Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Sivananda Headquarters, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada
Om Namah Sivaya, Greetings from the Headquarters. By early July the summer season at the Camp was underway! It was a very warm and the sun was shining most of the time. We also had a little refreshing rain, which was very good for the gardens. The beautiful gardens were in full bloom and the floral perfume was incredible. The students enjoyed the yoga classes outdoors on the various platforms until it was so hot, then the classes were moved indoors. Hanuman (the lifeguard) was very busy since many people went for a dip in the pool to cool down throughout the hot days. The July TTC began with the students doing very well immersing themselves into the Ashram activities. The TTC officially started with the Ganapati Homa at Samadhi Estates. They began learning about meditation during Satsangs plus how to teach Beginners Yoga. The prana was building up during Satsangs as the students became more connected with the chanting and prayers. The Kids Camp staff worked very hard to make sure all was ready for the arrival of the children. The maintenance team worked on last minute projects on the Kids Camp building in time for the kids registration. Many parents came to drop off their children and some of them spent the weekend at the Camp. The Kids Camp commenced with 61 kids. Meanwhile, Hanuman Chaitanya and Nirmala Chaitanya coordinated the Yoga Vacation program. The guests felt happy and grateful. As for special programs, Mirabai arrived to give an introduction to Thai Yoga Massage Course – a 4 day course, with 4 participants. The Ayurvedic team started to be very active with the Ayurvedic treatments and with the Panchakarma program, welcoming the first Panchakarma group for the summer. There are 8 participants. The biggest festivity of the Subramanya Temple started with the flag raising, marking the beginning of the 15 day festival. Many devotees gathered, played music and prayed. The TTCs joined the Puja and got to enjoy the delicious Indian feast served at the end of the event. There was a vibrant and uplifting energy at the Yoga Camp. Everything ran smoothly and all the staff worked hard and doing their best to keep up their duties and their Sadhana.
July could be the busiest month of the year at the Ashram and everyone did their best to keep up with summer pace and good spirit! The energy continued to be a peak height at the Camp as the Kids Camp continued into mid July. The staff worked tirelessly to keep the kids busy and very happy, sprinkled with lots of fun. Meanwhile, the TTC were well into their third week. A lot of happiness showed on their faces as they deeply connected as a group and supported each other in their journey. They had their mantra initiation, receiving their spiritual names. They completed teaching the Beginners’ Yoga classes and started to teach the open class. They also had the class on how to teach the elderly, with Anjaneya, teaching pregnancy classes, with Yamuna and how to teach kids classes, with Saraswati. One Friday evening Satsang the Kids Camp joined us, beautifully leading the Jaya Ganesha and chanting portion. We all had a joyful evening with the kids. The second group of the summer season of Panchakarma started their journey, conveying great feedback on how they were very happy with Dr. Vishu and the Panchakarma team. Meanwhile, the preparations for Kaavadi weekend began. Many of the staff were helped to prepare the Subramanya Temple for the big celebration. We also had many staff coming from Toronto to help out especially for this weekend. They were a great support. The construction team worked very hard on the annadanam facilities in the airfield, finishing the last details so it was ready the weekend. The weekend of Kaavadi was extraordinary. We received thousands of people over the 3 main days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) and by God’s grace everything was well organized and went extremely well. All the Ashram staff worked very hard during that weekend plus enjoying and take part in the celebration. The TTC students were also very happy to help out. They enjoyed vibrancy of the festival very much… and the food! Sunday was the big day, everything started at 6am and we had many Pujas and ceremonies throughout the day. By the end of the festival on Sunday night, all the staff and TTC’s gathered together to enjoy a delicious pizza and ice cream, prepared by Ben. Everyone was feeling very happy and grateful. May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless you all!
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Namah Sivaya to all. All went well at the Dhanwanthari Ashram in July. Early July saw a new Yoga Vacation cycle begin. The majority of the guests stayed on from previous Yoga Vacations, with the total number of guests at 42 on July 1st. The guests had an introduction to Ayurveda class, conducted by Dr. Uttara. We welcomed back Suresh ji from a Sadhana Intensive course in Canada. We took advantage of his experience and renewed energy to have practice and correction classes for new teachers three times a week. We also welcomed back two staff, Naser from Iran and Akhil, plus 1 workstudy, Aparna to the karma yoga team. We started at 5am with Lalita Sahasranama, chanting three times a week with a good turn out of both staff and guests working on their Sanskrit pronunciation. Our group karma yoga projects were concentrated on building up our agriculture area. There was lots of weeding to do in the banana tree plantation. Three huge areas near the Health Hut were cleared for other vegetables. Permaculture farming techniques were reviewed with some of the guests and the local staff to see what can be implemented now and in future. Despite sporadic bouts of rain, the Ashram staff were very eager to help and everyone’s efforts were rewarded with the fresh fruit of the season, jackfruit, organic and straight from the Ashram trees. The baby Krishna statue was getting very moldy so was moved and now happily eating butter outside the womens’ dorm where he gets direct sunlight. One Friday guests were offered a trip to the backwaters, meandering on Ashtamudi Lake and ending the day with a trip to Varkala beach. Although the monsoon’s rough seas prevented swimming, everyone enjoyed a lovely sunset. Overall staff spirits were high as they progressed in their Sadhana. Om.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. May Swamiji and Master’s blessings be with all. Om.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. Namaste from Madurai. In early July, after the conclusion of June TTC we saw a series of good byes, promises to keep in touch, giving and getting contact details and so on. Some of the students committed their services to the Ashram once they settle things back at home. We also bid farewell to the staff who came to be part of the TTC season. We wholeheartedly thank them all for the successful completion of the programs. Remaining staff resumed their group karma yoga with emphasis given to cleaning of dorms and rooms. Meanwhile the Yoga Vacationers enjoyed their quiet sojourn at the Ashram after the departures.
A mid-month highlight was the Guru Purnima celebrations with a special Puja and offerings at the feet of our Masters, an occasion to extend our heartfelt sincere gratitude for their teachings, passed on to us and making us all better human beings and the world a better habitable place with the spreading of their valuable teachings. Of the students Shriram, from the previous TTC batch joined us as a volunteer staff. We welcomed a group of 94 Neyyar Dam Ashram staff, visiting our Ashram en route their travel to pilgrim centres in the vicinity of Madurai. They were all seen enjoying the greenery of the Ashram, taking some time out to pluck fruits and flowers from our gardens and carrying back saplings of some plants and medicinal herbs. As for our staffs it was a pleasant experience deviating from the usual, to have this many people to be taken care of during this time of the year, even though for a short time span. Sending Prem and Om to all from our family of Guests, Students and Staff. With Master and Swamiji’s grace, we were very happy and grateful. Namaste. Om.
We would like to share a beautiful video about the Madurai Ashram which was recently completed. Please link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Rw6ZuvYJQ
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
In July we were thrilled to begin a new Advanced Teachers Training Course with 17 students, led by Srinivasan, Swami Paramananda, Swami Satyapremananda, Shyam, and Mohini. The program started with the inauguration ceremony and an incredible Ganapati Homa, performed by our Ashram priest. Arjuna taught yoga classes and afternoon workshops on the topic of “From Asana to Stillness,” guiding participants to explore the effect of the conscious practice of the 12 Sivananda Yoga postures on the physical, astral and causal bodies. Dr. Laine Valdov guided students through a Yogis Beyond Borders/Yoga Peace Ambassadors certification program. Together, these programs empowered participants become an “activist of the heart” – exploring and developing ways to put their passion for creating a better world into action by being of service to humanity. We celebrated the Fourth of July with special guest musician Ken Whiteley, one of the most celebrated bluegrass musicians in Canada. Ken led afternoon workshops and three uplifting evening concerts, joined one night by musicians Rabbi Zoe B. Zak and Zorkie Nelson. Additionally, staff guided guests through a refreshing Hatha Yoga for All Levels Weekend Retreat. We had our largest ever Family Yoga Week with more than 50 guests! Led by Eka Jyoti and Gauri Devi, families participated in daily yoga classes, activities, and field trips to explore the wonders of nature, and positive tools for self-regulation and self-esteem.
Ten students participated in our Youth Yoga Retreat, led by Eka Jyoti, Gauri Devi, and Anjum Desai, mid month. The program guided young teens through the beginning steps of Yoga with an engaging, structured and activity-filled program of eight days of growth, connection, communion with nature and creativity. Tony D’Angelo (Keshava) led students in a retreat on “Yoga at Home,” teaching them to incorporate yogic teachings into their daily lives according to the time they have available. Amir Vahab & The Sacred Trio performed a “Sufi Songs of Love” concert and a Drum & Whirling workshop. The concert selected from the poetry of the great Sufi Masters Rumi, Hafez, Yunus and Baba Taher and concluded with a dynamic drumming performance that echoes the universal heartbeat of existence. We were very happy to welcome Swami Brahmananda who came to teach the Vedanta lectures for the ATTC students. The TTCs completed their third week and were uplifting the energy of the entire Ashram. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. In July we sent our prayers, along with Swami Sitaramananda, on her trip back to Vietnam for the July TTC. Hamsa Chaitanya returned to the LA Centre and Mahalakshmi Chaitanya returned to SF Centre. The 4th of July full house weekend was a great success with many guests and Yoga Vacationers coming for the 20th Annual Jyotish Conference with its focus on Medical Astrology. Swami Sitaramananda invited many wonderful teachers of Vedic Astrology and Vastu including Komilla Sutton (“The Timing of Disease”); Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar (“Jyotish and Cardiovascular Disease”); Dr. Andrew Foss (“Yogic Healing and Quantum Theory”); Bill Sinclair (“Mental Health in the Vedic Chart”); Lalita Krishnan (“Mental Health and Nakshatras”); Niranjan Babu (“Vastu & Healing”); with Swami Sitarmananda speaking on “4 Paths of Yoga and Karmic Healing”. Pandit Samavedula and Swami Vasishtananda led a beautiful and inspiring Navagraha Homa and Puja at the Krishna Temple with many mantra and flowers offered to the NavaGraha. All in attendance feel the great purifying energy of the Homa and Puja.
By mid July the Childrens’ Camp was well under way with the ever popular pizza-making workshop, yoga asana clay figures, basketball games. The Kids’ Camp concluded with beautiful graduation ceremony with the children offering flowers and receiving their certificates and then a wonderful talent show with dance, piano music and singing. The children had a wonderful week and we thank all the counselors for their inspired service to the children, planting the seeds of Yoga. We also had the Ayurveda Massage weekend with Jagadamba leading Ayurveda talks and consultations. Swami Adi Parashaktiananda led the Prana, Pranayama, Yuba River retreat with practice and teaching on the science of pranayama plus a trip to the Yuba River for practice and swimming. Meanwhile our neighbor’s pig came to the Durga Temple to give birth to 13 babies in front of the Temple gate. We also welcomed 2 new Nigerian Dwarf goats to the Yoga Farm family. We all feel the blessings of Master and Swamiji. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. We celebrated the inauguration of the July Teacher Training Course. Students came from around the world to immerse themselves into the practice of Yoga. We wished all the best to the students as they begin their studies! As part of their introduction to the lineage, we watched the inspiring short film, In the Name of Peace. We welcomed guest presenter Dr. Butch Bartlett, who joined us from Nassau to talk about main points from his upcoming book, The Key to Light. Satsang attendees left with much to ponder regarding consciousness and the nature of reality. Swami Brahmananda also elucidated the nature of reality in a series of Satsangs entitled Inner Freedom through Meditation. During a couple of evening Satsangs, Swami Hridyananda brought to life first-hand stories about Swami Vishnudevananda and his teachings. These ranged in tone from profound to humorous, and demonstrated how someone’s whole life could be their teaching. In a similar vein of learning in the company of the wise, Swami Shambhudevananda taught about the importance of Satsanga throughout a couple of morning Satsangs. Those who attended workshops this week got to learn from Krishna Chaitanya about how to incorporate adaptations into their Sivananda asana practice in the three-day program, Adapting Sivananda Yoga to Your Body. They also learned about Meditation, Deep Relaxation and Asana from Iswara Chaitanya. Durga introduced guests and karma yogis to Swami Vishnudevananda’s Five Points of Yoga.
A mid July highlight was the celebration of Guru Purnima, a most auspicious holiday for Yogis. In anticipation of the celebration, Rukmini Chaitanya offered morning Satsangs to introduce the teachings of Swami Sivananda, while Swami Brahmananda offered an evening Satsang on the meaning and importance of the Guru. Many karma yogis and other members of the Ashram community dedicated their time and talents to prepare many delicious offerings and to fill the main Temple with exquisite decorations. During the Guru Purnima Puja, participants had the opportunity to connect to the lineage through offerings and song. Amidst this festive backdrop, Swami Swaroopananda gave teachings as to the meaning of Guru Purnima. We had the honor to host guest presenters David Moises Perez Martinez, Linda Graham, and Atmarama Dasa. David Moises Perez Martinez presented several Satsangs entitled Using Sound and Vibration to Build a Personal Healing Practice. He spoke about cymatics and how people can harness the power of intuition to find healing. Linda Graham’s program, Coping with Life’s Hiccups and Hardships: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back, focused on resilience and mindful self-compassion. Satsang attendees came away with practices to build healthy coping mechanisms and magnanimity for all beings. Atmarama Dasa began a concert series called Krishna: The Essence of Bhakti. His combination of kirtan, with folk influence and Spanish guitar, guided listeners into a state of devotion. We looked forward to more of his music! As a part of the teachings relating to Guru Purnima, Iswara Chaitanya led a series of workshops on the 20 Important Spiritual Instructions of Swami Sivananda. Other workshops included relaxation with Bhargavi and pranayama with Swami Shambhudevannada. In a balmy Sunday afternoon Puja at the Vana Durga Temple, a group of newly-minted positive thinkers graduated from their three-day Essentials of Positive Thinking course, which was taught by Parvati Chaitanya. We congratulated the students and their teacher and wished them good success as they continue their inward journey. May all continue to receive the blessings from Master and Swamiji. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. We had a very inspiring TTC in July. The students readily adapted to the daily schedule and were very grateful to be a part of the team and were very dedicated to their studies. The vacation guests enjoyed their classes and lectures with a main focus on methods for physical relaxation, inspirations on mental relaxation and lectures on thought power. They also had several hikes in the mountains and to a nearby waterfall. Molly Birkholm, Madhavi, gave a course on transforming trauma with yoga. The 30 participants were inspired by the healing propensities of yoga. Madhavi gave an introduction on trauma sensitive yoga at one of the evening Satsangs. We also had a further training course for yoga teachers on yoga for pregnancy this month with Padmavati. The group was happy with the theory and techniques they learned to safely teach women at different stages of their pregnancy. Dr. Kamlesh gave a lecture on the healing power of herbs and spices in Ayurveda which was appreciated by all. Lakshmi Sutter from the USA gave a further education course on accessible yoga. Participants from different fields of interest dived into the many levels of making yoga accessible to all. They greatly valued the teachings and techniques that were introduced and practices, as well as being happy to reconnect with the Sivananda family. The Satsangs, with the combined prana of TTC’s, guests, course participants and staff, were lively and inspirational. We practiced likitha japa and watched videos on Swamiji’s peace mission. We had a beautiful Puja for Swami Sivanandas Mahasamadhi. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. The “Inspiration and teachings from the yogic scriptures” programme with Swami Bhagavatananda at the beginning of the month was well appreciated. The priests performed a Ganapathi Homa at the start of the TTC and ATTC for purification and to help teachers and students for a successful course. Soon students have adapted to the rhythm of the course. Amandine Roche, who is a Human Rights Specialist for the UNESCO and founder and director of an association in Afghanistan which is taking care of people and especially women who have traumatised by violence, gave talks on “Serving World Peace”. Lakshmi Sutter from the USA came for a weeklong further training for Yoga teachers: “Accessible Yoga”. Philippe Bobola, a French physicist and biologist, was speaking on bringing science and spirituality together, he also gave a talk of the plasticity of the brain and its ability to adapt to personal transformation and self healing. Additionally, he gave a Certificate Course of how to find the psycho-biological causes’ of diseases. Stephen Weiss also gave a Certificate Course about proper alignment in the asanas. For the vacationers we had interesting topics like “Improve your Strength and Flexibility”, “The Power of Positive Thinking”. We had a Puja for the installation of a small Hanuman murti in Hanuman hall, which brought a sweet and strong energy in the new building and also we celebrated Master’s Mahasamadhi in the Temple with all TTCs, ATTCs, guests and staffs in the Ashram. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. Several teachers joined us for a TTC reunion event, which included workshops focusing on Raja Yoga and special asana classes paying attention to proper correction techniques. Participants were happy to reconnect more strongly with the teaching and to expand their knowledge. Saraswati led special workshops on Yantra painting for our Yoga Vacation guests. All staff were especially busy helping with the completion, cleaning and furnishing of our new buildings. Many staff were able to move into their new rooms in a building that has been dedicated for staff accommodation. We also prepared for the arrival of participants in our July TTC course. Stormy and colder weather made for some challenges to the construction work for 4 or 5 days. We were happy to have the usual more balanced and temperate weather return. A momentous milestone at the Ashram mid month was celebrated. Much of the construction work for the past 9 months was finally completed and new buildings came into use. Final cleaning was done so the Ashram would be restored to its natural and peaceful state. We were blessed with unusually sunny and dry weather for this time of year, which is usually the main part of the rainy season. The TTC got off to a good start with our large group of students easily settling into the routine of the course. In the dry weather we were able to have one Satsang outside on the mountainside. One Saturday evening all enjoyed a wonderful performance of “cải lương”, traditional Vietnamese opera, by our staff Parvati, a professional performer. At the same time as TTC different SYHET students were teaching practicum courses as part of their course with students very appreciative of the help they received. Staff are well and inspired, thankful for Guru’s blessings. Om.
TTC ATTC Reports from other locations worldwide:
TTC San Rafael, Colombia: We started the TTC Colombia 2019 with 32 students from various countries in America and Europe, all of them delighted by the beauty of the Ashram and the environment. (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela, Mexico, United States, Portugal, Germany). In this place, nature unfolds in all its magnificence and generosity. Surrounded by rivers and mountains, students find an adequate environment to move away from mundane issues and focus on study and introspection. The week passed in an atmosphere of warmth and harmony. During the week, some people came to participate in the scheduled yoga retreats. The first one was a meditation retreat, and the next a yoga and nature retreat. On Saturday night we gathered to meditate around a bonfire and later we shared many songs and poems from the different cultures from which the students and the staff came. There are 5 teachers as staff for the TTC. There are also 25 staff and karma yogis of the Ashram, who are in charge of the maintenance tasks and services. On Sunday morning there was a silent walk during which we went to the natural reserve La Zafra, place where the TTC 2016 had been held. We performed there, in front of the river, meditation and chanting of kirtans. We also visited the cacao tree planted by Kanti Devi 3 years ago, and which is already taller than her. The owners of the place always welcome us with a lot of love.
Mid July: We greet with love from San Rafael – Colombia, with a very nice weather, submerged in this wonderful and natural place, going forward with the practice and a lot of activities during the week. We started the week with the mantra initiation and celebrating the Guru Purnima during the beautiful full moon night, also, that night we gave the spiritual names. Puja was very inspiring and everybody felt really happy. Students have been very tune with the practice. We´ve started the Kriyas, where almost all participated with a lot of enthusiasm. Then to know us better, the talent show has came, where the students expressed their feelings, sharing different songs, dances, poetry, performance and very exciting moments, joining ties in the world trough love to the masters. On day off we had the visit of a group from Vaishnava tradition, with a mixture of music from the Andes, which made us vibrate with devotional rhythms during brunch. At the night we went to the river and we performed Ganga Arati. On July 20th, we´ve celebrated the Ashram´s Anniversary doing a nice ceremony visiting all the shrines, offering flowers, incense and mantras. We took the official TTCs’ picture early in the morning. During night sat sang we have a very beautiful kirtan presentation by a devotional group from Bolivia. We also received Doctor Jorge Ivan Arango from Medellín. He spoke about Sintergetic Medicine, a very precious speech, nourishing our hearts with the permanent care of the thoughts. We keep going forward with the Sadhana, advanced pranayamas and the how to teach classes. We feel the love of the masters in each heart of the students. A big hug of light. Om.
01 New Moon
02 Ganesha Chathurthi
Seek the immortal Atman hidden in the cave within your heart. – Sri Swami Sivananda
VAIRAGYA – Non-attachment; Dispassion
Commentary from Swami Vishnudevananda –
“What is the cause of all problems, individual as well as universal?The root which everything spreads out? Attachment. Attachment is the cause of all pain. For example, this glass is very special. I bought it at an auction and it was used by King George 100th!! King George 100th used this glass. It is MINE. D. said, “Is that so Swami-ji? Can you give it to me – I would also like to have it.” “No way,” I said, as I held it tight. When I go to sleep I lock it up in a special vault with a special lock and put on a special electronic alarm, so if anyone tries to touch it I will know. I am unable to sleep because of this glass. Any sound I hear I think someone is after my glass. L. is coming over. She is only trying to be friendly because of the glass. I trust no-one now. I ask Swami P. to check on D. to see what he is up to, but later I see Swami P. and D. outside talking together. Oh my God, they are plotting against me for my glass.
What we call love – L.O.V.E. becomes completely depleted because of attachment. This applies to anything. I just took an example of the glass, but it could be to anything, to money, to anything. Our main problem is that we get attached to various objects. And why do we get attached? Two things are the cause of attachment. The two causes of attachment are I-ness and Mine-ness. You want an object because you think you can get happiness from it. You then get attached to it. ” It is mine. I own it.” I-ness and Mine-ness are the root cause of all problems.
Swamis and Yogis also get into problems. ” This is my Yoga Centre, my disciples, my money.” They also get attached, but to different things. The purpose of life is to get rid of this problem. But we do not even know that we have it as a problem. We do not recognize the level of our attachment to things. Nor do we recognize the trap of attachment. Slowly Maya (illusion) binds us.
Attachments can come slowly. We are not aware that they are slowly creeping up on us. The movement is very subtle. This is why an aspirant should have purity, so he can understand and become aware of the subtle attachments, by which he can so easily be trapped. This problem is not because you are living in society. People who live in the Himalayas, the forest or in the jungles may not have attachment to the same objects as a city dweller, but they become attached to their kamandalus (water pot). They decorate them, put their initials on them and become possessive or envious of another’s. Attachment is not about having or not having, a house or a big car. You can get attached to even the smallest thing and the same problem, the same pain, will result.
Overcome the self by the Self. Become a yogi. – Sri Swami Sivananda