Some years ago Amma told me that I should become an Amrita Yoga teacher. I was really surprised. Besides having taken a few asana classes many, many years ago, I had never practiced asana. Actually I had thought that it was more like physical exercise; inferior to other spiritual practices as if I were doing some great sadhana! Besides, the word exercise wasn’t the most popular one in my vocabulary. However, because it was Amma’s request for my growth, I started my training with a few other ashram residents.
In the beginning, I wasn’t so inspired and basically it was painful. Yet, I persevered and little by little I learned to demonstrate, to assist, and to teach. I found out that Amrita Yoga benefited me in more ways than I had imagined.
I discovered that yogasana actually compliments meditation and can also be a form of meditation and prayer. Especially Amrita Yoga since it imbues the teachings of Amma, originated from Her blessing, and is alive with Her presence. It has enhanced my sadhana and helped me to get more awareness and concentration. It is easier to focus my mind in asanas and practice awareness in movement than just by sitting in meditation. Amrita Yoga is helpful in controlling the restless mind and especially good for channeling the emotions. In emotional turmoil, how can you sit down and focus? Yogasana helps to release mental and emotional tension. It also prevents one from falling asleep in meditation and gives strength, energy and enthusiasm.
Teaching Amrita Yoga was the most unexpected and scariest part for me. Since my childhood, I have been very shy with low self esteem and confidence; so much that it greatly restricted my social life and relationships with people. The thought of being in front of people, talking to them, and especially showing my body in different asanas seemed unimaginable. Yet with Amma anything impossible can become possible. Our Amrita Yoga teachers always encouraged me to take small steps in teaching. It still feels uncomfortable at times but now I can teach a beginner class confidently. I don’t feel so shy and I am also able to express more creativity and freedom, even in front of people.
Some years ago, I got very sick with a tropical fever. After that I noticed that sometimes my hip joint wasn’t moving. I even had to use a walking stick at times! One or two years later I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. My first thought was that I was going to become handicapped and spend the rest of my life in pain. To this day the arthritis is mysteriously pain free. I believe that Amrita Yoga has helped me tremendously in managing my symptoms like stiffness and difficulty moving. In fact, I haven’t had to use walking stick for a long time.
It’s not that I have a great practice or anything. To tell you the truth I’m rather reluctant to discipline my body, let alone my mind. But Amrita Yoga along with Amma’s grace has showed me that it is possible to accomplish and advance just by persevering, even if you start with small steps like doing just a little yogasana daily. Actually, Amma once told me: “Start with the small things.” So if you can’t be a master in great things you can at least be a master in small things.
Amma says: “If we pour our heart and soul into an activity, it will be transformed into a tremendous source of inspiration. The product of an action performed with love will have a discernable presence of light and life in it. That reality of love will fill people’s minds with immense attraction.”
In addition to teaching in Amma’s ashram at Amritapuri, I have had a special opportunity to visit many of Amma’s schools and MA centers in India where we teach Amrita Yoga and conduct exclusive workshops. It is immense joy to be with children. Amma told me that teaching children is a learning experience for both; children and me. Amrita Yoga has given me the opportunity of being a student forever. We also teach Amrita Yoga to school teachers, staff, devotees, and for Indian working women. These experiences gave me the chance to spend time with many Indians, learn more about their culture and tradition, and to see Amma’s massive work and institutions in India.
With Amma’s grace, Amrita Yoga has really enriched my spiritual life. In our classes we always share a few of Amma’s quotes. This is one of my favorites, and the one I read in the first class I taught a few years ago:
“Love can accomplish anything. There is no problem that love cannot solve. It can cure diseases, heal wounded hearts and transform minds. Through love one can overcome all obstacles. Love can help us renounce all physical, mental and intellectual tensions, thereby bringing peace and happiness. Love is the ambrosia that adds beauty and charm to life.”
It is Amma’s love and the love of my sisters and brothers that has helped me to grow so much!
Author: Gunavati Rebekka Roininen