The summer has been wonderful and the prana, or vital force,of the plants and birds, in the air and underfoot is overwhelming. It’s a busy time of year at work, at school and on the land – especially with mowing and strimming never ending here at VG – and sometimes it can just feel a bit too much. Facilitating space to re-connect is the aim of Viveka Gardens, be it in a weekly class, a one day retreat or a bespoke stay.
I remember Swami Durgananda – she is the head of the Sivananda organisation and gave me my spiritual name and mantra – saying how fortunate is the one who can tuly meditate for this is an opportunity to let the world drop. In practice – and that’s just it – practice means having a go, meditation takes a while to begin to master but the feeling of being at one can begin to be experienced through other techniques.
More than just an exercise class or deep relaxation, yoga practices are a way to come home to your True Self. This space is where the peace, light and deeper understanding can arise. I am very grateful to have landed in the Sivananda tradition yoga-wise over 20 years ago as this gives the tools, for instance the mantras that open and close our sessions, to ‘divinise’ them. It always feels very strange to me when I go to a class where it just starts, no break from the day until that moment.
The other-worldliness of a nidra, yoga class or workshop is often most strongly understood after final relaxation and that moment when the ‘to do’ list starts to flood in. Similarly, after a retreat, that moment when you drive on to the road or put your bag on your back. And this is the art of yoga, to keep that equanimity and peace a little bit more and more in every day life, looking for or knowing what is right and connected. In fact, that discernment is the translation of viveka.
When you practise with a teacher trained within a guru tradition such as Sivananda you are connected through lineage with sacred practice, so long as your teacher is practising and connected themself. There is much discussion of post-guru yoga, of cultural appropriation and religion vs spirituality. Swami Sivananda was much criticised in India for publishing his books in English, for welcoming westerners and especially western women to his ashram. As has been shown his vision, and that of other spiritual leaders, to send disciples to the west has born remarkable fruit.
Lastly, Swami Sivananda advocated sunbathing for health – he was a doctor by training – so enjoy this sun and make hay while the sun shines.
You may also want to read The Art of Retreat in Seven Easy Steps