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. The month of March brought the snow back to the Camp. There were a few more guests so we were able to do some more activities. The guests were offered a relaxation class which they all enjoyed very much. We also had a Puja at the Camp with visiting priest Siva, bringing good energy. Staff continued to work on the projects around the Camp plus we had some Karma yogis from Montreal join in. They were a good help with the progress of the projects. One weekend Bhagirathi came to offer a “Relax and Rejuvenate” workshop. We had about 34 people register for the course. The weekend consisted of a lecture and practical class where everyone left feeling great. It is always very nice having her at the Camp and the guests enjoy her workshops. The Camp was full over the weekends and the staff were busy making sure everything ran smoothly.
By the middle of March the Camp saw sunshine and longer days. Everyone was looking forward to Spring. Although it was still cold, the sun made everyone happy to be outdoors and go for some walks. The Camp was calm and the staff continued to work on their projects. All the staff kept up with their duties and things ran smoothly. The pace picked up due to the Juice Fasting Detoxification Program, led by Suzanne. There were many guests who joined in the fast and everyone left feeling cleansed and ready for the Spring season. It is always a pleasure having Suzanne come and offer the program.
Friday afternoon Swami Shivabhaktananda arrived back from his trip to India but was offering a workshop at the Yoga Ranch that weekend so he will officially be back late March. The staff looked forward to welcoming him back to the Camp. May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless all. Om Shanti.
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Namah Sivaya to all. The month of March at Dhanwanthari Ashram was interesting between the end of ATTC and start of a new TTC. We offered a two day Samkhya Yoga workshop with guest speaker Suchitra Pareekh from the Yoga Institute, Mumbai. She simplified the subject to suit the audience. The interactive games to illustrate the different gunas and states of mind were effective ways to demonstrate the subtle concepts. Midweek, a group including Swami Shivabhaktananda took the opportunity to visit Sabarimala and have the darshan of Ayyapa Swami. One Thursday evening we were treated to Hindustani music concert by Jonathan Kay (saxophone) and Vishnu (tabla). Jonathan, from Toronto started his music career playing jazz but now has been studying music in India for number of years. He has adapted the saxophone to classical ragas. Jonathan was accompanied by his wife, Sivajyoti who assisted the TTC. Nataraj, Salar and Nassim met up with a film crew in the Trivandrum Centre to shoot a video demonstrating Surya Namaskar. This is part of a build up to International Day of Yoga. The inauguration of the next TTC saw one hundred ten enrolled, looking forward to the journey. May Master and Swamiji guide them to liberation. Peace and Pranams to the Sivananda family. Om.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. The month of March at the Ashram: The ATTC started with a group of 28 students from many different European countries including as far away as Argentina, Mauritius and China. The course was taught in English with translation into German and French. It is a quiet, sattvic group who plunged right away into the intense Sadhana schedule of the ATTC. They continued to be inspired. We had a powerful Ganapati Homa to invoke divine support for removing all obstacles from the course, a special Satsang with Swami Janardanananda and took the group to Swamijis Jalasamadhi rock for Om Namo Narayanaya chanting and Arati. Another highlight was a trip to Gangotri where we spent a most blessed day on this sacred pilgrimage spot. We did Satsang on the Ganga Ghat, took a VERY refreshing dip in the icy waters of Mother Ganga and walked to Swamijis cave where we had a delicious lunch, that was, as everything else for the trip, lovingly organized and prepared by Swami Parameshwariananda and the Ashram team.
The second week of the ATTC started with a beautiful Maha Mrjitunjaya Homa. The week proceeded smoothly with the students going deeper into their Asana and Pranayama practice and study of philosophy. With the weather getting warmer, we were able to hold a sunrise Satsang at Swamijis Jalasamadhi Rock. Everyone enjoyed the gentle lapping of the waters of Mother Ganga against the rock as accompanying music to meditation and Jaya Ganesha. Afterward we told the students the story how Swamijis body was given into the Ganga on his Jalasamdhi day. During our weekly silent walk we stopped at the Ganeshpur Temple in a neighbouring village for a short meditation and some Mantras and then continued our walk in the morning sun through the hilly fields in full spring beauty. Swami Janardanananda was a very welcome guest for our Wednesday evening Satsang and Srinivas Pulluri arrived and started to introduce the students into the beauty of the Sanskrit language. On the day off we took the students to Uttar Kashi for Darshan in the Vishvanath Temple and Durga Temple. May Master and Guru be with us all. Om.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. At the beginning of March the final week of TTC breezed past, gifting all the participants many lovable and unforgettable memories. Their four week of long hard work was well paid with the awarding of diploma certificates proclaiming them as instruments to spread the teachings of our Masters. We thanked all the staffs who dedicated their time and patience in moulding them as certified Yoga teachers. We wished them all success in all their future endeavours for the betterment and enrichment of one’s life through Yogic Science and Philosophy. Praying for the well being of all from all our Ashramites. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Greetings from the Yoga Ranch. The Yoga Ranch saw the second nor’easter snow storm in a week during the early part of March. The beauty was dazzling, but wide-spread internet outages in the area continued for a week creating additional challenges for staff, particularly around the registration system. Yet by the Grace of the Gurus, all continued well, and staff got plenty of adapt-adjust-accommodate practice. Radha arrived from Chicago Centre to stay for a week. We had the monthly 5-day Yoga Immersion for Beginners’ course, led by Swami Satyapremananda. Our weekends were very busy, during which we offered three programs: Teachings from the Bhagavad Gita, led by Swami Paramananda; Yoga & Hiking, led by Mahadevi; and Beginners’ Weekend, led by Mokshapriya, who joined us for the weekend from New York Centre. Students started arriving for TTC with 10 students arranging the inauguration, including work-study Kenzie. Main Lectures for the TTC were shared by Srinivasan and Swami Paramananda; Bhagavad Gita and Chanting classes were led by Swami Satyapremananda; and teaching Hatha Yoga were Swami Paramanda (How-to-Teach classes, assisted by Hamsa) and Swami Satyapremananda (Asana practice classes, assisted by Prashanta). We welcomed Brahmaswaroop and Prashanta to the team of staff and wished Amy and Adam farewell with many thanks for their Sadhana and service here.
By mid March we wished Mahadevi farewell as she traveled to Chicago Center to train to take over directorship of the Center. Radha returned to Chicago Center to begin the training and transition of directorship. She will then return to the Ranch in April. We welcomed Swami Shivabhaktananda and Hanuman, who arrived from the Yoga Camp, as well as local karma yogis and permaculture experts, Jared and Bhakti. That evening, Jared and Bhakti gave the evening Satsang, and then led a hands-on workshop on pruning and plant propagation. Swami Shivabhaktananda led the other weekend program, Finding Contentment in Daily Life, with a workshop and Satsang. We were very happy to have his presence and inspiration all weekend. In addition, we had a group joining us from Freehold Yoga in New Jersey. They have been bringing a group of their own teacher trainees once per year for many years. For them, Swami Satyapremananda led a special workshop on the Bhagavad Gita. Our Staff are well, feeling grateful for the grace of the Gurus and sending pranams to all from The Ranch. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. The Ashram energy was high in March as staff are dedicating themselves to their Sadhana and care for the Ashram. Swami Dharmananda this week taught the Positive Thinking course with teachings on the nature of thought and thought power, how to turn negative thoughts to positive and apply PT techniques from the 4 Paths of Yoga. Weekend programs included the Stress Relief weekend with Rudra, the Ayurveda Massage weekend with talks from Monika Manohar, and the Yantra Painting workshop with Gauri. The Ashram is receiving much rain recently, with all the plants and trees coming to life and many birds returning for the spring.
Around mid March Rudra led the 5-day Yoga Health Education Camp on chronic pain, with teachings on the application of the 5 Points of Yoga to address conditions such as arthritis and recovery from injuries/surgeries and common back ailments. Emphasis was placed on understanding our relationship to pain itself. We looked at ways to reduce inflammation in the body in order to reduce pain, conscious breathing and body awareness exercises, proper diet to reduce inflammation and proper relaxation. Other practice sessions included mantra chanting, meditation, and use of positive affirmations.
Another weekend program featured Dr Suprabha Jain giving an inspiring talk on positive health according to Yoga, helping us to shift perspectives away from identification with disease and illness and toward our true natural state as Atman. We showed the new Sivananda Yoga Health Educator movie, with everyone very inspired and interested to learn more about Yoga for holistic health and healing. We could say we were all feeling the blessings of Master and Swamiji this month. Om Namah Sivaya to all Blessed Selves from the Yoga Farm. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. During March we held a powerful Ganapati Vidya Homa, performed by the priest and his assistant. We held the “Classical Indian Music and Dance Festival”. We welcomed Aashish Khan, a renowned master of the sarod; Swapan Chaudhuri, who is considered to be one of the top masters of tabla in the world; Sohini Ray, PhD, a classical Manipuri dancer; Raginder Singh Momi, an up-and-coming violinist and music composer; Nitin Mitta, who is one of the most versatile and sought-after tabla players of his generation; and Jayanti Sahasrabuddhe, an accomplished Hindustani classical vocalist. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful performances and concerts very much. We also welcomed Ramesh Parmar, and the Jain nuns Samani Satya Pragya and Samani Rohini Pragya, who taught a wonderful course on “Preksha Meditation to Harness Energy for Holistic Well-Being”. Dan Millman, a former world-champion athlete, university coach, college professor and author, started his inspiring program “The School of Life”. Bessel van der Kolk, MD, who has been active as a clinician, researcher and teacher of post-traumatic stress and related phenomena, arrived to the Ashram to give a very insightful program on “Yoga, Neurobiology, and Trauma”. Pooja Goswami Pavan and A. Pavan taught the 2nd Annual Classical Indian Music School, in which they taught foundational concepts of voice, raga, melodic form, tabla, and time measures. Krishna Chaitanya and Pranava taught an Essentials of Yoga III Course for guests and Karma Yogis. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. After the dynamic weeks of TTC we enjoyed the calm of this in-between season. In the yoga classes, we put emphasis on asanas for stress reduction and ventured into some more advanced asana variations. There were lectures on the effects of the asanas on the different body systems and on stress and its health hazards We did a plumb line test, had an accompanying workshop class on flexibility for the spine and watched an educational video on how fascia work. We also had two delicious cooking workshops were we prepared small dishes that are easy to cook at home. At the weekends, our guest numbers expanded for some special programs. For those interested in taking the TTC, there was an extensive introduction into the course, its curriculum and possible locations. We studied the Raja Yoga system, the cause and effect in one`s own thought process, how to develop positive thinking and cultivate virtues. The focus throughout was how asanas and pranayama are the optimal foundation for goal-oriented, flexible thinking. We taught and practiced useful techniques like tratak, guided meditation and visualization. We celebrated Holi, the Indian spring festival, with a colourful puja celebrating Holi, the Indian spring festival. Fittingly spring weather arrived, with mild temperatures, plenty of sunshine and the first flowers. The guests thoroughly enjoyed the new awakening of nature with walks and relaxation on the Ganesha platform. We had a further education certificate course on Relaxing with Yoga. In the extensive lectures and theme-based yoga classes, the group, which mainly consisted of TTC graduates, learned about the details of how yoga works, the multi-level effects of the final relaxation and techniques for relaxation in daily life including diet, how to sleep better and the subtle art of letting go. We look forward to the upcoming Easter program. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. In late March we had a TTC-prep weekend and a one-week yoga retreat at a reduced rate. The guests were happy with the programme and already thinking about returning with their friends and families. Also the Preparation weekend went very well with the guests being open and in tune. We had an asana demonstration-Satsang with the staff giving the demonstration. Everyone seemed inspired and even a little entertained by the demonstration wish was a good mix of classic postures, advanced variations and a few little jokes to keep it light. Before leaving Students expressed that they felt they benefited from their stay and a number were already signed up for a TTC this year. Furnishing and finishing work was done to have the huts fully ready for next weekend and the reorganization of the ATTC room and the library continued. Garden weeding resumed in anticipation of planting in April. Parvati returned from Paris in good spirits and everyone was happy to see her back in the Ashram. May all live under Master’s and Guru’s grace for this coming year. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram where the month of March ushered in the ATTC course into full activity with early morning pranayama sessions on our outdoor terrace. The TTC continued strong and steady throughout their second week of practice. A highlight was a visit from Dr Ramkumar, founder of the Vaidyagram Ayurvedic Village in Coimbatore, India. Dr Ramkumar delivered inspiring talks on healthy lifestyle and the basics of Ayurveda, creating a lot of interest among students. We watched with anticipation as the construction of a large swimming pond by the owners of the property neared completion.
We were happy to welcome Swami Jnaneshwariananda mid month, stopping for several days in Vietnam on her way back to California from the TTC course in Madurai. Swamiji jumped straight in, helping teach the TTC course, taking over the lectures on anatomy and physiology. The TTC students were doing well, serious and steady in their study and practice. ATTC students also continued steady with Sadhana. They started their early morning pranayama practice even earlier than usual, so that they could walk up to the mountainside and do their practice there, with a wonderful view of the early morning skies and the sunrise. TTC students joined them a little later for some joyful outdoor kirtan. We were also able to hold one of our evening Satsangs outdoors, with the light of a bonfire. 63 of the students made a clear commitment to practice and meditation by taking mantra initiation. That evening they were delighted to receive spiritual names. Students of both courses entertained the Ashram with a wonderful talent show, featuring songs and dance from the many different national groups currently represented at the Ashram. Om.
HATHA YOGA, ASANAS, PRANAYAMA:
Hatha Yoga relates to the restraint of breath (Pranayama), Asanas, Bandhas and Mudras. ‘Ha’ and ‘tha’ mean the union of the sun and the moon, union of Prana and Apana Vayus. ‘Hatha’ means any tenacious practice till the object or end is achieved. Trataka, standing on one leg, (a kind of Tapas) and similar poses are all Hatha Yoga practices. Hatha Yoga is inseparable from Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga begins where Hatha Yoga ends. Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga are interdependent. Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga are the necessary counterparts of each other. No one can become a perfect Yogi without a knowledge and practice of both the Yogas. Hatha Yoga prepares the student to take up Raja Yoga.
A Hatha Yogi starts his Sadhana with body and Prana; a Raja Yogi starts his Sadhana with his mind; a Jnana Yogi starts his Sadhana with Buddhi or intellect and will.
A Hatha Yogi gets Siddhis (psychic powers) by uniting Prana and Apana and by taking the united Prana-Apana through the six Chakras (Centres of spiritual energy) to Sahasrara at the crown of the head. A Raja Yogi gets Siddhis by Samyama, i.e., combined practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi at one time. A Jnana Yogi exhibits Siddhis through pure will or Sat-Sankalpa. A Bhakta gets Siddhis through self-surrender and the consequent descent of grace. Kriyas, viz., Neti, Dhauti, Nauli, Basti, Tratak and Kapalabhati belong to Hatha Yoga. All need not practise these Kriyas. Those who have got much phlegm in the body should practise these Kriyas. Learn these under an expert Hatha Yogi. Hatha Yoga is not the goal. It is only a means to an end. Take to Raja Yoga after possessing good health.
Do Asana, Kumbhaka, Mudra and shake the Kundalini. Then take it to Sahasrara through Chakras in the Sushumna. O children of light! Will you drink not, will you drink not, the nectar of immortality?
Brother! Attain good health. Without health how can you live? Without health, how can you earn? Without health how can you get success in Yoga or any undertaking? Possess wonderful health through the practice of Hatha Yoga. Drink the nectar in Sahasrara and live in the immortal abode of Siva.
An Asana is a posture.
Health is wealth. Health is indeed a covetable possession. Good health is a valuable asset to one and all. It can be achieved by the regular practice of Yoga Asanas.
The practice of Asanas controls the emotions, produces mental peace, distributes Prana evenly throughout the body and different systems, helps in maintaining healthy functioning of the internal organs, gives internal massage to the various abdominal organs. Physical exercises draw the Prana (energy) out but the Asanas send the Prana in. The practice of Asanas cures many diseases and awakens Kundalini Shakti. These are the chief advantages in the Yogic system of exercises which no other systems have.
Practice a few Asanas daily at least for a period of fifteen minutes. You will possess wonderful health. Be regular in your practice. Regularity is of paramount importance. Practise Bhujang, Salabh, Dhanur, Sarvang, Hala and Paschimottasan Asanas. Bhujang, Salabh and Dhanur will remove constipation and muscular pain of the back. Sirsh, Sarvang and Hala will help you in maintaining Brahmacharya, rendering the spine elastic and curing all diseases. Paschimottasan will reduce fat in the belly and help digestion. Relax all muscles in Savasana in the end.
Asanas should be done on empty stomach in the morning or at least three hours after food. Morning time is best for doing Asanas. Do not wear spectacles when you do Asanas. Be moderate in your diet. Answer the calls of nature before you start the practice. Start with minimum time for each Asana and then gradually increase the period.
Pranayama is the regulation of breath or control of Prana. It is an exact science. It is the fourth Anga or limb of Ashtanga Yoga.
Pranayama steadies the mind, augments the gastric fire, energizes digestion, invigorates the nerves, destroys the Rajas, destroys all diseases, removes all laziness, makes the body light and healthy and awakens Kundalini.
Pranayama should be practiced when the stomach is empty. Be regular in your practice. Do not take bath immediately after the practice. Do not practice Kumbhaka or retention of breath in the beginning. Have only slow and mild Puraka (inhalation) and Rechaka (exhalation). Do not strain the breath beyond your capacity. Keep the ratio for Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka as 1:4:2. Exhale very very slowly.
Sit on Padma, Siddha or Sukha Asana. Keep the head, neck and trunk in a straight line. Inhale slowly through the left nostril and retain the breath according to the ratio, then exhale slowly through the right nostril. This is half process of Pranayama. Then inhale through the right nostril, retain and exhale through the left nostril. Do not retain the breath for more than one or two minutes.
Do ten or twenty Pranayamas according to your capacity. Do not fatigue yourself. Increase the number gradually. You can go up to 16:64:32. This is Sukhapurvaka or easy comfortable Pranayama.
Practice Sitali in summer. This will purify your blood and cool the system too. Practice Bhastrika in winter. This will cure asthma and consumption. Repeat ‘Om’ or ‘Rama’ mentally during the practice. Observe Brahmacharya and diet-control. You will derive maximum benefits and will quickly purify the Nadis or nerves.
Prana and mind are intimately related to each other. If you control Prana, the mind will also be controlled. If you control the mind, the Prana will be automatically controlled. Prana is related to mind, and through it to will and through will to the individual soul and through individual soul to the Supreme Soul.
Start the practice this very second in right earnest. Control the breath and calm the mind. Steady the breath and enter Samadhi. Restrain the breath and lengthen the life. Subdue the breath and become a Yogi, a dynamo of power, peace, bliss and happiness.
Complete glossary can be found at:
Humility is not cowardice. Meekness is not weakness. Humility and meekness are indeed spiritual powers. – Sri Swami Sivananda