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.