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New England Nature and Yoga Day Workshop

A Devotee’s Personal Experience

Nature and Yoga Day Workshop participants
Nature and Yoga Day Workshop participants

During the past year, our New England satsang resumed in-person gatherings. It has been a gradual process of reconnection. The satsangs have been sweet and spiritually nourishing, despite the additional challenge of currently no longer having an actual New England ashram location.

As with most of us, the time of the pandemic had been isolating for me. Yes, it brought me closer to the beauty of Mother Earth as its creatures and plants were less encumbered by the disregard and mistreatment of humans. Yes, I felt particularly close to Amma, as close as she always seems to be in trying times. And yet, it was isolating.

The Nature and Yoga Day Workshop on June 17, 2023, hosted by Embracing the Trees New England (ETT) was held at the home of devotees, Sujata and Abhinav. For me, it was the perfect post-pandemic antidote: blending of a community gathering coupled with an opportunity to experience and honor Nature.

We were also blessed with Swamini Ambikāmrita Prāna’s presence, further deepening our experience of Amma throughout the day-long workshop. The workshop’s purpose was to honor Nature, learn about Embracing the Trees (a GreenFriends tree planting initiative across North America) and to celebrate the International Day of Yoga.

To be honest, I had decided to attend the workshop primarily to assist with seva. I had few expectations and only a modicum of motivation to attend. Perhaps you know as I do how the mind can conjure up excuses! I showed up for the workshop but was unprepared for the deep, loving, and informative experience that I was about to encounter.

An Amrita Yoga session, led by Sujata outside on the driveway, was a beautiful beginning for our retreat. Sujata led us through a series of yoga poses, promoting mindful movement and awareness, fostering a heart-centered state.

This was followed by an outdoor eco-meditation led by Swamini. In her talk, Ahalya, the regional coordinator for ETT, mentioned,

As we experienced in the eco-meditation, we can learn from the gentle, slow pace of trees, as a way to slow down our minds. I know that my life, and my mind, feels like it keeps moving faster and faster, and I need help to turn my focus to a slower pace that is not dominated by the mind’s fears and anxieties."


Next, we were introduced to Amma’s 999 Yoga Challenge for C20. Amma has encouraged people around the world to take the challenge: nine sun salutations and nine minutes of peace meditation, for nine days.

The workshop participants had various opportunities to interact and share ideas, both through organized discussions and informally during our delicious Mexican lunch and afternoon chai break. During the icebreakers section of the day, each attendee described how they were inspired by trees or nature. Kameshwari shared how one of the pine saplings in her yard grew very slowly for the first few years but now, 12 years later, it is a huge pine tree. She compared this patience shown by nature to how we may not see visible fruits of our sadhana (spiritual practices) in the beginning, but with time and remaining steadfast in our practice, we will definitely see results.

Amrita yoga outdoors
Amrita yoga outdoors

AYUDH members, Anika and Harsh hosted the Nature games segment. Participants were split into two teams and asked to act out galloping horses, peacocks and monkeys. We had a lot of fun and the acts were surprisingly creative, resulting in lots of good laughs.

I was particularly impressed with the talks and demonstrations led by satsang members and Embracing the Trees New England (ETT) representatives Ahalya, Jess, and Victoria. I learned about our interdependence with nature, how to plant a tree, and some of ETT’s next steps. Some notes from Ahalya’s talk will be included in next quarter’s newsletter.

An interesting fact I learned from Jess’s presentation is that mycelium, fine fungal threads, intertwine with tree roots and act as nature's underground internet, forming mycorrhizal networks that connect tree roots, facilitating the exchange of vital nutrients and information. Through this intricate web, trees can communicate and support each other, sharing water, nitrogen, carbon, and other minerals.

Tree-planting demonstration by Victoria
Tree-planting demonstration by Victoria

Victoria gave us tips on how to plant saplings. She demonstrated this guidance by planting a plum sapling in Sujata’s yard. She described the depth to which the sapling needed to be planted, making the soil welcoming for the new sapling, its watering needs and gave us care instructions.

After the workshop, I was inspired to sign up for Amma’s 999 Yoga Challenge. I followed through on my commitment and I was able to step up to the yoga mat and meditation cushion for nine consecutive days. One result was that I felt more at peace. I was also more aware of how easily the mind can be swayed this way and that! I have faith that Amma, Nature, and my community will help steer the path. Many thanks!

Pranata - New England

Read about How to Save Oodles of Precious Water in the Q3 2023 newsletter >>


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