Auroyoga International Academy
- Naggar, Himalaya, India
Created by Maria akarastergiou, PhD.
While I was in Auroville, an epiphany occurred and “Auroyoga” was born. Different settings, heterogeneous languages, diverse countries, various therapeutic approaches, many teachers have contributed to the creation of my own approach, Auroyoga. Honouring diversity in all its forms i enjoy working with people from different linguistic and cultural origins. Feeling privileged to accompany the unfolding, of a person’s soul and assist to its evolving. As the smile is deepening, as the heart is opening and filled with unconditional love and compassion, as the mind is getting more and more disciplined and calm, the auroyoga practice is transformed in an uplifting spiritual experience.
This voyage in India was, in fact, the beginning of an endless voyage! From India to Sri Lanka, from Sri Lanka to Thailand, from Thailand to Philippines, from Philippines to Burma, my life became a pilgrimage to sacred sites, a succession of living in spiritual ashrams, an unfolding of reverend places, a contemplative state in meditation centers! In this unfolding of reverend places, in this more contemplative states of existence a more lucid, more enlightened state of consciousness was emerging at the end of each pilgrimage!
That crucial transitional phase transformed my life from an intellectual to a spiritual one.
Through these travels and through the study of the reverend Yogis, sacred sages, divine Rishis, Mahatmas, and Arhats, both in the East and the West, I discovered the missing link in the evolution of Cosmic thought. When reading the great Indian Mahatmas of the East and the Ancient Greek philosophers and sages of the West I discovered that there’s a link as to the concepts and the ideas of the two worlds. How could it be otherwise? The Law is the same! I unburied thus the treasure, unburied the secret! And I isolated myself this time in a beautiful island in Greece initially and a tiny, remote island of Vietnam later to finish this latest edition, "Auroyoga: East meets West"
This edition exposes the long time interest in the unfolding dialogue between Western developmental, psychodynamic, cognitive, psychoanalytic approaches and Eastern mindfulness-based, meditative, yogic practices. Being trained extensively in both scientific and spiritual practices I feel blessed and grateful to be able to make the synthesis. Of the East with the West, the North with the South, the scientific with the spiritual, the soul with the body, the earthly with the Higher worlds. “Thinking Heart and Loving Mind” as Agni Yoga formulates it.
The ancient sacred texts, like Upanishads or Purana mention that in the next era (yuga), in Satya Yuga, there will be no borders, across the planet or between Earth and the Higher Worlds : Borderless Earth! It’s a message of unity and Oneness that I’m carrying, of embracing our divine consciousness and through it the Highest!
I unburied the secret of the Oneness. When reading the great Indian Mahatmas in the East and the Ancient Greek philosophers and sages in the West I discovered that there’s a link as to the concepts and the ideas of the two worlds. How could it be otherwise?
The Law is the same! Shambala is the link! This Abode protecting, guiding, blessing the evolution of Cosmic thought, the evolution of humanity.
Sending love and light and wishing you well on the journey.
Maria Karastergiou, PhD
Founder of Auroyoga International Academy
Founder and Director of the Auroyoga International Academy, (AIA)
I grew up in the laid back surroundings of the mountain Pelion and its closest town, Volos, in Greece. My parents’ big farm with plants, fruits, trees, animals, vegetable garden, water springs, sheltered my summer vacations along with my childhood dreams.
Soon, creative inspiration flowed, and after majoring in psychology in Montreal, I flew off to Paris to get acquainted with Psychoanalysis. With the French language, culture, French writers and the French art, museums, galleries, music, refinement, subtle food! The energy and pace was addictive, the art scene quite inspiring, and the weather was not! (better than Canada though)
In Paris I studied Psychology and Education (Masters, PhD) followed the seminar ‘Anthropologie du Langage’ in ‘L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes’, came in contact with academic, scientific, artistic, and spiritual people from all over the world. Living for fifteen years in Paris was a life-changing experience.
I conducted researches across Europe on intercultural communication, intercultural marriages, bilingual and bicultural parental upbringing etc. Traveling around the world, experiencing different cultures, attending a lot of seminars, workshops, classes to learn facilitation work for diversity issues has been an important part of my life path in the early years of my professional life. I conducted an intercultural longitudinal research in Athens and Paris on intercultural marriages for my PhD Thesis. Being fascinated by cross-cultural experiences since I was young, raising a Franco/Greek child with my French companion, helped me to approach this subject intimately!
What does a person experience internally and externally when encountering a different culture? What unique characteristics each culture has? How one's native language, culture and land influences his/her psyche? What is the right approach to facilitate harmonious living and sharing among companions from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds? The results of this study are published in 2013 in my book 'Post Babel'. I’ve written some other books also in greek and in french : 'Le probleme Piagetien d'inclusion des classes et la pedagogie Montessori, Ed. Grin. It was published in 2011, 'Ode to Alterity' was published on July 2012 in greek. I just finished writing a book on spiritual awakening and my own spiritual approach, Auroyoga. Entitled « Auroyoga : Psichis Akos”, it will be published in english soon.
Since I had many opportunities throughout my life to travel and dialogue with people in various places across the globe some of my students or people on therapy with me, living in intercultural situations, have commented that they feel understood because of my personal intercultural experiences.
After seven years of working in Paris i was invited in Greece to teach psychology at the University of Thessaly in 1990. Later I was on the faculty at the Center of European Studies, where I was mentoring students seeking masters' degrees in Psychology. Along with teaching psychology at the university I did a teacher training in Astangha yoga and started practicing different styles of yoga. Yoga, especially Agni yoga, changed my life. So starting to teach yoga was my own contribution, my service for the Common Good. Assisting towards the spiritual awakening of my students, and being the inspiration of positive transformations in their lives was more than a blessing !
Lived in Athens the last 18 years, working as a University lecturer, having my own practice as a psychotherapist, working as a yoga and meditation teacher, conducting research, writing books, organising yoga, meditation and self growth retreats and seminars.
My research interests started gravitating more and more along spiritual approaches, namely in Jungian Psychoanalytic approach, in contemplative approaches to spiritual development and healing as Oponopono, Sound Healing Meditation, Silent Meditation, Pranayama, Yoga Philosophy and practice, Rebirth, Breath work, Vipassana etc.
The transition from an academic to a spiritual life was taking place unconsciously in the beginning. Unnoticed were the small steps that were approaching me to a world beyond Maya. When I originally delved into the thoughts of some of the most reverend Sages and Yogis of the East and reconnected with the Ancient Greek philosophers of the West, (who strangely they All were Initiated in the Ancient Mysteries, either Greek, or Egyptian) I had no idea of the turmoil that will follow in my life…Studying, and slowly accepting, not intellectually because my mind was still resisting, but intuitively the Cosmic Law of The Eternity of the Soul or Reincarnation, or the Law of Cause and Effect or Karma was a crucial transitional phase that transformed my whole life. Embracing a brand new life, recognising and acknowledging the eternal essence of my soul, and living from the heart was my new direction. In this heart path my soul was blossoming, my life was becoming almost ecstatic! All these high ideas, deep thoughts, beautiful ideals and pure, ethical yogic way of life, “contaminated” the core of my existence. The mundane matters ceased to interest me to a big extent thereafter. Leading the same life was no longer possible. I initially sat peacefully in my beautiful house in a sic Athenian suburb and meditated. During the meditation I received the message that I had to leave. Abandon this place, leave Athens, turn to the next chapter! Having to leave everything behind was painful. Detach from all those attachments was like experiencing successive deaths.
A small village in the mountain Pelion, in Greece was the new destination. There in a small house, in front of the beach, in a tiny village, with very few inhabitants, I started living an ascetic life of purification. All alone, secluded from the rest of the world, without neighbors, friends, and companion, that space became my new reality! Not alone actually, my Companion, was the most precious One: my Teacher. I was feeling His Presence. Never felt loneliness but guided, protected, blessed by Him!
That silent, peaceful, serene atmosphere of the new inhabitant was so inspiring that my creativity started unfolding. I was manifesting an intermittent flow of new ideas, of beautiful insights, of inspired thoughts, of flashes of intuition, of creative writing! I started writing almost automatically! Two books were manifesting: one in French and the other one in Greek. The second was the translation of the diminutive version of the first one. And the first one was the more literate, “grand public” version of my PhD thesis. That had manifested seventeen years earlier in Paris, in 1994.
Absorbed by my writing, guided by the Teacher, devouring my solitude, experiencing the quietness and the calm of my new abode I was fully inspired. Inspired also from the ideas of my Countrymen, my Ancestors, the Ancient Greek philosophers, sages, mystic, yogis, that I was studying at that time. The sea was my Temple! I was swimming almost every day, even when snowing; what a delight! The fire place was my fiery companion. Warming me up, filling with light my nights, purifying the space through its fiery emanations.
This pure ascetic life had its repercussions on my diet as well. It was the turning point from a vegan to a raw vegan eating. 80/% of my diet was provided by ripe, whenever possible organic, local fruits. This alimentation along with yoga practice and Santosha was and still is much more fulfilling and refined.
Terminating the books 6 months after and finding the means to publish them was marking the end of the ascetic life in the beautiful, healing, mountain of Pelion. “Post Babel” and “Ode to Alterity” were the titles of the two editions! Left my demeure in Pelion as soon as I terminated my “mission”! Inevitably, couldn’t go back in Athens though. My purification through the healing energy of Pelion, the transformation that had occurred in my soul, the shift in my consciousness wouldn’t allow going back! That would be experienced as a regression! The only alternative was to move to a spiritual place.
So I left for the second time for the place of my predilection: India! Went in the South, next to Pondicherry and started volunteering in a spiritual community! 40 different nationalities were represented by the inhabitants of my new place. People from all over the world were destined to live in this multicultural, multilingual abode. Was working as a child psychologist in the “Kindergarten”. This “Intercultural Experiment” was the manifestation in fact of my research thesis entitled “Enfances, Cultures, Langages: du biculturalism familial a’ la psycho-pédagogie Interculturelle»! This research was related to the intercultural marriages and multicultural children. Working with small children incarnating three, four, five different origins, cultures, languages was so uplifting! That was my “Intercultural Laboratory”, my post-graduate research space! Was happy to eat, talk, play, meditate, practice yoga, reflect, dream with them. Bright, talented, full of Light blessed children! All my energy, love, compassion was destined to them at that time! They helped me to open more my heart, to feel the blessing of being in close contact with such pure, innocent souls! Working with them was enhancing the conclusions of my previous research. That these children are the ambassadors of the New World, the diplomats of a more colored, loving, unprejudiced, eclectic, refined, spiritual way of life! A life manifesting a borderless Earth, Oneness : One nation, one world, one Heart!
No classification of human beings according to the nationality or the language, or the colour of the skin is legitimate. The only significant classification is, in fact, according to the level of consciousness.