When we decided to venture on our own (having spent 7 years under my Master’s tutelage); I wanted to create a yoga school and style that was very easy for all to understand. The idea of TOTAL YOGA spoke to everyone – even those who were not very conversant with Yoga (or the English language). But even more than that; we were keen on teaching all the different practices of Yoga – from the typical Asana class with Pranayam & Meditation; to Internal cleansing Kriyas, Bandhas and Mudras. This plus yoga theory (yoga sutras & more) would enable our students to have a sure footing in their self-exploration. We still felt though that the modern Asana class was bereft of many essentials of a Yogi’s fitness regimen. For example, the Yogis trekked the mountains and so did not really need to focus on Cardio training. To add this element, we initiated the Yogi Treks – which were basically an opportunity for students to trek up a hillock and practice Yoga, Pranayam & Meditation in the midst of nature.
There was still something missing in most Yoga classes – which was basically a Service element; or Karma Yoga. Whilst a lot of yoga teachers spoke about this theoretically; it was important to get students to do some community-service initiatives. So we volunteered to teach at the Poona Blind School and invited our students to offer their time to this cause. This was great and most students told us that though they had hugely successful Corporate jobs; they had never experienced something so abundantly satisfying! They were grateful and saw that their time spent was healing them in many ways. This continued when we took on regular weekly classes at an Old Age home in Singapore. In Bangalore we helped organize a Diwali celebration at the Spastic Society for Children. These have been some of the best days of our lives as people and yogis!
Returning to the Yoga practice itself – we were looking for the most complete way to get our students to experience yoga. We decided on a 3 times a week; on alternate days routine. So we said on Day 1 we want to train them in Flexibility primarily. So the best form of Yoga for this we felt was Vinyasa-Flow – with it’s graceful transitions from pose to pose. That gradual build up of internal heat would help students stretch to their limits safely and explore various angles of movement. On Day 2 we were keen on training in Strength. So we thought that there is really no better way to do this than Hatha Yoga – classis poses held long enough so elevate it to a question of mental focus rather than being only muscular strength. Students gradually appreciated that this was the real deal – in that it was much more demanding than any Power Yoga class that they initially feared! 🙂 And they were getting stronger by the day. On Day 3; we wanted to train their Cardio & stamina. So we incorporated Power Yoga with a good number of Surya Namaskaars! This was followed by Isometric exercises to go with the Asanas – a deadly combo to get the body toned and fit as ever! This combination we thought was complete is all that we could offer students. Of course all of this would be only 45 mins of the class – the rest 15 mins was when we would do Bandhas, Pranayam and Meditation – the icing on the cake really!
We still felt that this wasn’t sufficient as students were dependent on the classes! So we began to stress the need for them to practice at least 30mins on the alternate days – this would give them focus and an ability to practice on their own. Thus, if they traveled they would be taking their practice right with them. There is so much of YOGA that can only be experienced when practicing alone – deep personal insights and more.
We’ve hoped over the years that we have been able to refine the basic TOTAL YOGA experience so that more students can gain from this. Of course it’s not the finished article – as the journey of yoga will take us through so much more that we will add to the experience. Science after all (and yoga is a science), cannot stop discovering!
Total Yoga is a balanced style of Yoga that focuses on Fitness training and Mindfulness practice equally.