In 2004 I was seeking solace within this City it was a time of rapid shifts and deep inner work! Word of mouth from a friend at my ceramic studio brought me to an Iyengar yoga class a block from my house in a community center called Goat Hall. Tony, the teacher was my friend’s roommate. A woman from the class became my friend. Aurora’s parents used to frequent the Yoga Society in the Mission so she had been going for years. She invited me to go to yoga.
My first teacher was Hariharananda. He looked like a yogi from the Himalayas. He would chant an invocation to begin, followed by three hours of hatha and end in Yoga Nidra (a guided meditation intended to embody self, deeply relax, and be present with true self. It is a form of awakened sleep that is restorative). Hari became my primary teacher.
I practiced with Hari several times a week. I also met Jerome who played harmonium. I cried when I first heard it. He taught Jivamukti and incorporated music in his class.
Why I reiterate this story of finding the ashram is because it demonstrates how grace and blessings come about.
Hari had known Brahmananda Sarasvati, the founder of Yoga Society. Ramamurti Mishra was his given name before he met his guru Bodhisattva Baba Bhagavan Das. Brahamananda was an incredible being. He started the daily Agni Hotras in the Mission. Besides being a Guru he was a neurosurgeon, a healer, worked with sound vibration, Sanskrit and he wrote many spiritual books about cosmic consciousness and many spiritual topics such as mysticism. Though he has left the body his teachings live on through his ethereal presence, his books and recordings. Ram Gopal has a weekly satsang on Wednesday where he plays recordings of his teachings.
I began slowly learning about Sanskrit from this influence and met Dr. Sharma a renowned Sanskrit scholar. His wife Annapurna is a living saint and we became close right away.
The sister ashram in New York founded by Brahamananda has a connection to this ashram. I was in love with Kirtan at this point. Kamaniya and Keshavacharia who had lived at Ananda the Monroe ashram came time give a concert when they were through town. We became friends and they recommended Bhaktifest a festival in Joshua Tree. It was a brand new festival for yoga and Kirtan. I went!
This was just what I needed. I met beautiful beings I still know today and was inspired to buy a harmonium. So many things happened at this juncture I cannot remember the exact order. I met Kankana Banerjee my musical Guruma. She is a master of Hindustani Classical. I then took Jai Uttal’s Kirtan Camp.
A year later in 2012 I met Sri Yogacharya Arun Kumar my healing guru. He showed up at the ashram when I asked for a strong form or healing to help my father. This was not announced but I got guidance to be there. ￼￼Learning healing and teaching followed. This changed my life.
I was offered Kirtan satsang in 2013. Shortly thereafter I met my band mates.
So the plan is an unfolding. Grace comes but it is a surprise who shows up. This year I have been blessed with so many new friends from the Seva with Shivananda and other means. The ashram continues to bring through beautiful people to me. All that I have received from the ashram has enabled me to be in a place of meeting higher vibrational people. I grateful!
Gifts are always showing up for us even if it seems like the world is upside down. It’s a matter of staying on track with self, chanting and leaving the heart open!