Viet Nam News
by Lương Thu Hương
What might have sounded esoteric and exotic to Vietnamese citizens even decades ago is now becoming a mainstream discipline, signifying the deeper inroads that the practice of yoga is making in the country.
Võ Anh Tâm is just 22, but he says he has felt deep improvement in both his physical and mental health, almost a year after he took up Sahaja Yoga.
“I’m less likely to get sick. And what I’m pleased with most is that I have been able to recognise my anger, jealousy or negative feelings, so that I am not easily controlled by them, and hence have a better life.”
Every Sunday morning, Tâm and ten others, most of them young, attend a Sahaja Yoga meditation class in Đà Nẵng City that is free for all.
Created by Shri Mataji Devi (1923-2011) in India in 1970, Sahaja Yoga is a method of meditation which is said to be a breakthrough in the evolution of human awareness.
In Shri Mataji’s own words as quoted in sahajayoga.org: "Global unity of mankind can be achieved through this awakening that can occur within each human being, so that transformation takes place within us. By this process a person becomes moral, united, integrated and balanced.
“Sahaja Yoga is different from other yogas because it begins with self-realisation.”
The meditation technique is now practised in many countries. In Việt Nam, Sahaja Yoga was first introduced in Hà Nội and HCM City.
In June 2015, a Sahaja Yoga class was opened in Đà Nẵng City in central Việt Nam, with the aim of offering easy access to this meditation method to all city dwellers.
The class is managed by two friends, Nguyễn Thành Luân and Nguyễn Đặng Hoàng Mai.
“It (the class) is not our idea. It comes from the founder of this meditation method. Shri Mataji believed that this is everyone’s birthright, so it should be free. And so she started it, and took it to over 100 countries,” said Luân, a computer programmer and project manager.
“We ourselves got it for free, and we continue it that way.”
Luân first read about Sahaja Yoga from a Yoga forum on the Internet when he was in high school.
He was struggling with depression then, bored with his studies and searching for some purpose in life.
“People were discussing quite a lot about its benefits, yet there was no centre in my hometown, so I just followed the steps I found online, and it was pretty ‘cool’ literally. After that, I moved to HCM City and immediately joined free classes there.”
Full house: Nguyễn Thành Luân (standing right) and Nguyễn Đặng Hoàng Mai (standing left) instruct practitioners in Sahaja Yoga. They hope to bring Sahaja Yoga to more people, so opening additional classes is one of their plans. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Thành Luân
After pursuing this meditation for a while, Luân found positive improvements within himself.
“It was not very clear when I first started, but now on looking back, Sahaja Yoga has changed my life to an extent I wouldn’t have imagined before. From a shy boy feeling depressed by all the pressures from the family, I have become pretty confident and learnt to enjoy life. It also helped a lot while I was studying, and later working, in the way I deal with workload, stress and also my relationship with colleagues.”
Luân has always wanted to spread the benefits of Sahaja Yoga to as many people as possible. Therefore, during his stay in HCM City, Luân and his meditation companions opened several free yoga classes. Together with friends from other countries like Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, he also organised tours across the country to hold music shows combined with Sahaja Yoga instructions.
“Mai and I take up several duties related to children so we both hope to introduce this yoga to more children. This method of meditation will significantly benefit their study and health.”
Mai, who was born and raised in Hà Nội, also learned about Sahaja Yoga from the Internet.
“I was googling ‘meditation costing no money’ and stumbled upon Sahaja Yoga in March 2013. I enrolled in Sahaja Yoga class in Hà Nội.
“The instructors were very nice and enthusiastic. We used to share things and talk to each other like members of a family. After taking up the class for a while, I felt much more optimistic, joyful and relaxed. I live more positively and feel that my life has been blessed with more luck and chances.”
After moving to Đà Nẵng, where there was no Sahaja Yoga class then, Mai had to interrupt her practice. But then, with support from Sahaja Yoga members from Hà Nội, HCM City, Malaysia and Singapore, the first meditation class was opened in the central city, initially attracting around 50 people.
Luân said that besides support from collectives within and outside the nation, the Sahaja Yoga class in Đà Nẵng has also received help from some organisations within the city. For instance, a psychology institution for children, allowed the use of their classrooms for free.
“People joining the classes also help out in preparing and organising things, as we’re like friends. However, there are difficulties sometimes, like finding an affordable, spacious room for new classes, which usually attract quite a few people,” he said.
There is no fixed time frame for a course. Beginners’ classes last for about 18 weeks and after that, people are encouraged to gather for collective meditation. Some others choose to practise at home by themselves though.
Both Mai and Luân are hoping to bring Sahaja Yoga to more people, so opening additional classes is one of their plans.
“Right now our classes are all during the weekend, when some people can’t join, so we want to hold more class during weekdays. Mai is pretty good with children, so we hope to have her co-ordinate a class for children as well,” Luân said.
He admitted that they haven’t done a really good job with connecting and encouraging new people to do meditation regularly.
“It takes some time to realise its benefits so we are planning to do something for people to be aware of this as well," he said.
“When we have more people, we hope to expand our programmes to schools and companies and help students and employees deal with stress, like what is being done in Hà Nội and HCM City.” VNS