The concept of FULL POWER originated in India.
Many years ago, my partner and I had the brilliant idea that we should become yoga teachers. Well, why not? We liked yoga. In fact, we liked yoga a lot more than we liked subsisting on dumpstered bagels and very intermittent art sales.
We chose the Sivananda yoga system partly because we liked the book (it’s a great yoga book: [amazon text=<i>The Sivananda Companion to Yoga</i>&asin=0684870002]), and partly because the teacher training program was short, relatively affordable, and not very picky about previous qualifications. And we went to India because, for the same price, spending a month in India seemed a lot more exciting than spending a month in Canada.
Anyway, there we were, living in a sweltering hot tent in India, possibly somewhat disregarding the vow of celibacy, and doing asanas for about four hours a day. That sounds pretty grueling, but actually the asana teachers were great, and that part was a really good experience. There was a catch, though, which was that Sivananda yoga had a missionary philosophy. That’s right, there was actually a reason that they wanted to affordably and indiscriminately create an army of barely qualified yoga teachers, and it had to do with spreading the Sivananda brand of Vedanta to as many people as possible.
I’m really interested in world religions. I’d previously spent a month in a Buddhist monastery, read the Bhagavad Gita and that kind of thing. And we did know, going in, that there would be a certain amount of mantra and so on involved. We are pretty open minded and generally spiritually inclined people. However…for some reason, this particular teaching, and especially this particular teacher, were really rubbing us the wrong way. There was a strangely sanctimonious attitude about the whole place. They told us that loving people was always wrong, since it meant that you hated everyone else. What? We were young and in love and that really wasn’t working out for us at all.
It also wasn’t working out for our new friend Akbar, who had recently survived a tsunami and was having a hard time getting into a properly meditative state of mind. One day, before chanting, he came up with a coping strategy: FULL POWER. FULL POWER, to put it bluntly, meant singing rather loudly. Not extremely loudly, but certainly conspicuously loudly. We threw ourselves into chanting with abandon, sincerely, but also simultaneously obnoxiously. “JAYA GANESHA, JAYA GANESHA, JAYA GANESHA PAHIMAAM, SRI GANESHA, SRI GANESHA, SRI GANESHA RAKSHAMAAM!” we sang, over and over again, filled with increasing and possibly even dangerous quantities of glee. A few people turned around to stare, but there wasn’t much they could say. And so, the three of us made it through a few more days before we had to jump ship and spend the rest of our trip practicing asanas on a beach full of hippies.
Even though we never got certified, I’m eternally grateful to Akbar for this concept, because it now gets me through tough days with my kids. Usually I have a shot or two of espresso first, then I throw myself headlong into whatever they’re doing. “OH YES,” I sing, “THE BEAR DID GO OVER THE MOUNTAIN!” 10 times in a row! FULL POWER!
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