“We believe that it is to make the yoga the ideal of human life that India rises today; by the yoga she will get the strength to realise her freedom, unity and greatness, by the yoga she will keep the strength to preserve it.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 8, p. 24)
Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS) is a recognised member institution of the Indian Yoga Association (IYA), a premiere institution working for the advancement of Yoga and its applications.
IYA aims to bring together all yoga traditions and work as a self-regulatory body to facilitate activities of its member institutions. It provides extensive research facilities to carry out fundamental and clinical research and organises conferences and seminars on a variety of themes to promote the knowledge of this ancient science. IYA provides accreditation to Yoga institutions based on high standards of excellence. It continues to work on imparting various courses for dissemination of research and application of Yoga to various fields of life.
SAFIC, as the specialised unit of the Sri Aurobindo Society focusing on Indian Culture, is responsible for all projects and activities related to Yoga, including the programmes concerning the affiliation with Indian Yoga Association.
SAFIC Asana and Pranayama Classes
SAFIC organises and conducts regular yoga classes (āsana and pranayama) at Society campus. These hour-long classes have been going on since October, 2018.
SAFIC team member, Ranjana Swain, a certified yoga teacher conducts these classes. Ranjana completed her Post-graduate Diploma and M.Sc. in Yoga from Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu, and has also done an advanced course in yoga from Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in Mumbai.
The classes are held six days a week, – three days in the morning, three days in the evening in order to cater to interested participants with different schedules. Generally, 20-25 participants from the local community as well as visitors to Pondicherry and Ashram attend these classes.
Ranjana Swain tells Renaissance Editors:
“Yoga is a mental, physical and spiritual – a complete holistic practice which needs to be carried out on a daily basis. It is a great remedy for all kinds of stress affecting our health. Yoga gives us emotional strength which helps us in handling pressures, it also helps develop intellectual abilities. Pranayama and meditation are especially effective for releasing stress.”
Yoga classes at SAFIC are designed to facilitate general wellness for people of all ages. The aim is to encourage people to incorporate yoga in their daily routine for its healthy effect on the mind, body and soul, while also facilitating their healing for any chronic ailments they may be experiencing.
A Typical Yoga Session at SAFIC
Each session begins and concludes with Shanti Pātha.
The āsana practice starts with warming up and stretching followed by the series of Sukshma Vyayam (exercises for the joints), Paschimottasana, Pawan Muktasana, Vajrasana, Ustrasana, Dhanurasana, Sarvangasana, Halasana, Bhujangasana, etc, and ends with Shavasana.
After the āsana session, different types of Pranayama are introduced such as Ujjai, Bhastrika, Anuloma Viloma, etc. The idea is to make the practitioner conscious of his or her breath, or rather bring greater consciousness into the breath. Sectional Breathing such as diaphragm breathing, intercostal breathing and clavicular breathing are also encouraged.
The yoga sessions also include periodic practice of Surya namaskara and Chandra namaskara. The variation in āsanas in each session aims at the overall healing. These āsana include backward, forward and lateral bending; supine, prone and inverted postures for overall well-being. Care is given to ensure that the sessions are therapeutic in every way. Special attention is paid to practitioners who have some specific ailments and some of the āsanas are moderated according to their special needs. The practitioners are advised to perform according to their abilities and not push beyond their limits of flexibility. It is emphasised that the objective of yogasana is to provide relaxation and not adhering to anything that might lead to any form of stress.
Significant importance is given to the chanting of OM as it is believed to enhance inner and outer purity. The chanting of OM takes place once at the beginning and also towards the end of each session. Also, the chanting of A-U-M - kara (as practiced in Nada meditation) is practiced for bringing unity, contemplation and concentration into the gross body.
Overall, the students find the impact of the entire yoga session to be very positive. This is seen by their regular attendance as well as their level of enthusiasm, motivation and dedication towards their individual goals for practice of yoga. Many students have reported an evident change in them which is helping them know their own selves, which is the real aim of yoga.
Feedback from participants attending SAFIC Yoga classes
- I have attended classes elsewhere. There is a difference in SAFIC classes. At SAFIC, we have a dedicated teacher, she concentrates on breathing technique, demonstrates the Asanas. The teacher corrects each one’s mistakes. Those having difficulty in certain Asanas, the teacher guides them with an easier technique. She explains the benefits of each posture and the corresponding glands that are activated in the body. The yoga teacher motivates every practitioner; she is excellent. Yoga practice has increased my energy level, flexibility and given a natural glow. The yoga teacher has taught lots of Asanas which I never considered doing earlier. Also, she encourages chanting mantras, (mainly the chakra purification mantra) which I had not done earlier.
- Yoga teacher at SAFIC is guiding us in proper way to follow the yoga practice.
- SAFIC classes are therapeutic.
- SAFIC classes are systematic and address the body, mind and soul.
- The punctuality and very disciplined approach in the class appeals to me the most. The teacher asks the practitioner to discover their potential and gradually improve upon it.
- These classes are systematic, punctual, and with personal attention and guidance, all of which make these classes highly relevant.
- The atmosphere in the class is good. Yoga teacher shows interest in improving individual yoga practice and corrects the mistakes if any.
- I feel in these 2 months, after yoga class, I feel more energy. Other yoga classes I did elsewhere made me feel tired. The teacher’s way of teaching is so beautiful and perfect.
- The complete sincere attitude of the teacher has helped me achieve better health. Her effort is terrific and I thank her for her individual attention. It has progressively helped my health.
- Our teacher’s sincerity, regularity, punctuality appeal the most to me.
- The teacher has the most dedicated approach.
- Punctual, orderly and every second is put to maximum benefit of the students and everyone’s needs are taken care of.
- The yoga acharya’s sincerity, dedication and commitment and she herself being a good practitioner. Also, her punctuality is admirable!
- Personal touch of the teacher with each and every student. She takes special care of each one.
Mantra Yoga at SAFIC
SAFIC also organises specialised Mantra Yoga workshops, as well as mantra chanting sessions as part of its various other workshops and courses. The importance of Mantra Yoga lies in the fact that it helps improve all human activities, as mantra connects us with the whole life.
In our workshops and mantra chanting sessions, the aim is to help participants understand the nature of the mind, and the importance of concentration, attention and memory. The participants are introduced to the power of Mantra and the practice of Mantra yoga. There is also a session on the primal sounds, the beeja-akshara-s, which are at the basis of all Mantras.
Participants are also introduced to the art of listening to the pure sounds without any distortion or mind’s interpretation, which is the secret of success in the practice of Mantra Yoga. Omkara-sadhana, practice of mantras for the purification of different chakras or energy centers, and other collective chanting sessions are also included.