Yogi Vishvaketu is a yoga teacher who is known both in Rishikesh and internationally, particularly in Canada, and who teaches classes of “Akhanda yoga” - his own style of practice that combines influences of classical hatha yoga, kundalini, and tantra. Classes of akhand yoga include practice of asanas, meditations, mantra chanting, kriyas and pranayamas, and short discourses on yogic philosophy.
If you have never been at akhand yoga class before, you can expect a good hatha yoga class of moderate to high intensity that starts with about 10 minutes of mantra chanting and some vigorous breathing exercises like kapalabhati, bhastrika or other intensive breathing practices that at times remind kundalini breathing techniques, in which intense exhales are synchronized with the movement of the body that helps to expel the air from the lungs, and inhales are assisted by movements of arms and shoulder to open the ribcage. The breathing exercises have activating effect and get you ready to perform challenging asanas. There is usually a few rounds of surya namaskar that are modified according to the intensity of the class and may include chair poses, Warrior 3 or other challenging standing poses somewhere within or in between the surya namaskara sequence. In his asana sequence, Vishvaketu often gives options of the yoga pose one can perform depending on the desired intensity of the class. This makes his classes both accessible for the beginners and interesting for experienced students. His asana sequence are often directed at strength building and include series of challenging poses done in succession without much break in between the poses. In particular, Yogrishi likes to put chair pose or its variations right after on in between standing balances.
Vishvketu pays particular attention to breathing and very often reminds students to be aware of the breath in the middle of vigorous practice. Quite often students perform kapalabhati or brahmari while holding a posture. Also, Vishvakety pays attention to facial expression and instructs students to relax their face and smile in the middle of vigorous sequence. That helps students learn relax their minds and release the tension while keeping intensity of physical performance.
One interesting feature of Yogi Vishvketu’s style is that he often gives theme to each class. The theme touches upon both mental attitude (what is the focus of mental work in the class), and physical focus. This helps to direct attention to certain sensations and processes within the body and mind, and provides some diversity to each class. It also teaches one to “embody” philosophical aspects of yoga and apply them into practice through performing asanas.
Sometimes Vishvaketu gives hip-opening classes. These are less vigorous sequences aimed at allowing the body to release the tension from previous intensive classes, deepen one’s flexibility and reveal emotions that are hidden at the root of our psychic beings. These emotions sometimes spontaneously come up to the surface and we learn to observe them with equanimity and detachment.
Besides Akhand yoga, Vishvaketu occasionally gives kundalini yoga classes, that are more dynamic than his ordinary classes and directed not so much at developing physical strength and stamina, as at awakening chakras with fast movements and breathing techniques.
Vishvaketu conducts classes in a soft voice, in a friendly and easy-going way, using humor and very appropriately placed jokes to uncharge the intensity of the practice. He invites practitioners to explore their limits and progress in practice, but never forces anyone beyond their capabilities. His adjustments are confident, but very attentive and he doesn’t push you where you are not ready to go. He very often provides counter-indications to pranayamas, kriyas and asanas, so his classes are safe to all practitioners, even physically challenged. Although, persons who have high blood pressure or psychic disorders need to exercise caution during vigorous breathing techniques and dynamic practices.
Yogi Vishvaketu is not in Rishikesh all the time, though. At least half a year he spends in Canada and other countries, conducting retreats, courses and seminars, so you need to check his website for the dates of his presence in Rishikesh.
So in summary, on Yogi Vishvaketu’s class you can learn:
- new breathing warming up exercises
- kriyas of kundalini and classical yoga
- pranayama techniques with very thorough explanation for each step
- interesting and creative asana sequences that increase your strength and stamina
- practical application of yogic concepts into practice of asanas (chitta vritti nirodha, union of Shiva and Shakti, etc.)
- creative techniques of releasing psychic tension through laughter, mantras and kriyas and hip openers.
Conclusion: class of Yogi Vishvaketu is an opportunity for practice and learning not to miss!