DR ANANDA TOURS SOUTH AFRICA-APRIL2010
DR ANANDA TOURS SOUTH AFRICA-APRIL2010
11th April: Had a nice and safe journey from Pondicherry to Chennai to Dubai and finally to Cape Town where I was greeted warmly at the airport by my South Africa tour host Marietjie with Muralidharan and Ann-Maree Bukholt from Australia and New Zealand who had made the tortuous journey all the way to South Africa to be with me. After exchanging a pleasant round of welcome hugs we all drove to Marietjie’s home where we got to meet her lovely husband Ludi and their sons who have grown into nice young men. We had a nice dinner and then I had a welcome 10 hour sleep-a-ton!!
12th April: Woke up fresh today and had a lovely tour of the Table mountain and the important natural areas of this region beautiful place with amazing natural abundance. The table mountain has a very special energy at the top and it was also exhilarating to see the wonderful view of the entire area that gave me a panoramic perspective of the tip of Africa. The revolving cable car gives everyone an opportunity to see the complete 360o picture without having to fight with fellow passengers for window seats! Have a nice detailed programme lined up and will do my best with Swamiji’s and Ammaji's blessings.
13th April: Had to go out of the house early as the cleaning team was in for the morning and so we all had a nice trip down to the nearby Café that is funnily called the Citta Cafe!! We had a nice morning coffee and Chai session with a lot of discussion in the café that is very aptly named, for the Chitta Vrittis do have a wild time in cafes all over the world! We had a very nice Yoga class on the Chakras with the students who are an enthusiastic group of real seekers. The Anjali Yoga School is set up in a tasteful manner with an excellent Yogic ambiance created in the wholesome space.
Murali and I had a nice trip to the local hospitals with Dr Martin de Villiers and had a pleasant interaction with the practice manager at the big oncology centre who took us on a detailed tour and then with a general practitioner who led us on a tour of set up of their local polyclinic. Had the feeling that the oncology centre is more open to the possibilities of integrating Yoga than the GP who seemed to consider it more of a placebo effect than anything else!
The evening was spent in a gala time with dinner at Ludi and Marietjie’s home that was attended by the nearly two dozen students who have completed the Yoga: Step-by-Step correspondence course under Marietjie’s guidance over the past few years. We were treated to a slide show presentation of Asanas performed by the students that was compiled in a tasteful manner with suitable music. This was followed by a tasty dinner and then off we went back to the studio for a most amazing and invigorating drumming session with 20 of us beating away a rhythm on African drums! The leader of the session had a great personality and way of getting everyone involved and so we had a fun-tabulous time with lots of laughter and many swollen fingers by the end of that terrific session.
14th April: A very special trip to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment!!! Such a power place with real heaving feeling that reaches in and touches you deeply-why do humans make other fellow humans suffer?
Hope to do my best to make a difference wherever I can. Actually cried unabashedly when the guide (she was quite a star-ish character with spiky hair, fancy dressing sense et al) was telling us the story of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe who really suffered for thinking out of the box. Why is that we humans as a race have to "push off" those who are different? Why cannot we understand each other better - so many questions came to mind as we went through the Robben Island prison where so many suffered like the Indian freedom fighters did in the Kalapani prisons of Andaman and Nicobar. It is a grim reminder of what is done all over the world to those who decide to be "different' than the mob. It however helped me understand and appreciate Nelson Mandela even more than ever, for he had come back from that suffering and still could open up in such a humane way through his Gandhi-like policies of integration and harmonious co-existence rather than vindictiveness so typical of so many around the globe. Personally I feel that most prisoners on that island must have gone though immense spiritual self development either consciously or unconsciously for the human spirit does grow in such oppressed and grim situations more than in the comfortable and enjoyable ones. Of course that takes a special type of human being to realise it and I feel Mandela is surely one of those chosen ones, who choose to let the best occur in themselves.
On lighter note, it is estimated there are 250,000 rabbits on the island and it was funny to hear the guide say that the rabbits start breeding faster whenever they start to cull them!! Must say that it seems to be a nice form of offence as a defense!!
The evening saw a healthy gathering of over a 100 enthusiasts who crowded the Anjali School of Yoga for my public talk on Yoga and modern medicine. We had Yoga students, teachers, doctors and professionals from all walks of life under one roof-the roof of Yoga. They all listened in rapt attention and asked stimulating questions. The special moment was when Swamiji decided to enliven the proceedings by having the partition board placed at the entrance door fall down with a huge crash just as I was talking of our genetics being a loaded gun!!! It was for sure, perfect timing from a perfect Guru-father who always watches out for me.
15th April: Woke up early and got off on a 2-hour drive to enjoy the grand safari tour of the Aquila game reserve with a chance to see in flesh and bones the BIG FIVE of Africa- the lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard. After a nice breakfast we went off on the Safari with a most humorous guide who led us through a fun filled learning journey of what African wildlife is all about. We got to see the BIG FIVE and also enjoyed the zebras, springbucks, lazing in the water hippos and tall giraffes!!! The big moment was when we entered the lions’ den and wondered what was happened as one of the lionesses came close to us, but then realised safely that she was more interested in the ostrich hanging outside the big enclosure than in the humans riding the open jeep. The majestic rhino family and the two juvenile elephants added fun and frolic to the day with their antics before we had a sumptuous lunch and slept for most of the ride home after that fun filled day with so much learning and enjoyment.
The evening class at Anjali saw the introduction of a new Kriya to the Hatha Yoga repertoire in the form of the giraffe! This is done from the four-footed Chatus Pada by moving together at the same time both the arms and legs on the right side followed then by the left side to move forward like a giraffe. This is then done with the simultaneous action of stretching the head and neck as high as possible! You can imagine the laughter it evoked as all the students started following us without any hesitation until Linda broke the spell by saying “Well this cannot exist as it is not in the book and there are no giraffes in India!” Anyway it does exist from now on and it is my special tribute to those lovely dedicated students and teachers at Anjali, South Africa.
16th to 18th April: A wonderful birthday and retreat at the Blue Butterfly with such an amazing group of real Sadhakas who love Yoga so much. A yummy OM birthday cake baked by Linda (having the best ingredient of all-love) with 38 candles and a couple of sparklers tested my breath capacity but managed it all on one breath! Sophie had compiled the most amazing hand made booklet of 38 verses of Upanishadic wisdom and all participants had written in messages of greetings that evoked within my heart a deep sense of belonging. It seems like I am having more birthdays out of the country in the last five years and will be having the next one with my dear Gitananda Yoga family in the UK in April 2011!
The retreat itself was a great time with lots of fun and laughs that were the thread that held us all together as we embarked on a joyful Yoga Sadhana together. The morning Hatha Yoga sessions, the mid morning Pranayama and theory classes and the afternoon Yantra and Mantra sessions witnessed amazing teachings coming though me from no-where till it was all now-here! I always feel that it is the students who bring the best out of the teacher and this group certainly did bring the best out of me as they were so well prepared and loved every moment. Swamiji would have loved them. The presence of Ma Marie van Renen (Marietjie’s mom) was a special bonus for me as she has been the guiding force for all of the Gitananda Yoga Sadhakas and she has such a Yogic energy surrounding her at all times. Many of the participants stayed in outdoor tents and shared accommodation so that we could have 35 participants in space that would normally only manage 20 to 25. of course the food was splendid and every meal seemed to be better than the one we had complimented as the best. In fact the food on the entire tour gets our thumbs up whole hearted approval with a special word of appreciation to Penny Loots and team who made sure we were never starved of good food throughout our time in South Africa.An acrobatic fire show by Liza Johnson with energetic drumming by Ian Loots, Tharieta Bosman and Alida Bouwer added spice to the post Satsangha evening moments. I must say that I really loved the efforts put in by all concerned for the success of the retreat and felt a deep sense of great satisfaction as we drove back to Cape Town on Sunday.
19th April: This was certainly a day of meeting like minded people. We had a wonderful workshop on Yoga Therapy with twenty Yoga teachers from different traditions who are teaching in and around Cape Town. It was an open minded session with a lot of healthy exchange of ideas and all participants expressed the feeling that the seed of new ideas had been planted that may spring forth in the time to come. We also had a lovely visit to the Sivanna health centre where the emphasis is on an integrated holistic approach to healing and had a meeting over a tasty Indian luncheon at the home of Pramilla Vassen, one of the senior Ayurveda and Yoga personalities of the region. The day had not yet ended for we were to witness a very special sunset ceremony that was held beneath the imposing gigantic mother rock situated on the Llundadno beach. The ceremony was conducted by Dean Liprini, and as it was in progress I realised how the ancient cultures had all devised these important methods by which we could tune ourselves into the natural vibratory essence of Mother Nature. It was indeed a very touching experience that brought an end to another day of great experiences through Yogic sharing.
20th April: Another stimulating class with the students and teachers at Anjali on the Chakras and the respective Bhija Mantras wound up the official programmes but then after the tearful send off we had a quick round of souvenir shopping before I could get on my flight to Dubai. We were a bit tense as there was so much disruption of international flights due to the volcanic eruption over Europe that had seen the cancellation of 60,000 flights. Luckily I had no problems enroute to Dubai though I had to manage nearly 9 hours of doing nothing thanks to my later flight to Chennai. Spent the time shopping and managed to compose two new songs on Shiva and Krishna before catching my flight back to Chennai. Got back home at 1am tired but happy to be back home -sweet OM.
Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
Chairman: ICYER and Yoganjali Natyalayam
25, II Cross, Iyyanar Nagar, Pondicherry, India
www.icyer.com and www.rishiculture.org
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