August 22, 2011
“Ancient yogis who lived in forest gurukulas spent much time carefully observing specific movements of various animals; these yogis left behind a large legacy of yogasanas or postures, many of them with animal names, such as the cobra posture or the cat posture,” shares yoga instructor, Ms. Gitamba.
Having recently visited three Amrita campuses viz. Bangalore, Coimbatore and Mysore, where she trained interested faculty and staff members in Amrita Yoga, Gitamba reflects on why these sessions were organized.
“Due to modern life styles, people have become so rajasic and restless, that some intensified yoga practice is needed to gain focus, inner strength and become more relaxed.”
Of Dutch origin and a trained classical singer, Gitamba has lived at the Amritapuri ashram for over two decades. In recent years, with Chancellor Amma’s blessings, and in partnership with other ashramites including Bri. Shobhana, Narendra and Dayalu, she has conducted Amrita Yoga classes for visitors and residents.
The instructors teach hatha yoga. In Sanskrit, ha indicates the sun and tha indicates the moon.
“Corresponding with man’s innate desire to be deeply rooted and at the same time, search for higher grounds, all asanas have two basic forces, gravity and upliftment,” Gitamba explains.
By uniting pairs of opposites through the practice of postures as well as breathing techniques, a balance is sought between the body and the mind.
An adapted version of the traditional Surya Namaskara or sun salutation is taught. Here, twelve asanas are performed in a sequence, with rhythmic breathing. The instructors intone the sound Ma for every inhalation and Om for every exhalation.
“It is our vision that Amrita Yoga will enable people to reconnect with their true selves by bringing awareness into postures and movements,” Gitamba shares.
More sessions, especially for students, will be organized on all campuses. The team also has the task of training children studying in the Amrita Vidyalayam schools.
The practice of yoga gained immense popularity during the second half of the past century, especially in the West. Although ancient yogis looked upon it as a spiritual practice, in contemporary times, yoga may be practiced more for physical health benefits alone.
“Even if one is not spiritually inclined, the practice of Amrita Yoga can be really beneficial,” Gitamba emphasizes.