I’ve been an athlete my whole life … running, martial arts, triathlon, step aerobics, etc. When my spiritual path took a turn towards the East, back in the 70’s, it seemed that yoga would be a perfect fit, so I tried it. I hated it. Classes were either boring, or frustrating, or sometimes both. I didn’t stay with it.
I tried again in college while getting my degree in exercise physiology. I still hated it. When I became a chiropractor, 20 years ago, I tried again. I knew I should be doing yoga, but I just didn’t resonate. I kept trying, though. I never found a class I liked.
Finally, a few years ago a new yoga studio opened up nearby and I tried again. This time I was really impressed with the approach of these teachers. After a few years, when I made it to an “advanced class”, I met Neel.
Neel was very different from the other teachers. I liked his style of teaching right away. He teaches for people who are serious about yoga. I have found it difficult to take classes from other people now. For several reasons.
Many yoga teachers seem to place a lot of emphasis on knowing the Sanskrit names of the poses. Neel (who is a Sanskrit scholar) never uses those names. He just shows us what to do and we did it. It seems much more efficient to me.
Other teachers would tell me that yoga was about self discovery, and then give me all kinds of information about the poses, what I should be feeling, how it should be done, even telling me at which yoga workshop they learned that specific piece of information. Neel would say, “Do this pose for a while and you will learn something”. He teaches concepts, not details. As long as I’m doing yoga according to the concepts, the details will come.
All teachers encouraged a home practice. Neel always started the class by asking if there were any questions. At first, I wondered why he didn’t wait until the end of class. Then I realized that the questions would come from a doing yoga at home. It was a subtle and effective way of encouraging a home practice. I noticed that whenever I asked a question, no matter how profound or trivial or seemingly “non-yogic”, Neel would usually be able to quote a passage from the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali that was directly related. Later on I realized that by having a question and doing the practice, I frequently got the answer on my own.
There are several yoga studios closer to my home, with classes at more convenient times. I was never really tempted to try them out. I have come to realize what a unique individual Neel is and how fortunate I am that he teaches in my area. This year when Neel announced that he and Nancy were moving to India, I tried to define for myself why that is. I do like the way he teaches, but it’s much more than that. It’s because of who he is.
I have taken many yoga classes with other great teachers. I may be making this up, but I have always felt that some level, probably subconsciously and some more blatantly than others every one of them was trying to get me to realize how great they are. I always feel that Neel is trying to get me to realize how great I am.
When Neel told me his teacher training was 14 classes, I was intrigued. There are thousands of asanas. How could he teach me every one, and how to teach them all in just 14 weeks? It's impossible.
I learned so much more. From the first class, I knew I was in the right place. By teaching me the concepts for teaching in the Authentic Yoga System, Neel taught me a simple and effective method to teach what I already know. I realized that my whole life became the teacher training.
Thank you, Neel.
Dr. Sue Ann Lewine, Stress Reduction Specialist ad Doctor of Chiropractic, Virginia, USA