1980 marks the beginning of a new era in the spiritual evolution of mankind. It is a time when yoga, which was previously known and practised only by small minority groups, will again become accessible to all the people of the world. In these days of wide scale yogic revival, it is no longer possible for every aspirant to obtain the teachings directly from a master or sannyasin. The number of spiritual seekers is steadily increasing. A spiritual revolution is about to take place, and each seeker must learn to be a light unto himself and a light unto others. It is with this in view that the Bihar School of Yoga is initiating the Yogasana Teacher Training Camps in 1980.
Yoga will be the culture of the 1980's, but we must not limit our concept of culture merely to the fine arts - music, dance and painting. Naturally, the fine arts are a refined expression of the most noble and pure elements of the collective consciousness, but the basis of all this, the foundation of a culture is in the daily life of the people. How the people eat, how they sleep, the topics of their conversation, their motivation and general outlook - these are the real elements of culture.
If yoga is to be the culture of the 1980's then there must be a yogic awareness behind every aspect of life, great and small. We must re-establish the spiritual disciplines of body and mind, the ideals of right living, not just as religious observances, but as ways of avoiding the incurable ills and the emotional and spiritual void that characterise modern life in technological societies.
We do not want to avoid technology or material advancement; it must come, but we still have time to avoid the mistakes made in other parts of the world. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of technology by cultivating the yogic science of living right into the very fibre of our being.
Indian people have a great respect for their culture, for the dharma, and they realise the importance of learning yoga in a correct and systematic way. Previously they relied on wandering sannyasins for their spiritual needs. Ashrams were plenty and every family had its own guru. Now, however, with the advent of modern living, the spiritual traditions are rapidly being lost. It is no longer possible to rely only on sannyasins as it was in the past because they are just not available, and even if they are, their reliability is questionable. Furthermore good ashrams are few and far between. It is not possible for all sadhakas to make the arduous trip to the ashram. The journey is costly and not everyone is prepared to undergo the hardships involved.
In the past we have been pressured by many areas and establishments all over India to send our sannyasins for conducting yoga classes. So far we have managed under this system, but now the demand for yoga is so great that we can no longer supply sannyasins for all the areas requesting them.
This problem is further compounded by the fact that a sannyasin cannot remain in any area permanently. After conducting yoga classes for a given period of time, he must either move onto another place or else return to his ashram. This means that those who are newly initiated in the practices of yoga are left alone to continue them, without any guidance or inspiration. If they should have any questions or need any help, to whom can they turn? In such a situation many aspirants give up their practices along with their hopes for a new and better life.
For these and many other reasons, a new system must be initiated whereby householders can be trained to teach the basic techniques within their own family and community groups. This will make them more self reliant and at the same time free the sannyasins for advanced courses and spiritual guidance.
A sannyasin who moves among many different groups often faces somewhat of a communication problem as he cannot learn each and every local language. Yoga teachers who speak the local languages will be able to reach far more people and bring yoga even to those who have not had the benefit of much academic education.
It is natural that people should feel a certain respect or even awe for a sannyasin and what he represents. Yet, if students allow this to create too great a distance between themselves and the swami, then they become self conscious and unable to relax. With a local teacher, perhaps a family member or friend, they can feel completely at ease and relax into the practices without any fear or tension. This is important, for relaxation is the basis of yoga.
This kind of intimacy with the people, and the ability to speak the local language, means that householder teachers are, in some respects, more qualified to introduce new aspirants to yoga. Although their knowledge is not complete, it is adequate and appropriate in this setting. With the guidance they will receive at the teacher training camp, along with periodic visits from BSY swamis, local teachers will find that they are able to fulfil a real need amongst the people, and in so doing will satisfy many of the deep needs within themselves.
Now one needn't be a renunciate or an adept to teach yoga. Anyone who has the time and the desire to help others can learn a few basic practices and teach them to their family and friends. It is not necessary to open a school or to have official backing; one can hold classes for small, intimate groups in the home. Even people who have employment may be able to take a class or two a week in the evening or on the weekend. Kirtan and study groups can also be organised in the home or at a local club.
This kind of group activity will create spiritual stimulus at the family and community level which will spread like wild fire to all the neighbouring families and communities. Soon everyone in the vicinity will be wanting to join the activities. Once people have experienced the benefits of yoga for themselves, it is only natural to want to pass the techniques on to others and at the same time to continue developing and perfecting them for oneself. Both of these processes go on simultaneously when one becomes a vehicle for the yogic teachings.
Teaching is not just an occupation, but a creative expression. In presenting techniques to different types of people, we must use all of our intellectual and intuitive resources, not only to make the practices understood, but to maintain interest once they have been initiated. Teaching is not just a matter of talking and listening, it is a transmission of energy which opens one up to receive more. Through teaching, the energy channels begin to flow, physical and mental blockages are eliminated, and many personal problems disappear.
It is precisely this energy exchange that distinguishes the teachings of BSY trained swamis and teachers from the teaching of many other places. Even the elementary practices of asana and pranayama should never be regarded as, or taught as, merely mechanical manipulation of body and breath. Every yogic practice has a physical, psychological and spiritual dimension. In order to awaken participants to the underlying spiritual foundation of the yogic practices, both teacher training camps will be conducted under the direct guidance of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who has cancelled all his overseas tours to be present. In this sense, participation in the course will not only be a process of learning, but also a form of diksha, or initiation, when a link with the guru is established. For every participant, whether beginner or adept, this link will be the qualifying factor in his future effectiveness and success as a yoga teacher.
As you read this, many of you may be attracted to the idea of joining one of these yoga teacher training camps, but are wondering how you can make it a reality in your family situation. As the time draws nearer, you will be assailed by many obstacles and you will think: "How can I leave my job at this time? How can I leave my mother-in-law who has fallen ill? How can I leave my family alone? My son will be sitting for his examinations." But you must remember that these affairs are endless and be prepared to completely detach yourself from all of them. By devoting just this one month to yoga, you will be opening yourself, and all those near and dear to you, to a lifetime of spiritual growth and development.
You have several months now to make yourself ready. Ask for your leave as soon as possible. Ask for your mother or mother-in-law to come and guide the household. Arrange your schedule now so that nothing holds you back at the last moment. This is an opportunity which may never come again. Seek the co-operation of your family and friends, for the time and effort you invest in this course will be repaid a thousand fold and they will be the ones who share the benefits. Make your commitment now, and send your registration as an outward sign of your sankalpa.
These particular courses are only open for Indian citizens. Aspirants from abroad wishing to participate in a similar program should contact their nearest ashram or write to Bihar School of Yoga, Monghyr.
The culture of tomorrow has its seeds in the past, and its roots in the present. The great flowering of yogic culture is being prepared now, and you can take part by joining one of the yoga teacher training camps, or by sponsoring one of your family to do so. In this way the knowledge of yogic disciplines will be spread at the most potent level - at the level of motherly instruction, at the level of sharing among friends. When we absorb yoga spontaneously in such an atmosphere, then yoga truly becomes an organic part of our way of being and way of seeing the world. When yoga is learned and taught as spontaneously as our own mother tongue, in every family, in every community, then the whole world will again become spiritually orientated as it was in the ancient times.
Every man, woman and child must have some knowledge, some experience, some inner awareness of spiritual life. In the beginning this awareness may be but a small seed in the hearts of mankind, but this seed will sprout and grow, especially if watered and sheltered by yogic activity within the home and community. Within a few years the earth will become forested by spiritual trees which will bind the soil and save it from the threat of material erosion. Mankind will then witness a great renaissance of enlightened yogic culture where spiritual and material awareness are perfectly integrated and the fulfilment of man's highest aspirations is assured.