‘I am free! I am free!’—how affirmations in Ananda Yoga won me over forever!
There are many things I remember about my first Ananda Yoga session in Gurgaon some 7-8 years ago–the beautiful room, the peaceful environment, the pace of the class—but most of all I remember, most vividly, the affirmations that accompanied each asana. That was the first time and I was hooked! So much so, that in 2016, I became an Ananda Yoga teacher after completing the 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training.
‘Nothing on earth can hold me!’—what are Affirmations?
If there’s one thing that I find most effective and unique about Ananda Yoga, it’s asana affirmations. An affirmation is usually a sentence or phrase that you repeat, internalising it as if to make a formal declaration to yourself and the universe of your intention. For me the affirmation is like a truth I would like to believe in, or hold onto in that moment, as well as carry it forward into the day or week.
‘Energy and joy fill my body cells, joy descends to me!’—how do these affirmations work in Ananda Yoga?
The affirmation for each asana reinforces a particular effect of the bodily position or movement on the state of the mind. For example, trikonasana stimulates the subtle energy centers associated with energy, vigour, vitality and joy. Bringing together the body, mind and spirit. The affirmation- Energy and joy fill my body cells, joy descends to me’- associated with trikonasana amplifies the effects. Once I am in the asana and I focus on the words, I feel as if my body, mind and spirit are one whole. It allows me to turn inward, feel deeply and attune myself to the qualities the asana emphasizes. In other words, it helps me raise my awareness, my mindfulness and that is the ultimate goal of Ananda Yoga. As Swami Kriyananda put it, “they do help your consciousness.”
‘Secure in myself, I accept whatever is!’—why affirm?
An affirmation is a gateway to a deeper experience of the asana. In the beginning, I just simply listened to the teacher’s voice and then repeated the affirmation over and over, trying somehow to feel the ‘bhav’. I knew that an affirmation was a beautiful tool for attuning myself to the essence of the asana and to feel fully the effects the asana was having on my mind and body. And as my practice deepened, the affirmation and its effect became more intuitive, more spiritual and I could ‘feel’ more in each asana. I could feel the words resonating with my core. On some days, certain affirmations resonated more and on other days some others worked their magic—and work they did!
‘I stand ready to obey thy least command!’—incorporating affirmations in teaching classes
I love using affirmations in teaching classes, be it in the regular Ananda Yoga class or in my Senior Chair Yoga class. All audiences love the affirmations. At first, the uniqueness of the affirmations engages the practitioner as it helps them move away from the physicality. But later, as they begin to internalise them, they can feel their body, mind and spirit coming together into a state of ‘yoga’ or union. Isn’t that the goal? A few understand that right away, whereas others take longer. My suggestion to them is to just allow their analytical mind to rest and let their heart and their ‘feelings’ take over so that they can experience each asana as fully and as deeply as possible. It’s not easy or simple to teach yoga this way but as a teacher it is my endeavour to convey the subtle aspects of Ananda Yoga. And one way of doing it is through the creative use of affirmations.
‘I joyfully manifest the power of God!’—the power behind these affirmations.
Initially, I had signed up to only do the first module of Yoga Teacher Training. But 3 days into it, I knew beyond all doubt that I had to – just had to, complete the full course! I did not realise it then, but I know now: it was the divine light, the divine ray of Paramhansa Yogananda, that was at the centre of my experiences during the training. It is His power that defines Ananda Yoga and once we, as yoga practitioners get attuned to that power, our experience of yoga becomes like no other.
And now, whenever I practice Ananda Yoga, I use the affirmations to attune myself to a higher dimension, so that in fact, ‘I am calm, I am poised’!