when pictures fail me…
It’s time to put aside your iPhone, pack your incense and peppermints and set your strawberry alarm clock (if you are of a ‘certain age’) for Integral Yoga’s “Discover Yourself” overnight spiritual retreat camp May 13-14th, part of the Institute’s 50th birthday celebration.
This totally free event is offering the rare experience of receiving a one-on-one blessing from ninety-seven-year-old revered Dada J.P. Vaswani, guru-brother to Integral Yoga Institute founder Sri Swami Satchidananda. It’s also serving up yoga classes, yummy vegetarian food, and even the accommodations are gratis. Your crash pad for this gig is a double-occupancy room at the Doubletree Hotel Friday night, near Newark Airport. (Good vibrations are still free as well!)
Besides all these appealing freebies, I asked Chandra, general manager of Integral Yoga Institute, about the most meaningful item in the gift package. Chandra shared her thoughts with me.
“To be in the presence of Dada J.P. Vaswani, a great yoga master whose lineage goes back thousands of years, is a rare opportunity today. And to be together in community and connection is a hallmark of the teachings of Swami Satchidananda and Integral Yoga,” she said immediately.
The idea that I might partake of something like a spiritual “happening” that I missed out on in my youth is very tempting. So is their planned itinerary: there will be a Kirtan upon arrival, “Discover Yourself” talks and one-hour Q&As with Dada Vaswani on both days (using pre-submitted questions on slips of paper). Each person will receive a direct, personal blessing if they commit to becoming a vegetarian on May 14.
On Saturday morning there will be yoga classes (one classic Integral mixed level, one advanced, and one chair yoga). Also on tap, a video showing of the Satsang with Dada and Integral Yoga’s founder, Swami Satchidananda, along with a screening of Living Yoga: The Life and Teachings of Swami Satchidananda. There will be plenty of books and other literature to tote home, again, all at no cost.
Interestingly, long before yoga was such a trendy topic, Integral was introducing Hindu-style peace, love, understanding, and lotus poses to the counterculture. The white-bearded Sri Swami Satchidananda’s message of selfless service to others reverberated in the tie-dyed ’60s. The Integral founder even gave the invocation at Woodstock, where he said to 400,000 people: “The entire world is going to know what the American youth can do for humanity.”
Integral continues to attract today’s seekers, both millennials and those who never stopped believing in Flower Power. The idea that New York City yoga (as we know it) took root in the purple haze of 1966 and actually thrives in today’s techno-culture is fascinating. To be in the presence of this visiting venerated guru might be a chance to experience what spiritual energy was coming from India at a time when so many young people in this country were disenchanted by the status quo. Not much has changed in that respect.
So, how can all of this be free? What we have here is a generous gift from “Discover Yourself” event organizer Satish Daryanani, a devoted disciple of Dada J.P. Vaswani, who explains that “The teachings and principles of Dada Vaswani and Sri Swami Satchidananda are the same. Our purpose is to be happy and to make others happy. The purpose of all yoga teachings is to be happy and to accept everything that comes as from the loving hands of the divine. We should always have compassion for all creation.”
This is both giving back and paying it forward—all in keeping with the lifelong messages of these humanitarians.
Still situated on West 13th Street, Integral Yoga Institute remains a keystone in the Greenwich Village community with its ties to a colorful, not so distant past, and its continual reaching out to life as we live it today.
Om, shanti! Peace! And Happy 50th Birthday, Integral Yoga!!!