First Timers, Meditation and Yoga Reviews

Ananda Yoga

My only expectation was a peaceful guided meditation during the First Timers Weekend.  I actually came out with so much more!  I was taught different meditation techniques and that was the most important part for me.  -_David and Miriam were very warm, professional well spoken and a sweet couple.  Elena M., Lake Forest, CA

There were no “expectations” put on us “students” and I liked the class size which were comfortable and intimate.  I plan to use the tips I learned on improving and making more consistent one’s meditation practice so that I can reinvigorate my connection to universal energies and for furthering my spiritual goals.   Yoga was great but it could have been a little more intense even for beginners!      Peter S., Camas, WA

Breathing and other meditation techniques plus spiritual yoga were most helpful during the First Timers Weekend.  Miriam and David brought themselves fully to their work with us and that’s all you can hope for in a teacher.  I liked the balance of yoga, meditation, nature and good food!   C. Mason, Portland, OR

As a beginner, I got a taste of several aspects of the spiritual life this weekend.  I discovered that yoga followed by meditation is very powerful.   David and Miriam both have open, happy hearts.  They were just having a conversation with us that left me feeling like I got a big hug.  B. Johnson, Corvallis, OR

I liked learning new variations on different yoga moves. Restorative Yoga was great but I had trouble sleeping because I felt energized! Donna and Pete were both excellent teachers. The food was awesome but maybe add non-garlic and no onions with the meals? I loved this place! Lisa M., Portland, OR

I liked the small class size and the different yoga sessions. Restorative Yoga was intense for me. The lodging is too old in my opinion though. Karin L., Portland, OR

I really liked the mixture of active poses as well as the restorative/meditative practices. Donna has a gift for gently weaving together the poses for the restorative yoga. I enjoyed Pete’s introduction to meditation as well. I loved the cheerful bright place! Toni T., Eugene OR


I liked the sweet introduction to meditation and the variety of ways we were exposed to it: formal instruction, chanting, mantras, walking, etc. I learned simple ways of incorporating meditation in my life and plan to set up a little meditation corner and start my day with it.   Kirtan was an unexpected, wonderful experience. Both Miriam and David were kind, wonderful teachers. The food was outstanding! Kat VZ, Portland, OR

I was here to meet the people of Ananda who were found to be kind, genuine and sincere people which made me feel comfortable with the Ananda community. Yoga was new to me and I really enjoyed not only the classes but how my body felt afterward and how it improved my meditation practice. I think the yoga classes moved too fast for some newbies but overall the balance was perfect!   Dana H., Southboro, MA

Most helpful were probably the meditation techniques and the different ways to meditate including chanting and GiGong. I enjoyed the QiGong and Kirtan for they really added to the experience! I liked when David and Miriam answered questions that led to discussing different ideas and/or historical information. The rural setting and the fresh air were enjoyable. I actually liked the rooms with shared bathrooms down the hall because it felt more like a summer camp! Debbie M., Dundee, OR

The openness of the staff and their courteous treatment of everyone’s different needs, feelings and levels of experiences were among the things I liked about being here. The whole vibe was very warm, loving and powerful. The different methods of medtation such as eye movements, beathing, the use of mantras and visualizations were most helpful to learn. I plan to use all of these techniques to bring myself a more disciplined meditation practice at home. Joslyn M., Portland, OR

I loved being around like-minded individuals on a similar path/journey.   I have always done Bikram Yoga and now I’m inspired to try new varieties to see what else I can get out of my practice! David and Miriam were kind, loving spiritual teachers. It was very clear they cared about Ananda Center at Laurelwood.   The outdoor spaces was such a beauty.   You should sell a cookbook for the food was delish! Ericka T., Seattle, OR

The welcoming environment and kind hearted people was what I liked best about the class this weekend. I liked how we started out with basic techniques and added to that foundation with interactions with different teachers. With the tools given to me, I now feel as though I am capable of quieting my mind. I look forward to creating my own altar at home! Ashley T., Eugene, OR

I really enjoyed being removed from city life. The scenery is amazing and everyone is very friendly. I was already familiar with Yogananda and the techniques that were taught, but the retreat helped show me the importance of a regular/daily meditation practice. Jacob was friendly and welcoming. He was an informative teacher who was very open to answering questions. He obviously loves what he does which shows in his teaching style. Jacob was great! Brian G., Portland, OR 


There was a really open, flexible and fluid vibe. Lots of space for sharing different perspectives and a full that ease of scheduling with everything optional. I will remember many of the anecdotal stories that Jacob shared to remind me in more challenging moments with my own practice. Jacob is super patient, tolerant, generous of spirit and emulating the joy that the practice and Ananda can bring. Great stories, great voice, and inspirational. I’m excited for what you are doing and knowing this is just the beginning manifestation and vision for a rural, residential, and spiritual retreat facility so close to Portland! Isa D., Portland, OR

Jacob has an amazing voice and presentation style. I liked best being with other people who want to work on themselves. And the music was ecstatic! It’s helpful to know that meditating at regular times, specific times, deepens and accelerates one’s practice. I liked the free time because it allowed me to get a massage! Rebecca M., St. Helens, OR

My favorite part about the class meetings has been Jacob’s knowledge of the practice and his energy. He’s very gentle and welcoming in discussions and creates a very safe and supportive space for us. I most appreciate the opportunity to have breakfast with the community in silence. Sharing space with people without needing to fill it with sound has been marvelous. Mindfully eating and letting go of the idea that communal eating like even during family dinner, require dollars verbal socialization and really can flourish in silence. Jacob obviously has a very committed practice and very much appears to live it. He tells stories and relates them back to discussions effortlessly. He’s great at holding space for where people are and he’s also humble that makes him very approachable. Katy, H., Salem, OR

[The class was]…well paced and supportive. All levels catered for. Non-judgemental. The music was beautiful! I enjoyed the classes where we explored various, simple meditation techniques. These are the things that I can definitely take with me. The yoga sessions were perfect. They were gentle but energizing. So refreshing to have early morning practice. Jacob was a skilled facilitator. He drew in the entire group and managed to speak to and include people of various experience and levels. His singing is beautiful… Roisin O., Gorey, County, Wexford, Ireland

Jacob has wonderful and very peaceful energy around him. Beautiful singing voice, workshops were great! Dana G., Beaverton, OR

Sun Salutation

I found it most helpful to receive the beginning understanding of how to let energy guide meditation and tools to start a manageable spiritual practice. The information was fascinating. Yoga was good for me. I liked best the mental safety and quiet friendliness of the community. Sue G., Portland, OR

Jacob was very warm and welcoming. Alyssa G., Manzanita, OR

Jacob connected well with me and he was very helpful…I enjoyed his energy and stories. Randi M., Portland, OR

I received a deeper understanding of meditation and actually doing it. The most helpful part was learning how to meditate. Jacob was very authentic and honest. Corey G., Beaverton, OR

Miriam and David did a very good job. Thank you for your knowledge! It was a wonderful opportunity to recharge with mindfulness and meditation. Priscilla, D., Tigard, OR

David is a very gifted teacher. He has clearly arrived at his knowledge through experience. This allows him to relate to the learning process. He brings humanity and expertise to what he shares. Monica S., San Francisco, CA

The presenters were just excellent – knowledgeable, helpful, compassionate, and friendly. The best thing about the weekend was being able to try meditation and feeling as though I can now keep up a practice and develop it. I learned so much about the right way to do it from David! We learned a lot and we enjoyed every moment together in this idyllic setting. Thank you all! Yvonne A., Seattle, WA

David is very easy to talk and listen to, presents things clearly and simply, and is happy to explain anything. Same for Miriam, and I love her singing and playing the harmonium. I wish I could hear that every day. Everyone was so welcoming and I really felt at ease, with no pressure at all. Jessica C., Portland, OR

Dear David and Miriam, thank you so much for holding the visible and invisible container of direct support through answering requests and maintain the physical and spiritual space. Your care allowed a deep opening and unfolding that was beautiful for me to witness in our group. Love, love, love and light to you all at the Ananda center. Marisa S., Portland, OR

Presenters were quite impressive! Awesome! The meditation techniques and clearing the mind was the most helpful that I learned. Sandra P., Eureka, CA

I never thought I could learn so much over the weekend. I thought I already knew quite a bit about yoga and meditation, but there were definitely quite a bit of eye-opening moments. You were lovely, beautiful people to learn from. It was an entirely calming and peaceful experience. There were so many smiles and so much love throughout the weekend. Ananthi R, Seattle, WA

The presenters are wonderful, dedicated, and loving. I’ve never meditated before, and didn’t think it was possible. I learned to relax and clear my mind in order to meditate. I learned the most amazing techniques and now find that I can meditate. Diana, K., Cincinati, OH

I love the sense of community. I was hesitant before my arrival but found myself instantly “at home” with the guests and facilitators. This in turn, allowed a deeper opening and a richer experience. It was most helpful to learn how much singing/mantras help my meditation practice. I plan to use music and singing in my regular practice as it helps me to center and calm my racing thoughts. The presenters, David and Miriam, were wonderful. They both have a very calm and easeful manner. It was a splendid experience. I loved it! Kelly R., Bend, OR

The entire experience was wonderful. The group – magic. I found it helpful to learn that whatever way I meditate, whatever way I do yoga, or the poses, it is personal, it is perfect, it is okay. I found each of the classes informative. Thank you, Miriam and David, so appreciated your sharing your gifts with us. As you say in America, “awesome.” Antionette A., Dublin, Ireland

I found it most helpful to learn about the preparation for meditation – the prayers, posture, chanting. I’ve always jumped in with less success. Both presenters felt very grounded. Rebecca R., Portland, OR

I enjoyed the guided meditation that compared thoughts to pebbles being thrown into a still pond. That was useful for my practice to let the thoughts ripple on and bring myself to the still center. I felt the true genuineness in the presenters’ practice. I felt safe. Jessica M., Beaverton, OR

Meditation Emily

I enjoyed the energy of the community. I enjoy learning about meditation. I never realized there were so many things to it! I completely enjoyed the presenters. The teachers’ joy is infectious. Sandy G., Lake Forest Park, WA

It was helpful to learn to take time and invest into myself. And I liked the tai chi and Qigong. The presenters were wonderful and full of useful knowledge that they could clearly communicate. Thank you! Jan H., Portland, OR

I loved all of you! Miriam is so special. David so kindhearted and knowledgeable. I feel much more comfortable with my meditation practice. Thanks for a wonderful weekend. Emily P., Phoenix, AZ

You were all so loving and caring. You made every individual feel special. I loved the positive energy and attitudes. The support and quiet understanding from the staff and the gentle, nurturing environment. Jinny W., San Diego, CA

The kirtan was fantastic and a lot of fun. Brian G., Portland, OR

Kirtan was lovely – I struggle to attune to the English songs and I fully agree that chanting and singing all together is more ecstatic than call response. Isa D., Portland, OR

It was my first kirtan and I was not particularly keen on the idea when I went. I was very drawn to the Sanskrit chants and took the enchantment away with me to my room later. In the halls the night after, I could hear someone still humming the same chant that it caught me. Katy H., Salem, OR

The music was beautiful! The harmonium is my new favorite instrument! Kirtan was a beautiful experience, so glad to have the chance to be part of it. Roisin O., Gorey, County, Wexford, Ireland

The kirtan was a wonderful experience! Dana G., Beaverton, OR

The kirtan was my favorite moment. Joining song to spirit really helped. Sue G., Portland, OR

The singing and the kirtan was the best part of the weekend. Alyssa G., Manzanita, OR

The kirtan was great! Corey G., Portland, OR


I really enjoyed Donna and Pete’s clear expertise and confidence holding the space in the classes. Emily will be a lovely teacher some day. The best thing about the class was it allowed me to focus on my purposes by providing a clear, safe, supportive structure. I was pleasantly surprised by the food. I didn’t need any of the snacks that I brought! The schedule was great! I felt proud to have done six hours of yoga in one day! I loved using the affirmations and plan to use them in developing my personal practice. I look forward to coming again! Allison L., Portland, OR

Donna gives excellent instructions for the postures that are easy to understand. The class was a nice pace with optional activities. I liked best learning the affirmations along with the postures. The food was excellent. Very comfortable beds! Nice clean room! Michelle T., Eugene, OR

I most loved the tender songs and openhearted, accepting attitudes of Pete and Donna. Also the encouragement to modify and take care of ourselves. The response to vulnerable sharings – normalizing that we are all dealing with insecurities and challenging emotions. I found it most helpful to learn to do a little at a time and create one’s own practice, using techniques such as asanas. I liked learning about energization, meditation, Chi gong and the Ananda philosophy as well. I liked all the sessions and that they were different. I especially loved Restorative and Nidra yoga visualization. I’m grateful for everything and very glad I came. I needed to open my heart again and this did it. I most liked the friendly people offering smiles, help, and information. The attitude of acceptance and tolerance and peacefulness was what I liked most about the retreat facility. Witnessing the culinary students in action with cooperativeness and kindness the people showed each other. Dora C., Oakland, CA

I most liked learning new things. Each class has something new and different to add. I found the meditation techniques to be the most helpful. I enjoyed the weekend and I felt a benefit from each class I attended and it was different with each one. All the presenters were very enjoyable and knowledgeable. Tessa M., Boise, ID

The instructors are very personable and very approachable. Everyone was friendly, happy, and open. I loved the music, singing that Donna did… it was very relaxing. I liked the affirmations. The Restorative yoga was fantastic. And I loved the lighting and coziness in restorative yoga. The energization exercises were also very helpful. I think I would like to learn different approaches to yoga. The Chi Qong was most helpful. I loved the personal touches of guitar, music, and relaxing music. Padma M., Bloomington, IL

The best thing about the class were the experienced teachers, amazing food, clean rooms, and loving friendly staff! The most helpful was meditation with Pete using yoga to calm down the anxious or negative thought patterns. Each teacher brought different viewpoints and strengths to their sessions. All were harmonious. Janis P., Creswell, OR


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