This weekend I attended a workshop on the Taittiriya Upanishad. This Upanishad comes from the 3rd Veda or Yajurveda. It was led by Andrew Curtis Payne and Hilary MacRae two very experienced teacher trainers and included asana practice, pranayama and vedic chanting in Sanskrit.
Most of the participants were Yoga teachers themselves. It was a great day, thoroughly enjoyable and interesting to meet yogis outside my usual circle. Not that the usual circle aren’t perfectly lovely – You are! 😉
The Upanishads were traditionally handed down orally to Brahmin boys. This particular chapter introduced two concepts Rta and Satya. Rta can be described as the natural order of things and Satya is truth. The significance of Aum is also mentioned and this Upanisad is encouraging the reader to live with Rta and Satya. So to live within the natural order of live with honesty.
Brahmacharya is also discussed and Hilary explained this to mean acting in any given situation as Brahma would act. This has a much broader meaning than the common one relating to celibacy. It’s obviously an ideal to strive for as we’re not all likely to be godlike, especially when late for work or getting cut up in traffic. My speech can sometimes be pretty profane sometimes too!
The first chapter also indicates how important diet is in the context of Ayurveda and maps out the 4 dathus. There’s a strong emphasis on diet affecting Prana or energy. When we practice such a strong asana practice like Ashtanga preserving and nurturing our prana is rather important.
There is also another strong theme of preserving the teachings and of sharing them for the benefit of oneself and others. Hilary has a degree in Sanskrit and received these teachings in Chennai last year at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram and it was really fascinating hearing her presentation and great fun to chant the whole chapter in Sanksrit together too.
About a year ago I decided that I wanted to broaden my practice to include yogic philosophy, pranayama and mantra. So to complement my Ashtanga asana practice I’ve been studying Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and developing a pranayama practice with Hilary. I’ve also been learning to chant the Yoga Sutra from a CD by Kausthub Desikachar.