by Evguenia Alechine, PhD
Akhanda Yoga is a holistic Yogic approach developed by Himalayan Master Yogrishi Vishvketu (also known as Vishva-ji). He studied and practiced Yoga for over 40 years and holds a PhD in Yoga Philosophy. For the last 25 years, he has been sharing his learnings at workshops and conferences around the world. Vishva-ji has trained numerous students at his Yoga Teacher Trainings at Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh. Akhanda Yoga incorporates the most essential aspects of Yoga in each and every class: movement (asana), breathing (pranayama), sounding (mantra), meditation (dhyana) and Yogic philosophy (jnana).
A friend of mine who completed the Akhanda Yoga Teacher Training a few years earlier shared his experience and recommended it to me. Early in 2019, I enrolled myself into the 200-hour Akhanda Yoga Teacher Training and, to be honest, I was not sure why I was signing up. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to strengthen my Yoga practice and have a transformational experience in India, more specifically in Rishikesh. Being a scientist, I did some research and found out that it is supposed to be one of the best Yoga teacher training schools in Rishikesh, with very good reviews. This school was not my only option and since it was a big investment in terms of time and money, I waited before making a decision. One day, I heard a calling and without a doubt, I signed up and booked my flight from Argentina to India.
The beginning of the course
After a 24-hour flight from Argentina, I arrived at the Anand Prakash Ashram a few days before the Yoga Teacher Training started. The Ashram is the central institution for Akhanda Yoga in India. Quoting the ashram’s facilities description, it
“is an uplifting building in the north end of Rishikesh facing the mountains. As soon as you walk through the front door, you’ll see the expansive fire ritual space and white marble terrace for ceremonies and enjoyment.”
I slept enough to overcome the jetlag and, once the training started, things started to fall into place. The tiredness was almost gone and sharing the same experience with so many like-minded people from different backgrounds reminded me why I was there at the ashram.
Our day started at 5:00 AM with the bell ringing; we didn’t need any alarm clocks. Morning meditation was at 5:20, which was followed by a 90-minute yoga class with Vishva-ji at 6:00, then fire pooja, and at 7:50 finally a well-deserved breakfast. All meals were served in the dining hall, and we sat on the floor with small individual tables to savor the most amazing vegetarian, sattvic food. There were options for everyone, which included, gluten-free, vegan, and also food for people with specific allergies. Breakfast was eaten in silence and for 3 nights a week, we also had dinner in silence. This gave us a chance to be mindful and present during the act of eating and to be able to really savor the food while nurturing our body and soul.
Our Yoga Teacher Training was pretty intense. There were 2 classes in the morning, which were usually a philosophy or anatomy class as well as a techniques class. This structure was repeated in the afternoon. Our free time after lunch and dinner started to gradually fill up with reading, studying, and preparing for the practical classes. Twice a week we had Kirtan around the fire and every week we had Satsang with Vishva-ji. Our Saturday afternoons and Sundays were free.
Understanding why I was there
I must admit that in the beginning, it wasn’t easy to wake up so early and get used to the new food. But, slowly everything started to fall into place. With every Yoga practice, with every meditation, with every philosophy class, I understood why I was there. In the West, we understand Yoga as a physical practice – you get on your mat, do the postures and you go home. Akhanda Yoga teaches you that Yoga is much more than that. Yoga means union between our body, mind, and soul. The 5 elements of Akhanda Yoga practice (asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra chanting, and Yogic philosophy) bring together the different parts of yourself and allow you to connect with yourself and others on another level while healing your wounds (physical or emotional). Everything that I learned about wellbeing and self-development has its roots in Yoga. Now, I feel the passion and sense of urgency to sharing this wisdom of Yoga with others.
Lessons and friends for life
After 4 weeks of training, we had not only learnt more about Yoga and how to teach it but we also had connected with ourselves. Everyone had different experiences, but I believe it’s fair to say that each and every one of us was moved, touched, and changed by this experience. We created strong bonds and made life-long friendships; we met heart-to-heart with one another. I feel extremely grateful for all the teachers who shared this journey with me because I learned something from each of them.
Now, being back “in the real world,” I feel the need to share my learnings with those around me. Bringing the Akhanda Yoga approach, sharing my experience, and teaching this holistic practice back home is a commitment that I owe to myself. I’m now looking forward to this new phase of my adventure in the path of Yoga.
For more information on their Teacher Training visit the Akhanda Yoga website.
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Evguenia was born in Russia and moved to Argentina at the age of 5, where she lived since. Her Yoga path started when she was 3-4 years because of her many health issues. Her dad found a newspaper article about the health benefits of Yoga and started practicing with her. She returned to Yoga about 17 years ago, as a young adult, and has been practicing regularly since. In the meantime, she earned a PhD in Biochemistry and started a career in science communication, and has travelled the world. She has always been passionate about teaching and is a strong advocate for a natural sustainable lifestyle. She did an Acrovinyasa Teacher Training in Bali, and more recently an Akhanda Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh. You can contact Evguenia and follow her stories through her website travelerscientist.com