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VYASA Houston’s Annual Yoga Retreat 2018

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Attendees at the VYASA Yoga Retreat

HOUSTON: VYASA-USA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana) Houston chapter recently conducted its 6th annual Yoga Retreat from 13 to 15 April in Camp Cho-Yeh near Livingston, an ideal setting for practice and contemplation of the great gift that India has offered to the world – Yoga.

Yoga, a scientific way of life crafted by ancient Indian seers, has often been seen by West in a limited scope as an exercise consisting of difficult physical postures (asanas). The other aspects such as breath-regulation, emotion-culturing, exercising intellect, and self-awareness that make Yoga a holistic approach to health are not widely known, or seldom talked about. VYASA’s mission is to spread the awareness of Yoga as a science and holistic approach to better physical, mental and spiritual health, through Education, Research and publications.

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Graduated students from 200hrs Yoga Teacher training course

This year’s retreat was presided by Yogashree N. V. Raghuram, professor of Yoga Sciences from SVYASA Yoga University, Bangalore. He is an eminent speaker on Indian Philosophy and ancient Yoga texts. He is founder president of Yoga Bharati, a non-profit organization with a vision of enhancing health, happiness, knowledge and peace in life through a holistic approach to Yoga. He, through multiple lectures presented an overview of the educational, research and clinical aspects of yoga at SVYASA.

The theme of this year’s retreat was Meditation. This was a hands-on workshop on “MSRT” (Mind Sound Resonance Technique), an advanced meditation technique that’s involves sounds and mantras which is used for improving physical, mental, emotional health and treat stress-related disorders. MSRT improves focus, plasticity and adaptability of mind, and strengthens body’s immune defense and nervous system. The insights into the practice of MSRT for self-healing and in yoga therapy sessions were taught and led by Ms. Smitha Mallaiah. Dr. Sudha Rajan, current president of VYASA-Houston led a session on Pranayama and its importance in healing.

 The retreat was a synthesis of lectures, discussions, Yogic games (krida-yoga) that brought out the spirit of camaraderie, wholesome vegetarian food, music and fun-filled campfire at night, as well as dedicated Yogasana, Pranayama and mediation sessions early in the morning. Raghuram ji led the group with insightful discourses on Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, the science behind an integrated approach to yoga therapy and emotional-culturing through Bhakti Yoga. Separate Yogasana sessions for adults and children, tailored for level of experience were led by Mr. Vishwarupa, Ms. Suveena and Ms. Satya every morning. Children participated with separate tracks and activities that included discovering nature, archery, and discussions on Yamas and Niyams among others.  

SVYASA offers multiple courses in the mainstream education paradigm, starting from a yoga instructor’s course, to Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral level programs. The Yoga Instructor Certification Course (YICC) is also conducted in the Houston branch as a 200-hour curriculum, including didactics, asana, pranayama, kriyas and meditation training as well as equal opportunity to lean yoga philosophy and a 40-hour internship in teaching provision. Students who began the YICC in 2017 and completed all requirements took part in a graduation ceremony during the retreat.

The learning atmosphere of the Yoga retreat blissfully continued for the next three days in a free event for Houstonians, where Raghuram ji lectured on the “Message of Upanishads in everyday life”. The lecture series took place in KeshavaSmruti and was attended by over 75 participants every day. Sri Raghuram’s eloquent lectures on the topics like – “Teacher-Student Symbiosis” based on the Shanti Mantra “Om Sahanavavatu”, “The Pancha-Kosa Concept of Existence” from Taittireeya Upanishat, “States of experiences that define us” from Maandukya Upanishat, and “Universal Love and Consciousness” based on the Shanti Mantra “Sarve Bhavantu” are received with great admiration. The lectures were followed by a Q&A session with insightful responses by the ever-encouraging and ever-approachable speaker.

 The retreat exceeded all expectations in terms of bringing together people with similar goals, attitudes and interests. Yoga is not a new concept. On the contrary, it is one of the oldest disciplines known to humankind. It has withstood the trials of time, only because of its inherent strengths and benefits. For the same reasons, it has also undergone many variations and iterations. There can be no greater testament to the principle of going beyond tolerance to whole-hearted acceptance in Vedantic philosophy, than the enduring science of Yoga. VYASA fulfills an important mission in constantly reinforcing the comprehensive nature of yoga. The unspoken, yet implicit connection to spirituality was palpable throughout the retreat. VYASA Houston offers yoga teacher training program, yoga therapy training, general yoga classes and yoga therapy research. The young and dynamic couple, Sri. Vishwarup kashyap (Director) and Smitha Mallaiah (Program Director and researcher at M.D. Anderson) are the leading forces behind VYASA-USA Houston center. They are also the lead teachers for all of VYASA’s educational endeavors in the area. This retreat was a glimpse of the breadth and depth of this organizations capacities, all performed with simplicity and adherence to principles of Karma yoga (duty without expectation).

 For more on VYASA-Houston visit www.vyasahouston.org  or email vyasahouston@gmail.com

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