I first met Yoganand in 2008 at Jai Shanti Yoga, the yoga studio that William Hufschmidt owned in Candler Park (Atlanta). I knew nothing about Yoganand or Kripalu; I knew William and I loved the way he taught yoga. He focused on aspects of practice I felt were important, but that most yoga teachers didn’t bring up in class.
I was at a point in my professional career where I’d become disillusioned; I’d found out that the web-based, patient-facing software programs I’d been working on for years had yet to be installed at any of our client hospitals. The patients I thought I was helping to be more informed and proactive about their medical care had no idea that these resources were even available.
Even so, when William suggested I consider the YTT that he and Yoganand were offering that fall, I saw it as a way to deepen my practice rather than as a different career path. I thought going through YTT would allow me to find more satisfaction in my current job.
I was in good physical shape, having run competitively for years, as well as having done martial arts and Iyengar style yoga, so when I signed up for the “Intro to Pranakriya Yoga” class that Yoganand was to teach a month before the start of YTT, I thought, “No sweat.” I was already committed to doing YTT because of William, so I didn’t feel the need to meet Yoganand, but I had the time so I went. My hamstrings were always tight from running, but how hard could the class be?
These days, the YTT-intro class is often a Meditative Yoga class, but the class that Yoganand taught was the classic Pranakriya Yoga Workout. And, wow, did I find out just how inflexible, imbalanced, and weak I was in so many areas. Many of you know exactly what I mean when I say those fire-hydrant-to-side-kick sequences were a shock to the system.
“Who is this guy?” I asked myself. “And how is this yoga?”
I gutted it out as best I could and if Savasana hadn’t been so sweet, I might have changed my mind about doing YTT.
Afterward, Yoganand and William described what YTT involved. The man who had put us through the wringer was now gentle and soft-spoken. “Okay,” I thought, “He’s not a drill sergeant all the time.” I don’t remember having any questions, but I do remember a man named John asking if he, at 56, was too old to do the training. Every so often I remind John about that because if anything doing YTT (we graduated together in early 2009) and continuing to deepen his own practice, has made him more vibrant and youthful.
And believe it or not, even though I’m quite a few years older and not as fit as I was going into that first workout class, fire hydrant and the other postures that I used to dread are now my friends.