Turn everything that happens into an opportunity to end separation.
~ Yogi Amrit Desai
I recently returned from ten days of training at the Amrit Yoga Institute in Salt Springs, Florida. I went there to practice and learn how to teach Yoga Nidra, an ancient form of guided meditation. And this I did, under the superb guidance of Kamini Desai and Jon Vosler, the senior instructors at AYI, and other capable assistants and staff. Underlying my intention, however, was a curiosity and attraction to the Guru.
Yogi Amrit Desai, aka Gurudev, is quite a man and character. He was the founder of Kripalu, the largest yoga center in America. He left there nearly twenty years ago, under less than ideal circumstance, eventually settling in central Florida. There he founded the Amrit Yoga Institute, an ashram community and learning center. He has, for nearly his entire adult life, he is now 82, been committed to holding the space of the Guru, the externalized manifestation of the teacher within.
As I sat listening to Gurudev’s Darshans throughout the week, I found myself filled with the deepest sense of gratitude. Through his devotion to his Guru, Bapuji, Swami Kripalu, he has carried the ancient teachings of yoga to me and to thousands of others. When extrapolated just one degree from all the people he has personally touched with his energy and zeal, it is in the millions! Millions of people he has positively affected by bringing yoga to the West, and steadfastly holding the space of the teacher within, the Guru.
I asked him, while there, whether a living Guru was necessary to our evolution, or could we look to someone like the Buddha or Jesus as our guide. He replied, “It’s helpful, to have a Guru who’s alive to see what you’re up to!” I liked that. I continue to explore this balance between the internal teacher and the external form. How do we listen to ourselves and our gut, but also remember that our gut feeling is often a product of our conditioning and ego, and sometimes we need an outside guide to say, “What the heck are you doing?!”
It’s all good, and very beautiful. I am so extremely blessed to have met Gurdev, spent time listening to him, and kneeled at his feet in deep reverence for the lineage of teachings which have come before us and shall continue ever more.