I was magnetized to Ananda Sangha in 2012 for two reasons. First, to learn how to meditate and deepen my practice. Second, because my beloved Gurudev Paramhansa Yogananda was the strongest magnet. Reading Autobiography of a Yogi changed my life for the best!
As a youth, I was fascinated with Yoga and Pranayama techniques and the magic they do, but with this fascination came a lot of fear of doing yoga. Still, oblivious to the cause of this fear, I reached out to several yoga institutes in order to learn this form of science and art.
Unfortunately, I never resonated with any yoga schools or workshops I attended. Every time I went to a yoga workshop, I returned home with several unanswered questions. It was dis-empowering. Something was amiss, but I was unable to identify what!
I would attend a class or two and then discontinue it. The basic questions that stirred in my mind were: why do we do an asana in a particular format? Why do we hold our breath? Why breathe in a particular pattern? How am I benefited from each asana and why? My logical and intellectual selves were never convinced with the answers I received from the people I asked. I was told that this is the way yoga is done, with a double underline and a red highlight on the breathing cautions. All of the “if’s”, “do’s” and “don’ts” of yoga gave me a complete aversion towards it. In fact, it instilled in me even more fear than I had before. Maybe I was carrying these fears and questions from past lifetimes!
A few years ago, when I started my journey at Ananda Sangha, I learned a few basic yoga postures. Fear from the past came rolling to me while performing simple hatha yoga asanas; namely, Vrikasana and Ardha Chandrasana. But the presence of my Guru connected me with strong determination and will power. I superseded all fears with an undying flame of courage to perform the asanas.
After attending a few yoga classes at Ananda Yoga, I was able to identify what was the gap between yoga and I: the pure mechanical approach of performing yoga postures that I had learned in the past was not what I was seeking. As I soared upwards on the wings of joy with Ananda Yoga, I realized that I yearned for soul connection with yoga.
Words are not enough to express the joy I felt when I performed the asanas: I had an immediate resonance with Ananda Yoga. All of the questions of my intellectual self were not only answered, but a new experience unfolded to me. A state of peace, calmness and “I can do it” surged over me. This was the first time ever that I heard a yoga teacher say, “listen to your body, and enter into an asana while respecting your bodies’ limits.” It is not as important to get into the asana/pose accurately as much as it is significant to connect and gain from the core purpose of each asana. That statement broke the tall walls I had erected in my mind’s eye for yoga.
Ananda yoga slowly started becoming my way of living. Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga brought a beautiful shift within me; my approach towards situations and the learning of yoga evolved. To me, Hatha yoga and Ananda yoga go hand in hand. It was only when I was able to follow the yamas, niyamas and discipline my way of living and my approach to life and situations that I was able to understand the deeper aspects of Ananda yoga.
The unique feature of Ananda Yoga is connecting to the core of each asana from inside out, and not merely getting into a pose for physical benefit. True to its name, Ananda Yoga fills me with anand! A closer look at human anatomy reveals that Ananda yoga works not only at the physical level, but at the mental and emotional levels too, unlike other yoga traditions whose core focus is on the outward physical benefit.
To me, Ananda yoga with a scientific and esoteric approach works at a conscious physical and subtle astral levels, aligning the body’s energy, drawing it inward and up to the spiritual eye, magnetizing the spine. Yoga helps open, cleanse, heal and balance the spinal centers situated along the astral spine from where we draw energy to recharge it and perform our every action.
I radiate love and goodwill to soul friends everywhere
Ardha Matsyendrasana has helped me release tension in the spine through spinal twist. The core focus of this asana is the upper spine, shoulders and opening of the chest. With the gradual slow spinal twist and opening of the chest muscles, I slowly began to shift my awareness from the conscious benefits of this posture to the subtle energy which helped open my heart and feel love and compassion for myself and others.
As much as physical exercise is required for the body at all levels, a correct breathing technique is imperative for a happy and healthy body and mind. Yogic breathing – breathing using our full lung capacity – is of core importance in the asanas, as it helps to open the spine and gradually release the tension from it and from our breath.
I believe that, for a happy living, it is essential to maintain a happy and healthy body and mind through correct exercise and breathing techniques. I feel happy and blessed to have found this under my Guru’s umbrella at Ananda Sangha and Ananda Yoga School of India.