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Supporting “Yoga Gives Back”

Yoga has changed our lives. Not a day passes, that I am not grateful for the practice of yoga. When I learned about the nonprofit organization “Yoga Gives Back”, it was a no-brainer to sign up for their monthly donations. Their mission statement says:

Our mission is to express our gratitude for the gift of yoga by mobilizing the global yoga community to empower women and children in India to build sustainable livelihoods.

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Partially, the donations come from a group of friends who regularly find their way to the OM Home for our meditations. Yoga Gives Back began supporting micro credit programs in 2007. They lend small loans to women who are otherwise excluded from the conventional banking and financial systems. Today, YGB funds nearly 900 mothers and children with micro loan programseducation funds and scholarships for higher education in Karnataka and West Bengal. To learn more about Yoga Gives Back, check out their website.

Love, Uta

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First OM Home retreat to Bhakti Fest

Yvonne, Troy & Uta at Bhakti Fest 2015

Yvonne, Troy & Uta at Bhakti Fest 2015

For the past five years I have been attending both Bhakti Fest in September and Shakti Fest in Spring. It has been my dream to share this extraordinary experience with people. For the first time, Troy was able to join me to the festival, and our friend Yvonne made her way to California from Germany, to join us on our ventures to the California desert.

Relaxing between yoga classes at main stage

Relaxing between yoga classes at main stage

 

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to take classes with most of the yoga teachers at the event, so this time I decided to dedicate most of my time to listening to Kirtan and chanting along. Yvonne and Troy explored some yoga classes with teachers they hadn’t met, such as a Kundalini class with Kia Miller and various workshops.

 

 

Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa with Tim Miller

Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa with Tim Miller

It was a privilege for me to assist in Tim Miller’s classes on Saturday and Sunday. Quite a big crowd of curious students found their way to the Ashtanga classes, although they most likely were the most challenging option on the schedule. In honor of Hanuman’s weekday Saturday, we chanted the Hanuman Chalisa together with the whole group of students. Message us to join us to one of the festivals in 2016!

Love, Uta

 

 

 

 

Enchanting weekend with Krishna Das, Tulku Sherdor and Tim Miller

 

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Tulku Sherdor teaching Buddhist Chants at the Garrison Institute

Kirtan with Krishna Das

Kirtan with Krishna Das

Barely returned from our trip to Hawaii, I packed my bags again to head to the Garrison Institute in Upstate New York for the Heart of Devotion retreat. The lineup was phenomenal: morning yoga classes with Tim Miller (Timji), afternoon sessions on Buddhist chanting with Tulku Sherdor, Hanuman Chalisa’s with Nina Rao, and stories and chanting with Krishna Das, aka KD. The evenings were reserved for Kirtan. I took this picture when KD was chanting during the first night – check out the beam of light shining down on his harmonium!

 

It was an absolute honor and delight to be assisting Timji during the yoga classes in the morning. Not everyone who attended was an Ashtanga practitioner, and especially to someone new, this practice can be intimidating. I absolutely enjoy assisting people in their practice – especially beginners – and offering modifications to make the poses more accessible. Krishna Das had joked he would attend the Sunday morning class, so we had saved him a spot right in front. As you can see in the picture, the spot stayed empty 😉

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Intro to Ashtanga Class

Leslie, Uta & Timji

Leslie, Uta & Timji

Tulku Sherdor gave a very special workshop on devotional tibetan chanting (picture at top of post). You can watch the full workshop here.

Another highlight of the weekend was to meet Leslie Kaminoff, who stopped by to catch up with his friends KD and Tim Miller.

Krishna Das will be taking a sabbatical next year, let’s hope for a repeat of this lineup, soon!

Love, Uta

Bheemashakti Mandala in Prague:

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Join Troy for a 49 day Mandala training of Bheemashakti Yoga in Prague from October 15th to December 2nd. Two 21 day cycles of daily practice, one week of rest between cycles. Message us for details!

 

Individual Retreats upon request

Just email us at info@theomhome.com or complete this form:

Yoga in Amsterdam – What Else?

In continuation of Troy’s last post I can tell you this much – he eventually made it to Germany and we had a lovely time visiting with family and friends. To make his return trip as smooth as possible, we had booked his ticket from Amsterdam, with high chances of making it on a flight for the U.S. We embarked on an eight hour train ride across Germany to reach the capital of the Netherlands. We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, which would give us some time to explore the city before our departure on Thursday morning.

Since I was busy working, I had asked Troy to do some research on what to do, where to stay, and of course, where to practice yoga. He found a very nice Airbnb accommodation for us with a couple that was also practicing and teaching yoga. The Nataraja statue in the pictures on their site quickly convinced us that it was our kinda place. And of course the hosts were very pleasant and made us feel right at home with freshly made smoothies.

After our train ride we were ready for a yoga class. Among the many offerings, Troy had picked out Svaha Yoga in Jordaan for us to visit – mainly because their schedule announced the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa on Tuesday evening after practice. I love the Chalisa and frequently chant it, and usually carry a pendant of Hanuman and Neem Karoli Baba around my neck.

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When we arrived, I noticed the sign on the door to remove shoes – as usual in yoga studios – and decided to take of my shoes before entering from the street. It was to the utter surprise of Patrick, the director of the studio, who immediately asked if we had been to India since nobody ever actually removed their shoes until after they had entered. At the front desk we received the most friendly welcome I have ever received at a yoga studio. I noticed all the familiar images of saints and deities I like to hang out with around the studio. Class started, and Patrick led us through a sweet, yet no less invigorating practice. While we were resting in Shavasana he walked around and gave some of us a little adjustment. He noticed my necklace and after ending the class pointed out to me that he was wearing the same one. Hanuman – in the form of Troy – had once again led me just to the right place.

After chanting the Hanuman Chalisa with Patrick, Gösta and a small group of practitioners, we managed to convince the two directors of Svaha Yoga to pose for a picture with us. It was a lovely experience and we will be sure to visit again when back in Amsterdam. Or maybe at their new retreat center in Suriname, South America…

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Upon Patrick’s invitation we returned for a practice the following morning and then made our way to the van Gogh museum to marvel at this tormented genius’s art. Our visit came to a close with a delicious home made vegetarian soup from our Airbnb host Bastian.

Bye voor nu!

Uta

Yoga Ventures in Kauai 

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Uta & Troy with Taro Fields

Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in Hawaii? Not only did we visit one of the most beautiful islands of this world, we got to share the experience with a lovely group of people who came together for a week of yoga practice twice daily. Our friend Nicole spoiled us with her excellent vegan and vegetarian cooking skills. Check out her website Blissfully Conscious if you are looking for delicious vegan catering.

 

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Afternoon yoga practice with Angela

In his post Steady Rhythm, Deep Roots, Troy gave some insights into the routine of the retreat. Mornings and afternoons were filled with bheemashakti yoga and practice and meditation. During the days we had some time to explore the island. Kauai’s nature is breathtaking. Frequent rainfalls create a lush vegetation – and magical rainbows…

Since Hawaii is Troy’s birthplace, it was extra special to explore the island with him. He introduced me to delicious local foods and a visit to the Kauai Museum revealed some fascinating stories of Hawaiian history and culture.

 

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Uta, Ganesha & Troy in the Rudraksha Forest

The highlight of our excursions was a trip to the local Hindu monastery. We attended their Shiva Puja on the full moon. As Troy and I were sitting in meditation after the ceremony, the temple priest walked up to us and engaged us in an inspiring and insightful conversation about yoga and spirituality. We left with our hearts open and our eyes sparkling. On our way back to the retreat site, we paid a visit to the Rudraksha Forest. The seeds of these trees are auspicious in Hindu tradition. It is said the Rudraksha tree grew from a tear of Lord Shiva, and the beads are now used in malas (108 beads) for japa meditation (recitation of mantra or names of deities).

It was obvious – this won’t be our last visit to the islands. Message us, if you want to join one of our upcoming retreats to Hawaii!

Mahalo, Uta & Troy

From Communism to free Spirit

Twenty five years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. At the time, I was living in the GDR and my dreams of traveling and seeing the world seemed as likely as visiting the moon. Studying yogic philosophy in a form of government, where access to any form of information is strictly monitored, must be challenging. Unfortunately, it is still a reality for some places in the world.

Today, I am flooded with gratitude. This auspicious turn in world history has not only allowed me to travel the world, but also to go on a journey, that may not have been possible in the setting of communist East Germany. A journey inward. Life has brought me to San Diego and has opened many doors for me to discover not only the beauty of the outside world, but also uncover the mysteries of our inside world. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunities that continue to present themselves.

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Professor Nagaraja Rao on the Upanishads

Just this past week I enjoyed the opportunity to study with a visiting Sanskrit scholar from Mysore, India. Professor Nagaraja Rao discussed with a small group of students the yogic texts Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Upanishad actually means to sit down near a teacher. It refers to the fact that knowledge is transferred to the student who sits close to the teacher, and thus receives the teachings directly. The Upanishads are also called Vedanta, since they are the closing part of the Vedas, some of the oldest Sanskrit scriptures. There are four vedas, the Rigveda, the Vajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. However, there are over 108 Upanishads, since the four vedas have many branches. I learned that the four parts of the Mantra Om relate to the Vedas. When pronounced, Om is split up into A, U, M and a resonance of the M. The “A” corresponds to the Rigveda and to our waking state. The “U” is the Vajurveda and our dream state. The letter “M” is the deep sleep state or the Samaveda, and finally the resonance embodies Samadhi or the Atharvaveda. These states as well as the Vedas comprise our whole life.

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Indian Lunch with Professor Rao

The lectures ended today with a delicious Indian lunch. Contemplating ancient Indian scriptures on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – what better way to celebrate.

Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti*

Lead me from the non-existent to the existent
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
Om Peace Peace Peace

* Mantra from the Upanishads

Love, Uta