This is an excerpt transcribed from a recording of a yoga teacher training conversation with Indira at Pavones Yoga Center in July, 2013
First of all, let’s clear up what multidimensional yoga is not. Multidimensional yoga doesn’t have to do with aliens, or out of body experiences, or anything like what is pictured in the images below:
When it says on the cover of your yoga teacher training manuals that this is a “Multidimensional Yoga Teacher Training” what does that mean?
Well to me, and this connects in with everything we’ve been talking about this morning… to me that means most simply that the [yoga] practice can be used and channeled in the way that is most individually optimized for you, in this moment. Not in the way that your mom or boyfriend or teacher or the person on the mat next to you thinks you should use it – but your way, for your reasons. You can walk into the room and have a purely physical practice where you really just want to get a yoga-butt and 6-pack abs or master dropping back into wheel pose and the person on the mat next to you may have entered the room with a deep intention to release some of the habits that are causing him suffering, some of the trauma of his life. And in the back there may be someone using her yoga practice to connect to God. And someone who is really disconnected and thought yoga would be a good place to feel less lonely and isolated, someone who just hopes to meet a cool friend. One way I define multidimensional (although this isn’t the strictly traditional one from the Upanishads) means the practice on the outside may look exactly the same but on the inside, the approach, the transformational quality, is radically different in each case. It’s all going on at the same time, in the same room. Even sometimes the same person can be sitting with multiple reasons for practicing yoga. This is what I mean by multidimensional. Each person is working on different dimensions of their being and I am not here, nor is anyone else here, to tell you where to channel your energy.
To define multidimensional more broadly within the historical yoga tradition: the Upanishads map the dimensions of self through the concept of koshas. Koshas means sheath or layer, covering. The koshas are the layers of self: the annamaya kosha, the pranamaya kosha, the manomaya kosha, the vijnanamaya kosha, and the anandamaya kosha. Like the Russian dolls where you open one and there is another and another and another. We’ll go over each of the koshas much more in depth during our time together but this gives you an idea of where the course gets its foundation and some of the aspects that are a deep part of my own exploration of yoga.
And I love this. Maya means illusion. So even within the definition there is an understanding that the form, whichever layer you hook into or attach to, whichever way you point the boat of your practice, it is still a form, an illusion that ultimately you will need to release. Within the very word linking all the koshas, within maya, is the doctrine of emptiness. It indicates that all these forms and definitions and outlines and maps are just a finger pointing to the moon and not the moon itself. That may not be something that means anything to you right away.
I do want to add this: part of being in this wild natural place together for a month and sharing the experiences that we’ll share, the opportunity to do a digital detox if you choose, and living authentically with one another, the experiences we will have in the natural world during the course – I inherited from my life growing up for a while in the jungle without electricity and running water a fundamental understanding of our interconnection that isn’t clearly written into the Upanishads. Maybe because at that time there wasn’t such a disconnect as we are experiencing now in our culture and in the world. It may have been so fundamentally understood and obvious that it didn’t need to be stated. Traditionally when the four koshas arise and align, then anandamaya kosha, the body of bliss reveals itself to us and we embody it. I don’t think that this can happen without the natural world and a deep wordless understanding of our connection to all living beings around us and to the ecosystem of which we are a part. The natural world is so interwoven into the web of us. The kosha of the Earth-ecosystem-us cannot be separated from any talk of the koshas. If we lose our connection to (or worse: reject/deny) the living ecosystems of plants and animals and the land where we live and the people in our communities, we lose a part of ourselves. Ananda, bliss, absolutely eludes us. The idea in this course is that the anandamaya kosha flowers when we pause to acknowledge and honor our deep connection to all living beings. So this is the first pass at the koshas and at the eco-oriented yoga philosophy that is at the heart of this course.
If you’d like to join us for one of our transformational yoga teacher trainings on the beautiful southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, check website for upcoming programs at http://www.pavonesyogacenter.com/ or inquire via email firstname.lastname@example.org.