Tag Archives: kundalini yoga

Trika (Agama) Yoga in Rishikesh

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trika agama yoga RishikeshI heard about Trika yoga classes in Rishikesh 4 years ago, but did not want to go there based on the description of classes from different people. Though many were excited and satisfied with the classes, I thought the style of the class was not for me. Now when a friend suggested we go to the class and I felt more open to various styles of yoga,  I decided to give it a go.
Trika yoga is a different name for Agama yoga which is present around the world and is based mostly in Thailand. This is a style of yoga that focuses on tantric practices and incorporates elements of kundalini and laya yoga. The accent is not as much on performing asanas for physical strength and stamina as on opening energy centers and listening to the flow of energy in very simple postures.
Now, all my previous posts were about the yoga teachers that I definitely recommend everyone to visit. This one is not. I just decided to try this class to give my personal feedback on it, be it positive or negative. As still after the class, it was difficult to come up with one definite conclusion, I will just list  negative and positive aspects of the class that I have experienced, and leave it for you to decide whether you want to try it.
Drawbacks:

  • the yoga hall in Swargashram is scary and badly maintained, it initially creates some cautious atmosphere.
  • poor ventilation in the yoga hall. After 10-15 minutes in the class I felt strong heartbeat and had to go out to get water. Immediately after I went out, I got better. In the entire hall, there were only one or two open windows which was not enough for the number of people and the size of the hall.
  • the class did not contain  enough physical exercise, which is not very conductive to developing or pushing to the limit your physical body.
  • absent explanations on safety of performing asanas. At the same time, the selection of the asanas was not really safe – without sufficient explanation on how to perform the asanas on physical level, some asanas may be conductive to injury. For instance, we had cobra with full arms extension that was kept for over 5 minutes. My friend that also came to this class, experienced pain in lumbar for a couple of days after the class.
  • the other factor that contributed to poor explanation is that  the girl was speaking in low voice, it was hard to hear her while standing in the third row, some instructions we just missed, others guessed at random.
  • even as we tried to follow the instructions, in overall the class seemed a little boring. Of course that may be due to our lack of patience that needs to be developed, but the impression was common among three of us that visited the class.

Strengths:

  • the class can be suitable for beginners as it does not contain many asanas or advanced practices, provided that precautions are taken for cobra and similar potentially problematic postures.
  • despite poorly audible directions, when the teacher noticed that someone did not follow her instructions, she always came up to clarify them personally.
  • I really felt the pulsation of a definite body part in each asana, and entire body pulsation in savasana and meditation. However, this cannot be entirely credited to the class itself as feeling subtle sensations in the body has become quite easy and even habitual for me. Still, I did feel the desired, quite strong effect after the class and can believe that other people who take Trika yoga courses feel such effect too.

This is my personal impression, and it also depends on the teacher. Moreover, I suspect we got to some first class of they course, and they teach one asana per each lesson, so by the end of the course you are supposed to do a lot of asanas in one class. If you tried this style of yoga and have your own opinion, you’re most welcome to leave it here.
Timing and Place: In case you want to check it out, the yoga hall of Trika yoga is situated near main office of Swargashram, Ramjhula, Rishikesh. The evening class is 4PM, but there are some other classes and lectures, timing to which you can find out on your own. Anyay, Rishikesh is full of their colorful advertisements so you will surely not miss it.

Yogi Vishvaketu, Akhanda & Kundalini Yoga Teacher in Rishikesh

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Yoga teacher in RishikeshYogi Vishvaketu is a well known master of yoga in Rishikesh that teaches in his Asharm in Tapovan, high bank of Rishikesh. Besides Rishikesh, he is particularly known in Canada, where he spends half of the year teaching in Canadian yoga centers, taking part in yoga festivals, and living with his wife and children.

Yoga style

Yogi Vishvaketu has registered his own style of yoga which he calls Akhand yoga, “akhand” meaning “whole” in sanskrit. According to Vishvaketu, this style is a holistic approach to teaching yoga which includes not only asanas, but pranayamas, mantra chanting, and meditations. The only thing you will not get in his drop-in class is perhaps shatkarmas (yogic cleansing) except for kapalabhati of course. I’m almost sure that yoga teaching courses cover this component as well.

From my own experience, his akhanda yoga class is a good, considerably intensive hatha yoga class with 10-20 minutes of mantra chanting at the beginning and end of the class, and excessive breathing exercises, done mainly in beginning, but also throughout the class. The breathing exercises are not limited with classic breathing techniques like kapalabhati, bhastrica, udjaya pranayama, but include also some new combinations of breathing which he calls “chair breathing”, “happy breathing”, “shoulder breathing”, “disco breathing”, etc. I suspect that some of these breathing techniques were invented by Vishvaketu, while some are borrowed from less known traditions of Himalayan yoga. For instance, I saw some of similar breathing exercises at sukshma viyama class. Most of the breathing techniques are fast and intensive and intended to “wake the body up”, so if you have any physical or psychic condition that is not well-matched with intensive breathing, you better exercise caution.

His asana sequences are quite intensive, with particular attention on strengthening the body. Vishvaketu likes chair pose, especially placing it in already maddeningly exhausting sequences right after Warrior III or other standing balances of the like. One very interesting feature that he does is giving themes to all of his classes. The theme touches upon both mental attitude (what is the focus of mental work in the class), and physical focus. This helps to direct attention to certain sensations and processes within the body and mind, and provides some diversity to each class. So as you see he’s quite creative guy, not afraid to experiment with breathing, asanas, lesson sequences. So be prepared, as his class may get you infected with such creative atmosphere and you may start to experiment with your own approach to yoga. That’s, to my mind, is a great benefit and a thing to learn from him.

Besides Akhand yoga, Vishvaketu occasionally gives kundalini  yoga classes, that are more dynamic that his ordinary classes and directed not so much at developing physical strength and stamina, as at  awakening chakras with fast movements and breathing techniques. All this awakening requires enormous amount of repetitive movements that can try your patience and stamina.

Who is Yogi Vishvaketu

And of course nothing adds better to the benefits of the class like personality of yogi Vishvaketu. He has great sense of humor and can uncharge your body tension by very appropriate jokes. He has quite gentle voice and approach, but very confident adjustments. He also gives mindful and sufficient instructions on asana alignment and breathing techniques. So as you may guess, the atmosphere in his class is very light and easygoing, beneficial both for physical workout and self-insight and meditation.
With all that taken into account, but still considering large amount of students and “high status” of this yogi, I perceived him as somewhat distant. What melted my heart towards Vishvaji is this. During mealtimes, various people living in ashram help people from the kitchen to serve food and drinks to everybody in canteen. So, as I witnessed Vishvaji serving food and tea to his own students, this changed my attitude completely. As far as I can tell from my perspective, he’s living what he’s teaching, and that’s the best you can expect from a yoga teacher.

Class schedule, yoga teacher training courses.

In overall, you surely won’t waste your time if you pop into his morning class which starts at 6 AM in his ashram’s yoga hall. Besides drop in classes, Vishvaketu offers yoga teacher training courses certified by Yoga Alliance, that cost about $2500-3000 per course. The fee, besides yoga course, includes living in his ashram and 3 daily sattvic meals. This might seem a little bit expensive compared with overall fees throughout Rishikesh, and yet he has many students for each course who value his quality yoga classes and want to teach his style, akhand yoga.  The training courses are also conducted by people from Canada and besides yoga classes and lectures, trainees are offered many opportunities for entertainment or diving into Indian culture. This includes excursions to nearby trekking places, friendly visits to other ashrams, music concerts, live music playing during the yoga classes, lectures from famous people, guest appearances of local yogis and babas, group visits of local restaurants, etc. To most of these events, visitors are also invited.

Ashram Living in Rishikesh

Besides all this, you may also like the very experience of living in Vishvaketu’s ashram. You may do so without signing up to his training course. The ashram was built by Vishvaketu and his wife some 6-7 years ago, and it’s a very light and comfortable place. It’s situated in Tapovan, in the middle of a beautiful valley, surrounded by quite high mountains. You will get the experience of living in ashram environment without actually having to live in a cave or something resembling a cave. Rooms in the ashram are light, the meals are very good, everyday you can participate in fire puja and kirtan, and of course practice in his beautiful and spacious yoga hall at the rooftop, which I consider one of the best yoga halls in Rishikesh. The time of practice, 6 AM, may seem scary to someone at first, but after you come to the class for a few times, you will feel that it’s the perfect time for a yoga class. During the class, you will witness beautiful transition from the blackness of the night to very gentle sunrise which starts somewhere behind huge mountains right before your eyes. It’s a great feeling and I guarantee that after some time you will find 8-9 AM yoga classes too late and  not conductive “to spirit of yoga”.

What else to say? Yes, after you have visited Vishvaji’s lessons, you may be sure you’ll stay connected with him. Vishvaketu is quite active in Facebook, I don’t know where he finds time for this activity with his schedule and amount of friends in his account, but he replies to all the posts and comments and does follows his friends closely. So here’s another address of good yoga teacher in Rishikesh not to miss:

Anand Prakash Ashram, Tapovan, Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh. If you know where Ayurveda cafe is, the Anand Prakash building is right beside it. If you don’t know how to get there and go from Laxman Jhula, after the bridge, turn to right and ascend the stairs near German Bakery, take right turn again and follow the narrow road first above Ganga, then between locals’ houses. When you see a small temple on the left side, turn right to the small street that goes up. From here, after 3 minutes walk, when you see that the main road goes up and ahead and there’s a side turn to the right (opposite to the small shop on your left), turn right again. You can also notice the ad signs and ask people around 🙂
Time of classes: 6 AM daily from September-October to December, and from February to March-April. For exact dates and schedule of teacher training courses, visit his website, http://www.akhandayoga.com/

You can read more reviews on Yogi Vishvkety and see exact location of his ashram at his yoga teacher page at TopYogis