Over the first weekend of July, I attended a two-day yoga program/workshop organized by Isha Foundation. I learned about this non-profit and non-religious yoga organization when I attended the Yoga Show in Toronto with 2 of my yoga friends a few months ago, and was attracted by the intensive teacher training program it offered to aspiring yogis/yoginis like me. 🙂 Therefore, I kept in touch with this foundation and learned that it was offering a program in Toronto, so of course I signed up for it!
Although I had no idea what kind of program I signed up for, I found the title “Surya Kriya” very mysterious and its name promising me further enlightenment of yoga. I was super excited and thrilled to attend the workshop and didn’t mind the fact that I had to practise yoga on an empty stomach for both days. Each day was 4 hours long of yoga practise. As it turned out, I was in for a pleasant and new yoga experience!
Firstly, my perception of yoga has changed as a result of this unique learning experience. I didn’t realize that the yoga I have been practising is actually a fusion of or modified versions of classical yoga poses. For example, I’ve always done the Cat Stretch in 3 steps in my yoga studio. Boy, was I in for a surprise, when I learned that the Cat Stretch can be stretched into 9 steps at this workshop! It’s truly yoga in its purest classical form. Lastly, I have learned that yoga should be part of my daily life and can be practised at home. Prior to this workshop, I would schedule to go to my yoga classes 2-3 times a week, and practise yoga only at the studio. From this workshop, I discovered that the most powerful yoga practise is when you can do it every day, which becomes daily routine like brushing teeth in the morning.
Now, I will share with you a few things that really stood out for me in the Surya Kriya Program, which has helped to deepen my understanding of yoga & practising it:
1. Yoga is not exercise. It’s a body, mind and spirit experience, where we become whole with the universe.
~On our second day of the workshop, I felt this body/mind/spirit connection when we were asked as we practised our Surya Kriya routine, to visualize (mind) our better self (spirit) performing the poses perfectly, as we are doing it (body) simultaneously. All 3 should always be active during yoga.
2. Yoga practise is internal cleansing.
3. Yoga is an enhancement of perceptiveness.
4. Practise yoga with devotion and reverence.
5. Wearing loose and comfortable cotton clothing is best.
6. There is no ego in yoga.
~Unlike the studio I go to for my yoga classes, this workshop is held in a huge room with no mirrors. Sadhguru, the founder of Isha Foundation, explains that we need to be simple, back to the origins, when practising yoga. We don’t need mirrors to watch ourselves to be the best or even use any props to help us achieve certain poses. We simply let go of our ego, and listen to our inner self/voice, and try our best and do poses at our own pace or level. We do not need to perfect a difficult pose right away. It is ok to work towards it slowly. It is only when we let go of our ego, we can find true inner peace or well-being, which is what yoga is all about in the first place.
Ultimately, I learned that I need to make Surya Kriya as part of my everyday life. Surya Kriya is a 21 steps yoga routine that is required to be practised with devotion and reverence. The definition of Surya Kriya is activating the energy of the sun within ourselves. (see here for more details: http://www.ishayoga.org/hata/teachertraining/surya-kriya/) It needs to be practised twice a day for 40 days, and then once a day daily. The idea is that after 40 days, it becomes a habit, which makes yoga practise so much more powerful and profound. I am now in the process of making Surya Kriya become my daily routine, and will keep you posted on the impact it will have on me, when I’m ready. 🙂 Namaste!