Atmajyoti (Camille Browne) is the latest teacher to join Ashram Yoga. She started yoga about 14 years ago when her parents dragged her along to a community class on Auckland’s North Shore. She enjoyed the class and wanted to do something for her back pain (scoliosis). She was about to leave Auckland so she bought a cassette tape and started practising herself.
She benefited greatly, contrary to the advice of her doctor and surgeon.
Sometimes asking a surgeon if you need surgery is like asking a hairdresser if you need a haircut.
It was not only her back pain which improved, but other health conditions as well. These benefits now provide her the ongoing inspiration and interest.
Becoming a Yoga Teacher
Upon returning to Auckland in 2001 she discovered Ashram Yoga. The comprehensive classes appealed greatly and added a new dimension to her yoga.
In 2006 Atmajyoti decided to step up her practice and participated in Ashram Yoga’s Level 1 teacher training programme. She had a taste of teaching a few years earlier while working on a Greek island. Her apartment had a flat roof and that is where she chose to do yoga. Her work mates joined her and a number of others from around the island.
Yoga teacher training Level 1 consolidated her understanding of the practices and their effects. This inspired her to go deeper into her own practice. It also gave her an extra tool in the belt as a natural health therapist (www.totalwellbeing.co.nz) and one that she utilises often as it’s so nice to teach people something that empowers them!
After completing the course she approached her local gym and asked if they wanted a yoga class. They said yes and that’s how she started teaching – it was that easy! Shortly afterward a new health centre opened in Remuera and she took on running the yoga studio and taught many yoga classes there including a teenage class. Yoga is such a wonderful part of her life that she thinks the sooner you learn it the better!
Going to India
In 2009, Atmajyoti’s love of travel prompted her to go to India. She googled and found some courses being held at the Satyananda Ashrams in Rikkhia and Munger. The courses were on Prana Vidya (knowledge of energy) and Ajapa Dharana (mantra and meditation) but also included discussion on a wide range of topics.
Her training at Ashram Yoga had introduced her to the teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati so she knew that she would like what was being taught. The courses turned out to be very fortunate because they included lots of satsangs (spiritual discussions) with Swami Niranjanananda, Swami Satsangi and even with the elderly Swami Satyananda.
Swami Satyananda would sometimes talk in Hindi to the Indians, but Atmajyoti enjoyed being in his presence even though she didn’t understand a word – just being there was inspiring. Even though Swami Satyananda was advanced in years he was full of life.
Swami Niranjanananda often spoke on how to incorporate yoga into the life of a householder. His realistic approach was appreciated – including his advice on balancing a sadhana (yoga practice) with time restrictions. He suggested starting with chanting (11 x Gayatri Mantra, 11 x Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, 3 x 32 names of Durga) followed by only a few postures, one breathing technique and short meditation. His guidelines weren’t hard or fast, encouraging people to try different techniques at different times so that many were experienced.
Atmajyoti is very active – she rides a motorcycle and races yachts with her husband, Chris, and also with another group of friends. She says that finding a place to do yoga on their yacht (a Davidson 28) is difficult so she got a paddleboard for Christmas which proved to be a good place for some postures, but not so good for the balancing ones. Falling off the board provides a lot of entertainment for others.