||are normally non-residential
courses where participants gather during suitable
hours of the day to practice with a teacher.
The exact program is published in advance,
and allows the yogin to continue with his
job or normal routine, while profiting from
||are by nature more intensive
than workshops, as they entail a live-in situation
with appropriate food and environment, and
no or little outside interference. The program
is kept to some extent open, to be tailored
to the needs of the group and the flow of
the day. In such environment, yogins practice
with more concentration, achieve deeper levels,
and share more freely.
teaches a variation of Hatha-Yoga, an Âsana
practice which combines classic postures with
breath work, flows from one to the next posture
and intensifies the connection to the subtle
body with movement of awareness (Kriyâ-Yoga).
Some of the critical postures towards the
end of the practice are held for a good length
of time. None of the methods are original
or unique - they are found in yoga scriptures
and in Indian Âshrama traditions as
means of rejuvenation and as preparation for
Prânâyâma and meditation.
Âsana practice in any style (be it Ashtânga
Vinyâsa, Iyengar, Hatha-Kundalini, etc)
may seem rather difficult.
While that is somewhat true - hatha, among
other meanings, denotes also the sense of
‘forceful’ - in a class of Emil’s,
all levels of accomplishment are welcome.
Postures are usually addressed to practitioners
with an average of 3-4 years of physical practice,
while a variation of the posture is shown
for the beginning student, as well as the
more advanced yogin.
But at all times, the aim in our workshops
is not to perform Âsanas for the sake
of Âsanas, but to treat them as an integral
part in a set of steps leading to the goal
of yoga – stillness in meditation (Dhyâna)
and freedom, or deliverance (Moksha). With
this approach, the body postures become uninhibited
by set routines, free from dogma or obligation
– entirely fun, despite the high level
of intensity in Hatha-Yoga.
the application of Prânâyâma
in a daily practice, it is said that the yogin
starts in earnest the journey within. Some
of the breathing techniques are common to
all schools of Prânâyâma,
and they are practiced at the beginning of
the workshops. Prânâyâma
is a subtle discipline, though, and as such
not each person will benefit exactly in the
same way as the other. While the course progresses,
and more techniques are introduced, Emil endeavours
to assist and guide each student to find his
or her own level of intensity and depth of
breath in Prânâyâma.
Besides the practical work at dawn, the physical,
respiratory and mental processes of these
Prânâyâmas are discussed
in designated workshops in the afternoons.
And finally, our discourses in philosophy
provide the theoretical background to the
different traditions of the Indian breathing
techniques mentioned or practiced earlier
in such workshops.
At the end of a course, an appropriate sequence
for a home practice is suggested to each individual.
A regular home practice over an extended period
is essential for Prânâyâma
to become the effective tool for such tremendous
transformation hinted at above.
here for more on Prânâyâma’
a Yoga instructor, I endeavor to assist the
practitioner towards a point of concentration,
where the mind becomes still, all its energy
bundled, and very powerful. This is the stage
where true meditation can unfold, and where
the teacher is no more necessary.
~ Emil ~
set of basic Mudrâs (here meant ‘symbolic
hand gestures’) is taught and practiced
at all levels; entire Mudrâ sequences,
expressing (as the scripture Siddhasiddhântapaddhati
says) the bliss of union of individual and
universal soul are more time-consuming and
performed in retreats and teacher training
In Hatha-Yoga, the word Mudrâ means
‘psychic seal’. Mudrâs represent
powerful states midway between Âsana
and Prânâyâma. In this meaning
some important ones are Bandhas, and Viparîta
Karanî, Agochârî, Shâmbhavî,
Nabho, Khechârî, Shânti,
Mahâ and Mahâ Vedha Mudrâs.
They are introduced selectively in shorter
courses, and more comprehensively during the
longer retreats and teacher trainings.
||Here meaning ‘locks’.
They are an integral part of all Hatha Yoga,
and in the scriptures are usually included
in the chapters describing Mudrâs. Locks
like Mûla, Uddîyâna and
Jâlandhara Bandha are introduced at
ground level courses, and deepened during
longer retreats and workshops.
||Mantras are extremely powerful
instruments in the hands of the yogin. A representation
of vedic or upanishadic mantras are taught
at all levels. The life-long personal Mantra
and in particular the Mantras of the tantric
lineage are imparted only by the Mantra-Guru.
While Emil is clearly not a Mantra-Guru, in
his workshops we are introduced to the background
of such Mantras, and practice as the situation
in the environment of the individual and the
||Kriyâ is a word which
will appear in many different meanings to
the interested Yoga practitioner. Its translation
is ‘activity, action’, and of
course there is plenty of action in the yogic
disciplines. Kriyâ-Yoga as understood
in our case is ‘movement of awareness’
– it is a highly effective tool, paradoxically,
to still the mind. A Kriyâ-Yoga practice
entails knowledge of the workings of the nervous
system and of internal vortexes or Chakras,
and expresses through a combination of certain
Āsanas, breathing techniques, Mudrâs
and Bandhas. They are highly effective and
valuable to meditators and as such taught
at all the levels.
Emil follows the Kundalinî-Kriyâ
techniques taught by Satyananda Saraswati,
founder of the Bihar School of Yoga.
an important aspect of Dhâranâ
(concentration, the sixth step in the eightfold
path of Patanjali’s Yoga Sûtra).
Visualizations is divided into Saguna (concentration
on a form) and Nirguna (form-, or attributeless)
visualizations. The latter is a highly advanced
yogic practice. During the daily dawn meditation,
which is a guided meditation for the first
part, Emil leads the practitioner towards
a point of concentration, where the mind becomes
still, all its energy bundled, and very powerful.
This is the stage mentioned at the beginning,
where true meditation can unfold, and where
the teacher is no more necessary.
meditation is awareness in total stillness
- the result of long practice in the preceding
disciplines of Râja-Yoga: Āsana, Prânâyâma,
Pratyâhâra and Dhâranâ.
As such it cannot be taught. Yoga instructors
can facilitate this process by teaching the
appropriate techniques leading to stillness,
and provide a genuine understanding of the
The aim of all yoga is freedom or deliverance,
gained from such meditation in stillness.
|Ritual practice is ancient
and forms part of a deep connection of the
human being with the divine.
In India, rituals are either a public seasonal
event, or are an expression of a personal
yearning to connect to this divine.
In all of Emil’s courses, the main festivals
of India are explained and celebrated when
they fall - particularly those that make sense
in the yogic context: Mahashivaratri, Gurupurnima,
Krishnashtami, Durgapuja during Navaratri,
and Laxmipuja during Deepawali, as well as
Buddha Jayanti. Although they do address a
deep inner connection, they are also very
colourful and fun to play out!
Less common perhaps outside India, the practice
for a personal ritual is described and expressed
at some dedicated workshops. These include
Ârati (light) ceremonies, daily Pûjâ
of the Îshtadevata, and the Prâna
Pratishtha Ritual – the Ritual of Establishing
the Divine, so central to the understanding
of the Indian way of worship.
|An introduction to Sanskrit
vocabulary is part of teacher trainings where
philosophy covers more than 32 hours. It can
also be offered upon special request.
A broad knowledge of Sanskrit takes many years
of dedicated study. In a workshop environment
we are bound to focus on the subjects which
interest us most as Yogis – those that
are central to the understanding of our practice.
A modest introduction covers the meaning,
pronunciation and roots of the main yogic
vocabulary, including those of immediate importance
for Yoga teachers– the names of the
Âsanas and Prânâyâmas,
but also of the Yamas and Niyamas and the
yogic expressions employed in the class situation.
It also includes the opening recitations in
Poona and Mysore, and covers the accurate
usage of selected Mantras. For dedicated students
with time at hand we can give a training to
learn the Devanâgarî alphabet,
and some basic grammar.
|Only one type of person was
ever kept in deeper reverence than even the
Rishi (seers to whom the scriptures were revealed):
The Munis. The Munis were sages keeping silence
and looking within oneself throughout most,
or even all, of their lifes. And there were
many in ancient times, and still today we
hear of Yogis who never talk. It is the supreme
path to know ourselves – however, there
is only few modern-day Yogis who can afford
such a radical path. What we can try is at
least to do away with unnecessary talk when
we are practicing or retreating.
We all have experienced in Yoga classes, as
the adrenalin shoots in, that there is a tendency
to chatter - actually, there is a tendency
to chatter at almost any occasion of the day.
In all our retreats, there is Mouna (silence)
until brunch time. Selected days are entirely
without talking. While it sounds harsh at
the beginning, Mouna is such an empowering
experience – many retreat participants
have expressed a wish to stay silent for longer
||Copyright © 2006, Beyond
The Âsana. Emil Wendel