Didi Ananda Devapriya: Yoga and Meditation Teacher in Romania

Sadhana Camp in Brazil

It was a profound experience to have the honor to lead an intensive 10-day silent sadhana camp in Brazil in January 2020, at the Ananda Kiirtana MU.

It followed a powerful start to the new year with ecstatic, energetic kiirtan greeting 2020 at midnight and through the whole night. Here is a recording of the kiirtan that heralded the new year.  The natural, green setting of Ananda Kiirtana was spectacular.

The sadhana camp program had included hours of deep sadhana, beginning at 5 in the morning with 3 sessions of 45 minutes, punctuated by interludes of 15 minutes of kiirtan.   The group strictly observed maonabrata (silence) during the program, except for the kiirtan and classes.

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Santa Rosa to San Diego

We continued driving, and driving, and driving – a good long eight or so hour stretch from Eugene all the way to Santa Rosa, where Divyapriya organised a cozy get-together with neighbors and friends. Now Suprabha, who interestingly is working on a thesis about environmental education had joined us!  Many good conversations on the way…

The next day, we continued to the Los Altos Ananda Marga Yoga Center – to join a meditation class and tell about the work in Romania, inviting more people to join our family. One of my best friends from high school days, Kate, joined and also will sponsor Lorena!

Then onwards, again on a very long drive, this time to Los Angeles, the day before Thanksgiving.  On Thanksgiving,  I prepared vegan pumpkin pies and made acorn squash with bread stuffing. Everyone came prepared with all kinds of goodies, and the table was laden!  I was lapse in my photographic duties and forgot to take a picture….sorry – but it was indeed spectacular.

A few more sponsors entered our expanding family that night as well, and we did a lovely gratitude circle, using a small pumpkin as our “talking piece” to go around the circle and take time to celebrate the good in our lives together.

The next day, I continued south for my last road trip – going to San Diego and back in a day to make a couple more visits – seeing another good friend from high school and Dr. Bharat.

I had a couple of days to visit a botanical garden in Pasadena, and Griffith Park Observatory – to relax and recharge before more than 20 hours of travel back to Bucharest!

Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1c3dI was so happy to visit old friends from when I used to work as a volunteer in Portland – Kamalanayna and his wife Kit run an amazing animal sanctuary “Out to Pasture”. It is a veritable children’s home / old age care for abused and neglected animals. Quite impressive – a ton of work, but a wondeful place for the animals to live out the rest of their years!

Come and see:

Out to Pasture Website

I also really enjoyed watching this video – very philosophical and brimming with Neohumanist compassion:

Children in Permaculture at the Kailash Eco-Village

On Thursday, I gave a talk at the Kailash Eco-Village in Portland Oregon about “Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share in Education – the Children in Permaculture Manual” I co-authored. The crowd was underwhelming in size (3 people joined) but I was really excited to meet Matt Bibeau.  He is leaidng the Institute of Permaculture Education for Children! They have been doing exactly what we are setting out to do in Europe – but have been at it for at least 10 years. It was a really valuable exchange of experience and I am looking forward to visiting his educational farm today!

Portland Oregon!

Another small but sweet gathering with Ananda Margii meditators in Portland Oregon last night – gave a talk about the children’s home, and looks like we are welcoming two more new sponsors into the family! It was particularly nostalgic to be back in Portland, this is where I began my journey as a volunteer working with the New Day School and leading yoga classes!

Spent time reminiscing with Shiva Kumar. Indeed, it has already been 21 years since I left Portland to go off to acarya training.  I had so many memorable and formative experiences during the two years in Portland:

Kiirtans and Oatmeal 

I remember 24 hours of kiirtan at the New Day School and the incredibly beautiful dharmacakras with Maitrii’s joyful bhajans,  Diipal’s exquisite kiirtans and Devakii’s Krsna-like flute.  I also remember when we started  bringing a huge pot of warm oatmeal to homeless people on Sunday mornings.

Homeopathic magic

Once the weekly free homeopathic clinic volunteers arrived just after a pressure cooker of beans exploded onto my face,  and I experienced first hand the amazing instant healing of the right remedy in the right moment. In fact, I still have the homeopathic remedy set for acutes that Kamalanayna and the unit had given me as a going away gift.  Those remedies have helped countless trainees, children and margiis over the years!

Painting the jagriti

I also remember overcoming my fear of heights, climbing up high on a ladder to paint the orange rays of a rising sun on the jagriti. By the way, I don’t know how long it lasted, but my apologies for the very dark teal color choice – the paint was donated and ended up several shades darker than I had imagined it…I started the painting with a group of international volunteers during a workcamp, but they left and still the bulk of the painting wasn’t finished….so guess what I did for the next month or so 🙂

Permaculture gurus

Portland was also the beginning of my permaculture journey – with Maitri and Ole as my gardening and sustainability gurus 🙂
Indeed, when Maitri visited me in Romania last year, she told me, with quite a few giggles, about how the first time I came to her house with its edible landscaping – I pointed to some greens and asked what it was. When she revealed that they were carrots – I was so astonished, having never seen carrots actually growing in the ground.  Thanks to that inspiration – it has become a life long passion, and now in Romania, one of the projects I coordinate is an organic Community Supported Agriculture farm, and I helped to write a book on how to engage children in imbibing the ethics of permaculture (earth care, people care and fair share) from an early age.

Visit to the Sunshine Coast in Canada

Cozy gathering at Liilamaya and Lalita’s home

I have visited the Sunshine Coast of Australia a few years ago, but didn’t know there was one in Canada, as well.  Though, I had my doubts that the Pacific Northwest could really be a sunny place – indeed, the weather was beautiful and sunny the whole time!  Spectacular islands and ocean – I even saw a seal, swimming and playing near a wharf.

I was invited by Liilamaya – who has been part of the Sojha kiirtan band, my very favorite kiirtan artists. A t his home, he and his partner Lalita  a really sweet, cozy gathering of friends yesterday. He played kiirtan, accompanied by harmonium and cello.  We had a short meditation, and divinely delicious vegetarian coconut curry!

I then shared about Romania and our children’s home, and I am delighted to announce that we have six new people joining our AMURTEL Family as sponsors for the children! I am so grateful!

Mark Benson – Fine Arts Photography!


LIilamaya – aka Mark Benson, had some really amazing artwork on his walls, that I was convinced were paintings.  They turned out to be some of the most beautiful landscape photography I have ever seen. If you aren’t aware of his work, you must visit his website:  Mark Benson Photography

Beach walk with Solstice

The next day,  we showed up just minutes after the ferry between the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver closed the gates… but as a result, I got the chance to take Solstice, Liilamaya’s dog, for a walk to the beach. Gorgeous!


Blackberry fiasco:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1beeWhile walking with Solstice  on the beach, she decided it was time to go home. Liilamaya had reassured me that she didn’t need a leash, and she was heading back on her own so I followed her.

On the path towards the house, I noticed, to my great surprise, considering the season, ripe blackberries growing by the side of the path. Curious, I reached for one of them, but it required leaning in over the bushes. As I did so, I had the thought that it would be bad to fall into the thorny bushes, especially wearing a sari….and just then I, of course, lost my balance.

I twisted to avoid completely landing into the bushes, but got rather scratched up. Meanwhile my sari was now inextricably tangled up in the thorns. Solstice didn’t even look back and was already out of sight. I carefully worked to extricate my sari from amongst the thorny bushes. When at last I was free, I couldn’t see Solstice, and got a bit worried. Returned to the house, and didn’t see her anywhere in sight….uh oh…Liilamaya – I think I lost your dog…. But I asked some children on little bicycles and they said they had seen a black and white dog and pointed in the direction of the house. I found her politely waiting for me in the back yard….

Hours later, after the dharmacakra in Vancouver, I realized that my hands and ankles were fully of nearly invisible, teeny, tiny little thorns that I couldn’t even see. Luckily a sister with younger eyes than I was able to find them and help take them out. Ouchy….

West Coast Adventure about to Begin!

I am just about to begin a road trip, starting in Vancouver, and working my way down the west coast of the US up to San Diego. I start tomorrow and will finish on Black Friday!

The purpose of this trip:

This trip is dedicated to the children of AMURTEL Family in rural Romania.   I am hoping widen the circle of supporters and friends as I travel to different yoga and meditation studios along the coast, sharing my experiences and leading workshops and programs that help to connect to a greater sense of purpose and meaningfulness through “Karma Yoga”.

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