Shrii Shrii Ananda …….M.U….”
“Murti?” I asked.
I almost couldn’t believe it, when I heard the well spoken man from Guatemala City, spell out the name of my Guru to the internet cafe helper, who was helping him type his login password. He was as equally surprised to find that I, a fresh young traveling yogini from Texas, was able to finish his thought, and the name of his most sacred and beloved teacher.
At that point, I had only heard my Guru’s name spoken a handful of times, as I was very new to the tantric lineage of Ananda Marga, and still in the process of being introduced to the teacher and philosophical teachings.
Before Ananda Marga, my experiences of yoga were primarily asana based, within public studios. However, within the four and a half months leading me up to my big Central American adventure (my first solo international travel experience abroad), I had attended two intensive retreats, that were based on living life through selfless service and devotional approaches to yoga. During these intensives, I learned about the 8 branches within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and had gained several tools and insights into the preparation and practices of meditation. My favorite tool to help focus the mind before meditation is the use of a mantra (a collection of syllables to free and focus the mind), and kiirtan, which is the singing of mantra.
After a long chat at the internet cafe, I came to find out that my new Guatemalan friend, had been a part of Ananda Marga since the 1970s, and had even met the founder, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, before his passing.
He ran a yoga based hotel in San Marcos on Lake Atitlan, and invited me over for kiirtan, meditation, and dinner. After completing our devotional practices and meal, I was invited to teach about the 8 branches of ashtanga yoga to the other guests and volunteers of the resort, and to lead them through the practices of kiirtan and meditation. Immediately my self doubt began to set in, and I quickly searched for any excuse I could come up with to redirect the conversation away from my invitation to teach.
There were numerous yoga classes, being taught daily in San Marcos by experienced and certified instructors, and I was just a young, fresh, twenty two year old gypsy, who was still in the process of learning about different ideas and approaches to yoga. I tried to come up with excuses as to why I couldn’t lead a kiirtan and meditation group at his hotel, but I had already revealed to him my desire to one day become a yoga teacher, and he wasn’t about to let me escape this opportunity so easily.
It was then that he gave me one of the greatest teachings of my career. A lesson that I still pass on to all of my students in training to become yoga teachers.
“Trust that you’re ready to teach, as soon as the universe asks for your teachings.”
My new friend helped me to build confidence in knowing that I had everything I needed within that moment, to answer the call of the universe, and step into my new role as a bhakti yoga teacher.
I didn’t think that many people would show up for a class on devotional yoga philosophy and meditation, but it turned out that no other instructor on the lake was currently offering yoga classes that went beyond asana during that time, and my workshop was well attended by local yogi ex-pats and travelers. Many of the attendees had been practicing yoga for much longer than myself, but they all seemed genuinely happy and impressed by my devotional offerings, and many even asked if I would consider doing it again, though my travel plans would only allow for that one day.
That was the most full that my heart had felt up until then, and it was during our group kiirtan that I decided to pursue my yogi life goal, of becoming a full time traveling teacher. I often look back to that sleepy rainy day, in a small town in Guatemala, as being the birth place of my yoga teachings and awakening of my inner Guru.
Mollie Galbraith has taught yoga internationally since 2004, within 11 countries across the globe.