Secrets Of Yoga Revealed Part 1! A Question &Amp; Answer Session With A Western Yogi

By Sam Beatson

SB: Why would Western people in particular be drawn to an Indian excercise system?

SA: I don’t see yoga as an Indian excercise system, although yoga was uniquely developed in India. Yoga is a global phenomena and formed the basis of many of the mystical practices of the ancient world.

You can see yoga poses portrayed in the temples of Egypt and China, and in the artifacts and artworks of the Celts and many other ancient cultures. Sanskrit itself is often thought of as the mother tongue of all Indo-European languages.

So, the ideas and practices of yoga are far from alien to the West. Since the 1960’s, there has been a reawakening and remembrance of something that was lost or distorted that is now returning to Western consciousness. Yoga is a big part of this process.

SB: How long does it take to start benefitting from Hatha yoga or any style of yoga and how long do those benefits tend to last?

SA: The benefits of yoga can be felt immediately upon practise as the body expands, the breath deepens and the mind tunes up. I personally think of yoga as my insurance policy and I know that any investment of time and energy will reap the rewards of greater health, not only in the present moment, but also in the future.


SB: A lot of people associate yoga with relaxation and therapeutic healing of the mind. What do you think about this?

SA: One of the ideal states that yoga seeks to create within the practitioner is one of serene intensity. It’s a state in which we are relaxed and yet totally alert and focused on whatever it is that we are doing. These states are of great value in self-healing.

There are many therapeutic applications of the poses and meditations and many yoga schools are often devoted to this particular aspect.

SB: Is there an Indian word for what you are describing (the state of relaxed alertness) a practioner experiences?

SA: The yogi sage Patanjali describes these states in stages. Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are the words he uses and the words used in yoga, although there are others. I want to keep it simple and will explain succinctly.

Dharana refers to a condition in which we internalise our awareness to pick up on subtle information coming to us from within or from the world around us. The teaching of the Internal Yoga Arts begins at this level.

Dhyana is a state of relaxed, yet sustained concentration on whatever it is that we are focusing on. Samadhi is a spontaneous flowering of joyful insight into the nature of reality. These states exist at varying degrees of intensity.

SB: As a yoga teacher trainer, what qualities would you say aspiring yoga teachers ought to develop in themselves, apart from their technical yoga ability?

SA: At my yoga teacher training school, I highlight the importance of discovering the inner guru to my trainee yoga teachers. I think it is crucial for trainee yoga teachers to be grounded in the core principles of yoga practice that are common to all styles and schools.

It is also important to know that there are varying opinions on how to practice the same yoga poses and different schools and teachers emphasise different aspects of yoga. Understanding the difference between opinions and principles can be very helpful when it comes to teaching yoga, enabling students to tap into their own creativity.

The inner guru is that aspect of ourselves sometimes called the Higher Self or the Buddha nature that is a part of our intuitive wisdom. In this way, we can teach from the heart and be inspired.

About the Author: Read part 2 of this interview at

Steve Avian runs the Shama

Yoga teacher training school

accredited to the Yoga Alliance at

& weekend workshops & retreats at

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