Wednesday, 13 February 2013

With YTT only two months behind me, you’d think that the Yamas and Niyamas of the Yoga Sutras would be fresh in my mind, right?  When I saw a recap of basic philosophy on the program for GCYT, I thought, easy peasy, I remember all that stuff.  I didn’t.  I was glad to go over it again; except for a very uncomfortable few minutes where a discussion about self-defence in relation the concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) was raised and I found myself being lectured about the need to carry personal weapons in South Africa (it’s a long story, I won’t bore you with it, but I learned to avoid the issue of personal hand guns in the future).  The main idea for going through the Yamas and Niyamas again was to use them in the context of creating a personal code of ethics for teaching and treating clients.  In two groups, we had to establish an original code of ethics reflecting Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, etc.  For example, in the context of Svadhyaya (self-study), we agreed we would promise to maintain a personal yoga practice and a commitment to further study to benefit our students/clients. 

We also began to touch on the concept of ‘wellness’ by studying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the ‘Flow’ diagram by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (try saying that ten times as fast as you can).  If you were born after 1943, you’ll have seen Hierarchy of Needs diagram at some point if your life; it demonstrates the importance of human needs from basic physical comfort, to the desire for self-actualisation.  If you take a close look, you might see the similarities between Maslow’s diagram and the visualised representation of Chakras. 

Meanwhile, the Flow concept by Csikszentmihalyi requires a little more brain power...

I almost failed Introductory Calculus, so anything on a scaled grid tends to make me nauseous but what it basically tries to demonstrate is the idea of ‘challenge’ vs. ‘skill’ and the concept that optimum skill met by optimum challenge achieve ‘flow’.  For example, if you attend a yoga class as a complete beginner (low skill) and you discover you’ve accidentally walked into a practice for advanced students (high challenge), you’re bound to feel anxiety.  This, naturally, does not lead to wellness or ‘flow’, and Csikszentmihalyi argues that flow is the ultimate goal for happiness. 

If you have 20 minutes spare, you can check out his TED talk about ‘flow’ as the secret to happiness (and his super-tight leather jacket) on Youtube;

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