What the Centre means to me

Enthusiastic guests at the Annual Community Retreat, 2009

Just before the beginning of the Annual Community Yoga Retreat (our 38th consecutive summer yoga retreat) I asked some of the early arrivals what the annual retreat on Salt Spring means to them. Here are some of their answers:

Piet Shakar Suess – born on Salt Spring, living in Los Angeles
Is there a word for community and family combined into one word? Because that’s what it is to me. I’ve been coming here since I was a baby, so this is my home. It’s very easy to be happy and at ease here because everybody has that energy – before, during and after the retreat. It’s difficult to think of not coming back in the summer; it’s my yearly recharge. It’s like a touchstone, a return to the source of power. I give this place a lot of credit for making me who I am. Jai Sita Ram! Jai Hanuman!

Jai Aguirre – Mount Madonna Center
The Salt Spring Centre is a wave in my heart, a place that’s never too far away in my mind. It’s a place where my Canadian family keeps the fires burning, a place Babaji brought me as a boy and showed me a garden where his spiritual seed has taken root, and now a beautiful flower blooms. Salt Spring is also the home of the rock wall and the blueberry!

Shushil Skralskis – from the Pacific Northwest, living in California
For me it’s the people, the atmosphere, positive memories, the overall vibes. The Salt Spring Centre is a different flavour of Babaji’s teachings that’s manifested here; I see Babaji’s teachings in a different form. There’s something about the landscape, the people, even the political structure of the Salt Spring Centre, that’s refreshing. The retreat has a laid back, summery feel.

Caleb Corkum – Vancouver
I come here because it’s peaceful and quiet. I get to read and write; it’s a nice space for that – no distractions. I get to work with and hang out with people I don’t see a lot, like the folks from MMC. The people are friendly and the food is great. I don’t have to deal with the distractions of the city; everyone is calmer in this environment. It’s a comfortable, extended family atmosphere.

Mischa Pavan Makortoff – Vancouver
I’m part of the second generation of the extended satsang family. I continue to come back as an adult because I feel a strong connection to the place and the people. It’s a supportive, loving environment. I get to eat delicious food, hang out with wonderful people, see old friends again and make new friends – and I can do karma yoga. Being here, I experience wonderful flashbacks of past memories as I make new memories.

Jessica Yogita Zovar – Santa Cruz, California
The Salt Spring Centre of Yoga exists as a place of abundance, beauty and relaxation. Its land and people are very welcoming. The Centre opens its arms to you so that you may open more to all that is peaceful within and around. I’m called back every year to laugh, rest in the beauty of the land and return home to myself. And – you can easily fall in love in the strawberry fields. I did.

Toby Gaurav Aguirre – Santa Cruz, California
The Salt Spring Centre is my home away from home. For more than twenty years I have come here for the practice, the serene setting and to pick up with friends right where we left off. Excursions to the lake, volleyball battles and Capture the Flag pace us through the day. In 2007 I found true love here. Three weeks of weeding strawberries, yoga and bike riding, and we were in love. Next year we return with our first baby!

Ramsharan Aguirre – Mount Madonna Center
It’s difficult to put into few words the years of experiences, friendships and learning that have arisen from my bond with the Salt Spring Centre. From the earliest visit when we replaced the farmhouse roof – with Babaji nailing wood shingles – the classes, kirtan, talent nights, my morning walks with Babaji, endless rock walls, chai and wonderful meals, I  always head home with a full heart and a deep satisfaction. The future is secure as the young folk continue to return and keep in touch with each other. Thank you all.

Interview: Girija Edwards, Ayurveda practitioner and teacher

Girija in South India

Ayurveda is the science of life and longevity. The word “Ayurveda” comes from a combination of two Sanskrit words: “ayus” (life) and “veda” (knowledge of). This May, long time Ayurveda practitioner and teacher, Girija Edwards, will lead workshop participants in an engaging and empowering exploration of the principles of Ayurveda.

Here Girija shares a bit about her practice and how it has impacted her life, as well as an Ayurvedic tip that can be easily integrated into your life.

Q: How long have you been practicing the principles of Ayurveda?
Without actually knowing it, I’ve been practicing Ayurveda since 1968, 43 years ago. At that time, I became a vegetarian and understood it was best to eat local and simple foods. In 1980, Baba Hari Dass introduced me to a health system known as Ayurveda. That same year I had my first formal lesson in Ayurveda from Dr. Robert Svoboda.

At that juncture I had been involved with the natural health food and natural healing movements, here on the west coast. So as I listened to Dr. Svoboda expounding the genuine holistic healing approaches of Ayurveda, my whole being vibrated with its Truth. Now, what I had witnessed at healing clinics and ashrams, the numerous diets I had experimented with, herbal remedies I prescribed, could all easily be explained from the principles put forth in Ayurveda. There was no need to search any other system of natural healing. The practice is here and will be for years to come.

Q: How have the principles of Ayurveda impacted your life?
Understanding Ayurvedic principles has had a most profound impact in my life. Not a day goes by since ‘knowing’ that I do not look, hear, smell, taste or touch, without observing what Ayurvedic principles are at play. As the basic theory proposes that we are a product of five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. Different combinations of these five elements are what determines who we are both physically and mentally.

In my recent experience living at an authentic Ayurvedic clinic in South India, I was able to see far beyond my expectations about what Ayurvedic therapies can do both physically and mentally for those with serious health problems and those such as myself just wanting to experience the traditional and authentic Ayurveda at its source. The Vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians) at the clinic used these ancient Ayurvedic principles wisely, thus having an impact that has further changed me both physically and mentally. Just when you think you understand, a beautiful thing happens that transports you to another level of being.

Q: Can you share one easy tip/practice/recipe that is easy to incorporate into daily life?
Your tongue is a barometer of your digestive activity. Clean the tongue using a tongue scraper, spoon or blunt side of a dinner fork. Once you have finished with the tongue scraping, drink warm water – not coffee or tea – just warm water. Tongue scraping removes ama, or toxic waste, from the surface of the tongue, as well as stimulating digestive function.

Find out more about Girija’s experience of Ayurveda on her blog OilOfOhm.com.

To learn more about how the practice of Ayurveda can bring wellness into your life and to learn more practical tips, join us for an Ayurveda Lifestyle Weekend, led by Girija Edwards and Christine O’Donnell, May 20-22, 2011.

Take advantage of our Bring-A-Friend discount. Details online.