In conversation with Zamir Dhanji
HOA is pleased to welcome Zamir Dhanji on January 12th - 19th, 2020 for a special 8-day syllabus on "The Inner Path" this New Year. A journey that will enrich your personal development and yoga practice with an approach that complements ancient spiritual tradition with modern science. Using behavioural psychology, biology and neuroscience, this transformational course will enable you to understand habitual patterns with deeper self-awareness, and equip you to override your pre-programmed reactions with more a mindful approach in overcoming your personal challenges.
You will also be introduced to the 8 limbs of Yoga and learn its practical application in your life to facilitate more harmonious relationships with yourself and others. HOA speaks to Zamir ahead of his arrival to bring you a sneak peek of what to expect:
Hi Zamir! We’re excited to have you here at HOA. Could you briefly introduce yourself and what you do? What is your story?
Yoga for me is a way of life. One that teaches me how to live with integrity to cosmic principles, or what in Sanskrit is called "dharma". I was first taught Hatha yoga by a 90 year old woman in India; this showed me that asana is for everyone, and if continually practiced it will keep our minds sharp and our bodies healthy. For her, yoga was about health, integrity, community and the realisation of Unity.
I can say that the same inspiration remains with me to this day. As lead instructor at Langara College, the only institution of Higher Learning offering yoga certification programs in British Columbia, I teach people from all walks of life such as teachers, nurses, business professionals and social workers.
My spiritual journey began with a deep experience of love and heartbreak. It cracked me open and I became interested in the source of the love I experienced - was it only possible through another person or did it also exist within me? I became drawn to the teachings of the mystics who spoke of the Divine and I’ve been drawn forward on the path ever since.
Aside from yoga and meditation…. dance, music, storytelling and poetry have also become ways for me to access and understand the Source. There isn’t only one path to the Divine - in fact, each person must create the path as they walk. That being said, there are maps of the territory and accounts of the journey. I believe part of my work is to share this with others as a “spiritual cartographer” of sorts.
Without giving too much away, what can we expect from your upcoming syllabus in January? Who do you think will benefit from your teachings?
I don’t think I could give too much away even if I wanted to! There is no lack of material, the question is only of time and willingness - on the part of the participants - and the teachers ability to synthesise the knowledge in a succinct and applicable way. Practice is where the rubber meets the road.
In essence, what you can expect from the 8-day syllabus on "The Inner Path" is this: An introduction to classical yoga in a contemporary language - supported by scientific discoveries - accompanied by tools and teachings that help you apply them in your life and create a transformative yoga practice.
People who know that there’s more to yoga than just an exercise class definitely stand to benefit from this syllabus. Because Patanjali - founder of "The Inner Path" - was a spiritual scientist, this 8-day syllabus on "The Inner Path" will be very interesting for those who like to know how and why things work. All of a sudden you’ll start to see how your whole life is a yoga practice (if you’re willing to look at it that way). The visual practice deck that comes along with the syllabus is extremely helpful and rich with symbolism. It is a beautiful guide that remains with you after the syllabus is done, helping you integrate the material in a gradual way as you move through life. Over time you’ll find yourself familiar with the concepts and vocabulary of classical yoga without even knowing how it happened - that’s power of learning visually and with synchronicity!
How were you inspired to complement yogic tradition with modern science? What has the results been like?
In one sentence: Science tells me where to look, practice helps me to see it within myself.
My deeper Hatha yoga training was under David Goulet who founded the Chakra Yoga system. He adapted this approach from his studies with the late Swami Gitananda, who was trained in Yoga as a child and became a Medical Doctor later in his 20’s. Swamiji came back to Yoga after realising how much the ancient Yogis had understood about the workings of the Body and Mind, and he set about synthesising this knowledge with his medical training. The focus of this approach to yoga is on truly understanding the Mind-Body connection and applying the various systems of yoga in an integrated way to promote the bodies natural healing abilities.
My 500-hr training involved looking at the yogic practice through Quantum physics, molecular biology, psychology and acoustics. All of these had been areas of passion for me yet had never become integrated into what I would consider a "practice". Now it feels as though these threads are coming together through the Science of Yoga - with my Body and Mind as the laboratory and life as the experiment. Modern science keeps revealing objective realities and yoga keeps challenging me to make it a subjective experience.
A quick example of the effects of practice happened during a motorcycle crash I had while completing my training. We had been doing 2 hours of pranayama a day and my blood was so remarkably thick and rich, the healing speed was mind-blowing. Later on, there was only a small area that got infected (I took no western antibiotics). I went to a waterfall and applying the tools of intention and prayer in conjunction with the healing power of water my infection disappeared within a day. If I didn’t experience these things myself I wouldn’t believe them, but I have.
How has your practice of "The Inner Path" transformed your life?
My spiritual Guru of the last eight years is Wisdom Master Maticintin. She is a lineage holder of "Mind Treasure Teachings", meaning they come forth as a direct means of cultivating the mind of enlightenment. In its highest expression it known as Ati-yoga (or primordial yoga) and primarily focuses on meditation and Buddhist logic. I have also been actively engaged in the studies of other yogic paths. The aim of these spiritual paths is to help the aspirant realise the truth "As within, so without".
In Buddhism you have the eight-fold path, in the Raja Yoga system of Patanjali you have the eight limbs. Both these systems have ethical foundations and spiritual practices to cultivate self-discipline and develop steadiness of mind through concentration. The entire journey is really one of going within and understanding how your create your world, and thus the universal and eternal principles that underly reality. As we do the work we become familiar with meditation. When our mind is absorbed in the meditative state one may experience "Samadhi", which is a glimpse of pure consciousness that can then be established into a more stable state. This is why it is called an inner path. What's exciting to me about the course is that it comes with a practice deck sourcing Sanskrit terms from the blueprint of Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga, bringing the various dimensions of this yogic journey to participants through symbolic art, guided practices and contemporary language that will make it easier for them to grasp.
Meditation is difficult for people because they don’t prepare properly. You cannot live a chaotic life out of integrity and expect to experience deep meditation - this is why many turn to drugs to get a glimpse of their pure consciousness. The mystics and scientists that have guided me on the inner path, in conjunction with the guidance of my Teacher, has helped me understand the logic behind the yogic lifestyle and teachings on the nature of the mind so that I can apply it in my life. The result is that ones perception can become subtle and focused enough to realise the truth of the sages within oneself.
Yogic practices of breath and asana help a great deal to calm the nervous system and prepare the body to sit comfortably in meditation. When practiced in conjunction with the rest of "The Inner Path", we can dissolve obstacles to embodying our true potential….this has opened me up to greater freedom, flow and bliss. I am not an enlightened master, I am a student on the path - I can only share my experience and hope that it inspires you to practice and realise the fruits of the path yourself.
We are living in a time of a major consciousness shift where more and more people are undergoing spiritual awakening. For those new to this journey, what message would you like to convey to them?
Trust in God, but tie up your camel.
It’s easy to get swept up in hype, whether yours or others. Spirituality is both ecstatic and sobering - if you don’t experience both along the way then there is something out of balance. There is a Zen saying: “In the beginning a mountain is just a mountain and a stream is just a stream. Then, a mountain is not just a mountain, and a stream is not just a stream. Then, a mountain is a mountain and a stream is a stream”. There are different phases of the journey, how do we experience them fully without falling into denial or getting caught up in fantasy? Let-go of limiting ideas and avoid falling into complacency? Stay curious and open without becoming naive or jaded?
Find a Body-Mind practice that you can devote yourself too, earn an honest living, study the Masters and be of true service to others. A wholesome life leads to wholeness - embody this wholeness and the path will unfold in front of you.
Thank you Zamir!
Join our special guest teacher and facilitator Zamir Dhanji on "The Inner Path" syllabus, January 12th - 19th. Limited spots only so book your mat today!
8-day syllabus: The Inner Path by Zamir Dhanji
Day 1, January 12th, 15:00 - 17:30
The World of Yoga
We will take a 10,000 foot view of the origin of yogic science and how it evolved into practices that were designed to make it a living experience for people. This powerful introduction will not only change the way you see yoga and understand the different approaches of practice. Fundamental teachings of yoga philosophy will be introduced to provide an a foundation for the student to understand the “how and why” of yoga.
Day 2, January 13th, 19:00 - 21:00
Yogic Ethics and Living the Dharma
How we live in the world is a barometer of our practice: it’s the place where we take our yoga off the mat. Our choices and relationships also influences the experience of our meditation and spiritual growth. We will explore yogas recommendations for living in such a way that our practice and our relations with others are harmonious and clear.
Day 3, January 14th, 19:00 - 21:00
The Anatomy of Practice
Just as yoga asanas are expanded by our understanding of how different parts of the body work together. When you understand the anatomy of yoga as an inner practice and how it connects, a huge ‘aha’ moment opens the door to a whole new dimension of yoga. We will explore this anatomy of practice together.
Day 4, January 15th, 19:00 - 21:00
Gravity & Grace
On the mat is where we get to explore the connection between body, breath and mind through movement. Through asana we move the body and remove blocks to the flow of energy. You will be introduced to Donna Farhi’s seven moving principles of practice to revolutionise the way you move on the mat.
Day 5, January 16th, 19:00 - 21:00
The Art of Breath
Stabilising and refining Prana is absolutely essential to all practices of yoga. We’ll gain insight into the Art of Breath to explore the subtleties of practice, refine our energy and create a bridge between body and mind. Explore the different facets of diaphragmatic breathing with simple exercises that reveal your breath patterns and re-train how to breathe with greater naturalness.
Day 6, January 17th, 19:00 - 21:00
Mind, Senses and the Material World
The ability to reclaim and control the wandering attention of our senses is an indispensable part of yogic training. Learning to hold our minds steady without succumbing to doubts helps keep us centred in spite of challenges. We will learn a yogic process to assume the reigns of our senses, discover the 5 conditions of mind, and learn how to develop concentration.
Day 7, January 18th, 15:00 - 17:00
Entering the Stillness
In a world is filled with programs, techniques, and promises of meditation, the term has become confused by many with relaxation, stress management and visualisation. We will explore the foundations of yogic meditation and empower you with the knowledge and practices to bring this transformative limb of yoga into your life. You don’t want to miss this.
Day 8, January 19th, 15:00 - 17:00
Sadhana Session - Pack it and go!
We’re going to review and integrate some of knowledge and practices learned over the week and experience a holistic Sadhana (practice). With the support of the Inner Path Practice deck as our guide, the content from the series will remain with you as a reference throughout your yoga journey.
* "The Inner Path" cost: 2 sessions from package, drop in $56 per day or $448 for 8 days.
** Those holding a package, cancellation for "The Inner Path" should be done 3 days prior or you will be charged for late cancellation.
*** Participants who sign up and complete all 8-days will receive a complimentary first edition of "The Inner Path" Yoga Philosophy Deck.
Written by Izzy Liyana, content creator & writer for HOA