Monday, November 3, 2014

Wellbeing Workshop at Savitri Bhavan, Auroville

I started doing this workshop as a seven session event in Auroville. Why? Because, many Yoga workshops and Pranayama workshops (that I attended) are seven session events. Without realizing, that gave me some kind of comfort. As the time went by, I started noticing that two thirds of the participants in each workshop are guests (not Aurovilians) and many of them don’t participate for more than 3 sessions as they come to Auroville for a short duration. So, it made sense to make it a 3 session workshop, though I still think that 5-7 practice sessions are required for an average participant (whatever that means) to be confident about practicing on his or her own. I have not collected any data but that is my ‘gut’ sense. At least, I don’t feel very confident that they would feel confident. So, here is a trade off. Do seven session workshops where many people do only half the sessions and don’t get a hang of how to practice because the workshop is designed to introduce various practices step-by-step over seven sessions OR alter the design to 3 session workshop so that more people actually get the full exposure they need, if they attend all the sessions. This is a tough decision to make but it gradually went in favour 3 session workshop due to (a) Aurovilians and long term guests/ visitors can attend (and are attending) the workshop again or part of the workshop to refresh (b) my commitments outside Auroville are increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to schedule 7 session events. So, I took the step of reducing it to 5 sessions, which was in my ‘doable’ zone and now, after 3 years, did the first (regular) event in Savitri Bhavan. Of course, a critical issue is to train myself to do it in 3 sessions. My workshops in USA and Europe were very helpful in this respect because I had to make do with the available days and possible sessions.
It is an early and heavy monsoon in Auroville and it is green, cool and beautiful. Savitri Bhavan is one of the best maintained spaces in Auroville and I feel lucky and grateful to do the events in this wonderful space and the help from Suresh and Murugan makes it a pleasure to present the events here. Sharing Pranayama is a supreme Joy for me and I am happy and grateful that so many people are interested in Pranayama. House full on all three days. On the 3rd day, two young boys (from Israel) joined and they brought with them an incredible pristine energy and lighted up the whole space. Their father told me that, as he was trying out the practice , they got interested and wanted to come. The younger boy was particularly spontaneous with a radiant smile that goes straight to the heart. He came running to me at the end of the session, gave me a big hug and said “you are so cute”. What a marvellous, precious, touching gift! I feel fortunate and blessed to receive it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
My sense is that the workshop did cover what I do in seven sessions and I think the objective is achieved – those who attend all the 3 sessions would be well introduced to Pranayama but the practice sessions were less. That doesn’t mean that they have inadequate exposure to practice but in my opinion, the ‘average’ participant would be better equipped to practice on their own if the sessions are more. As I do this workshop once in a month at Auroville (this is the 66th workshop in 7 years), those who are staying longer in Auroville can always come back. Also, I am more comfortable taking this decision in Auroville as many people who live here and come here have some exposure to Yoga and they are aware of its nuances. As I am planning to take a break from Auroville in about 6-12 months, the shortened version is becoming more of a necessity and I am glad to have made a beginning - a good beginning in my opinion. This was reinforced by the feedback I gathered from some participants who attended my workshop for the first time. But some of those who attended the longer format didn’t agree. So, I let it be and let it rest for a while and allow it to unfold.