YOGA-ARTICLE: The practice of using pseudonyms in yoga. Feedback

I want to share a completely new experience of using pseudonyms for me. Before entering the International Open Yoga University (IOYU) I didn’t even think of taking any pseudonym for myself, much less starting to use it. However, at the very beginning of the training, we were strongly recommended to choose a pseudonym, or even better to have three different ones (as a student, a novice teacher and a graduate).

Why does a student need a pseudonym?

There were several arguments for this:

1. Following the tradition. The ancient yogis and yoginis gave us the knowledge of Yoga without attaching it to their names. It will be the right thing to do if we do not present the knowledge of Yoga as our own discovery.

2. To separate yoga and personal life.

3. If we change our mind and stop studying for any reason, it will be easy for us to leave this experience in the past with a pseudonym.

4. On duty, a person is not always allowed to have a public lifestyle, a pseudonym can be a great solution to this problem. 

5. Russian names and surnames for foreigners are often difficult to read. You can choose an alias that will sound the same in most languages.

6. In order to go beyond your ideas about yourself and look at yourself from the side of the acquired experience.

7. To study the influence of a name on your life: each new name allows us to show other qualities.

The recommendation was urgent, and everything inside me protested: “Why!?” It seemed to me that only famous and remarkable people take a pseudonym but I am just an ordinary person. I thought that if my intentions were pure and there was nothing to hide, then

I didn’t need a pseudonym. But… No sooner said than done! My mind went in this direction. And, as you know, what you think about, that’s what happens. And now I have two aliases.

But when I dug deeper …It turned out that the topic is not new to me! I was surprised to find that I had one pseudonym for a long time. A couple of years ago, I realized that it was better to separate work and personal content on social networks, and I created another account under a different name. Well, why isn’t it a pseudonym? But I didn’t want to use it in the learning process. Therefore, I chose a student pseudonym for a very long time: after all, the internal resistance was very great. But one day, in an audio recording of meditation, I heard a word that always terrified me. This is the word “Brahman”, which I associate with the greatness of the Absolute itself. I thought that if a pseudonym helps to work with your qualities, then why not work with your fear through it. After all, I’m studying! So I got another alias.

And that’s what I want to say. In addition to purely practical benefits — a clear structuring of the inner space of my personality — the use of pseudonyms has opened up a new practice of self-exploration for me and this is a huge field for experiments! When I began to choose a new name consciously, realizing what kind of work it can do for me, I began to relate to this practice differently.

It is similar to how we select clothes for each specific occasion: one for work, another for home, and a third for a holiday . And there can be as many as you want!

It’s like a theater where we choose the role we would like to play. We try it on and feel our condition in it, and then either leave it, having played enough, or develop it further and begin to create. Each new nickname enriches us with new experiences, reveals some other facets in us. Our opportunities are expanding, our freedom is increasing! At the same time, we do not risk our good name and do not involve our innocent relatives and friends in these experiments!

This is similar to the action of Maya, which allows the unmanifest to manifest. Maya makes one thing seem like something else, which greatly increases our ability to explore and change ourselves.

I think that everyone has come across this practice in life without even knowing anything about it. Remember the school nicknames that we often bitterly and mercilessly used to call our classmates for showing some qualities! Someone was proud of them, someone was ashamed, someone was offended… We unconsciously helped each other to see and understand our manifestations! But, as a learned lesson, they remained only in memories… At that time we didn’t know that there are no pointless meetings, that every person we meet on our life path is a Teacher for us in some way…

The practice of using pseudonyms by IOYU students is always done consciously, purposefully and independently. This differs significantly from other traditions in which a pseudonym for a student is chosen by the Teacher. In this case, the student trusts the Teacher and accepts such, at first glance, restriction of freedom only in order to further expand it. The Teacher helps the student in this, using his knowledge, vision and experience.

Thanks to this practice, I began to perceive a large number of names of Indian gods in a completely different way. After all, each name indicates some very specific quality of this god. When we work with these names, directing our attention to them, then, as a result, we develop the corresponding qualities in ourselves. Taking a pseudonym for a while and revealing new facets of ourselves, we can choose a new one and develop other qualities.

It turned out that taking pseudonyms is a very effective yogic practice! This seems to be a completely non-obvious thing at first glance. No matter how often we hear about this practice, we will never know its effect until we try it for ourselves.

Feel free to experiment and have a productive practice!

Author of the article: Elena Brahman

Photo from the archive of MOYU / The author of the drawing:

Editors: Maria Gayatri, Ariana Shanti, Alla Ravi, Olga Belous, Evgenia Agni, Inna Shakti

Editor-in-Chief: Marina Mira

Curator of the project: Kerigona

Translated by Olga Rita and Avlaada