Radha Yoga, local classes, and letting go of expectations

Although many people I have met in BC valued their time at the Yasodhara Ashram, and many local teachers are very committed to going there regularly, I know of others who were put off by their experience. It has been almost 3 years since I went to the ashram, and in that time I have given these responses some thought. I believe a negative reaction to the ashram, not my experience at all, may have more to do with our western-world mindset than anything inherent in the place itself.

In general North Americans don’t have anything to base expectations on. Perhaps people go into the Yasodhara experience subconsciously anticipating something unrealistic, like a spa, or maybe a vacation. This unexamined hope is a little like shooting yourself in the foot, because yoga is some of the most challenging work that can be undertaken and requires surrendering expectations.

The Yasodhara Ashram, located on Kootenay Lake in the interior of this beautiful province, is a karma yoga ashram, so everyone works to make it run well, even visitors. Personally, this was challenging because I arrived there exhausted so the initial stages of my 2 week schedule were a little grueling. The positive:

it provided me with the opportunity to cultivate daily living as my spiritual practice, which is one of the most effective maxims I have encountered for actually thriving in this world.

Swami Radha, founder of Ascent Magazine and Timeless Books, established the ashram in the 60’s and was a German raised, ferocious teacher. Her teaching style is one of the main reasons she was so effective, and still remains a potent yogi16 years after her death. An example of how her approach has played out:

Swami Radha was adamant that her students relied on their own inner guru (or teacher) to guide them, not on anyone or anything external.

The teachers who remain at the ashram carrying on her legacy are true to her in this and many other regards. They are not superficially warm or overly endearing, which urges new students not to idealize the swamis but to hold a truly introspective space and do healing soul work on their own – which absolutely is the only way it can be effectively done.

My ashram experience was so potent that even now 3 years later it still resonates for me everyday. 

Every Radha teacher I have met has immeasurable integrity, and without exception I have learned important lessons through them all. I am better for my ashram pilgrimage in more ways than I can tell, and for having studied Radha Yoga for 12 years. Holding to Swami Radha’s maxim “make daily living your spiritual practice” is a staple of security for me.

I would recommend to anyone, “go to the Kootenays, without expectations, and walk onto Yasodhara’s grounds with great humility.” One certainly needs to be prepared to have the inner quagmire stirred, so my advice would be to go with as much spiritual clarity as possible. If a trip to the Yasodhara Ashram is not possible at this time, you can always join classes with local Radha Yoga teachers Arlene Trustham and Sharon Haave:

There are still spaces in the workshop, Relax into Peace, Harmony & Joy on April 9th 10 am -3 pm. Relaxation allows the body to heal and the mind to receive intuitive insights. Practice gentle yoga and breath awareness with a focus on relaxation. Drink deeply from the fountains of peace, harmony and joy within. Breathe easy and see what arises.

Wear comfortable clothing, bring a journal. Fee: $45

On Wednesdays, 4-5:30 pm, there are ongoing drop-in classes in Hidden Language Hatha Yoga in the Common House at Creekside. Bring a journal, wear comfortable clothing for this reflective hatha. Drop in fee $10.00. Series continues until May 18th.

Monthly Sunday satsangs, 7-8 pm in the Creekside Common House Lounge on March 27th, April 17th and May 15th.

FMI: radhacv@shaw.ca

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