Heartfulness proposes meditation on the heart with an aim of attaining subtler levels of consciousness. The heart is not merely a pump for blood circulation – its role goes far beyond that. References in ancient Indian literature on Yoga, especially that from Sages like Patanjali,…
Over the past three months, the entire “World of Yoga” seems to have gone online completely with classes and events being offered galore all over the net. Institutions as well as individual teachers have started offering innumerable sessions online both for free as well as for a fee.
Given the importance of social (physical) distancing and the need to avoid group activities, Yoga sessions that have been traditionally offered person to person, either in small and large groups or in one-to-one situations have not been able to be held at all due to the worldwide lock down.
While, we really have no choice but to go online for the sake of both financial, social and public health considerations, this leads to pertinent questions about the legitimacy of such online training that lacks the traditional connection that is so vital between teacher and students in a specific learning environment.
Can we recreate the traditional environment and personalized connection as we move into this new medium is a question that begs strong self-reflection. Does it not reduce the human element that is so vital in Yogic learning?
I began offering free online sessions through social media such as Facebook and YouTube over the past three months and have at the time of writing completed 65 such session daily without a break. I also completed 48 days (One full Mandalam of the Vishwa Yoga Prarthana with 96 sessions) and then started to offer group online sessions of the Yogasutras and Yantra Vidhya. These have been amazing experiences both for the participants and me personally and I have learnt how much this medium can actually also help us in the self- transformative journey of Yoga.
Though initially very skeptical of such offerings, what I have come to realize is that the COVID-19 lock-down has come as a blessing and so many of my students worldwide have been able to come together in these sessions. This would never have happened if they all had to come to one place physically at the same time. Such online opportunities have enabled them all to come together as a Vishwa Yoga Kuthumbam.
I have been part of many e-events and these have also shown me the potential of this medium to reach so many worldwide in a positive manner and enable those who may have not have been able to travel for various reasons, the get the opportunity to receive the highest teachings from great Masters of various Parampara under a single banner. All the recent e-events of the Indian Yoga Association such as the Synchronized Global Prayer, Shankara Jayanthi and International e-Yoga Conclave have been good examples of the immense potential to effectively reach the un-reached everywhere!
Balancing the time constraints with people joining in from all over the globe is a major issue in logistics and also the dependence on a healthy internet network connectivity. It also tends to exclude those who don’t have access to modern e-tools of communications and thus is not really inclusive in many societies.
Yogacharini Kalavathi of the Om Yoga Studio in the UK has immense experience in this field having been one of the first to take her regular classes online and says, “It all boils back down to that triage. Efficacy will depend on the factors. The teacher, the student and the teachings. As soon as any of these are not pulling their weight, the balance may be lost and that’s when issues arise. If you are a good teacher, teaching good things, then hopefully the student will be attentive and learn what they need. But, if the teacher doesn’t really know so much to start, with and their system isn’t deeply rooted in the holistic essence of yoga, then this will make it a completely different experience. Standards should play a big part here but if we think of the law of attraction will then not everyone get what they asked for?!”
All in all, we must change with time and see how we can retain the traditional essence as we take Yoga forward through this new medium of sharing. Sharing is truly caring, and as human beings we must share with a heartful-mind and a mindful-heart!
Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
( Editor-in-Chief )