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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. At the Yoga Camp and Sivananda Headquarters snow arrived in Val Morin mid November. We had a snowfall which left us without power for a few hours that morning. The Camp was completely covered and there was much shoveling that needed to get done. Regardless we continued with the normal schedule and once the weekend came we had a full house. Satya, who comes every week to teach a yoga class, offered a workshop called The Subtile Anatomy: The Chakra System and the Practice of Yoga. There were some 40 guests that came to participate. Everyone enjoyed the lecture and class that Satya offered. There were also many Pujas. It being Diwali, here at the Camp we had a beautiful ceremony in the Krishna Temple led by Harisha and Manjunath, our Temple priests. Some of our staff then travelled to continue the celebrations at our Montreal Centre. Nikhila and the staff organized a beautiful night. In addition, it was Swami Vishnu’s Maha Samadhi, where we all went down to Samadhi Estates and had a Puja in his honor, followed with another Puja for Swamiji in the Krishna Temple the next day. There was much inspiration and memories shared from disciples of Swamiji throughout that auspicious week, bringing much joy and inspiration to all. As we transitioned into the winter season, most of our attention was preparing for the snowfall to make sure everything was stored away and ready and get all our winter gear out to stay warm. With a full house of TTC students, we also had few guests staying with us. The guests were attended to by Divya and Swami Vairagyananda who offered lectures and workshops. It was a nice time to be at the Camp with the performance of Sudeshna Maulik. Sudeshna has been coming to perform here for some years now and it is always a pleasure to have her. She is a Kathak dancer and is very pleasant to watch. We had a great group of TTC students with us who were very enthusiastic. There was a very nice group energy throughout the classes. They all began acclimating to the Ashram schedule and are now fully settled into the course. In addition, Swami Rajeshwarananda. She jumped right in to teaching the course. We were very happy to have her with us. In this TTC there were many staff and karma yogis participating, leaving a smaller group to run the Camp. Everyone pitched in to whatever was needed as well as helping assist the course. Some of our staff continued with the painting of the Subramanya Temple as well as some cleaning up and organizing. Offering the TTC course is always inspiring for the staff as well. Things continued to move as much as possible at this time and everyone was doing well.
May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless you all. Om Shanti.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Namah Sivaya to all. The celebration of Sree Krishna through the Bhagavatha Saptaha continued in November, with the morning Satsangs taking place in the Rama Hall. Harihara Chaitanya and his team energized the Ashram with special Pujas for Krishna’s birth and marriage. The program culminated with the traditional bath for Krishna (and anyone else wishing to follow) in the Dam on the 9th Nov morning, Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi Day. Everyone had the opportunity to offer flowers and there was much chanting. With the approach of TTC, there were many arrivals. The course teachers, Swami Paramananda, Ravi Easwaran and Anisha all arrived along with a large number of course assistants and of course, the students themselves. At the same time, Parameswara and Krishnapriya from the Yoga Ranch arrived for a break; Omkari returned after a several month visit to home – refreshed and ready for the season; Swami Jyotimayananda returned to London Centre rejuvenated from panchakarma; Swami Gayatriananda and Kalyani returned from the Mahasamadhi celebrations at Netala; Narayan and Sarah arrived to conduct the Fasting and Detoxification programs at Madurai and Neyyar Dam. One Sunday morning a vocational training group came for a visit. Many of the staff who were on the 2018 Janma-Samadhi Yatra also returned to the Ashram. An anticipated highlight was the inauguration of the first TTC of our high season, smoothly taking place with 157 students being initiated including 14 Taiwanese and 3 visually challenged students. Most of the maintenance / construction works on the Ashram grounds were completed just in time, including the ceiling of the Dwarka roof; Sita Kaveri roof cover; Dining hall roof floor cementing; Ganesh Kutir rooms. The kitchen extension roof was started and should be completed before too long. We all were looking forward to an energetic season in the service of Master and Swamiji. There has been a high energy with the second week of AWC and TTC. The three blind TTC students were doing well in the course, with support. AWC students expressed great appreciation after their graduation, marveling how much they learned in two weeks. Congratulations to Dr Vishnu and his team. We celebrated Kartika, a south Indian festival of lights. Oil deepas were placed around the Temple area and on the stage during Satsang creating a magical effect. About seven hundred people attended the Sivananda sponsored Ayurveda Medical Camp. After one month stay, Radha returned to America, promising to come back. Staff continued to benefit from classes with Ravi on Upadesa Saranam and Patanjali Yoga Sutras with Srinivas. May we always see God in all.
Pranams to the Sivananda family. Om.

Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India

Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. The 2018 season at Netala Ashram, consisting of five successful TTCs and a Sadhana Intensive, drew to a close. The finale of the season was the celebration of Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi Day. This year being the twenty- fifth anniversary, the occasion was celebrated in a bigger way. Swami Parameswariananda was happy to welcome many elder faces to the Ashram. Potti Swami plus three arrived from Trivandrum, Kalyani brought Swami Gayatriananda and Trustee, Lalithamma from Kerala, Prahlada arrived along with Gopan, Vijay and Abeba and Bitanya from Chennai, Dwarka and Nataraja Centres respectively. The Janma Samadhi Yatra group with Suresh and Swami Janardhanananda arrived for a few days at the end of their long trip from Nemmara, and were joined by several other students and teachers from around India. On the 9th Nov morning, Potti Swami and team performed a Vishnusahasranama Homa which filled the atmosphere with the purifying vibration of the Lord’s name. At the same time Pada Puja was conducted in Ganga herself. A hundred plus sannyasis arrived from Uttarkashi and the neighbouring area to sing Ram Bhajan including Nama Ramayana in the Satsang Hall which was packed to bursting with everyone enjoying the devotional mood. They were then all fed and then gifted about 30 items of food, clothing, toiletries etc. The feeding continued with many villagers and children. In the afternoon, the Naga devatas (as procession deities in the local manner) came to visit from two of the villages. They paid respects at the Temple and were honored for their visit. This was quite a cultural experience for most present, with it’s unusual mystical energy. Many villagers also came for the special dance program that was put on in the evening by Bijoy and his students from Ahmedabad – a combination of traditional bharatnatyam dance and pieces created specially for the occasion with the topic of peace at heart. The following weekend the visiting staff and guests started to depart. The Yatris and staff had their photos taken with the peace bus for the last time. The Yatra bus finally began it’s long journey back to Kerala after the Jalasamadhi Pujas – again the Pada Puja was conducted on the bank of Mother Ganga.
The Ashram was closed for the winter season. But it will not be so quiet this off-season. The deconstruction of the Kailash building will begin, preparing it for a complete overhaul. This will be the first of a series of construction projects to take place over the coming two years, modernizing and improving the facilities of the Ashram. With Swamiji and Master’s blessings may this go smoothly. Om Namo Bhagavathe Sivanandaya! Om Namo Bhagavathe Vishnudevanandaya! May Swamiji and Master’s blessings be with all. Om.

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

Om Namo Narayanaya. Namaste. Being the final lap of the Ashram’s October TTC, the atmosphere was one of goodbyes, farewells and promises. The course witnessed a successful completion with all the students but one, graduating as Sivananda Yoga teachers, a dream fulfillment for which all of them had enrolled. Kapoor ji who went for a week long visit to Delhi was back for the student graduation. The main highlight of Talent Show was Mimicry by a student in which he enacted the mannerisms and histrionics of some course teachers and students. All of us could do nothing but to laugh our heads off to the flair of his portrayal. Yoga vacationers also enjoyed their calm and quiet stay at the Ashram, with a few motivated with the TTC activities, as can be made out from their enquiries.
The first week of the November TTC saw the students getting into the learning mode which most of them had left behind once they were occupied with their professional and family lives. A few students who found it difficult to cope with the TTC schedule left the course and a few are receiving counseling by Swamiji and other staffs. An outside trip was organized for local sight seeing with the participation of yoga vacationers and TTC students. The talent show had some of the staff members trying their hand in dancing and singing. We also had an incredible yoga posture performance by Satya, a TTC assistant, that left everyone in awe of the levels to which asanas could be done with strength and flexibility.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA

Greetings from the Yoga Ranch, where by the Grace of the Gurus, life in the Ashram went very well in November. Swami Satyapremananda led a joy felt Immersion Week for Beginners Course, which was timed beautifully with 2 new Karma Yoga Work Study students arriving at the Ranch. Guests and staff attended to deepen their knowledge in the Four Paths and the Five Points of Yoga. For Diwali festival, Swami Satyapremananda, the Priest -Shanakara Namboodiri and a number of staff members went to New York City to celebrate. An incredible light filled Puja was held, followed by a delicious Indian feast held by Neeti and the NYC staff. For Swami Vishnudevenada Ji’s Mahasamadhi and Jalasamadhi celebration, Srinivasan told beautiful stories during the morning Satsangs from his time spent with Swami Ji and recounted Swami Ji’s Mahasamadhi and Jalasamadhi 25 years ago! Swami Satyapremananda also read stories from the book ‘Swami Ji Says’ during the evening Satsangs. A weekend program titled Yoga Tips for Sustainable Living was led by Swami Satyapremananda, focusing on the practical application of the first three Yamas: Ahimsa, Satyam and Asteya.
Swami Satyapremananda led the Essentials of Meditation Retreat, covering the basics of how to meditate and how to integrate mantra repetition with meditation. For the American Thanksgiving, we had a full house of guests from all around the country. Ambika worked sacrilegiously for days preparing a delicious vegetarian feast. We created a gratefulness tree by writing light filled messages on cards to hang on the tree. Staff member Martine, painted beautiful leaves with guests, which were used to decorate the hall during the Thanksgiving meal. Most guests stayed for this long weekend and attended inspiring workshops on gratitude, taught by Swami Satyapremananda. Sita led hikes around the property taking in the wonderful snowy scenery. The joy filled weekend ended with a workshop on Kirtan. Staff send pranams to all from The Ranch. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namah Sivaya. Om Sri Durgaye Namah! In early November the October TTC’s final week was filled with many celebrations including special Diwali Puja to celebrate the new year; followed by a beautiful sitar concert with Hasu Patel-ji and Joe Fajen on tabla; Swami Vishnudevananda-ji’s Mahasamadhi celebration with akanda kirtan and Guru Puja workshop, teaching TTC and staff how to perform personal Puja as we honor Swamiji’s life and mission. TTC celebrated their graduation with words from Swami Sitaramananda. Student shared their appreciations for a transformational month of Sadhana and bright future. The Ashram celebrated Swami Sitaramananda’s birthday with a special Rudra mandala Puja, led by Swami Vasishtananda-ji at Swamiji’s house with offerings made by all swamis, special guests and staff followed by a wonderful feast and birthday cake! We welcome Krishna and Mahashakti visiting from Uruguay, for the Sadhana Intensive course, taught by Swami Sitaramananda-ji and Krishna. Staff and karma yogis were doing well. We were fortunate to have 4 new staff remaining from the TTC. The autumn weather was cool and dry. The Ashram has been touched by smoke from the wildfires, but otherwise, the Ashram has been protected by Guru’s Grace.
The Yoga Farm was vibrant with beautiful energy with a full-house gathering of special guest teachers, SF and LA Centres staff and guests for the Thanksgiving Holiday: Success in Life and Self-Realization. The American Thanksgiving long weekend featured wonderful teachings from Swami Sitaramananda (“Turning Karma into Dharma”) and our special guest presenters: Swamini Svatmavidyananda (“The Yoga of Relationships” and “Moksha”); Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian (“Artha: The Jewel of Abundance”); Krishna Darshan (“Four Goals of Life According to Jyotish”); Swami Jnaneswariananda (“Dharmic Rules of Conduct: Y&N”); Swami Sivasankariananda (“Kirtan Workshop”). The Ashram celebrated Thanksgiving with a wonderful feast prepared by the staff. All teachers, guests and staff each shared a few words of thanks for this auspicious event. Karnamrita dasi followed the feast with an inspired kirtan concert full of devotion and sweetness to uplift all. Meanwhile the Sadhana Intensive students enjoyed their kitcheree feast on Thanksgiving, keeping to their practice and graduating the course, coming out shining and focused. Swami Sitaramananda and Krishna Darshan offered inspiring words to the students as they carry on their practice. The Ashram was beautiful with autumn colors, falling leaves and much-needed rain to alleviate the land and the nearby wild fires. We were all feeling the blessings of Master and Swamiji. Om Shanti to all Blessed Selves from the Yoga Farm. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. In November at the Yoga Retreat, we welcomed guest presenters Antonio Sausys, Acharya Mangalananda, Satya Scainetti, and Manu Dawson. Antonio Sausys led interactive Satsangs and vigorous workshops on the topic of Manifesting Potential. In addition to these, he also led the Yoga for Grief Retreat, which provided much-needed insights and techniques for grief management to participants in the course. Manu Dawson successfully led the Fall Cleanse, Detox, and Juice Fast. Participants left the course radiant and full of knowledge about healthy maintenance of the body. Acharya Mangalananda and his musicians charmed Ashram residents and visitors alike. Devotional song filled several evening Satsangs and the sound of the Divine name pervaded the atmosphere of the Ashram throughout midday workshops. Satya Scainetti led the program Creating Malas and Miracles, in which workshop participants had the opportunity to construct their own malas, and later learn meditative practices with the malas. The Teacher Training and Advanced Teacher Training students successfully completed their first week of classes. Throughout the course of their first week week, we had A/TTC introductions, the Guru Ganapati Homa, and a screening of the classic In the Name of Peace. These students also had the good fortune to join the Ashram community in celebrating both Diwali and the Mahasamadhi and Jalasamadhi of Swami Vishnudevananda. Our priest, Krishnan Namboodiri, led several beautiful Pujas in honor of these events, and Ashram residents chanted Akhanda kirtan in honor of Swami Vishnudevananda on both the Mahasamadhi and Jalasamadhi anniversaries.
We had much to be thankful, with many celebrations, beautiful music, and a sumptuous feast. We offered a beautiful birthday Puja for Swami Hridyananda. Our priest, Krishnan Namboodiri, conducted the ceremony, which culminated in a delicious cake in the shape of a flower pot, complete with cupcakes as the flowers! Musicians Graham Schweig and Eric Fraser, along with their ensemble, conducted a series of concerts and workshops that incorporated readings from the Bhagavatam Purana with the dulcet tones of the bansuri flute. Karma yogis and vacationers learned about the power of thought through the weekend Essentials of Positive Thinking course, taught by Pranava Chaitanya. The Ashram community benefited from teachings on Ayurvedic routines through a series of workshops and Satsangs with Bryan Miller. Hope Mell, an expert in the Alexander Technique and adaptive yoga, led workshops on The Art of Joyful Movement: A Path to Pain-Free Living. Participants came away with a greater understanding of how to hold and move the body to allow for a deeper practice of yoga asana. People of many faiths and cultural backgrounds gathered around the Thanksgiving table for a delicious feast, prepared with great dedication by Arjuna and the kitchen team. The Temple and garden teams worked hard throughout the day to decorate the dining area. Prayers and songs of gratitude were recited in several languages and all came away full of food and appreciation. 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. In November the Yoga Vacation program was held in Mittersill in the Austrian Mountains. The guests usually commonly stayed from 2 days to one week to enjoy the classes, Satsangs and ample possibilities for relaxation in the hotel spa. We did regular silent walks amidst peaceful meadows, forests and had impressive views on the seemingly endless mountain range. Guests came from different countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, US and Canada. One guest even flew from India as he enjoyed it so much. The Retreat House in Reith is closed in the  meantime. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya. In November the Yoga Vacation program was held in Mittersill in the Austrian Mountains. The guests usually commonly stayed from 2 days to one week to enjoy the classes, Satsangs and ample possibilities for relaxation in the hotel spa. We did regular silent walks amidst peaceful meadows, forests and had impressive views on the seemingly endless mountain range. Guests came from different countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, US and Canada. One guest even flew from India as he enjoyed it so much. The Retreat House in Reith is closed in the  meantime. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam

Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. In November the DaLat Ashram saw the TTC students settling well into the routine of the program. The TTC course continued to run well. We welcomed a large group of 17 Yoga Vacation guests. Along with the TTC, our 2 resident guests, 3 seva study participants and a full complement of staff, made for very full and lively Satsangs and kirtan. We’re happy to see that the arrival of a good sized group of Yoga Vacationers for weekend retreats has become a regular event. Many of our visitors are from International locations. Recently we welcomed guests from New Zealand, Canada, USA and UK among others. We were happy to see the completion work on the large pond that has been built at the the top part of the Ashram, by the owners of the property. Over 3 days water was filled, so we now have a beautiful pond with a central island that is accessible by a bamboo bridge. The island already became a favorite location for staff asana practice. We were happy to have the visit of Ram Vakkalanka, who taught on Yoga and Sound and gave sitar performances which were much appreciated by all. For many it was their first experience of hearing Indian music. Students continued to study hard and practice diligently and were rewarded with a 100% pass rate for the course. Graduation took place, then for our Satsang we had a final performance by Ram Vakkalanka. We were happy to welcome 2 new staff right away from the graduating TTC group, with 3 more planning to join later. Staff stayed busy as we prepared for the arrival of a group of 100 students from the business community in Vietnam for their yoga retreat. We said farewell Swami Pranavananda and Ganga Chaitanya who returned to the Ho Chi Minh City Centre. Staff are well, working hard supporting the TTC and guests and to making progress with their own Sadhana. We are thankful for Master’s and Swamiji’s blessings. Om.

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RISHI – a holy Hindu sage, saint, or inspired poet. A person of Self-realization. A visionary.

The outstanding quality that identifies Swami Sivananda from other beings is that he was a visionary. A visionary is known as a rishi. In the course of spiritual development and growth, people go through different stages of becoming stable in the higher consciousness. Stability of higher consciousness is perceived as the manifestation of a character. This character identifies a person, whether one is a sadhu, a mahatma, a saint, a sannyasin, a siddha, a bhakta yogi, a jnana yogi, a hatha yogi, or whatever. A visionary, a rishi, is the highest form of illumination, because in that stage of having established an identity with the higher consciousness, one is able to foresee the events of the future. What one foresees indicates how humanity is going to develop, what track it is going to follow. Visionaries are able to ease the process, to smooth the path for future generations. Rishis have the qualities of omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence, Godhood.
Human beings associate and dissociate themselves just as two pieces of wood in a flowing river. When the time ripens, everything resolves itself into One. – Sri Swami Sivananda