By Barb Cooper
“Welcome home,” I thought as I walked through the door of the Dharma Yoga Center (DYC) to attend the graduation ceremony for the Life of a Yogi teacher training program. “Welcome home.”
Although I live on Long Island, I hadn’t been back to the DYC since my training ended in early March. Life as a householder seemed to perpetually intervene as I struggled to complete all of the requirements for graduation while maintaining my own daily practice. But as soon as I walked through the doors, I felt like a weary traveler coming home after a long time away. The atmosphere of the DYC was exactly as I remembered it – serene and quietly spiritual. Just being there unties all of the knots I have inside.
Sri Dharma Mittra taught a Master Sadhana at noon, and seemed pleased by the number of graduates who had invited their families to class. He seemed to delight especially in the children, pausing briefly once or twice to bend a seemingly boneless child into an advanced posture – and then grinning at the rest of us as he acknowledged how effortless it was for her.
I watched him and reflected on the joy he brings to each encounter. As a newly minted yoga instructor, I paid close attention to the way he taught, trying to learn from the master. I saw him do something I have seen him do before and marveled at each time. It is difficult to describe, but it seems to me that he, without any fanfare or fuss, takes in the collective energy of the room – the various physical ability levels and varying levels of spiritual knowledge – and then he lifts everyone up beyond their own best level. It is astonishing, but goes largely unremarked upon. People just know that something special is happening in each class taught by Sri Dharma, even if they don’t know quite what it is.
That same spirit was evident as the graduation ceremony began. First an hour of Satsang and Kirtan, and then Sri Dharma bestowed the certificates on the graduates.
Afterwards, he spoke with his customary wisdom and humor about the yoga teacher training. “The teacher training is like a course in self realization because all of the spiritual knowledge – the highest spiritual knowledge – is imparted to you. And then automatically, even in ten days, everybody will change completely. “ I know this to be true from my own experience. When I came back from my training, I was surprised people even recognized me – I felt utterly transformed.
Sri Dharma went on to remind us that the point of the yoga teacher training is to help us help others. “It is very good to see thousands of new teachers, so that with our thoughts, we can gradually change the world – send peace to the world. That’s the best contribution to world peace – first the students should find their peace, and then they share with the other students.”
That’s really sums up everything I’ve learned from the teachings of Sri Dharma Mittra, the Life of a Yogi teacher training, and my own yoga practice. We learn from Sri Dharma, who is much further down the path to enlightenment than we are, and in turn, we pass the knowledge we gain to those coming along behind us. In the process, we change the world even as we change ourselves.
Barb Cooper, 48, is a mother, a well-socialized introvert, a Texas-to-New York transplant, and a writer by nature and training. She considers herself a grateful observer, a recovering perfectionist, and no longer shy. Barb graduated from the Dharma Yoga Life of a Yogi Teacher Training in June 2013. She is beginning to become the person her pets think she is. Barb@sothethingis.com