Amrita Yoga may only be described as ‘true yoga’. The word yoga is derived from the Samskritam root word “yuj”, which means to unite, join, and connect. Amrita Yoga embodies the divine words of Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita as per the four yogas: Bhakti, Jnana, Karma and Raja. Within Amma’s powerful yet gentle embrace, we, as students, are treated to a wholesome experience like no other. Privileged and blessed, I bow at Amma’s lotus feet and thank Amma for this glimpse of true Union at Amritapuri.
The 4-Day, Intermediate Retreat that I attended was packed with activities. The schedule of the day included 4-5 hours of Raja Yoga (asanas and dhyana or meditation), 2 hours of Karma Yoga (different seva or selfless service, for everyone), 1.5 hours of Satsanga or talks (Jnana Yoga) as well the choice of another couple of hours of either Bhagavad Gita classes, Samskritam classes and Amma’s Satsanga as part of the ashram schedule and at least 2-3 hours of Bhakti Yoga (1 hour of archana in the morning and 1.5 hours of bhajana or devotional singing, in the evening). Since Amrita Yoga retreats take place amidst normal ashram activities, there is the possibility of Amma’s darshan if Amma is at Amritapuri on the designated days, plus pujas or homas that one might feel inclined to attend at the old Krishna temple or Kalari. These myriad practices truly complement and add to the wealth of Amrita Yoga classes.
Two teachers, Brahmacharini Shobhana and Dayalu, taught the Raja yoga classes that I attended. They had not taught together in a while, and they truly blossomed in each other’s presence and energy. Students received a synergistic compatibility on the teaching level but also on the spiritual and energetic level. As Shiva and Shakti, consciousness and creative energy, they revealed an approach to asana practice that overflowed with ahimsa (non-violence), meditation in action and a sincere sense of spirituality.
With frequent quotes from Amma, we were reminded of the blessing of the Divine Mother’s presence within and without, both physically (Amma was only a few hundred meters away giving darshan in the Hall) and spiritually (Amma permanently resides in our hearts, if we invite Her). We were privileged to experience not only sound, practical information on asanas and the guided meditation, but glimpses of our teachers’ own profound and long term personal practice. There was also an interweaving of Satsanga within the practice itself in the form of themes and stories connected to each class theme.
Messages of one of the Amrita Yoga Talks, ‘The Role of the Guru in Chiseling our Ego’, found themselves embedded in the students’ efforts to tackle numerous asanas of various levels of difficulty. It touched us deeply.
Each Amrita Yoga retreat has a core theme. The core theme for this retreat was ‘Meditation in Action’. As an Iyengar yoga practitioner, I had previously learned the alignment details for each asana. What really kindled me and resonated with me in Amrita Yoga were Amma’s words on this core theme. This core theme and other sub themes were often quoted and referred to. They were well woven throughout the classes. This resonated strongly within my heart. It was as if, all of a sudden, it all made sense—which was made possible by Her presence!
All the books I read, all my practice through the years, all the classes and retreats I ever attended, were missing this vital aspect – the presence of the Divine Mother. It is the missing link in today’s world, where asana practice is the only aspect of yoga practiced in the West, and everything else is non-existent. Teachers take responsibility for nothing other than the physical prowess and the superficial effects of their students’ “yoga” practice. But, by the grace of Amma, Amrita Yoga practice is true yoga as instructed by Lord Krishna in the Gita.
The retreat is highly recommended for a myriad of reasons. As a seasoned yoga practitioner, at Amrita Yoga I experienced an invariably wholesome approach to yoga. One may attend asana classes, pranayama classes, meditation classes – but what about all of the above, plus much more, in one class? Most importantly, with Amrita Yoga we practice these in the pure atmosphere of Amma’s physical presence, who is constantly gracing all those around Her, where chanting and devotional singing allow our hearts to open and our souls to transcend.
Even if only for the serenity that a non-violent yoga practice reveals, all yoga practitioners, yogis and yoginis should try Amrita Yoga at Amritapuri. The path to moksha, or liberation, in the presence of a Living Master is a blessed one. Come and experience Amrita Yoga at Amritapuri, India and feel the Divine Mother’s presence within your heart.
Author: Vula Bolou