The Yoga Passport Program at Satyananda Yoga Centre
By Linda Grieve
Namaste. Chances are that if youíre reading this then youíre thinking of doing some yoga at the Satyananda Yoga Centre in Kathmandu, run by Mr. Thakur Krishna Uprety [Sannyasi Vishnuswaroop]. Iím just about to finish my sixth (and final) week of the Passport Programme offered at the centre and the aim of my writing this is to give some information about the course. Hopefully, in the process Iíll answer some questions you may have. Forgive me if I waffle! So, what can I tell you?
After various emails with Thakur, to which he always replied quickly and in full, a starting date was arranged i.e. July 4 for a six week program. Iíd been told that no specific knowledge or ability of any specific postures (asanas) were required. When I arrived in Kathmandu I had simply to phone Thakur to arrange a meeting time to discuss the course and decide a morning starting time. Information sheets were given out at this initial meeting, which summarised the course objectives and what was involved at each level of the programme. Morning starting times arranged, we were ready to begin.
It seems as if the programme is tailored to meet each practitionerís level of ability (class size permitting). Thakur seems to prefer small class sizes. There were 2 students including myself for the first month and then just me for the final two weeks. Small class sizes ensure individual help and attention as and when required.
The programme starts with the most basic of asanas - forget full-on yoga for the first few weeks! In all the yoga classes that Iíve been to before starting this course, Iíd never been taught these basic asanas. As Thakur so rightly says ĎIf you want to build a house, you must first make sure that the foundations are strong enough.í So, this is essentially what the first three levels are all about - building a strong foundation on which to build thereafter. And I have to say, it appears to be true. Practice levels 1, 2 and 3 and when the time comes for the intermediate asanas youíve already strengthened and stretched without really realizing it. Summary sheets are also given on completion of each level. Not only asanas are taught, all areas of yoga are covered pranayama (breathing techniques), mudras (positions or gestures which represent the psyche), bandhas (locks for channeling energy) and shatkarmas (cleansing practices) and even some meditation. At the end of each lesson advice is given as to what practices to do in the afternoon (not done at the centre). How much you do and how often is entirely up to you. If you want to learn you will. If you donít, there is nothing enforced or regimental about this course.
As I said above, shatkarmas are also taught. Along with various books and CDs, three shatkarmas are included in the registration fee paid at the beginning of the course.
Having never done anything like this before (well, not of my own volition!), I found the shatkarmas interesting to say the least. Basically, without going into all the gory details, lots of warm, salty water (with lemon juice) is consumed along with doing various asanas and then itís just a matter of letting nature take its course. So far I hold the (unenviable) claim of taking the longest to complete these three shatkarmas. All of these are done in one morning at Thakurís house. Facilities at the centre donít really allow for them to be done there. Itís very easy to get the feeling that all of these have been done many times before with other students and the whole procedure is relaxed (if a little surreal). You leave feeling completely cleaned out. Thakurís wife prepares a special meal to be eaten after completion of the three shatkarmas. Having done these shatkarmas with Thakur then allows you to do them as and when you feel them necessary.
Thakur is also knowledgeable about ayurvedic medicine and could easily recommend medicine for my rather gaseous yoga partner to take. While proclaimed to not being the best tasting medicine (which medicine is?!), it certainly helped my friend and his gas.
If youíre looking for a full-on intensive yoga course, you wonít find it here. What you will find is a knowledgeable teacher who teaches yoga as I should be taught in a relaxed, friendly way. The words intensive and yoga are not synonymous.
Well, I hope that this information has been of some help to you. If you would like to know anything more about the course, please feel free to contact me. Namaste.
Linda Grieve, Scotland
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