How We Came to Be

The story of Lilleoru began in 1992 with Ingvar Villido’s raja and buddhi yoga courses. What we experienced together transformed, expanded and joined us.

The major push that turned a group of yoga enthusiasts into a community was the collaborative work that ensued when about twenty of Ingvar’s students started to help out with cleaning and prep work on his residential plot on the territory of the former Lilleoru farm, near Vaida, in North Estonia. Ingvar wished to build a home for his family here. Together with the students he worked on land-improvements and preparations for building a house. Over time it became apparent that the nascent community needed a place to get together and study, and thus Lilleoru became a community centre instead of a private family home.

During the first years we got together mostly on weekends, often sleeping in tents. The first permanent residents moved to Lilleoru in 1995, when the first building was finished. This building, which initially met the needs of around twenty people, is still the main hub of activity here, since it contains the kitchen, the sauna, and a large room that’s used for holding practicums, meetings, and for accommodating overnight guests and residents.
Over time, however, this building has proved too small to accommodate our growing gatherings. Thus, in 2011, we started the preparations for building a new study center that will function as a community center as well. The first building specifically built for living accommodations was finished in 2003, and currently houses 10 people.
2008 saw the ground-breaking for the Taevasmaa (SkyEarth) ecovillage that is going to house over 60 community members. The work on the ecovillage is expected to continue for several years. After a twenty year wait, Ingvar Villodo’s family has moved to Skyland as well, finally.

As Ingvar says in the movie “Normal person”: “Nothing here is particularly pre-planned, everything has grown naturally. Lilleoru has formed over the years according to the needs of the people who have come here.”

By today, the collaboration of hundreds of volunteers has created an open study and living environment here, with a goal of supporting multifaceted personal development and facilitating the realization of everyone’s full potential.

Lilleoru center and the Flower of Life park are always open for visitors, and the reasons to come are many – you are welcome to participate in various courses nad practicums, visit the Flower of Life park at the heart of Lilleoru, which is based on the ancient pattern of creation, or learn about growing herbs and vegetables in our garden based on the principles of permaculture and organic agriculture.

All activities at Lilleoru are rooted in the art of conscious change, based on the ancient wisdom “Change yourself- and the world around you will change”. We have brought together a comprehensive knowledge-base about being human, at the core of which is conscious human development and life that’s in harmony with the world around us.

Milestones in Lilleoru’s history:

1993
We began doing volunteer work together on the land of the former Lilleoru farm, where Ingvar planned to build his home. Only a pile of stones and a few beautiful old trees remained of the former farm. During our collaborative efforts the plan changed, and the creation of a study center became the new goal. We began by clearing the overgrown plot and digging drainage ditches to dry the low-lying land. Our first gathering place was a simple shelter with a corrugated tin roof, which is still remembered fondly by the people who were part of Lilleoru’s early days. 
The first raja and buddhi yoga summer retreat took place in Aegviidu woods.

1994
We started construction on our first building. We raised money for this project by doing construction work together. 
We created the first planting beds and tried to grow strawberries. 
Digging of the larger drainage ditches. 
The second raja and buddhi yoga summer retreat in Aegviidu. 
The first winter retreat in Käsmu – raja and buddhi yoga and perception-training exercises in nature.

1995
The first permanent resident, Viivika, moved into the house which had no floor or windows yet, and bravely took on the responsibilities of the hostess. 
Drilling of the well. 
Building of the new road up to the house. 
Lilleoru became the location for the summer retreat. The theme of this year’s retreat – teachings of Carlos Castaneda. 
The second winter retreat in Kehtna, on the subject of Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrasattva mantra). A retreat in Viimsi lead by Chetsang Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagjü School preceded the retreat.

1996
Electricity reached Lilleoru. 
We built the pumping station and a greenhouse. 
Official opening of the house in the fall. 
Theme for the summer reatreat was dzog-chen and Buddhist practices. 
Lilleoru became the location for the winter retreats as well. The theme this year: practices with the base-elements.

1997
Discussion on the topic of Lilleoru’s economic sustainability, where we decided to institute a voluntary system of monthly tithing- supporting the center with a tenth of one’s income. 
Legendary “Summer Retreat on Suffering”. The purpose of the practices was to liberate oneself from emotional blocks via influencing the physical body (emotional tensions get stored as physical tensions in the body). We used various difficult physical body-positions in order to bring out accumulated emotional tensions.

1998
We completed the side-building, also known as “the small building”. 
Bees and the first beehives arrived at Lilleoru. 
Theme for the summer retreat: dzog-chen practices– the Semdzins

1999
Native Americans from Arizona visited Lilleoru. We built the tipi and sweat lodges. 
We created a governing body – the Council of Elders- in order to better manage Lilleoru’s activities.

2000
Ingvar started giving weekly lectures in Tallinn, at Järve.

2001
We created the non-profit organization MTÜ Lilleoru. 
We began growing small quantities of medicinal herbs. 
The first joint journey abroad - to India, to visit the Haidakhan ashram.

2002
Lilleoru’s buildings and land was transferred to nonprofit MTÜ Lilleoru’s ownership. 
We became a member of maha-avatara Haidakhan Babaji’s family of ashrams. 
The first Lilleoru herbal tea mixes were made. 
The first Aruvalla Village Day took place. 
Theme for the summer retreat was karma yoga.

2003
The first Children’s Day took place. 
Building of the bio-cleanser.
The first residential dwelling was completed, with accommodations for 10 people.

2004
We started the creation of the Flower of Life Park in Lilleoru.
First steps in composing of the detailed architectural plan for the territory. 
The first book published by Lilleoru –
R. Venugopalan’s "Soul Searchers. The Hidden Mysteries of Kundalini”
The first kriya yoga courses, lead by Durga Ahlund Govindan and M. Govindan Satchidananda. 
Lilleoru was welcomed into the Babaji's Kriya Yoga family of ashrams as well.

2005
We started drawing up plans for the ecovillage on the plot adjacent to Lilleoru, with accommodations for over twenty households.
Our project ”Creation of an open eco-center” received support from the EL Phare CBC 2003 program. 
The first training course to become a kriya hatha yoga teacher took place, with 19 participants from Estonia. 
A group of six participated in a kriya yoga pilgrimage to Northern India and the Himalayas. 
The space for storage of herbs and creation of Lilleoru’s tea mixes was built.

2006
We published the DVD ”Health and Awareness – the 18 Asanas of Kriya Yoga”
Within the framework of the Phare project, we completed Lilleoru’s new homepage with new design and more thorough content, hosted a gathering for eco-communities and held a practical eco-building seminar. 
Lilleoru published Peter Kelder's book "The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth", where one can learn about the five rejuvenating Tibetan rites.

20072008
In May of 2007, Ingvar Villido was initiated to be a teacher of kriya yoga – an acharya
More and more courses- both on kriya yoga and on other topics- were held at Lilleoru. 
Within the framework of the EAS project, we created the landscape-architecture object "Flower of Life Park" and erected the large summer yoga tent. 
A small shop was also built for Lilleoru. 
The second printings of R. Venugopalan’s  "Soul Searchers. The Hidden Mysteries of Kundalini" and Peter Kelder's "The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth" came out. 
Construction started on the first houses at the ecovillage.

2009
Paramahansa Yogananda’s „Autobiography of a Yogi“ was published by Lilleoru.