I’m in Porto Alegre now, the capital of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. I was invited for a series of workshops and a book signing in the city’s famous Book Fair, one of the biggest of the country.
Porto Alegre is a very pleasant city with 1.43 million inhabitants. The population here is blessed with three prasadam restaurants, a Jagannatha Temple, good bhajan bands and now a recently inaugurated the Center for Therapy and Vedic Culture – Premamanda.
Premananda is run by a wonderful young devotee couple, Vraja Jana DD and Vrajendra Nandana Das, disciples of Param Gati Swami. Both are psychologists in their mid-twenties (married for 7 years now!). Vraja quit her practice and is dedicating herself to being a yoga teacher. Vrajendra still has patients, but is qualifying himself as an ayurvedic practitioner.
With the help of their mothers, they have bought a large and lovely two storey house and have renovated it from top to bottom. The bottom (street level) part is the center, Premananda. The upper part is divided into two apartments – one for them and one for Vrajendra’s mom.
On Saturday morning I had the privilege of giving Premananda´s first ever workshop. The theme: Krishna’s Yamas and Niyamas.
Yamas and niyamas are the general guidelines on how yogis should live their lives. The terminology became famous in the West due to the diffusion of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, wherein he cites 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas, as the first two parts of the famous “ashtanga-yoga” or “8-part-yoga” description.
Little known to most people, Krishna also describes yamas and niyamas to Uddhava in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.19.33-35). He describes 24 of them, however, not merely 10 as found in the Yoga Sutras. The two and a half hour workshop covered all 24 of them.
At the end of this workshop a nice prasadam lunch was served to all the participants (here in Porto Alegre there are several excellent devotee cooks).
After lunch, we continued with the day´s program and I led a Mantra workshop. This workshop is simple, but very sweet. People learn how to chant “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”, “Nitai-Gauranga, Gaurahari”, the Hare Krishna mantra and a couple of Nrsimha mantras. I teach them to chant japa, too. Basically people spend about 2 hours chanting the Holy Name! It’s really nice.
Most of the participants bought my books (they sold out), asked for autographs and bought japa beads. Eleven of them said they now want to participate in a Complete Gita Study course, so it looks like I´ll be going back there to teach that. Also, a lady who runs a yoga teacher training program says she wants to invite me to teach the Yoga Sutra in her course. Overall, a successful first day in Porto Alegre.