Paramanand Institute of Yoga and Science Research
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Following is a small summary of the time I'd spent at the Paramanand Institute of Yoga and Science Research

The Students
This month there were 6 students from all walks of life, including myself – a mental health therapist and Ashtanga teacher. Each of us had come from our own particular background, with one main interest in mind - learning how to incorporate our love of yoga with our desire to help others. Some of us are already teachers, some long time students, but all interested in gaining a deeper knowledge. Offered at Paramanand Institute was just this - a well rounded approach that gives a fundamental understanding to all areas that affect the ability of an aspirant to becoming a great teacher.

         Steve Radtke

The Ashram
Settled in the city of Indore, Paramanand Institute is located down the path from a main street with much activity. It is located close enough to life that you're not so secluded, but far enough from the hustle that you can really focus on your studies. Admittedly, I was a bit green to this area of the world, but settling into the Ashram occurred quite easily, thanks to the assistance from the staff and help. You could expect either a room to yourself or a shared dorm style living arrangement, depending on your preference. Living in the Ashram for a month or two, or more, is something that one could get used to. As aforementioned, the staff and teachers are all very helpful and open to any and all questions you may have. The food is wonderful and the atmosphere in general makes your stay a wonderful experience.

The Classes
There are many curricula that an aspirant could choose from, including certifications in Ayurvedic teachings, Skin and Beauty Care, Vedic teachings, Masters in Meditation, a Doctorate in Yoga Philosophy and Meditation, and my personal choice - a Teachers Training/ Yoga Therapy course. Each person’s class schedule is catered to their individual track and needs. Courses differ for each track, so I can only speak to my personal experience.

Anatomy and Physiology - gain a greater understanding of the functions and systems of the human body. This course included in depth reviews of such systems as Respiratory and Excretion, and much more. This course will help the aspirant to gain a greater understanding of the proper working order of the body and how diseases arise.

Yoga Therapy - Dr. Bandre - This course was something I looked forward to and was not disappointed. The foundations of a good yoga therapist were built upon in these lectures, with an understanding and emphasis on some of the main diseases one would come into contact with when practicing as a yoga therapist. These areas included deeper studies into diabetes, blood pressure, epilepsy, and more. Gaining a hold of what these diseases truly are and how they impact the body – including causes, such as lifestyle - it’s given me greater confidence into being capable of working with those that will need some guidance in conquering diseases that they may otherwise had thought were lifelong ailments. A great foundation is built for a career in the field.

Ayurveda - Dr. Shah - Gaining an understanding to the Ayurvedic approach to healing goes hand in hand with being a yoga teacher, and this course was no exception. Learning about the systems of Ayurveda,
including the tridosha and other fundamentals, gives any aspirant the beginning knowledge to grow from to become a well rounded teacher or therapist.

Philosophy - Prof. Shiv P. Verma is B.E., Achrya (Sthapatya, Vastu), M.A. (Jyotish). He has written 5 books on the ancient but rich knowledge related to Vastu and Jyotish. In this class we learned more about the levels of consciousness, about ancient teachings of the Veda and Yoga Sutras, as well as recognition of being 'the witness' and losing your ego are all areas that were gone into throughout the course of these lectures. Personally having a background in some Philosophy helped with knowing what I'd be walking into, but it's also important to note that there is much knowledge out there and a lot to learn. If you would like to become a yoga instructor that can help his/her students on all levels, there is much to be said about all the courses given at Paramanand and Philosophy is absolutely essential. Living the yogic way of life is something that all teachers / therapists must understand in order to be able to guide others, and this course in particular delves into this area - including the 8 fold path of Raj yoga, otherwise known as Ashtanga yoga.

Yoga Teachers Training - Guruji - Ph. D in Yoga. Teachers training gave practical knowledge of the training we received. Knowledge about scriptures, of the application of the courses in our teaching in the future and more than what an outsider would expect - a spiritual guidance through meditation to becoming less 'I' and more in tune with the supreme consciousness.

Yoga Therapy in practice - one of the most interesting and I believe practical areas of learning in this entire course was being able to watch and, at times, participate in actual cases of Yoga Therapy. Over the course of my stay there were several cases - a child with a brain disorder, a young girl with a disorder akin to cerebral palsy, two individuals with extremely debilitating back pain and another older male with tremors. Now, most of these individuals spoke Hindi – which I do not - but in the sessions that the class did get to watch, Guruji would breakdown what was being explained, often the lifestyles of the individuals and the therapeutic approaches -  including particular postures for these individuals to practice, or helping their families understand how to guide in the cases of the young children unable to do postures on their own.

The spiritual side of the therapy is not one that I understood before coming to Paramanand, however it is something that was extremely emphasized throughout the course of time spent there. The idea being, that regardless of your background, surrendering to a force greater than yourself is essential in guiding others to wellness. Often, the individuals seen in these sessions would begin to see results within their first or second session, and often times would benefit from the belief that they would get better given off by Guruji. I have learned that this belief, these positive thoughts given to the clients, is seemingly just as important as the treatments themselves.

Coming home, my desire to apply what I learned at the Institute to my current profession is something that’s exciting. I currently work as a mental health professional with children in foster care and my hope is to apply my teachings to working with this population. Although skeptical at first as to what could change in the life of someone with developmental issues, I have come to the belief that much can change – be it physically or mentally. It’s a matter of what can be applied to each individual client, their ability to follow through with their own home treatment and work and how their efforts are focused within this area. My goal is to create a program based around both mental health therapy and yoga therapy and to work with developmentally/behaviorally challenged youth. Many children with autism or intellectual disabilities suffer from common ailments like digestive issues, constipation, balance problems or lack of exercise. My hope is to be able to construct a format that can be applied to such a population and start to build experience for my own future along this path.