Spring Yoga Retreat by VYASA

Attendees at the VYASA Spring Yoga Retreat.

Attendees at the VYASA Spring Yoga Retreat.

By Suveena Guglani

RICHMOND: What would you do if somebody promised you a remedy that would remove all your problems? Would you give up one weekend of your life to acquire that magic potion that would restore you to complete health? What if you heard that the remedy was as simple as learning to breathe? Well, such was the powerful message at the Spring Yoga Retreat led by VYASA leaders held April 5 –7 at the Gordon Ranch in Richmond, Texas.

Approximately 100 people from all walks of life, young, old, doctors, scientists, engineers and homemakers alike came together to partake in this ancient message in search of the “Eternal fountain for youth and happiness”. For most, however the motivation for coming to the retreat was spirituality. This was a community of like-minded students and teachers who came to strengthen their connection with one another and enrich themselves with the timeless wisdom of the Taiitreya Upanishad, wonderfully elucidated by Prof N. V. Raghuram co-founder of VYASA and Yoga Bharati. “The goal of the retreat was to bring awareness to our personal and everyday life and to be able to handle stress well” Dr. Sudha Rajan, President of the Houston Chapter of VYASA.

Assistant Director and Director of VYASA, Smitha and Vishwarupa.

Assistant Director and Director of VYASA, Smitha and Vishwarupa.

VYASA (Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana) was founded in Bangalore in 1975. The objectives of VYASA were to examine the efficacy of yoga practices and to develop yoga courses to solve the basic problems of day to day modern life.  Dr. Nagendra, Dr. Nagrathna and Prof. Raghuram began this institute which has since evolved into a one of the premier Yoga institutions in India.  Over the years SVYASA has achieved several milestones, the major one being the deemed University status [since 2002] given by the Government of India and another milestone with the publication of the International Journal of Yoga. The website of the institution (www.svyasa.org) is one of the most visited Yoga sites in the world.

According to Dr. Sudha Rajan, although VYASA has had a long presence in Houston since 1999, they have never had anybody that was dedicated to promote this holistic science with the kind of dedication and commitment that was needed. They have had a variety of therapists that came and went over the years however it wasn’t until recently with the arrival of Smitha Vishwarupa and Vishwarupa in 2011 that all the efforts have come to fruition. The current Director of VYASA is Vishwarupa and the Assistant Director Smitha or Smithaji as she is affectionately called.

The retreat focused on providing these basic techniques combined with the philosophy and theories of ancient Yoga texts. Participants enthusiastically embraced the teachings and gave up everyday comforts like hot showers and comfortable beds as they partook of simple vegetarian food and tried to absorb the ancient science eloquently described by Prof. Raghuram. As Yoga enthusiast Shubha Kope commented “Even though the showers were warm on the colder side, we used the meditation techniques to visualize steaming hot showers and never felt a thing”. One of the highlights of the retreat was the cultural program where the participants put together a variety of entertaining programs that delighted the group assembled there. Of note, was a demonstration of Advanced Yoga Technique presented by Vinyasa flow Yoga teacher, Helen, who made the difficult Asanas look deceptively easy.  The retreat ended with a special graduation ceremony for the Yoga Instructor certificate courses offered by VYASA Houston last year.

Amongst them was high school sophomore Karuna Kankani, who claimed that Yoga has helped her manage the stresses of teenage life and helped her become more clearheaded as to what she wants out of life. She says that she is able to focus better for longer periods of time and that has shown in her schoolwork. Khyati Vaidya, a student at University of Houston says that she strives to make Yoga a part of everyday life and that has helped her to be more successful in her work. Other students that graduated and proudly held their certificates were Armin Kasnavia, Dr.Neeta Shukla, Naresh Sharma, Sneha Thakar and Venkat Krishnan.

So, what is the future of Yoga? With the changes in healthcare reform and as modern medicine becomes out of reach of the common man and is unable to help them find a cure, more and more people are turning to alternative medicine as the primary means of coping and effectively managing their disorders. Houston needs more of these Yoga retreats so that people can get away from work related stress disorders and replenish and renew their resources and learn to live as nature meant them to. After all Yoga is simply the “union” of mind, body and soul.

To learn more about Yoga as a Science contact Vishwarupa or Smitha at VYASAhouston@gmail.org or visit Keshav Smruti center; 4018 Westhollow Parkway, Houston, TX 77082 of call 888-964-2609.