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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. During early July, the first week of TTC was intense and colourful. The students were quickly immersed in the Ashram activities: a Ganesha Homa, learning about meditation during Satsangs, learning to teach yoga classes, headstands, shoulder stands, a Puja at the Subramanya Temple. Although overwhelming for first timer, it is the perfect environment to help one detach from all they know and be fully present. Satsangs were quickly getting livelier everyday as the TTCs ease up to the prayers and chanting. The Subramanya Temple summer festivities started, devotional shouts could be heard from far, “Haro Hara! Haro Hara!” as the Subramanya deity toured around the Temple. Many devotees gathered, played music, prayed, and shared food. Many TTCs got to enjoy the event. It is a blessing to have access to the Temple activities and its colourful rituals. The Camp attracted a large team of karma yogis this summer, a lot of maintenance work, gardening, renovation, and cleaning is happening. Many of us assisted in the TTC, deepening our practice and intensifying our commitment to this life. Saraswati and Ganga came to visit from Vietnam, inspiring us with their simple and humble behaviour. Suresh and Anoop came from India to assist in the TTC. The kitchen offered great food with three cooks from three big food cultures: Indian, Italian and Lebanese. The Camp received another happy wave, and a sense of home coming, as the once TTC students, staff and long time members came to drop off their children to the annual Kids Camp. Mixed feelings were felt. Joy to be at the Camp, yet sadness, as the parents separated from their children. Some parents decided to spend the initial Kids Camp weekend at the Camp and enjoy a reconnection to their yoga practice. A vibrant and joyful energy reigned at the Camp. We sensed it in yoga classes, Satsangs, staff meetings and simply walking on the grounds.

Mid-July saw the second week of TTC, a colourful Master’s Mahasamadhi and the kriyas workshop as highlights. The intensity of the program was felt and heard, especially creating a bond between participants. Tryambakams and Gajananams could be heard all over the Camp at odd times as they practiced together, or audible chanting for someone in the team whose family member is going through difficulty, etc. Kirtan continued in the kitchen during Karma Yoga time while washing the dishes, drying and cleaning. We enjoyed another lively ceremony at the Subramanya Temple, shared good Indian food, prepared by devotees and chanted to the flames of a bonfire in the airfield. Swami Sivananda’s Mahasamahdi in the Krishna Temple was exceptionally beautiful as it combined all TTC, the children from the Kids Camp, all staff and guests. It was lovely to hear the kids chanting, watch them pour the milk over Master’s statue and blend in with everyone. The kids added their joyful and bubbly energy to the Camp. The Ashram gardens received good care, with many Karma Yogis and guests joining in to weed, plant and shape the design. Preparations continued at the Subramanya Temple for the thousands of people expected to arrive for Kaavadi Festival. For a staff night, Bharata and Sita prepared a delicious Italian dinner, plus, Swami Sankarananda made his famous Tiramissu. May the Grace of Masters continue to bless all. Om Shanti. Om + Prem.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Namah Sivaya to all. During early July the monsoon downpours added to the quiet atmosphere in the Ashram. Steady work continued with the help of a mechanical earth mover in order to prepare the land on the southern side of the Ashram, for planting of various fruit trees. This area was previously occupied by rubber trees. One of our regular visitors, Binu is kindly donating many saplings. Suresh ji travelled to HQ, Canada, Rakesh ji went home for 3 weeks to attend his marriage. Anu ji took a short break to visit Chennai.

Mid-July saw a break in the rains, enabling enjoyable silent walks to the dam and karma yogis to help out on the agricultural land. We celebrated Master’s Mahasamadhi anniversary with a Guru Puja and Abhisekam in the morning and a delicious South Indian feast on banana leaves for lunch. Arun out did himself with 13 different items on the plate! One Saturday twenty people from the Kerala University Yoga Diploma Course visited the Ashram. Some of them were interested in doing TTC too. The Panchakarma Detoxification Program finished with rejuvenated, happy participants and about forty paid staff went on a four day Temple tour in Tamil Nadu with stay at the Meenakshi Ashram. We welcome new staff Sajeev from Delhi to the team. Om. Pranams.

Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India

Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. Having successfully completed their teaching groups in early July, the TTC students enjoyed the challenge of the advanced pranayama classes and were inspired by classes for pregnancy, elderly and children. In this last week of TTC the students were given the opportunity to express their gratitude at a Lalitasahasranama Puja.  The exam was written well and the students graduated with smiles, happy to be a part of Swamiji and Master’s world family.

With the June-July TTC completed, the Ashram became almost empty again mid July with the departure of students and visiting teachers and assistants. We thanked them for all their support.  But still the Ashram was busy with the celebration of the Master’s Mahasamadhi and the feeding of visiting sadhus from the surrounding area. The Puja and Bhandara for Master’s Mahasamadhi were preponed to 12th July as Swami Parameswariananda had to leave for Delhi. She then continued her journey on to the Yoga Camp for her first visit to Swamiji’s first Ashram. We wished her a wonderful and inspiring trip. With Master and Swamiji’s Grace, all staff are doing well. Om.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Om Namo Narayanaya. Early July had been a pleasant and joyous one. The monsoon made its presence known in India with its signature wind blowing and rainfalls, contributing its share in Madurai, also. The Yoga Vacationers, though modest in number, went on to rediscover themselves in this spiritual journey of self discovery with their stay and routine schedule at the Ashram. Anoop left for our Yoga Camp Ashram in Canada to be of assistance with the summer programs scheduled there. Khilesh returned from his month long visit to his hometown in North India. The staff members engaged themselves in Group Karma Yoga activities, lending a helping hand to our guests, including cleaning and shifting of construction materials and bamboo poles from the area in the vicinity of Siva Hut. Being the low season time, the staffs immersed themselves in their Hatha Yoga practice as well setting aside time for their self study and other spiritual practices. The Talent Show saw some hidden talents of our otherwise familiar guests providing a sense of enjoyment and fun for all. Everyone enjoyed themselves with their stay in the calm and quiet surroundings of our Ashram, nestled in Nature’s lap.

For mid-July we had a Guru Puja at Mahakali Temple to commemorate the Mahasamadhi of our Master Swami Sivananda. Our priest arranged a beautiful Puja at the Temple by drawing sacred designs with coloured rice flour and invoking Gurus blessings by reciting of sacred hymns and performing hand gestures called Mudras. All our guests and staffs began the day by chanting Om Namo Bhagavathe Sivanandaya, with the positive and energetic vibrations reverberating through the air and filling our hearts with peace and ecstasy. The chanting continued throughout the day with all of us seeking blessings from Swamiji. A group of Neyyar Dam Ashram staff stopped at the Madurai Ashram as part of their travel itinerary. They stayed for a couple of days during their outings to Rameshwaram, Tanjore, Meenakshi Temple and other local sites in Madurai. A new group of people arrived for the Yoga Vacation program. We also welcomed a group of guests from Japan, here to imbibe the essence of Ashram life. The weekly Talent show was a small affair with the guests entertaining all as they displayed their skills. May our Gurus blessings and guidance grace all lives. Om Shanti. Pranams to all.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA

Om Namah Sivaya! During early July the long holiday weekend allowed many of the guests to stay over an extra night.  Prem Sadasivananda gave another kirtan performance, bringing much energy and joy to all. The New York Centre staff returned to NYC after a long and rejuvenating weekend at the Ashram.  Staff had only one in-between clean up day after the busy weekend and the start of ATTC.  The students arrived and the inauguration set.  Five TTC students from the June TTC stayed on to take the ATTC, many of them said the reason they are taking ATTC is because they didn’t want to leave the Ashram. The teachers for the ATTC were Srinivasan, teaching Raja Yoga and part of the Vedanta Philosophy lecture. Swami Brahmananda taught the Vedanta portion of the course. Swami Paramananda taught the advanced asana class, Swami Satya taught Sanskrit, Shyam taught advanced pranayama and the morning asana class and Krishnapriya taught the anatomy class. By the grace of Master and Swamiji, we also inaugurated the Ashram’s first Teachers Refresher Course at the same time.  The Refresher Course will run for a week.  Swami Paramananda, Shyam and Mohini were the main teachers for the refresher, with the schedule consisting of daily advanced pranayama, two daily asana classes (the afternoon class is advanced asanas) and daily mid-day workshops on improving their teaching techniques.  Both courses were off to a good start.

Mid-July saw ATTC entered the second week of classes. Swami Brahmananda arrived from Nassau, Bahamas Yoga Retreat to teach Vedanta for the ATTC.  The students were all doing very well and advancing nicely with their asana practice. Shyam and Mohini ran the Yoga Vacation guest programs this month and taught daily workshops and asana classes.  One weekend program included a visit from Rabbi Zoe B. Zak, who led the Satsang that Saturday night, with a Havdalah ceremony, the ending of the holy day Shabbat.  It was a beautiful ceremony, taking place under the evening sky, and in her usual joyous energy.  Shyam and Mohini taught a weekend workshop on the Power of Asanas for the guests and karma yogis.  One Sunday they went into NYC to teach the afternoon advanced class and lead the evening Satsang.  Swami Brahmananda also drove into NYC with Swami Paramananda to spend one night at the Centre before returning to the Bahamas to take part in the Guru Purnima ceremonies.  Staff maintained a strong Sadhana and send pranams. May the Blessings of Master and Swamiji grace all of our lives. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namah Sivaya. In early July the Yoga Farm was very high energy with the 17th annual Vedic Astrology Conference taking place with this year’s theme, “Jyotish and Yogic Guidance in a Time of Stress and Crisis: Fortitude and Transcendence”. Swami Sitaramananda was joined by special guest presenters Komilla Sutton (on upcoming Mars and Saturn conjunction ); Niranjan Babu (Introducing Vaastu Shastra); Master Class by James Kelleher (How to Give a Reading and Jupiter: the Secret Key); Bill Levacy (Identifying Stress Factors); Brent Becvar (Four Aims of Life); Andrew Foss (Living with Mars/Rahu); Bill Sinclair (Crisis and Trauma Counselling); Keiko Ito (Remedial Measures); Krishna Darshan (Karmas and their Indications). Vedic Priest Pandit Samavedula gave talks on Lakshmi Mantras and Vedic Rituals and with Swami Vasishtananda performing a beautiful Navagraha Homa and Ganesha Puja at the Krishna Temple to open the conference and receive Divine blessing. The conference was a great inspiring success for guests and speakers alike, providing better tools for self transformation, resilience to stress and coping. The 7 students of Jyotish Beginners’ course were inspired to continue their learning.

During mid-July we sent our prayers with Swami Sitaramananda as she traveled to India and Asia for the next 3 months for teaching and the 2nd TTC in China. The Yoga Farm was blessed with a beautiful Guru Purnima Puja/Homa at Swamiji’s House. This special Mandala Puja/Homa was based on Vaastu sacred geometry, led by Swami Vasishtananda-ji, including 4 simultaneous Pujas and 4 Homas, performed by Swami Sitaramananda, Swami Jnaneswariananda and senior staff under the full moon. Guru’s Grace was received by all as we shared our prayers for the world. Swami Swaroopananda read a message from Sivananda Upanishad about the unity in all religions. We gave thanks to Vastu expert Niranjan Babu and wife, Umarani, for their stay at the Yoga Farm and their recommendations to strengthening the energy of the Temples, shrines, staff housing and meditation space. We also give thanks and said goodbye to Siva and Amba for their continued support to Swamiji’s mission there, as they returned to Vietnam.  We were all feeling the grace of Master and Swamiji. Om Namah Sivaya to all Blessed Selves from the Yoga Farm.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. During early July we bid farewell to our Acharya Swami Swaroopananda, his assistant Swami Prema Swaroopananda and their assistants Jnaneshwari Chaitanya, Rukmini Chaitanya and Kumari. We are very grateful to have had them here for this wonderful season and having received their guidance. They departed for the Yoga Farm in California. Meanwhile, Swami Brahamananda led inspiring talks on the topic of “What is Yoga?” and some practical advice on how to keep a spiritual diary and create a daily routine. We welcomed Earle Birney (Nilakantha), a Buddhist practitioner and graduate of the Sivananda ATTC. He gave three workshops on “Uniting the Outer and Inner Experience”. Nilakantha also started his Summer Teen Yoga Program. Krishnan Namboodiri performed a Ganapati Vidya Homa with everybody in the morning Satsang taking part in it, offering Ghee to the fire and flowers to a beautiful Yantra. Swami Shambhudevananda taught a 4-day “Introduction to Meditation Course” and the “Yoga of Essentials 1 Course”.

During mid-July we bid farewell to Swami Brahmananda, who travelled to teach the ATTC for a week in the Yoga Ranch in New York. Fortunately we will be able to welcome him back for a couple of days for the Guru Purnima. We welcomed Nathan Katz, who presented a very interesting 4-day program on “Spirituality: Mine, Yours and the World’s“. Swami Shambhudevananda taught a wonderful “Yoga of Essentials 1 Course“. Right afterwards he began teaching another one of our core course: “The Power of Positive Thinking Course“. On July 14th we celebrated Swami Sivananda’s Mahasamadhi with various activities. The Priest conducted a Guru Puja and also an Ocean Puja during the morning Satsang. The whole Ashram enjoyed the delicious Prasad afterwards. During the day we had an Akhanda Kirtan of the Master’s Mantra going on in the Temple. We welcomed David Moises, who presented his insightful approach on healing with sound. He also offered noon workshops and specials workshops for the TTCs. We welcomed Sri Devi (Marisa Laursen) from the Ayurveda College of California. She gave two interesting introductory talks on Ayurveda and digestion. Om Shanti from all the staff in Nassau.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith/Kitzbühel Tyrol, Austria

Om Namah Sivaya. In early July, in the continuation of a pleasant summer season, we focused on the interesting topic of Vital Breath-Vital Energy. In the yoga classes we steadily increased the pranayama. The lectures gave clear insight into prana, thoughts and the astral body. Student numbers steadily increased. Most of the yoga classes took place on the big platform and we were even able to have one evening Satsang outside. The guest were very inspired to help with different karma yoga projects, thereby contributing to a strong community feeling. Our biggest project started, moving out of Kailash and the first and second floor of the Seminar House and into the new Skyline house. Swami Narayanananda and Mahadev joined the team to help with this big undertaking. We ended on a stormy note with heavy rain and wind, fitting with this time of change.

Mid-July and it rained. Walks for the “Yoga and Mountain Magic” week were therefore not possible. However, this gave the guests more time to focus on Sadhana and read the inspiring words of Master and Swamiji. The topic of meditation also fitted nicely into the weeks’ events. Morning and evening meditation were longer and the daily chanting of Om Namo Narayanaya before evening Satsang proved to be an excellent preparation for our meditation practice. The guests were also inspired to do a lot of karma yoga, thereby adding a valuable note to our sense of community. A beautiful Puja was performed for Swami Sivananda’s Mahasamadhi. We felt very much blessed by Master’s love and uplifting energy. At the end, Akash, our dog, made a short but much loved appearance, instantly melting the hearts of all present. Chandrika held a fascinating course on “How Yoga Works”. The scientific perspective on yoga and the ancient knowledge from the scriptures were studied side by side in a series of highly informative lectures. The special asana classes in the morning allowed the students to integrate the information into an experience. The students were very inspired by all they learned. We also enjoyed lectures on how to find inner peace, plus, information on the TTC, all taking place in the newly reacquired Hanuman Hall, adding another dimension to the teachings.  OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya.  The Ashram was vibrating with TTC and ATTC this month, 55 students for the TTC and 25 for the ATTC. The courses were taught in French, English and Spanish. All swamis and staff shared the many classes and lecture. Charles Poncet from Geneva came to teach the Bhagavad Gita and Sanskrit. Many Karma Yogis from the Paris Centre and from other places came to help in the various Karma Yoga departments, as well as assisting with teaching and translation. Kamala Devi from Australia took care of the Yoga Vacation programme. Jivana Heyman from San Fransisco taught a certificate course “Accessible Yoga”. He gave valuable hints of how to teach Yoga to people with handicaps, people in wheelchairs and older people. Philippe Bobola spoke about “science and spirituality” and taught a certificate course “science and expansion of consciousness”. We also have a steady group of garden karma yogis taking care of the flower and vegetables. Our 2 priests are taking good care of the Temple with regular Pujas, and the murtis radiate a strong energy. OM.

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The withdrawal of senses from objectivity; the fifth rung in the Raja Yoga ladder.

In the practice of Pratyahara, the consciousness of the person is internalized so not experience the sense of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell, taking the practitioner to the next stages of yoga – Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (mystical absorption), which is the aim of all yogic practices.

Pratyahara makes the mind calm.

Pratyahara is the most important limb in Yoga Sadhana. – Swami Sivananda

The enjoyments of the senses are transient and the senses themselves are worn out by too much enjoyment. – Sri Swami Sivananda