“Overall my experience here at Shri Kali has been amazing. Of course along the journey it has been up and down and that was kind of all me. It really had nothing to do with the school. Overall, the experience was really magical. Looking back after six months of being here I realize how much I have shifted. From the outside the changes I see are immense and now I can really feel myself from inside as well. My whole perspective has changed of myself, the world, other people and it is still a growing process. I still have so much work to do. Reality, in a sense, is so much clearer to me. The idea of love, the essence of who I am, my views on Tantra, have all changed. Even the idea of what is Tantra has changed each month. The messages here intertwined in the lectures, the yoga and silly conversations sink in further over time always reminding me to love myself and honor myself once and for all, and mainly to relax.
At first, I really wanted to learn but because of my conditionings and other experiences with yoga, it was very hard for me to accept that relaxing in itself is the answer; to accept that really if I do just relax, my heart will open, I will be able to love, I will be able to see other people like me, without judgment, and I will see myself without judgment. My whole perspective on everything has changed! This to me, is so beautiful as I have been in really dark places. Now, knowing that I am not the one who is dark, that I am light; knowing that I can share this and knowing that everyone else is light and that ‘the problem is the problem and the person is the person’ (that Gandhi quote we are reminded of over and over again) is so beautiful and I learned this here. When I came to Whitney originally I said, ‘there is a devil in me, I’m haunted’. He said that it was not me and it took me five months to really understand this and see the shift. I stopped feeling guilty and I started feeling love for myself in every moment, with my bullshit and without it. I can love myself and I can love others. It’s really truly amazing what this place does. I am not sure really how it all works, but it just does somehow. I think, if you stay long enough, it gets you deeper and deeper and deeper. It is not always easy. Some days I felt like I wanted to live here forever and some days I hated this place. But I didn’t really hate it, I hated the space I was in, the emotions that were coming up, the conditionings, the things I was realizing about myself that were coming up. They were hard sometimes and so it is easy to blame someone else when you see them. At the end of the day … wow… this place is magical and they really are teaching Love. It’s beautiful!
Originally I came because I really wanted to study the roots of yoga. I have more of a fitness yoga background, teaching and practicing power-vinyasa, but I knew it was not all I wanted. I wanted the philosophy. I wanted the science. Somehow the word Tantra popped up in my mind and I didn’t really know much about it but I had read somewhere that Tantra was the root of yoga and so I looked up the word Tantra and the word Goa—both were like light bulbs in my head—and I found this place. I suppose my subconscious led me here. I saw that Sanskrit was taught here and that was huge for me because learning this has always been one of my high goals.
So I have been here about six months. There has been a complete shift of how I see myself and how I then see the world. It is like looking in a big mirror and everything around me is my projection. The fact that they are teaching us here about ourselves and how to love ourselves kind of in a subliminal fashion really seems to work. They just keep saying relax, love yourself, honor yourself, relax, love yourself, honor yourself. All of a sudden, I said to myself, I am divine and you are divine, I am God, you are God and we are all God who have made this creation together. This realization to me has changed everything, because I realize as a human being, as an expression of the divine, I am powerful and that we can all create good and we can all create beauty and if we can all just see the good and the beauty, rather than all the suffering, then we can spread more of that.
I would definitely recommend this school to everyone but I would let them know what it is like first. I think it is really easy to reject if you are not in to studying and going deep into complicated texts because all the teachers just keep saying you have to read, you have to read; and the yoga is very slow amidst a modern culture of yoga which is all about fitness and go go go, so the difference may be difficult for some at first. I think about recommending this place all the time to people I love and want to see bloom, like my parents and friends, I think, they should be here. If you stay long enough and you don’t reject the teachings then you will have an amazing reward. Of course on the other hand some people love it right away, but I can see that at first it is also easy to reject something so different than you have ever known or ever been taught. It is hard to hear that everything you have learned in the past may be bullshit and that you are extremely conditioned from your past. It is hard to accept that you may be just at the very beginning of understanding anything about your true self and the world. So, I would recommend this school to people because it completely shifted my mind, it’s like my brain has been cleaned. To bring people here to be reminded that they are Love and that their issues are not them is huge. We get so stuck on feeling like we are sinners and feeling like we will never change, but then to be able to realize that that is not you and that society has made this up for you is groundbreaking. I mean, we should be teaching this to our kindergartners! I think that is how it is in Africa. For example, if someone feels really bad, they all come together and get the person to dance and they party and they shake the devils and the sadness away and that’s how life should be, because it is not you, you are the person and the problem is only that, the problem.
Speaking about the classes, I enjoy Sanskrit a lot. I also love all of the readings recommended here. All these different books written by numerous scholars bring you to Tantra and explain Tantra in their own way, like physics books, psychology books, and of course the Tantric texts themselves. I enjoy the self-study and that’s what made me really love this place. I love the classes but also what they tell you, that ‘we can’t do this for you, you have to do this yourself’ is the real deal. So being here and having the classes, having the community, is all wonderful but for me the joy really has a lot to do with going home to my room and studying myself. I made the schedule more organic for me because being here for so long, I decided I am not going to go to everything all the time. When I do that, I don’t feel like I am living authentically for me. If I keep going to āsana, for example, but I am really tired or I go to lecture but I really want the time for self-study, that isn’t really me. I want to be more in the flow with what feels right, and in doing so after some time that has really helped me flourish here. I always remember Bhagavan’s words about Tantrics; they have no time, no schedule, and follow no one else’s rules. In this way, I have made this my home where there is a beautiful community around me, yoga asana classes everyday and the choice to live how I want and that feels right to me. The organic nature here is a choice. You have to choose that and in a way I felt really guilty at first if I didn’t come to a class, but that was actually another issue that I had to get through. I wondered what the other students felt about it or if the teachers judged me but with Bhagavan’s help I became clear. He asked me, ‘why do you feel guilty’? ‘Number one, if you learn anything from this school, learn to never feel guilty.’ I thought wow, I can take a long shower, massage myself, ‘honor myself’, like Whitney in lecture is always saying. I can spend time alone. I can spend time in the community. I can be at class or I can be off on the beach. For me it is all about love so don’t study, for example, if you don’t love it in that moment because if you are then you are just conditioning the opposite of love.
I used to think of yoga as a lot more work. I enjoyed the work in many ways because I am a go-getter but I used to push myself through it to be the best. However, naturally, before I even came here, my practice changed and I started getting tired of my old power-vinyasa ways and as I practiced I would do a single pose and then spend time in śavāsana resting before going to the next (coincidentally extremely similar to the practice here). Sometimes just lying in śavāsana was my whole practice and that started to become my thing, but I felt lazy. When I came here, my perspective of yoga changed. It did not feel like, or have to be, a workout anymore. It feels like a meditation; you are giving your body a chance to hold each pose and adjust rather than speedily going to the next posture. I feel it is more directed to the energy in my body and actually shifting energy and opening me up. I can feel the difference, I feel open and at peace and contently perfect afterwards, not tired or stressed in any way. For years I knew that the meaning of yoga is union and I would say this to my students when I taught but I don’t think I really understood what it meant. But now I see that I am divine and the union is with myself. I see that in my practice I have to be compassionate with myself rather than getting in to some crazy stretch and yanking myself around. So now, I relax. The external practice is gone. Yoga is the union of yourself with yourself, with the divine and with love in every moment. Before, it was about getting fit, about how my body would be strong and about being healthy. But now, I am actually feeling the essence that I am through my yoga practice, I am allowing myself to express, to feel and to love myself. I love the āsana practice, especially the afternoon practice that goes really deep. I imagine that I will practice it forever and teach it to many. I love learning the bandhas and the pranyama and all the teachings that are shared.
At times, I would get upset about something here at the school but then in the end I realized that these were always my own issues that were coming up and with the support of the community, I was able to work on them. Living in a community, practicing energy-shifting yoga and looking at yourself day in and day out will of course lead to some uproar and that is when the work can be done. That is when we really see ourselves and are able to change and shift to be the people we want to be, and more that that, to be the person that we already are in essence without all the layerings of bullshit and conditionings that veil us. My motto for life now tends to be, cut the bullshit! Shri Kali is truly a magical place. The whole essence of love that this place holds is beautiful.”
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