DHARMA YOGA: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW PT 1.
Chanda is our lovely resident yoga teacher, you will often find her in the studio on Thursdays and Fridays teaching dharma yoga, and a chilled flow to usher in the weekend. She is currently undertaking her 500hr Dharma Yoga Teacher Training and the entire process requires determination, hard work and plenty dedication. Chanda very kindly shared with us an insight into her thoughts, what goes on as part of her daily routine and also some advice if you’re planning to undergo dharma yoga training.
By Chanda Patel
Dharma yoga training is so much more than just a typical asana practise. The strict schedule was designed to show sadhaka – a person who is learning to follow a particular practise – the importance of routine and dedication.
What does a typical day of practising dharma yoga look like?
A typical day starts at 6 am and finishes at 10 pm. At 6 am, we perform Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga is one of Sri Dharma Mittra’s’ fundamental teachings and requirement, inspiring the sadhaka to understand the importance of selfless action. The goal of Dharma yoga is to become one with the supreme source. Our actions, good or bad – otherwise known as Karma – tie us into the bondage of Maya, the illusion of this world that we live in. Through Karma yoga or selfless action, we begin to develop a humble heart and an understanding of what is truly important. With this knowledge, we are able to cut the ties that bind us to this material world, ultimately leading us to liberation. Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is the fastest way to reach the ultimate goal.
Moving on, at 7 am we then perform 2 hours of Pranayama, otherwise more commonly known as a breathing exercise. Pranayama is something that should be done daily and as part of the training, we are required to perform daily breathing exercises and reflect on how it makes us feel, and if we notice any subtle changes in our body, mind or breath. The pranayama kosha is the second subtle body or sheath. It is the invisible force behind every atom, cell and organ in the body. Any imbalances within this sheath affect the physical body arising in various illness or disease. It also directly affects the third sheath, manomaya kosha influencing the state of mind. This is why a daily practice of pranayama is obligatory and must be practised under the supervision of a trained practitioner.
Sri Dharma Mittra explaining to us the values and teachings on dharma yoga
…and then comes spiritual discourse.
What is spiritual discourse? Spiritual Discourse is where Sri Dharma Mittra dissects and delves into the philosophy of yoga and meaning of life through spiritual scriptures. His way of explaining complex esoteric topics in a simple, humour and thought-provoking way had the whole group enraptured. Being able to ask questions to a living yoga master was an amazing and humbling experience.
How many hours of asanas did I practice daily?
There were roughly 9 hours of asana that I practised daily. Sri Dharma would say “You must take your practice seriously…”. To say I was physically exhausted was an understatement, but Dharma had one of the best-kept secrets up his sleeves to combat this. Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra is a powerful deep healing meditative practice. It is said that 1 hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to 4 hours of sleep! The sadhaka lays in savasana as they are guided into a deep relaxation – the mind transcends the body, entering the astral world. This is a mixture of dharana – one-pointed concentration (6th limb in yoga) and dhyana – meditation (7th limb in yoga). The energy you receive after a yoga nidra is unexplainable, you’d just have to try it and experience it yourself. There was no way to put how I felt into words that could justify how at peace I was.
Sri Dharma Mittra demonstrating a more advanced version of a headstand
Are there any other factors I must take into consideration if I want to undergo dharma training?
Diet was another one of the major factors that encapsulates Dharma yoga. The first Yama on the 8 limbs of yoga is Ahimsa – which practically means non-violence. This can be literal; no killing to more subtle; no negative thoughts. The word ahimsa covers a large spectrum. It encourages love and compassion for all things, all beings everywhere. Sri Dharma insists that all sadhakas should be vegetarian leading into veganism. This was a favourite line that stuck with me throughout the training, ‘Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu’. – May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.
However, just being a vegan isn’t enough…
In the Hatha Pradipika and Gheranda Samhitia, there are guidelines on how to purify the body and the mind through dhauti and kriyas. Though times have changed, and these may seem quite extreme, we still are required to ‘cleanse’ the body depending on what we eat. During the internship we were given a strict Sattvic Diet; this consisted of morning warm water and lemon, followed by a green juice. No artificial sugar and no fried foods. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are encouraged and last but by certainly no means, no solid food after 6 pm.
There is more to the training such as mantras, spiritual scriptures, colouring and journaling, so stay tuned for a part 2.
If you’re looking to undergo dharma yoga training with SDM, just know…
that it is truly a life of a yogi training. You will be fully immersed in a study that goes deeper beyond the physical poses. It's for that person who has been coming to yoga regularly and is thinking about what is beyond the asana.
I’d really urge you to have an open mind and be prepared to take on a mental and physical challenge.
Push your body and mind beyond what you think is possible and last but definitely not least…eat when you can sleep as much as you can and pack lots of China gel and Epsom salt because your body will ache!!! 😂🙈