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Posts tagged ‘India’

The Practice of Ahimsa

By Sushant Pandey

अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायां तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्यागः॥३५॥
Ahiṁsāpratiṣṭhāyāṁ tatsannidhau vairatyāgaḥ||35||

On the establishment of Ahiṁsā or Non-injury (in a Yogī, there is) cessation of hostility (in one) coming close to him||35||

Ahimsa is ‘nonviolence’; the first and the foremost of the five Yama (Social codes of conduct) in the yoga sutras of Patanjali.

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Mahashivrathri – The Great Night Of Lord Shiva

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Murdeshwara Temple, Karnataka, India. Photo Credit – Coni Hörler

There are many myths that surround the festival of Mahashivrathri, but one in particular which is often repeated and remembered has to be the story of Samudra Manthan, or the ‘Churning of the Ocean’. Infact, this myth still bears a close resemblance to the way it is currently celebrated and has its origin from the ancient book of the Puranas, which when translated means ‘olden times’. (more…)

January 2015: The Indian Yoga Festival in Goa

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The Indian Yoga Festival is a three days celebration in Goa, which takes place for the second time in the upcoming year 2015. We wish Deep Deka and his team all the best for this event, which will most likely become a regular (=yearly) function in future. (more…)

5 reasons why you should do your yoga teacher training course in India

By Karolina Krawczyk-Sharma

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Karo has been practising yoga for over 12 years and in 2012, founded Trimurti Yoga in Goa, along with her husband, Ajay Sharma. Trying to keep a balance between East and West Karo teaches in India and Europe.

India is one of those fascinating places which you cannot simply describe! For some people India means one of the oldest of the world’s civilisations, for some – magic and spirituality, and for others – poverty, dirt and danger. I would say India is the universe – you can find here absolutely everything: modern and old-fashioned, rich and poor, loud and silent, dry and humid, spiritual and commercial, modest and fancy, spicy and sattvic…. The variety of the Indian reality is beyond any expectations, and most probably no one can really prepare you for this experience, but there is no doubt that India is an amazing place to visit, to learn from, and to connect to the roots, to yourself. Doing a yoga teacher training course is one of the best reasons to visit India, and get out of this experience much more than just technical asana training and a certification.

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1. India is the source of yoga

The first reason is obvious – India is the motherland of yoga. At a certain point if you want to understand its essence, you need to explore yoga’s origins from up close. In the west, you might feel that yoga means asana practice, a fitness style, a set of crazy positions for losing weight, or exercise for joint flexibility, but yoga has much, much more to offer. The tradition is deeply rooted in spirituality and the ancient Vedas, now thousands of years old, is still alive here, and can inspire you to go to a deeper level. You will not only learn about the philosophy of yoga, but you will be able to see what it actually means. Feeling the yogic spirit and meeting traditional yogis can help you to discover and enrich your yoga, your values, your own way. Different paths of yoga, such as bhakti (yoga of devotion), or karma (yoga of action), still so evident in India, can open new gates for your practice and help you to become a better teacher, a better yogi or yogini, and a better person.

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2. A chance to leave your comfort zone

In yoga, as well as in the teaching profession, keeping an open and fresh perspective is one of the most important values. To protect yourself from a mechanical routine, you need to leave your comfort zone for a while (just like you do on your mat), and open the heart for the new. It’s the same as when you meet your future students and teach them without pre-conceptions, without conditioning, without judgment.

India is very different from what we are used to at home, in our countries, cultures or geographical locations. ‘Different’ does not mean ‘worse’ though. India presents you with challenges and opportunities to learn, grow and develop. By being in such a different reality you test your habits, adjust your routine, review your definitions. You need to explore. You will try different tastes, meet different people, face different situations, and learn how to react to them. Basically, you will meet yourself once again, but in a different context, and that’s how you learn and grow. Not everything will be smooth and easy, but this is how it works.

So if you want to develop both your yoga and teaching skills, a teacher training course in India will help you leave your old well-known frames of reference, and open up for the NEW.

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3. Meet the world and your soulmates!

Sitting in a circle during a yoga teacher training course, you will see the whole globe in its micro version. People from every corner of the world, each continent and time zone come together, to explore the roots of yoga. They are curious about its real taste, need to explore its essence, and are hungry for Sanskrit and contemporary use of ancient scriptures. Most probably they are all just like you – with different stories and inspiring dreams, yet with different accents, experiences and needs (as they say in India ”same, same, but different”). Yoga unites us all. India brings us to the fundamentals of yoga, taking us for a journey in a time machine from a long time back to now. Friendships made at teacher training courses in India last forever, and are really deep. Then there are the unforgettable moments while performing kriyas (cleansing processes) together – this connects you for life!

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4. Tap the holistic wisdom of ancestors

While the west is attracted mainly by the physical aspects of yoga, in India it is not all about the body. The re-connection to the holistic perspective of who we are seems to still be the strongest principle of yoga in India. The control of the body or health of the body are just the tools, the steps towards higher aims, which can be the joy of life, freedom from sorrows, mental balance, or peace (known today as stress management!). Staying in harmony and being in a state of transcendental happiness (unconditionally and eternally) were the main goals of old yogis. The body was only the means, not the aim, therefore real yoga masters and gurus never allow forcing or pushing, and never allow violence. And they never tried to impress anyone. They always suggested surrendering, accepting, letting go and being kind. They might seem ‘boring’ in their white kurtas, practicing without mats (yes, no fancy mats!), eating dal and rice (no, no smoothies and spirulina). But they possess the real wisdom and live their lives according to the Vedas. Yes, they can read and understand the Vedas or Patanjali’s Sutras without a translator and online apps – Internet in India is too slow anyway!

If the physical aspect of yoga brings happiness to people, that’s really great, but what we can learn in India is more focused on how the body is interconnected to emotions, mind, awareness and spirit. It doesn’t really matter if you can do the splits, or how high you can raise your leg. It is not about ’birds of paradise’ or a fancy selfie taken in handstand. Yoga is your own path – for your Self (and not so much for your ‘selfie’), your inner joy – without ego, without pride, without audience. I meet this ‘old school approach’ in India very often, and I love to remind myself why I actually practice yoga.

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5. Have a life-changing experience

Many students who have taken yoga teacher training courses in India claimed the experience had changed their lives. Technical skills and knowledge of yogic practices are super important: these are the basics, the tools which allow you to become a good and safe yoga instructor – that’s a must. Good anatomy and adjustment techniques – that’s the foundation. But yoga teacher training can be much more than a professional course with certificates and stamps. The Indian experience impacts different people in different ways, but it definitely has an impact on everyone! Why can students change their lives after India? Perhaps here in India they see a bigger picture of their life, they don’t run away from the truth that they want and need some change. They want to live happier, peacefully and healthy. Perhaps being far away from home shows them a clearer picture. Or perhaps they get inspired by everything together – India, yoga, people, nature…

There is one rule though – you need to be open to receive. Students who come to India and complain about not being home, and not having the comforts which they are used to cannot enjoy it as much as students who decide to go with the flow, even if the water coming out of the solar-heated shower is not warm! Remember that the circumstances sent to us by the Universe are sent for a reason. You can take it and handle it, or complain about it. The choice belongs to us – that’s what yoga says. I learned to take cold showers in Indian ashrams, so an ice bucket challenge cannot scare me!

Photos courtesy of Ajay Sharma, Trimurti Yoga.

Upcoming Yoga Festival: Zambhala in Goa, 21-22 December 2013

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Goa seems to be a popular location for yoga festivals! Yoga.in recently received information on the upcoming Zambhala festival, happening in Goa on December 21st and 22nd. The festival is bringing together not only yoga experts but also spiritual teachers, practitioners, healers, musicians and artists from India and other countries.

Zambhala: India’s Yoga, Music, And Life Spirit Festival

Location: Bardo, Ashvem, Goa

Date: December 21 and 22, 2013

For more information, visit the Zambhala website.

Taking a Dip with the Yogis at the Maha Kumbh Mela

by Eva and Henning Moog

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In January and February 2013, Eva and Henning Moog travelled to Allahabad, India for the Maha Kumbh Mela, one of the most significant events of the Hindu calendar which takes place every 144 years. Millions gather from around the world for a sacred bath in the holy Ganges river. Here Eva and Henning share with us their experiences and observations of the Maha Kumbh Mela 2013.

Eva and Henning conduct 200h & 500h Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Trainings in Berlin as well as annual 4- week intensive teacher trainings in Turkey, Morocco and India. Learn more about their teacher trainings on their Google+ page:

“Did you take a dip?” This was a frequent daily question and one we got up to ten times a day during our stay in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela 2013. We stayed in Allahabad for one month, in this magic town where one drop of amrita, the divine nectar and sacred drink of immortality touched the ground, according to one of the most famous Indian myths. A dip in the holy waters here is the highest priority of each and every pilgrim who comes to the Kumbh Mela. The goal is to take a divine bath in the Triveni Sangam, a confluence of the three holy rivers of India: the Ganga, Yamuna and the secret, mysterious river Saraswati. Pilgrims come here to free themselves from negativity and – as they believe – the sins that they have accumulated over time. The first bath washes away all negativity and already the second bath is filled with divinity, leading to an ecstatic state of being – that can be really felt as a high vibrational spiritual field everywhere on the Kumbh Mela grounds. This is what Avijit, a manager of one of the thousands of camps on the grounds experiences told us with glowing eyes.

The Ganga: the dying goddess?

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As Europeans, a bath in a holy river in India presented a certain challenge for us and was approached with some scepticism. Environmental pollution in India is astounding and the rivers are highly contaminated, as official studies by the WHO and other organizations confirm. Faeces, pesticides, heavy metals, industrial drain water, and dead corpses of humans and animals have caused a critical level of water contamination. Some river areas have faecal bacteria levels which are 4000 times higher than the minimum level set by WHO water safety standards. This is 10,000 times higher for the Ganges in Varanasi. The Yamuna river runs 1370 kilometres through the country and 20 kilometres through Delhi where 80% of its pollution is caused. In spite of their holiness and their status as goddesses, there are serious warnings that India’s rivers may die of severe contamination. Though the Indian government started the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in 1985, billions of dollars for the salvation of Ma Ganga (as the Indians call the river) disappeared into nowhere, the money never having reached its goal.

At the Triveni Sangam in Allahabad, the water looks relatively clean and we even happily discover some living fish. A good sign. But even our Ayurvedic doctor Dr. Pramod Kumar from Varanasi had mentioned that he would only bathe in the Ganges in Rishikesh or even higher in the Himalayas, at the river’s source. For all these reasons we swayed back and forth between our European rational thinking and the ‘dipping euphoria’ we witnessed all around us and which got to us from time to time.

Bathing in these external rivers of the Triveni Sangam (the Saraswati is considered to be ‘invisible’ or ‘hidden’) is an outer, symbolic form of unity with the divine, and for the pilgrims, their access to holiness and divinity. No wonder that we were also told in India that the Yamuna and Ganges rivers are not contaminated at all! Millions of people dive into those waters without hesitating for even a second, and, it seems, with no harm. Is this spiritual blindness or is our yogic point of view much too narrow?

The message of the Kumbh Mela

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“Here you can feel the real Indianness,” is something we heard from many Indian pilgrims. The Kumbh Mela is the ideal place to dive fully into the Indian feeling of spirituality which is also the spirit of yoga: the rising of spiritual energy during the Kumbh Mela. Everybody comes with a different concept, different ideas and backgrounds – yogis from all over the world and followers of all imaginable yoga styles build their tents here: Jnana, Bhakti and Tantra yogis, Naga Sadhus and Brahmans. Each camp is a whole unique universe. But in the moment of the sacred dip in the Ganga, all concepts and theories dissolve in the waters and the experience of unity and the touch of immortal divinity is all that lasts. The moment of the ‘dip’ is transforming and penetrates everything with a cosmic vibration. It aligns the individual once again with itself, the others and the cosmos. This transformational aspect enhances the vibration at the Kumbh day by day and we absorb this with every cell of our bodies. After some time the whole body vibrates, resonating on all levels and eventually radiating by itself. This is pure transformation. What unifies is the dip into the holy rivers and the absorption of pure divine energy.

The Kumbh Mela is not just a Hindu celebration but an invitation for all people from our planet to spread the message of a peaceful, powerful and connecting spirituality, according to the 90-year-old swami Gopalji Maharaj from Satcha Baba Ashram in Allahabad. “The people come here and we give them love,” he told us. “Everybody is invited to take a bath and to join the divine energy.” Then he sang the Gayatri Mantra with the voice of a young man, so melodious and energetic, that we completely melted emotionally.

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Green Ganga Action

“Live simple so others can simply live!” is the message of the Ganga Action Parival Camp in sector 13 of the Kumbh grounds. Poojayi Swamiji, the initiator of the camp and guru of an ashram in Rishikesh, works relentlessly on an awareness-raising project aimed at the Indian population for an improvement of environmental consciousness. The salvation of Ma Ganga is at the heart of his message. Ma Ganga – Mother Ganga – is seen to be the mother of all rivers, not only on the Indian subcontinent, but around the globe. This holistic view leads to a way of thinking and doing that connects local action to a global perspective. It is also a spiritual approach that sees the Ganges as a living being that has family connections to all other rivers. Rivers, no matter if they are called Ganges, Rhine, Danube or Thames are one body, one being. We humans stay connected with them, as water is the most important element.

At the Kumbh Mela, we observed how some pilgrims lit a candle set on a palm leaf and decorated with a flower before placing it on the water’s surface as an offering. They chanted mantras while these beautiful offerings flowed away gently with the current of Ma Ganga. At the same time, just 100 metres away, Poojayi Swamiji was holding a passionate talk for the salvation of Ma Ganga. All around us the ecstatic ‘dipping’ continued, with pilgrims emerging from the river purified and highly energized. A myth survived and will live on. The rivers, goddesses, millions of pilgrims, infinite nectar and the spiritual power of a ‘Green Ganga’ made it possible. Jay Ma Ganga!

Photographs by Eva and Henning Moog

Indian Shanti Yoga Festival, 3-5 January 2014, Goa

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The yoga.in team recently received information about a new yoga festival happening this winter in Goa. Deep Deka, the organizer of the festival, got in touch with us and shared some information about himself and the festival. Deep was born and raised in a traditional Indian family and has lived in many places around India. Having studied different yoga traditions and visited many yoga ashrams, he has a deep desire to bring together all forms and styles of yoga under one roof to synthesize the practice of yoga. Deep has been living in Germany and other European countries for the past few years teaching yoga classes and organizing yoga festivals. This gives him the vision to organize a yoga festival deeply rooted in yoga and spiritual activities in his own country. The festival is also helped by an international volunteer team from all around the world. This is what Deep shared with us about this unique festival:

The white sands of Cavelossim Beach in Goa will be the magic setting for a special event for yoga lovers from across India and the world. The Indian Shanti Yoga Festival will be a 3-day celebration of wellness, spiritual growth and conscious living through yoga, health, ayurveda, spiritual music and healthy food.

Presented by Ganesha Events, this 3-day gathering of yoga, health and spiritual music will take place from 3-5 January 2014 at The Old Anchor Byke Resort, Cavelossim Beach.

The festival will have an auspicious start on the morning of January 3rd with an invocation to lord Ganesha, and will conclude with a grand finale concert with all the invited bands joining in on the evening of January 5th.

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The focus of the festival is to bring together the ancient knowledge of different yoga ashrams and traditions in India while also introducing new techniques of relaxation which are evolving around the globe. Several directors of renowned ashrams are joining the festival to present their specific understanding of yoga and spirituality, these include Nataraj (Director, Sivananda Ashram, Neyyar Dam), Swami Gurusharanananda (Director, Anandamayi Maa Peet, Omkareshwar), Swami Sugoshananda (Director, Chinmaya Mission Ashram, Ponda), Dr. Omkarananda Guruji (Director, Paramanand Yoga Niketan, Indore), Sindhu Maa (Director Tulasidalam Ashram, Kerala) and many more.

Yoga teachers from all the major yoga schools of India will be represented at the festival, including Bihar School of Yoga, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Krishnamacharya Healing Yoga Foundation, and Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. Some modern approaches to yoga practice will also be presented: Pau Castellsague from Acro Yoga and Thai Massage, Spain; Helen Ruth from the UK, Marcus Felsner from Austria, Satish Joshi, an Ayurveda therapist from Germany, and many more.

In addition to the many speakers and yoga teachers, the highlight of the festival is to bring bhakti yoga into motion for which there will be kirtan bands performing at sunset concerts including Kirtaniyas (USA), Vraja Vilas (Mumbai), and Ajay Yagnik (Delhi).

Also planned are special free events such as Hanuman Chalisa and Divine Mother Invocation which will cultivate the spirit of bhakti in the hearts of the participants.

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A Yoga Market will offer space to a variety of vendors to promote their yoga products and retreats to the festival crowd. Ayurvedic food stands will provide participants with nutritious and delicious food during the festival.

The Indian Shanti Yoga Festival will be offering its support to the Heart Kids orphanage in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu.

The organizers of the Indian Shanti Yoga Festivals invites yoga fans to come to Goa from 3-5 January 2014 and be part of this unique 3-day celebration of wellness, spiritual growth and conscious living while also helping to support a good cause.

For more information, visit the Indian Shanti Yoga Festival website or the Facebook page.

Photographs by Wari Om Photography.