, I offered that immersive experience to people who lived nearby. They took weekly yoga classes at different levels: Continuing Yoga, Deeper Yoga, Vinyasa (then called Stronger Yoga) and Bliss Yoga. Most of them took two or more classes per week in addition to their teacher training classes. In addition, I created a classroom internship program so they could mature under the supervision and support of an already seasoned teacher. After 10 months, they were nicely baked!
When people from other areas wanted to take Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher Training, I created a month-long immersion, modeled after the programs successfully offered by Ashrams in the USA for decades. Having graduated from such a program myself, I knew how to structure it. Because we had only a month instead of 10 months, it had to be more intense. The principle at work was similar to boot camp, a military training program. I’ve even seen other styles call their training, “Yoga Boot Camp.” The principle is immersion plus “leave no escape.” One of the reasons for this is to pierce your defenses; if you had free time, you’d be rebuilding the defenses that isolate you and create your own pain by doing all the things you are used to doing. In a yoga intensive, if you have free time, you should be doing more yoga! At the end of a month, you’re not baked — you’re microwaved! I later split the month-long training into two two-week intensives, then further divided it into four ten-day immersions. Each split added a few days to the training because the shorter time frame lost some of the necessary intensity.
A Different Type of Intensity
Moving teacher training to the Ashram changes the source of the intensity, which thus changes the structure you need to support the process you’re going through. The goal is the same, that you get beyond technique and theory, as important as they are, so you experience the “yoga” of the yoga. But when teacher training is an Ashram program, you get the “yoga of the yoga” through Grace. It works from the inside-out. Under Master Yoga, teacher training worked from the outside-in. We teach you breathing practices, poses, anatomy lessons, philosophy discourses, teaching theory and experiential processes — so you will get inside. Svaroopa® poses are structured to make this more powerful than any other style of yoga in the West, for the poses create an inner opening, which I termed “core opening.” That core opening helps you have an inner experience. That means we don’t have to block the escape hatches any more; this is only essential to the process when it works from the outside-in. But working under the Ashram means you are working from the inside-out. Grace creates the inner opening, and then you do the outer work, trying to keep up with the internal shifts that are happening (which you don’t yet understand). Now that teacher training is under the “sacred umbrella” of the Ashram, the Grace factor is radically increased. Being born a Rockefeller means you have a birthright, whether you ever met John D. himself; similarly, having teacher training under the Ashram means the Grace flows more powerfully. At an organizational level, we must support you in a different way than was needed under Master Yoga. One of the changes is location.
A Retreat Environment
With your inner processes fueled by Grace, the outer environment needs to be one that provides more support. We cannot provide a cocoon, nor do we want to create isolation from the rest of life, but we must begin with providing you with shelter and food. If we had a large Ashram building, we’d do it on-site. For now, we’ll create a temporary Ashram, in a facility dedicating to being people’s temporary home, the Desmond Hotel & Conference Center. Instead of commuting and cooking or buying meals, you will have much needed down-time. Instead of the isolation of a bedroom located a distance away, you benefit from staying in the same facility as your classes. Even sharing your room with a roommate provides an important form of support and heartfelt connection. The early morning start time is easier when you can commute in slippers. Fresh, hot meals served on china in a beautiful dining room, just an elevator ride from the classroom – heaven! The evening’s end makes it easy for you to fall into bed, especially when it’s only a few hundred feet away. Your lunch break can include a nap, some time outside (depending on the weather) or a walk on the hotel’s footpath. The yoga classroom will be a quiet room during meal breaks, both for yoga therapy sessions with the Trainers as well as for those who might want to do Shavasana, Ujjayi or extra meditation.
As important as all these factors can be, they are not really important, not compared to what yoga is opening up in you. Yoga is completely portable. I have done yoga in my home, in an Ashram, in the desert, in the mountains, on a boat, on an airplane and in a whole lot of other places. It always works. Always. When your focus is on the yoga, it doesn’t matter where you are. But if your focus still wavers, your mind looks for things to worry about, like your next break or your next meal. If this still happens to you, it’s valuable to have a system set up for you that keeps your mind at rest. No worries! Yet our focus remains squarely on the yoga, because that’s what you are coming here for. The yoga is what’s taking care of you, not the Trainers, not the food, not your yoga-buddies. It’s all about Svaroopa® yoga! And that means it’s about Grace.