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Yoga Retreat (August 2017) experience

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Lakulish Ashram 1

"… the retreat was a life-changing experience, because I truly came away from it a different (and hopefully better) person. … Since the retreat, I have been practicing every day, and I have found myself using some of the concepts from our lectures in my daily life. The retreat was one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had a in a long time… "

"… Wonderful! Thank you for facilitating such a magnificent time of reflection and community.  I felt a lot of my resentment towards my ongoing physical pain and the ending of a relationship melt away over the course of the weekend for which I am very grateful…"

" … Incredible, emotional. We covered a lot of material in a short period of time. Would love to have continued 3 more days…a month? …"

[Please read the full reviews here ….]

The above excerpts represent the experience as expressed by a few of the participants of the recent Yoga Retreat that we had at the Health and Yoga Retreat Center, an ashram facility in Mebane, NC. This is a small Ashram established by Swami Satyanand of the Lakulish organization with its headquarters in India. The facility is located literally "in the middle of nowhere" as most of the wireless phone or internet services were not available there. This, however, came in as a blessing as we had no distraction from telephones, TV, internet, newspaper etc and were able to fully devote our time to the activities of the retreat and on self-reflection.

Here is a brief summary of the highlights from the retreat.

Duration

The retreat was held Thursday, August 3 – Sunday, August 6, 2017. We checked in on Thursday for dinner. After dinner, we had a meeting to go over introductions of the participants and a brief discussion on the "meaning of yoga" as explained by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. I also presented an outline of what was planned for the duration of the event. The check-out was on Sunday, right after lunch.

Facility

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Lakulish Ashram 2

The ashram is situated about an hour’s drive from Raleigh/Durham airport. It is a small facility in very rural surroundings. All the rooms were quite large and comfortable with attached bathrooms and all basic amenities.  Each room had four beds. There are a few rooms with smaller, older bathromms and can accommodate up to five beds. Since we had a relativley small group (20 participants), we were able to accommodate everyone with two people sharing a room.

The facility has a beautiful garden area with a few benches where one could just sit, relax and reflect. we enjoyed excellent weather throughout our stay there.

The ashram has a huge hall where all the yoga activities were conducted.

Please visit the ashram website here for a pictorial tour of the facility. You may take the time to browse around for other information about the ashram.

Food

All the meals were lovingly cooked fresh by volunteer cooks who came in from different parts of the country. They cooked some traditional Indian (mostly Gujarati style) meals and tried to present different dishes each day. They were generous and kind and took extra care to prepare special meals for people with special dietary needs. The food was nutritious and tasty.

Yoga Sessions

We had two yoga sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening, on Friday and Saturday and one session on Sunday morning. Each session lasted a little over two hours and consisted of asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), deep relaxation and meditation. The yoga session on Saturday evening was taught by Swami Satyanand. One of the highlights of his class was the "yoga dance" which involves body movements coordinated  via music which was composed by his Guru. This was a highly invigorating yoga session.

Yoga Sutra sessions

We had two sessions each day to discuss various aspects of the yoga philosophy/psychology based on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I tried to present the main concepts in a manner that can be easily related to our day-to-day experiences. That way we can start applying these principles in our life situations. The sessions were kept highly interactive where the students were able to relate the sutras to their own individual situations and experiences.

Nature Trail

The ashram is surrounded by a small nature trail which goes through a wooded area. On both Friday and Saturday we took a walk on this trail as a group. The walk gave us an opportunity to be one with nature, and enjoy the peace and serenity of the area. The students also felt at ease in sharing their own life experiences through pleasant conversation during the walk. The highlight of the walks was spontaneous singing sessions by some highly talented singers and musicians, in particular Christina and Laura. On Saturday, after the walk Laura enthralled us all with her soulful flute playing for an hour.

Future Retreats

Based on the very positive and encouraging feedback from the participants, I plan to organize a similar retreat some time in Spring next year at the same location.

A few recommendations made by the participants for future retreats:

  • Weather permitting, have at least one yoga session outdoors.
  • Leave one afternoon free for self-reflection and meditation.
  • Provide a handout giving definition and meaning of the common Sanskrit terms used during the retreat.
  • Instead of starting the retreat on Thursday, start it on Friday evening and finish after breakfast on Monday.

I would love to hear from you if you would like to be a part of a future retreat.

 

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