The Amrita Yoga Beginner’s Retreat was four days of bliss by the sea at Amritapuri. Our group came together from all over the world, places like France, Germany, USA, and Brazil, to share in this experience. It was a complete exploration of yoga in all its facets including two asana classes a day; hour long talks by swamis on various topics relating the practice of yoga to the Vedic scriptures, meditations on the beach at sunset, morning archana (chanting the thousand names of the Divine Mother), purification through seva (selfless service) and ending the day with joyous bhajans (devotional singing) with wonderful musicians.
By the end of the retreat, newcomers had a very personal and real experience of life in Amma’s ashram and were able to transition into daily life there.
“I appreciated the holistic approach to the whole of yoga,” said Aparna, from UK, who had been in our class.
Going through all of these inspiring comments, it seems that most of us were most impressed by the introduction of mantras into the asana practice. None of us had ever experienced that before!
Our teacher, Brahmacharini Shobhana, would chant the mantras as she helped us connect our breath to the sound of the ocean outside the hall.
Marielle wrote, “Chanting especially made me aware of the precious gift of breath. These chants continued to reverberate throughout the day and we became more aware of our bodies and our breath as we went about our activities.”
As Shree Mayi wrote, “From day one, I have been feeling a tangible vibration from within, as if from within my bones, or is it in the trillions of cells?”
I will never forget the beautiful visualizations and cues given by our instructor: “Think of the mind as a stream falling from a mountain peak,” as I deepened into a bend, or, “Think of awareness as a flame rising up,” and I would lengthen my spine upwards. These images, along with quotes from Amma, made us more receptive, and delivered us into deeper states, beyond the judgmental, critical mind we normally operate with.
The asana practice opened our hearts to receive new seeds of faith.
“I wanted to open my heart more, and increase my inner connection with a focus on surrender,” wrote Rachel.
We ended our retreat with a mutual sharing and grateful celebration of our experiences. Many of us were inspired to go on to the next retreat. Even visitors who had never taken yoga before, or met Amma, were inspired to stay longer, participate more, and receive her darshan. I definitely was inspired to write this, and I will continue to visit Amritapuri and do Amrita Yoga Retreats!