VYASA Houston’s Annual Yoga Retreat 2017


By Dr. Sudha Tallavajhula

HOUSTON: The serene woods surrounding Camp Cho-Yeh in Livingston, TX formed a picture-perfect background for the 2017 VYASA Houston’s annual Yoga retreat. This initiative organized by the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (VYASA-USA) chapter of Houston is an annual event that is a tribute to one of the greatest gifts that India has to offer.

Yoga, a scientific way of life crafted by ancient Indian seers, has often been misconstrued as a series of difficult physical postures (asanas). The holistic approach to health including attention to the breath, mind, emotions and intellect in addition to the body is central to VYASA’s mission. This was evident in the proceedings of the retreat, presided by Dr. H. R. Nagendra, the Chancellor of SVYASA Yoga University. He founded SVYASA in Bengaluru, India in 1987 to bring a modern scientific dimension to the discipline of yoga. He, along with Dr. Manjunath Sharma, the (Director of Research at SVYASA Bengaluru), through multiple lectures presented an overview of the educational, research and clinical aspects of yoga at SVYASA. This institute 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, kriya and meditation training as well as a 40 hour internship in teaching provision. Graduates from this program who began the YICC in 2016 and completed all requirements were felicitated during the retreat. They were recognized amidst a diverse and refreshing mix of professionals and yoga enthusiasts from all over Houston and its suburbs.


The retreat was a collage of talks, fun-filled activities, wholesome food as well as dedicated yogasana, pranayama and mediation sessions. Dr. Nagendra led the group with insightful discourses on Upanishads in our daily life, the four streams of yoga, panchakosas and the science behind an integrated approach to yoga therapy. Dr. Sharma discussed the neuroscience of yoga, research literature in the field and rationale behind yogic practices that modulate mind and the emotions. Talks were preceded by melodious bhajans and interjected with good humor. The audience had the opportunity to ask discerning questions, especially facilitated by the reasonable group size and the open, affable attitude of the speakers.


Krida yoga, led enthusiastically by Ms. Sarika Adi, a prospective University of Houston student, unveiled the child in each of the participants. It was a memorable event, effectively functioning as an ice-breaker. A campfire completed the spirit of social camaraderie. Yogasana sessions, tailored for level of experience were led by Smt. Daksha Shah and Mr. Vishwarupa. To be able to perform asanas in the woods, surrounded by nature and covered by the bright blue sky is truly a rare experience.

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. SVYASA 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, Shri. Vishwarup Nanjundappa, 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