Bhava Ram encourages the movement of the evening’s
Deep Healing class from one stage of savasana (relaxation)
to another with the vibrating resonance of his distinctively
deep voice, fingers strumming the guitar. His chant echoes
throughout the space, sweetly reminding people to awaken.
Like a chord running through his song, his intentions
run through all his teaching: inspiring people to awaken,
to find their own inner guru (teacher), to find their outlet
for service and to find their connection to prana (life
Bhava Ram and Laura Plumb, partners in yoga teaching and
life, have found that source of prana, their outlet (actually
multiple outlets) for service and their inner and outer
teachers. The pair shares what they affectionately call
the Om Home, blocks from the beach on Coronado Island. They
teach there, and at Ginseng Yoga in San Diego, where the
two offer regularly-scheduled classes in Deep Yoga and Deep
Healing and facilitate their signature Deep Yoga Mastery
of Life yoga teacher training program.
Living on Coronado, their practice often takes shape upon
the sand. Laura can do a beautiful headstand only feet from
where the waves lap on the sand. The two sit on what they
call their meditation rock, on a flat stone gazing down
into the Pacific, where Navy SEALS share the water with
harbor seals. They met at a local Siddha Yoga meditation
center. With a gleam in her eye Laura comments on the wink
she was sure she could see in Baba Muktananda’s eyes
in the photograph, when Laura and Bhava’s name cards
were stuck together, giving them an excuse to say hello.
They found yoga before they found each other.
Their individual journeys to yoga had beginnings that
were far from idyllic. In fact, they found yoga through
suffering and personal and familial trial and tribulation.
Illness and desperation, facing mortality and disaster were
the impetus for Bhava and Laura to first stumble into, and
then embrace, yoga practice. Sometimes challenges, difficulties
or obstacles can be our greatest teacher, and I have heard
a noted yoga teacher say that the first question she asks
when someone says that they want to become a yoga teacher
is: “Have you suffered?” Suffering can generate
compassion within us and suffering also has the potential
to inspire us to embark on our own transformation.
Bhava’s path included a career as a foreign news
correspondent traveling the world reporting on tragedy and
triumph, followed by a series of events in which Bhava injured
his back, coped with failed surgery and was served with
a diagnosis of terminal cancer. At one point, doctors told
him he had two years to live. In some ways, he did die at
the end of that time period, at least the person he had
been. For at the termination of the second year, coping
with painkillers, Bhava was introduced to yoga through an
alternative pain treatment center. This introduction marked
Part of that rebirth occurred in what is now the Om Home,
the mirrored practice room where the two engage in their
personal sadhana (spiritual practice) as well as pass on
their alchemical secrets, sharing recipes, remedies and
practices with their students.
Every day, Bhava says, he would retire to his cave-like
room the way the ascetics and sadhus would study and practice
in their caves or on the riverbanks. Through the time spent
with the inner teacher, and the practice, Bhava found a
way to encourage his body, mind and spirit to heal from
Part of his self died, so he found his dharma (purpose)
and then yoga became his path, his dharma. Many of Bhava’s
insights, like those found in Om Home’s inner sanctum
and gleaned from his practice and teaching, are found within
a collection of essays: Deep Yoga: Ancient Wisdom for Modern
Times. In its pages, he shares some thoughts on the alchemy
of yoga, the power of transformation. The teachings of yoga
and Ayurveda, Bhava insists, “reconstruct the molecules
of our being.” He goes on to speak personally, “this
alchemical process played a great role in my own self-healing.”
The teachings of yoga and Ayurveda reconstruct the molecules of our being…this alchemical process played a great role in my own self-healing.
While each of their roadmaps had different turns, Laura
too found yoga through personal obstacles; family crisis
caused her to turn to yoga, to practice as refuge. Before
eventually becoming a yoga teacher, her professional life
was dedicated, as she describes it, to the study of ancient
cultures and teachings. She worked for the Discovery Channel,
as their general manager in Europe and was also a documentary
filmmaker. Her interests included shamanism, Toltec wisdom
and the secrets of prana, although she wouldn’t have
used the word prana then.
Now the word prana flows off her tongue with ease. “It’s
about prana,” she says; feeling prana (our life-force
that is intertwined with nature around us) is the aim of
the yoga practice. They credit their teachers, including
David Frawley (Vamadeva) and Rod Stryker, for their emphasis
One avenue to feeling alive that the couple both engage
in themselves and cultivate with their students is a commitment
to service. Service, like the teaching of yoga can take
many forms, and this idea harkens to the name of their teacher
training program. Mastery of Life acknowledges that becoming
a yoga teacher means examining, fully, one’s own life.
And it is a reminder that being a yoga teacher can have
many forms and faces. A yoga teacher can be an architect
who reminds his coworkers to pay attention to their posture,
a cubical resident who leads a lunchtime chair yoga practice.
The couples’ service is wide-ranging and copious.
For example, Bhava serves on the advisory board of Outdoor
Outreach, where he teaches yoga and is active in other endeavors
to empower and transform the lives of at-risk youth and
other members of the community. Laura teaches for the Foundation
for Women, an organization devoted to educating women worldwide;
and a seasonal series based on the archetypes of the goddesses
at Shakti Rising, a unique recovery program for young women
focused on transformation.
If their lives are an example of transformation, it is
an example that is endlessly inspiring. Even without knowing
any of the history, merely participating in Deep Yoga, the
blend of asana (posture), transformational teachings of
Tantra, wisdom of the seasonal cycles found in Ayurveda
and the gentle encouragement to find the inner teacher,
is proof enough that alchemy takes place here.