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Top 5 reasons to do a Yoga TTC (other than for becoming a yoga teacher)

Top 5 reasons to do a Yoga TTC (other than for becoming a yoga teacher)

If there’s anything that the modern world of yoga has in abundance, it’s the yoga teacher training courses. These days it seems like everyone is busy either taking a TTC or offering one.

When you hear about yoga TTC’s, maybe your first thought is, “Eh, this isn’t for me. I don’t want to be a yoga teacher.”

Actually, there are many reasons to complete a yoga teacher training course even if you have little or no interest in teaching yoga! We know many students who have completed an AUM Tantra Yoga TTC and who had beautiful, meaningful and even life-changing experiences, without feeling a call to go on to teach.

These are just a few reasons to take a yoga TTC, that have nothing to do with becoming a yoga teacher.

You want to go deeper in your own practice

The most common non-teaching related reason for joining a yoga teacher training course is the desire simply to go deeper into yoga: to advance, establish a strong foundation or renew your commitment to your own practice.

This you will find for sure! The goal of a TTC in a real, authentic yogic path is to create strong practitioners who can go out and share from their own experience. The practice and deep understanding of spirituality come first; the technicalities of running a class are just building on that ground.

So even if all you want is to practice on your own, a yoga TTC is one of the best ways to learn and encounter the profound inner teachings of yoga.

 1. You want to connect to a lineage and sangha

Yoga was traditionally passed down through direct lineage, mouth to mouth, guru to disciple, with students of the same guru forming a spiritual family to support each other. The connection between yogis who learn and practice together can be a lifelong bond, stretching across years and around the world.

When you receive teachings, it’s not only information that you gain: it’s a subtle connection to the whole lineage, to all the great masters and teachers of that path, and all those who achieved realization through its methods. (If the path is an authentic one, of course.)

These days, few Westerners are ready to commit to the traditional guru-disciple structure, but a TTC is not so far from it. It also is a kind of initiation into a lineage, which will support you and give life to the teachings you receive, far beyond the actual content of the course.

 2. You want to experience an intense inward journey

Participating in a TTC is almost like being in a retreat. For a few weeks, the rest of the world is put aside and you can focus exclusively on your inner life.

Thanks to the intensity of practice and inward focus, a TTC can accelerate many processes, bringing rapid transformation and insight. It’s an opportunity to break from old patterns and habits, dissolve limitations and purify your body and mind.

This can be a lot, but brings incredible rewards. A good yoga course will provide both the intensity to jumpstart your evolution and a strong, safe container for you to explore it.

 3. You want to share with friends and family

As you progress along the spiritual path, sooner or later you will probably experience the longing to share. This comes to almost everyone at some point, like an overflowing of the heart. When teachings and practices touch you so deeply, transforming your life, how could you not want to spread the joy?

But this feeling doesn’t necessarily come along with a desire to teach classes or to step into the role of a “yoga teacher.” Maybe you just want to support your partner, friends or family.

If you work a lot on yourself, the people around you will start to notice—and get curious. (Especially if you don’t make a big deal out of it or try to push them into spirituality!) Having some training can allow you to help them more, should they feel inspired to join you on the path.

 4. You want to teach… just not now

There’s no expiration date on a teaching certificate. Maybe now you feel a thousand miles away from standing up in front of a class and leading sun salutations, but life brings so many changes. Just through the course of my first yoga TTC, I went constantly back and forth between wanting to teach more than anything and wanting to never teach again!

If you feel any curiosity about teaching yoga, completing a TTC and continuing in your own practice is like good dirt, water and sunlight for that little seed within you.

Give it its own time and space and it can sprout.

AUM Tantra Yoga’s Hatha Yoga TTC: Mexico 2020

The vital element here is to join the right yoga TTC. Too many courses out there are just gymnastics classes in disguise, churning out “certified yoga teachers” who actually have no experience or understanding of the true meaning of yoga.

In this respect, AUM Tantra Yoga offers something unique in our 200-hour Yoga TTC. This course is an initiation into the profound esoteric dimension of yoga. You will gain a solid foundation in hatha yoga as it was practiced for hundreds of years, using ancient knowledge of the chakras and subtle energies.

Your yoga practice can become a path towards fully realizing your highest potential in this life. It’s a gift you will carry with you wherever your journey takes you…learn more about our 200hr Traditional Yoga TTC

Tantra and Yoga: two sides of the same coin

Tantra and Yoga: two sides of the same coin

Do you practice tantra?
Or do you do yoga?
Or would you rather meditate?
Although people often talk about them as if they were three separate things, in fact there is no practicing tantra without hatha yoga and meditation. Divide them is like trying to split fire from heat, to borrow an old tantric analogy.
Hatha yoga is actually a tantric science, developed from a worldview and understanding unique to the path of energy.
Let’s backtrack a little. In ancient Indian spirituality, there was not so much use for all the “technology” of hatha yoga. There’s nothing in the Vedas about asanas or pranayama, no bandhas or mudras, in fact no techniques as we understand them in the yoga of today.
This early spirituality was on the one hand highly ritualistic, with complex hymns and fire ceremonies, and on the other side quite minimalistic: meditating on the mantra aum, for example, or Vedantic Self-enquiry.
Dismissing the realm of manifestation as essentially unreal, Vedic and Vedantic aspirants had no interest in the world of energies, even as a path to transcendence. This view, that the manifestation is also sacred and everything in it can be used to reveal its true divine nature, was a tantric revelation.
Only in the first centuries after Christ did the tantric teachings start to emerge, and with them the whole science of the subtle planes: chakras, nadis, kundalini, and all the other aspects that we know and love in hatha yoga.
Hatha yoga was a part of the larger umbrella of tantra. Even the physical practice overlaps with the tantric fields of laya yoga, nada yoga and sexual practices. (Not just to get more flexible for exotic positions!)

Hatha yoga connects with sexual tantra in particular in a few ways:

1. Sublimation
There’s no sexual tantra without sublimation!
For men, it’s pretty straightforward. If the man ejaculates, he loses energy, the lovemaking is interrupted, and no-one’s consciousness is elevated to sahasrara.
A woman’s tantric orgasm is more about surrender than control of the energy, but women also need to learn sublimation. Instead of pulling the man’s energy back down, with practice their orgasmic energy to naturally flows upwards.
All of sexual tantra is a practice of sublimation: taking a heavy, mundane energy and elevating it into spiritual power.
And how to learn to sublimate? Lots and lots of yoga! Classical hatha yoga is full of techniques for moving raw energy from the lower to the upper chakras.
These techniques are an essential support for men learning non-ejaculation, and for both men and women to transform our relationship with sexual energy – to recognize it as a divine gift.

2. Purification
Sexual tantra involved a tremendous amount of energy. By using sexuality, we tap into the most powerful energy within our being, and one which is usually not so stable.
For those who aren’t ready, sexual tantra can make a big mess out of your life and the lives of people around you. Attachment to pleasure is too easy; the ego is all too ready to claim the experience. This is why it was kept secret for most of the history of tantra, as an advanced practice given only to mature aspirants.
Today many of these teachings are only as far away as booking a weekend workshop. But in order not to make a big mess out of your life, there is a need to remove blockages (both energetic and psychological) before practicing in a strong way.
The yogis did not make such a sharp division between mind and body as we see in Western science. To them it was obvious that purifying the body and its subtle energies would have an effect on the mind, and vice versa.
Hence in hatha yoga we find many techniques for purification. The whole yoga practice in fact can be seen as a systematic purification going into deeper and deeper levels, until even the subconscious mind becomes balanced and harmonized.
With this foundation, it’s possible to take the intense experiences of tantric sexuality as a gateway to a truth beyond ourselves as the personality.

3. Polarity
Tantric sexuality works through the play of polarity. When two opposing energies (masculine and feminine sexual energy, for example) come together in union, there is a sort of inner explosion that allows for transcending both of them.
Hatha yoga also works from polarity. The very word “hatha” contains the roots “ha” (sun) and “tha” (moon) to reflect the balancing of the polarity of a human being: emissive/receptive, yang/yin, masculine/feminine, or however you want to define our most basic binary.
In hatha yoga, we come to this union of polarities within ourselves. In sexual tantra, we do it with a partner, projecting one side of our own polarity outside. And yet in order to do this in a stable and powerful way, we must be deeply balanced within our internal polarity, as we can learn through yoga.
Of course, this is not to say that all yoga today is tantric. The “yoga” we see in the West arrived mostly in a stripped-down form, as a catalog of physical positions but lacking the inner knowledge of how they work or even what they’re meant to accomplish.
Traditional hatha yoga, preserving the esoteric background and awareness of how to work with the energies in each techniques, offers a system of training and understanding in perfect synergy with other tantric practices.
If you are intrigued by the depth of tantric yoga, you are welcome to join AUM Tantra Yoga in our 200-hour teacher training, Nov. 18 – Dec. 15 in Mazunte, Mexico. You will learn authentic hatha yoga from the ground up, the way it was practiced for centuries as a path to Self-realization.

Tantra of Solitude

Tantra of Solitude

Tantra is something you practice with your lover, right? Isn’t it a dance for two?
So now that many of us are quarantined away from our partners, it might seem like our tantric practice has been put on hold.
Don’t despair, solitary tantrikas! Now is actually an amazing time to practice tantra on a deeper level. We can come out of isolation as an overflowing cup, ready to pour our love and high energy on a world that will need it so much.

Aloneness vs. loneliness

The first step is to make a distinction for yourself between aloneness and loneliness.
Being isolated is a fact. Within that is the option to feel lonely – like you are missing something – or to feel simple alone.
Aloneness is a state of completeness. It is feeling content and whole within yourself. It is the sense that everything can be found inside, and therefore nothing is lacking: no need for an external mirror to validate your own existence.
This inner solitude, in fact, can be felt as much in the middle of a crowd as at the top of a mountain.
Most of our habitual socializing comes from a need for distraction, a feeling of incompleteness and a need for external validation. With deep meditation and spiritual practice in solitude, these needs start to lose their bite.
As the great Christian mystic Thomas Merton wrote, “Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say. Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.”
Go inside yourself. Find that presence, that depth of your being that is always there and always complete.

Work with your own energy

Just because your partner isn’t here, there’s no reason not to work with your own sexual energy. You will come out of this “retreat” a stronger tantric practitioner!
For men, focus on sublimation. If you aren’t yet consistent in non-ejaculation, now is your time to stabilize, practicing with self-pleasure instead of with a lover.
For women, enjoy this time to explore your sexual power without the complications of a partner. Self-pleasure, jade egg practice, belly dance, and just being deeply present with your body and its capacity for pleasure in so many forms.
The energy of self-quarantine actually is very feminine, in a way: a season for withdrawing from the world, resting, nourishing ourselves, germinating like a seed under the ground.
And for all genders, it is the perfect moment to go deep in hatha yoga, an essential element of tantra. Use this time to become intimate with the energies of your own body.
If you’re interested in specific practices and guidance, feel free to contact Aum Tantra Yoga for our free tantra video, or join one of our Facebook Live sessions.

Explore both polarities

As tantrics, we like to play the game of polarity. Men cultivate their masculinity and women their femininity, so we can meet each other with the greatest energetic charge possible.
But to be truly balanced in your own polarity, you need to have contact with the opposite within you.
It’s like the yin-yang symbol, where there’s always a dot of white inside the black and black inside the white.
Stabilizing your latent polarity (since of course each of us contains both, only one is usually more expressed) allows you to go deep into your expressed polarity, without losing balance.
You can be a feminine force-of-nature woman, all charm and sensuality and flow, while keeping your center and verticality. Or a super-masculine man with power and presence like the eye of a storm, yet profoundly sensitive and sensual.
Exploring your masculine and feminine side together will help you feel stable and complete without a partner, and when you finally come out of isolation, you can enjoy the dance of polarity with a lighter step. Your particular expression will be a conscious choice blossoming from an understanding of the whole picture.

Right-hand Tantra

Tantra traditionally is divided into two branches: “left-hand tantra,” where the union of masculine and feminine is enacted as sexual union between two partners, and “right-hand tantra,” where sexual energy is used in purely ritualistic form, a union between a practitioner and a deity.
Mantras and yantras, plus a healthy dash of devotion, are the tools of choice for right-hand tantrikas.
True right-hand tantra is not easily accessible, as it calls for a high level of sublimation and yogic practice. However, in solitude it is the natural choice.
During your self-isolation, you can begin to explore this attitude. If you are used to encountering God or the Goddess in the form of your partner, go to it directly. Make love with Shiva or Shakti in your heart. And do it with as much passion, as much desire as you would with a flesh-and-blood lover.
This is the real test of your tantric practice: can you truly go beyond form?
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How are experiencing tantric practice during your time in isolation? Share in the comments!

The essence of Yoga

The essence of Yoga

What are you practicing when you practice yoga?
The yoga that we mostly see in the West is primarily physical. Of course, there are benefits for the mind and emotions, as any conscious movement will benefit the mind and the emotions – many people find long-distance running, for example, to be very meditative.
It’s wonderful that so many people now are drawn to some version of yoga, even those who otherwise would be totally closed to spirituality in any form!
But is this all that yoga can be?
How we see yoga reflects a lot about how we see ourselves.
In a materialist society, where most people are totally identified with the physical body and can’t see beyond it, yoga is only for the physical body.
But what if we are more than that? What if the blood and bones are only the tip of the iceberg?
What if there are dimensions of our existence that are vast and subtle, accessible only when we turn inwards? What if our limits do not end with our skin but stretch into unknown realms, edging on a mystery so profound the whole cosmos seems to circle around it, like a galaxy around the black hole at its center?
With this expanded perspective, we can also start to perceive the deeper dimensions of yoga. The world of energy, subtle realities and the true essence of yoga – our own essence – which is beyond even these phenomena.
We can begin to understand why the great masters and founders of yoga spoke the way they did.
Gheranda, the author of one of the most revered texts of hatha yoga, described yoga as the fire in which a human being can be baked, as a clay vessel is baked so that it can hold water. Our ordinary minds, senses and sense of self are not yet expanded enough to perceive reality in its entirety.
Patanjali wrote, nearly 2,500 years ago: “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Thus the seer abides in his own nature.”
Yoga is the path, but also the end of the path: union, as is the true etymology of the word “yoga.” The state of unity, of not-two-ness, the state of being undivided from oneself.
It starts with a movement of the body. With a breath.
It ends as this door to nowhere, the strange light created when two mirrors are held to face each other.
And along the way, a process of radical self-discovery, allowing ourselves to unfold in more and more exquisite geometries.
If your heart is yearning to follow a deeper, more authentic path of yoga, you are welcome to join Aum Tantra Yoga in our upcoming 200-hour teacher training course in Mazunte, Mexico. We will explore tantric hatha yoga as it was practiced for hundreds of years, as a system of profound transformation and a path to complete spiritual realization.

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