My YTT at Anand Prakash Ashram, Rishikesh

My YTT at Anand Prakash Ashram, Rishikesh

Sharing experience: my yoga teacher training in Rishikesh

After several years of practicing yoga (and somewhat unhappy to be a lawyer), I felt the need to deepen, to explore, to escape… After some more or less far-fetched decisions for my entourage, I finally booked a one-way trip to India!

I had no other plan but to start with a month of immersion in an ashram in Rishikesh, to begin to train myself as a yoga teacher. My research (thorough, I’m rather a maximizer;)) had focused on a certified 200h Yoga Alliance training, in order to obtain an internationally recognized degree. They guided me to the Anand Prakash Ashram.

I had chosen this place before my departure, without any recommendation other than that of my intuition. I wanted to go to the mountains rather than to Kerala, to the North rather than to the South of India. The call of the Himalayas and the Ganga River pushed me towards Rishikesh, home of the first yogis. The traditional and modern character of the Akhanda yoga offered at Anand Prakash Ashram had attracted me. The fact that the program was guided by an Indian yogi (Vishva-ji) and a Canadian yogini had ended up convincing me of the potential quality of the experience that was being offered to a Western woman like me.

I suspected that in a month I will not learn all there is to know about yoga, but I did not imagine that such an adventure could have a real impact on so many other aspects of my life…

Yoga YTT Akhanda yoga Rishikesh
So, it is in September 2014 that I arrived at the ashram Anand Prakash, a beautiful yellow building on the heights of the city of Rishikesh. After a joyful and colorful arriving ceremony, I met my roommate, a smiling German doctor of my age. We would therefore share this spacious and rudimentary room with the essentials, a separate shower room and shared balcony. The other 40 participants (many more women than men, of all ages and nationalities) spread over the three floors, by 2 or 3.

 

The following day, we adopted the ashram schedules and the training began:

5 am wake up bell – hot water lemon / salt, neti, tongue scratching
5:30 meditation
6h Akhanda yoga
8h breakfast
8h30 fire pooja
9h class
12h30 breakfast
14h30 class
18h dinner
19h some evenings, kirtan, meditative activities
21h Silence until the end of breakfast the next day
22h Lights off

YTT formation de professeur de yoga RishikeshA very steady rhythm, the Sunday afternoon being free nonetheless. Most of our days were spent at the ashram and its beautiful and large practice room. The terrace facing the first wooded hills of the Himalayas (less than 1000 meters there, we speak of hill) also allowed to breathe, meditate or exchange in small groups during the breaks.

For 40 days, we studied many postures of Hatha Raja and Kundalini yoga, but also of prenatal yoga, restorative yoga and chair yoga, mantras, breaths and kryias, themes and fundamental texts of philosophy, pedagogy and Teaching, anatomy, structure of a course … in short, everything you have to learn in a YTT Yoga Alliance.

Rich and dense, while remaining accessible, the courses were of quality, whether given by Vishva-ji or other professors of his team (in English of course).

yoga traditionnelEach morning, the fire pooja – a fire ritual where mantras are sung while offering different spices to the flames – worked like small purifications. A spiritual experience that I almost never missed though it was optional. Day after day, Vishva Ji, our host and master, gave us an experience in the oldest lineage of yogis.

The meals were also a real joy for my taste buds! Yes they are a lot lots of lentils, rice grains and chapatis. But cooked in so many different ways that it would have taken me much more than a month to be saturated. I even had the chance to spend some time in the kitchen to learn some dishes, including the famous banana samosas!

There were also Yogis yum yums, small sweets sold by a yogi residing in the ashram, for the benefit of disadvantaged children. Based on dates, cashew nuts, coconuts and other local delicacies, I confess that these wonders had the gift of comforting the most fragile of us, because stress is not absent there either, the timing can sometimes feel tight, especially when we sometimes lived intense emotionally days …

But the experience was above all HUMAN. Because we step out of our comfort zone: we get up early, we eat sitting on the ground, we often walk without shoes (I love!) … while in parallel physically stirring a lot of things on the carpet, also putting into perspective a lot of ideas, stories, samskaras, all of that in community … it creates links all the stronger that we all tried to put into practice the philosophy of life that was taught to us well beyond the asanas.

If I remember only one thing from what I learned during this training, it is to listen.

YTT RishikeshI really became aware of the importance of listening, and the difficulty that I sometimes also have to practice it in an authentic way. It is truly a quality that I have endeavored to develop since then (and am infinitely grateful to all the “teachers” I have met on my way since!).

I chose this place because I liked the approach that was proposed: a holistic yoga, which takes into account the integrality of the person, integrating asana, pranayama, meditation, mantras, kriyas, philosophy, anatomy, lifestyle, ethics and Ayurveda. On leaving, I felt ready to teach in this line (which I did) but tirelessly curious to learn even more (what I continue to do)!

I also discovered the yogi of the smile. His mantra?

“Your self is playful, fearless and blissful”

This still resonates in me from time to time, for my greatest good!

Shall we try ?!

Inhale … … exhale with a smile ! Yoga can be as simple as that 😉

Did you take that training as well? Another equally recommendable training? Feel free to share your experiences!

3 “cheat sheets” for happiness

3 “cheat sheets” for happiness

3 “cheat sheets” of happiness by Jonathan Lehmann

Practiced and approved!

Do you know Jonathan Lehmann? He defines himself as an old “dunce of happiness”. He left his career as a lawyer to search for happiness, just like me! He recently participated in the TEDx Valenciennes and presented in 20 minutes three habits that can change your life.

As his sharing is more than relevant for La Minute Yoga, here is, in two minutes for the most hurried and non French-speakers, what I retained from this intervention:

The problem :

Our mind produces on average 60,000 thoughts a day, mostly negative.

Who is responsible for this? The mind that acts as a tyrant, an internal dictator who creates problems.

“The voice in my head is a bitch”

The solution :

To be happy, it is essential to understand that suffering, unhappiness, comes from our negative mental and emotional states (anger, fear, sadness, anguish ..). Indeed, if the conscious present, a moment, lasts on average 3 seconds, our thoughts and emotions persist much longer than that. To increase the happiness thus passes by the acceptance of the present moment: cease to resist it in order to diminish the suffering.

Knowing that you are in a hurry, Jonathan has selected for you 3 “cheat sheets” of happiness, 3 techniques to turn this tyrant into a tool of happiness, to change your life without taking too much of your time.

1. The mind is negative, practice gratitude!

Our negative thoughts travel faster in the brain, we remember more negative than positive thoughts because we are biologically programmed to handle problems: it is a requirement for the survival of the species.

But neuroplasticity makes it possible to transform the brain, like modeling paste: by activating a thought, I reinforce a network of neurons and increases the probability that it activates in the future.

All thought is either a vicious circle or a virtuous circle.

Jonathan thus proposes us to practice gratitude every day, by writing or recalling regularly the little moments of happiness we lived, and thus “live his life as if everything was a miracle”.

2. The mind is compulsive, practice meditation!

The mind produces thoughts a day in an almost continuous flow, and there is no Off button.

As an antidote, Jonathan proposes the practice of meditation, exercising attention on the present moment (often breathing) as a tool for training the brain.

Some good reasons to do this ? Meditation, practiced a little every day, makes happier (distance with thoughts, secretion of hormones), more intelligent (improves memory, stimulates creativity) and lengthens life (slows down cellular aging)

3. The mind is internal, externalize it!

Stuck in the head, the problems go round and round, they are ruminated, we cannot see clearly. By putting them into writing, by externalizing our thoughts, we dish them up, we gain in clarity.

Thus, Jonathan’s morning pages consist of writing daily, when waking up, everything that passes through his head, in order to allow him to decide what to give energy to, according to the goals of his life. One way to “get the mental trash out”.

Faced with a problem, he makes the questions / answers, writing everything that comes up.

A  Harvard study shows today that what gives happiness is good relationships with others. However, this requires above all a good relationship with oneself.

Jonathan concludes:

By practicing meditation only 10 minutes and gratitude 3 minutes for 10 days, your life will change; After 21 days, it will be a habit, will will not even be really necessary to practice.

It’s not at La Minute Yoga that we will tell you the opposite!

Ready to increase your moments of happiness?

Jonathan offers many guided meditations, and you can find some all over La Minute Yoga, on our YouTube and ITunes channels.

If you have other tips, feel free to share them with us 🙂

How often should I practice ?

How often should I practice ?

“10 minutes a day, 1 hour if you’re in a hurry” said the wise man! Yes, because the important thing is not when or what we practice but how.

Practice makes perfect ! 

Indeed, the practice of yoga allows, among other, the secretion of GABA, the hormone of stress resilience. But this production stops, and the rate drops gradually, as soon as the practice stops.

So we need our daily dose! The duration of the practice is thus less important than its regularity. Short daily practices are hence more efficient than a weekly practice of 1h30, in the current state of discovery of neurosciences.

In my yogic sense, it is therefore better to allow us a few minutes of authentic practice in mindfulness everyday, than an hour a week making the grocery list or repeating the day in our head on the mat.

The library of our meditations is enriched regularly on iTunes and Youtube, so do not hesitate to repeat some practices on a daily basis!

 

What is a mantra ?

What is a mantra ?

A mantra is a sound, a word or a phrase, which is repeated inwardly, with a low or high voice, or singing. There are many of them, each with its own frequency, vibration. Yogis use them to meditate, calm the mind or heal.

“Man” means spirit, “tra” liberate.

It is an important part of the yogic tradition, a bit forgotten in the West. Traditionally, it was a very secret part of the practice. The mantras were given by the masters according to the needs of their students.

The most well known is the Om mantra, it is said to be the primordial sound, the one that preceded the creation of the universe. Shall we try ? Close your eyes, take a deep breath by the nose … OOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM … listen, feel … how do you feel?

Whether one is religious, spiritual or not, the sound creates vibrations that spread throughout the body. The effect can therefore not be completely neutral.

My favorite mantra of the moment? Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu: for peace and universal happiness. You will find it here interpreted by the angelic voice of Deva Premal and the enchanting flute of Manose.

Jyoti Tratak, the candle meditation

Jyoti Tratak, the candle meditation

Have you ever let your thoughts wander on the flames’ rhythm? Fire has something fascinating, hypnotic, right?

Yogis, all explorers of the body, mind and soul that they are, use this element as a focal point for meditation.

Old scriptures say that this practice also develops intuition.

Would you like to try?

  • Take a comfortable position and place a lighted candle in front of you at about 15-20 centimeters, at eye level if possible.
  • Gaze at the flame of the candle and try not to blink. Let tears flow if they come.
  • Observe what is going on within you, how is your breath, what are your bodily sensations, your thoughts, during the time you have previously decided to grant yourself.

Take a moment at the end of your session to feel the effects of the practice.

* Jyoti means light in Sanskrit, tatrak: to gaze

 

A minute of practice a day, it is enough ?!

A minute of practice a day, it is enough ?!

Bad news, yoga is not something you get rid of : “1(0) minutes / an hour a day / week and this should be good for some time” …No, your morning practice will chase you all day !

But not as aches after a too intense aerobic class.

Of course, a feeling of lightness, vitality and well-being remains a few hours after the session. But also, flashes, a little like a small inner voice that shows up on its own, whenever it feels like it ( “let go”, “don’t overreact”, “breathe”) … it is your consciousness!

You awoke it, it is now talking to you. You find yourself distancing yourself from your spontaneous mental reactions. You may be even voluntarily paying attention.

And little by little, these new patterns of being settle, replace the old ones, and even become unconscious. You become aware of other patterns etc., you become a constantly evolving being … alive!

If your have more than a minute, I invite you to practice the breathing meditation daily for a week (in French, English version coming soon !).

La minute yoga, let’s go !

La minute yoga, let’s go !

One minute a day, publishing to make you practice a minute of yoga per day

It’s a challenge I want to get me, you, started with. Together, let’s put this intention to practice a little bit, every day …

For you, it is an invitation to practice, meditate, digest, integrate, incarnate, every day, various aspects of life seen by the yogic prism.

For me, it is a form of karma yoga (disinterested yoga) and an outlet for my irrepressible desire to share the nuggets that I discover on my way to the discovery of (my) human nature!

For us, a sadhana (regular practice), a kryia yoga (yoga of action) that allows to feed tapas (the will, determination) to practice swadhyaya (self study) but also Ishvara Pranidhana (to surrender to that which exceeds us, to have confidence, to accept our limits and what we do not understand) … in short, yoga in everyday life!

Already one minute, and you know one of the yoga sutras 😉

tapas swadyaya ishva pranidhana

 

Yoga for children

Yoga for children

Presented in an entertaining and educational manner, each yoga session alternates around a theme, dynamic and soothing postures, breathing techniques, concentration exercises and mindfulness. The secular philosophy of yoga grounds on kindness and self-knowledge is an integral part of the course. Children are also invited to interact with each other in order to stimulate their creativity.

Easy postures to achieve, alone or with others, are offered without competitive spirit, during a journey to awaken the child consciousness of his own body and develop self-confidence while raising sensitivity to the world of animals and nature (raise like a tree and keep the balance, jumping like a frog etc.).

The class is filled with exploration exercises to calm down (full abdominal breathing for example), to be more focused (concentration on the breath, sounds, bodily sensations, etc.), to regain energy (stimulating or letting go exercises).

Each session ends with a relaxation, as a story, an invitation to relaxation and imagination. By adapting the practice to the season, the time of day and the emotional state of the children, I would like to share with joy a yoga adapted to the specificities of growing up beings.