I arrived at the first 06:30am asana class excited & enthusiastic, tingling with anticipation of the coming seven days. How wonderful & blessed, I thought, coming to Agama everyday, no long flights or accommodation bills.

The theme for the week was Pariksha – Observation from Gross to Subtle.

The asana classes built our awareness of the elements that underpin pariksha – earth, water, fire, wind and space; exploring, refining and distilling the practice; all the while expertly guided and nurtured.

Vedic chanting; a personal favourite of mine; was conducted with passion, receptivity and a sense of fun. Throughout the week we worked towards the precision of the chants. Our teacher Debby Badger, would say ‘the chant chants you’. Individual voices, however squeaky, soft, loud, quivering or full bodied, during this week, became a harmony as each chant emerged. By the end of the week as we chanted Narayana, it was true, the chant did chant us.

Caroline Stuart expertly and succinctly delivered five days of Anatomy and Observation. Be it teachers or students of yoga; everyone learnt more about the spine, the pelvis, the shoulders and the breath. Observation saw the theory come alive, every person’s structure, their uniqueness provided visible cues. There were plenty of ‘light bulb’ moments as our knowledge grew; so too did our discernment, our capacity to see.

The afternoons had more delights in store for us.

Yoga Therapy case studies presented inspirational stories. Lynette shared her experiences of chronic pain and insomnia. After only three months of yoga therapy, through her diligent effort; she is now walking without a limp; her pain has diminished and her sleep patterns have improved. In Lynette’s own words “Yoga therapy changed my life”.

Other sessions on Ayurveda, explored body types, the impact of different foods and how Ayurveda practitioners use observation to assess their clients. An arm of Ayurveda, Marma Massage, showed us practical ways for releasing our own suffering and an opportunity for self-nurturing.

Traditional Chinese Medicine highlighted that there are many modalities that offer guidance and healing. TCM also uses many systems and maps of the body for deeper observations of symptoms and causes. Treatment is always specific to the person, rather than specific to the dis-ease. Michael Keshishian was able to show us through pulse diagnosis, and observations of the tongue, the presence of damp in the system and gave some examples of how it might be treated for the person in front of him.

Kelly’s meditative class on Saturday evening was a wonderful way of celebrating the winter solstice and TKV Desikachar’s birthday. Her class with all it’s layers integrated everything we’d learnt during the week. It touched us all, no-one wanted to leave!

At the conclusion of each day, we snuggled into our blankets and were bathed in the sound of singing bowls, gongs, rainsticks and Ahilya’s beautiful voice; all blending into a symphony of healing sound.

The Pariksha workshop informed, expanded, questioned and nurtured me; moving from a practical to an intuitive experience. The week was enabled by all the presenters and participants; and of course to the insight and vision of the directors of Agama Yoga Centre for Health and Healing, Barbara Brian and Andrew Barry.

– Leanne Gillies