This series will begin with the early history and move to the present expression of the PI and PWC to convey the intent of the founders and the relationship with the broader community that has come to appreciate the special nauture of what the PI and PWC offers to those seeking personal and social transformation.

Part I The Land Calls Us Home

We turn off River Road alongside the French Broad River onto Panhandle Road bordered by orange day lilies and late blooming Rhodadenrums on the steep banks of Panhandle Creek.   Instantly we feel welcomed “home”.  On this late June day we are looking for a piece of land with good water sources and open land for buildings and gardening.  We have found 44 acres in Madison County sculptured out of low-lying mountains by tobacco farmers in the early 1900’s.  There are abandoned fields and knolls that offer natural building sites and gardens without having to fell a single tree.  Forested hills and cliffs inhabited by Cherokee burial sites overlook the French Broad.  We are grateful for the gift from our former “keepers of the land” and the farmer who offers us reasonable owner financing for the land.  This was to be the future home of the Prama Institute.

Following this Spring day in 1990 that myself and two friends were lead to this land in Madison County we have occupied and developed a cooperative community of people dedicated to developing a retreat center.  We embraced the meaning of “retreat” to be a place of peace and rejuvenation in nature where we rediscover what is most important to us.  Initially the retreat center was named the Raven Ridge Conference and Retreat Center to honor the name given to the area by old-timers.  With the collective zeal of its founders, Sid Jordan, Ramesh Bjonnes, Howard and Pamela Nemon, to create a personal growth center that combined the wisdom of the east and the science of the west the Sanskrit name Prama, carrying the meaning of  “dynamic balance”, was given to this new conference and retreat center.  “Dynamic balance” refers to an ever-changing dynamic balance in all spheres to promote the individual and collective welfare as called upon by the time, place and people involved.

Feedback from participants who have returned again and again, over the first eight years of Prama’s existence, have attested to accomplishing this sense of rejuvenation and a deeper appreciation of their heart’s desire.   They also requested to come away with the recipes of the delicious gourmet vegetarian food served by the skilled  Prama cooks.  What makes Prama a special place to restore one’s dynamic balance, according to attendees, is the beauty of the inner and outer “sacred space” evoked by the environment, facilities, staff, food and holistic programs.

However the road to that “sacred space” is often difficult in the beginning.  This road is buffeted by the needed internal de-stressing and the external battle with the rough roads of our daily life.  Given these inner and outer struggles those who open themselves to their inner work and the social support of staff and other participants receive maximum benefits at Prama.  There is a sutra in yoga that translates, “Obstacles are the helping forces in attaining our goal.”

We have come to appreciate the possibility that we bring most of our obstacles with us wherever we go.   Prama offers the opportunity to transform these obstacles into the liberating and positive expressions we desire.  We come to realize that achieving a balance in our physical, emotional, social and spiritual lives requires a longer journey of a shift in our life styles.  It is for this reason that we see so many people return time and time again to the Prama Institute and Wellness Center to affirm and reaffirm that dynamic balance that Prama personifies for their lives.

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Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).

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