I found yoga boring. Yes!
Back when I was 30, I did a yoga program in Mumbai to ease my chronic knee problem. Though it worked well, I didn’t particularly enjoy doing it. Six months later, I moved back to my home country of Colombia, and soon yoga was a faded memory.
Two years later, I was back on a plane to India to attend two weddings in Goa and Chennai. This time, destiny took an unexpected turn.
A Casual Recommendation
In June 2014, I arrived in Goa unannounced, to surprise my friend on his wedding day. As soon as our eyes met, I realized that something had changed about him. He was somehow different! “What are you into?” I asked him laughingly, as soon as I had an opportunity to talk to him alone. “I am doing Isha meditations and have been visiting the ashram in Coimbatore,” he said. “If you have time during your travel from here to Chennai, you may want to try it too,” he added and left it at that. Then we got busy with the marriage celebrations.
Signed Up for Inner Engineering to Pass Time, But...
Later, the word “Isha” flashed in my mind from nowhere while I was on my way to Chennai. I checked online and found there was an interesting program called “Inner Engineering” happening at the Isha Yoga Center exactly during those four days when I was free. I saw this as a sign and without much research, simply signed up thinking it would be a good way to pass the time.
When I arrived at the center, however, I was quite taken in. The Inner Engineering program touched me in a way nothing had before… so much so that I postponed my trip back home. After attending the wedding in Chennai, I came back to the ashram to volunteer for two months.
The Joy of Doing Tiny Tasks
Those two months – except for some time spent working with Isha Arogya – my days were spent cutting vegetables, ushering visitors, selling flowers, serving food, mopping the program halls, etc… Life came to an ease. The joy of doing these seemingly menial tasks was much larger than what I had ever experienced while doing “big” things. The volunteering experience makes this place truly special, I must say. It’s too surreal to see educated people doing simple things with so much involvement. I was inspired!
A Close Encounter with a Few Volunteers
One incident at the ashram particularly overwhelmed me. On a special occasion at the ashram, I saw a huge line in front of the Volunteers’ Reception Office – nicely dressed people were waiting patiently to be assigned a task for that day. I too joined the line. Soon, I was told to volunteer with the flower decoration team.
There, I met a group of volunteers coming from a center in Chennai. For most of them, it was their first visit to the ashram. During their entire day-long stay they were involved in flower decoration with a zest and involvement that I only thought possible in some imaginary universe. They didn’t step out of the hall, even to visit Dhyanalinga or Linga Bhairavi. They simply went on joyfully with the tasks assigned to them. The next day, when they went around to say goodbye to their fellow volunteers, no one could miss the shine on their faces and their serene presence.
This touched me immensely. I wondered if I could ever be like this. If it had been my first visit to the ashram, I would have surely visited Dhyanalinga at the least. But these beautiful people seemed so grateful and happy for just getting to do something to make an event happen in the best possible way. I thought if I could offer myself like this, my life will be lit too!
HYS teachers’ visit to Colombia tipped me off finally
I was back in Colombia after two months, busy again with my “big” projects.
One day, I received an email from a volunteer from the Isha Yoga Center in India. The volunteer told me that two teachers who had graduated from the Hatha Yoga School were coming to teach free Upa-Yoga sessions in Colombia. He requested if I could translate some text material in Spanish to invite people for the sessions. I said, “Yes.”
The next weekend went by with me volunteering for Upa-Yoga sessions. Before the session started, the teachers realized that the volunteers who were assigned to translate the sessions live into Spanish, lacked the necessary English skills. They asked me to do it instead. I gladly accepted, and that was the ending of my life of doing “big” projects!
Seeing how people were touched by this simple practice, I just knew then that this is what I wanted to do in my life – to reach out to people. Within a year, I was back in Isha Yoga Center to participate in the Isha Hatha Yoga Teachers’ Training Program.
Fast Forward to 2017…
Here I am now, a blessed graduate of the Isha Hatha Yoga School doing what I really want to do – volunteering at the Isha Yoga Center. Soon, I plan to be back in Colombia to offer what I have learnt here, and hope to touch as many lives as possible.
Ana Milena Pinzón Escaf (Mili), 37, NEOMA Business School, (Rouen, France), MARQAS – Brand Strategy Director, Colombia.