I felt very honoured recently to have successfully completed a two year course called “The Gift of Consciousness”. This was a four module course on the Yoga Sutras in Study and Practice, run by Gitte Bechsgaard (PhD) and Sheila Haswell, Senior Iyengar yoga teacher.
The aim of the course was to develop a greater understanding of the relationship between Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga asana (postures) and life, beginning with the fundamentals of yoga and yoga psychology. The course involved lectures on the yoga sutras, asana practice and chanting the Samadhi Padah (book one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) in Sanskrit, led by Gitte Bechsgaard. Gitte explained how to pronounce Sanskrit correctly, understanding the long and short vowels and paying regard to the dots and dashes above and below vowel sounds.
Each module was divided between analysing the Sutras and relating them to modern life. This study was then supplemented with practices of yoga asana which were directly relevant to the specific Sutras we had studied, led by Sheila Haswell.
The course not only deepened my understanding of the Yoga Sutras, but also enabled me to discover a deeper meaning to my practice, rather than just ‘doing’ the asana.
In addition, I now appreciate the importance of a regular yoga asana practice to strengthen the body, regulate the breath and improve concentration. Through the discipline of our practice we learn to quieten the mind, which will ultimately bring us in touch with our Purusha (soul).
Sue Savage is a qualified Iyengar yoga teacher and teaches at the iYoga Centre.