Navtej Johar is a dancer and a yoga practitioner. Trained in yoga at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Chennai, Inida, he has been teaching yoga since 1985. A firm believer in the teachings of Sri Krishnamachary and TKV Desikachar, Johar runs his own yoga and dance studio, Studio Abhyas, at New Delhi and teaches widely in the US. Apart from running his own classes in Ann Arbor, MI, he is also senior faculty at various yoga studios across the US. Deeply inspired by the meditative, breathing-oriented asana practice of the KYM, he also draws from the fluidity of dance and brings to his practice and teaching an added body-awareness influenced by the extensions of dance with an emphasis of moving from the core.
Johar tours internationally to lecture and conduct yoga workshops; currently he is offering any combination of the following workshops:
1. Asana to Meditation Workshop
2. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
3. The Yoga Rahasya
4. Vedic Chanting
5. Kala: Stretching and Inverting Time through Yoga
The Asana to Meditation Workshops can vary in length from being a three-hour master-class, to a weekend workshop or a week-long retreat. The structure of each of these modules touches upon the three primary tools of yoga, i.e. asana, pranayama and meditation. The asana session focuses on both developing a flow of practice as well as working upon individual postures. Methodologies of teaching, pacing, structuring, evenly balancing a session between challenge and repose, plus adapting asanas to meet individual needs is included. The distinct feature of this style is the prescribed use of breath in asana practice. Viewing the breath as "an intelligence of the body," various techniques and treatments of pranayama will be taught with the aim of making the breath a fine bridge between the body and the mind. Desikachar says that yoga is about the "body, breath, mind and something more." Through the incorporation of sound, mantra, visualization, mudra, counting, and gesture, the breath-meditation component will be developed. The meditations will further be divided into breath-meditation and enquiry-meditation. The former aiming to channelize the mind into the precise moment-of-breathing; and the latter to mindfully enquire into and through a seed-thought: enquiry according to Patanjali, is a crucial to moving out of the shell of the self and to connect with that "something more."
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is an extremely profound text which is both transformative and practical. It methodically uses the tangibles of body, breath, conduct and enquiry to reach and change the intangible, i.e. the mind. Johar underlines the practicality of the tools mentioned in the Yoga Sutras in very simple terms and helps apply them to daily practice. Consciously refraining from esoteric terms and references, he methodically delineates the philosophy of the Sutras and helps the practitioner to understand it in their own terms and thereby strike an affinity with a text that is the main source of all yoga practice. (This can be offered as a lecture or a workshop).
Yoga Rahasya is a text attributed to Nathamuni, a ninth century yogi and Vaisnavite saint and said to have been rediscovered, rather channeled by his descendent Sri T. Krishnamacharya, in the early twentieth century. The text draws from the Yoga Sutras and other Hindu scriptures to illustrate the philosophy of yoga in relatively simpler terms. Unlike the Sutras, the Yoga Rahasya (rahasya meaning secrets or mystery), talks of asanas in some detail and offers many deep insights into the use and applications of yoga as a therapeutic tool. It also talks about the importance of yoga practice for women, for pregnancy and through different stages of life. Johar uses this text to guide the participants through an asana-to-meditation practice which tends to be physically more vigorous with less focus on philosophy. (This can be offered as a lecture or a workshop)
Vedic Chanting is the correct and only method of chanting the Vedas. Transmitted orally from teacher to student over millennia, the chanting of the Vedas is bound by strict rules that have remained unchanged since the beginning. Energizing, centering and calming, their recitation requires precise measure and cadence, correct enunciation and grammatical conjunction plus a modulation of sound with appropriate use of breath. In fact, Vedic chanting is in itself a complete mode of pranayama. The workshop will introduce the basic principles and rules of chanting and illustrate the application of the vocal apparatus to produce the sounds. Beginning with preliminary exercises to acquaint the participants with Sanskrit sounds and principles of Vedic chanting, the group will be lead through the chanting of primary mantras from the Vedas or the Upanishads.
Kala: Stretching and Inverting Time through Yoga "We never step into the same river twice," it is this philosophy that we follow in our practice of yoga. The workshop will introduce ways of focusing on the count and micro-count of breath as a tool of staying in the moment. Both in Indian philosophy and yoga, "time" or kala has a very significant place, in fact when it is said that yoga is the working of the body, mind and breath in tandem, it implies that it the working of the three in that "moment" in time. The Kala workshop will explain this fascinating principle mentioned in the Yoga Sutras, and offer techniques of counting in asana, pranayama as well as meditation.