From 22nd February to 10th June 2018, the four-month Yogic Studies was conducted for 42 students from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The ages of the participants ranged from 18 to 61 years.
Classes were conducted by Swamis Mantrapushpam and Shraddhamati and sannyasis Soumyashakti, Vasundhara and Aparokshananda.
Certificate distribution took place on 10th June in Satyam Udyan. The students delighted the ashram residents with a perfect asana demonstration, song and dance. Their moving impressions about the course gave a glimpse into the subtle learning they had gained during their stay. The program was graced by Prof Ranjit Kumar Verma, the Vice Chancellor of the newly established Munger University, who praised the students for the synergy in their bearing and performance. In his satsang, Swamiji explained that health, creativity and spiritual development are the three main goals of yoga, and that the students should try to move towards these goals through their yoga sadhana, and share their knowledge with the people around them.
My stay at BSY for over 100 days has been an experience, where learning continued even outside classes. I did gain a lot from hatha yoga and raja yoga classes but karma yoga has been a key take-away with me.
From day one I could not fathom the idea of toiling for four to five hours each day sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning toilets, cutting vegetables in a ‘Yoga course’. As days passed, I started using these karma yoga sessions as a means to exercise my body. I told myself that while I was mopping the floor, I was exercising my abdominal region, sweeping also became an exercise for the shoulders and the thigh muscles. I started to think of ways how karma yoga was helping me exercise my muscles and how it would benefit me, and then came a time when I just went ahead and did my seva without a thought.
I used to finish my seva, come back to my room, complain to my roommates that how difficult it was. Then I went back for my next seva and completed that too, without a thought.
This physical labour, that I had never done in my life, has in a way brought a paradigm shift for me. I have learnt not to think about the task at hand but just go about doing it, and this too has set me free. I no more fear starting afresh at this stage of my life, where I have just quit my job, a befitting salary, health insurance and other perks. I will not analyse my decisions any more. I will plan what I need to do and then go about doing it.
I am deliberately choosing a way to work my head down, with no thoughts and I am confident that each task will be completed successfully. Karma yoga has set me free from thinking too much and doubting myself.
The world outside will be like sweeping and mopping Satyam Vatika in a scorching midday May sun, but I shall go about cleaning each tile one by one with my head down and when I reach the end of the flooring, I shall look, to find it shining and I will be happy for myself for being able to do it.
—Ankur Tunaak, New Delhi
Would I be able to overcome attachment to daily comforts? For the next four months, ashram life meant yoga, karma, mouna held together by the traditional gurukul foundation and a super structure of sannyasa.
This blend, which created a sense of belonging, moved us through various stages – getting to the basics, utilizing lessons learned to take on a sankalpa and hopefully fulfil it.
Our yoga classes gently stepped us up for karma yoga as it drove momentum into our daily routine. Although unconscious of it, my initial reticence led to long days of mouna. This observant silence helped with discipline and focus.
Our asana and yoga nidra classes progressed from basic through intermediate asanas. The schedules for the week demonstrated the ability to habituate and affect positive changes to our physical capacity.
Swamiji’s words on the role of the guru as a teacher, advisor and inspirer were apparent with laying the foundation, to use the lessons learnt to achieve our goals.
We would constantly remind each other of the yamas and niyamas to stay intent and disciplined. Any breakthrough in activity or behaviour was achieved through reflection and reapplication. This in turn affected the yoga practice. Asanas became easier to do, the inflow and outflow of breath became less shallow.
At the individual level, seva saw subtle ties built in the community to help keep up participation when motivation flagged. These ties have led me through a couple of months of shared highs and lows.
If asked about the outcome, my sankalpa is yet active. However, if asked whether I felt different, I will admit that I feel more at peace now then I felt at this time last year. These four months triggered ample hormones and memories to keep my eyes damp, my intellect calm, my mind comforted and my heart smiling.
—Harini Kumar, Chennai