When the soul descends into a body, it has a reason for doing so. It is this purpose – this mission of the spirit – that is our individual and unique Dharma ( duty), be it grandiose or humble.
Our personal Dharma can be uncovered by answering the questions, Why I am here? What is my life purpose? One of the greatest saints who ever lived in India, Ramakrishna, was known for encouraging his applicants to answer those questions. Whenever anyone visited him, he would ask, Who are you? By asking that question, he was able to learn whether his visitors had identified their Dharma. Discovering our Dharma is the most important step in our life. If we dont take this step, then our efforts are not directed toward our souls end. Even if we work tremendously hard in life, we end up unfulfilled, climbing the ladder of success only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall. We curtail our freedom, if we dont have a clear purpose. How can we whole heartedly put effort into life we dont have a direction in which to go? Irrespective of the persons specific interest in Yoga, preference is given to proficiency in any one meditative posture for composure, ease breathing and concentration.
Sukhasana or the Easy pose as the one most preferable and convenient in actual practice. Sukhasana can be maintained for a considerable length of time both during the practice of yoga breathing and during concentration.
Sit on the floor with your legs crossed…close your eyes and be composed.
Mentally observe your breath going in and out, become fully-possessed. Continue for another 10 minutes at least. Slowly open your eyes, when you are ready. How do you feel?
Value of this pose or any other meditative pose, as Vajrasana, Padmasana…lies in establishing inner harmony with oneself.
As teachers, we can benefit our students most by helping each one discover and realize her/his individual Dharma. The most direct approach is to encourage your students to ask themselves regularly: Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is the reason for my existence? Why did my spirit choose this body, and what does it want to experience? The truest answers emerge slowly as time passes, just as they do in almost any decision making process. During class there are other questions you can raise to aid your students inquiry. Ask: If you had all the time, money and energy you wanted, what would you do? Another approach is: If you were dying, what would you wish you had done that you are not doing now? Why arent you doing it? There are other ways to assist your students in this important process of self-discovery. Start each class with quiet time, allowing their bodies and minds to become still, as you tried in Sukhasana. This gives them a rare chance to become introspective and receptive to deeper sources. At the beginning of class, ask students to move their mental energy into their heart center so they strive to discover the intention behind each action they take. This helps them slowly but surely come into contact with the spirit within.
In Savasana (Corpse pose) they can go deep into their hearts and look inside themselves to discover their inner reasons for living, acting and practicing. Teach your students that asana is not to be practices for the sake of the asana, but for the sake of Dharma. Who really cares if you can open your groin or not? Its wonderful that the potential for opening the groin exists and that opening makes us stand taller, but where does it fit in the big picture? How does the asana practice aid the mandate of the soul? Our asana practice must serve our purpose and not serve only itself.
When we practice more than what our Dharma requires, we only feed the Ego. If my Dharma is to be an exceptional artist, practicing asana for 10 hours is for me Ego and does not serve me. On the other hand, when we practice to fulfill our Dharma, our practice is imbued with passion – it is no longer a constant effort to appease the body ego, but a yearning, calling us to be more fully ourselves.
As you develop a long-term relationships with your students, remember their particular needs and, during class, make suggestions and more modifications that are unique to them. This will help them connect their practice with their personal mission. For example, if you know a students Dharma is to be highly accomplished pianist, teach him refinements in the use of his hands, teach him how to protect his wrists and fingers, showing him poses that are best for their release and avoiding those that could create tension.
If we want to be well-rounded teachers of Yoga, if we want to serve our students with the gift of Yoga, if we want to help each student fully receive the blessings that Yoga has to offer, we cannot merely teach asana. Our responsibility is greater than just knowing the actions of the poses, our responsibility is to cultivate human beings. The asanas are merely the bait. People come to us to become fit, and we give them an evolutionary process. A student feels the true impact of Yoga when the practice changes his entire life, not merely his body. A holistic way of teaching integrates all 8 limbs of Yoga and moves the student to explore, discover and then live their Dharma.
The path of Yoga is the path of revealing Dharma and enabling us to live it. Our job as teachers is to assist this process. In doing so, we help our students realize their uniqueness, act on their passions and, as they continue to walk on the path, discover the purpose of their soul.
Be the change! Love and Light!