Using Your Body to Go Beyond

By Leslie (Bhakta) Johnson, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

“Teaching is how I pass on the gift that I was given, experiencing and being present in the Self,” says Bhakta.  “I’ve had many opportunities to take trainings with our Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher Trainers.  I have trained with Swami Nirmalananda for many years.  Being with those great teachers has had an effect on me.  Having had my own deep experiences, I bring that depth of experience and presence to my teaching.”

Besides regular classes in her Minneapolis studio, Bhakta travels to Downingtown PA and elsewhere to teach.  She serves as a Teacher Trainer for Foundations as well as Embodyment® Yoga Therapy and other courses.  Bhakta brings to her students the richness of nearly 18 years of Svaroopa® Yoga teaching experience.

“The way we teach asana in Svaroopa® Yoga is uniquely profound.  Students learn to feel their body in a whole new way.  This enables them to track inward on a more subtle level.  They become aware of life in a different way, including life’s subtleties.

“My main purpose is to support students in deepening their awareness and deepening into themselves.  As an asana teacher, I focus on the body to help students look inward.  Doing Svaroopa® Yoga gives them this gift.  They learn to be present in that depth.  When I asked a new student how he found my class, he said, ‘I googled tantra.  Your website came up, so I decided to try a class.’  He has already attended a satsang and had a private session.  Svaroopa® Yoga is the yoga that enriches all your experience.

“I see my students deepening into themselves.  They gain an understanding of the difference between the mind and who they are beyond their mind.  After class, I ask students how they are hearing the contemplation I read.  I ask what it means to them.  Even students who are new to Svaroopa® Yoga come to know the difference between what their mind is doing and who they are — the Self.

“Over time, I hear from my students is that they are less stressed.  When they are stressed, they recognize that they’re over-reacting.  Students become more aware of how they’re reacting, what they are reacting to and why.  Having gained this understanding, they begin to move through life with less reaction.  Often, they recognize what to do to return to a state of clarity and peace.

“It’s a gift to fully know the significance of the body.  Before Svaroopa® Yoga, I only knew the significance of my body when it was in pain.  That gave me a particular kind of relationship with my body.  When you practice Svaroopa® Yoga, old patterns start to unravel.  Your relationship with your body changes.  “You learn to use your body for more than just carting you around.  You learn to use your body for its highest purpose.  You discover there is so much more to you and your body.  I help students to cultivate their own experience of svaroopa, the bliss of beingness.  Within your body, you can experience all the levels of Consciousness.  Ultimately, by going into the body, you get beyond the body.  One of my favorite quotations from Swamiji is, ‘By delving into and through your own body, you can come to know your own True Self.’”

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