A Posture of Peace: Sri Sri Yoga
As a strategy for stress elimination, Sri Sri Yoga five-evening introductory course certainly works for Emilia Fuller.
This week marks the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. To celebrate this occasion, The Art of Living Foundation – a non profit, humanitarian NGO created by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – holds a week-long Peace and Health Week, from Oct 2 (Gandhi’s birthday) to Oct 9.
The Sri Sri Level One Yoga course is just one aspect of the Foundation’s work, aimed at promoting inner peace and non-violence within every individual. Though based in Bangalore, it now has centres in 152 countries across the world and one of those centres can be found here, right on Lorong Abu Siti.
To get started, every yoga student must complete a five-evening introductory course. The physical benefits include ‘increased alertness,’ ‘improved self-esteem,’ ‘enhanced flexibility, posture and digestion,’ to name a few.
The first class was, as the teacher put it, an appetizer. The pace was gentle with lots of interesting anecdotes about yoga from the teacher, Helen Khaw. It began with some breathing exercises, followed by a series of asanas, or physical postures. Asana literally means 'seat, the body being the seat of the soul. Some were more strenuous than others and the session came to a close with some time spent in the 'corpse' pose, lying on our backs and then sitting in meditation.
On the second day began with the ‘Sun Salutation’ routine. First it was performed quickly, for cardiac effect. Afterwards it slowed down for the purpose of stretching every part of the body. The advocacy of vegetarianism is common amongst yogic practice and food is just one path to this, sleep and breathing are others. Feeling tired after a session was a good sign because it meant the process of cleansing and toxin-release had begun. An advice to pay attention to our sleep and to drink 3 litres of water each day was given before the sessions ended.
In addition to prana and asana practices, a meditation focusing on the chakras, or ‘chi’ energy centres in the body was taught on the third day. There are seven in total, reaching from the tailbone at the base of the spine, up through the navel, chest, ‘third eye’ and finally to the space just above the head.
By the fourth day muscles were aching. A discussion of the process of physical and emotional cleansing on the fourth day gave light to an indicator of something good was happening. We were reminded that these tension knots were not new and they were simply revealing themselves.
In this session, some interesting nuggets of ancient wisdom were told: the left and right nostrils are respectively associated with Yin and Yang energy. A clear left nostril will make us ready for the physical practice of asanas. To have a clear right nostril, conversely, means that we are ready to receive knowledge. After lunch, say the sages, we should lie on our right sides, so that our left nostril is clear, to provide a natural aid to digestion. Although after dinner, the preferred activity is a 1000-pace walk.
This course was a lot of hard work but fun! As a strategy for stress-elimination, Sri Sri Yoga is a unique experience. Having completed the course, participants can return for the regular Monday night practice classes. I highly recommend the introductory course to anyone who needs to reconnect with themselves in a stressful world.
New students begin with this five-evening introductory classes for RM180. Once completed, students will then graduate to the foundation's weekly Monday evening yoga classes at RM10 per session. For more info on The Art of Living Foundation, see listing.