Hello, I am writing this essay in hopes of winning this yoga scholarship. I would be incredibly honored and elated if I were to receive the grant offered for a full yoga teacher certification scholarship. It has been a longtime dream of mine to become a yoga instructor, but I have not had the funds to allocate to my training as to make my goal a tangible reality. Upon hearing of this contest and award I knew it was an amazing opportunity I could not pass up. In this essay I will explain what inspired me to take up the practice of yoga and eventually desire to teach it as well, the meaning the yogic path has to me, and the positive impact I would like to have through instruction. I hope you enjoy reading what I have to share, and thank you.
I began practicing yoga and meditation fourteen years ago. It’s amazing to me that it has been so long, quite honestly. I cannot even say what an incredible effect yogic practices have had on my personal evolution, perception of the world around me, and my mental, spiritual, and physical development and discipline. The benefits I have received through my study, observance, and practice humble me with gratitude at how lucky I have been to have found these invaluably wise and helpful teachings.
It was really quite an accident, frankly, that I happened upon yoga. I was a teenager, quite lost and upset in the midst of my tumultuous circumstances – having no semblance what so ever of peace of mind, discipline, discernment, or ‘union’ (as is the goal of the yogic path) with anything except my own confused, frustrated, and sorrowful ego. At a point where, as I look back now, it would have have been futile and perilous to proceed any further in the direction that I was heading – I was at a crossroads where I needed something that would serve me in conquering what had been hindering my personal growth and that would be a tool for me to begin a transformation into the kind of person I wanted to become.
I happened to come across a book, Richard Hittleman’s Yoga : 28 Day Exercise Plan to be precise, and without much thought purchased it and began ‘the plan’. In retrospect, it did make a bit of sense, I have always looked to solitary activities and endurance ‘sports’ to vent my stress and excessive energy through focus – as a child, swimming, as an adolescent, running. However, due to a joint condition I had as a child, which for the most part caused me to repeatedly disjoint and misplace basically every and any joint in my body – I was left with rather injured and delicate knees, which was making my love of running very difficult, forcing me to find a new activity and outlet.
Ironically, this same condition provided me with double jointedness and massive amounts of flexibility! I used to joke that I planned to run away to the circus and become a contortionist – perhaps even contemplating it once or twice. Little did I know then, all these things were providing me with the appropriate capabilities to become quite adept at yoga! Thus forth, I immersed myself in the study and practice of yoga and meditation, and the impact it had on my life was astounding. Through mediation, I learned how to quiet, focus, and clear my anxious and cluttered mind and began learning how to become attuned and centered in the truth and depth of my being. Through yoga, I began learning how to take care of my physical, mental, and emotional well being as well as purposeful discipline.
My previous studies in the philosophies of Greek and Roman Stoicism, Plato, and the German Transcendentalists, as well as religious and mystic study provided me with the fertile mental soil in which I could plant the roots of study in yogic theory, eastern philosophy, and the vast and precious ancient teachings which inform the profound wisdom of the yogic path. Over the years, my practice continued, as did my study. I became a bit lax however, during a time when I was working a great deal and attending college – I began forgetting how important and essential it was for me to perform asanas, meditate, and seek enlightenment… then, there was the car accident.
I was in a horrible thirteen car pile up at high speed. Everyone I encountered afterwards was amazed that I had survived. I was never to be the same after the experience, it being deeply traumatic, causing me to to plunge deeply into contemplation of matters of life and death – and their meaning. It also left me with a near broken back. Two of my vertebrae were severely damaged, I was in constant pain, though some chiropractic care and massage did help.
The doctors were adamant that I have a frightening surgical procedure in hopes of correcting it. I was horrified and worried over the possibility of paralysis and complication, eventually flatly refusing. I was so down hearted, thinking I was doomed to live the rest of my life in this agonizing condition. I began to remember how helpful yoga had been in my previous time of need, and after some thought, began the long road to self healing through doubly diligent practice. The results were not immediate, but steady, and in the long run, simply remarkable. As I sit and write this now, my back is painless, relaxed, and aligned – a state which I thought I would never feel again. Quite certainly, for a second time, yogic practice saved me.
Long have I felt that one of the greatest purposes in life is to recognize with gratitude the concepts, experiences, realizations, and gifts that enrich, improve, and beautify your life, and go about the routine activity of openly sharing these things with others, as to pass on the blessing and cultivate happiness, generosity, and betterment. This manner of thinking is what prompted me to begin sharing what I know of yoga and eventually lead to me deciding to become a yoga teacher. Beginning this path is very exciting to me, and though I know it will be a lot of work and require a great deal of me, I am ready, willing, and able – because doing it is in fact the reward. As I continue in my path, I hope to learn a great deal more, as well as help and enlighten others. The goal of yogins and yoginis is so profound, yet so simple, as the Bhagavad Gita so beautifully states :
“Closing the eyes, steadying their breathing, and focusing their attention on the center of spiritual consciousness the wise master their senses, mind and intellect through meditation. Self-realization is their only goal. Freedom from selfish desires, fear, anger, they live in freedom always.”
Surely this is something worth sharing!
Though there have been many wise thinkers who have taught me a great deal in books that I have read and many brilliant concepts and techniques that people have shared with me, there is one teacher who has inspired me the most. Her name is Dhyana. The name is quite appropriate. She gave me my first job in yoga, coordinating her studios. I was somewhat under qualified and had been desperately seeking a job for months, so landing this position felt like a miracle.
It was very pleasant, and I learned a lot. I was heavily impressed by Dhyana’s story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable hardships in her life (crediting here yogic practice greatly as a reasoning for this) to go on and open five prosperous yoga studios and travel the world teaching yoga and doing seminars. This is all quite remarkable, but what truly impacted me the most was her kind hearted and compassionate nature. I had never met someone so accomplished that was so polite, considerate, and fair to her employees, associates, and clients. It was a pleasant surprise and truly a pleasure to be around. Kindness, generosity, and love are positively contagious – it’s a brilliant and powerful thing. As a teacher, boss, and human being Dhyana honestly inspired me and I am incredibly thankful.
Now that I have given you a bit of background concerning my journey to this point, I’d like to focus on the present (which the wise know is the key to lucidity and correct discernment, one of the many valuable things I have learned) and state my goals, interests, and desires concerning the teaching of yoga.
Very simply stated: I want to help people find peace, truth, enlightenment, and freedom through yoga, meditation, and contemplation of the corresponding philosophies. I desire to help my students let go of their fear and uncover bliss: Hari Om. I have studied and will continue to study among others: Hatha, Kundalini, Vinyasa, Karma, Bhakti, and Tantric Yoga with emphasis on the importance of pranayama, mindfulness, meditation, and study. There is a feast of ancient wisdom concerning these concepts from different cultures and philosophies and my personal study has been a rich, varied, and harmonious banquet.
I am so grateful to the genius of my teachers. Primarily, I have studied elements of Tantric Buddhism, Yogic and esoteric philosophy from ancient India and Hinduism, Tibetan thought and mysticism, and complimenting this has been my interest in psychology, esoteric literature, ancient history, comparative myth and religious study, and research into holistic health and anatomy. I possess an incredibly curious nature, and being of the belief that suffering and wrong doing stem from ignorance, I am always eager to gain more insight and understanding, while sharing what I can to help others.
I would like to focus on therapeutic and emotionally healing yogic practice, as well as injury recovery, and tantric practices that cultivate the arousing of kundalini energy and guide my students throughout this journey. One only need read the memoirs of Gopi Krishna on his early experiences with kundalini awakening to realize how appropriate guidance is. Evolutionary energy, libido, chi, kundalini, – or mojo! – it is a rose (or lotus) which by all names is as sweet, and I would like to empower people with understanding of this force. As Gopi Krishna stated, the condition of consciousness, and the goal of yoga “carries the embodied spirit to regions beyond the sphere of opposites, free from the desire of life and the fear of death. ” I cannot say it better. Bhakta, which is the term used in Bhakti yoga, is the renunciation of all unloving feelings with in and that we project into the world. To teach this concept is beautiful to me.
Through the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Observances, Posture, Breath Control, Disengagement of the Senses, Concentration , Meditation, and Absorption) I hope to help people towards greater mindfulness and bring their full awareness into lucid sight, feeling, and intuition in the moment. This is actually a very rare state of mind in modern society, but a very powerful one. Leonardo da Vinci asked “Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?” – my answer is that you see things as they are, suchness, as is said in Zen. This is the goal of mental discipline and true understanding – “to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything goes as it goes” as Shunry Suzuki said. This is a profound mental art, which I believe is greatly aided by yogic practice. Finally, in my teaching, I want to free people from suffering and open them to enlightenment. Having stated all that, I will thank you once more for listening and close with a passage from the Taittiriya Upansihad entitled ‘Learning and Teaching’ :
Learning and Teaching,
Practice right conduct;
Learning and Teaching,
Be truthful always;
Learning and Teaching,
Master the passions;
Learning and Teaching,
Control the senses;
Learning and Teaching,
Strive for peace always;
Learning and teaching,
Learning and Teaching,
2012 Yoga Scholarship Essay
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