This month Yarraville Yoga Centre were the privileged hosts to Father Joe Pereira, Founder and Managing Trustee of Kripa Foundation, from Mumbai. The foundation works across 12 states in India and in association with AA and NA in countries across the world, including Australia, treating people with addictions and HIV/AIDS. Teachers and students of yoga travelled from all over Melbourne, and Victoria to attend a talk and weekend workshop in yoga for rehabilitation. Rehabilitation of the Soul, through bodily postures (asana), and breathing techniques (pranayama).
Inspired by the dedicated lives and works of Mother Theresa and Mr BKS Iyengar, and his direct involvement with these two extraordinary mentors, Father Joe shares his faith and the daily practice of yoga and meditation, to help to recover a sense of ‘wholeness’ and ‘holiness’ in peoples lives. His travel itinerary covers the globe.
Father Joe studied directly with BKS Iyengar for 46 years. He received direct authority to teach and certify Iyengar Yoga students in a specific set of restorative poses designed to aid people in addiction recovery. The sequences help to instil confidence and a desire for self -study in the student within a safe and healing practice. Emphasis is on developing flexibility of the spine for a flexible mind willing to change, and opening the heart to receive love and compassion and grace.
At the workshop, Father Joe made clear that we are all addicts in some way. Addictive behaviour may present not only as substance abuse, also as gambling, online shopping, Netflix program viewing, or the Endorphine release experienced by “gym junkies”. Sensory gratification becomes habituated and ritualised in people’s lives. Even yoga practise can become addictive and potentially harmful if done without awareness and attention, but with attention it becomes a spiritual journey where each asana is as a contemplative prayer.
Through the practise of yoga asana and pranayama, with particular emphasis on the neurological, endocrinal and immune systems, Father Joe shared his learned knowledge and spiritual wisdom, to restore the homeostasis of the physical and physiological body. By holding poses with support, sometimes up to10 minutes, we can access a whole reservoir of energy and potential within. Whilst maintaining a sense of quiet, restfulness and contentment with alignment and balance, we can tap into the cellular level and a ‘remembered wellness’. Making our maximum effort our minimum, we can learn to surrender personal effort to grace. Loving the body back to life.
Generous and compassionate, Father Joe traverses effortlessly the fields of science, philosophy and faith, reconnecting us to our body, breath, heart and mind, then beyond the body and the breath to a deeper sense of self, the anandamaya kosa, or ‘original bliss’. He evokes the spirit of BKS Iyengar in his teachings, reminding us that every brick and blanket and strap we use is the loving hand of Mr Iyengar who first employed the use of props to facilitate a deeper experience. Through an experience employing less Will Power, more Willingness to change, an encounter is possible with a deeper sense of Self and the Divine within.
6 week course (19 Feb – 25 March 2020), Wednesdays, 7:30 – 8:45pm
Vanessa Shribman is a certified Iyengar teacher with 30 years of experience. She is the Director of the Coast Yoga Centre in South Australia where she continues to teach. She now lives part of the week in Melbourne and is excited to have the opportunity to teach at Yarraville Yoga Centre. She suffered a serious back injury in 2000 resulting in surgery and from that experience has developed a special interest in how yoga can help to rehabilitate a person with back pain. She is also a holistic physiotherapist working in private practice in South Australia and Victoria.
The course will include:
- First aid poses to help with acute pain.
- Gaining the confidence to move again
- Individual poses to assist with many types and causes of back pain such as disc prolapse, facet joint inflammation, ankalosing spondilytis, spondilolythesis, osteoarthritis, poor posture.
- Learn what not to do when you have back pain
- Build core strength
- Build strength in the muscles that support the spine
- Build length in the muscles that put load on the spine such as short hamstrings and hip muscles
- Learn skills to help with the fear and anxiety of back pain
The course is suitable for all levels, including beginners.
For further information about Vanessa, please click here
In September YYC were pleased to host Lulu Bull from the Blue Mountains NSW, for a 2 day yoga workshop, exploring the realm of human existence between Earth and Sky. Starting literally, from the ground up, Lulu instructed our hearts, our bodies, our minds in asana and pranayama practise, towards pratyahara, dharana, dhyana.
Faithful to the teachings of BKS Iyengar, we began our study at the skin on the soles of the feet and the architecture of the ankle bones, in standing poses. Lulu guided our awareness from the lift of arches of the feet and pressure through the heels, to draw up through the legs, stabilising the pelvis and extending the spine, awakening the mind.
Afternoon restorative practise took us from the skeletal frame into subtle musculature of the diaphragm and intercostals for the exploration of Ujayi breathing and Brahmari, “Bumble Bee” pranayama.
Respiration = Purification, Sauca.
Pratyahara, Sensory withdrawal, was experienced by the gentle placing of fingers across the eyes, “as softly as one holds a chick”. Images of Nature inspired exploration of our own true nature. Inhalation breaths entering the body to merge with the vast ocean that lies within each of us. A blending of the cosmic universal energy with individual spirit, for an experience of profound contentment, Santosa.
Empty head, Full heart.
Sunday began with abdominal poses, stoking the “agni” fire, building our strength and courage for backbends to follow. These were done pressing up away from the earths gravitational pull and by dropping back from above, in headstand, to the ground.
This humbling and ennobling practice was made available to all levels of student by Lulu’s gracious generosity and clarity of purpose, with a final quote about Dharma, from The Mahabharata, to encourage us all on our yogic path through practice – ‘dharma is that which uplifts, sustains, upholds those who have fallen, are in the process of falling or they have fallen. So dharma is that which uplifts people.’
What a great night it was. The shortest day of the year and the UN declared International Yoga Day. Around 30 students, staff and friends of Yarraville Yoga Centre gathered on Friday the 21st June to celebrate our love of yoga and to acknowledge what it has brought to our lives.
A warm and relaxing restorative class taught by Geraldine was followed by a sumptuous feast of soups and yummy treats.
So lovely to meet together and have a chance to find out something of the lives of these fellow travelers. Yoga friends that we normally only see briefly during class. A great bunch of folk joined by our common interest in this life affirming subject.
Gold coin donations were collected in aid of the Stop Adani campaign.
Many thanks to Geraldine and Madeline for putting this event together.
Come and celebrate the United Nations declared International Day of Yoga with us.
Friday 21 June. We will be running a restorative type yoga class which is free for all to attend followed by a supper.
Class time 6.00 – 7.30pm. Bring a plate of vegetarian food to share if you are able.
This years yoga day has an environmental theme. There will be an optional gold coin donation to go to the Stop Adani Coal Mine campaign.
In December 2018 Madeline, Erica and Geraldine attended a special 12- day event in Pune commemorating 100 years since the birth of Mr BKS Iyengar, celebrating his life and work. He was undoubtedly one of the worlds’ most influential exponents of yoga practice who developed a teaching methodology that made “Yoga for one and for all”.
Over 1250 people gathered from more than 50 countries worldwide, both teachers and students, side by side on their mats, from junior to most advanced, to practice together under teaching of Prasant and Geeta Iyengar.
Prasant, a philosopher and a poet, is the only son of Mr Iyengar and a writer of many books on yoga sutras, breath dynamics and esoterics. He shared his experiences of growing up in a household with a famous father and described “being carried on the shoulders of Guruji”, his duty not to follow Guruji but to understand his teachings.
Geeta, the oldest daughter of Mr Iyengar, a doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine and author of “Gem For Women”, demonstrated her compassion and unfailing curiosity in guiding people through various medical issues. She ignited all of us with her fervour and passion and devotion to yoga as a path to moral, physical, mental, and spiritual well being.
Morning classes were followed by afternoon talks, cultural and theatrical presentations, interviews, panel discussions and yoga demonstrations from the children of Bellur, the birth -place of Guruji.
Less than 36 hours after completion of the event, news travelled of the death of Geeta aged 74. She had spoken generously and lovingly of her father, Guruji, and her life as a teacher to the International Yoga community.
I feel privileged to have received her teachings in the last days of her life, and for her “namaste” blessing as I kneeled at her feet in gratitude.
Abhijata, one of granddaughters of Guruji, spoke openly and honestly in a soul -searching speech, and demonstrated a willingness to listen by inviting contributions to discussions in open-mike sessions. She now carries the legacy of Iyengar Yoga on her shoulders.
When asked about the future of Iyengar Yoga Geeta replied,
“Why worry about it…Reincarnation will be there… wait and see…”
On the weekend 17 and 18 Nov over 75 teachers and students of yoga from all over Australia travelled to Yarraville Yoga Centre to attend a weekend workshop delivered by the much loved Indian Iyengar yoga teacher Father Joe Pereira.
Father Joe who is one of the world’s most highly qualified Iyengar Yoga teachers having studied with BK S Iyengar for 45 years is also an ordained catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Mumbai.
Father Joe’s main work is as the founder and Director of the Kripa Foundation, a charitable organisation dedicated to the treatment of those with alcohol and substance addiction and those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Most of the Kripa Foundation’s clients are drawn from the slum areas of India’s cities and include children who have been making their way from a very young age by joining with tribes of their peers and living in extreme poverty without the loving support of family. Prior to the workshop classes we viewed a film on Friday evening documenting this work. The film “The Circle” by British filmmaker and yoga teacher Phillipa Frisby was recently awarded Best Documentary prize at the Delhi International Film Festival. It was a moving testament to the wonderful work of the Kripa Foundation.
Inspired by the dedicated lives and works of both Mother Theresa and BKS Iyengar, Father Joe shares his faith and the practice of yoga to help his patients recover a sense of ‘wholeness’ and ‘holiness’ in their lives. By reaching out and making himself available to children and adults afflicted with HIV and Hep C, and drug and alcohol addictions, he guides them on a path to wellness.
Through the practice of asana and pranayama, Father Joe shared his learned knowledge and spiritual wisdom, guiding us through a sequence of poses, to restore the homeostasis of the physical and physiological body. Strengthening the Immune system, soothing the Nervous system, nourishing the Endocrine system, nurturing the Cardio-respiratory system, cleansing gastrointestinal and urinary systems.
Sharing his humanity and humility, Father Joe showed us that by holding the poses for 3, 5 or 10 minutes, and maintaining a sense of quiet, a sense of restfulness, with alignment and balance, we can tap into the cellular level and a ‘remembered wellness’. By making our maximum our minimum, we can learn to surrender effort to grace, and an inner awakening.
Father Joe evokes the spirit of BKS Iyengar. He traverses effortlessly the fields of science, philosophy and faith, reconnecting us to our bodies, to our breath, and then beyond the body and the breath to the deeper sense of self that lies within each of us, the anandamaya kosa, or ‘original bliss’. He reminded us that without awareness and attention the practice becomes ritual, but with attention it becomes a spiritual journey where each asana is as a contemplative prayer.
It was a truly enriching weekend. Thank you Father Joe.
Class timetable runs as normal during ALL public holidays except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
See you on the mat at Yarraville Yoga Centre.