The Mandala Yoga Ashram was set up 30 years ago by Swami Nishchalananda in the beautiful Welsh countryside and provides a yoga and meditation retreat for those people lucky enough to visit.
The ashram was well prepared for the 70 or so guests who attended the celebrations, with a large marquee for satsang, chanting and workshops and a small marquee for preparing vegetables and doing the washing up! There was ample space for campers to pitch their tents and a well-organised Karma yoga rota, to make sure we all got fed and the ashram kept clean.
During the three and a half days of celebrations there were workshops on such diverse subjects as Gyana yoga, yoga in daily life, yoga and Celtic vein in Blake and Yeats, drumming and correct posture. Some of the more adventurous souls went on a walk around the ashram grounds learning about wild herbs; the walk ended in Swami Nishchalananda’s kitchen where we sampled a wonderful drink made by Swamiji himself from herbs and fruit.
There were also many opportunities to participate in chanting, meditation, kirtan, yoga, Chi Gong and Yoga Nidra. The two concerts with Rajesh David and Upasana were joyful occasions with Rajesh singing Swamiji’s favourite songs and encouraging us all to join in whenever possible.
On the first day we gathered to watch the havan (fire) being lit and start the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra which continued uninterrupted for 3 whole days. It was eerie but also magical to walk through the silent, misty ashram at 3 am to take a turn in looking after the havan and chanting. We also constructed a Mandala next to the havan. At the end of the celebrations we all gathered again to chant the last few rounds of the Gayatri Mantra and then a beautiful silence fell as we meditated on the joy and friendship we had experienced over the previous three days. The mandala was dismantled and surrendered to the four directions and we all eventually went home feeling refreshed and revitalised in mind, body and spirit.