Over the past few years, I’ve seen remarkable growth in the number of people who practice and teach Ananda Yoga®. It’s truly wonderful to see so many people taking to Ananda Yoga with such enthusiasm.

Why has this happened? Certainly the “yoga boom” is one big reason. With hatha yoga nearly everywhere — gyms, churches, businesses, hospitals, the media — naturally some would come to Ananda Yoga. But I think a bigger reason for the growth in Ananda Yoga is that more and more students want more than a workout. They want yoga to change their lives, not just (as one celebrity put it) their posteriors.

Of course, not many students walk up to us at the first class and say, “I want Yoga to change my life.” But just beneath their conscious awareness, there’s a gnawing desire for “something more.”

They may not realize it, but what they really want is upliftment. This makes them ripe for Ananda Yoga, which is specially “engineered” to raise consciousness. That’s why its full name is “Ananda Yoga for Higher Awareness.” And it’s our joyful duty as Ananda Yoga teachers to help students find exactly that.

Give Your Students the Full Power of the Practice

This is why we’ve been so strongly encouraging you not to hold back, but to offer your students the fullness of Ananda Yoga. And yes, that includes two of Ananda Yoga’s unique and powerful tools: asana affirmations and Energization.

Recently, I was thinking of when I first began teaching Ananda Yoga in 1983. I valued affirmations and Energization in my own practice, and I felt comfortable teaching them to students who already practiced Ananda Yoga, but I wondered whether new students would like them. I had an uneasy feeling: “Will the students think they’re weird? Will they come back if I teach this?” After all, affirmations and Energization are unusual, they’re not the norm.

Over the years, I’ve known many Ananda Yoga Teacher Training graduates who have had similar concerns, and some therefore haven’t taught these two central aspects of Ananda Yoga. (And of course, some haven’t made these techniques a part of their own practice, so certainly they shouldn’t teach what they don’t practice.) The blessing for me was that I had to teach these techniques, because I was teaching at an Ananda Center. No choice there!

Having to “just do it” helped me begin to realize two important points. First, affirmations and Energization are indeed not commonplace in yoga classes — and that’s good! It gives you what advertising experts call a USP: Unique Selling Proposition.

Very few other yoga teachers can offer these techniques to their students. Not that I’m encouraging you to be commercial or feel a sense of competition with other yoga teachers. Rather, I’m simply pointing out that you have something unique and valuable to offer. So don’t hold back!

Second, reflecting that I liked affirmations and Energization in my own practice, and that I was fairly normal, I reasoned that other people would probably like it, too.

Indeed, over the years I’ve found that most students do like them — sometimes more than the asanas! If anything, it’s usually just the teachers who are the hesitant ones.

Remember this simple truth: Students want to feel good — and more than that, they want to feel uplifted. If we’re tentative in our teaching, holding back, it’s neither magnetic nor uplifting. But if we teach with a magnetic inward focus, students will be uplifted. And if we offer techniques that are designed to uplift consciousness, the effect is even greater.

Students don’t really care what’s familiar or trendy; they care what works. They may not know that they’re looking for upliftment, but when they experience it, they know that’s exactly what they wanted all along. You have the training and tools — including affirmations and Energization — to help them feel that.

You Might Even Have a Revelation

It’s inspiring to hear of the results that so many of you are getting. Nearly every week, one of you sends me an inspiring report about how much students enjoy Energization, or how they love the affirmations, or how they feel better themselves as a result of your teaching.

Recently I heard from one teacher who had been very hesitant to teach Energization, thinking that her students would never go for anything remotely “spiritual.” But charged up by learning to teach Energization in February’s “Advanced Pranayama and the Subtle Body,” she decided to go for it when she got home: she taught all 39 exercises — at a health club, no less! — and even led a meditation at the end of the class.

Guess what? Her students loved it. Reflecting on her longtime concern that they would balk, she marvelled: “It was all in my head!” [By the way, you need not describe Energization as “spiritual” at first; you can begin simply by focusing on energy, vitality and warming up the body. The results will speak for themselves. You can address the subtler aspects later.]

Another teacher wrote, “I too have taught Energization Exercises, and students love them. In fact, this week I had other things planned, so I only did a few of the exercises, and one women complained, ‘Aren’t we going to do skull tapping?’ Needless to say, we did it and everyone loved it.

“Now I always include skull tapping and scalp massage. They also love the affirmations from the Superconscious Living Exercises for those two. There are always comments like, ‘My brain needs all the help it can get!’ and ‘Wow, it really helps me wake up!’ (this is a morning class).”

When I hear stories like this, I know that Ananda Yoga Teacher Training graduates are helping Ananda Yoga come into its own. Students and teachers alike are ready and eager for it. So keep it up, Great Souls. It’s inspiring to know how much good you’re doing for this world.

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