My “Salt Spring Centre experience” began in 1995 when I was introduced to the Centre by my friend John while visiting the island that summer.
John had a picture of Baba Hari Dass on his fridge. I remember asking him, “Who is that man in that picture?” He replied, “Babaji. He is a yogi, he is enlightened and is the master teacher to the Dharma Sara Satsang Society”. John told me that Babaji visits the Salt Spring Centre and that in fact he was arriving next week!
As he continued with the story of who Babaji was and more about yoga, I became more intrigued. The next day we attended a beautiful yoga class at the Centre and I was instantly attracted to the magic of the land and the house. I remember telling John when leaving, “That was amazing – my first yoga class!” Over a week later I arrived back on the island and again visited the Centre as the Annual Family Retreat had just begun.
We arrived while Bhagavad Gita class was happening in the Satsang room. That room was so packed with islanders and visitors from abroad that it was hard to believe it was the same room I had taken a yoga class in. At the front of the room was Baba Hari Dass, perched on his low bench, wearing all white and using a small chalkboard to communicate. I remember as I walked in he looked over in my direction and I felt he noticed me, as he did when others walked in and out of the room. He was aware of everyone in the room and took note of people coming and going.
He answered questions using the little chalkboard, and I listened carefully to both the questions asked and his replies. Some of his replies were short and simple and others more complex, giving the group a moment to pause and ponder. I remember I felt confused, lost in this foreign topic and the devotion the men, women, and children in the room seemed to feel. As strange as this was to me, it resonated deeply and I knew I needed to learn more. It wasn’t my intelligence that wanted to know; it was my spiritual curiosity.
When we left that afternoon I eagerly asked John, “When can we come back?” He said, “Tomorrow, for Satsang,” I had no idea what that was, but again I was intrigued.
When we returned the next day, there was a huge crowd of people gathered in the main room again and Satsang had just begun. I was drawn in by the sound of the harmonium, drums and tambourines being played, and everyone singing the beautiful songs in Sanskrit. I didn’t know what my eyes and ears were taking in, but knew it was ancient and truly sacred.
That day was lifechanging for me. I left the island for Vancouver, knowing that a connection was there for me. I felt ready to return home and nurture my spirit and learn more about yoga.
I continued to visit the island and the Centre whenever I could to take yoga classes and sit in on Sunday Satsang, to absorb as much as I could, feeling like I had to make up for lost time in discovering myself, love, and a true devotion for spirit.
When I was asked in class one day by a student who was always beside me if I was a yoga teacher because of my dedication and continued attendance in class, I laughed and said “No, are you kidding…I don’t know how to teach a yoga class.” My teacher at the time overheard this and started a discussion that would peak my curiosity about the possibility of exploring teaching. The many reasons why I thought I couldn’t teach started with “I’m too shy, I don’t have the knowledge, etc.” In spite of all of the negative reasoning, I started to consider the real possibility of learning to teach, and through my personal practice it became more and more real.
In 2001, I decided to look for a yoga centre where I could complete my YTT and start teaching.
I looked as far New York and Quebec, but then realized the training was right here in my backyard, at the Salt Spring Centre.
I attended the first YTT offered at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, in 2002. I was part of a lovely group of men and women in the first program, to learn, and to deepen the path and our roots in yoga. It was beautiful. Some of the friends I met then are still with me.
I visit the Centre as often as I can, to teach at the weekend Yoga Getaways and at the annual YTT program. Practicing selfless service, helping when I can, serving the spiritual community. Jai!
The wonderful stories that I remember from all my visits to the Centre flood my mind – the yoga classes, the food, walks on the property and through the garden, the people who arrive curious like I was, the cycle of karma yogis who come and go, the elder members I love to sit with and prompt them to tell their stories. I love the stories of the search for the land (near and far) and their inquiries of Babaji on what to do. What to do! My personal story continues from my heart and on my path… JAI!