If you have been passionately engaged in exercise for years and identify yourself with the moniker fitness freak, it’s time then, to evolve and become aware about the sheer magnitude of the power that the mind (psycho) has over the rest of the body (soma). Yoga teacher training will get you there.
Strength and endurance, as they pertain to physical performance of the human body, should never become less important. In fact, your obsession with fitness and physical performance enhancement should lead you to understand the sheer power of the mind as a major contributor in the enhancement of physical prowess.
We, as humans, are incapable of having thoughts that can even come close to the innate intelligence of the human body. When it comes to physical performance, one can safely say that a thought in the mind is an impediment in the intelligent, automatic functioning of the human body. The body physically performs at its absolute peak efficiency only when the mind is devoid of thought; this essentially allows the body to perform heavily challenging physical tasks, without coming in the way of its automatic, innate intelligence.
The State of Flow
The above phenomenon is well explained by the stellar work of the legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on the state of flow.
Flow is a clutter-free, mindful state experienced by masters, while being engaged in the craft that they are masters in. Yoga teacher training can get you there.
The above state of flow is still a step below the highly evolved ability to be in a mindful state of thoughtlessness (a voluntarily clutter-free mind) while not engaging in any physical activity that is mastered by the individual.
In case you have not already guessed it, the real power lies in being able to meditate and put one-self in a meditative state, at will.
A meditative state and complete stillness of the body are not inseparable.
In fact, the ability to be in a meditative state at will, while performing physical tasks, is what leads to the absolute optimal physical performance that an individual is capable of.
The Domain of YOG
If you are the kind that is all about the physical, then it’s high time you get the best of you while performing physically. This is achieved by mastering the truant mind.
If there is one domain that can truly teach this state of mind, it is the domain of YOG (Popularly known as YOGA).
Very few people are aware that this is what our Bhagavad Gita posits when it says –
Samatvam yog uchyate …Yog is balance,
Yog karmasu kaushalam…Yog is skill in action.
You can only be in the flow and meditate when you are balanced and are skillful in what you are doing. Yoga teacher training is one of the very few ways to get there.
Yoga as a practice is not the same as working out and should not be considered as an “either, or” to working out.
The sentence oft stated,
“I don’t prefer working out with weights and running to stay fit; I prefer doing Yoga to stay fit” is dead wrong.
Yoga is something that should be a part of everyone’s lives, especially the ones that want to master their bodies. Mastery over one’s mind is the ultimate power over one’s body.
The practice of Yog (Yoga) will, amongst so many things, also make you better at your workouts and overall physical performance.
You will lift better, run better, work better, study better, understand and absorb better, tackle problems in life better, react better, and basically, live better
Maharishi Patanjali’s Raj Yog or the Royal Path, in which the philosophical and psychological aspects of Yog are described as 195 Sutras in his eponymously named treatise Patanjali Yog Darshan, was the definitive premise on which all forms of Yog were based.
The physical aspects of what people conventionally think of as Yog and its methodology are actually detailed in Hatha Yog Shastras or texts.
Respected institutions like the Bihar School Of Yoga, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute, Kaivalyadham, S-Vyasa, and Yoga Vidya Gurukul, and more recently the newly launched K11 School of Yog, to name the reputed ones, have introduced practices based on these Hatha Yoga texts. All of this go into yoga teacher training.
The words Hatha Yog mean the following:
The Union (Yog) of the dualities of the opposing energies of the Masculine (Ha) and the Feminine (Tha). Hatha Yog did not, in any way, mean, willful, forceful effort as is commonly, erroneously believed and shockingly also taught.
The layman has a very limited perspective of Raja Yog and Hatha Yog, equating them with only their physical facets, especially Asans.
The layman then, will erroneously believe, that the only contribution of these Asans is to get steadiness of body and mind, diseaselessness, and lightness of the limbs, thereby regaining lost mobility/flexibility.
This is partially true and a desirable side effect, though definitely not the core essence of the practice of Asans, which is to prepare the body and mind for the practice of Pranayams, which in turn opens the door for higher practices.
Hatha Yog thus, is not just a physical practice.
“It is a process of cellular transmutation from gross to subtle to more subtle to still subtler, to the subtlest, which is the divine.” This is achieved by purification, pranic energization, and awakening of vital energies.
Hatha Yog constituted the more conspicuous efforts as elaborated upon below:
· Purificatory practices termed as Shatkriyas
· Poses/postures termed as Asans
· The more subtle breath work processes that are termed as Pranayams
· Still subtler practices of Mudras and Bandhas leading to meditation, culminating in Samadhi, which is the final eighth limb of Raj Yog.
Thus, the goal of the most physical form of Hatha Yog is Raj Yog.
If you, as a fitness enthusiast, wish to add another dimension to having mastery over your body, you must find yourself a Yog Prashikshak (Yoga Teacher/Instructor) who will not teach any of the aberrations of Yog, such as the following: Power Yoga, and a variety of other “This and That” Yogas, which are all an immense deviation from what is truly Yog. They are all just calisthenics using some postures from Yog, banking on the immense marketability and popularity of the word Yoga.
Nothing wrong with them, if you are aware that you are doing calisthenics and not Yog (Yoga).
The authentic Yog Prashikshak (Yoga Teacher/Instructor) will encompass the following.
· The physical: Shatkriyas, Asans, Pranayams
· The psychological: Dhyan
· The Para-Psychological: Kaivalya
(The final goal/desired outcome of all Yog)
After yoga teacher training, your teacher should be able to make you evolve through the practice of Hatha Yog (Yoga) towards making you a master of your mind and thus making you capable of mastering your body and thus enhancing your performance in every mental and physical performance.
You will truly become balanced and truly capable of skill in action.