Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Yoga and Spirituality Across the Pond

Though this blog is primarily about adventures on the water—and that is scheduled later in this trip also—for now I’ll be plodding along on land. In trains, buses, cars, on foot, and in meditation posture. 

This week, you might say I’m reliving my pre-sailing past, when many of my vacations were spent at large, inspiring Yoga in Daily Life retreats in Eastern Europe. In that region, now known as Central Europe, Yoga in Daily Life continues to be pervasive and popular, with classes taught in schools, at health centers and hospitals, in hundreds of ashrams and yoga centers, and—yes—at large, inspiring retreats. This photo was taken by my yoga colleague Dinah Wiley a week ago, in the retreat center in the Czech Republic where I am now.

The key to Yoga in Daily Life’s success worldwide is its founder and author, a yoga master who began teaching the ancient spiritual traditions of India in Western and Eastern Europe, and eventually North America, a half century ago. In addition to his teachings, he operates humanitarian projects and advocates for world peace, sometimes in conjunction with the United Nations (pictured below).
The Yoga in Daily Life practice includes lessons from the master, asanas (yoga exercises and postures), meditation, breath purification, prayer, healthy and fresh vegetarian dining, service to others, periods of silence, and more. A pure lifestyle. The rewards include serenity; joy; physical, mental and  emotional relaxation; and ultimately, if one practices long and hard, bliss. Liberation from human attachments and burdens. Enlightenment.

Anyone can benefit from even the simplest beginning practices—stretches to build flexibility, exercises to increase strength, breath and mind control to calm the mind and nervous system and awaken energy channels.
We are honored by the master’s presence in our ashram in Alexandria, Virginia, every year or two.  There, he attracts dozens who are seeking spiritual fulfillment, or just a peaceful meditation with a master—or something in between.

Here in Europe, the numbers are in the hundreds, which is always humbling to me—to be in the presence of so many spiritual seekers, all striving to follow the principles and practices of the Yoga in Daily Life lifestyle.

We practice together, under the master’s guidance, in the large, rambling buildings and grounds of a former castle in the Czech Republic. This beautifully renovated ashram can accommodate as many as a thousand overnight guests.

I am grateful to be in the master’s presence this week, in a historic castle, now a spiritual retreat center, along with hundreds of devoted practitioners of these ancient arts.

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