Monday, May 28, 2012

Stress Management & Pranayama workshop at Durga Place, Virginia, USA

What can I say about an event that is so difficult to describe as this one? It is a magical dream that was real.  And the reality manifested with such ease and grace that I think it is just synchronicity!
It all began with  the intention to meet Jacob Abraham, my good old friend form my Navy days.  We were planning a trip to New Jersey and we felt that it was good idea to meet Jacob and also see Washington, DC. Jacob stays in VA, quite close to DC. The warmth with which he invited us was just fantastic and I thought that ‘This is what , friends are for’. The next thing he said was where the dream about my work begins. He said: “Ava, why don’t you do a workshop while you are here. I will speak to Jay who runs regular Yoga classes and I attend often”.  Jay Kalathil is the Yoga Coordinator  at Durga Temple  at 8400 Durga Place, Fairfax Station, VA 22039. Jay has an extraordinary passion for Yoga and he has been conducting Yoga classes every Saturday and Sunday, while working and attending to his household responsibilities. For me, this is an example of integral yoga in its spirit. Jacob attended a session conducted by me at the first Get Together of 1970 Navy batch at Lonawala in 2010. He talked to Jay and told me that Jay was very receptive and positive. We started a discussion by email and Jay suggested that I do two workshops on April 14th and 15th. I would love to do as many workshops as I can in my lifetime but on this occasions, , it was not feasible to fit into my schedule and other commitments that I already made. So, we decided to go ahead with a workshop on 15th April, Sunday.
It turned out to be the first workshop I did as a combination of Pranayama and Stress Management. I attempted this only in Integral Health workshops at Auroville, the retreats I did at the Ashrams in Nianital and Ramnagar  and the PGL courses at IIM Indore and RAK, Dubai. In these events, the contact time had more than 25-30 hours!  The very idea of combining the two into a workshop of three hours would have been just out of question but for the foundation Jay has laid over the many Yoga sessions he has been conducting over the years. Thus, the participant group was highly Yoga aware and this has enabled me to offer a primer on Yoga based stress management.
The Yoga hall was just fantastic and it was a pleasure and privilege to meet Jay and the participant group was just fantastic.  My experience of the event was wonderful and in my opinion, one of the best. They participation, questions and comments were very satisfying and encouraging to me and made the event very special. It was made even more special by the presence of not only Jacob and Susan Abraham but also another Navy friend TM Subramium. He was visiting his daughter in VA and came to the workshop along with Deepa and Prasanna (his daughter and son-in-law).
The closing prayer by Jay put a perfect finishing touch to this event that is so memorable to me. I am grateful to Jacob and Jay for this extraordinary opportunity. I am thrilled by Jay’s invitation to do a full day workshop next when I am visiting the east coast. I look froward to the summer of 2013 to be in this wonderful space and meet Jay and Jacob again and have the opportunity to do the next workshop.  

Pranayama Session at Matagiri, USA

 This post needs to begin with my impressions of Matagiri.
 Matagiri is a spiritual center dedicated to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s vision. It located in Wittenberg, Mt. Tremper, NY very close to the picturesque Woodstock, where more than half a million people came together - united in a message of peace, openness and cultural expression.  Seeing the alignment with Human Unity, I was excited going there.  The drive was very picturesque and enjoyable. The scenery kept getting better and better as we approached Matagiri. Matagiri itself is something indescribable.  So sylvan,  so simple,  so rustic and down to earth,  so naturally beautiful and serene. I felt a kind of peace and tranquility here that I have rarely experienced.
 Julian welcomed us very warmly and introduced Wendy and Eric. Eric is the co-founder of Matagiri along with Sam and what a privilege it is to meet the founder of such a place! He shared some of the history leading to setting up of Matagiri and Mother’s direct blessing and guidance right from the inception. I think being blessed is the source of the serenity.  Wendy gave us a delicious lunch and it was a pleasant surprise that she gave us such tasty dal (lentils cooked Indian style) and rice. After lunch, Julian took us around showed us around. The highlight is the mediation centre which appeared to me as the epicenter of peace and serenity.
Now something about how the event happened. Julian  attended the Pranayama workshop in February. We had breakfast together and my planned trip to NJ in April came up in the conversation. Julian is one of the Trustees of Matagiri  and invited me to Matagiri and I was more than eager to offer a workshop! What a blessing it is to offer a workshop at a Sri Aurobindo Center in USA! He suggested 22nd April as Matagiri was celebrating Darshan. However, 22nd did not work for us because we booked an early morning flight form NY to Seattle on 23rd. So, it was 21st April.

The event itself was wonderful and the small hall was filled up so much that Julian had to squeeze himself into a corner. This was the first time I did a Pranayama session within short time after lunch and adapted to it by making the exercises shorter duration with less intensity. Julian has been practicing ever since he did the workshop in February and Wendy also joined him in the practice. The event is a kickoff for Julian and Wendy to offer the sessions on a regular basis at Matagiri and I was given the privilege to conduct it.  The event went well and I am fulfilled to learn that the participants liked it and the regular sessions are being offered by Wendy and Julian. This is the message I take form this event: for wider manifestation for good health and wellbeing, we need more Julians and Wendys  to offer follow up sessions.  I seek Her guidance to lead me in finding more Julians and Wendys .
For me one of the unforgettable moments was the very short drizzle of Grace just as we completed the workshop and were moving out. Matagiri looked even more beautiful and Divine.

I am grateful to Julian, Wendy, Eric, Sam and The Mother for the opportunity of experiencing a place like Matagiri.

When we  were leaving, I told Julian that, in future, I will talk to him before arranging my travel plans so that I have the opportunity to be more in this blessed place.

Wellbeing (Pranayama) Workshop at Auroville

This Wellbeing (Pranayama) Workshop at Savitri Bhavan is my 50th Pranayama Workshop. The more I do this workshop and say the instructions and share the benefits, the more the words of The Mother are sinking into me –
“Good health is an outer expression of inner harmony”
 “It is in good health that the path to transformation is found”
I started understanding that take care of our health and being mindful and responsible about our wellbeing is a basic step and integral to all spiritual growth. This is a new perspective for me. When I began offering the workshops in 2008, I did not have this insight.
 I am particularly happy that Mr. Mohan Kurivilla and Mrs Elizabeth came over from Bangalore to   participate in this event!
 During March, my good friend Varadharajan gave me an opportunity to conduct a session on transcending the inner duality as part of a larger event.
I feel grateful and satisfied to be in Auroville,  finding  the purpose of my life and the opportunity to express it.

Stress Management and Good Health & Wellbeing Workshops at IIM, Indore

 I had the opportunity to conduct two workshops (Stress Management and Good Health & Wellbeing) in the 4th trimester of PGP course. IIM Indore now has a batch size of 450 students in the PGP course and I was given the opportunity to repeat the workshops in the 6th trimester. These were scheduled at the very end of the course. In fact, all other subjects were completed and all students left to their homes except those who opted for the workshops. I said to myself “Wow! This is great! These students are really interested and they can give lot of time and attention. It is wonderful”.  It did not turn out to be so. In fact, I was more satisfied with the 4th trimester workshops. May be the workshops can be made more intensive and I need to plan and adopt to this better. Finally, there were some participants who were pulling the workshops to themselves and were doing great. I need to focus on them and not be distracted by other issues. Even if one person is benefited, my mission is being accomplished and that person becomes a seed for propagation of health, happiness and harmony.