Workshops in Japan

by Yuko Metsugi

Four workshops were conducted in Tokyo and Hiroshima, Japan, from 11th to 20th August with Rabindra Sahu from Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG), Rishikesh. The day Rabindra arrived from India was not very hot like our usual summer weather, but the voice of cicadas was loud enough to welcome his arrival, and they were singing during the workshops to cheer us up.

This was the third time that I had an opportunity to work with Rabindra. He had come to Japan before through his own venture “Wisdom Yoga”. Since he had moved to SRSG, it was the first workshop that we held under AHYMSIN.

We held the first three-day workshop near a traditional Buddhist temple of the Nichiren-sect called Ikegami Honmonji with five participants, which allowed us to go in-depth by working in small groups.  We covered proper sitting, diaphragmatic breathing, pranayama, philosophy of hatha yoga, relaxation, meditation and its practices, and the importance of emotional independence.

We began the workshop by sharing the ancient roots of yoga while taking note of the participants’ expectations. Some of them had studied ayurveda at Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT), attended a few classes at Sadhana Mandir and had read some books of Swami Rama, while others were new to the Himalayan Yoga Tradition.

On the first day, we covered proper sitting, proper breathing, introduction to meditation, and philosophy of hatha yoga. One of the participants said that she had never learned proper sitting in other yoga classes, and now she realized its importance. The second day, we practiced asanas meditatively, relaxation, pranayama (nadi-shodhanam and bhramari) and short meditation. On the last day, we reviewed their learnings during the workshop and discussed the importance of emotional independence.

We received many heartwarming comments and feedback after the workshop. Here is one of them: “As a beginner of yoga, the contents of the workshop were very deep, and two days passed very fast. I felt my breath was flowing very smoothly and comfortably even when I was moving my body, and I felt energy from inside. It was very surprising and a wonderful experience. Though I had experienced different kinds of yoga, I had never felt this way before. However, I might forget what I have learned. So, if you (or other teachers) could continue teaching classes please let me know.  Above all, I think the teacher was wonderful. I believe Yoga is life itself and how we live our lives. From the way he talked, the way he taught us, and his "being", I could feel them very much. Please convey my sincere thanks to Rabindra. Last but not least, thank you very much for these two days.” ~Naoko

After the workshop, Naoko organized a follow-up class inviting her friends, and I was blessed to share my limited knowledge and experiences to help them continue their practices. She is also planning to have another yoga class next month.

We held our second workshop at a girls’ high school in Tokyo where I teach English and yoga as a part of club activities. Although it was during the summer vacation, fifteen students came to join the workshop. The age group was between fifteen to seventeen years, and most of them had not practiced yoga before. To begin with, Rabindra shared the importance of breath as the “life force” and taught diaphragmatic breathing. They worked in pairs to feel their breath while lying down in Makarasana, Shavasana, and also in sitting positions, to check the differences. After that, we practiced a short meditation together. He concluded the class by emphasizing the importance of dreaming big in life and being ambitious, while focusing on character-building.  Finally, he recommended them to choose their friends wisely, to have good friends – Kalyana Mitras, who can support them in their highest endeavors. I believe that it was one of the good opportunities for them to learn something different from academic studies, and to think about their dreams in life. Two weeks after the workshop, the students were sharing the importance of diaphragmatic breathing with their friends in the classroom! I hope they will remember and practice what they learned, and I would like to keep offering opportunities for them to practice yoga both on and off the mats.

After teaching at the school, we had another workshop in a small Buddhist temple in Tokyo, called Isshinji. It belongs to the Shingon-sect. Shingon means mantra in Japanese, so their practice is focused on mantra practice. It was a three-hour workshop with six participants. Since all the participants were interested in studying meditation, we focused on the preparations for meditation such as proper sitting and proper breathing, followed by a short guided meditation. The participants shared that they could enjoy the quiet and relaxed time. One of the participants wrote as follows. “As the teacher reminded, I have included meditation practice in my daily routine, and have been practicing meditation at least for five minutes every day. I take time to reflect myself and to breathe slowly at the end of the day. I simply appreciate that I am living healthily and peacefully. I thank for Rabindra to give us rich time, and to share the basic teaching of yoga.” ~Misako

The last workshop was at a beautiful temple called Kenshoji in Fukuyama, Hiroshima, with eight participants for two days. Five of them had already attended our previous workshops. The temple belonged to the Nichiren-sect of Buddhism, and the monk welcomed us with a loving smile and warm hospitality. The contents we covered in the workshop were:

  • Proper sitting and Proper breathing
  • Meditation and its Practice
  • Introduction to Prana and Chakras
  • Asana as Meditation
  • Pranayama
  • Understanding Emotions and Emotional Independence

The participants learned the theory and practice of yoga meditation. After each practice, they shared their experiences during the practice with each other. Thus, the workshop was very interactive and a lot of laughter prevailed in the entire workshop. We were very grateful for the organizer as well as the monks for such a beautiful environment they provided for us to share the teachings. We received many heartwarming feedbacks also, and I would like to share one of them. 

“It was the third time for me to attend your workshop, and I believe that the most important thing is to integrate what I learn in the workshop into my daily life. Though I am very busy, I would like to make time for yoga practice in order to look into myself. I had really nice time and appreciate Rabindra and Yuko very much.

By the way, I also work as a school teacher. There are a lot of things to do and it is very difficult to make time for myself. However, you work as a school teacher while deepening your yoga practice. I think it is wonderful. I often get caught up with my busy work and complain about it, but I have realized that it is us who make time for ourselves. I was also encouraged by your presence. Thank you very much.” ~Miki

It was actually very surprising for me to know that there were two school teachers who attended the workshop. Since I have been very busy with my school work but have found that practice of yoga has helped my life to be balanced, I believe that it was not a coincidence that we met in the workshop. Their presence also encouraged and motivated me.

Over all, the small group of students made it possible for us to go in depth and it seemed they were ready for the teachings this time. I am very thankful to Rabindra Sahu for traveling all the way from India to convey the beautiful messages of Himalayan Yoga Tradition and wisdom which I believe he had gained from his own experiences. Last but not least, humble pranams to Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Ritavan, and the Guru Lineage for giving me a wonderful opportunity to share the teachings with people in Japan. I am grateful that there have been beautiful connections built under the Tradition. I hope that the participants learned what they needed to, received some inspirations from the workshops, and have started integrating some of the practices into their daily lives. I wish to deepen my own practice in order to keep spreading the scents of the Tradition which the Lineage has presented to me.

With regards to the Guru Lineage
In loving service,




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