With the return of people to the Ashram, we are also able to restart residential sessions of the Yoga Teacher Training Course. We have had two courses in September, now Teacher Training has finally returned live. For the last year or more, the course has continued through online teaching via Zoom. We’ve been scattered around the planet and just logging in once a month.
People arrived as the Autumn sun shone on the turning leaves… Old friendships renewed in person. There’s a closeness develops between people going through two years (almost three) of Yoga Teacher Training. We grow together, share, watch each other making the same mistakes.
Also watch each other turning into quality Yoga teachers. This course rests on the foundation of the experience of Swami Nishchalananda, who was himself a student of Swami Satyananda Saraswati of Bihar for fourteen years. Swamiji founded this ashram, established the training course and now has passed on the running of it to the hands of Swami Krishnapremananda, Swami SatyaDaya, and Tulsi, with this year guest lectures from Debbie Farrer and Rambha. The course evolves continuously as new approaches are sometimes incorporated into the the traditional Teaching.
We finished the course with a gentle, almost intuitive, asana class from Tulsi, then chanting which included a translated reading of each verse of ‘Nirvana Shatkam’. The translation (by Swamiji) is an astonishing exploration of the true nature of existence; an Advaitic text which could also be said to express the principle of ‘neti neti’ (negation of anything you may think that you are, which is ultimately transient).
Please enjoy that recording here (quality best we could get with Zoom transmission audio)……….
We re-started residential courses a couple of weeks back, after being closed to visitors for 18 months …. Actual people walking through the gate, unpacking their bags, settling in, walking the hills, breathing mountain air. Welcome back.
We’ve been so geared up for online courses we all had to refresh our minds to what we had to do to be ready to welcome actual humans rather than virtual humans
No no no…. …..that’s not the kind of ‘virtual’ human I meant….. I meant real humans but on the other end of a Zoom transmission. Although …….. this guy does have a certain …. familiarity….
Lisa in the front office actually set off the fire alarms, working so hard, fingers flying across the keyboard, until the computer started to go on fire….. schedules, timetables, bookings, cancellations, queries, questions, quibbles…..
Sally, our new cook from Australia, prepares a delicious vegetarian lunch, from…er… plants.
No! sorry, Sally looks after all the rooms and the housekeeping, and the cleaning, and sweeping, and mopping, sweetly singing the whilst.
James, our new cook, gathers vegetation for some delicious vegetarian meals for our guests during their stay……
Nope… sorry… wrong again, He is of course the gardener making the place look super good, soaking up the hot hot sunshine of our lush semi-tropical climate.
Here they are at last! The cooks! Sangita, and Sahara cooking a delicious vegetarian meal from vegetables.
finely crafted recipes from the cuisine of ashrams worldwide, with spices from the orient and delicate…. (contd. page 94)
Our friend here was entrusted with the job of duplicating the tutors’ course notes for the entire ten days. Here he is tearing the ashram apart in a desperate, and ultimately futile, attempt to find out where he might have lost them….
‘Well can’t you just….’?
‘No! just making stuff up is NOT an option!’
Here’s Swami Satyadaya and Tulsi, ashram manager, responding to my request for …….a …… meaningful role for myself in the proceedings
I retreat to the creative hub of the ashram, my studio, to write this blog post, and plan my immediate return to Africa.
Welcome back everyone. Let’s hope this is a return to some kind of normality. The last two years have allowed us to develop our skills into online teaching, both real-time courses on Zoom, and also recorded course material for self study in your own time. But above all we try to be a centre of excellence in Yoga, Tantra and Advaita, with also the possibility of residential courses. Please be welcome to enjoy what we have to offer.
We said we’d build a Yoga hall in Zambia…… and we did.
I’m signing in from Eastern Zambia, as I had to stay here for a further three months because of the UK being in ‘lockdown’ etc. Here life is much easier as we have complete freedom of movement and the whole Covid business may as well be on another planet. Would be nice to stay but my ashram duties call me back, then reality will hit and I have to quarantine for 10 days at vast expense. Ironic as I feel much safer here and we probably developed ‘herd immunity’ in Eastern Province months ago.
I don’t have a lot more to say, as the movie that I made says it all. I have tried to do as complete a job as I could with this movie… some of you have donated money, trousers and yoga blocks and we couldn’t have done it without you, so this movie is a big thank-you to you all (the Northern Ireland contingent has to come in for special mention here… they continued to help us most generously through the project).
African Mandala is a project supported by Swami Nishchalananda, in that he gave me encouragement, inspiration, also the leeway to continue coming to my Africa projects even after I moved into the ashram (see Ulingana.com). His freedom of spirit infuses Yoga in Zambia; I hope you will see that from the movie.
The film is a documentary, not a ‘short’. It’s 20 minutes long, so give yourself some time, freedom from immediate tasks, and a reasonable sound system (!) to enjoy. I have tried to briefly paint a picture of Zambia… its wildlife and culture, to start. Then we focus a bit more on the build, also on life in Eastern Province where life can be astonishingly hard at times (making it even more surprising that people have adopted Yoga so readily). Finally we focus in on the two principal teachers and the opening class that marked the end of the project, and the beginning of a whole new chapter for the teachers and practitioners.
‘Please help us grow Yoga in this Land of Ours’ – An appeal from our Zambian Yoga Group.
We have lost the use of our Yoga Hall. Those of you who read my previous post (Mandala branch in Africa) know that I established a Yoga group in Eastern Province, Zambia. Well the group is thriving; Swamiji refers to them as ‘our African Branch’. But the Lodge where they worked, and where we used to do our Yoga, is in great difficulty because of the lack of visitors due to Covid, so not only have my friends lost their meagre income, but they have lost the use of the hall where we practised.
The new header picture on the blog (not this post), taken just this morning down the track, shows the Autumnal foggy mornings we get here, up on top of our Welsh hilltop. Quite beautiful, spectrally still with sheep wraiths floating out of the mist; the mist which is really clouds come down around our ears like a damp winter muffler.
There have been times in my life, when I have become aware that we are all made of the same stuff. Times when I know we are sisters and brothers, not by believing that to be true, but by experiencing the essence of such a truth. It’s a high truth, something profound, that brings reverence. Such vision is often related to meditation, or inward comprehension. It’s a vision which has been granted by that which gives Life. In the Yoga world, and some religions, it’s called Grace. A wisdom beyond intellect, but yet innate in my ‘greater’ self.
There have also been times in my life, of being with people where we work towards a better way of relating to each other, of understanding each other’s fears, aggressions, anger, grief. It demands self-honesty. When I commit to exploring my inner feelings towards others, I open up a chain of feelings and associated thoughts which can open up lines of communication in myself that go way way back in my history. That in turn usually sheds light on a now redundant mechanism of protection against harm, which before was a nameless monster in the dark.
I’m Tony, recently given the name Narada by Swami Nishchalananda. The guy at the back in the green t-shirt in the pic above. Before I came to live in the ashram, I’d made contact with the delightful people who work at Tikondane Lodge, near Katete in Eastern Province, and founded a charity to raise funds for special school education for Ketty, a young deaf girl. This is a part of the world where people have very little indeed. But they have big hearts, and it’s a sharing culture. They’re my kind of people.