Thursday, October 11, 2007

What I learned

I learned so much at KYM that it is difficult for me to put it into words, but, at Linda's urging, I shall try!

Of course, I learned a great deal from what we were actually taught, but I learned almost as much from the way our teachers conduct themselves. I think this is the great power of great teachers: leading by example. All of the teachers at KYM are very well trained, and receive a few extra hours of training just about every day, something we in the West can usually only fantasise about. But. Far more importantly, they all teach yoga because they really believe in what they are doing. Some are former housewives, but many are people who overcame great obstacles with the help of yoga and want to pass that gift along. Sometimes they take time off from their businesses or jobs to teach, sometimes they do other tasks at KYM in between teaching, and even more impressively, some of them give up lucrative careers to teach yoga for not very much money at all. I believe this is because they are following the example of their teacher, who has lived modestly all his life, following the example of his teacher.

It helps to have a good example. Something else I noticed about these teachers: never a bad word crosses their lips. I particularly noticed this with Shaheeda Murthy, a consultant at KYM who taught us yoga therapy (Always my favourite subject for some reason.) She would praise the teachers who presented their students to us for case studies, and she always found a kind word for the students too. Even the ones who were presented to us as 'failures'. We specially asked for those because it seems that KYM has a much much higher success rate in getting people to actually do the yoga than we do in the West. They do, but they still have a few fall off the wagon, and that was so encouraging to see. Imagine always being able to find the good in someone. That, I think, is a skill that takes years of cultivation; watching Shaheeda, I noticed that her way with people made them stand a little taller, glow a little brighter, and, for a while, see themselves in the light of her praise. This was not fake praise either. It was the real thing. She seemed to keep silent unless she could find something real to say. Wow.

And this brings me to one of the 'new ' definitions of yoga we were given:
Yoga not just as a binding or union of the various parts of ourselves (mind, body, spirit...) but also as a function that we all perform. In the context of the course (yoga for women) this is done particularly by women. We link our inner selves to the outside world, our nuclear family to the extended family (birthday calendar, anyone?), our children to their activities and so on. In order to be an effective link in the chain, we need to be whole, not broken - or we would be the weakest link, maybe even the broken one. And nobody wants to be the weakest link. This, say our teachers, is why we really really need yoga. So we can yuj to the world, just as my lovely teacher Shaheeda creates links with her kind words.

This is Shaheeda, in the centre. Isn't she lovely?


Ivete said...

Hi, Nadine,it's always a pleasure to read yr blog.I got to know about KYM throught it. If it's not asking too much could you give tips on where to stay, what to take with me and how much I'd need to cover for all expenses with hotels, transportation, food, etc? If I go it'll be my first time in India. Another thing: I'm a beginner student not a teacher. Is KYM suitable for me?

Nadine Fawell said...

Hi Ivete!

How exciting that you are considering going to KYM! It is absolutely appropriate for you - the best would be their Universal Yet Personal course, which they run once a year. For details of where to stay etc, email me at and let me know where you are (SA? US?)and then I can give you accommodation info and if you are coming from SA, flight info too!

Linda (Sama) said...

thanks, nadine! 10 weeks from today I will be HOME, in Chennai, at KYM!

I just returned from an awesome training myself, a truly ground breaking program that has never been taught anywhere, ever. It was the first 10 day silent retreat/training of an 18 month long program. absolutely amazing.

I am in the process of changing the look of my blog and will write about it soon....


Linda (Sama) said...

ivete, I suggest you visit the website for all your india travel information, especially since you are a first timer. I am a moderator there, so check it out!