When You Want One Place to Learn

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

Pragalbha Doshi had just about given up on Yoga trainings. After all, she had been a Yoga student and practitioner for more than 20 years. She was experienced, knowledgeable and doing individual studies on topics like the Yogasūtra. She didn’t realize she was still searching until she sat on the phone with someone else who shared her frustrations about how many teachers and trainings there are. She heard herself talking about this place called The Yoga Well Institute and realized it wasn’t her friend she was talking into taking the first step, it was herself.  

At the time, she was studying with a philosophy teacher in India as well as doing the physical practice (āsanas) in the U.S. But as she learned more about Viniyoga, what really stuck with her was the focus on breathing and how movement in the āsanas is linked to the breath. “As I became more familiar with the practice, I realized it made me more aware of the breath than any other practice had, and it made me present in a gentle way, more than what I had experienced before.”

She also wanted Yoga to make sense in everyday life because she felt like that’s what the Yogasūtra was saying to her. The ancient text had become her personal manual for life, and she was working to develop her understanding about how the physical practices (āsana) connected to her daily life. She felt like Viniyoga was offering her that.

One Place for All the Different Aspects of Yoga

The connection to Viniyoga was evolving passionately in Pragalbha. She wanted to incorporate the science of breath into her work with her private clients. She wanted to do more focused training on how different breathing can bring about different effects. But she was struggling to find a source, one teacher who taught all aspects of Viniyoga. When she couldn’t find the right teacher, she wound up sitting on it for a couple of years. That is, until the phone call that woke her up. The next month, She found herself at a foundational teacher training weekend led by Chase Bossart in 2016. Everything she had been looking for was all there in one place.

“It was a sudden relief that here was a voice explaining how [Viniyoga] linked all the different aspects of Yoga together as a single coherent path and I started to see how the practices connected to each other and to my daily life.” Pragalbha decided to join the training.

Resistance and Letting Go

At first, Pragalbha experienced huge internal resistance as she bumped up against her own internal patterns. But by studying in an environment that felt like open, safe ground, she was able to settle into the learning at her own pace. The structure of training slowly over 15 months allowed her to process and move through her resistance. She felt her struggle and growth being validated by other students and teachers, and it allowed her to recognize and understand her own humanness. Learning to coordinate the movements with the breathe helped her let go of her rigidity, and flow into the ease of breath.

How and Why Yoga Well is Different

Pragalbha credits The Yoga Well Institute with providing a program that has all the different aspects of Yoga assembled for its students in a single coherent structure. The personal mentorship provides focused, personalized guidance. The philosophy classes teach the relevancy of yoga in daily life. The physical practices are intertwined with breathing and prepare her for meditation. Lessons learned in the physical practices are explicitly linked to daily life, and all the teachings stay grounded in the texts. She describes a feeling of safety that it is all being held together in the hands of a teacher who isn’t holding egotistical authority over his students. “In the end, the important part is the process that unfolds; our own internal experiential processes at the emotional and physical levels. I think I have a lot to keep learning and I feel like I’ve found the ground, the teacher, the school where I can keep going.”

Personal Changes

As a result, Pragalbha has experienced a lot of positive change in her life, particularly the physical. “It’s been wonderful to have a personalized, physical yoga practice given to me that I trust and  go back to regularly.” Through practice, she has become able to access her breath more easily and so frequently uses it as a tool for becoming present. As a result of learning how to use the technique of breath in her āsana practice, she’s had tremendous change to her digestive system and can eat foods she was unable to before, without any symptoms.

It has always been important to her as a teacher to live what she is teaching, and she feels that she’s getting that now. She also feels an ease in her teaching, knowing that she’s not doing it alone. It’s a powerful aspect of her practice, that the desired changes have a container that she can go back to and keep her internal process going. “That’s how I can be with this thing called yoga in a tangible, consistent way.”

“Chase uses the simplest ways and examples from everyday life to teach the most profound lessons. In the beginning it can be easy to underestimate the power and depth of what he is saying and teaching. His teaching keeps trickling over time through our understanding as we continue to connect it with our own experiences. I think it is important to take repeated opportunities of learning with him to truly begin to appreciate the teachings and use them effectively in your life.”