Between 13 and 17 July, a special Chinese Inner Engineering Program was organized for 320 participants, at the Isha Yoga Centre.

Mandarin is not a language you would usually associate with the Isha Yoga Center in Tamil Nadu, South India, but between 13 and 17 July, it was heard quite frequently, sometimes drowning out even Tamil and English conversations. 320 Inner Engineering (IE) participants from China were largely responsible for this not-so-usual situation, with some help from 40 volunteers who supported in translations and organizing during a special Inner Engineering Retreat organized in Chinese.

Participants and volunteers had travelled from China, Malaysia and Singapore, and many travelled here thanks to word-of-mouth communication. Others had more interesting introductions to Sadhguru and Isha. Yufan’s journey for example began on Amazon.com. “My first introduction to Sadhguru came during my first year in middle school when I was searching Amazon and found the book ‘Midnights with the Mystic’. This was the only Isha book with Chinese translation, and my English was not very good yet, so I read it over and over again. In high school, when my English became better, I bought other e-books and then took Inner Engineering Online. I still had to finish high school, but I took Isha Hatha Yoga classes in China (with the local teacher) and then I was able to come here for the retreat program.”

A few Chinese nationals had attended previous IE programs, and their appreciation and transformation also inspired the turn out on this occasion. Almost 80% of the participants were stepping out of their country for the first time – just to learn yoga! The Chinese primarily came from 15 provinces with eclectic names such as Guang Dong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangsu and Shandong, and of course, from Beijing and Shanghai as well. The group was quite varied and included doctors, teachers and even yoga instructors with their own studios. 15-year-old students and 65-year-old grandparents bookended the diverse group.

Special mention has to made of Nilani, one of the participants who created quite a buzz at the ashram. She happens to be a radio anchor with Chinese National Radio’s Tamil station. Yes, you read that right! The Chinese National Radio broadcasts in Tamil as well, and it is one of their most popular international stations. At over half a century old, they are even planning to expand. Back to Nilani, her fluency in Tamil has had native speakers delighted, and she also happens to write flawless classical Tamil.

Sadhguru conducted a few sessions including the introductory session, and the participants were also graced with a few darshans during their stay. Participant Hu shares her experience of Shambhavi Mahamudra, the kriya taught during the program. “At the beginning it didn’t feel very good. Sadhguru said it’s important HOW you receive things. Others had strong experiences, but I didn’t have, I was worried if something was wrong. Then I started practicing Shambhavi – wow! The first time I felt transformation inside, it was so powerful and strong. It’s difficult to describe.”

One would have thought cultural difference might be a bit of shock, but the participants slid into the cultural milieu seamlessly. Jeannie says, “There is a feeling of back to nature. In the city we are so clean, full of hygiene. We are always washing our hands and feet. But during my stay, I lost my slippers so I just walked around without them. Some of my friends were staying at Nalanda, and when their taxi came to pick them up after the program, they got in. The car drove a few feet, but then stopped and they ran out. They had gotten so used to walking barefoot that they had left their shoes behind!”

And about eating with hands rather than spoons, forks or chopsticks, Yi Liu says, “I didn’t want a spoon between me and my food. I just wanted to be with it, like talk with it. It is so lovely, there is a real connection with the food.”

It wasn’t just the participants who were deeply touched. Volunteers too had their share of experiences. Yi Liu says, “During the 21-day Hatha Yoga Program, it was very intensive and physically challenging, but during the bhakti sadhana, I was becoming a devotee every day, and I felt gratitude for everything. Volunteering is a way for me to express this gratitude. In the past I felt like I could do lot of things – I saw myself as very big, with my mind always on myself. To be a devotee, I see myself as very small, and life is just like water: calm, peaceful, neutral to things around you – I want to be like that.”

Editor’s Note: Find out more about Inner Engineering, including upcoming program dates and venues.