When and how discover Yoga?
Initially through the indirect influence of my mother and directly as a result of a serious head injury and associated health problems which impelled me to seek a more balanced lifestyle conducive to healing.
|Photo of Swami Krishnaprem in the Ashram Library|
Yet my eyes only really opened to the limitless abundance of yoga, and its potential to enrich all aspects of my daily existence, when I first visited Mandala Yoga Ashram in my early twenties.
Can you describe your yoga practice?
I’m very aware of the value of asana; pranayama; meditation; mantra; swadhaya or study; and karma yoga in and through each day. All such aspects of yoga help me be more awake, more aware, more giving and more trusting in That Mystery which nourishes and sustains us all moment to moment. If I had to choose one aspect amongst all those mentioned, it would be simply being absorbed in quietude, in touch with the sources of inspiration via a mantra, or text, or simply silence.
Can you describe how yoga affects your daily life?
Life unfolds day by day and living here in the ashram, as I’m blessed to do, there are many responsibilities and duties to perform. Yoga instills with me with a clear direction that acts as a shining lighthouse guiding me through all the inevitable waves of each day. Yoga helps me connect with something deeper than the mind, the senses and the body. Yoga reminds me again and again that each situation in life is an opportunity to deepen self-understanding and inner resources, and to remember the innate abundance innate within the Wholeness of Life.
Has there been a moment in your years of Yoga that stands out?
So many. I feel very blessed to live in this understanding and to walk this path. My early years with my primary teacher, Swami Neel Kamal; silent retreats; and contact with some extraordinary teachers…. to name just a few of them.
Photo of Swami Nishchalananda, Swami Neel Kamal and Swami Krishnaprem in 1990
Can you tell us about a favorite retreat or retreat centre?
|Photo of the Ashram conservatory|
Needless to say, Mandala Yoga Ashram and its director Swami Nishchalananda, which has continued to uplift, support, challenge and inspire me over many years.
In addition there are other ashrams in India which I have been fortunate to visit. To name two - Anandashram in north Kerala which is steeped in a simple but joyful approach to bhakti yoga, and Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh which embodies the vast wisdom and humility of it’s preceptor, Swami Veda Bharati.
Wisdom tells me I am nothing
Love tells me I am everything
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
It touches me because it is a beautiful synthesis of gyana yoga or Vedanta and bhakti yoga, and points towards an integration in our practice that can awaken wisdom, joy and freedom.
If you could practice with any yogi, who would it be?
Due to my intransigence, I’ve needed input from several extraordinary teachers and this process is ongoing. Their patience, generosity, dedication and joyfulness is a constant inspiration. The primary one initially was Swami Neel Kamal. She was someone who intuitively knew me deeply and gifted me a depth of love and connection that continues to this day. Yet rather than wonder ‘if….’, it feels more important to simply be awake and available to life here and now so that the Universe itself can guide me.