Friday, 10 April 2015

“The 2015 Good Friday Weekend Yoga Retreat” by Madhu Subramanian

[Note: This is the blog written by one of the participant of our Yoga Retreat]

“A sadhak sees himself as beginner every time, every practice is to him, a fresh experience.”
“Self- responsibility ends dependency on motivation from outside.”: Vinay, Founder of Yogavijnana, who, together with his team, led the sadhana for a 16- odd group of people that had gathered in the late evening at a serene place at Madagondanapalli in Krishnagiri District on April 3, 2015. Architects, marketing and IT professionals, seasoned Yoga teachers and also a child had arrived from various areas of Bangalore and Bellary to spend the next three days with each other doing and talking Yoga.

Yoga hall at Yoga Nikaya
Madhagondhapally, the village in Krishnagiri District, TN where Yoga Nikaya stands is located at about 22 km from Attibele Junction on Hosur Road. It is reached by a two or three hour drive from Bangalore. Driving past the TVS Motors and finishing the last five kilometer stretch on a somewhat indistinct road winding through green fields up to the gates of Yoga Nikaya, first- time visitors may discern the fluttering orange flag on the temple tower of Sri Obuleshwarar Temple, the small temple that stands alone a few hundred meters away, before the retreat itself.

Set in an eight- acre land Yoga Nikaya was conceived as a haven and a place of retreat from regular life providing a sheltered space amidst beautiful nature for self- development, particularly through the practice of Yoga. Yoga Nikaya is run primarily on donations from its visitors: school students, families, yoga aspirants and astronomy buffs alike, charmed by the observatory on the premises or the welcoming serenity around. Amar. S. Sharma, the resident astronomer is a founder of the Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS) and a willing guide to all who make their way there to observe the heavens.

Meditation hall at Yoga Nikaya
Yoga Nikaya itself is a cluster of cottages, halls and dormitories set amidst a profusion of flowers, creepers and bushes bowing in the wind. The Yoga and Meditation Halls probably form the heart of the place. The Meditation Hall built below ground level is a cool and solemn space adjacent to which swaying plants peep through the glass wall at sadhaks probing their psyche and life under the benign smile of Sri Ramana Maharishi in picture. The Observatory structure stands close to the living spaces and houses an astronomy library, a telescope and the classic winding stairs up to the heavens.

As part of the daily schedule, meditation started at 5 am and was continued uptil 6:30 am with a milk break inserted. This was the first activity of the day. This helped bring the group into a receptive frame of mind for the prolonged 6:30- 9 am asana session. Under the brisk, yet friendly and cheerful guidance of Vinay, every participant reached the end of their practice feeling utterly invigorated and happy.

Practice session
Karma Yoga or community service, important hours during the day, saw the group engaged in weeding work in the nearby field, watering plants or cleaning the premises.
Meals at the Dining Hall at 9 30 am, 1 pm and 7 30 pm were a delicious and wholesome vegetarian fare. The group was encouraged to use meal- times for silent awareness although towards the end, noise rather than silence reigned for everyone had got to know each other and had become eager to share experiences. After dinner, discussions and short walks under the moonlight through the meandering brick paths, it was lights- out for the group at 10 pm.

             “Rejuvenation through asanas, after asanas.”
            “Asanas serve as warm- ups for themselves.” 
Propitiating Sage Patanjali, the great compiler of Yoga, whose idol graced the Yoga Hall, Vinay started the asana sessions. The required props were brought in beforehand. By emphasizing experience over boot- camp rigor, Vinay invoked a spirit of openness to organic growth into the effort in the Hall, a sense of can- do hung all over.
Practice Session

Among the asanas done were Sarvangasana with wall, Twisting with chair, Prasaritha Padothanasana and Halasana. A Trataka session took place on the second evening.

The group also learnt a few rejuvenation poses that were, in some cases, complementary asanas to the ones previously executed- this was to understand that one could relax oneself without getting down to the Shavasana (the corpse pose) each time.

Talk by Vinay Siddaiah
Another decided highlight of the retreat was the decision to focus on helping with progressing from intermediate levels of practice for the students, working with them at a place where there were yet to attain perfection. Props were hung around on the walls, their use demonstrated and followed by the individual’s practice. Light, informa
Talk by Amar Sharma
tive talks by Vinay on the subjects of Ayurvedic Doshas and Principles of Yoga through the day brought a broader spiritual- healing perspective to the retreat as did the hour with Amar, whose passion for astronomy is infectious, regaled everyone with astronomical numbers in “The Universe” talk at the Yoga Hall.

Group Picture
The limited size of the group brought in a focus that was to the benefit of the participants. Moreover, the routine’s simplicity and smooth execution was a result of meticulously planning by the Team Yogavijnana which was highly appreciated all around.

It was a gentle, motivating retreat. The group made their way out at around 4 pm on the Sunday on to the main road leading to Hosur Road back to Bangalore, all sending a wish up to the blue skies above Nikaya for a repeat of the experience soon.

About the Author: Madhu Subramanian is a yoga practitioner from Bangalore. She is interested in Ayurvedic pyschotherapy and the applications of Yoga Philosophy in the workplace.

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