The concept of Full Power originated in India.
About seven years ago, James and I had the brilliant idea that we should become yoga teachers. Well, why not? We liked yoga. In fact, we liked yoga a lot more than we liked living on dumpster-ed bagels and extremely occasional art sales.
We chose the Sivananda yoga system partly because we liked the book (it is a great yoga book: The Sivananda Companion to Yoga), and partly because the teacher training program was short, relatively affordable and not very picky about previous qualifications. And we went to India because, for the same price, spending a month in India seemed a lot more awesome than spending a month in Canada.
Anyway, there we were: living in a sweltering hot tent in India, kind of ignoring the part about the vow of celibacy, and doing asanas (yoga poses) for about four hours a day. That sounds pretty grueling, but actually the asana teachers were great, and that class was a very valuable experience. There was a catch, though, which was that Sivananda yoga had a missionary philosophy. That is right, there was a reason they wanted to affordably and indiscriminately create an army of barely qualified yoga teachers, and it had to do with spreading the Sivananda brand of Vedanta(Hindu philosophy) to as many people as possible.
I am really interested in world religions. I had previously spent a month in a Buddhist monastery (yes, on purpose), and even read the Bhagavad Gita. And we did know, going in, that there would be a certain amount of chanting and so on. We are pretty open-minded and spiritually inclined people. However, for some reason, this particular teaching, and especially this particular teacher, really started rubbing us the wrong way. There was a strangely sanctimonious attitude about the whole place. They told us that loving people was always wrong, since it meant that you hated everyone else. What? We were young and in love, and that philosophy really was not working out for us at all.
It also was not working out for our new friend Akbar, who had recently survived a tsunami and was having a hard time getting into a meditative state of mind. One day, before chanting, he came up with a coping strategy: Full Power. Full Power, to put it bluntly, meant singing rather loudly. Not extremely loudly, but certainly conspicuously loudly. We threw ourselves into chanting with abandon, sincerely, but also simultaneously obnoxiously. “JAYA GANESHA, JAYA GANESHA, JAYA GANESHA PAHIMAAM, SRI GANESHA, SRI GANESHA, SRI GANESHA RAKSHAMAAM!” we sang, over and over again, filled with increasing and possibly even dangerous amounts of glee. A few people turned around to stare, but there was really nothing to complain about. And so, the three of us made it through a few more days before we had to jump ship and spend the rest of our trip practicing asanas on a beach full of hippies.
Even though we never got certified, I am eternally grateful to Akbar for this concept, because it now gets me through tough days with my kids. Usually I have a shot or two of espresso first, before throwing myself headlong into whatever they are doing. “OH YES,” I sing, “THE BEAR DID GO OVER THE MOUNTAIN!” 10 times in a row! Full Power!
Laura Gyre is an artist, writer, mom and occasional yogini in Pittsburgh, PA. She can be found online here.
Article prepared by Assistant Yoga Editor, Soumyajeet Chattaraj.