Warm-Up—Student Profile: Halli

Ganesha was the first Hindu deity I was introduced to. The god of new beginnings, success and wisdom. The gatekeeper. His large ears gift him the great capacity to listen, his tusk has been removed for documenting his knowledge, his elephant strength to clear obstacles that lay ahead and his big belly to aid in digestion of it all. He was the leader of our first module in our journey as students. 

I began adjusting to the daily life of the course: 6am-8:45pm (with about 3.5 hours break), scheduled with asana practices, lectures in the Shala and three amazing meals a day coupled with sharing living quarters with three other students. This was a rhythm I was unfamiliar with over the last month. Gardens are everything but scheduled. This sure was a commitment of time and energy, more than I had previously felt prepared for. Was it even possible for me to prepare for this? Would that have even benefited me? Was there a way to prepare? I dozed off at night with the statement “Welcome to Mystery School” flying around in my head. 

My body began to settle into the routine just as my mind did. The connection of the two becoming very relevant in this first week. My warrior archetype became challenged by the incoming explorer. I had officially accepted the adventure of the mountain I had just begun to climb. 

Co-listening was one of the hardest exercises for me in this first module. All I wanted to do was give support and feedback to my fellow students as they shared their experiences. The exercise of simply being present and listening; who would have thought it would be so challenging?  I always thought I was such a good listener, and to be so challenged by the task to listen sure was something to be noted. 

The Mula Bandha, or root banda, was the most physically grounding for me during this period. The exercise of activating my root muscles allowed me to truly feel the root of my mind and body becoming awake and supported. The daily asana practice mixed with the healing meals began to offer a base for my mental and physical growth. Then we began learning the philosophy of yoga and my base grew even stronger. 

The 8 Limbed Path, Patanjali’s classification of what we know as Yoga today, Classical yoga. 

  1. Yama : Principles of ethical behavior 
  2. Niyama : Personal Observances 
  3. Asana : The physical poses 
  4. Pranayama : Breath exercises 
  5. Pratyahara : Withdrawal of sense 
  6. Dharana : Focused concentration 
  7. Dhyana : Body, mind and breath connection 
  8. Samadhi :State of oneness or unity.

Little did I know, I would become very familiar with each and every one of these limbs throughout the next few weeks. These had become my foundation of learning and exploring what it takes to really practice yoga. 

Ganesha, the gatekeeper, sealing the bond of my strength and willingness to absorb the wisdom using the Anjali Mudra. Standing by my side with the much needed and welcomed support for the next leg of the climb.