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Ananda Yoga Teacher Training in Bothell
Sep 8, 2017| $2995
What is Ananda Yoga?
Ananda Yoga provides all the physical and mental benefits for which hatha yoga is generally known:
- Tones and stretches the muscles, building strength and flexibility
- Promotes cardiovascular health and emotional well-being by providing stress relief
- Stimulates and invigorates internal organs, thus encouraging the body to heal itself
- Improves concentration and focus by increasing mental clarity
But Ananda Yoga offers much more than physical benefits. By working sensitively with body and breath, but without using force, we discover that the practice of the yoga postures (asanas) stimulates awareness of, and the ability to control, our vital Life Force (prana). The result is a greater sense of ease, well-being, connectedness, vitality and inner joy that work their way into our daily lives. Thus, yoga transcends the classroom and becomes a way of living.
This awakening of the subtle Life Force is the higher purpose of Ananda Yoga and of hatha yoga, classically. Rather than focusing only on the physical energy, Ananda Yoga uses physical energy as a pathway inward, to awareness and control of prana. Control of prana is the source and the essence of health and well-being, and is also the outward manifestation of our higher, spiritual nature. A yoga posture (asana) stimulates prana to move outward along certain pathways from its source in the spine. By deep focus on this movement of prana within the body, it is possible to then withdraw it back into and up the spine to the pre-frontal area of the brain (the point between the eyebrows) which is recognized both scientifically and in the yoga teachings since ancient times as the seat of higher, human functioning. Adding this inward and upward flow of energy to the practice of the postures enables you to experience the higher state of awareness that is the true purpose of each asana.
Ananda Yoga uses several techniques to aid in the inward and upward flow of energy:
- Focus on the release of stored energies in the body commonly known as “tension”
- Continuous awareness of the connection between movement and breath, between breath and energy, and consciously powering each movement with the breath
- Specific sequencing of asanas to first open the energy channels, then awaken the energy flow, draw the energy inward and finally move it upward
- Inward relaxation in the midst of outward effort
- Awareness of the subtle spinal centers (chakras) which serve as doorways for drawing prana in and up the spine
- Use of affirmations with asanas, which attune you deeply to the specific quality of consciousness behind the energy flows awakened by the asana
- Neutral poses after each asana to assimilate effects of the asana
- Energization Exercises, a unique system of tension exercises based on conscious use of will to energize and rejuvenate every part of the body
Practiced this way, every hatha yoga technique – asanas, pranayama (control of prana), mudras (bodily symbols or attitudes) and bandhas (locks) – becomes a meditation in movement. Practicing an asana with this level of intention and mindfulness requires both an inward poise and outward strength. Mere physical strength is but brute force. Real strength is the ability to calmly and efficiently concentrate energy and will power upon the asana, without unnecessarily engaging muscles or strength not needed for the task at hand. This concept of “relaxation in the midst of effort” vastly enhances the physical benefits of hatha yoga practice.
Ananda Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) is meant for anyone who wants to teach yoga or deepen his or her existing practice, or both. AYTT is a transformative experience. For those willing to concentrate deeply on their personal practices and to commit to the intensive study, the fruits are boundless. If you have yet to experience Ananda Yoga and would like to take a class, or, if you have any questions about your personal practice or how this program can serve you, please contact the Co-Director of Yoga Training, Michelle Marshall, 425-806-3700.
The AYTT curriculum covers a wide range of topics. The following is a brief description of each of the major areas:
We will deeply explore all the major asanas including: standing poses, forward bends, balance poses, backward bends, side bends, twists, core strengthening poses, inversions, seated and meditative poses. We will also experience Surya Namasakar (Sun Salutations). For each pose, we will discuss alignment, safety, use of breath, beginner and advanced variations, benefits and contraindications.
An effective yoga teacher needs both awareness and knowledge. Awareness comes from intent, focus and experience. At the AYTT, we cover the knowledge part by teaching several techniques including:
- Modifications: each human being is unique, so it is only natural that an asana has different expressions depending on who is doing it. We will explore the different ways of modifying an asana to suit different body conditions and health conditions.
- Use of props such as blocks, blankets, belts, etc., to enable a deeper practice for students with bodily limitations
- Sequencing is an important topic. Do I do forward bends first or backward bends? When do I do inversions? We will discuss the basic principles behind sequencing different types of asanas.
- Warm-ups: many yoga injuries are a result of not warming up prior to practice. When used properly, warm-ups not only prevent injuries, but also deepen the sadhana (spiritual practice). For example, backbends are more effective if hip-flexors are warmed up while forward bends are more effective if spinal erectors are warmed up. We will cover these topics in detail.
- Use of affirmations: a unique aspect of Ananda Yoga is the use of affirmations. We will explore the art, science and practice of affirmations. A complete list of the asanas taught along with their affirmations is at the end of this document.
Inner Experience of Asanas
“Mind over body” is well known; however “body over mind” is equally true. Specifically, a bodily position engenders a corresponding state of consciousness. Thus we feel uplifted simply by making the spine straight; by the same token, the mind cannot help but feel heavy when the shoulders and back are slumped. This simple observation is the basis for all asanas – the postures uplift our level of consciousness. This upward movement of prana is the primary reason for the great healing power of yoga. When practiced properly, the body naturally assumes the pose using its innate intelligence. Ultimately, the job of a yoga instructor is to teach the art and science of how to achieve this inner experience.
We will discuss the principles of energy movement in the body, and the state of consciousness — joy, peace, strength, etc. — fostered by an asana. We will introduce many techniques, affirmations, breathing, neutral poses, etc., whereby students can have this experience.
Assisting and Adjusting
Yoga is a subtle practice. Thus there is frequent need to “fine-tune” an expression of an asana by adjusting. We will teach the general concepts behind adjustments and also discuss adjustments specific to each asana.
As a teacher, you also find situations where a little help in the form of a physical cue or support can greatly help a student go deeper into a pose. Depending on the asana and the physical condition of the student, there are different approaches to assisting. This is an important tool in any yoga teacher’s repertoire.
Pranayama, Bandhas and Mudras
In addition to asanas (physical postures), hatha yoga has 3 other equally important aspects which we will explore in some detail:
- Pranayama, which literally means “life force control”, is a set of breathing techniques that are very effective for maintaining good health. They are also the gateway to deeper experience of asana, specifically its energetic effects, leading us to the higher stages of yoga.
- Mudras: once you have some ability to control the subtle life force, mudras (meaning bodily attitudes) can be used to direct the life force in a specific direction. Mudras are like a catalyst, enhancing and deepening the effects of an asana.
- Bandhas are used to lock (the word bandha means “to lock”) the prana in a specific location, typically at one of the chakras (energy centers). AYTT teaches the three main bandhas: moola bandha (root lock), uddiyana bandha (meaning to rise or fly up) and jalandhara bandha (a lock of the energy channels of the throat).
Anatomy and Physiology
Knowledge of the physical body is essential for a deep understanding of Yoga and is even more important for teaching it safely and effectively. We will discuss the skeletal structure, joints and muscles; understand how the body moves from the perspective of muscular action and joint mobility. We will also discuss circulatory, respiratory, digestive, elimination, endocrine, nervous, and immune systems.
At AYTT, we approach anatomy not merely as a corpus of knowledge to be accessed intellectually, but as practical, experiential, living science with immediate applicability to the practice of yoga. For example, the spine is the central post around which the limbs move; using the fundamentals of anatomy we will discuss spinal alignment and proper articulation at the joints to ensure safe expressions of complex poses such as Trikonasana (Triangle pose). The classes are profound for both the newcomer to anatomy and those already possessing a working knowledge.
This set of 39 exercises is a scientific, systematic method for increasing the flow of prana and strengthening and energizing every part of the body. Unique to Ananda Yoga, they were developed by Paramhansa Yogananda whose teachings are practiced at Ananda. They are used to heal the body, clarify and focus the mind and prepare you for meditation.
Practice makes perfect. In the context of AYTT, “practice” means teaching, assisting, and adjusting. We augment the comprehensive curriculum described above with teaching sessions where you will have the opportunity to practice the techniques that you have learned. Practical sessions begin early on and occur periodically throughout the duration of the course.
Yoga for special conditions
Two specialty classes will be offered: Yoga and Pregnancy and Chair Yoga. The specialty populations that could benefit from an Ananda Yoga practice are limitless, however. You will leave the program with the tools to customize yoga for various other populations and areas of healing and wholeness.
Raja Yoga, Yoga Philosophy and Astral Anatomy
Classically, Raja Yoga (Royal Yoga) is considered the supreme path with meditation as its central “yoga”; all other branches and practices of yoga are simply preparations or support for this central practice. We will explore the history and paths of yoga, Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga (8-limbed yoga of the sage Patanjali), basics of Yama (literally means “control”, refers to moral restraints) and Niyama (literally means “rules”, refers to practices or observances), the importance of a Guru (teacher), and the Yogic scheme of life.
We will also discuss basics of energy (prana), magnetism, and the use of affirmations, chanting, mantra (special chants imbued with deep vibrational power) and japa (repetition of the name of the Divine).
Just as there is physical anatomy – muscles, nerves, organs, circulation, etc. – there is also an energetic or astral anatomy. Astral anatomy is concerned with the movement of prana within our energetic body. We will discuss nadis (energy pathways), chakras and their relationship to asana, pranayama, mudras and bandhas. Underlying our discussion is the theme of viewing spiritual development itself as a gradual movement of prana from the lower to the upper chakras.
We will conclude our discussion of Raja Yoga/Yoga Philosophy with a brief introduction to two classics in the field of Yoga: the Bhagavad Gita, which is a transcendental scripture on Raja Yoga among other things, and Autobiography of a Yogi, Swami Yogananda’s autobiography, considered one of the greatest pieces of esoteric literature.