India

Radiant Knowledge: Yoga in India

Come on a spiritual journey with me.

I just got home from an adventure in Maharashtra, India that has inspired me to commit to two very simple New Year Resolutions. 

  1. More Yoga
  2. More Writing

What better place to start than sharing some lessons and experiences from beautiful India? Come along with me. I’m not going to give you a chronological retelling of the trip. Instead I’d just like to document some pretty cool stuff in any old way that seems right. I’ve neglected my blog for far too long.

Let’s visit the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute, the first Yoga College in the world. They conduct scientific research; they have wellness centers and classes, including online classes.

It was founded by Swami Kuvalayananda, a scholar who was an advocate for the scientific study of Hatha yoga. He was lead by his teacher, Paramahamsa Madhavdasji, who “blessed Kuvalayananda with insights into advanced yogic discipline.” Even though Kuvalayananda was spiritual and a bit idealistic, he was also a rational person; he became dedicated to studying the science behind yoga. In his lifetime, he met the Dalai Lama and Gandhi. 

Swami Kuvalayananda
“I have brought up this institute out of nothing. If it goes to nothing, I do not mind, ​but Yoga should not be diluted.” ~Swami Kuvalayananda

The Yoga Institute is peaceful and humble, with some very special details, like the three headed cobra fountain sitting in the main square. We got to take a Hatha Yoga class inside one of the classrooms. Along the room were enclosed shelves with handwritten yoga manuscripts. I imagined I was gazing at the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, I had just learned about a 15th century handwritten yoga manual written in Sanskrit. The text was a compilation of even older handwritten texts that were likely disintegrating. Our guide Hareesh explained that these texts were written on biodegradable materials and were often lost or eaten by insects. So, scholars would rewrite the texts, sometimes compiling a few into one, and sometimes making mistakes or omitting important parts.

We settled on to our mats for a relaxing yoga class. Hatha Yoga highly influenced the type of yoga that we are familiar with in the US. It is a set of asanas, or poses that are strung together into a flow with the breath. In Indian culture, yoga is much more. It integrates ethics, ayurvedic diet, pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation for the health of the spiritual and physical body.

The class starts with a mantra, which is like a prayer:

Om Saha Nau-Avatu | Saha Nau Bhunaktu |

Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai | Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |

Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Sanskrit:

ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु ।

सह वीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Literal translation:

Aum! 

May we (both) be protected; may we (both) be nourished;

May we work together with great energy, May our knowledge be radiant;

May there be no differences or disputes between us

Om, peace (inside), peace (around), peace (between)

Source

How profound, and how simple. After class we got a walking tour of the campus, which is more like an oasis of exotic plants and serene vibes. We also enjoyed a healthy, traditional Indian lunch. 

If you want to learn more about Kuvalayananda and Hatha yoga, there is alot of information on their website.

May your knowledge be radiant!