Beyond The Mat Into The Abyss
Here’s an article I wrote a few months ago for Pathrika, a yoga newsletter about my experience undergoing the Teacher Training Course (TTC) at Manasa Yoga.
As with most yoga enthusiasts, I started out attracted to the physical aspects of yoga – the exceptionally toned body, the eye-catching contortions and the impressive moves. It was only later after achieving a fairly intermediate level of physical competence did I begin to look beyond the obvious and realise that yoga was far from Indian acrobatics. Doing yoga made me feel good from the inside but I wasn’t sure how or why. So where could I learn to deepen my yoga practice? Most yoga schools were in India and the Teacher Training Courses (TTC) offered in Malaysia were exorbitantly priced.
Naturally I turned to Jean, my yoga teacher and asked her how she got onto the path. That was when she started raving about her Guru, Manoj Kaimal of Manasa Yoga. However Jean cautioned me that Manoj does not accept just anybody. He chooses his TTC students. So I began going for regular classes at Manasa, registered for the upcoming TTC and waited in anticipation to see if I was among the ‘Chosen’ ones.
Alas I was on the way to acquiring the secrets behind levitating and living on the sun’s rays! Not really. Frankly, I expected to learn how to speak the beautiful and metaphoric language of yoga so that I too could inspire others to begin their own wonderful journey. I expected to be able to perform effortless jump throughs and drop backs like Jean. I expected to exude calmness, charisma and wisdom like Manoj. I was just so full of expectations…
‘Awake, Arise!’ were the initial words that appeared on the front page of the TTC notes. These two humble words that would eventually lead us to ponder upon and question the very foundation of our so called modern society. And who could forget, No Meat, No Eggs, No Caffeine and No Alcohol. That was what all 11 of us had signed up for, at least for the next 3 months.
Apart from the syllabus expected of a typical TTC such as yoga philosophy, anatomy and teaching methods, we were also taught to appreciate the subtle energy aspects working in the body. For example, armed with knowledge of bones and muscles, we can further understand the way various parts of our body function in each asana. From the beginning, we were encouraged to train our conscious mind to be aware, even when carrying out mundane tasks such as brushing the teeth or walking up the stairs. We were taught to not judge ourselves if our ‘imperfect’ bodies were unable to attain ‘perfect’ form but more importantly focus on connecting with the energy flow within. These were the types of mind-opening topics being revealed within the four walls of Studio 1 every Saturday afternoon.
I felt like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole and discovering a whole new world of reality, and not to mention, a new found clarity.
I still haven’t perfected my jump throughs and neither can I utter inspiring of words of wisdom at will, but I came out of the course with brand new perceptions and for once began to catch a glimpse of the true meaning of yoga.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
So thank you, Manoj for giving me new eyes, and the tools for a rewarding new beginning.