Newsletter November 2011
India Retreats 2011 - Reports by Lucy Burns (Annapoorna)
Chakra Sadhana, 7th – 16th October 2011, Rikhia Peeth
We arrived in Kolkata on the first day of the Durga Puja festival, and the always frenetic city was amped up to full tilt, with people putting final touches on the puja tents and temples constructed for the festival. Our group for the Chakra Sadhana retreat totaled 60. The course began to ramp up our second day in Rikhia, as we needed to be in class by 5 a.m. Swami Muktidharma led us in chanting and then Swami Karma Karuna taught an asana class integrating chakra focus with each posture.
We began what would be the daily routine for the following eight days – early morning class followed by breakfast, seva, morning session, yoga nidra, walk to main ashram for lunch, walk back to Pantanjali block and rest time until 1.15 p.m., first afternoon session, tea break, second afternoon session, walk to main ashram for seva, dinner and evening programs from 6.15 to 7.15 p.m.
The course was full of extraordinary experiences for all of us, some shared and some very personal. We began the course as strangers from many different places. We left not only with greater awareness of our chakras, the Satyananda tradition, ashram lifestyle and our own tendencies of mind, but also with greater awareness of other cultures and many new friends. For full article click here.
Prana Vidya, 19th – 25th October 2011, Rikhia Peeth
Although we were fewer participants on this course, we were still an international group, with people from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Swami Karma Karuna guided us in cultivating more subtle awareness of prana moving within us. She also taught some pranayama and mudra, which we used in the Prana Vidya techniques taught by Swami Muktidharma. Often I would arrive at the afternoon sessions quite tired, but by the end of the practice I felt completely refreshed, even vibrant. Such a gift to learn how to effectively energize myself with a half-hour meditation!
For seva during the course, many of us participated in various preparations for the Sat Chandi Maha Yajna upcoming at the end of November. For many of us that was packing rice which would be given out to the local villagers. The day after the Prana Vidya course finished was Diwali (Festival of Lights) a huge holiday in India. We were blessed to be able to participate in the Diwali celebrations at Rikhia Peeth. As soon as our course finished, we were involved with chopping vegetables, cleaning and decorating – helping to prepare for the festivities the following day. This was in preparation for feeding 2000 children and elders. It seems fitting that Prana Vidya, a course dedicated to working with the internal prana, was followed by a festival of light. A huge thank you to Swami Satsangi and all the swamis at Rikhia Peeth for giving us the opportunity to share in their celebrations. For full article click here.
Ajapa Dharana, 30th October – 5th November 2011, Ganga Darshan
We had two days in Munger to settle in before the Ajapa Dharana course started. The first of many special blessings was that Swami Niranjanananda invited us to have lunch with him the day after we arrived. We all felt especially lucky as Swami Karma Karuna said that this only happens on rare occasions. Swami Muktidharma explained that Ajapa Dharana was a sadhana in itself that Swami Niranjan had revived from ancient tantric practices. Over seven days they led us systematically through the various stages of Ajapa Dharana practice, emphasizing that we should all start with the first stage and perfect that before moving on to the next stage. The message to work slowly and consistently with focus, perseverance and humility in our yoga sadhana was a universal theme in all three of the courses Swami Muktidharma taught, as well as the satsangs by Swami Satsangi and Swami Niranjan that we were so fortunate to attend during our time in India. Toward the end of the week we had yet another special blessing, with Swami Niranjan giving a 2-hour satsang just for our group! He patiently answered all of our questions relating to Ajapa Dharana, gave practical advice and shared humorous stories from his experiences teaching yoga abroad in his youth. And so more than four weeks in India ended with a new beginning. We made our way from Munger to our various destinations around the world, equipped with several lifetimes’ worth of techniques, and the invaluable understanding that it was up to us not only to practice the techniques in a consistent and practical way, but also to apply them to our lives in general in order to evolve. In addition, we left knowing we could always reach out to someone in our little sangha, no matter where in the world we might be, for support on the path.
Our eternal gratitude to Swami Niranjanananda for blessing us with his darshan and diksha and sharing so much of his time and wisdom with us. Also special thanks to all the swamis and residents at Ganga Darshan who made our stay in Munger so smooth and enjoyable. We cannot thank Swami Muktidharma and Swami Karma Karuna enough, as well as amazing assistants Yogamani, Shantachittam and Madhura, for leading us on this journey. Thank you also to Sannyasin Atmabhava at Anahata for his work and effort in all the "pre-trip" organizing and planning. For full article click here.
Hari Om Tat Sat!