Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pranayama Workshop for LIving Routes

Living Routes is an initiative that  partners with the University of Massachusetts to run college level programmes based in Auroville and other “ecovillages” around the world. Living Routes organizes "Integral Sustainability at Auroville" program and I was lucky to have  been given an opportunity to conduct 3 sessions of Pranayama for a small group of young students from USA. A few years back, I did a short session on compassionate communication and there has been a lull for some time in my working with this wonderful organization.

The sessions were held in Windara Farm In Australian aboriginal, 'Windarra' means: 'A place to live where I can express my soul'.
Windarra Farm has been a cultivated land for around 12 years. and the TerraSoul Community started  in January 2011 . TerraSoul  is a  learning community. The  holistic approach embraces farming as the ground pillar - added arts, education, renewable energy, music, movement and healing with common living, common working, common facilities and common activities. The picturesque farm was an ideal place and the venue was just fanatastic - with the open space in communiion with the Universal Energy Field,  the singing of the birds and the lovely greenery around. It is the best place for a small group and the cushions and mats for first rate. 

What I enjoyed most in this workshop is the enthusiastic and  energetic participation of the entire group!. Many of them have been practicing Yoga for quite some time and very comfortable to sit in the cross legged posture. This makes the practice of the pranayama very enjoyable. It is a pleasure and privilege to share paranayama with a group like this. 

Recently, I have been doing the workshop as five ssessions or six sessions.  Though we intneded it to be five sessions, my travel  plans changed and we needed it to curtail it to 3 sessions. One way, this was perfect for me as it gave me an opportunity to try out the three session format, the format I am offering in Europe.  My sense is that it worked very well for this group but I will have the challenges of translation and it may be very difficult to get a group like this - which is it easy, fun and fabulous to work with. 

Let me be open to the possibility of having many more such groups  and  more opportunities to work with Living Routes. I would love that!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wellbeing workshop

I normally do these workshops once a month and one of the things I enjoy most is to share the practices of Pranayama and well being that have been so beneficial to me in my life. However, I could not do a workshop in March due to the project commitments and related travel. I will be traveling to USA & Europe form mid April to Mid July and hence this workshop was very important to me. However, I missed to send the announcement in time for News and Notes!
Every time I do the workshop, I feel better and more energetic despite the extra demands on my time and energy for every session. On the days of tehw orkshop I get up around 4AM -4:30AM to do my practice before I go to the workshop at 6:45 AM.
Some people closely known to me joke that I am becoming a workshop junkie or workshop-holic!
Be as it may, I enjoy it and look forward to every workshop and every session and feel blessed to have this opportunity in my life.
Tash, who was in a Self Healing workshop conducted by me about 6 months ago and I am delighted that  she participated in this workshop and provided a lot of encouragement and inspiration to me.

Yoga Nidra Session

Arul Vazhi Education Center organizes events for people form Tamil Nadu to experience Auroville. These events are normally for two days or one day. Varadharajan and Syamala, who run Arul Vazhi, have not only been regular participants in workshops facilitated by me but also support, encourage me and help me in many ways. They gave me an opportunity to talk a bot about good health and conduct a Yoga Nidra Session.
The vent was held at Ilaingnarkal School and as the session was immediately after a good lunch, a few of the participants went into real Nidra (sleep). It is surprising to me that more than 90% of the people that I come across have never done this simple but very beneficial practice! I feel good in sharing it and am grateful for the opportunity.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wellbeing workshop at Unity Pavilion

"Auroville wants to be the first realisation of human unity based on the teaching of Sri Aurobindo, where men of all countries would be at home. " Mother, January 1972
The unique aspect of this workshop is the space- Unity Pavilion. Auroville is planned to have four different zones radiating out from the Matrimandir at its centre, and the International Zone is one of them. In this zone all countries will be represented in a concrete and living way, providing a dynamic base for Auroville's work on realising an actual Human Unity.

The actual venue was  the Hall of Peace in Unity Pavilion. It is a large, vibrant space for holding programs, meetings and events and also  hosts the Asian Peace Table. It is one of six magnificent tables created by master woodworker George Nakashima for placement in chosen sites on each of the continents of the world. You can see it at the far end of the picture below.
What a privilege it is to hold an event in place like this, during the last week of February! This week is a festive week, full of celebrations, goodwill and some fabulous events.
It is also one of the workshops with the largest attendance in the last two years.  You can see the beauty of the place in the pictures but to actually experience the serenity, you need to be there.
It was joy and the gathering was fantastic. For me, this is an unforgettable event because of the space, the people and the opportunity fo sharing Ramayana!
I am grateful to Jaya and the team of Unity Pavilion for the opportunity given to me and Jerry and his team for the excellence in the maintenance. Their motto apears to be "Cleanliness is Godliness"
I look forward to more opportunities to offer workshops in this fabulous space. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Workshop at Pondicherry University

It is difficult to write the blog for an event that I did not conduct in a way that I am happy about. In other words, it is difficult to write about failure. It has taken nearly two month of procrastination for me to get down to it and finally write this.
I met Dr. Vijayalakshmi in Auroville for the first event we organized under the aegis of Telugu Sankskritika Kendramu at Auroville. She started the Hindi Department in Pondicherry University and has been heading it for more than two decades. When she invited me to do a workshop for the students and staff of her department, I was more than happy. In fact, I was jumping with joy.
The students are post graduates and research scholars. The first hint of an issue came up when I got a mail in Hindi a few days before the workshop.  I have working knowledge of spoken Hindi but I struggle to read it. So, after some correspondence in English, I explained that I can respond to questions in Hindi but can conduct the workshop in English.
It was a small group of 15 people. We started well but I was really surprised that the students were not asking any questions. This is much different form my other experiences and I did my best to plod on. However, when we came to the exercise, I did not know how to go ahead when the participants are unwilling to try out. We had hardly any time also to actually do what I planned. The session before lunch started 40 minutes after the planned time.  We planned for 2 hours after lunch but stared 50 minutes late.   So, I decided to call it off and close 30 minutes earlier as I did not know how to accomplish any meaningful result in such short time with participants who did not write down an answer to a question for 30 minutes.
I felt disappointed and unhappy at the end of it all. Normally, I enjoy doing workshops so much and feel satisfied when people tell me either at the end of the workshop  (or sometimes later) how it made a difference to them. This was missing for me. I felt sad that I did not create value for the participants and failed in my commitment to provide it.
In the post-mortem, some of the professors  said that the lack of participation from  the students is an issue even in normal classes.  I was asked to come up with my suggestions. I feel confused about the real issues. Is it language? I don’t think so. In my experience, language was not a barrier and I had many participants in Auroville who did not speak English but their participation was mutually satisfying. Willingness to participate and the desire to take value could overcome language issues. I doubt whether the students are really interested in taking value.
What I can guess is that the prevalent culture here is passive / passive-aggressive modes of communication. Another aspect could be diffidence which comes in the way of taking the risk of participation. When these are coupled together, a group could get into an inert state by using language as an ‘acceptable excuse’. Assuming that  this is accurate, how to deal with it? Honestly, I don’t know.
My biggest loss from this event is that I did not accomplish the intention even with one participant. What I can learn from this experience is not to give up. I need to train myself to dynamically change the exercises or topic to elicit responses, without giving up. I give up giving up.
Going forward, I will avoid the pitfall of language issue combined with lack of interest. This could have some chance only if the time available is unlimited!