Underneath East College Avenue in downtown State College lies Bhakti Yoga Center – a place where mindfulness and meditation meet.
Bhakti means “love and devotion,” and yoga means “link or connect,” Krishnamayi Krysiak, one of the owners, said. “Bhakti yoga is a process of linking or connecting with a source or to a source of love and devotion.”
Something practiced in the center nestled between Auntie Anne’s and Mr. Wish is mantra meditation.
“Meditation is anything we can focus our mind on,” Yasodeva Das, another one of the owners, said. “Mantra meditation, which is what we do here, is to give the mind a place to focus and focus on the sound vibration.”
When practicing mantra meditation, the group uses instruments while others sing and dance along. A song they sing is “Hare Krishna.” Hare is the “feminine aspect of God,” and Krishna means “God which is all attractive,” Das said.
Das said “chanting‘ Hare Krishna ’is an unlimited reservoir of pleasure” for him.
“Just like if you have a stream where water is always coming up, and people can make use of the water for drinking or agriculture,” Das said. “If it’s unlimited, it’s just so life-giving.”
Bhakti Yoga Center opened in September 2021 with four owners, but it originally started as a club on campus.
Das said he was already involved with the Penn State community by working with the Vedic Society. He said the club has been around for about 20 years, but he’s been helping run it for seven or eight years.
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Abdullah Redwan, a student who has been a member of the Vedic Society since 2019, said they “used to meet 45 minutes away from State College.” He said if they were “lucky,” they’d get to meet at the spiritual center once or twice a week.
The club now meets in the center, which has free yoga on Tuesdays.
“Come to free yoga on Tuesdays and free chanting and food on Thursdays,” said Sophia Lamb, a student and yoga instructor.
There are also other options throughout the week. The center strives to keep everything “budget-friendly for the students,” Krysiak said.
Three yoga classes can be taken for $ 15. A drop in is $ 10 per student and $ 12 for non-students. There are also membership passes for eight visits or unlimited classes for a month.
Redwan (senior-business) said he joined the community, and it “helped detach [himself] from material contamination ”and“ gave [him] more insight to realize why [he’s] here. ”
As a senior, he said this is a way for him to focus on the “spiritual life” as he[prepares] on graduating, getting a job and all that stuff progressing in the material life. ”
“I’m here once or twice a week, but I almost never miss it,” Redwan said. “Someone would have to beat me down for me to miss, and it was like that from the very beginning. I’m usually a person that [goes] through the phases of different creative aspects or different activities – but this is not a phase – I’ve been committed for two years and a couple more to come. ”
Lamb (senior-human development and family studies) said she was in the process of getting her yoga teacher certificate when she joined.
“The club has made me want to incorporate yoga into my daily life instead of just seeing it as a job,” Lamb said. “I’ve really taken yoga as a way of life and it’s just brought a lot of intention, mindfulness and happiness.”
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