My Himalayan Journey – Victoria Stearns 4/4/2024

My Himalayan Journey – Victoria Stearns 4/4/2024


There is a long story to be told here, so I shall attempt to cut to the chase wherever possible. I first saw the HIB from the Delaware bus, on my way home from volunteering at the Theodore Roosevelt Site (I became a docent there in 1999) but it simply didn’t occur to me that I might actually become a student there. My immediate reaction was “how intriguing”.

My 30-odd year marriage was being attacked (this is not too strong a word, because it was later destroyed, along with the husband) and I was going for counseling, doing everything on the list of suggestions except for taking yoga. I vaguely knew about yoga (the PBS program with Lilias) but didn’t know where to find a class. The Aquatic and Fitness Center in the Town of Tonawanda offered free classes during Easter week in 2000, and “yoga” was written in pencil. It was revealed later that they were afraid to call the classes yoga, so the official title was “Flexibility Training”.

I joined the class, making the total nine ladies, most older than I was. The teacher was not Himalayan trained, but she followed Rolf’s book, and her classes were actually similar to Himalayan classes. I made friends quickly, and we used to take long walks by the river. I was immediately a convert to yoga (“feel your back breathing now”, “one leg will feel heavier than the other”, plus the fact that you didn’t think about anything else for ninety minutes). I remember silently groaning every time we had to do the “revolving triangle”, one of the teacher’s favorite asanas.

In the summer of 2001, HIB offered a retreat in the country, so four of us decided to attend (nobody had ever been to the HIB). We had classes with Mary Gail and Rolf, and Rolf included material about the Gita. Delicious vegetarian meals, which we helped to prepare. I was thoroughly intrigued, and wanted to learn more. In the fall, the same quartet went to a drop-in class, and I began taking a class once in a while on nutrition, herbs, and similar topics. This led to signing up for meditation with Mary Gail. Somehow this felt like the next logical step (I continued the asana classes at the AFC) as I do remember thinking that I was not afraid to discover anything about myself. I also attended two winter retreats right at the HIB. I asked Mary Gail what I should do next, and she said to take Rolf’s philosophy classes.

The first philosophy class I attended was in the library, and there were about fourteen of us. I made several friendships from that class! I have been taking classes ever since, and the Himalayan Institute is definitely a major part of my life, so much so that I don’t know how I could have managed without it.

During Covid, I sorted out all my binders, and downsized from twelve to eight, but they are quickly increasing once again. The classes on Zoom are a godsend. The more that is taught, by such excellent teachers, leaves the desire to learn more. For me, this has been and continues to be a healing journey, and I always feel that “help is on the way” whenever I step into the HIB. HIB definitely is “Buffalo’s center for personal growth and development”.

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