Mela is "gathering". Gatherings take all forms and sizes in the yoga tradition; some being informal sangha, "company" or "community", while others are huge like the Kumbha Mela which occurs every 12 years at Allahabad on the Ganges, where seekers take purifying dips in its waters. The first ParaYoga Mela was more modest with some 50 ParaYogis coming together with our teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker.
I attended this gathering not really knowing what to expect. I knew that there would be fun elements - there had been a call-out for talent show participation; I knew there would be some powerful practices that Yogarupa would lead us through; I knew that we'd have the loving and nurturing environment of the Himalayan Institute as the backdrop for the work we would do together. But what I didn't know is how powerful this time together would ultimately be for ParaYogis as we planned ParaYoga's furture.
ParaYoga is an entity that is growing. With its growth our Guru, Yogarupa, wanted to draw upon our insights, hopes and dreams to carry ParaYoga to its next level. It is a given that the organization reflects and upholds the values of the yoga tradition. We also discussed organizational models, highly centralized versus decentralized.
What we learned through powerful group exercises and sharing is that we want ParaYoga to be an organization that: is not top-heavy but has clear direction; creates space for those who have invested of themselves in the trainings and practices to share the workload; and, has mentors at all levels so that newcomers are well oriented to ParaYoga and others are supported as they deepen their journey.
Other highlights of the Mela included: panel discussions on integrating ParaYoga into yoga studios and classes, and another on spiritual entrepreneurship;
workshops on building our organization,
and another on providing powerful assists to students; and we had some fun with a great talent show featuring the likes of Ruby, BMoney and Meg, and Rockin Jean.
I don't have a lot of experience with other yoga organizations, so I don't know how they function. What I do know is that ParaYoga's connection to lineage is its foundation. Through Yogarupa and his Guru, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, the teachings are unveiled. Collectively we benefit from the work of the sages. It is the role of ParaYogis to share these teachings and to contribute to shifting the collective consciousness for the betterment of humanity.
Yogarupa officiated an agnihotra (fire ceremony), one of the few external rituals of our lineage, to purify and to heal. The fire danced beautifully as she touched each of our hearts. It is the fire within each of us that connects us together and draws us closer to Truth.
As with all ParaYoga experiences I come away from this one having learned more about myself. It is through the guidance of my teacher that I flourish. This teacher/student role is not well understood in our modern approach to yoga. I am grateful that I was awake enough to open that door when it presented itself.
I honour my teacher, my teacher's teacher and all of those who come before them.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti....