Spiritual Experience at Kaivalyadham, Lonavala

Published on: Jul 31 2013 by Sachin
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2013 07 31 KD Main

Honestly, I never believed in spiritual experiences. Most of the spiritual experiences offered these days do not appeal to me. When Welingkar Institute offered a spiritual learning trip to Kaivalyadham, Lonavala – I had my doubts. However I wanted to give it a try sometime. Through an educational institute seemed like a safe bet and I enrolled for it. It was going to be a two and a half day trip (Friday afternoon till Sunday evening) led by one of the professors I have respect and admiration for, Mr. Venkat Iyer. On doing some research on Kaivalyadham (KD), I realized it was more of a school dedicated to spread awareness about yoga. There are many people staying at the ashram – Indian and foreign nationals. Most of the foreign nationals are here to learn the practice of teaching yoga the right way. The Indian nationals are mainly here for the healing capabilities of yoga.

Friday 26 July 2013 – We all gathered at the school at 2 pm as decided. The bus was comfortable and soon after, we all made our way to Lonavala. We took a halt at one of the food malls on the express highway and managed to reach KD around 7 pm. I shared my room with Bhushan Vyas, who I know for almost a month now as we have done a few trips together. We arrived late for the evening session of yoga that starts at 6.30 pm and hence we missed it. Those who plan to visit KD in future should plan to reach at least before 6 pm so that it gives one enough time to get ready for the amazing evening experience (tratak) at 6.30 pm. Prof. Venkat took a session with us for about an hour where he briefed us about the trip, its importance and his personal opinions. Dinner was served from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm. It was a simple meal of dal, chapati, organic rice, vegetable and palak soup. Post dinner, we took a walk to the yoga school which is on the other side of the express highway. The only way to reach there is to walk through an underground tunnel that connects the two sides of the express highway. It was a walk with nature – sounds of trees swishing, birds chirping and insects creaking. There was a light rainfall that added to the dark mystic environment making it a more pleasant and calm journey. Prof. Venkat conducted a meditation session for us from 9.30 pm to 11 pm wherein he managed to put almost everyone in a trance through some techniques he is adept at. The mind has three states – the conscious (when the mind is active and responds to the environmental stimuli), the unconscious (the sleep state when the mind is inactive) and the subconscious (when the mind is active but unaware of what is happening around it). As we immerse ourselves into the subconscious state of our mind, we enter a state that can be termed as meditation or trance. It was an amazing experience. I felt totally relaxed and at peace as I came out of the trance. We walked back to our rooms. Finally around 12 midnight, I fell asleep.

Saturday 27 July 2013 – It was going to be the busiest day of the spiritual trip as we were going to spend the entire day at the ashram.

  • 6 am to 7 am – Wakeup, bath and herbal tea with molten jaggery. Get ready for the yoga session.
  • 7 am to 8.30 am – We had a yoga session conducted by Dr. Vivek Tiwari. The session was about practicing the basic asanas needed by the human body for a healthy living. It started with asanas for the toes to the thighs, fingers to the shoulders, the neck, the spine and finally the complete body.
  • 8.30 am to 9 am – Discussion with Dr. Vivek Tiwari on the benefits of yoga. He emphasized on the ‘ashta anga’ or the eight limbs that form the structural framework of yoga. He also explained the importance of pranayama – the breathing control techniques for a healthy living. It is very important to control and direct our breathing process. Animals that have a slower breathing frequency tend to live longer. My understanding of the discussion was the reinforcement of the fact that our luxurious lifestyle is the main cause of our bodily pains. We are so used to the comforts of the modern lifestyle that we have lost touch with the nature and ultimately with ourselves. Each of our body parts is like a small motor within the bigger machine. Each part is capable of a few motor movements, for example the neck has six possible movements – left, right, up, down, slant left, slant right. In our daily life, we do not practice these motor movements. And when we are needed to perform these occasionally, it ends up being a pain for our human body. If we regularly practice the motor movements for each body part, we will not experience pain even during extreme movements. This, to me, is the basic premise on which yoga is based.
  • 9 am to 10 am – Breakfast (Idlis and sambar) with a choice between herbal tea and lemongrass tea – again with molten jaggery.
  • 10 am to 12.30 pm – Prof. Venkat took a session reflecting on the experiences of last night and the morning. We also had some management related activities and discussions to draw personal insights from.
  • 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm – Lunch consisting of mix vegetable curry, chapatis, organic rice, rajma and an assortment of salads.
  • 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm – This was free time given for optional activities. There are naturopathy and Ayurveda centers in the Kaivalyadham ashram. Naturopathy involves massaging treatment using techniques like mud therapy and water therapy – using the basic natural elements for healing. Ayurveda involves using natural oils for massages and steam baths. The costs for these at the centers are very reasonable compared to what some massage centers in the city charge. I wanted to get Ayurveda treatment done but the slots were all full. So with the rest of the gang, I took a walk along the campus and the yoga school. It is a huge campus. The drizzle that accompanied us wherever we went provided us with the energy needed for such excursions.
  • 4.30 pm to 5 pm – Evening tea with fresh fruits
  • 5.00 pm to 6.30 pm – A fun and relaxed session with the group. We played a game ‘Magic Words’ and sang a few songs. ‘Magic words’ is about some words that are deeply anchored in our life. The mere mention of them brings about a feeling of joy and peace. It is important that we recognize the magic words of our life and invoke them whenever they are needed. They help to sanitize us, in the toughest of situations. A conscious effort to understand the magic words of other people helps us work effectively with them.
  • 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm – We had a ‘tratak’ session with Dr. Vivek Tiwari. Though it was for about 90 minutes, I remember only the first 10-15 odd minutes. I followed the instructions and was soon in a subconscious state. I remember following the instructions given by the instructor but nothing beyond that. The session ends with the ‘Shavasana’ – the state of the dead body where the mind is thoughtless. The real impact of this asana is when you can elevate your mind to the state where it is devoid of any thoughts. To me, it was an experience I never had before in my life. When the instructor asked to move my legs closer, it was almost impossible for me to do it. I was feeling so light in the mind yet my body was so heavy I could not move it. Like a dead body, I guess. After the session as I moved out of the hall, I realized how peaceful I felt. I did not experience any emotions within me or rather, I felt at peace with all my emotional connects. I can only imagine that if done regularly, such exercises can bring a lot of calm into our lives.
  • 8.00 pm to 8.30 pm – Dinner time – simple and nutritious. Vegetable curry, soup, dal, organic rice and chapatis.
  • 8.30 pm to 10.00 pm – A lecture by Dr. Satish Pathak, associated with the research center of Kaivalyadham. Dr. Pathak is a general surgeon and yoga consultant who is convinced about the healing powers of yoga. He is doing research on how yoga can cure diabetes and cancer. The formation and the growth of the cancer cells can be prevented/ limited through yoga and this is the subject of his research. He has also written a book – ‘Yoga through a doctor’s eye’. The book is about all common diseases – the anatomical changes, the prescribed yogasanas and the impact of the yogasanas on the anatomy thereby curing a patient of the common diseases. To me, this lecture was an eye opener of sorts. Till now, yoga to me was a means of exercising and meditation. I now realized there was reasoning behind yoga. Each position in yoga helps the immunity of the specific organs within the body. Yoga to me is now a science. Everything has a reason and a purpose. This was my biggest takeaway from my trip to Kaivalyadham.
  • 10.00 pm to 11 pm – We just caught up with each other discussing the events and sharing personal thoughts. It was nice to reflect in a group, the experiences of the trip. After about an hour of chitchat on the events, I went to my room for a nice quiet peaceful sleep.

Sunday 28 July 2013 – It was going to be a shorter day with a plan to leave the ashram by 11.30 am.

  • 6 am to 7 am – Wakeup, bath and herbal tea with molten jaggery. Get ready for the yoga session.
  • 7 am to 8.30 am – A yoga session with the yoga teacher – Mr. Neeraj Singh. Mr. Neeraj was absolutely amazing with the way he conducted the yoga session. He took us through all the basic asanas. With each asana, he explained how it impacted the body organs – internal and external. His way of explaining asanas with the basics was very effective. I realized how a seemingly simple yogasana can have a profound impact on some of the most important organs of the body. This was the best session of the trip as far as I am concerned. It just did not educate me – it inspired me to adopt yoga as a technique of keeping myself healthy and energetic.
  • 8.30 am to 9.00 am – I had a brief personal session with Mr. Neeraj Singh (neeraj_yoga@yahoo.com). Mr. Neeraj guided me to the possible yoga regime I should follow. He suggested that a 30 minute yoga session everyday can do wonders. His advised me to perform the breathing exercises without fail – kapalbhati (forceful exhalation), anulam vilam (inhalation and exhalation through alternate nostrils) and bhramani (humming bee sound exhalation). I would personally like to thank Mr. Neeraj for being a wonderful teacher and guide during the short interaction I had with him.
  • 9.00 am to 9.30 am – Breakfast (poha and sheera) with a choice of herbal or lemongrass tea – and molten jaggery.
  • 9.30 am to 11 am – We had the final debriefing session with Prof. Venkat. We also played a game ‘My Plate is full’ wherein each participant had to write something nice about a person on his plate. The plate would then become a memento for each of us and provide us with some magic words for the rest of our lives.
  • We left Kaivalyadham around 12 noon. It included a shopping halt at Lonavala. I love fudge, especially mango fudge. I bought some fudge, chikkis and jelly sweets. We had some fun in the bus travel back to Mumbai. I reached home at 5.30 pm, well in time for a short evening nap.

Personal Thoughts – Yoga is not only a spiritual experience but also a healing mechanism. I spoke to a few people at the ashram and they mentioned to me the big changes that yoga has brought into their lives. Some of them have been staying there since couple of weeks. From a cost perspective too, Kaivalyadham is very reasonable. Personally, the lecture by Dr. Phatak and the interaction with Mr. Neeraj was a thought changing episode. I have made a few resolutions about things I will change in my life. I sincerely hope I can bring about the changes I have planned. To me, it was one of my most memorable trips with thought changing experiences.

If you have any questions about my experiences or about Kaivalyadham, write to me and I will do my best to answer them. Please read my blog ‘Yoga Schedule – for the Mind and the Body‘ that describes some of the easy asanas which if done regularly can provide us with a healthy body and a better quality of life.

2013 07 31 KD Group


— Sachin

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8 Comments to “Spiritual Experience at Kaivalyadham, Lonavala”

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  5. Yogesh Patil says:

    Hi Sachin,
    Great description about visit….
    After reading it feeling like, wish i could be there.

  6. Prof. Venkat S Iyer says:

    Hi Sachin,
    Excellent account of the Kaivalyadham trip.
    I have forwarded the narration to Rajesh Aparnath – HOD of DLP.
    Keep up the good work
    Prof. Venkat S Iyer

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