Nityaa Robin Blankenship
I am always looking at the Ashram calendar online, plotting a get-away to Lokananda for more yoga! When I received a postcard about the four-day DIY Heart Openers retreat, I realized it was during my vacation and I could attend.
Tendonitis in my wrists was my initial reason for beginning Svaroopa® yoga seven years ago. It healed, but I still have a lot of tension in my shoulders, neck, head and hands. While the vertebrae behind the heart is the cause of that tension, it is difficult to unravel. So, when I found this weekend focused on opening the heart, taught by Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini, it was an easy decision to come.
Not only would the retreat provide physical and emotional openings, it was an opportunity to be in the presence of the Guru. I feel so fortunate and lucky to have found my Guru – Swami Nirmalananda. It is so rare and special in today’s world to have a link to the Grace
and wisdom of the ancient yogic teachings through an unbroken lineage.
It seemed as if the poses were selected from my personal list of “most difficult poses!” Matsyasana (not to be confused with Supported Fish), Purvo Arms, Yoga Sit-ups and Dhanurasana Leg Diagonal were difficult for me. I was actually sweating just sitting doing Purvo Arms with abs. I rarely sweat doing yoga; Kundalini was doing her work! Yes, I had avoided doing and teaching these poses. Of course they are the ones I need.
I received some helpful insights in the partner pairings that made the poses easier. It was fun to meet other yogis who also have a deep practice, some who teach and some who do not. Swamiji led us in a wonderful deeper Shavasana with a guided awareness of inner light, plus we had an opportunity to ask her questions in a Q & A session.
It was rich weekend of yoga practices, including chanting, meditation and guided Vichara. Sitting at a table drinking frozen margaritas with Swamiji at the festive Mexican style luncheon at the Ashram was a Divine tantra –weaving the sacred and the mundane in a delightful way. There was no alcohol in the margaritas of course, none was needed as we were all in a state of bliss just being there!
If I had known how great this course was, I would have taken the whole series. Yogis who took all three DIY Retreats participated in follow-up phone calls to share their experiences.
I received tools to take home with me, including a daily practice that is unraveling the next layer of tension in my body and mind. It is getting easier to do the difficult poses by doing them everyday.
I experience a greater capacity for love and an opening into my heart center. I realize the experience of love is not dependent on the external triggers of my family members, pets and music. Love exists inside as a quality of the Self. We learned that love begins with self-love, and I found a sacred place in the cave of my heart that is a deeper opening into my Self. This course was exactly what I needed… and more.