The coincidences in life can be interesting. I can vividly recount this discussion with one of my friends a few years ago:
Friend: “Dude, I am looking for a way to get rid of this work-related stress and worry that keeps bothering me at times.”
Me: “Oh, then you should try out Yoga of Immortals!”
Friend: “C’mon, I’ve tried out a number of mindfulness techniques – none of that has really helped me so far. I practice but after the practice, life goes back to square one, when I look at my laptop, the emails…”
Me: “As I said, you need to try out Yoga of Immortals.”
Friend: “What’s so special about it? Is it yoga?”
Friend: “Is it then like an insanity workout?”
Friend: “Hmm, must be a kind of mindfulness then?”
Friend: “Well, then what is it? And why will it work for me?”
Me: “Okay, grab a seat and I’ll help you understand that.”
My friend had been feeling burdened with the lackadaisical nature of life – the workload, the pressure to compete and along with all of that, the stress. In that weary face of hers, somewhere behind that forced smile lay dark, ominous puddles of stress.
This was just one of my first few occasions getting someone to practice Yoga of Immortals (YOI) with me. I was grateful to the YOI Founder, Ishan Shivanand, for having initiated me in this ancient yogic practice. Additionally, after having gone through a few years of intensive and rigorous training under his tutelage, Ishan had given me his consent to conduct Yoga of Immortals sessions at my workplace.
All through my Yoga of Immortals journey, my heart and soul had always focused on becoming a better student and Yoga of Immortals Teacher. That still remains my goal every single day and in every moment.
Back then, the thought of making hundreds of employees at my workplace practice the Yoga of Immortals protocols did not overwhelm me. Instead, I kept reminding myself that the secret to a successful delivery of the YOI protocols lay in sincere practice, mental discipline, humility and surrender.
I decided to follow the same approach with my friend, who seemed in dire need of help at that moment.
We started with some basic yogic breathwork techniques. She had experienced a number of modern-day mental health practices before and had found them somewhat useful. Yoga of Immortals was new to her and I could gauge that this was starting to open her up to a new world.
The same weary face that was frowning and sulking five minutes ago had now started to vigorously throw her arms up and down and combine her breath, with intent and will, as instructions ensued from my end.
I had little or no idea about how those instructions came to me – it felt as though I was a veteran Yoga of Immortals Teacher when this was just one of my initial sessions practising the techniques with someone.
We shifted from the yogic breathwork protocols of Yoga of Immortals to a slightly more intense ‘release’ phase. I had lost track of time by now. And so had she.
I was engrossed in taking my friend through the session, as if I was taking my body and mind through it. It felt so relaxing yet energising to me, as I continued practising whatever my mind was instructing.
I got the sense that my friend was also practising and following my instructions clearly now.
And then, I started to hear a few loud breaths (or let’s call them more deep intense breaths). I could sense a drastic transformation of energy around me, as the release phase came to an end. My body and mind continued to issue picture-perfect instructions, as though it had been trained for years. Even with my eyes closed, I could sense that my friend was feeling a lot better by now – as though a heavy burden had been lifted off her.
I had no idea of the sequence being followed. It was all happening as though the mind was on auto-pilot mode.
After about twenty minutes, we entered the deepening and relaxation phase – using the meditative protocols of Yoga of Immortals. The silence that set in felt peaceful, divine and most importantly thoughtless.
After a few more minutes, once all the phases were complete, I slowly opened my eyes wondering how my friend would react to whatever had just transpired.
Well, life is full of surprises right? My friend sat in silence in the ardha-siddhasana posture, with her eyes still in the shambhavi mudra, her upper body straight and erect and her breath slow and deep.
Maybe she had not heard my last instruction yet. I repeated it a couple of times asking her to gently open her eyes.
Finally, with a sigh, she opened her eyes and stared at me for a few seconds and then exclaimed – “What on earth was that? And why did you stop it?”
“Do you feel calmer now?”
“Of course, I feel as though I want to just close my eyes and continue doing that forever. Crazy, crazy stuff this is. WHAT ON EARTH WAS THAT?!”
I did not know how to respond, for I had equally enjoyed the powerful Yoga of Immortals protocols I had just practiced.
“This is insane, man!”, she exclaimed again.
And then, out of nowhere, she burst into tears. A few seconds later, she was sobbing, hugging and thanking me for what I had done.
I stood there, flummoxed, half-pondering on the sequence of the YOI protocols.
“Thank you so much. You’ve given me a new life.”
After a few seconds, she stood up, picked up her backpack and ran back to her home, dancing and rejoicing all the way.
There was no miracle here. I had seen thousands and thousands of Yoga of Immortals practitioners shed tears of joy after going through YOI sessions with the Founder of Yoga of Immortals, Ishan Shivanand, as well as with other YOI teachers. I had witnessed and heard of tons of stories – stories of diseases being miraculously cured through YOI, insomnia and addictions being obliterated, goals being magically manifested and what not. Personally, I had enjoyed the sessions and workshops conducted by the founder, visionary and monk, Ishan Shivanand. I had tasted success with conscious goal manifestation as well.
And now, this was happening in front of my eyes! It did feel amazing.
I was amazed at the impact that a short 20-30 minutes practice could have. I knew that the training given to YOI teachers was probably less than 5% of the intensity and content that the Yoga of Immortals Founder, Ishan Shivanand would offer in his regular sessions. As a first level YOI teacher, I knew that I had only learned and practiced the basic YOI protocols. I had a long way to go.
Yet, those ‘basic protocols’ felt incredibly powerful to my friend.
YOI felt like the perfect way to harness the breath, master the thoughts, enter the subconscious and then cleanse the beliefs and negative emotions and traumas once and for all. There was a lot more to it as I sat thinking of the spontaneous, euphoric joy that my friend exhibited and the transformation that triggered in her mental hard-drive.
I had experienced this feeling every time my YOI Master had made me practice the Yoga of Immortals protocols. Never had I imagined that I would be able to become an instrument to help people turn their life around so they could enjoy and relish the goodness that life had to offer.
Somewhere my logical mind tried to tell me: how I could have done a better or a more powerful set of protocols with my friend? Yet, I stood there wondering how this powerful, transformative YOI session had gotten delivered successfully, even when I had never practiced it before.
In the next few days, I did not read too much into what had happened. I just kept doing the YOI sessions consistently at my workplace.
Days and weeks passed. My practice grew stronger as I felt the need to make myself a better student and grow in the journey.
A number of my colleagues, who attended the Yoga of Immortals sessions at my workplace, had started to experience joyous, miraculous transformations – probably bigger than what my friend had also experienced. One of my colleagues expressed his gratitude at having ‘magically’ recovered from asthma after practising YOI protocols for only 4 straight weeks. Another colleague felt a steep improvement in her relationships – both at work and at home.
And then, one day out of nowhere, after quite a long time, my friend called me. We had a long chat over the phone and she then recounted her story of how she was more than just ‘stressed’ at that point in her life when we had done the YOI session together. She felt stuck in her life with issues that went way beyond just her career and work. There had been significant health issues, relationship problems and a lot of work stress that she had been battling with. I had started to wonder why she was recounting all of this.
And just then, I felt her voice become shaky and tearful as she stumbled, stammered and expressed how one day she had wanted to end her life.
“And just when I was thinking about that, you called me. I can’t thank you enough.”
The conversation continued. Awestruck and confused at the same time, I kept wondering if this was a coincidence or a planned miracle that life had offered her.
After a few moments of silence, she continued: “You know, since the time you took me through that YOI session, I have been following some of those breathwork techniques every single day. I downloaded the apps. And guess what – in my latest check-up, the doctor was also surprised to see that I had recovered without any of the complex surgeries that he was planning for me. I have even signed up for the latest Yoga of Immortals event by the founder, Ishan Shivanand and I am sooo looking forward to it. I did not tell you because I wanted to follow it fully and see the benefits for myself first!”
I stood in silence, with the phone pressed to my ear, my breath slow and deep and my mind full of respect. I was inspired by the change in her: not just in her health status or relationships, but the drastic change in attitude that my friend had undergone.
She had not just taken a YOI session, but digested and incorporated Yoga of Immortals into her life. I was awestruck at the dedication with which she had completed the entire curriculum over the last several weeks – just after experiencing a single, simple 20 minute YOI session.
She has inspired me to be a better student. And to this day, with every person I meet and meditate with, I continue to do so!