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photos (616 of 1628)Emotions just show up. You try to hide them and often you are not successful in doing so. If you are happy it shows up on your face and you’re unhappy it shows up on your face. And however hard you try to hold back the emotion it definitely shows up. Now, whether you should dramatize and create more trauma in other people and in yourself or rein it in, is your will, is your wisdom. You get upset with your boss you don’t show it as much as you show it to your spouse or your children. You do show it, but you have that regulator, you control how much it should be shown and that controller, the regulator, the thermostat is your wisdom. Where to show how much to show? That, in itself, is culturing our nervous system, culturing of our mind. Now, sometimes, if it’s uncontrollable, the emotions just come up. Don’t tag them. This is good or bad; that is how it is. It is okay to express anger; it is ok to express sadness, it is perfectly all right to express your joy or gratefulness. If tears come flowing it is perfectly okay. Do it. But be sensitive to the people around you when doing that, if possible. And I tell you most of the time it will be possible. Suppressing emotion is no good and dramatizing and overtly expressing is no good – middle path.”

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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IMG_5065 IMG_4560 I’m continuously grateful that I found the Art of Living Foundation. It is a special Foundation that helps people of all backgrounds traditions and cultures, and addresses people’s needs in many ways. The idea for The Lifestyle Retreats program came out of a desire to make the International Centre in Quebec available to as many people as possible.

So much has written about how our food, well-being, and happiness are impacted by our lifestyle that this seemed a natural focus for our program. One of our enthusiastic organizers learned of the statistics on people who are struck with cancer. He brought to our attention the need for people who have overcome this illness to learn tools and techniques to help reduce stress and re-energize the body in healthy ways.

We spoke with numerous specialists concerning what we could offer, and the response to the program from government and medical community has been exceptional. They see the need for people in remission under their care to learn ways to manage stress and improve their well-being.  As in other programs participants will be asked to complete a health questionnaire, so we can individually support each person who attends the retreat.  People can come on their own, or with a companion or family member.  We want to make everyone feel at home and well cared for.

Our aim is that the format of the Lifestyle Retreats encourages attainable basic skills – those that naturally and easily help participants to become happier and healthier. We decided to include two important programs – the Art of Meditation and the Happiness Program.  And we decided to start in October, when the autumn colours are so beautiful. Many people come to the foundation at this time of year just to see the colours.

The 6-day program for people in remission from cancer includes, time to rest, walk in nature, and socialize. Gentle yoga will be offered daily.  Talks on food, and insights on current research findings by our special guest speaker, Dr. Bharti Verma will also be provided .

For this October’s retreat we are excited and delighted to have Giorgio Minneci,  our chef from Italy, preparing the meals. Much thought and research is being done so the menus reflect current findings on foods that help combat cancer.

While this, our first Lifestyle retreat program, is focusing on helping people who are in remission from cancer, future programs will focus on other communities and their particular needs.  If you have suggestions for groups we can support please do let us know.Help us help others.

Lifestyle Retreat October 6th to 11th – Canadian Thanksgiving Week-end.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “If you are a giver of happiness you get joy and love.” Volunteering, or being in seva gives us the opportunity of being givers of joy and love. With all the wonderful comments we received from people this Guru Purnima about loving their time at the Centre, we knew this gratitude had to be shared with the people who made this visit possible, so a letter went out to the volunteer team that mentioned each person who had served and in what capacity, and partially began:

“Our mantra this year was Smile and Serve. And everyone served with a big smile. You showered all with your Selfless Service and proved that every challenge can be addressed with a smile.

Many people came on Guru Purnima night and said “Canada is the best”; you all make Canada a welcome home for everyone.”

And the love and joy flowed back in the following responses.

“Thank you for taking the time to express appreciation to the whole team! It means a lot.”

“It was a wonderful visit, so very happy Guruji came and blessed us all. The whole Ashram had such a calmness and quietness enveloping it this year.
Thank you for your thoughts and appreciation of all the Seva team.”

“Thanks to our Beloved Guruji to give me this great opportunity to love and serve with beautiful souls like you are! I am so blessed to be a part of this amazing family… to be a part of You!”

“I have never received a letter like this where someone painstakingly put all the names. It goes to show how much you care. THANK YOU for the opportunity to be in such wonderful Seva. These opportunities are a blessing beyond understanding :)”

“Everything at Guru Purnima was so beautifully organized. Everyone I spoke to had only good things to say, and how much they enjoyed being there. Congratulations for a very successful event, and thank you for all the hard work that you do.”

“Thank you all for making this year’s GP so very beautiful and successful. I wanted to share a brief exchange I had with someone I did not know, on the day I was leaving.

As I was loading my luggage into my car, a girl came running up to me”.

She said: ” I saw you from my window and I wanted to meet you before you leave. Are you leaving now?” I told her I was and that I was going back home to Montreal. “You know I come from Malaysia. This is my first time in Canada. I want to tell you that I loved it here and felt really taken care of and loved by everybody. Thank you for making this the best experience I have ever had. You are all so caring.”

“This was just one of many such comments I got from different people about their experience this Guru Purnima. Whilst sorting through Guruji’s question basket at satsang I also came across many such notes of gratitude about the ashram and the ashramites. Thank you all for all your hard work and dedication.”

“Yes indeed, Canadian Ashram is home. A big Thank You to our ashramites for taking care of us. It is blessed to be part of the team. Thank You for taking time to write a sweet acknowledgment email to all of us.”

“We have a teacher who wants to see us happy all the time, and that is what I feel we have all lived thorough. I wish you all and to all that every second of our lives are made as well. That next year we again have that wonderful experience and that we can inspire the entire planet to take. It is my intention and I hope will be shared by all.”

“We are very grateful to Guruji for giving us the opportunity to be at ashram and participate in seva team.”

“We had a real blissful time. Really looking forward to coming home to ashram again soon”.

“Thank you for your words of appreciation to the seva team. A sure way to move forward in AOL Canada, is to shower appreciation unconditionally on each other.

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All of us want to be beautiful, whether we admit it or not. Our desire for beauty is woven into our nature. We invest a lot of time, money and energy in how we look and feel. Yet, are we satisfied with the outcome?
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Most of time we remain disappointed not being able to reach the standards set by the fashion and cosmetics industry- the ”perfect” faces and bodies seen in every magazine. Confused with what beauty is, if not supermodels between the covers of magazines, we need to ask ourselves: What is meant by beauty?

HOLISTIC, AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE ON BEAUTY

Driven as a teenager and in my mid twenties and early thirties by market ideals and trends, I constantly searched for a better, more beautiful version myself. Because I wasn’t able to acknowledge and appreciate my beauty, I wasn’t able to appreciate myself.

Slowly, I came to realize that I wasn’t alone. My friends, even those I considered exceedingly attractive, focused on their flaws, my hips are too big, my mouth is too wide, my waist should be slimmer, rather than the beauty in themselves. To fix these perceived flaws, the cosmetic and fashion industry offered us Botox, facelifts, plastic surgery, prescription exfoliants, and diet pills.

It took me years to heal something fundamental inside me, so I could be grateful and appreciate my uniqueness. When I found Ayurveda, I finally understood that beauty is not about conforming to a specific facial structure, eye color, or body size – it is about a unique synergy of inner and outer beauty.

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KUBS9899A beautiful person is a person who takes care of her or himself. The more depth there is to that care, the more beauty manifests. Ayurveda says we can have it all, naturally. When our physiology is in balance, we can attain a youthful lasting beauty. By adopting a healing attitude and better life style practices, we nurture our inner and outer beauty.

As a holistic esthetician and Ayurvedic practitioner, with almost 10 years in the field, I have met many people desperate to change how they look and feel. We can enhance our natural beauty by taking care of and being attentive to ourselves. This takes personal time and focus, but the steps are natural and easy.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
The most important message is that we can’t take ourselves for granted. We came into this world with the responsibility to take care of ourselves equally as well as we take care of others. Taking care of your self can be expressed in so many different ways:

• Through meditation or yoga, side bend smile

• A quiet afternoon by yourself,

• A daily walk in the park unwinding from a busy day,

• Massaging your body,

• Relaxing in a warm bath at night,

• Or reading a book.

“Taking time for yourself” is a truly intimate and personal experience of reconnecting with your self.

IMPLEMENT LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Begin with small, yet achievable healthy lifestyle changes. You will notice a new glow and freshness in how you look and feel just from following even one of these simple tips.
• Go to bed and turn off the light by 9:45 pm and get up by 6 am
• Take a walk outdoors for at least 15 minutesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
• Eat fresh, pure, organic food.
• Cook at home rather than eating out.
• Eat a light evening meal by 7 pm.
• A few times a week, take time for self-massage with an oil of your choice before a shower or bath.
• Use natural and organic skin care products for face and body
• Stretch for 15 min daily.
• Meditate regularly.
• Get an Ayurvedic treatment once a month to feel remarkably rejuvenation.

The Ayurveda definition of beauty is to make “each body part auspicious”.

AN IDEAL ROUTINE FOR IDEAL SKIN
Our skin, the sense organ that covers our entire face and body, is perhaps the foremost contributor to our physical beauty. It is also the first place to show signs of aging, such as wrinkles, brown spots and sagging.
Here are few tips (an ideal routine) for ideal skin:

Give Your Skin Beauty Sleep
• Fortunately, our skin has a daily cleansing cycle that helps to eliminate toxins and protect its healthy glow. This cycle occurs during the night or “pitta” time, from 10 pm to 2 am. If you are sleeping during this time your skin and body can effectively cleanse itself and purge toxins accumulated during the day.
• Another secret to a beautiful skin is waking up early. Lying in bed after 6 am tends to increase “kapha”, your sluggish, liquidy dosha. The result is a puffy face and bags under the eyes.

Find a simple skin care routine that works for you
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• Keep the skin healthy by cleansing twice a day and protect it by using a moisturizer. Once you’re comfortable with this, you can add an exfoliant, a mask and serum to your routine.

KUBA7280Choose skin care treatments and products that support your skin and help it to heal.
• I have been working with Shankara, an Ayurvedic skin care line, for years and have seen major improvement and healing. Whatever you choose, go for natural and organic.

You may not yet believe that these simple tips, like a body self massage, gentle stretching, eating your biggest meal at lunch, going to bed early, using natural organic skin care can make a difference, but if you follow at least one or few of these tips, you will see a remarkable transition in your appearance.

When we love ourselves on a daily basis, we quickly and naturally become more beautiful.

Let’s meet in person 24th July-1st August at the International Centre in St Mathieu du Parc, Quebec. Come say hello, try our Ayurvedic skin care products (Shankara!), experience a mini Ayurvedic treatment, ask questions, get to know more about our wellness and skin care tips.

Can’t wait to meet you! Egle

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KUBA8125I have been teaching Art Excel and YES! for 10 years and have been very fortunate, since I started teaching, to teach a youth program during Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s visits. I have watched the 8-year-olds I taught in 2005 move from Art Excel (8-13) to YES! (14-17) and on to the adult programs. The kids who come summer after summer form lasting bonds with each other. They share similar memories to any child attending camp– swimming in the lake, boating, ropes courses and zip lining, campfires, and whispering and sharing secrets under a star-filled night sky.
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When they write about their camp experiences they share this as well as the profound realizations from the group activities that come from Art Excel and YES! They write about dropping worries, gaining self-confidence, moving out of their comfort zone, and witnessing themselves living the knowledge points taught on the course. They observe their own responses to challenging situations and realize that they are becoming “button proof” or that laughing and letting go is so much easier that getting frustrated and angry. They also recount examples of seeing adults on campus living these points and being inspired by them.

Teens also enjoy dancing in an environment where no other teen suggests that alcohol is required to have a good time. Spending time with other teens who share and live the values found in the Art of Living courses is another huge benefit. Many of my students have school friends that drink and do drugs, but they remain firm in their commitment to a lifestyle that reflects their values. At the center they bond with people who share these values, which later supports them in making healthy decisions.

Undeniably these programs are a lot of fun, and ultimately win over many who were forced by their parents to come and had no intention of enjoying a minute of it. The first day of the course last year, two of my students decided to walk back to their motel (most likely not realizing this would take them about 2 hours). They were the typical “cool” boys that I encounter every day in my day job teaching high school whose priorities include, music, video games, sports, socializing and girls. These programs are so magical, that the next five days completely turned them around; they began laughing and playing games without any inhibitions. By the end of the course they were promising to come back the next year.

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One also cannot underestimate the impact of meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on these courses. I believe this has been pivotal for many of my students. One girl was very stressed because her mother was working three jobs and needed surgery. In a meeting with Sri Sri she told him everything. I spoke to her years later and she described how after that brief moment, she was able to accept the situation without the tension she experienced previously. I also have observed that children who appear hyper active receive a lot of attention from Sri Sri and come back the next year very balanced.

I wish that I had been able to grow up coming to an Art of Living Center summer after summer making friends who are well established in these course points to help me get through life’s ups and downs. The summer programs are a phenomenal opportunity for the family as a whole. Give your child this amazing experience to fully blossom.

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The nature of joy is you want to share with others. When you’re happy, you don’t say, “I’m so happy don’t disturb me.” When you’re happy you don’t say leave me alone I want to be by myself. What do you do when you’re happy? You want to share the happiness with others – you call others, phone them. Look, I have such great happiness I want you to also be happy. I want you to be happy. I want you to be happy. The nature of happiness is to spread happiness. And the nature of misery is don’t talk to me. Leave me alone. When people are upset they always say leave me alone. Right?

Today, the United Nations says one of the biggest diseases that is going to kill millions of people in the coming 10 years will be depression. Other than cancer, depression is going to take over the world population. How do you get over depression? Not just popping pills into your mouth. In Europe, nearly 40% of school teachers are depressed, 38% of population is depressed. And every other person you meet they’ll be putting pills into their mouth to feel better. I say, this is not going to help, because you take tablets for depression you’ll end up with a liver problem, pancreas problem, kidney problem, head problem and the whole life is a problem. So what we would say is use the breath. Make use of your breath, and meditation, exercise, music to get over depression, don’t pop pills. Don’t you think so? Sometimes the medicines that we have, that we take only changes from one disease to another disease. They really don’t attend to the root cause of the problem. So we need to keep our mind happy, our spirit uplifted. That is why we do meditation. When the body is strong your mind is clear, your heart is blossomed and you feel happier. When we go deep into meditation we experience something beautiful. And then life becomes beautiful. Our vibrations become beautiful. When our vibrations are more loving, lovely, then wherever we go in the world people feel happy and we feel happy.

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You can learn a lot from a dog.

Whenever Jem came for work at the Centre, Leera came. Everyone took to her right away, and she never doubted she belonged to us. “I know you love me,” defined her behavior, and we reciprocated. If a car was approaching from a distance she waited until it got closer, moved forward and sat until it reached her. Sure enough, the driver would slow-down, open the door, and she would come forward for pets and scratches. Her reaction to the environment was similar. Every acre was hers to explore, to breathe into, and to unearth.

When she stayed with Fred for the winter she decided, one day, to expand her territory running across the lake to a neighbor’s. She learned about boundaries that came in the form of a long leash prohibiting her movements, and definitely stopping her from crossing the lake. However, she never grasped the fact that some people would rather she remained on the Centre’s 250 acres. She still believed the world was hers, and the minute Fred unleashed her off she headed to the neighbor’s, complete in her belief.

After that, she was always secured unless someone was by her side. You would sometimes see the lease, but no Leera, until she appeared to remind you, that person across the lake may not feel he belongs to me, even though he does, but you and I we understand we belong to each other. And each person responded.

If she felt she had been left alone too long, she was not shy about reminding Fred, with a baleful look, that there were more meaningful life experiences than working on the roof.

Besides love, joy, enthusiasm, and one-pointedness, were attributes Leera possessed. She was the embodiment of these qualities when she was running, searching for something delectable in the snow, or tracking the movement of a singular squirrel at a bird feeder. Whatever she did was with commitment, and she could not be dissuaded into pursuing some other activity. One day she was running with Fred – that is she was running, he was driving the van, watching her motion. She stopped to greet someone walking down the road and having a walking companion shifted to poking her nose into the snow exploring scents. Nothing Fred did could induce her to run with him. She ignored his entreaties. In time, catching a scent that was particularly captivating, she pulled out of the snow a frozen mouse. Perhaps it seems unkind to make this a toy, but watching her toss it high in the air, immersed in play, content, one became enraptured by her rapture.

Focus, commitment, joy, enthusiasm, being in the moment, knowing I am loved are qualities Leera reminded us of. Life is knowledge displaying itself in diverse ways for our edification and enjoyment.

“One-pointed mind is joy and all those moments when you have been very happy, if you would have noticed what happiness is, it is the mind becoming one whole. It becomes so total, so much together; then you have experienced joy in life, peace in life, bliss in life.”
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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KUBS7990When you build a home, it’s a major step when the walls go up. Space is finally enclosed. Then the inside work begins – electrical, lighting, heating, drywall, and if your home will hold up to 2,000 guests you need to build a stage, and install a state of the art sound system. You need to beautify – paint, chandeliers, wood doors, lamp fixtures. Four years later, 2015, and we are almost done, but not quite – there is the wood floor to put down, the ventilation shafts to cover, and a sprinkler system for fire protect.

You might be amazed to learn that Sri Ratnam Hall has 450 water sprinklers. They are on the ceiling and roof, outside along the walkway next to the lights, and in the downstairs corridors. The tank that feeds this system holds 1500 gallons of water, enough for a sustained sprinkling of 30 minutes if every sprinkler was to go off simultaneously. The water in the pipes, in the hall, where we also get our drinking water and which help the toilets function, provides a certain amount of water toward fire protection. However, when the water pressure goes down, water is fed into the hall from a tank placed among the trees to the right of the hall. Trees and a bend in the path camouflage it, but it’s only a short walk.

To support these three major projects, Toronto’s 3rd annual fundraising gala on Saturday April 18th is raising money for the Centre. Tickets are $50 a person and include a raffle, entertainment, live music, dancing, and a vegetarian feast. If you aren’t able to attend but would like to support Sri Ratnam Hall, your home away from home, you can make a donation by going to http://www.artofliving.org/iaolc/donation

Halifax, on March 27th and Saskatoon on April will also be hosting fundraising events. Join the fun, celebrate as we move towards finishing these final projects.

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Monica Maric studied film at McGill University. During that time, she frequently came to the Centre to volunteer. She stayed in contact after returning to Australia, and when she told us she was attending the Seventh International Women’s Conference we thought readers would enjoy her comments on the upcoming and past conferences she helped with and attended.


1.How did the idea of having a conference celebrating women start?

The first Art of Living International Women’s Conference took place in Bangalore India in 2005. The idea came about simply by a group of ladies coming together talking about matters of the world and how they could make a difference. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has said that when a group of women come together to work for good in a focused way, they can bring about positive and effective change in the world. He has said that women have a lot of power to make a difference, thus, giving rise to the idea and the birth of the Women’s Conference.

2.What makes you want to go and how often have you attended?
Personally I have always been interested in the movement of women to stand up and make a difference in the name of empowerment and justice. I feel there is certainly a difference in the way a woman communicates ideas and projects that I have always gravitated towards and there is a feeling of sister-hood and belonging. The various themes and topics discussed in the conferences have always been inspirational and current. I have had the opportunity to work with the conference team in India in both 2012 and 2014 and have attended the conference in 2012. I treasure fond memories of feeling uplifted, inspired and empowered. There is truly a magic that happens when women from around the world come together in celebration and on a mission to make a real difference in the world. Hearing about different projects and achievements of various leaders from all walks of life, we all felt enriched and moved by their experiences.

3.What feeling do you leave with/what do you take home with you.
The IWC promotes action and one feels empowered with the tools, support and the contacts to move ahead with various service projects and share with others the joys and experiences of feeling nurtured and celebrated that one has gained from being in this unique space. There is a ripple effect, everyone benefits when a woman takes time out not only to nurture ones body, but also the mind and soul, through relationships, connections, meditation and yoga in a highly conducive environment.

4.What is the importance of celebrating women?
As most women would agree, women are busy people. Whether you are a mom, sister, wife, student or career woman, we all deserve a break from time to time to get in touch with our inner-self. There are so many external pressures in the world today that propose a certain ‘look’ or ‘identity’, a prescribed need to be young and beautiful, successful, etc. etc. etc. A woman is a representative in the society and the family of truth, of heart, of love, of nurturing. Yet, our roles in the workplace may represent other values, which may create a struggle for balance, particularly when combined with managing a family. So re-connecting with core values, emotions and our inner-self strengthens and rejuvenates the person so that everyone associated with that individual benefits from their positivity.

5.Talk about this year’s conference Beeing ________, and how it’s also tied to bees and their need for our support.
The 7Th International Women’s Conference is based on the Butterfly Effect; highlighting the inter-dependency of the every microcosm to macrocosm that exists on planet Earth. Whether we are aware of it or not, every living being has an impact on the lives of those around them. No one can exist in total isolation. Each of us affects the world and environment around them. The conference brings together women leaders from various spheres of society such as politics, the arts, business, media, and academia to engage in meaningful dialogue and sessions. However, we also want to bring to light the dangers of the extinction faced by the honeybee, which has sustained food agriculture for over 4500 years. Therefore we remind our selves of this species that has upheld our food chain and also of the poser of women to bring about change.

Seventh International Women’s Conference, to be held in Bali, 5th -6th April 2015 THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: Everything Matters.
For details, please visit: iwc.artofliving.org For Registrations and enquiries: Email: iwc@artofliving.org
Contact: +91 80 67262637

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k&B -2How is Sri Sri Yoga different from other forms of yoga?
It’s not entirely unique and as I said all the good schools of yoga will have the same elements of yoga, but their emphasis makes a difference. Like a song, you can sing the same song in so many different ways. The one who has learned the song music properly who understands the music properly, is skilled at it, is talented at it will sing it in such a way as it will touch your heart. The same song can be sung by someone who really doesn’t really understand the music but thinks he is a singer, and now the same song will not affect you, so that is the difference. We are learning from a Master who is well established who is still in himself, who is established in himself, so it’s like an accomplished musician and that’s what we experience. So when we teach or practice the yoga the way he teaches, tells us it has a profound effect. Sri Yoga expands you on all levels; it makes you feel much bigger than just this small body.

If you were to say in a couple of sentences what is Sri Sri Yoga, how would you define it?
SSY is a very beautiful, simple way to take care of your body, take care of your mind and connect with inner Being. In a very simple way, there is nothing complicated about it; it is very safe. What’s happening these days are all these weird and complicated postures. People are hurting themselves, everybody trying to become a little bit more flexible, stronger than the others and in the process they’re hurting themselves. In Sri Sri Yoga we practice in a very safe way. Our emphasis is not just on the body it’s on all levels of our Being.

Does it appeal to a particular group of people or can anybody so it?
Anybody, it doesn’t matter who they are what there age is what their physical condition is because it’s so safe. It can challenge the people who practice yoga regularly and it can provide safe and simple techniques to people who are beginners. We know that just simple variations in the postures that we learn to teach that can make the postures very intense for people who have been practicing for some time and a small variation can just make it so simple that anybody can do it.

How long have you been teaching Sri Sri Yoga?
We started about 12 years ago. I am not sure if it was 2001 or 2002. We have taught basically in every country, you can name, around the world. We have lots of teachers everywhere. People just love it, all religions and all cultures. They love it because everybody wants to be healthy, everybody wants to be happy, and everybody wants to know him or her self. They are getting a good wholesome experience of yoga, and they just love it.

You have been given the title, Yogacharya by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. What does this mean?
This means someone who understands yoga, someone who can teach properly, someone who can guide people properly on the path of yoga. It’s a blessing to have that from your Master. You can get this title also from other places – from schools, from yoga schools, or some people give it themselves, there is nothing to stop this, anyone can call themselves what they want to but when it’s given from the Master, it means a lot. I feel blessed that way.