June 21, 2019 Sri Aurobindo Society
To celebrate 5th International Yoga Day, SAFIC yoga class gave a demonstration on the morning of June 21. The enthusiastic and energetic group of students had put in a lot of sincere and hard work under the able guidance of their teacher, Ranjana Swain for the past 8-10 days.
In a very simple but most effective way, Sri Aurobindo once defined Yoga in these words – “A change of consciousness is the whole meaning of the process of Yoga.” (CWSA, Vol. 12, p. 327). At their most practical level, Yogic practices facilitate balance and health, and thus help unfold our dormant potential. They help us to become more aware of ourselves, of the various movements within our various parts – body, mind, emotions — and thus facilitate a greater degree of integration and connection. By this process of gradual self-awareness and self-discovery we attain greater self-mastery and become ready for a deeper self-realization.
This is the idea behind the Yoga classes that are conducted at SAFIC. These classes are also inspired by the sage words of sage Patanjali, “Yoga citta vritti nirodhah” (1:2) – simply translated as Yoga is that which resolves the agitations of the mind. This is also facilitated by regular chanting of mantras as part of the SAFIC yoga classes.
The Yoga demonstration session on June 21 had 4 parts.
The group began with the chanting of OM. After a few gentle stretches, the group performed Surya Namaskar and a few more asanas to the rhythm of soothing music in the background. This was followed by what may be called as “yugmayoga” or “yoga in pairs.” Here the participants (in pairs) were seen supporting and relying on each other as they enter into specific postures or flow of the asanas.
The gentle and relaxing nature of these yogic exercises highlighted the significance of a harmonious flow for facilitating greater awareness and calmness. It also expressed the need for developing inner qualities such as helpfulness, generosity, trust, caring, collaboration, empathy, and the idea of harmony – both within and also with others.
The group then sat down in a semi-circle and recited a few Vedic mantras and prayers – sahana bhavatu, asto ma sadgamaya, mahamrityanjaya mantra, gayatri mantra, and ending with an invocation to Peace.
The gentle rhythm and relaxing flow of the energy was clearly expressed through the group’s demonstration.
Next, we witnessed a shorter version of the regular Hathayoga class with instructor Ranjana leading the group into various asanas. Hathayoga is a path of yoga whose whole principle of action is founded on an intimate connection between the body and the soul. The body is the key, the secret both of bondage and of release, for the true practitioners of Hathayoga.
For this part of the session, the asanas were thoughtfully selected by the group keeping in consideration each participant’s individual capacity and various other factors. A few of the asanas we saw them practicing included: Vrikshasana, Tadasana, Gomukhasana, Trikonasana, Sarvangasana, Ardha matsyendrasana, Sasankasana, Virabhadrasana, Utkatasana, Ardhachakrasana, Navasana, Paschimottanasana, Konasana, Vajrasana, Parvatasana, Sukhasana
This part of the demonstration highlighted that Hathayoga is something each individual must practice at his or her own pace as per the capabilities, possibilities and limits of one’s own body. There is no sense of competition here with anyone else. Rather, the idea is to get into the posture as per the ease of one’s body and at the same time pushing the body gently to gain progressive perfection and ease in the specific posture or asana. This is what we will witness in today’s demonstration.
For the last part of the session, Ranjana demonstrated a rhythmic flow of selected asanas. Here we saw her transitioning in a smooth flow from one asana to the next, highlighting once again a sense of inner and outer harmony – harmony in mind and body.
The session ended with the entire group coming together and chanting a prayer for loka-kalyan – the well-being of all – the famous mantra, Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina….
About SAFIC Yoga Classes
Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS) is a member institution of the Indian Yoga Association (IYA), a premiere institution working for the advancement of Yoga and its applications. IYA aims to bring together all yoga traditions and work as a self-regulatory body to facilitate activities of its member institutions.
SAFIC, as the specialised unit of the Sri Aurobindo Society focusing on Indian Culture, is responsible for all projects and activities concerning this affiliation with Indian Yoga Association.
As part of this collaboration SAFIC has been offering regular Yogasana and Pranayama classes at Society campus since October 2018. SAFIC team member, Ranjana Swain, a certified yoga teacher, conducts these hour-long classes. Ranjana has a Post-graduate Diploma and M.Sc. in Yoga from Annamalai University, and has also done an advanced course in yoga from Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in Mumbai.
SAFIC yoga classes are held six days a week, – three days in the morning, three days in the evening in order to cater to interested participants with different schedules. Generally, about 20 participants attend these classes every day. The feedback that we have been receiving for these classes is extremely positive.
Report by Beloo Mehra