By Jerome Burdi
Yiannis Andritsos attended every class Sri Dharma Mittra offered for nearly a decade. His connection to the teacher was great, beyond words, but then came one of the most difficult times in Yiannis’ life. His time to leave the side of his guru.
“The teacher is one of the deepest attachments,” Yiannis said, while visiting the Dharma Yoga Center recently. “It was very difficult to leave, but I felt deep inside that I needed to take all that Dharma gave me, digest it, and share with others.”
He moved back to his native Greece in 2013 and began spreading the teachings of Sri Dharma throughout Europe. Yiannis now lives in Barcelona.
“The real master wants you to become a master,” he said. “Before I left, he said to me, ‘The real guru is within you. You have to find it within you.’”
Yiannis felt a calling to move to New York City in 2002. He knew nothing about yoga and didn’t speak English. He worked in restaurants and learned the language of his new home. About a year and a half later, he grew weary of the restaurant world and began to search for something to dedicate his life. One day, a friend brought him to a yoga class. He felt a connection to the practice.
About a month into it, he saw Sri Dharma’s Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures.
Yiannis’ friend told him Sri Dharma is in the city and they could go to his class.
“I took the class and I felt my spirit knew this person for many lifetimes,” Yiannis said. “For me, it was like meeting God. Just how Dharma expresses himself when meeting his guru. Many times when he talks, I have goosebumps. My spirit is recognizing something.”
Ever since Yiannis’ first class, he dedicated his life to the teachings and practicing with Sri Dharma.
“For me it was very important to spend time with a realized master.”
Sri Dharma is always transmitting knowledge psychically during class to those who are channeled to receive it.
“I spent many years observing him. Not just to learn the poses, but to open the heart,” Yiannis said. “I am very grateful to use this body and mind to the best of my abilities to transmit whatever he teaches.”
He said it is difficult being physically far from his guru, but when times are tough, he recalls Sri Dharma’s wise words. No matter how far, through the yoga practice, Yiannis communicates with the master:
“I always come back to his words. I took everything he told me in my heart. All of his kindness is within me; it’s in my blood. I remember he said to me, ‘See everything as a fancy dream.’ I always go back to that. It’s very difficult because everything looks so real.”
Whenever Yiannis crosses the ocean to see his master, it’s as if he never left.
“As soon I see him, it just opens my heart. Time stops. Everything stops in his eternal presence so it’s like I never left. It’s wonderful.”
The yogi’s path is long. One must be patient.
“Spiritual progress happens gradually,” Yiannis said. “You have to have discipline, faith and concentration…The journey never stops. The realization keeps growing and growing as the practice reveals what we need to know and what we need to learn.”
Jerome Burdi is a Brooklyn native who discovered yoga during a shamanic retreat in Brazil in 2010. Since then, he’s been enveloped by the path of the yogi. He left his job as a newspaper journalist to go to Rishikesh, India, and become a yoga teacher. Upon returning to NYC, he discovered Dharma Yoga and has been hooked. Though Jerome grew up in NY, he had to go to India to come back and see Sri Dharma with clear eyes and to hear the truth that is Dharma Yoga. Jerome is also a Middle Eastern style percussionist and holistic nutritionist.