. AUM is where the heart is...... Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

By Caroline Dawson


Namaste! My name is Caroline Anne Dawson and I´m the English Yoga Teacher helping students to learn the art of relaxation and yoga. Knowing how important it is to find time in our busy schedules to relax and recharge our batteries I thought I would bring the yoga class into the school so you needn´t search any further than the next classroom door.

As a globe trotter I´ve found the practice of yoga brings peace & the feeling of being at home to where ever I lay my yoga mat. I started practicing yoga as a young child with my Mum & pursued it later in greater depth as adult. Being a qualified Yoga, English & . Management teacher as well as a Spanish student, I


understand the challenges and stresses to learning, especially a new foreign language.

So I had the idea to teach yoga in English at the Escuela de Idiomas to give the English students an opportunity to first relax & then to digest the English language in a more subtle and sub conscious way

Whatis yoga all about?
"Yogaschitta vritti nirodhah" I thought I would throw in a bit of Sanskrit to make the English language seem so much easier. It´s all relative, you know!

Yoga is that which stills the fluctuations of consciousness or as we call it, the mind. It´s a process of training the mind so one is able to focus and concentrate the mind & use it as a tool instead of being used and manipulated by its distracting thoughts. Ultimately this should lead to the ‘yoking’, the union of one back into one´s original state of all encompassing blissful lovingness. Please note that I did say ultimately and this divine state is of no guarantee for the six week course!

How do you design your class?
A more realistic aim of this specific course is to first teach the students how to unwind & relax. It’s amz- ing how much tension we create in our body that we are not even aware of. This tension then blocks your natural energy flow, leading to physical, mental and emotional stress. In one way or another you can relate this blocking tensing up syndrome to when you are being put on the spot whilst speaking a foreign language. Have you ever blurted out an embarrassing remark when being asked what seemed in hindsight a quite simple and straight forward question? This all comes about as we go into panic mode & tense up and are unable to control the mind let alone our listening skills. Becoming aware of the tension & learning how to let go brings you back in control, concentrated and relaxed. Learning a language whilst one is relaxed will automatically increase your absorption thus proficiency.

So basically yoga is about learning how to relax and bringing peace to the mind?
Yes, although there are different steps that help create this natural state of being. We always begin the class with three times AUM, which represents the first creation of the universe. This vibration encompasses all sounds of the universe.

If chanting AUM incorporates all the sounds of the universe then it could help with pronouncing new sounds that one has to master in a foreign language.

I´m not quite sure if chanting AUM would have such a direct effect on your pronunciation skills but I have noted the change in the student´s pitch & vibration of the AUM at the beginning of the class to the AUM at the closing of the lesson. When one´s mind is calm the energy is flowing in a harmonious way so one is in tune with the vibration of the universe.

You also work with the technique of Yoga Nidra. What exactly is that?
Yoga Nidra or ´deep sleep´ is the third level of being. There is the conscious waking gross state the ‘A’ in the AUM, the dreaming unconscious subtle state when we fall asleep and have dreams, then deep sleep subconscious causal state the ‘M’ in the AUM which we paradoxically remain fully awake. The final level is consciousness and absolute state of being which we may experience temporarily after much practice. Yoga Nidra brings access to the latent or subconscious level of the mind which is the under-

neath processing and imaging level of the mind, the doorway to the causal level of reality.

Yoga Nidra then works on the more sublime level of the mind. Could it then assist with the programming of the mind in terms of learning and in particular foreign languages?
There already has been extensive research in India for using Yoga Nidra to assist and increase the learnig capacity of the students. Pilot trainees use Yoga Nidra in flight stimulation trainings to help with the subconscious programming of the knowledge. It would be a fun experiment to try out one time with the learning of new foreign languages.

But when I think of Yoga, I envision gymnastic postures & extremely flexible acrobatic figures balancing on one hand. Do you teach any of these difficult postures in your classes?
The physical side of yoga has been overly promoted in the West so a lot of Westerns think of gymnastics when they hear yoga. Asana which is the Sanskrit word for posture literally means sitting comfortably. It is so important to only do postures which are within your comfort level. Asana is like a bodily cleansing technique which allows the energy to flow throughout the nerves, organs, and the whole body. The focus is mainly on straightening the spine which is the central communication channel both on a physical & subtle level. The postures I use in my beginning classes are gentle and relaxing, which teach the student to approach the asana from an effortless subtle state of mind. The results are not only physical, but mental & emotional healthiness.

I know most people don´t breathe correctly and especially when they are anxious and stressed they breathe shallow and quickly. What is the importance of breathing techniques in the practice of yoga?
The breath is the key to tapping into the subtle energy. Yoga focuses a lot on the breath, which is called Pranayama, the technique of learning to control the ‘life force’ energy. Anulom-Viloma alternating nostril breathing helps balance the air flow through both nostrils creating an opening of the spinal communication channel which on both a gross and subtle level allows the energy to flow through the body. This breathing technique is very useful to do whilst studying as it balances both the left and the right side of the brain harmonizing the intuitive and creative with the rational and analytical side to work at an optimum level. It refreshes the mind and increases concentration so one is able to absorb and comprehend knowledge more readily.

When will the next six week course begin?
I will begin the last session of Yoga in English on the 21st of April when I return from my five week advanced training in India. I find it important to recharge my batteries at least once a year by going back to the source.

If I´ve understood correctly, doing yoga in English not only expands your comprehension of the English language it seems to be an expansion & transformation of your entire being.

Do you have any last thoughts of wisdom to share?
‘Lokah Samastháh Sukhino Bhavantu’. May all beings everywhere being happy!

AUM……………………........... Shanti, Shanti, Shanti