Retreat into the Heart of Shiva with Sumukhi and Dakota Devi

Tiruvannamalai, Arunachala – the Sacred home of Shiva and Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi

November 17 – 25, 2018

Join Sumukhi and Dakota Devi for a sacred pilgrimage into the Heart of India.  This is a call to all sadhakas – spiritual seekers.  We invite you to join us in pilgrimage to Arunachala, an epicenter of sadhana to experience the depth of your own being and yogic spirituality.


What to expect:

Nine day immersion into Yoga, Meditation, Mantra and Healthy eating.

Daily Program:

  • Morning Hatha Yoga / Meditation
  • Healthy Breakfast for your Ayurvedic constitution
  • Pilgrimage to sacred site, Sri Ramana Maharshi Ashram, Meditation caves
  • Lunch for your Ayurvedic constitution
  • Afternoon – learn mantra, sacred chant
  • Dinner for your Ayurvedic constitution
  • Evening – meditation / prayers

Early Bird Pricing until July 30, 2018:

  • $1260.00 per person, shared accommodation
  • $1800.00 per person, private room

Regular pricing until November 1, 2018:

  • $1710.00 per person, shared accommodation
  • $2250.00 per person, private room

What’s included in the above retreat fees:

  • Daily hatha yoga, mantra, meditation classes with Sumukhi and Dakota
  • 9 nights accommodations
  • Ayurvedic Breakfast, lunch and dinner for your constitution
  • Pilgrimage to sacred sites, puja and meditation at Sri Ramana Maharshi’s ashram, Temple visit, Hikes

Not included:

  • Airfare and travel to Tiruvannamalai from Chennai
  • Shopping trips within Tiruvannamalai for clothing / supplies for your journey


Apply for the retreat by filling out the following.  We will contact you by phone and email to chat and ensure this is the right retreat for you.  Once you are accepted, you will be asked to place a $333.00 non-refundable deposit to secure your spot.  We will also send you information on how to adequately prepare for this sacred adventure and details of what to bring along with tips for ease of travel. All retreat fees will need to be paid in full by the Early bird date of July 30, 2018 and regular pricing by November 1, 2018 to secure your space.

The retreat counts as 25 Hours of Yoga Alliance Continuing education for Yoga Teachers

To apply for the retreat please visit

2018 Yoga Teacher Training


Fulfill your life’s purpose at Brahmananda Ashram / Yoga Society of San Francisco.  Live with ease, love and joy in the world.  Activate your highest potential and share your love of Yoga with all as a Yoga Teacher.

Join us for 7 (seven) weekend-long intensives to learn to teach the 8-limbs (Ashtanga) as handed to us through our Guru – Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D. and our lineage of enlightened Yoga Masters from Patanjali, Adi Shankaracharya to the Rishis who gave us the Vedas.

yssfExpect to be steeped in the ancient and timeless practices in the modern world as our ashram is in the Mission district of San Francisco.  Step into a portal of peace at Brahmananda Ashram – where you are reminded of your true Nature as Ānanda: bliss.

  • Learn how to lead and practice Vedic Fire Ceremony / Agni Hotra and the mystical and practical meanings of all the mantras
  • We teach you how to relax under the pressures of everyday life and how to help others do the same
  • Learn Yoga directly from Sanskrit texts and translate these teachings in your words  so that you may better communicate with your students
  • Step into a Journey of I-AM:  the ultimate aim of yoga is to ensure that you become who you truly are: a center of moksha, a liberated being
  • We provide you proven and powerful templates of Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga sequences that you can use to teach classes suitable for beginners to more athletic practitioners
  • You will establish a daily sadhana:  a spiritual practice of Yoga that will guide your choices to ensure that you are driven by your Soul and not by the pressures of daily living
  • Registered with Yoga Alliance as a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program

Fridays (6 pm – 9 pm), Saturdays (8 am – 8 pm), Sundays (8 am – 6 pm)

  • Jan 19– Jan 21, 2018
  • Feb 16 – 18, 2018
  • March 16 – 18, 2018
  • April 13 – 15, 2018
  • May 11 – 13, 2018
  • June 15 – 17, 2018
  • July 28 – 29, 2018

We have several Tuition Options:

– $1500.00 if paid by Sept, 17th, 2017 (Guruji Mahasamadhi offering)
– $2000.00 if paid by Dec 1st, 2017
– $2500, if paid by Jan, 5th, After Jan 5th, Pay $2800

– Payment Plan – 8 monthly payments of $400 a month, automatically debited from your account – $3200

You are also invited to stay at the Ashram for the duration of the trainings.  Living and practicing in the ashram setting is one of the most profound ways to merge the spiritual practices of yoga into your daily life.  Investment: 1 month –$1000.00 for single room, $900 for shared room or dorm (Single room not always available or guaranteed).  Ashram residents are expected to share the responsibilities of keeping the ashram clean, quiet, peaceful and to serve guests and one another with love and compassion.

Opportunities for work exchange and scholarships available.  Please contact us @ 415.285.5537 or visit to apply.

Healing the Mother

My first exposure to Amma, hugging Ammachi, was not very remarkable.  I took 3 hours off work in Manhattan to see if I could go get a hug or darshan.  As I sat in the large hallway with thousands of people around me waiting for a hug, I thought to myself, “I really don’t need a hug that badly.”  And at that time, they gave out tokens with your number on it and mine had 1649 or something like this.  My three hours off work would not cut it as she had just gone through a couple of hundred people.

So I watched her hug people, one after the other.  And then I began to cry.  There is really nothing like watching anyone hug thousands of people with great love, joy and affection.  Nothing like it.  So I didn’t get a hug that year, but for years after, I made sure to get darshan with Amma.

But before I made sure to take 3 days off instead of 3 hours for a hug, I wondered at needing another teacher, Amma, as I already had a Guru.  Guruji, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D., is and was, for all intents and purposes a very powerful Guru to me.  Indelible teachings.  He is not in his physical body and I realize I have confused many people by explaining that Guruji “left his body” in 1993 – which is another way to say he attained Mahasamadhi.  Oh such fun to explain the inexplicable.  But true to Guruji’s way of teaching from the formless, the unmanifest, one of my fellow Guruji devotees decided to put me aside and tell me a story.

It’s a personal, mystical story.  So breathe in and out a moment before you read this.

She told me that she thought about getting initiated by Ammachi and decided against it because, well, she already had a Guru in Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati.  While driving away from the hall that housed Ammachi and her programs, she heard a very loud and persistent voice repeat, “Do you not think I cannot come to you through woman Guru?”

Ah.  When she told me.  I smiled.  I knew that one.  It’s only happened to me once or twice, but suddenly a message enters from nowhere and repeats itself for an hour or two in a voice so unique and so loudly in my being that I can only ascribe to Guruji.  And so I heeded the telling of the story to me as a nudge from Guruji to go to the two women Gurus – Ammachi and Amma Sri Karunamayi – so that I may…now that I look at it all, heal the archetype of the Mother.

Healing the Mother archetype.  Mind you.  We have to be careful in healing and consciousness communities about our language.  Because, ahem, the Mother is quite fine, intact and all-powerful.  Mother Nature will always win, as I am fond of saying.  And I write this on the advent of Navaratri, the 9 day festival of worshiping the Devi, the Goddess, the Mother archetypes, the almighty Durga.

But what I needed to heal and I believe, we all need to heal, is our own relationship to the Mother, not just our own biological Mother, but Mother Earth, the Mother of Mothers, the Mother of the Universe, the divine lady who gives birth and opens up her body so that we may all live.  I knew this quite consciously when I decided to spend some time with the Amma(s).  Amma simply means Mother.  And I knew I needed to face my own challenging patterns with my biological mother, with my parents, with my partners, significant others and ultimately with myself.  If Guruji was behind this relationship, I knew I would be in for a ride that would rock me to the core of my spirit and back.

And certainly, this is what I have been on.  And continue to be on.

When you get darshan from Ammachi, they ask you for your birth language.  And the reason for this is that she actually repeats this word in your ear (if not other mantras, I’ve had some pretty profound Devi names whispered in my ear as I get darshan from Amma – but I can’t disclose these as they are between me and the Mother).  As I was born in a polyglot family that spoke a few languages to me from birth, I just say whichever language comes most freely to me each year.  One year, they asked me where I was from and I said “the Philippines,”  which somehow got translated into “Portuguese” – and I had to explain to the frantic volunteers around Amma that I didn’t say Portuguese — but they just couldn’t hear “the Philippines,” as they were all so anxious that year, so Portuguese it was!  But true to Ammachi’s divine nature, another year, she did say to me in very plain Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, again and again: “anak kita” — which means “you are my child.”


Historically, I have had a very difficult relationship with my biological mother. And I must say that being with the Amma(s), my daily yoga practices and my work in resonance re-patterning therapy has truly healed my relationship to my mom.   What I have learned in therapy is that the ways in which we are parented is often repeated in our significant, most intimate relationships.  In yoga, we have a term “samskaras” for negative patterns that we naturally flow through because we are accustomed to them.  These samskaras set us up for failure, defeat, addictions, difficulties, suffering beyond the inevitable pains of life.  And when we learn to re-pattern them through therapy, yoga, healing modalities, spiritual work, we learn to stop repeating negative wound cycles that keep us without power, motivation nor drive.

I marveled at my most intimate relationship thus far – as it lasted many years and was full of love – but repeated negative patterns similar in the ways he and I were parented.  We had similar parents in terms of what they did for a living and where we grew up.  I’ll say no more than this as I don’t want to get into much intimate detail.  I respect his privacy and my own.

Enter Amma Sri Karunamayi.  I first met Sri Karunamayi in 2007 or 2008 in Woodstock – I honestly can’t remember the year – sometime before I moved back to Austin, Texas from NY in 2009.  All I remember was going into such a profoundly deep meditation with her that I felt like my whole insides turned into a blank screen, deep emptiness, the void and I was energetically cleared.  It was a bit frightening as well.  I bought quite a few of her books and CDs and did not feel called to see her again until 2015.

In 2015, Sri Karunamayi came to the Austin Hindu Temple and I can only say that I went into samadhi and was there physically, but quite beyond at the same time.  I asked her for some things, quite personal.  And true to Amma’s way, she gave me the answers and what I wanted.

The lessons thus far:

  • Be careful what you wish for
  • When you believe you are given what you wish for, know that behind that wish is an even greater wish
  • I remembered that behind my wish and the reason Guruji sent me to the Amma(s) was to heal the Mother archetype within me
  • Once I remembered the deepest core wish from the child within me, I could see and learn from all of the lessons from both of the Amma(s) more profoundly
  • These lessons are indelible, the ways in which they are changing me for the better are energetic, spiritual, causal and immaterial
  • The changes making themselves manifest on the material plane are the effects of deep transformation in the spiritual, energetic and causal planes
  • Energetic lessons have ripple effects from the core of one’s being and outward that are difficult to fathom in linear time
  • I understand that healing my relationship to the archetype of the Mother means that I have a greater knowing of how Mother Earth and Mother Nature work within the framework of her infinitely mysterious ways
  • For clarity into the lessons with the Amma(s), I sit with Guruji, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, the great Father archetype
  • And in my highest essence, I see Ardhanishvara, the Mother and the Father as one, both in my Self and in all beings
  • And even as I write this, I am all the more humbled at what I do not know and have yet to learn.

Amma will grant your every wish.  Amma Sri Karunamayi reminds us all that she can give us anything we want, anything, but that the most profound and beautiful wish is for moksha, or liberation from even having the need for endless desires.  It is a profoundly mysterious teaching.  I can only tell you that I have heard again and again from students and friends on the spiritual path of yoga – well, what if we have no desires?  What of goals?  Will I attain anything in this world?  This is not what we mean by desirelessness.  In Sanskrit the words are many for non-attachment, non-grasping including “aparigraha, vairāgya.”  Yet these do not quite equate to the words in English for desirelessness.

When we ask Amma (the Mother) for anything, realize that She can give us anything in the world, but we must understand that in Her giving is always a lesson of deep liberation and healing.  We cannot take from God without receiving everything, everything in what He/She is giving.  Let’s see if I can give an example to help illustrate what I mean by this:

“God, give me a million dollars.”

God grants you a million dollars.

And you realize that a million dollars can mean a lot of things to taxes, greedy people, the world, etcetera.  And you wonder if you should have asked for “a million dollars and a great financial advisor whom I can trust.”

So then you go back to God and say, “Oh oops, I wasn’t so precise God, about my asking.  I meant a million dollars and a great financial advisor whom I can trust.”

And so God grants you this.

So then you get a great financial advisor and few more million dollars and still it’s NOT QUITE what you want.  You then laugh – hopefully –  a hearty laugh.  And perhaps, you realize that you can have a million dollars and be liberated – attain moksha – at the same time.  And you giggle with Amma and say, “Oh yeah, you told me to ask for moksha and everything else will be revealed.  You gave me the cheat sheet in the first place, but I asked for a million dollars anyways…”

Amma taught me a grand lesson in healing the Mother of all Mothers.  It is a lesson on unconditional love.  And I do mean this from the standpoint of my Self, being a great Mother, giver and receiver of unconditional love to myself.  She gave me the lesson in the form of a friend.  And in my seeing into the Maya, the illusion, the great projection of non-reality we place into all friendships/relationships, I was relieved of it.  Liberated from my own desire for what I believed to be “love” into an even more satisfying and soul-freeing love.  

The idea that a fruition of a desire (God granting me my desire when asked) equating to love from God has ended.  In other words, God’s love is beyond the child – parent relationship of the child endlessly asking and the parent endlessly giving.  We’re all guilty of transactional prayers to God, and to a certain degree, to our parents.  “God (parent), if you give me this and that and that and this, I will be forever grateful.”  Just be grateful.  Ah.  Just be grateful.

I see desire-less-ness as going even beyond our greatest desires.  And into the Heart of the root of all desires.  And from this place, we attain everything and give it all back from where it all came again and again.  It’s a magical Leela, a great play.  The Mother gives birth endlessly and takes it all back.  When we participate in the offering back to the Mother, well, we finally “get it” instead of constantly wanting so much.  No more hungry ghosts.    

Behind the questions, “What is all of this play?  What is this maya / this leela?  What is this mystery?” 

I am given an abundance of joy and love.

May the mysteries continue to unfold and may love reign supreme.   

Infinite blessings.  Love everlasting.

Om shantih om,



The Guru and the Koan

Guruji – Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D. – has a booklet on how to choose a Guru.  If you can’t find it at Ananda Ashram’s store: – you can always call the ashram and buy a copy.  It’s a good one.

  • The key takeaway?  If you want a living Guru, you must first awaken the Guru within.  Without the inner Guru, there is no outer Guru.
  • Guruji writes this to caution us around the wild fanfare around Gurus.  Much like rock stars, a fan is awestruck by the force around such a being, but if there is nothing else but awe — well, the being may simply be someone to admire.  A Guru is not just someone you admire, a Guru is someone you learn from.  And in Yoga, a Guru is someone you not only learn from and admire, She or He is someone who helps you awaken and transform into Your very Self.

It’s struck me again and again that a Guru rarely teaches literally.  And what I mean is that whenever a Guru says something to you, they are usually giving you a few million lessons in a few words.  As a trained disciple, I understand that I must follow what the Guru tells me to do, but my practices have shown me to NEVER be attached to an outcome.  Why?  Because the outcome a Guru has for you is usually better than anything you can ever imagine, wish or desire for.  And that the teaching is never very obvious while it is happening, but is as lucid as your very own hands in hindsight.

When people ask me to translate what a teacher is saying – I usually say, “I would be careful about interpreting it too literally.  Gurus often teach in Koans.”

What is a koan?

One day as Manjusri stood outside the gate,

the Buddha called to him,

“Manjusri, Manjusri, why do you not enter?”
Manjusri replied,

“I do not see myself as outside. Why enter?”

  • I bow to the infinite lessons of all of my Gurus and most recently, Amma Sri Karunamayi
  • She heals with a few words, a few glances and deep sadhana
  • Gurus can change the course of your history and your being in one glance
  • A student must simply be at attention
  • And always in LOVE
  • Attention.  Attention.  Here and Now.



The Merits of Spiritual practice

The merits of spiritual practice are infinite.  I’ve observed a behavior within spiritual communities (in all of them, doesn’t really matter which faith or religion or yoga studio) —  of just never ever doing enough. The pressure is in the community pushing for more, more, more seva or service, practices, mantras, asanas, etcetera.  And not stopping to look, and just appreciate what’s in the dharmic, karmic, bank account from previous years, lifetimes of spiritual practices.

I get why we do this.  It is never enough, until it is all enough.  And we see so many great spiritual leaders fall from grace, left and right around us.  We see the high achievers reach the highest hilts only to fall into the darkest disgraces.

When is it enough?  Right now, actually.

Bastante bien


The cup overflows, brims with goodness.  And the Yogi sits in this grace.  In the deepest darkest pits of hell went Christ and from his descent, he then ascended into Heaven.  The world could fall apart and be split asunder a billion times over. But the merits of spiritual grace are infinite.

Infinite means:


Never expiring.

And then we figure out, that we do everything by doing nothing at all.

atha yoga-anushasanam ||1||

अथ योगानुशासनम् ॥१॥

atha yoga-anuśāsanam ॥1॥

Now, Yoga begins.



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