‘All we are doing in yoga is increasing positive samskara to overcome negative samaskara.’ This was the opening statement of the weekend and just one of the many golden nuggets our teacher Nrithya Jagannathan from the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM) in Chennai shared with us at the TSYP Annual Gathering in November. Tara Brennan is currently doing the TSYP Teacher Training course in Scotland and gives her account of the weekend.
This was my first annual event and the conventional setting hadn’t prepared my expectations for the cognitive wrestling that would ensue. The location was Wyboston Lakes Training Centre in Bedfordshire. The accommodation was surprisingly good, nice clean rooms and set in spacious grounds with a number of lakes to stroll around in the fresh air.
The subject matter for the weekend was ‘The Living Breath: Prānāyāma – Theory, Application and Therapeutic Use’ and we explored this over seven sessions. Nrithya said everything we do is an extension of prāna and we explored prāna from many different perspectives.
Nrithya’s enthusiasm and energy were inspiring and opened my eyes to the quality of teaching at the KYM. Some of the ideas and Sanskrit were new to me and difficult to understand, but Nrithya assured us these were ideas to discuss with our mentors and let settle. There were lots of references to take away and explore. Despite feeling lost sometimes, I took 33 pages of notes that I will need to decipher at some point!
The discussion on food and hydration as prāna particularly resonated with me. Despite knowing nutrition theory, I don’t follow it in practice because I am ‘too busy’. The way Nrithya spoke about food as nourishment for prāna and hydration being essential to the flow of prāna around the body created a perception shift for me that I hope is the seed of change.
Nrithya also shared a lovely connection she makes between us and our external environment. Trees are our external respiratory system and our lungs connect us to the world through the receiving of oxygen and giving of carbon dioxide. This led us on to a discussion about jñana and how important it is to be connected to the world in giving and receiving. It was very relevant given the environmental condition of the planet and I left feeling a need to hold myself more accountable for my environmental footprint.
In the last two sessions, we covered case studies from the KYM and case studies from Desikachar and these were my favourite sessions. We all love this approach because of the practical application and potential to help people make a positive and meaningful change in their lives. So it was really interesting to see how significant change could be achieved in a short amount of time and it inspired me to look after my own practice too.
Nrithya shared a number of interesting statistics about the work the KYM is doing and typical feedback they get from students. It was reassuring to know at the KYM they face the same challenges we do, such as managing student expectations around yoga being an exercise class and high drop out rates.
I also attended the TSYP AGM for the first time. I hadn’t been keen to go (there was a jacuzzi calling me) but it was actually very interesting. I learned about TSYP yoga therapy accreditation, a trip to the KYM in January 2020 and work being done to raise the TSYP profile. I left the AGM with a new appreciation for how much hard work goes on behind the scenes.
It was a unique and special experience to have a teacher from the KYM teaching in the UK. I left the weekend with a real sense of a forgotten ancient wisdom about the human system and world we live in. Thank you Nrithya for sharing your teaching with us.
Go forth, enjoy the trees and water the positive seeds. See you at the annual event next year. Love Tara x