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My TTC1 Experience

September 23, 2010

ex-ssy-teacher permalink September 13, 2010

Namaste all, I got an email about this blog some time back and decided to post today.

A few of us teachers who were not into mainstream courses and teaching the basic course also do exist. I am one such person who found sri sri yoga to be the path for me.

A few of us attended the TTC in China at Huangshan a few years ago, taught by Krishan Verma. After reading about the normal basic course TTC I feel the SSY TTC is quite different. We did have some uncomfortable moments but for the most part it was a lot of learning about the parts of the body, their functions, foods and their effects, asanas and their effects, and a huge amount of yoga practice. It was tiring but I mostly enjoyed it, and came back as a SSY teacher.

Since I had at the time quit my job because of my husband’s travel schedule I had a lot of spare time. Some basic course teachers persuaded me to sign up for TTC-1 which I did after six months of postponing.

TTC-1 was nothing like the SSY TTC. I felt uncomfortable from the start. With SSY I connected with the other students, we had this thirst to learn yoga, most of them were very honest and sincere. There was nothing much else to learn there. Here in TTC-1, it was a lot like Ronin describes. I understand there are some processes like the hot seat that are supposed to help you overcome your inhibitions, but I saw many people totally lose it.

First thing I learnt was to keep your secrets. Don’t open yourself and share everything with the group. I saw one lady verbally assaulted so badly it was worse than a bunch of gangsters, she was targeted because she told someone she had an abortion some years ago. They picked on her, tried to shame her and dig into her guilt. At one point she completely lost it, cried non stop and no one came to help her. I didn’t see her after that.

Another person had a problem with his accent. He was also what the people there considered “backward” because of his background. He was constantly targeted, schoolyard bully style, and verbally beaten up.

I am ashamed to have been there. It was like a bunch of thugs and bullies finally allowed to vent their true feelings and at the end pretend to be all sweet and nice and go away with smiles and jai gurudevs.

What really shocked me was the teacher did nothing to control the often vicious attacks on some participants. There was a large amount of partiality as some particular students were shielded.

I saw many people who had just given up towards the end. They looked defeated and sunken. We were told all along, guruji’s grace will be with us, we will all emerge blissful. I did not see that at all. I asked the teacher about this and he said the same nonsense about some people not being ready for the grace, they have to do more seva, volunteer to help more courses and try again.

I like to think that was the turning point. What I saw was a few sincere seekers and a whole bunch of narcissists, fakers, pseudo-seekers and brainwashed devotees with a sickening fake smile on their face all trying to please the teacher and not get skewered alive. There was nothing true or deep there. I quit. Bye bye to the bunch of scam artists.

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17 Comments
  1. Ex Fulltime Volunteer permalink
    September 23, 2010 3:50 pm

    I may not even be able to understand how deep the organization’s tentacles would have invaded someone to make them become a teacher but I can be sure there would be nearly no aspect of their life that is not connected with AOL. If one has to accept this sort of abusive cult behavior, like it and above all that to become a teacher, one must be really taken by the smiling guru and the pseudo belongingness in the organization.

    Sorry to say that I wasted some of the most precious years of my life from 1999 through 2005-6 with AOL, at a time when my career as a growing advertising exec should have been growing and booming, and my two sons just came into the world in 1999 and 2002.

    One could consider me otherwise to be a well educated, rational and intelligent person, but for this failing of mine with the AOL trap. Having been passed over for a huge number of career boosting assignments and potential career options in this 7 year period due to the excessive involvement in organizing courses, logistics, venue management, AOL trips and retreats, and paperwork, it is now too late to get those wasted years back.

    I cannot apologize enough to my suffering family and the kids who have now grown up in a home where the father was away most of the time doing “seva” to “save the world”. The next time I hear “guruji will take care, don’t worry”, the person better have guruji to protect him then from me.

    • Bling Bling permalink
      September 23, 2010 5:22 pm

      >> The next time I hear “guruji will take care, don’t worry”, the person better have
      >> guruji to protect him then from me.

      @ Ex-Fulltime Volunteer,

      Will you at least consider donating some money from time to time to Guruji ? That could earn you considerable spiritual merit.

  2. Ronin permalink
    September 23, 2010 8:50 pm

    It is never to late to get into the game and earn money.

    Lets take a look at another product offered by the AOL corporation.

    The AOL corporation was rather late getting in to the yoga business. A business that has an immense potential;

    2008 Yoga In America Study, Yoga Journal, March 2008, Pages: 93

    The 2008 “Yoga in America” study shows that Americans spend $5.7 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations and media (DVDs, videos, books and magazines). This figure represents an increase of 87 percent compared to the previous study in 2004 — almost double of what was previously spent

    Sure some light yoga was always done on courses (routines mostly copied from TM) but there was no yoga course available. This always surprised me since yoga has such well documented beneficial aspects.

    The AOL corporation realized very soon that they had an incomplete product pallet, there was a gap devotees were spending their money for yoga classes else where. They had to keep these revenue’s from flowing outside to competitors.

    Thus enters Krishan Verma who has put yoga on the map for AOL.

    Senior Art of Living Teacher – Yoga Alliance Registered Experienced Yoga Teacher;
    ‘Yogacharya’; ‘Yoga Shiromani’ .
    Director, Yoga Research and Training, VVM India
    Director, International Sri Sri Yoga Teacher Training
    President, VVM International, Canada.

    Not sure where he got all the titles from, but he is knowledgeable on the subject.
    But he got caught up in the web as well, in the end when your livelihood depends on it the purity seems to fade some where down the line. I wonder how much Yoga research and training there is and has been done in the AOL company. I have not seen any publications recently.

    And so Sri Sri Yoga was created. Not sure if he had a say in naming the course. But CEO Ravi uses an interesting branding strategy in all his products,……..his first made up initials. I wonder where he got that branding idea from, “Sri Sri Yoga”. I know of another organization that does the same they offer Maharishi Ayurveda, Maharishi Joythish ect. What a striking resemblance, the son has learned well.

    So as a good devotee I signed up as soon as the course came into town. As with any course the quality of the teacher is very important but to me it seemed like in yoga it is crucial. In my first course the traditional pranayama’s were taught in such a superficial way, the teacher made mistakes and people started to feel sick. Oooh it is just the body purifying it self we were told, and of course we believed it. Why would you think otherwise the master has designed the course and his grace is watching over us and guiding the teacher. It could not have been the incompetence of the teacher instructing us.

    Pranayama’s are very powerful there are many Yoga master’s (like B.K.S. Iyengar) who warn against teaching them to those who have not extensively prepared their body and mind. But in AOL it is no problem the Guru knows better.

    The postures were badly demonstrated, come to find out afterwards this person only had a month of yoga experience yet was a TEACHER of Sri Sri Yoga. As a good devotee I signed up for another SSY course cause that is what you are taught to do take as many course as possible this time with a different teacher. Slightly better experience.

    So then I took a beginners class at a yoga center with an Iyengar teacher. Needless to say I was surprised at the attention to detail and correct alignment in postures which were very clearly explained. So I asked how long it took her to become a teacher she said 2 years. Interesting……….. it really showed in her teaching.

    So I wondered about the Sri Sri Yoga Teacher training and was shocked to learn that it was only 10 days. In just ten days one could become a Yoga teacher, sorry a Sri Sri yoga teacher……

    So I took a look at the SSY requirements,:

    Criteria for applying Sri Sri Yoga TTC (latest ones)

    a. Minimum 6 months after doing PART 1 Course.
    b. Courses done: Sri Sri Yoga, 1 AMC, 1 DSN,
    c. Candidate should organize and assist at least 2 Sri Sri Yoga Courses
    d. Candidate should listen to Gurudev’s talks on Patanjali Yogsutra, Yogasara Upanishad

    These were required but seems like they are not anymore…..wonder why.

    1. Get a book on Human Anatomy, study it to get a good understanding of: (memorize as much as you can)
    – the skeletal system, joints, major bones, major muscles.
    – major parts and function of Circulatory system, Respiratory system and Endocrine system.

    2. Memorize Sanskrit names of 15 asanas.

    Looking at requirements it is obvious as with any teacher training the AOL company offers, that it will take advantage to sell their own products and courses. I guess it is called easy money.

    What a nice way to sell an expensive set of talks and to deepen one’s dependency on the guru through courses, but at the time it made perfect sense. But something else was missing as well, the history of yoga. The influence which Krishnamacharya (the father of modern yoga) had and how yoga flourished through two of his students Iyengar and Pattabihi Jois around the world.

    The AOL marketing department is very good at manipulation people into letting them think that Ravi is the one who created everything. That the AOL company is bringing out new knowledge which is cognized by the Guru to save humanity that he has the GIFT.
    And then one starts to put the Guru (CEO) on a pedestal. But the truth is, it is all rehashed, reverse engineered repackaged and sold to the masses.

    The Art of Living Corporation realized that to be taken seriously they had to fake it till they make it. Since the business aspect of yoga is so lucrative the marketing department of the Art of Living corporation made it clear that the company could easily charge standard yoga teacher training fee’s since most of the people applying would be people within the AOL family. Thus easy targets easy money.

    And yes I took the plunge and signed up for a SSY TTC. I did my home work studied my anatomy, read and watched the patanjali sutras had to buy them they are not cheap…. Traveled to a far of country. And when I got there the group was very large 100 plus people who came from all over the globe. And I was told this is a small SSY TTC.

    I did a very quick calculation and concluded that the AOL company would take in very substantial amount of money. But that was ok, I was here for the knowledge ready to become a yoga teacher. Oooh by the way a lot of people paid cash….. no bank transfer necessary very convenient.

    This TTC was indeed different less damaging psychological games, yet there was brainwashing none the less. It is always brought in light of how great the Master is and the Guru stories. How HE revived the pure essence of yoga and how he brought life to the Patanjali sutras though his in depth commentaries. This was mostly done during evening and late satsangs when one was totally exhausted. Yes sleep deprivation seems to be a recurring theme in most of AOL programs, and I wonder why……

    The thing that was most amazing was that lots of participants did not prepare themselves. There were those who did excel. But they had a yoga back ground.

    Anatomy is an important aspect in ones role as a yoga teacher, one needs to be familiar with the body. They way anatomy was covered over a period of ten days was abysmal. Way to superficial just not enough time spend on the whole subject. This would become very apparent in the practical teaching sessions.

    The same counts for the pranayama’s which are part of the program. They were shown and explained, some detail was given and the effect they will have on our body. Because of the size of the group we could not get proper instructions or be checked if we were doing it correctly. There were just not enough assistants, those with more experience were helping out. I wondered if this was also the case with the SSY teacher I took the course with.

    When it came to the Asanas (postures) and teaching them it was very chaotic at times. They were shown to us and we had to sit with they manual and prepare our selves to teach. We had to teach in groups but it felt like the blind leading the blind, if you were in a group where nobody had any experience. So detail to alignment which is important in yoga was not stressed. Nor did anyone worry to much about it divine grace is always at your side when teaching……….or so they say. I have since talked to various ex SSY teachers who took other Yoga teacher training courses, the consensus was that there are SSY teachers who have no clue what they are doing, and are actually hurting people in the long run because of their lack of understanding the anatomical fundamentals of yoga and adjusting people accordingly.

    Yet one thing which was stressed was to talk about the part 1 course. Give them a short intro talk and sign people up and also talk about the advance course (part 2). Again this makes a lot of business sense, you already have their attention. So why not slip in a quick sell……….

    Attention was given to marketing as well of course. The course has the same characteristic as all the others. Easy to market, have Ravi and the AOL corporation be a focus and keep it superficial the grace will be their to guide you. It was so funny we were discouraged to go into discussing with teachers from other organizations like Iyengar. Now I know why………lack of yoga knowledge.

    Along the way (and there were only 10 days mind you) I started to wonder how can the majority of us say we are yoga teachers when this course is done.

    They say SSY is now registered with Yoga Alliance as a 200 hrs yoga course. I wonder how, in ten days your are not able to full fill the 200 hours that would mean 20 hrs a day. That would not be possible since there is daily seva and satsangs to attend too. It would be interesting to see what the required break down per subject would be. And match those up with what is covered in the TTC. But then again has the AOL corporation ever been transparent…….

    So after ten days and a weak written exam, yes there was one. We were declared SSY teachers. There was one thing before you got your certificate you had to teach two courses and report back how many participants we had in each course. Someone at the corporate head office was already counting the money earned, why did this not surprise me.

    SSY TTC is just another way of hooking people into the Art of Living corporation, at best one gets an introduction into yoga. There are EX-SSY and SSY teachers who are excellent but they realized that they had a passion for yoga and sought training else where. Hopefully you will be able to take a course with a good SSY teacher but do you want to leave it to luck or be guaranteed that a teacher because of his or her training will give you correct and safe instructions during the course.

    Making quality yoga teachers is NOT an objective of the AOL corporation making revenue is. Creating a watered down yoga teacher training and charging full standard fees and market this to the AOL devotees is a golden opportunity for the corporation to make sure that their financial goals are met.

    And tell me again why AOL is not a corporation.

    The little giant has awakened.

    • freethinker permalink
      September 23, 2010 9:42 pm

      Learning Yoga from RS company is the worst thing you can do to you and your body. They are reseller of a product in worst possible way. Run Forest Run…

  3. Not_a_Yogi permalink
    September 23, 2010 10:18 pm

    @Ronin

    My understanding was that SSY was not meant to be a rigorous hatha yoga course like iyengar yoga. It was meant for people who were interested in hatha yoga to get them interested about the Art of Living course. I don’t think anyone was pretending to be a competitor to Iyengar or Bikram Yoga.

    Say what you will about the financial irregularities – I felt it was a good for an introduction. Maybe it was not for everyone, but I found it was a simple set of asanas that I as a novice could follow and practice at home on the weekends.

    • Ramamoorthi permalink
      September 24, 2010 6:09 am

      Having practiced the iyengar version of Yoga for the last 45 years, I can clearly say that Iyengar yoga is not a harsh regimen. It is a graded set of postures from simple to complex. Iyengar has created a clear map of learning yoga from the most simplest to the most complex over a period of time. His focus on alignment and balance takes yoga to artistic heights. Iyengar also has experimented and provided asana and pranyama sequences for different ailments from heart disease to back pain to skin and sleep disorders. He does not promise anything outlandish but has indicated that certain postures can help certain conditions. There are other yoga institutes like the vivekananda yoga kendra who have done some scientific studies and validated the studies of iyengar. I have met Iyengar a few times and always marvelled at his peronality. he is an arrogant person with a rough exterior and does not fake anything. But what is striking about him is that he is so original and genuine. he also has a scientific and experimentative temperment which he encourages in his students.
      Having practised and perfected the Iyengar system, I have tried others as well, as I find that they are more or less sub sets of the practise. I have tried sivananda yoga, vinyasa, bikram, yoga institure (yogendra of santa cruz, a really great householder yogi), kundalini yoga, dhirendra brahmachari’s yoga etc. In a way i have built great sensitivity in my body to recognize the good and bad aspects of several posutres, brathing and other practices. At my age I have even tried the sequences of christie, shiva rhea and many other young american yoga teachers. I have marvelled at the energy and creativity in these people.
      I find that Sri Sri yoga is not any original sequence at all. It is the standard traditional sequence as taught by many many other teachers. There are also some rubbish added to it (thats the guru’s grace part. for example doing the humming brahmari during the corpse posture. Brahmari is in fact bad when done lying down or during postures like cobra). The thing I found about Kishanji was that he was not a teacher of any depth. Basically he was chosen because of his age which will give legitimacy to the sri sri yoga practise. This guy was little known yoga teacher and Ravishankar just brought him to his fold. it is a kind of merger-acquisitions that companies do to increase their product portfolio. Ravishankar obviously promised him fame, money and good travel around the world in return to his joining the fold. I am also shocked at the way the yoga postures was taught as the teachers were absolutely ignorant of the nuances of many of the postures and were just parroting a script. I have seen many other shoddy yoga teachers and systems and I add sri sri yoga to this list. That’s my two cents.

      • ex-insider permalink
        September 24, 2010 7:21 am

        Krishan used to teach part1 and adv courses for SriSri. Even used to travel to Africa, etc for teaching those courses. Things went wrong between him and SriSri, some say he demanded more money from SriSri. For whatever reason he left AOL for many years. SSYTTC was to their mutual benefits. It has been a good revenue source for Ravi and once again Krishan and his wife are in SriSri’s good books and have even been appointed to high positions on Canadian AOL board, i think as president and as vice president.

  4. Mandarin guy permalink
    September 23, 2010 11:14 pm

    Very well written post Ronin, when SSY was first started there was Phase 1 & Phase 2. I enrolled for Phase 1 in a faraway country too, I was smitten with AOL and though I was trained under one of the leading disciplines of Yoga I nevertheless did not want to be left out from any AOL courses. I was told time and again by the AOL teachers that though my knowledge of yoga and demonstration of Asanas were good I was lacking in the grace of the master, Phase 1 was for fifteen days- that’s when I sawthe beginnings of the fraud and deceit in the organization.

    There was hardly any emphasis on alignment or the contra indications, Kishanji was not the best of teachers, though I have to admit that he was a dignified and classy gentlemen compared to the trashy AOL teachers. Most if the participants had no idea of yoga, Anatomy was a rushed one hour session daily by a loony looking doctor from Australia, anatomy is learning the body systems by heart with no understanding of how it functions and its relation toyoga,

    We were woken up in the middle of the night, put through some emotional process, ,more brainwashing and satsangs were avenues for Guru stories. SSY teachers are churned out like a factory line, there is no depth or quality in their teaching, the teachers claim that SSY is incomparable to any other Yoga as it is a mix of gurus knowledge and the grace and is the best discipline of Yoga

    I did not bother to do Phase 2 as I could clearly see that it was another money making scam by AOL. It takes a minimum of two years to become a fairly good yoga teacher but in AOL anyone can become one in just 10 days. The final straw was when I returned to my home country and saw an obese lady ( known to be mentally weak) teaching SSY and appointed as a country co- ordinator for
    SSY.

  5. Iris permalink
    September 23, 2010 11:42 pm

    ex SSY teacher, the stories you describe, I also read in http://www.artoflivingfree.blogspot.com. Check the articles about the TTCs and stuff. It seems they are losing creativity even in the abuses and their victims! It is appalling. It would be so great if someone would even film them! For ex. the TTC teacher slapping or beating the students. I’ve seen both in my course! And then were gathered by the teacher to ask us to vow to secrecy. Sincere seekers really do go there and strong people are singled out. Funny, one used to think the one who did not join the rest of the herd was the “weak one” or “hard to crack nut”. The more I think about it now, I think it is the one who was singled out who was stronger, and those who joined the herd, the weak. One HAD to join the group if one wanted to survive and not be humiliated in public. Looking back, I believe people go through VERY disturbing moments and probably those courses create more than one trauma for more than one person. I remember someone in a TTC even asked the teacher, “How can we not know you are not brainwashing us?” And she replied, “You think I am stupid and that I would join a group that brain-washes?” And the person replied, “I don’t know, ARE YOU?” The rest is old story. She was seriously tortured by Rajshree non-stop the rest of the course and not allowed to take TTC2, not because she lacked skills and potential, but because her questioning mind and non-nonbrainwashable personality would have challenged her own situation and authority. “Don’t think, don’t question, be happy.” Even Rajshree knows the AoL is a cult. Someone should have recorded her when she whined about it several years ago, before she got saved by Communications course and then resurrected by TTC and Blessings course. Better to keep her happy than to keep her speaking her mind, I guess. Good plan RS! Smart as usual. Should we forgive you or her or will you forgive us for posting this comment or for not understanding your all-encompassing all-pervading compassion????

  6. Lenin permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:21 am

    Mandarin Guy,

    You should tell the Chinese community what RS really thinks about them. That they are very backward in the path of evolution and that nothing can be done to “save them”. In fact, that he will need to be born again this lifetime (split in two) to be born in China and save them – THE ONLY WAY. He even gave the year he will do so. Someone remembers? See how much compassion he has he is willing to sacrifice to save the “dirty Chinese”. I even heard Bhanu speak about them in disgust and put on those expressions of disgust. They have so little knowledge and intelligence! They know so little but speak so much without any content. Now he discovered how dedicated, loyal, loving, smart, disciplined, devotional, MANY (= $$$) they are, he suddenly loves them and is interested in them! How convenient. Someone should report them to the Chinese government. That would be the end of him there, in just one second. Someone save the Chinese from Ravi before he tries to save the Chinese! (and let’s not forget he badly defamed one too!)

    • ex-insider permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:48 am

      Ravi and his lackeys talked in similar language about Muslims and Israelis. Quite often, in private, saying they have lower consciousness, not spiritually evolved, let them kill each other and world will be better without them. What they say in private and in public is so different.

  7. notsosadwatchingthishappen permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:16 am

    TTC is a load of crock!I went through TTC – the first batch that had 21 days training. I watched the teachers ridicule, humiliate and put one very intelligent, free spirited woman through hell. Why, because she asked questions, because she was enthusiastic and brave enough to seperate herself from the pack mentality. And what was interesting was the way, the herd avoided her – like she was a leper for fear of getting the same treatment she was. What i saw was not teaching. What i saw was instilling fear in people and brainwashing(two women sucumbed to nervous breakdowns). I didn’t realise it at the time, but the most important topic of TTC is to do your introduction talk – to market the course! I didn’t learn to teach a course, i learnt how to fake it. Oh, in the middle of TTC, they decided to have a sahaj course and ofcourse payment for the course was in cash – no reciepts issued. And lastly, the so called Agreement, is given to you,you have 10 minutes to read and sign and it is collected.No surprises there.

  8. September 24, 2010 6:28 am

    Sri Sri Yoga was introduced to compete with Ramdev Baba.
    Ramdev Baba made Yoga and Pranayam very popular in masses during last few years.
    To share this popularity RS started new course but failed very badly.

  9. zhoro permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:25 pm

    Since part of this discussion went in the direction of the shoddy quality of yoga teaching in AOL, let me share that I started experiencing serious back problems during my involvement with AOL, probably as a result of overextending into some postures (no one really taught these properly) combined with extended hours of sitting in unnatural positions. I underwent lower back surgery a couple of years ago and it looks like these problems will be with me for life.

  10. Govindago! permalink
    September 24, 2010 3:54 pm

    Well, what a bunch of strange experiences you all had on TTC. My TTC was incredibly good. Sure, the hot seat was difficult at first until I completely let go of my defenses and then I would just laugh as people would try to push my buttons because they weren’t there any more! It was all just words. I agree that some people come to TTC not really psychologically mature enough for some of the emotional processes. Overall it was a great experience. You guys certainly do complain a lot! Just leave AOL if you don’t like it. All this trashing is quite ridiculous. I mean, I do understand to some degree, but the utter and total dismissal of Guruji and AOL is quite spiritually immature. Silly actually. There’s a lot going on beneath your awareness that you’re missing.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      September 24, 2010 4:23 pm

      Saying you are immature complaining people without addressing the criticism is a very typical AOL way of dismissing criticism. You could argue that all mahatma gandhi did in his life was complain.

      Much of the criticism here is sharp and to the point. There is difference between criticism and complaining – the key factor separating the two being awareness.

      Btw, we all have left AOL. And we want to support people who want to get away from the clutches AOL – and to keep AOL accountable for their actions. That’s why this blog exists and thrives.

      Finally you don’t know me or others on this blog well enough to say what is going on underneath our awareness. So stop attacking us. I can understand you had a good experience with TTC – let’s just leave it at that!

    • freethinker permalink
      September 24, 2010 4:58 pm

      I don’t think any one is complaining – complaining happens when you are inside the system wants to change, people here are criticizing AOL Cult corporation. Yeah as an insider it probably hurts your bottom line. Blog is for helping who got out and wants to get out to understand the cult, not to help bottom line of some who enjoy the riches there.

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