Reflection on Walter Thirak Ruta´s workshops during the 50th Zinal Congress

Returning from Zinal...

by Luísa Gil

I’m back from Zinal with a full heart after a week dedicated to yoga where, alongside a variety of practices, debates and reflections on the congress theme ‘Hṛdaya: the way of the heart’ and the celebration of the event’s 50th anniversary, I was able to share unforgettable moments with friends and immerse myself in the lush mountainous nature of the Alps, its glaciers and the Navizence river.

Among the many options offered by the Zinal congress (more than 20 sessions a day!), I concentrated on deepening my learning with Walter Thirak Ruta.

In this practice, which follows the tradition of Srī Srī Satchidananda Yogi, the Silent Yogi of Madras, every morning we wake up to a meditation followed by Sūryanamaskar with mantra chanting evoking the 12 names of the sun (a practice illustrated on the back cover of Walter Thirak Ruta’s book Offri prima di fruire), as a ritual that prepares the body and leaves us mentally available for discovery.

As the main focus for the investigation and discovery that we’ll be doing throughout the week, Walter then proposes preparatory work for the inverted posture with support – śīrṣāsana – which goes far beyond the bio-mechanical aspects and is orientated towards the energetic experience inherent in the subtle anatomy of the human being.

Quoting in this regard from Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, verse 3.52:

‘On the summit of Mount Meru, there is a hollow cavity covered with snow. It is there, says the Sage, that Reality is. It is there that is the source of all descending currents (rivers or nāḍī). From the moon flows the vital fluid, the essence of the body, which is why men die. Therefore, this loss must be stopped thanks to this ingenious means, because there is no other way to achieve bodily perfection.’

Walter recalls the similarity of the mythical mountain to the Alps where we find ourselves and makes special reference to the symbolic correspondence between Mount Meru and the spine, with the top of the head as its summit, the standpoint of śīrṣāsana which, according to Haṭha Yoga, makes it possible to preserve the nectar of immortality (amṛta). Thus, under the strict guidance of our teacher, we explore the possibilities offered by the body and expand our self-awareness through a variety of practices.

In one of the sessions, Walter says that sometimes it’s in difficulty that we find the best part of ourselves. In fact, travelling the path of self-knowledge allows us to transform fear into confidence, and we reach the summit and remain in śīrṣāsana.

After the Zinal congress, I remember this living transmission that makes each encounter unique and unrepeatable: Walter Ruta’s devotion to his master Srī Srī Satchidananda Yogi, the arduous and consistent personal dedication to the practice, the integration of knowledge ranging from anatomy and physiology to philosophy and mythology, the ability to adapt to each moment and situation, as well as his spontaneous and authentic communication and surprising sense of humour that inspire an ever-growing number of followers from different age groups and backgrounds in various countries, forming a large community of which I am now a part.

I return home with a full heart, full of gratitude and love.