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Concept of Yoga Study Groups

Experience the joy of learning Yoga along with other dedicated students and kindred souls! The concept of Yoga Study Groups is about creating a safe space to learn and to practice regular Yoga Sadhana in-depth; maximize meaningfulness and gain mastery in communicating the science and philosophy of Yoga. It is much more important for the teacher-student to become skillful in ways of knowing than to learn about the objects of inquiry. This approach makes it possible for a student to continue learning on their own and to undertake their own inquiries into selected subject matter. 

We begin by asking what a Yoga Teacher might need to know. What is the appropriate scope of Yoga Study groups based on the available resources? What are the optimal conditions for learning at the different stages? To explore these questions further we have drawn on the elegant writings of Professor Philip H. Phenix; Professor of philosophy and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, regarding the ‘Scope of the Curriculum’  “Realms of Meaning” (1964). 

The first answer according to Professor Phenix is that fulfillment consists in mastery. “The meaningful life is that in which the person finds one thing to do -and does it well. The realization of existence, lies in the depth of understanding. People who scatter themselves in many directions dissipate their powers and never transcend superficiality.” Curriculums aimed at technical efficiency differs from one that considers the delights of contemplation to be the highest good. 

The second position consists in belonging to a community and contributing toward the social whole. This might mean participating a specialized Yoga program; for example conducting classes in the Health and Human Services sector, or in any field that requires expertise with Yoga programs -tailored to meet the needs of a special population…professional or otherwise, a golden opportunity for Karma Yoga (Selfless Service), or volunteer work. 

A third option is a well-rounded curriculum that caters for a broad and diverse range of interests, rather than focusing on one skill. Retreating into a specialty while ignoring the broader field, for example; specializing in Hatha Yoga postures while failing to progressively teach Raj Yoga and meditation, inadvertently holds some students back. Technical proficiency, although essential for a Certificate, does not provide the quality of understanding that unfolds through stages of Vivakakhyati (Discrimination). 

“A forth position is that the fulfillment of meaning consists in the integrity of the person. The main objective is to secure a coordination of whatever meanings are required into a coherent whole. The thing to be avoided is inner division and partiality. Each person should possess a sufficient range of meanings in his or her own self without the significance of one’s life depending upon one’s position in the social whole.” 

How to teach Yoga well and with maximum effect? From this standpoint the most important consideration in the curriculum is that studies form an interrelated whole and not a collection of unrelated parts. The materials of learning also need to be capable of assimilation and make a contribution to the person’s Selfhood. 

A fifth and final view is that fulfillment consists in gaining a certain quality of understanding. Study groups assisting newly qualified Yoga Teachers assimilate prior learning and explore a wider range of inter-related forms of Yoga contributes greatly to the quality of understanding. Consistent with a Sankalpa (or intention) toward one’s own growth is continuity of growth in one’s students.