Volunteering at Hatha Yoga School – the beginning
I arrive in India with an open mind and no expectations. Volunteering for the Hatha Yoga School for the next few months I know to expect nothing, take all tasks I am given as a growing opportunity for myself and make the most of each moment. Surprise, delight and eek! My first volunteering is for a 15 day Hatha Yoga program for the Indian Army, it will all be conducted in Hindi. Really, they want me on this. Well everything is an opportunity for growth, this will be interesting!
Yoga with the Army
Isha is all about precision in every program they conduct, this establishes a powerful impact for all involved, much of this being very subtle. Military precision meets Isha precision; can’t wait to see this unfold.
The detail was very present with this group of 63 men and one lady. Monsoon season in full effect, they arrived on time for morning class at 5:30am with a 15 minute walk in the pouring rain. No mobile phones could be seen, no unnecessary chatter in the hall. Right from the start you can clearly see this is a group of people who are used to listening and following instructions.
The army is about breaking you to remold you into more. The same happens with this Isha Hatha Yoga Program, we want to touch these army personnel with something beyond their experience. We break these participants. We break their bodies with the intensity of the physical elements of the program. There are aching legs, swollen knees, tight backs. Yet they continue to do their practice as instructed every session. We bring them beyond what they thought physically possible for their bodies. After the first few days they are surprised to experience more energy, more flexibility, better sleep and for some no more backache. It’s about commitment and this was largely a group of people who wanted to be here and wanted to see what could be possible.
For many once the body is broken there is a higher possibility to open up to more of life, receptivity to subtler dimensions is more attainable. The Ashram is the perfect place for this to happen to an individual.
Many of these participants are uneducated beyond a basic level in an academic sense, but carry a spiritual wisdom beyond any books. You could see this in the way they did their practice, with total focus and commitment. The reverence they held for the space where they were practicing and where they ate. The way the held their palms together and bowed to you. It was humbling to witness.
Another interesting part of this program for me was the fact I understood none of the language and was reliant on body language. When the program started everyone came into the hall and sat on the floor in perfect formation, when we played a game where their name was called out they automatically stood to attention, they asked very few questions.
When they watched the video of Sadhguru in Siachen, the World’s Highest Battlefield, everyone was fully alert and engrossed, nobody needing a gentle tap to stay awake that night! The hierarchy was very evident with the soldiers and the officers. It was unfortunate in a place that is about dissolving the ego, this culture could not
You could see the brotherhood between these men, most of them did not know each other before arriving, but they certainly created a bond during the program. They sat together during their breaks, some held hands when we went on trips, some would place an arm over another’s shoulders, and they washed the plates of one man who had an infected finger. This was a group who were used to looking after their own. They came from all over India and while many were very young there were some older participants too, geography and age were not barriers in their bonding.
By the end of the program their ability to do the practice was quite amazing. They had certainly taken it all on well. This was important for us because these personnel were not only trained for their own personal well-being, but some were also going to be training their fellow soldiers. On leaving many spoke about how they had been touched at a personal level, they didn’t know yoga could be like this and they were keen to progress with what had been covered during this time.
The day after the program finished we received news that BSF Inspector Sanjay Sadhu from Vadora who attended the first batch of hatha yoga training sacrificed his life in a combat with cow smugglers at the Bangladesh border. A stark reminder for us all that life is precious and the service these personnel provide.
“A privilege to host the second batch of Indian Army personnel at Isha Yoga Center & impart the powerful Classical Hatha Yoga which will bring immense stability, balance and meditativeness to them. Men who guard the nation & uphold our sovereignty, must have the best”
Sadhguru – Source Twitter
There were a few times when I had to pinch myself, was this small town Scottish girl really here in India helping these people willing to give their life for their country. It was an honor and privilege to be part of such a program. Every army in every country should have access to these tools.