This time tomorrow I will be just finishing up the first session of the 5-Day Yoga Teacher Training down in Philly. I am so looking forward to it. This will be my 4th class in the 10 class series of Pranakriya (500 Hr) Yoga. This one is called “Advanced Asana 3,” but really, it’s just Yoganand blowing us all out of the water for 5 days, with some advanced asana thrown in, for good measure.
As I have been packing and cleaning today, I’ve been thinking about Yoganand: how inspiring he is, how floaty I feel after being guided through a practice by him, how his description of what yoga is, and does, clarifies everything for me: my yoga, my teaching, my life path, my dreams, my aspirations, even my core values.
In the last 10 years I have had some wonderful yoga teachers, but none of them have come close to the caliber of Yoganand.
I think that learning yoga is a lot like learning about life on the moon. You can study about the moon with top-notch astro-physicists who know everything there is to know about the moon: its composition, weather and even how to get there. And I’ve studied with some of these “astro-physicists of yoga”and they are incredible.
And then you can learn about the moon from someone who has been there, an astronaut, if you will, someone who has actually walked on the moon, touched it, lived there for a while. That’s Yoganand. The man knows his way around the moon! He doesn’t actually practice yoga, he lives yoga. He knows every little neighborhood of yoga, and is fluent in all the dialects.
For 15 years Yoganand lived at Kripalu as a renunciate monk, doing all the advanced (read: scary, weird) practices–the practices only the monks could do because they didn’t have families or loved ones or jobs to attend to, so they could devote 15 hours a day to pranayama if they wanted, and be out of their minds for weeks and months on end, and no one would much notice, or care.
These days though, Yoganand lives like a normal man, a householder, with a wife and a business and a crazy travel schedule. But he still visits the moon regularly. He teaches in his school in South Carolina, and he travels around and teaches teachers, because he wants everyone to experience at least a little bit more of what it means to be a full human being. He understands, because he’s been there,that we are not even coming close to what we are capable of as human beings in terms of energy, awareness and love.
So tomorrow I will be transported to another world. I will get a little taste of what it might feel like to live on the moon. I’ll have to leave the training room every night and go back to my hotel room, which will involve negotiating a car through complex, heavy traffic, then locating my room key, and finding my bed. I won’t be able to stay on this moon-ride for more than a few hours a day, and after 5 days I’ll have to get off completely and come home.
But that’s okay, because even being close to the moon for a little while makes life here on earth seem just a little bit more magical, or maybe it’s just that it feels a little bit more real.