A Pilgrimage to India for Yoga, Enlightenment & Hugs from Amma

Brianne Hutchinson, affectionately known as “Nadi” by those who know her best, is a Sadhana Yoga School facilitator.   But that is not the only thing that defines her – as with all our amazing facilitators – they have travels, experiences, and insight that make them a unique addition to the Sadhana team.

Brianne is a bit of a world traveler. When she is not unrolling her mat in Portland, Oregon, she is hiking up a mountain to connect with mother earth, or floating down a river in her kayak. But sometimes in life, the call for something “more” comes; ringing loud and clear, in this case it was the “call to India”.  For a time, she didn’t think it would happen…how can a place – not a person – call you after all, she wondered.  And yet it did, eventually.

India, the birthplace of yoga, was slightly intimidating but she has spent the last several years studying yoga, traveling to Guatemala to earn her 200 RYT, training for her 500 RYT, and eventually to become a facilitator for Sadhana Yoga School, while also establishing her own local practice in Portland.    Through these experiences, she has developed a strong spiritual practice, and despite the novelty of India as the birthplace of yoga, she felt that the hectic, busy, daily life of India would be too chaotic for her as a yogi, spiritual practitioner and meditation teacher.  But that assumption was about to change.

Brianne recently attended Sadhana Yoga School in Bali, as a facilitator.  Little did she know that this was opening up her mind, body and spirit to an awakening.  During this time, she was exposed me to a vibrant Hindu culture that made her thirsty for more while also strengthening your general affinity for Yoga Philosophy and practice, but it also gave her time to reflect on a very special person who came to her a few years back when she was still in college, anxious for guidance and using her yoga and meditation practice, and dreams to connect with someone who could provide it.  This turned out to be Mata Amritanandamyai – also known around the world as Amma or the “hugging saint”.

“Amma’s message is one of pure nurturance, embrace the world and the world will know peace- and more importantly you will know peace. Amma’s message is the importance of selfless service, true knowledge and devotion as yogis. This means to be of service in the world without the need of reward or praise, and to remain devoted to practices that cultivate peace in ourselves and our communities. To simply work and give from the heart is the most noble quest. To love all beings as a divine mother loves all her children, is true wisdom. One of the main ways Amma demonstrates her message is through “Embracing the World” with Dashana- Hugs. She is also known as the hugging saint because she has hugged over 33 million people worldwide and continues to do so each year. Her humanitarian and charity work far surpasses the number of hugs she has given, and continues to be a fueling inspiration in my work and desire to help other, especially those in need.”

Brianne Nadi, Sadhana Yoga School Facilitator

Within a year of attending this training, Brianne would travel to India to fulfill a desire to visit Amma at her Ashram, to be closer to this energy for a substantial amount of time and absorb the truths of selfless service and devotion – also known as Bakti Yoga – which is quite a contrast to the yoga practice we experience in the western world today which is selfishly focused on the self, the aesthetics, the individual.  Brianne knew she wanted to move past that, but also experience authentic Ashram living and be in a community where devotion and service are the backbone and forefront.

Within moments of arriving she was greeted by 4:30 AM morning prayer, a collection of beautiful women in white making their way to the temple and chanting 108 names of goddess Devi, the cooperative chorus of chanting of the black crows in the Palm, Banyan and Tamarind trees who echoed theirs chants, and a deep state of meditation that brought her pause for some time, until she was greeted by buzz of life, smell of chai, just as a beautiful elephant walked pass with joyous children jumping and dancing behind her.  Despite Brianne’s strong connections to her dreams, this was no dream, though she regularly asked herself,  “WHERE AM I?” This land, this Ashram came to hold a magical power over her, a golden thread of the energy that would sustain for the entire three weeks at the Ashram.

Brianne’s call to India allowed her an authentic experience that was spiritual, physical and vocational: :

  • Studied yoga and scripture intensely
  • Practiced yoga, meditation, and ceremonial Pujas daily.
  • Sat with Amma as she answered questions and gave advice.
  • Received darshan from her and listened to her beautiful voice as she sang sacred chants.
  • Served the Ashram through washing giant dhal pots that were bigger than me x3, drying dishes like they were precious gems, and unloading the food trucks of organic vegetables that fed an Ashram army of 3,000 peace loving people.
  • Learned how to play the tambourine and drank pineapple juice until my hearts content.

She also discovered quickly what it was truly like to unplug and disconnect, since photos and cell phone are not allowed at the Ashram.  But this restriction actually gave her a great lesson in being present and unattached to devices, using journaling and drawing mandalas – practices that are now is part of her regular spiritual routine.

Despite the chaos, noise and smells of life in the Amma Ashram, it remains a surreal experience enshrined in beauty and a deep realization that “We don’t practice yoga to escape the hard or uncomfortable parts, we practice yoga so we are better at leaning into those uncomfortable bits and dancing in the chaos. We practice to find peace as a state within us; so therefore, it is everywhere we are. As long as we can be present and tune into it, it’s there , that’s the practice…”

If you feel the call to do something more with your practice or to travel to the sacred land of India, consider our 300 Hour Advanced Yoga training and discover another world, maybe another self, and a truly life changing experience.

Crafted with love by:

BriAnne Nadi, Certified Yoga Guide, RYT500 Graduate Student, Lewis & Clark College of Education and Counseling (503) 816- 4427 yoganadiom@gmail.comwww.briannanadi.com

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