Living in Full Consciousness

Sep 2nd, 2017
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This month, Asana talked to Founder and Director of Centre Yoga Sangha, Sylvie Tremblay, who has been teaching yoga throughout the world and has led workshops and retreats in Europe, Central America, South America, Asia and the United States. Sylvie has travelled to many places to learn from various masters. She has developed a yoga style that aligns the power of physical body work with the spiritual quest.

The Practice

Asana: When and how did you discover yoga? What has yoga brought to you?

Sylvie: I began my yoga practice at the age of 15. At that time, yoga was still little developed in America, especially in the small region in northern Quebec where I grew up. Yet, for some reason, asanas were second nature to me. And even as in order to reach personal fulfillment, understood as a state of continual and lasting contentedness.

Asana: We understand that you have travelled extensively and learnt from different masters. What and who have inspired you the most? Are you still seeking your true master?

Sylvie: Muktananda (Bhagawan Nityananda’s lineage) was the first master who came into my awareness; I was 23 at the a little kid, I was expressing myself in yoga postures, without having studied them or knowing where they came from. During my adolescence, I deepened my practice and then, right after completing a bachelor in communication, I went to India for many months. During that stay, I became aware of the more subtle aspects of yoga and had experiences where I was overwhelmed with an abounding grace, accompanied by certain psychic and energetic manifestations. In retrospect, my prior yoga practice was a preparation for these greater revelations. So, the teachings I myself pass on are based on my physical understanding of the practice, and my initiation exposure to the deeper aspects of kundalini and its increasing spread.

Asana: We understand that you have travelled extensively and learnt from different masters. What and who have inspired you the most? Are you still seeking your true master?
Sylvie: Muktananda (Bhagawan Nityananda’s lineage) was the first master who came into my awareness; I was 23 at the a little kid, I was expressing myself in yoga postures, without having studied them or knowing where they came from. During my adolescence, I deepened my practice and then, right after completing a bachelor in communication, I went to India for many months. During that stay, I became aware of the more subtle aspects of yoga and had experiences where I was overwhelmed with an time. When I encountered and received his teachings, he had been deceased for 16 years. His teachings, conveyed by way of mind-to-mind transmission, over the course of many years, allowed me to progress and grasp the eternal and transcendental aspect of the yogic way. This also explains why my own practice and my entire notion of existence is profoundly bhakti in essence, in other words, devotional, if not to say religious. I feel connected to everything that exists and acknowledge the spiritual level behind material reality. So, the teachings of Muktananda were the first teachings I received.

For me, a convergence between thought, word and action is essential.

Asana: “A true yoga practice means to live each moment of one’s everyday life in full consciousness.” How does this relate to you?

Sylvie: For me, a convergence between thought, word and action is essential. Actually, living the ashtangas, that is to say, being kind to myself and others, being true to myself, praying and having achieved a sense of non-attachment, balance and satisfaction are all part of a way of life. Without intellectual and spiritual integrity, yoga is nothing other than physical exercise. In order to attain the more sublime states of awareness and ecstasy, you have to practise mindfulness in all areas of life and not only when on the yoga mat. A good rule is to live as if we were our own witness. Essentially, in the yogic tradition, we work on becoming a better being each day unconditional love she conveys; to Sri Tathata, for his awareness of the cosmic order; to Sri Dharma Mitra, for his legendary humility; to the Kumus Hula from Hawaii, for the power of the feminine; to Anandamayi Ma, for the transcendental and constant communion with the source; and lastly to the Mahavatar Babaji Nagaraj, whom I’ve met on many occasions in India and in Arizona and who guides the daily decisions and choices I make for myself and the Yoga Sangha centre that I direct. Together, these spiritual encounters are the sources of inspiration that nourish me each day. Each human being, each plant, my two children and my husband, each student in my classes, my parents and even the political, economic and social dimensions of the current development of the planet inspire and enrich my journey. Everything is connected. All is one. Lastly, my only real aspiration is to continually serve the truth that lives within me, to be true to what I feel and to express what is unique to myself. We all have a part to play in the Master Plan, and we should assume that role in its entirety, even if that means going against the grain.

Love, in the sense of cohesion between all things, is the only reality

The Teaching

Asana: What inspired you to set up Yoga-Sangha? What kind of “sangha” are you establishing?

Sylvie: The Sangha is a receptacle of knowledge, a community, a place to share and express our revelations and live our truth in an experiential way. While most of us have an awareness of our uniqueness and our inner beauty, we can only embody or maintain that aspect of ourselves by sharing it with others. So for me, sharing my yoga practice with others was only natural. Yoga Sangha was created 13 years ago. And with my teachings that reach more than 30,000 viewers each week, I also aim to promote this spirit of sharing the joy of a happy and healthy life.

Currently, my main interest is to contribute to the development of the Maha Sangha. By that, I mean strengthening the overall network of ties between aware individuals from the east to the west and from the north to the south of the planet. And in that effort, I never tire of emphasising that we must promote the practice from the holistic, spiritual angle, of which the physical is only a part. The time is
ripe to spread the more advanced dimensions of the ashtangas. The world is ready, and there are many practitioners who are ready. The fact that Yogananth Andiappan and I are planning on working together is just one indication or example of this.

Asana: Having learnt from different masters, have you developed your unique style? Is your teaching focused more on the asana practice?

Sylvie: Love, in the sense of cohesion between all things, is the only reality. Uniting rather that dividing. That is what essentially guides my teaching. At the physical level, vinyasa yoga is the style I prefer the most for the flow it generates and the sensation of oneness and freedom it creates in the body and the mind. The mantras and meditation are literally exalting, or edifying, and allow 10 for contemplation. For me, these practices are integral components of true yoga.

Asana: We understand that you received the title, Yogacharia (yoga master) in 2008. What are the key qualities that bring you to success?

Sylvie: The ability and desire to serve. A life only takes on meaning when it is devotional. Teaching others means to nurture, and to grow yourself.

The Journey

Asana: What has been the biggest transformation to you in life?

Sylvie: The realisation that we are not on this earth to work but to be of service to humanity. It is when our whole being serves this higher purpose that our existence becomes exalting. The exaltation, or the blessing, is essentially an act of faith in which we assume and recognize our greatness and our importance in the divine order. Over the course, of my intensive and consistent yoga practice, I came to realise that the practice is essentially an initiatic journey toward the oneness.

Asana: Do you consider that you have changed as a person – to your business associates, fellow teachers, students, family and relatives etc?

Sylvie: I change each day. The true blessing of living a “yoga life” is that it forces you to become aware of how we are an integral part of a whole that is in constant evolution. I’m attached neither to what I’ve already accomplished nor to what that might represent. The only truly essential thing for me is to protect and maintain this inner state of freedom, which we call moksha, on a continual basis. That’s what keeps me creative and in a perpetual state of humility. Because nothing is ever completed. The human being is always in a state of transformation, it’s a constant “work in progress.”

Asana: Do you try to promote your philosophy to people around you? Do you sense resistance?

Sylvie: I try to promote or convince by setting an example. If you’re happy and dynamic, you’ll inspire others to unleash their own hidden potential. I try to embody the yogic tradition through my words, thoughts and actions every single day. Taking care of myself and others is important to me. Maintaining harmony and balance within myself allows me to have healthy and enriching relationships. Together, these actions or intentions allow us to envision and work for a better world. That is all we can do … and must do. Mother Teresa said, “There is no single great realisation as such. Only the sum of each small act done with love can really make a difference.”

That said, preserving the traditions of the rishis and honouring the sacred aspect of the practice is immensely important. That is why I accepted to spread the teachings of yoga on television every day, and why I’ve managed for more than 13 years a space where hundreds of practitioners each week find a haven of inspiring peace where they can practise the discipline with commitment and integrity.

And this cultivation of self-love, if you will, is something that becomes stronger on a continual wbasis.

The Lifestyle

Asana: With your extensive travels and teaching, how do you balance your life with your family?

Sylvie: That is my biggest challenge. As a parent, you can’t dissociate the role of mother from that of being a woman. As accomplished as we might be, our happiness can only be complete when our children are happy and fulfilled in life as well. Over many years, I refrained from developing the Centre at full speed in order to raise my children. Also, I had taught internationally for many years, in Europe, Middle East and South America. But at a certain point, I decided to concentrate my activities in Montreal so that I could be more present with my two children and my husband. But essentially these sacrifices aren’t really sacrifices. Because in the long term, my autonomy depends on theirs. The more they are fulfilled and feel supported, the more I will be able to support others without compromising my family balance.

Asana: Are you teaching your children yoga? What do they enjoy the most?

Sylvie: I’ve never pressured my children to do yoga. They do some yoga, but not as a disciplined practice, for the time being. I believe that the ultimate teaching I can give them is to transmit the values behind the practice. But their journey might be different from mine, and I wish to respect that. If yoga happens to fascinate them one day, it will be by choice. And given this freedom to choose on their own, their connection to yoga will be authentic and personal, and not inculcated. As a matter of fact, that is something my own children have taught me. If I had been given other beings as children, maybe that would have been different.

Asana: Do you consider that you “feel, perceive and appreciate who you are at all levels” – in your teaching, your practice and life beyond yoga mat?

Sylvie: We can recognise the greatness of a master by the love that he has for himself. If someone is true to themselves, we can assume they can be true at all other levels. Respecting oneself and honouring our individuality, not to be confused with egocentrism, is a task. I honour that as much as I can at each instant. And this cultivation of self-love, if you will, is something that becomes stronger on a continual basis. It is a challenge and a blessing in one.

Through the conversation with Sylvie, we note her enormous passion in her studies, practices and teaching. She seeks to foster a climate where people can find and share harmony and spiritual values.

 

 

 

 

 

Asana Journal

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