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Tibetan monk to make annual visit Heartsong Yoga

Date: 10/23/2014

EAST LONGMEADOW – Khen Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk appointed by the Dali Lama as the abbot of the Tahsi Lhunpo Monastery in southern India, will make his annual visit to Heartsong Yoga on Oct. 25 for a lecture, discussion, meditation and blessing.

Sheila Magalhaes, owner and co-founder of Heartsong Yoga at 264 N. Main St., said Rinpoche travels to share his teachings and to raise awareness about the Siddhartha School in his home village in Stok, Ladahk, where he teaches and works as the school’s director.

The school’s mission is to preserve Tibetan Buddhist culture and language for youth due to the culture’s exile, which began in the 1950s when Tibet was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China.

“He founded the Siddhartha School in 1995,” Magalhaes said. “What started as a one-room shed is now an exemplary private school with over 300 students serving students in kindergarten through 10th grade. No child is denied admission to Siddhartha School on the basis on need.”

Many of Rinpoche’s students at the Siddhartha School have continued their learning at colleges and universities, she added.

Since 2003, Rinpoche has visited Heartsong Yoga to share his teachings with a different theme every year, Magalhaes explained. This year’s theme is “The Precious Human Life and Commitment to Practice,” which follows Buddhist teachings for experiencing joy in everyday life.

 “There’s been people coming every year to continue to learn from him and continue to study with him,” she said. “It’s a really rare opportunity to just have someone like him come to the community. He comes in with his orange and yellow robes and this really warm presence.

“He’s a gracious, loving, gentleman,” she continued. “He’s a wise teacher with a bright smile.”

 Rinpoche traveled this year to share his teachings in California and Utah as well, according to the Siddhartha School Project’s website. He will visit Smith College in Northampton and the Portland and Freeport area in Maine.

Rinpoche will share his teaching at Heartsong from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The event is free but there is a suggested donation of $20.

Magalhaes and her husband Tony founded Heartsong Yoga more than 20 years ago and both teach yoga classes. Magalhaes’ mother Beth Wadden, 74, also teaches a yoga class.

“Yoga students come in all ages, shapes, and sizes,” she explained. “There’s no one particular look. People come for all kinds reasons; they come for the fitness and physicality of it; they come for the quiet and mediation aspect; [and] they come because things are happening in their lives. They’re in transition.”

Magalhaes said there are two schools of yoga taught to students at Heartsong. The first is Kripalu yoga, which is a style that is accessible to everyone. The second is Ashtanga yoga, which is a more vigorous and athletic style.

“Yoga is a practice where you stretch and strengthen and create balance in your physical body through poses or postures that do not have to be complicated,” she added. “People think that they have to be flexible or fit or young or perfectly healthy to do yoga and they don’t; everyone can come.”

Heartsong Yoga offers a variety of yoga classes such as prenatal yoga and free “Mindful Yoga for Veterans” classes, she said.  The next veterans' class is scheduled for Oct. 25 at 11 a.m.

“We are reaching out to the local veterans,” Magalhaes added. “And it is a new program so we’re still getting the word out.”