Hridaya Teacher Training Course

FAQ

Please review answers to frequently asked questions below. If you have any additional questions, please email us at ttc@hridaya-yoga.com.

 

What is Hridaya Yoga?

Hridaya Yoga is a spiritual path whose aspiration is the revelation of our real nature, the Supreme Self or the Spiritual Heart, as it is called in many contemplative traditions. Hridaya Yoga represents a refreshing and systematic approach to meditation and Hatha Yoga.

In Sanskrit, Hrid, or Hridaya means (Spiritual) Heart, the divine nature of our being, the Supreme Self, atman. Therefore, Hridaya Yoga is mainly a path of meditation oriented toward the revelation of the Spiritual Heart.

The founder of Hridaya Yoga is Sahajananda, a meditation and Hatha Yoga teacher with more than 30 years’ experience in the practice of meditation and Raja, Jnana, and Tantra Yoga. His meditative practice is inspired by the great sage Ramana Maharshi.

Sahajananda’s deep understanding about the path of Self-Inquiry meditation is delivered in a friendly and accessible way. His synthesis draws on the most profound aspects of oriental traditions, philosophies and practices such as Advaita Vedanta, Tibetan Mahamudra, Dzogchen, and Kashmir Shaivism.

Regarding the importance of sadhana (spiritual practice) versus the idea “there is nothing to be done—just be yourself,” Sahajananda says: “Even though Self-revelation is instantaneous, deconditioning is a process.”

Hridaya Yoga is an ongoing transformation of the body, psyche, and mind to create the proper conditions to reveal the Self, that Witness Consciousness, Stillness, Love beyond any identification with the personality.

What is Hridaya Meditation?

Hridaya Meditation is a form of meditation based on the non-dual teachings of Ramana Maharshi, the great 20th century Advaita master. 

Usually, a meditation involves duality. There is: the object of meditation (a dot, a candle flame, a yantra, the breath, a chakra, an emotion, or a thought—external or internal; physical or subtle objects), and the subject (the meditator, the witness of the meditation). In Hridaya Meditation, the duality of object and subject become one.

At the beginning of spiritual practice, the Heart is:

  1. An object of meditation. Then it becomes
  2. A tool for knowledge. Eventually,
  3. It is revealed in its true nature, as what we really are, the very source of awareness and of meditation itself; our most intimate “I.”

Thus, in Hridaya Yoga, the object of meditation is not the breath or bodily sensations, feelings, or the mind, as in other spiritual practices, but rather the Spiritual Heart, atman, the Divine Self. However, when the meditation goes to deeper levels, the Spiritual Heart will cease to be a simple object of meditation. We become aware that it is also the Subject, the Witness Consciousness, the very profound and intimate Self, “I,” the very source of the meditation process. Thus, we understand that the Spiritual Heart is much more than an object of concentration or meditation.

This will help us directly know another approach to meditation and spirituality. The Heart is revealed as being the object of knowledge, the instrument of knowledge, and simultaneously, the very source of attention (the meditator, the witness, the knower).

This kind of meditation is a process which starts from the Heart and returns to the Heart. Hridaya Meditation is an artful combination of Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge) and Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of love and devotion) meant to open the spiritual aspirant to Self-revelation, which is not a personal understanding, but a revelation of the essence of everything.

In the Heart Center, both bhakti (devotion) and jnana (direct knowledge) meet.

What is the HTTC?

The HTTC is an intensive meditation and Hatha Yoga course in which the non-dual teachings are transmitted artfully by Sahajananda and other experienced Hridaya teachers.

The HTTC is both theoretical and experiential, with the focus on experience. The emphasis is on meditation and the way in which deep meditative experiences can be integrated in daily life.

Students are led gradually and steadily into the art of meditation. The framework of this intensive training provides a very inspiring way to discern the subtleties of meditation. Hatha Yoga is also part of the training, as it is used in Hridaya Yoga as a tool for developing awareness, creating better conditions in the body, and opening to universal energies in order to deepen in meditation.

Through the HTTC, Sahajananda fosters the blossoming of awareness and offers you the skillful means to make the teachings of non-duality come alive. The HTTC teaches you to recognize Love-Awareness as the essence of your being as well as all of creation.

The HTTC includes daily asana practice, meditations, and theoretical teachings. It prepares students to become both Hatha Yoga teachers and meditation instructors and, above all, it fosters love for the meditation path as a way of life.

The HTTC is a beautiful way to fall in love with meditation. The deeper the love for meditation is, the more profoundly the meditation teacher will embody the teachings. An important message of the HTTC is: Love meditation, teach what you love, become what you love.

In our times, the connection between our superior intuitive intelligence and the Heart has mostly been forgotten. Even if we generally accept the idea of the existence of a Spiritual Heart, we tend to take it symbolically. Hridaya Yoga starts from the premise that traditional ideas about the Spiritual Heart can and should be applied in a very concrete and practical way.

The Heart, seen as an organ of direct knowledge, can and should be constantly trained in order to increase its purity and its capacity to Love, witness, and surrender. In order to be well prepared for this course, graduation from the Hridaya Yoga Retreat: Module 1 Intensive and participation in at least one 10-Day Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat are prerequisites.

For those who have already completed one of these courses, we encourage you to review their course papers in the coming months. In addition, we recommend reading the masters of Advaita Vedanta, especially Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. Also, reviewing your notes from any Hridaya Retreats you’ve done will bring you inspiration and insight.

What are the main topics taught in the HTTC?

Please see the Hridaya Teacher Training Course Overview

What is the HTTC Certificate?

After the successful completion of the HTTC, attendees will receive a Hridaya Yoga Teacher’s Certificate. This certificate confirms that you have completed over 600 hours of meditation and Hatha Yoga teacher training (the HTTC is registered with US-based Yoga Alliance, following standards for their 500-hour level teacher training programs). This is the first step to teaching Hridaya Yoga.

With this certificate, HTTC graduates can start the process of developing their skills as teachers in yoga studios all over the world, as well as with private students.

Will I be qualified to teach Hatha Yoga and meditation once I have completed the HTTC?

Yes. The HTTC is both a practical and theoretical training designed to make you a confident and effective Hridaya teacher.

The HTTC provides a supportive environment in which students get all the necessary skills for developing themselves both as meditation and Hatha Yoga instructors. Newly certified Hridaya teachers will feel confident in teaching workshops, silent retreats, and Hridaya Hatha Yoga classes.

What yoga skills do I need to enroll in the HTTC?

The HTTC includes daily Hridaya Meditation and asana practice. In order to see how this form of meditation resonates and transforms you, the completion of a 10-Day Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat is a prerequisite.

Ease in practicing asanas comes with time. Because of this, a foundation in basic and fundamental yoga postures is recommended for this training. You’ll learn these postures in the Hridaya Yoga Retreat: Module 1 Intensive, a prerequisite for the HTTC. 

We offer to all those who want to live with an Open Heart and to share this message, the opportunity to discover the beauty of yoga and meditation.

We don’t put an emphasis on performing the physical postures perfectly but on the spiritual maturity of the students who are willing to learn gradually and to become conscious of the limits of their own bodies. In meditation, practitioners realize that they are not just the physical body. Thus, in Hridaya Yoga, we learn not to become free from the body, but to become free in the body.

Developing awareness and love is our main purpose during the HTTC. This applies to the physical body, too. Thus, asana practice becomes joyful and relaxing. During the training, you will deepen your understanding of the asanas while simultaneously learning how to teach.

Therefore, the yoga “skills” required for enrolling in the HTTC would be: love, patience, spiritual aspiration, maturity, perseverance, and diligence.

What are the requirements for attending the HTTC?

Students who want to enroll in the HTTC must not consume drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. While the occasional glass of wine need not generate concern, frequent users of alcohol must stop this unhealthy practice. Likewise, smokers and drug users must completely quit if they aspire to enroll in the HTTC.

To become a Hridaya Yoga teacher implies that you step on the path of awareness and responsibility for the benefit of yourself and others. Thus, all those who aspire to do the HTTC have to understand that there is no room for harmful habits if they want to give guidance to others on the spiritual path.

People with psychological disorders are advised to take their time and heal themselves first and then they apply for an HTTC. For this, we strongly recommend Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreats and Hridaya Hatha Yoga Modules.

Generally speaking, those who wish to enroll in the HTTC should take into consideration the responsibility that they take on by becoming Hridaya Yoga teachers.

Those who enroll in the HTTC need to aspire from the bottom of their hearts to live a yogic life based on common sense, meditation, noble attitudes and ideals, and compassion.

Are there any prerequisites for attending the HTTC?

Before enrolling in the HTTC, you must participate in at least one 10-Day Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat and graduate from the Hridaya Yoga Retreat: Module 1 Intensive.

You may apply to the HTTC before completing these programs but will not be able to join the course until you have done them. This is absolutely necessary, as they allow you to gradually build up the skills and knowledge required of a Hridaya Yoga teacher.

Is the course intensive?

The HTTC is a very intensive course that comprises more than 600 hours of training in only three months. Attendees should expect 8–9 hours of training per day, six days per week (this includes meditations). There is one day off per week.

The course includes two 10-Day Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreats and a 2-day Dark Room Retreat. When effort appears in this intensive program, instead of focusing on it, we focus on the Spiritual Heart and effort dissipates. Hridaya methodology emphasizes relaxation, joy, and Love-Awareness.

Is the Hatha Yoga training intensive?

The HTTC doesn’t include an extreme Hatha Yoga practice. Hatha Yoga practice is not designed to train students in the perfect performance of asanas, but to develop an awareness of the physical and energetic bodies and the capacity to transform the Hatha Yoga practice into meditation.

Therefore, even though students are taught how to perform asanas correctly and how to teach others to perform them, the emphasis of the Hatha Yoga practice is not on physical performance but on achieving a holistic knowledge of Hatha Yoga and gaining the skills necessary to teach Hatha Yoga to others with awareness and profound understanding.

There are usually 2–3.5 hours of Hridaya Hatha Yoga daily during the HTTC.

Does the HTTC include anatomy classes?

The HTTC includes approximately 30 hours of anatomy and physiology classes. Anatomy classes are interactive in order to facilitate the acquisition of this special knowledge in an easy and friendly way. The study of anatomy is mainly connected to the Hatha Yoga practice.

Apart from this, there are teachings about subtle anatomy (nadis, chakras, kundalini) and the traditional subtle bodies.

Can I enroll in the HTTC in order to deepen my own practice rather than to teach?

The HTTC is designed as a three-month intensive meditation and yoga retreat comprising teachings, Hatha Yoga practice, and meditation. Therefore, it is also suited for those who may not wish to be teachers at this stage but would like to deepen their own meditation practice and experience of yoga.

However, they will follow the same training as everyone including the teaching methodology classes, practicum sessions, and exams.

In our experience, graduates of the HTTC have shown a desire to teach Hridaya Meditation and Hatha Yoga even if they were one of those who initially enrolled in the HTTC for an individual retreat.

How many students are in an HTTC group?

The HTTC can have a maximum of 30 students.

If I have been following a different spiritual path are there any conflicts if I enroll in the HTTC?

Students from all religions or followers of different spiritual paths are welcome to join the HTTC, which represents a profound way to discover the essence of all spiritual traditions—our True Nature, Hridaya, the Supreme Self.

Hridaya Meditation, a profound understanding of who you are, can only deepen your own spiritual practice. Since Hridaya Meditation is a tool for revealing our Real Nature, it has a universal character.

 

When will I find out if I have been accepted to the HTTC?

After you submit the HTTC application, you will be sent a confirmation that we have received all the needed information. The selection process will begin after the application deadline and will end by the end of June. The process may include an interview with Sahajananda or other senior Hridaya teacher. 

Upon acceptance into the course, you will need to register via our booking system—a link will be included in the confirmation email.

If you aren’t selected for admission after the initial review, you’ll be placed on the waiting list. As people accepted to the course sometimes withdraw, you may still have a chance to enroll.

When is full payment for the HTTC due?

You must pay the tuition fee (plus any fees for meals and accommodation if staying on-site) by August 15th. If you haven’t paid in full by this deadline, your enrollment will be cancelled and the next person on the waiting list will be given your spot.

If you want to withdraw from the HTTC, please email ttc@hridaya-yoga.com. For more details, see our Payment and Refund Information.

If the course is full, can I join a waiting list?

Yes. When the course is full we accept applications for the waiting list. Students who are accepted to the waiting list and have not yet been accepted to the HTTC may withdraw from the waiting list at any point. Please note that the waiting list for the 2021 HTTC is now full and we are no longer accepting applications.

Are booklets and materials included in the price of the HTTC?

Yes. HTTC participants receive an orientation booklet at the beginning of the program, monthly course booklets totaling more than 900 pages, an anatomy and physiology booklet, and an HTTC Kit containing an additional booklet with advice and recommendations for Hridaya Yoga teachers, inspiring books by Ramana Maharshi, audio files of HTTC lectures, PowerPoint presentations used during the lectures, and other useful materials.

Each student also receives a Hridaya Yoga teacher T-shirt to wear during practice teaching sessions.

Where will the HTTC be held?

The HTTC is held at our centers in Longeval, France and Mazunte, Mexico. Please refer to the Program Overview to see where this year’s course will take place.

Does the tuition fee include accommodation and meals?

The HTTC tuition fee does not include accommodation and meals, but both are available at our centers.

What kind of accommodation is available? Can you help to organize my accommodation?

Please refer to the Program Overview for general information about on-site accommodation. Upon acceptance into the HTTC, you’ll be sent more information about on-site and local accommodation options.

Do you offer meals?

Our centers offer wholesome vegan meals. Please refer to the Program Overview for meal plan pricing information.

From our experience, meals are very good times for socializing and bonding with others, as sharing experiences is an important aspect of the Hridaya Community.

What is the refund policy if I’m unable to attend the HTTC?

Please refer to the Payment and Refund Information page.

 

Are there any books or other materials that I need to read before the HTTC?

Sahajananda recommends that you read all the books in the following list prior to the training in order to familiarize yourself with the non-dual teachings:

Maharshi, Ramana, Who Am I? (Nan Yar?)
Maharshi, Ramana, Self-Inquiry (Vichara Sangraham)
Maharshi, Ramana, Forty Verses on Reality
Maharaj, Nisargadatta, I Am That
Satyananda, Swami, Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

A comprehensive list of suggested readings, including Sahajananda’s commentaries, can be found at Suggested Reading.

From that list we have selected some of the most relevant books for Hridaya Yoga teachers:

  1. A) Classical Texts of Advaita Vedanta

Ashtavakra Gita, An ancient dialogue between two great sages, Astavakra and his disciple, King Janaka, about Advaita Vedanta.
Dattatreya – Avadhuta Gita (The Song of the Ever-Free)
Shankara, Adi – The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination (Viveka-Chudamani), A classical treatise about discrimination between what is Real – the Self – and what is not. Probably the most famous of the books attributed to Shankara.

  1. B) Works of Ramana Maharshi and His Disciples about Advaita Vedanta, the Self-Inquiry Method, and His Perspective about Reality

Ebert, Gabriele – Ramana Maharshi, This biography of Ramana, with many stories about special moments in his life, is well written, and the love for Ramana radiates through her words.
Godman, David – Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, A very systematic book about Ramana’s perspectives. He starts each chapter explaining the significance of the terms used by Ramana and Ramana’s general vision and after that he exemplifies this with quotes. I consider that Godman had some misunderstandings regarding the Heart, but apart from this, this book represents a very good place to start. The topics are: the Self, Self-awareness, Self-inquiry, surrender, meditation, concentration, samadhi, Creation theories and the reality of the world, the nature of God, etc.
Maharshi, Ramana – Who Am I? (Nan Yar?), This work, composed by Bhagavan in the mid-1920s, is the work that originated with answers written in the sand in 1901. It is considered the standard introduction to Bhagavan’s teachings. It is advisable to use the translation of T.M.P. Mahadevan.
Maharshi, Ramana – Self-Inquiry (Vichara Sangraham), This text consists of 40 questions and answers explaining the attitude needed for revealing the Supreme Self. We can find here different analogies used by Ramana for explaining the Ultimate nature of Reality and how individuality appears. It is advisable to use the translation of T.M.P. Mahadevan, who also provides a clear introduction to and explanation of the text.
Maharshi, Ramana – Forty Verses on Reality, This text presents a synthesis of Ramana’s teaching of nonduality and practice of inquiry and was written at the request of his disciple Muruganar, who wanted a brief summary of Ramana’s teaching. Ramana wrote the verses as they came to him, and Muruganar arranged them in a particular order. 40 verses fit a classical Hindu poetic form. Later, Ramana wrote 40 additional verses, and the original 40 verses were put into a supplement to the 40 verses. The text still requires some explanations, especially for a beginner. It has very short and essential affirmations since it is structured as a book of aphorisms.

  1. C) Works of Nisargadatta Maharaj and His Disciples

Maharaj, Nisargadatta – I Am That, Sahajananda considers this work to be possibly the most powerful book in its capability to completely change a life. This is probably the best-known book about Advaita. It consists of short, brilliant dialogues that Maharaj had with visitors. There are answers to questions on a variety of topics of concern to those still trapped in the illusory world, as well as many wonderful, direct, and penetrating statements.
Maharaj, Nisargadatta – Consciousness and the Absolute, This is lesser known than I Am That, but nevertheless it has the same freshness and spiritual power. This book features the last teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, including his final dialogues with people during satsang. In the introduction Jean Dunn, the editor, describes them as “the culmination of the rarest teachings he had to give us; they were the summit of the heights of his wisdom.”

  1. D) Works of Other Contemporary Sages and Spiritual Teachers

Klein, Jean – Who Am I?, Includes dialogues about couples and sexuality from the perspective of Advaita, a conversation on art, etc.
Sivananda, Sri Swami – Vedanta for Beginners, A good introduction to Advaita Vedanta.
Tolle, Eckhart – The Power of Now, The books of Eckhart Tolle are well known and don’t need a presentation here. I strongly recommend them.
Tolle, Eckhart. Stillness Speaks, A very inspiring booklet of aphorisms about stillness, the reality beyond the mind, ego, the Now, surrender, nature, relationships, death, eternity, the end of suffering, etc.
Tolle, Eckhart – A New Earth.

  1. E) Meditation

Sivananda, Swami – Mind, Its Mysteries and Control

  1. F) Raja Yoga

Satyananda, Swami – Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

  1. G) Miscellaneous

Feurstein, Georg. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga
Feurstein, Georg. Shambhala Guide to Yoga
Sivananda, Swami. Bliss Divine
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi

What do I need to bring with me?

When the HTTC is held in France:

Throughout the course, the weather will vary, from sunny days to overcast days with rainfall and perhaps even snow. In the first few weeks, daytime temperatures are likely to be over 20ºC (68ºF), but will gradually decline with the onset of fall. Come December, daytime temperatures will generally be in the 5-10ºC (40-50ºF) range, with overnight frosts becoming more frequent.

We suggest that you bring comfortable yoga clothing, light and warm clothes, an alarm clock, a flashlight, a journal, a water bottle, a camera, rain protection, a first aid kit, etc.

When the HTTC is held in Mexico:

The weather is ideal during the HTTC season, with tropical sunlight almost daily. The average high during these months is 28ºC (82ºF). Nighttime temperatures may get as low as 18ºC (65ºF).

We suggest you bring comfortable yoga clothing, light and warm clothes for nighttime, a bathing suit, a beach towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, an alarm clock, a flashlight, a journal, a water bottle, rain protection, a first aid kit, etc. Please see our What to Bring page for more information.

Who is the contact person?

Contact ttc@hridaya-yoga.com with any questions or for more information.

Do I need to have health insurance during the HTTC?

We highly recommend that you have health insurance valid for the entire HTTC period.

 

Do I need to follow any ethical and moral guidelines?

HTTC students need to follow the simple rules corresponding to a yogic environment, which are conducive to study, learning, and meditation. As we have mentioned, students are expected to be tobacco, drug, and alcohol-free.

Students are asked to socialize quietly during their breaks when other yoga classes are running in proximity. We recommend students have a healthy diet, such as lacto-ovo-vegetarian, to create proper conditions for yoga practice.

What is the attendance policy?

Please see the Criteria for Certification.

How many exams are there during the HTTC?

There will be three exams, one given at the end of every month. They are all written tests with a combination of multiple-choice and essay questions derived from lectures and supplemental course materials. Please see the Criteria for Certification for more information.

How much time should I expect to spend in preparation for exams?

We recommend that you use your daily free time for exam preparation. One hour per day is enough to review the teachings of the day and to note what is unclear. In this way, you’ll keep up with the pace of the teachings and you’ll absorb the knowledge in a continuous flow.

How much time should I expect to spend on my own meditation practice?

During the HTTC we spend around 2-3 hours in meditation daily. Apart from this, we recommend that you have a minimum daily individual meditation practice of at least 30 minutes at the end of the day.

Will I have any free time during the HTTC?

The course is six days per week, from Monday to Saturday. Usually, the days off are Sundays with the exception of the two retreats when the day after the retreat is a day off.

During non-retreat times, the daily schedule generally includes a morning session from 7:00 am–1:00 pm and an afternoon/evening session from 4:00–7:00 pm.

Are practice teaching sessions included in the HTTC?

You will have the opportunity to teach under the supervision of an experienced Hridaya teacher three times. The three practicum assignments are designed to help students become confident as Hridaya Yoga teachers.

 

What are the responsibilities of Hridaya Yoga teachers?

First of all, Hridaya Yoga teacher are devoted students of Stillness. They don’t aim mainly to transform the life of others for the better but strives to transform themselves into more refined instruments on which the greatest musician, the Self, plays its music of Silence. One day the player, the instrument, and the music will disappear into Oneness.

This is the best gift that we can give to humanity. Despite metaphorical expressions, this represents the concrete sadhana of a Hridaya Yoga teacher—transforming the body, mind, and heart into proper instruments for Self-revelation.

Concretely, Hridaya Yoga teachers assume responsibility for their practice by performing daily meditations, attending meditation retreats every year, and by cultivating the proper attitudes for a Hridaya life.

Will I be qualified to teach Hridaya Yoga once I have completed the training?

The HTTC covers the necessary skills and knowledge for conducting Hatha Yoga classes, meditation classes, and Hridaya Retreats of 3, 4, or 5 days.

On completion of the training, new Hridaya teachers may register with Yoga Alliance, paying a membership fee. Yoga Alliance certification offers the added benefit of a listing on their website and the recognition of a national certifying body.

Is continuing education required to keep my certification?

We consider that continuing education is extremely important and valuable, because it will bring more depth to your practice and to how you share the teachings. The requirement for a Yoga Alliance-registered teacher is 30 continuing education credit hours per year. See: Yoga Alliance – Continuing Education.

Hridaya offers ongoing workshops and courses that are recommended for Hridaya teachers. For meditation teachers, Sahajananda strongly recommends participation in the 49-Day Pratyabhijna Retreat, an individual meditation retreat with his personal guidance.

What kind of ongoing support is available?

All Hridaya teachers are welcome to contact us with questions and to request support. Courses and materials that are developed for Hridaya teachers will be available to all HTTC graduates.

We send periodic newsletters to inform teachers about activities at our centers, including courses, retreats, and workshops.

If you have any questions, please contact ttc@hridaya-yoga.com.