Everyone’s experience of yoga is different. Not only that, the same yoga class can be entirely different for each person. That’s what makes yoga so beautiful. For me, Amrita Yoga has so many aspects, but if I had to describe it in two words it would be ‘heart opening’. I love coming to the Amrita Yoga Mandiram for Amrita Yoga retreats. They are so intimate and unique every time.
What makes Amrita Yoga so special? So, so many things: Amma’s spiritual presence, of course; the instructors – so humble, devoted, and encouraging, no question a problem; the assistants, who are always ready to help; the Amrita Yoga Mandiram itself, with its giant-sized Amma poster and its inspiring words that connect you with different emotions each day; singing bhajans (devotional songs), group darshans, strong bonds, and supportive classmates. For many, this is their first ashram experience: the creativity and enthusiasm of the instructors and their visible joy while teaching. These are just some of the special things I love about Amrita Yoga, but you don’t need to take my word for it – come and experience it for yourself!
The Amrita Yoga Mandiram is a safe haven that enables you to connect deeply with your emotions and escape the bustling ashram life that can be somewhat overwhelming if you have just arrived for the first time. Amma truly works through each instructor. One of the teacher’s innocent heart and humor, and another teacher’s unfazed presence and passion combine to provide all-round, well-balanced teaching.
I first met Amma in November 2012 and came to Amritapuri in December for an Amrita Yoga Program. Little did I know that I would not be away from Amma for longer than four weeks over the next two years! I had absolutely no idea what sort of amazing, challenging, rewarding rollercoaster ride of an inner journey I had just embarked on.
Over some years now, I’ve attended more than eight Amrita Yoga retreats. Amrita Yoga is a big, big part of my spiritual growth. I have to admit I’m not very disciplined with my practice, so it’s amazing how, even after a long break from yoga, in the retreats, I’m even more open than I ever was before. It’s like the body catches up with the soul. Flexibility does not reside in the body; it’s more like some deep inner thing that embeds in it as I open. The beautiful thing about yoga in the presence of a spiritual master is the opening on so many levels all the time.
I feel Amma’s presence so strongly in the Amrita Yoga Mandiram. Normally I don’t like being the center of attention, but during one of the retreats, I wanted to demonstrate an asana. I prayed silently to Amma, and within two minutes Brahmacharini Shobha asked me to demonstrate the asana. This was a strong reminder for me that Amma is with us in everything we do.
Amrita Yoga has helped me to open up physically and emotionally. It has even helped me overcome the fear of public speaking. The group feedback sessions at the end of the retreat are a safe learning ground that’s always supportive and encouraging.
It’s so much more than yoga. You may think that a 4-day retreat is short, but I’m always surprised to find such deep emotional release.
One of the most important things I’ve learned with Amma is that if it comes from the heart, it flows easily. I truly believe we can achieve anything in life if we come from the heart. After a retreat, I feel like hugging everyone I meet, my heart is so open!
The more yoga I do, the more I find I am a beginner. It is such a humbling experience. I feel so grateful for this opportunity to spend time in Amritapuri with Amma and all my loving, supportive Amma family. It truly feels like home.
Author: Jennifer Dundon (Suguna)