Every yoga experience is different. Not just that, the same yoga class can be so different for each person present. That’s what makes yoga such a beautiful personal experience. For me Amrita Yoga has so many aspects but, if I had to describe it in two words, it would have to be ‘Heart Opening’. I love coming to the Yogashala for Amrita Yoga retreats. They are so intimate and unique every time.
I’m very much a beginner when it comes to yoga. I’ve attended the Level 1 retreat three times now and every time I learn something new. That’s the beauty of yoga. It teaches us humility. The more we learn, the more humble we become; the more humble we become, the more open we are; the more open we become, the more we allow ourselves to absorb and let the divine in, to flow into every cell of our bodies.
What makes Amrita Yoga so special? So, so many things: Amma’s presence, of course; the instructors, so humble, devoted and encouraging – no question is a problem; the assistants, who are always ready to help; the Yogashala, with its giant-sized Amma poster covered with inspiring words that help you connect with different emotions each day; the quotes from Amma, singing bhajana (devotional songs), group darshans; strong bonds and supportive classmates – as for many, it’s their first ashram experience; and 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 believe my words, come and experience it for yourselves.
The Yogashala is a quiet safe haven that enables you to connect deeply with your emotions and escape from the bustling ashram life, which can be somewhat overwhelming if you have just arrived for the first time. Amma truly works through each instructor. Brahmacharini Shobhana’s innocent heart and humor really shine through in her classes and storytelling. That, combined with Dayalu’s calming, relaxed, unfazed presence and Narendra’s obvious dedication and love for yoga give an all round well balanced teaching style, as each instructor really brings their own flair.
I first met Amma in November 2012 and I came to Amritapuri in December 2012 for a Two-Week Amrita Yoga Immersion Program. Little did I know, or even think at the time, that I would have not left Amma for longer than 4 weeks over the last 2 years. I had absolutely no idea what sort of an amazing, challenging yet rewarding, heart opening, fulfilling, roller coaster of an inner journey I had just embarked on.
Over the last two years, I have 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 own practice, so it’s amazing how, even after a long break from yoga, during the retreats I’m even more open than I ever was before. It’s like my physical body catches up with my energetic body. Flexibility is not in the body, it is a deep inner quality that embeds as we open. The beauty of practicing yoga in the presence of a spiritual master is that we are opening up so many levels all the time.
I feel Amma’s presence so strongly in the Yogashala. During a recent retreat, I had a reminder of this. Normally, I don’t like to be the center of attention and therefore never wanted to demonstrate an asana to the entire class. However, during one of the recent retreats I decided I wanted to demonstrate an asana. I asked Amma this internally and within two minutes, Brahmacharini Shobhana asked me to demonstrate. This was a strong reminder for me that Amma is with us in everything we do.
Amrita Yoga has helped me open up both physically and emotionally. It has even helped me overcome a fear I have of public speaking through the group feedback sessions at the end of each retreat. It’s 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, however, I was so surprised to have such deep emotional releasing over the four days.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over my time with Amma is that, if whatever you want to do comes from the heart, everything flows. I truly believe we can achieve anything in life if it comes from our hearts. After completing a retreat I feel like hugging everyone I meet, my heart feels so open! Life is easy when we are in our hearts, and to stay in our hearts is the daily challenge.
The more yoga I practice and the more Amrita Yoga retreats I attend, the more of a true beginner I feel. It’s such a humbling experience and I’m so grateful to be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend time here in Amritapuri with Amma and all my loving, supportive Amma family. It really feels like home.
Author: Suguna Jennifer Dundon