As usual, at the Zinal Congress (20-25 August) all sessions will be centred around the same theme – this year Hridaya: the Way of the Heart – but each teacher will explore and develop that topic in their own way. There will be sessions in seven languages, some of them talks, others more practical and others still a mix of discussion and practice, and it is hoped that this variety will enable all participants to find teaching that inspires and elevates them. In addition, this year there will be ‘round table’ discussions, where several teachers will come together to discuss the central theme and respond to participants’ questions.
Isabelle Daulte and Joy Charnley, Meeting Team, on behalf of the EUY
Ravi Ravindra’s talks on ‘The Heart and Purpose of Yoga’ (English, French) will focus on the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, looking specifically at the relationship between the individualised prakriti within each of us, and the individualised Purusha, represented by the particle of Divinity keeping us alive. Study of the YS will focus on the obstacles encountered by all searchers and the practices necessary in order to overcome them, while discussion of the BG will involve exploring what the ‘right actor’ is according to Krishna and the various forms of yoga taught by Him.
Dipa Hélène Marinetti will study (French, English) the Pratyabhijnahrdayam or ‘Secret of the Recognition of the Heart’, a synthesis of the metaphysics of Kashmiri Shivaism, as well as offering mantra chanting, which is an effective way of entering into the vibration of the Heart and experiencing Peace and Happiness there.
José and Ana Gil (French, Portuguese) will analyse the concepts of body, heart and nature from the perspective of Western philosophy and the practice of Yoga and consider the heart in the subtle anatomy and physiology of Yoga. Carlos Fiel will speak (French, Spanish) about warm-heartedness as an essential element in meditation and yoga and Andrey Safronov will talk (English) about ‘Bringing the Mind to the Heart’.
The more practical sessions will be equally varied, ranging from Huguette Declercq’s focus on kundalini yoga (French, English) to Yvon Lebbihi’s on the harmonisation of muscles in postural work (French). Kundalini yoga is the yoga of awareness, involving exploration of the body’s physical, mental and nervous energies. Aoife Lydon’s sessions (English) will also be practical in nature, including asana, pranayama, meditation and relaxation and offering the opportunity to deeply connect with our true nature. Igor Von Moos (German) will approach the topic through an exploration of the koshas and on several afternoons will lead the Nada Yoga Soundwalk (English, French, German), where participants will explore their inner worlds and the transition from noise to silence. Silence is also key to the practices that Wanda Vanni will be working with (Italian, English), providing participants with practical experience of Hatha Yoga techniques to achieve global purification and experience Silence.
Seeking to combine practical sessions with more theoretical and philosophical exchanges, Sergio Castello and Vicenta Server (French, Spanish) will include both discussion of the ‘Klesah’ and asana, pranayama and mantra. Ron van der Post will offer theoretical explanations for asanas (Dutch), looking in more detail at physical, mental and emotional imbalances that might be experienced and how they can be improved. As for Dagmar Nora Shorny (am English, pm German), her sessions on ‘Feeling the Poetry of the Texts’ will trace Hrdaya through the ancient texts, and include gentle asana, pranayama, meditation, reading and focusing techniques of self-inquiry.
Other teachers will focus on a more experiential approach either in the morning or afternoon, exploring theoretical considerations in the other part of the day. Peter Van Lierde will thus be offering both talks (Dutch, English) on the Upanishads, which enlighten us on the vital, psychological and mystical aspects of the heart, and kirtan singing/harmonium playing (in preparation for a small performance at the end of the week). Kirtan and bhajans (songs) are the simplest and most direct way to (and from) the heart and the only requisite for participating is to have a full heart, devotion and enthusiasm. Walter Thirak Ruta’s morning practice on the headstand (French, English) is intended specifically for more advanced practitioners; in the afternoon he will explore other classical postures and talk about Atman, which is hidden from most of us but is offered to us as an experience when the spirit flows from the source of the heart. Similarly, Geza Timcak (English) will combine his talks on the Tattwa Shuddhi with a practical, experiential session of tumo in the Navizence River to purify the pranas and tattwas.
For those who want to take a break from yoga sessions in order to get to know the geology of the Zinal Valley and the history of its occupation by humans, the easy three-hour walk proposed by Walter Wildi, a retired Professor of Geology (French, English, German) is a must. As he will explain, humans have been living in the Val d’Anniviers for 3,500 years, but the village of Zinal only dates from the 18th century and current development is highly dependent on tourism-related activities and conditioned by the evolution of various natural hazards.