Crêt Bérard, June 10-11 2006

Interview André Riehl

What brought you to Yoga?

What brought me to Yoga is a dream when I was about 11 years old, a face that kept coming back all the time. Little by little I noticed a calming effect the day after those dreams at school. Then, by chance, I found this face in a newspaper article. I cut it out and decorated it with a box. It represented the Universe. When I came back from school, I placed myself in front of it and I wanted to move, sometimes to stay still, I imagined shapes, colors, images … It lasted eight or nine years, until one day when I read the article that accompanied this image. It was only then that I identified that it was Ramakrishna, a wise man, long dead. At the same time I discovered that what I had been doing for a long time was called Yoga. I went to see teachers.

What was your path afterwards?

Around the age of 20, I decided to go to India on foot. It was an intense journey. I stayed in a Himalayan monastery for a while, then in a cave. I led a life of a wandering beggar. I gathered bits and pieces of teachings here and there until I met some ascetics of the Shaivite lineage – SHIVASIDDÂNTA. They taught me across many domains: 19 practices, vast and complete, including NIDRA Yoga. Then there was the meeting with Ma Ananda Mayee, first in a dream. I received her teachings around Love and on all the colors of the relationship, they were of an unimagined depth. This encounter-relationship lasted until 1982, her death, and even after.

Then there was the relationship with Krisnamurti. He taught me a precise and structured Yoga, concision, intellectual integrity, non- mental confusion.

I met my master Chandra Swami who is from an ancient Brahmanic lineage of the Udasins. He does not teach formally, it’s an inner relationship that has lasted 30 years.

Furthermore, I also have a story in Europe: I did a complete yoga training, with a diploma from the FNEY. I followed several courses in parallel: Roger Clerc, the yoga of energy, Nil Hahoutoff, Desikachar and Shivananda.

Then I myself began to teach. What I learned with these trainings is what you should not do. There is a very great emphasis on prevention, on not harming …

What is your vision of the teachings of Yoga in Europe?

In the West, schools are essentially trainings to become teachers. But what interests the tradition is to train Yogis and not teachers. When one has an instructor within a lineage, it is a relationship with the energy of this lineage, it is like a ramp to guide towards the light. Me, I try to be a witness between the East and the West to show that traditional lineages still exist, it’s not outdated. They are open; to access them, it takes time and a big investment, but it is possible.

In the West, there has been a loss of the deep meaning of the word Yoga. Yoga is at once a goal, a state of union, and a means. In teacher trainings, the focus is mostly on the tools. The real question is not “what can Yoga do for you”, but “are you ready to serve Yoga”, the goal? Currently, we train yoga teachers who are not recognized by any official institution. At least in France, there is only the social integration in the form of payment of VAT. But there are people who step on this path of Yoga who wish to be delighted by the State (of union). There exist Yogis, but they are not registered in any directory …

What is the specific contribution of NIDRA Yoga for yoga teachers and practitioners?

NIDRA Yoga is distinct from Yoga Nidra, practiced by many teachers at the end of a class as a short relaxation of 5 to 10 minutes. NIDRA Yoga is a broad and rich approach that gives teachings in two major areas: on one hand, letting go, learning by a method to become less and less tense. Learning to release tensions in the physical body, organs, boes, in the energy of perception, the mind (memory, projection, thought, ideas …) the relaxation of intuition and finally the relaxation of silence. Yes, there is a “tense” state of silence … This is the whole orientation process of the mind – CITTA NIRODHA – of which Patañjali speaks. To achieve relaxation in the state of thought.

The other big area in NIDRA Yoga is concentration or contemplation. There are degrees of mobilizing energy on a particular object. It can be education, beliefs, memory, forgetfulness, or the end of silence. These are internal states of agitation that stabilize. We can focus on the energy of forgetfulness. This oblivion is one of the dimensions of the sacred. We need a lot to forget ourselves, to go to SAMADHI. We can contemplate the lack, the energy of lack. It is a taste of God that can bring us closer to this relationship with Him.

Finally, we will try to associate the two – letting go and concentration – and this will have an effect on the content of thought. There is the conscious in the waking state, the subconscious in the dream state, and the unconscious in the sleep state. We will use the energy of thought, to visit the state of NIDRA, sleep. It is about the mythological sleep of SHIVA: this state of conscious relaxation and concentration that maintains, destroys and creates the universe.

In what form will you present your contribution at the FSY Spring Seminar?

Is this seminar intended specifically for a certain audience?

This seminar will be for anyone who wants to find more meaning in his yoga practice, whether they be a teacher or a beginner, there is no difference. NIDRA Yoga can nourish their practice, their work, their health, their relationships … It participates in the search for a sacred dimension in everyday life. The seminar (see the program) will discuss theory and practice and will close with some tips for your personal practice.

What are the perspectives of NIDRA Yoga in Europe?

My teacher asked me to make NIDRA Yoga better known in Europe because it brings relief to the suffering of people, it opens the door to a sacred dimension of life.

Currently, we are in the process of creating a European training cycle that will specifically target already trained Yoga teachers and others on a spiritual path. This cycle will begin at the beginning of September 2006 in Luxembourg (for more details please consult

Commnets collected with delight by
Eveline Waas Bidaux
in Montpellier Décembre 10th, 2006.

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