The third Inner Engineering program in Kampala, Uganda took place from 23rd to 29th October this year. We bring you sharing from participants and volunteers.

The third Inner Engineering program in Kampala, Uganda took place from 23rd to 29th October this year. From farmers to CEOs, 99 people from various cultures, religions and economic backgrounds were a part of the 7-day program. Joy Murumba, a 73-year-old participant describes her journey from initial misapprehensions to understanding and appreciation for yoga.

Joy Murumba

Joy Murumba: I come from a very staunch Protestant Christian background. My grandmother was among the first Christian women of Ankole kingdom in Western Uganda. My grandfather was the first African Archbishop from Uganda, Archbishop Eric Sabiti.

When I first learnt about Isha Yoga from my daughter Pam and niece Claire, I was a bit apprehensive. I thought it was a cult, especially because it was from India and I had previously had an image of Indian faiths, such as the Hindu’s being so different from my own Christian beliefs. But I started observing Pam’s moods and I thought she was calmer and relaxed after yoga. A few months ago when we were in Ndali at the foot of the Mountains of the Moon, they started talking about the Inner Engineering course and then Pam told me she would book me for the October course. But when I went home I forgot all about it. Then in October I came to Kampala for a different reason and it just so happened that it was time for this course to begin, so I decided to try it out.

I felt awkward sitting in a chair when everyone else could sit on the mat, but after the session when I went home, I found I wanted to do more and learn more about this yoga. As the days went on I found my body was getting more relaxed…

The first day of the course, when I entered the hall, my first words were: “This is my last time coming here,” because there were so many stairs and my right side has old injuries in the wrist and hip. I also felt awkward sitting in a chair when everyone else could sit on the mat, but after the session when I went home, I found I wanted to do more and learn more about this yoga. As the days went on I found my body was getting more relaxed, there was less pain and I started climbing the stairs with more ease, and I gradually started sitting on the floor and doing most of the movements. I also enjoyed the information which, coming from a medical background (I practiced midwifery for many years and was trained in the UK), I found very scientific and made a lot of sense, especially when it comes to diet.

As each day passes I am continuing to improve and becoming more flexible. The practice makes my body very relaxed, my mind is clear and I feel peaceful.

I have since read a book on Sadhguru’s life. I think he is an extraordinary person, although I still find some of the writings and lessons a bit too complicated and scientific for me to completely grasp. I thoroughly enjoyed the Inner Engineering course and Praveen teaching – he was always cheerful and welcoming. I have also made new acquaintances who I hope to keep up with.

Lulu Sturdy, who has shared previously about the Silent Revolution taking place in her little nook in Uganda near the Rwenzori Mountains, tells us a bit more about what it takes to bring “32 very poor village farmers, many of whom have only just got beyond their local market,  to the noisy, crowded, fast paced, congested capital city.”

Chris: “I thank you so much for the good heart and love that you show me to call me to enjoy Inner Engineering…”

Lulu Sturdy: In September I blogged about an Isha teacher giving an intro talk to Inner Engineering, followed by the Isha Kriya, to 60 local villagers around our farm in Western Uganda. The intro talk was translated as 95% of them did not understand English. Many of them kept up with the Isha Kriya daily practice, and three months later we had 46 people wishing to register for the Inner Engineering programme in Kampala, held at the end of October.

The seven wonderful Uganda volunteers we had: Magidu, Ntongani, Ivan, Simon, Mbusa, Daudi and Moses, worked round the clock during the programme, which meant most nights they were only getting four hours sleep, and with perhaps a one-hour break during the day. But I very much doubt they got even that – because try taking 32 very poor village farmers, many of whom have only just got beyond their local market, to the noisy, crowded, fast paced, congested capital city… and it’s a recipe for… fun? Visualise 32 Shankaran Pillais or recall to mind Sadhguru’s story of the village boy who stayed in a town “dormitory” for the first time and was desperately worried how he would know which was himself when he woke up.

Magidu, the translator.

First off, just crossing the busy road to get to breakfast was a huge exercise in itself. Many of them, rightly so, were petrified of crossing the road to get to their meals. So volunteer boys had to arrange for volunteer escorts for road crossing and fixed meal times. Menus had to be carefully chosen and set each day with severity as a healthy dose of participants decided that meat twice a day, every day, was what part of their course-cost contribution should be put towards – simply because at home they may only eat meat five times in a year. Then each day a different participant would be feeling ill and would need chaperoning to the clinic or the pharmacy; and one night a handful were turfed out of their rooms and locked out of the hotel at 1am in the morning, due to a cranky hotel manager.

One of our Ugandan volunteers, Simon Bigabwenkya, shared his experience: “Everyone in their lifetime should give up himself for others. In my experience, I now understand what it is to be a mother to the world. Words cannot explain it.”

One participant, Chris, a boy from our village who has just turned 17, has astoundingly taught 33 students at his school the Isha Kriya in the past week, including his sports teacher. Three months previously he had already started up his own Isha Kriya group in the village and everyday towards 7pm I hear their “Ahh” chants stretching down the leafy track that leads towards the village from our house.

After Shambhavi initiation, Chris requested to volunteer for the last two days of the course: so he would attend as a participant in the morning and volunteer in the evening sessions. Later, I received the following text message from Chris: “I thank you so much for the good heart and love that you show me to call me to enjoy Inner Engineering… really was so much enjoyable, fantastic, interesting programme, really I don’t know how can I thank you. I thank you so much and more for wondaful work done.”

As for me, I found myself gathering together our non-english speaking contingent after each class and slowly going over the vital aspects of the class again with them, using one of our local volunteers to translate. What an unforeseen journey and privilege. Firstly, I learnt about the power of the translator. If the translator was getting the smallest bit frustrated, exhausted or unfocused then this would feed through to the participants after a short while. It simply hadn’t occurred to me how vital the translator’s role was, and I was constantly amazed at the powerful situation Sadhguru set up that allowed myself and the translator to be fully on. All the more so because none of the volunteer boys had ever done any translation work before, let alone on Isha-related matters. What was astounding now I look back on it, was that Magidu did a lot of the clearest translating. Magidu has been leading the Isha Kriya sessions every day at our vanilla factory, and has all the passion of a natural devotee. But he has a stammer. During Inner Engineering translating I did not hear him stammer once. Just clear, focused, precise translating.

Shambhavi practice, post IE at Ndali vanilla factory.

And now, back at the vanilla farm… how excited I am to be able to practice Shambhavi, followed by the Isha Kriya, upstairs in the factory every morning with the growing band of Ishas before we start work. Meditation is truly descending upon Ndali.

We hope in the near future to send six village Ugandans to the ashram. The time is definitely ripe, but we have to start with the hurdle of getting them passports (let alone Indian visas). So in the meantime, “and now to Anga Mardhana…”