When we think of yogis, we think of people, sitting for long hours, tucked away and hidden in caves or rugged monasteries. They stay for long hours in meditation, perform intense austerity. But I’m pretty sure that I just spent an hour talking to a yogi who doesn’t live in a cave or rugged monastery. She may spend many hours within the walls of an Ashram, our Ashram. But she still lives and works in the world.
In Fall of 2015, L. tumbled down a set of stairs and broke her heel. For months, she dealt with pain, nerve damage, a herniated disk and limited mobility. Her life became a rotary of doctors and therapists and exercises and coping with pain and the limitations of casts and crutches.
But this story isn’t about the injury and the pain. This story is about a Kriya Yogi. This story is about how a woman who swears she isn’t a superwoman in any way, found Grace and discipline and faith in this experience through her Atma Kriya practice.
She had been initiated into Atma Kriya back in 2010 and had practised every day since. But after her accident, She had to rebuild her practice from the ground up, to accommodate for the injury, a large cast on her foot, and accompanying symptoms which made it difficult to sit in one position for long. And even with all of this, she never missed a day. Even if it was just one round of Main Kriya, she still practised.
She started to rebuild her practice with japa, focusing the energy into her foot. But staying in any position for long wasn’t possible due to the pain and discomfort. She experimented with cushions and pillows, searching for every which way that would allow her enough peace to just chant japa.
‘It was very practical. I found a solution to sit. And then I started,’ she said. “I started japa laying down. It was very practical. I put cushions under leg...and now I still do japa in this position...I can relax with the body. I can really concentrate on Him, on God.’
And slowly, she built up. Starting with japa and Main Kriya. Adding in Trinity and the Pranayamas as she could. And over time, she noticed improvements in her body. The pain would decrease a bit. She could sit for longer periods. And she even learned how to relax her body enough to go deep into the japa and be with God. Atma Kriya had become as much a part of her rehabilitation process as her regular physical therapy appointments.
Before the accident, the asanas and mudras of Atma Kriya had been a great support to her. After the accident, her body couldn’t take the shapes, couldn’t bend or move or breathe properly for them. And this was the moment she told me that ‘everything started with a prayer.’
Sitting in front of her altar, crying, she prayed ‘The asanas had helped me before the accident. Please take away the pain of practising so that I can do it.’
She prepared herself with a 1cm thick yoga mat, pillows, and cushions to support her journey. And each day, she tried, making progress, getting closer. No matter how slow, progress is still progress.
‘It was a path with many ups and downs, tears, pain and desperate moments, but always with the confidence that one day I will be symptom-free. And it worked.‘
After months, she was finally able to touch her ankle during Mahamudra. And when she realised this, she burst into tears. And she knew that the Masters had answered her prayers, that They were with her, that They’d been with her the whole way.
‘This is what we get in the initiation of Atma Kriya. That the Masters are always with us.’
Her whole process took years. It was slow and arduous but full of Grace. When L. speaks of this process, she speaks of the injury without emotion, like it was just something that happened. But when she speaks of the Masters, of her Kriya practice, of Their Love for her, she would tear up, overwhelmed by the support and Love They held her with. And today, she has almost no symptoms from this accident. The Masters answered that prayer.
Throughout our conversation, L. repeatedly returned to the Masters. She spoke of the Grace they brought her, of how They were always with her. She reminded me that the Masters are there with you, no matter which situation you are in. It does not need to be an accident, it could be anything. But she also made it clear that you must also do your effort.
And maybe that’s the lesson here. Nothing is impossible when you’re willing to stand up and do what needs to be done with faith that the Divine, God, the Masters are with you, holding your hand every step of the way.
‘When you really do your effort, you can really change your situation. But you have to do your effort and He will bring change.’
L. describes her Atma Kriya practise as a necessity. She wakes up each day with the longing to be with God in her Kriya practice. It is such a longing and necessity that she plans her day around her Kriya practice. Kriya comes first. Then everything else.
“This is my time with God. This is my cosy time with God.’
The last question I asked L. was what she wanted you, the reader, to take away from her story. She said:
‘Grace. With Grace anything is possible.’
And then she added that we limit ourselves with our minds. That is is important to see the potential of what you can do for yourself. Your whole day is different when you start your day with Kriya. It is so important to have something where you can help yourself. There is something you can do every day.
‘You can go through this challenge with the support of Atma Kriya...There is so much Grace. We need to take this.’
Through her Atma Kriya practice, L. conquered the odds. And we can too. No matter what they are.
When I think of yogis, I think of women like L.. I think of women who have conquered the odds, not by their own doing, but with faith in the Grace of the Masters, in the Grace of the Divine. I think of women who did not back down from a challenge but faced it, knowing this was a battle they would never have to fight alone.