Living in Community — What the Yoga Development Course Offers
My life has improved on all levels
I wish everyone could have a chance to pause from regular life to step back and ask “How am I using my energy? What is the purpose of my life?”
I took the YDC is 2015. I am so grateful that I took this time. After having raised a family it was a wonder to have 3 months where all the planning was taken care of. This allowed me to start to practice resting in the moment. The beauty of the Ashram and the high quality of the food were also very nourishing.
This set the stage for inner work, which can very challenging at times. It is so powerful to reflect day after day for 3 months with the same people.
I have noticed an increase in health and strength and more calmness in my nervous system as I stay committed to the practices I learned from these teachings. I can speak to large groups with ease. I have returned to playing guitar and singing. I now have a group of like-minded individuals that I continue to reflect with. With deep gratitude I see my life has improved in all ways since doing the YDC.
My YDC Story – Swami Lalitananda
It’s been 40 years since I took the Yoga Development Course (YDC).
I was 30 years old and had no idea that I would one day be a swami.
I had lived an experimental decade in my twenties—seeking freedom through hitchhiking, dropping in and out of jobs, university and relationships. The lifestyle had worn me out and my bravado was cracking.
I was looking for direction, meaning, purpose—freedom in a less erratic way. Was there such a thing?
Although I had been strongly attracted to yoga as a teenager—learning asanas, breath practices and “OM” from books—it wasn’t until I connected with others who had been to Yasodhara Ashram that I had my first in-person Hatha class and introduction to the kundalini system.
Swami Radha was travelling and offering workshops back in the 1980s and her frequent presence in our city inspired me to think deeper. I felt almost magnetically drawn to the YDC.
When I entered the course, I was intimidated by others who were highly educated or seemed “spiritually advanced.” I was afraid of criticism.
In the Life Seals workshop I drew a dramatic picture of myself on a stage with an audience pointing sharp knives toward me.
Over the three month course I gained courage to say what I felt, to ask questions, to open tender feelings. I was not cut down but met with kindness and encouragement.
At the end of the YDC, the feeling in my body was of fluidity and ease. And what had happened to my mind?
When I re-entered life outside the Ashram, I discovered I had lost a burden of fear and gained a healthy boost to confidence.
I became bold, curious and questioning as I completed my university degrees. The kundalini system was a secret ingredient that made symbolism transparent in English classes and offered a holistic perspective to the counselling psychology I was studying.
I had gained a foundation in myself and access to my inner world. And I knew that above all, I loved Swami Radha, the Ashram and these teachings. They had broken down my self-protective walls, my flimsy facade of courage and opened a door to real freedom.
The YDC was a life-changer for me. Could it be for you, as well?
The YDC provides such a unique arc of experience
A rare mix of time and space and depth, with just the right dose of positive pressure to keep me exploring, letting go, breaking boundaries, reaching out… Being part of the YDC in the midst of a world-wide pandemic made it especially poignant, highlighting the power of community and the unique opportunity available at the Ashram, in this beautiful, remarkable little corner of the world.”
The gift that keeps on giving
When I came to Yasodhara Ashram in August 2018, I didn’t know it yet, but I had already begun a journey out of a deep valley that I had, ever so slowly, descended into over the years. I thought: I will do this 10 day course, and then I’ll find my next step, and everything will be better.
Turns out, my next step was to immerse myself in the teachings, the practices and the community offered at the ashram even deeper. The YDC was only the first step, and I like to compare it to a gift that keeps unpacking. Even now, after ending up living and working at the ashram for 3.5 years, there are still moments when I suddenly realize something, or am reminded of something that came up during the three month course and think “Oh yeah, that’s different now!” (or not – and acknowledging that that’s okay too is maybe one of the most precious gifts I’ve been able to unwrap within myself).
This is a gift that I will always carry with me, no matter what else happens.
A Life Changing Process
After a community class with one of the long-time resident swamis who had become a wise and trusted friend, we walked together to Siva parking lot. I had spoken of a deep yearning, a desire to change. “If you really mean it,” she said, “then take the YDC. This is something that changes lives.” Life conspired to open the opportunity to do this. My concepts about what it meant to make changes were soon irrelevant. Ideas about what I wanted or how I thought my life should be were so much less and incomplete in the context of what this course opened for me. One of repeated statements in my writing throughout the course was, “This is not what I thought.” The tools and practices, the integrity of these teachings and those who have committed to passing them on – these are of inestimable value in revealing what lies within. What was given, what emerged through the practices, was so very much more than I could have known from the level of my thinking mind. This is a gift that indeed changes a life.
My YDC LifeChanger
Through my 2003 YDC I gained crucial tools and a “get out of victimhood free” card that I needed to work through a lot of early trauma and continue to grow. I felt like I had come home. I was finally able to see beyond my own self created emotionally tangled forest. Step by step. The most crucial lesson was learning to own myself and my choice. The second crucial lesson was continuing to take self responsibility and cut my way out of imaginary stories I had woven as ways to cope. Straight walk thinking, the power of mantra and Light, my practice and personal reflections helped me learn to know and respect myself, to quiet my emotions and to live my life through clarity and courage. I relish the ongoing contact with my Yasodhara yoga communities, both in person and virtually, and the honest sharing among us as we each navigate our own growth. The YDC was game changing. Sign up. You will never regret it.
Revealing the tools
The YDC taught me the tools I needed to live my life; to participate with my intuition, to listen to my values, to value my needs. Through my new-found connection to God, I am finally able to see the ladder rungs of the life I am meant to live. Through listening to intuition and my dreams, I can struggle through the suffering of my old habits, and grow. To actually grow out of negative spaces into positive ones has been one of the most wonderful things I’ve been able to do for myself.
Thank you Swami Radha and Yasodhara!
The YDC gave me ME
There are many ways to begin this testimonial; as the YDC was an absolute blessing on so many levels. I came in 2008 at the age of 30 after burning out from a fast-paced, patterned life, knowing something had to change. The YDC gave me the insights, the support, the food, the space, and so much more to truly TRANSFORM. Through the deeply profound Teachings of Swami Radha, the practices with LIGHT and the careful way Yoga is taught; I was offered a foundation that is still with me today and will be forever. My life personally and professionally is interwoven with the power of acceptance, awareness, inspiration and so much more…of which I learned during the YDC and it is continually refuelled as I connect back to other Ashram courses and visits to the community. I feel so deeply touched and ever changed by the LIGHT and LOVE available.
2021 YDC Experience
The YDC was a gift to myself. The time and space to work on the flexibility of my body, my mind and my spirit, in unison and balance. Finding compassion for myself and all the learning I have gone through in life. Taking ownership of my experiences and discovering gratitude for the lessons they contain. Looking at my life differently,I through a shared experience. Learning the joy of rekindling my spirit when looking at past struggles without judgements. Facing my self imposed limitations and exploring the will to extend myself. Looking at old habits and whether they serve me or hold me back. Revealing the joy in the change. All this came up for me within the three month course, in the company of like minded people from various walks of life and experiences.
The YDC was my 70th birthday present to myself. I discovered YDC in 2016 when I was serving as a karma yogi and as I watched the transformation of that YDC, I was inspired. I had spent many years studying and practising yoga in all its forms but what I realized watching that class’ journey was that I had never really gotten inside of myself and answered the deeper questions of what exactly did I know from the inside out.
Our class started in January 2017 – there were 30 of us and we were very international and multi-generational. Over the course of the next 3 months we became a true spiritual family – you know, the folks we loved, the annoying ones, the incredible athletic yogis and the artists. I was so grateful for the teachings, support of staff and karma yogis. I returned the following year to serve the YDC. in 2018. No matter your age, if you have a real interest in taking yourself to the next level of spiritual and physical development then I encourage you to give serious thought to enrolling in YDC.