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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. It’s early November and the snow arrived to the Camp on cue. The temperatures dropped with snow falling every day. The Ashram was covered in white. For the guest program, various lectures and workshops were offered to the guests. Swami Vairagyananda coordinated the guest program, adjusting the workshops to the guests needs and interest. The Ashram was filled with blessings with the closing of the Subramanya Ayyappa Temple, along with Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi.

Prahladaji arrived to the Camp and led a beautiful Puja for Swamiji. That same day all the Ashram went up to the Temple to partake in the transferring of the deities down to the Ashram Temples for the winter. Many of the devotees came to close the season, looking forward to its reopening in April 2020. The priests along with a few staff went to Montreal Centre to join the Puja for Swamiji Vishnedevananda. The weekend was full of the remembrance of Swamiji. Senior staff told stories and everyone was reminded of Swamiji’s mission and teachings.

The staff finished outdoor projects before the snowfall set it and cleaned up the Temple before the closing. For the November TTC the buildings were prepared, plus, some holiday decorations set up. The office work continued to move forward with some staff working on french translations and website/advertising projects. Everyone carried out their duties and continued their Sadhana.

By mid November the TTC students arrived. It was a very positive group and ready to immerse themselves in the Ashram energy. The Satsangs were vibrant and the course ran smoothly. A good sized group of weekend guests enjoyed the regular Yoga Vacation program. A group of Karma Yogis stayed in Ottawa, working hard on the renovations at the new Centre. Swami Shivabhaktananda and a group of staff went for a day to help on the work. Meanwhile, back at the Camp, the staff was busy with daily karma yoga tasks to make sure guests and TTC students were supported and found everything they needed. Winter outdoor karma yoga of shoveling snow and sanding the paths started in earnest and will remain until the end of the winter season. A few more staff painted up at the Temple. We were blessed with snowfall and more seasonable weather towards the end of November, making the Camp a magical winter wonderland for TTCs and guests to enjoy. May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless you all.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Namah Sivaya to all. November started with an unexpected and tragic ending with the death of Sri Harihara Chaitanya ji and three companions. They were involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident on their way home, after completing Bhagavatam Saptah in the Ashram. This was the forty-first consecutive saptah, conducted by Harihara Chaitanya, since the opening of Dhanwantari Ashram in 1978. Sri Harihara was closely associated with Swami Vishnu ji, who particularly enjoyed hearing Bhagavatam. His presence will be sorely missed by many.

Many assistants arrived to the Ashram in November from all corners of the world to assist to first TTC of our high season. We were happy to welcome Swami Paramananda to teach Hatha Yoga; Ravi Easwaran to teach Bhagavad Gita and Yashpal to teach chanting. Nataraj attended an Indian Yoga Association meeting and four-day Ayuryog conference in Delhi. Sankara (Kerala) and Veena (Canada) left the Ashram for their respective homes.

The Ashram remains high with TTC and AWC. Nirmala Chaitanya and team coordinated various video shoots around the Ashram, the Sivananda Institute of Health and of the monthly medical camp. We appreciated the well-planned manner in which the work was executed with minimal disturbance to the Ashram. Other highlights included a sitar concert by Murali Menon accompanied by Vishnu on tabla. Their virtuosity transported us to new realms of experience. On Ekadasi, a full Bhagavad Gita chanting was done by a few staff members. Fifteen AWC students graduated. They expressed their thanks for the wonderful learning experience. We were grateful to the SIH team that we can offer this worthwhile course. With the blessings of Master and Swamiji all are in good spirits. May Master and Swamiji bless us with true devotion. Om.

Link to the multiple videos and photo exhibits of the Neyyar Dam Ashram, including 360 degree views and a 90-minute Sivananda class, created for us by Google Arts & Culture. The videos can be found in the gallery.

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 November and the final week of current TTC, we saw the students moving onto the more serious exam mode. They were also taught Prenatal and Kids sessions which gave them an insight into teaching yoga to various groups of students. All of them did well in the exam with their hard work and perseverance. The final talent show was a display of high octane energy, complete with dancing, singing and merry making. Some students who kept shying off from the mike also dared to come forward, with some performances reflecting the light of happiness and excitement they were experiencing. We wished all the new graduates to be guided by the blessings of our Masters Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda in all their endeavours.

A Ganapathi Homa was attended by all students and teachers during which blessings from the remover of obstacles was sought. The first week of TTC had students easily getting into the learning mode which, for most, was a long lost experience owing to their fast track lifestyles. The Juice Fasting group also enjoyed an experience first of its kind in their lives. They all seemed to exude vitality and good health as a result of resorting to nature’s own curative method. We heartily welcomed Swami Jyotirmayananda from London Centre to spend a couple of weeks at the Ashram. Talent Show was mostly an exhibition of singing and story telling talents by TTC students. It also had a performance incorporating yoga and gymnastics, delighting the gathering. With Master and Swamiji’s grace, we were very happy and grateful. Sending Prem and Om to all from our family of Guests, Students and Staff. Namaste. Om.

We would like to share a 2019 Madurai Ashram video. Please link here:

Also a brand new inspiring video about the Madurai Ashram TTC courses.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA

Om Namah Sivaya from the Ranch. November began with a beautiful Satsang, guided by Swami Satyapremananda. We had a study night for staff and guests. The following day the Ashram came together for a karma yoga night, deep cleaning the kitchen, the Krishna Temple and the shoe rooms, then all enjoyed apple crisp with vegan hot chocolate and apple cider. We had a Yoga Immersion Week for Beginners, led by Narayana. During the immersion week we introduced the Sivananda tradition, focusing on the 5 points of Yoga. Swami Satyapremamanda lead the Practice of Contentment retreat, exploring the hows and whys of the practice of Santosha: Contentment. This retreat gave the participants an opportunity to experience Yoga’s tools for empowerment and wellness, as well as an introduction to the philosophy that helps us maintain equanimity in turbulent times and hold the space for peace in our daily lives. We had a Puja dedicated to Swami Vishnudevananda in celebration of his Maha Samadhi, led by the Ashram priest Sankara Namboodiri. We commemorated the day our Guru left his body (November 9th) and water burial (November 11th) with Puja (special ceremony), stories and films. Srinivasanji traveled to the New York City Centre to lead the Satsang. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namah Sivaya. In November the Ashram had very high energy when the TTC students graduated on Swami Vishnudevananda’s Mahasamadhi day. The graduation Guru Puja was led by Swami Vasishtanandaji, while Swami Sitaramananda, Swami Jnaneswariananda and the other swamis each shared words of remembrance of the Guru, encouraging the students to carry on their Sadhana and selfless service. Students gave heartfelt testimonials at the Satsang, including wonderful slide show. A beautiful feast was enjoyed by all. The Ashram celebrated Swami Sitaramanandaji’s birthday with big heartfelt Puja Homa at Swamiji’s house, led by Swami Vasishtananda, with many staff and friends from far and wide attending, culminating with a beautiful Hasu Patel concert that evening. We were also blessed to welcome the first-batch Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training students for their graduation. The first batch of 6 graduates spent 2-years completing their training, and received their certificates as “Sivananda Yoga Health Educator” and 4 received extension to have enough time to finish their practicum hours. Swami Sitaramanandaji gave encouraging words to all, while Swami Jnaneswariananda, Swami Dharmananda, and guest teachers Mahavidya and Tara Durga Devi, offered their gratitude and encouragement to the students. It is a life-changing project for all now bearing fruit. The new 2019 batch did a Dhanwanthari Puja and were initiated to begin the next 2-year course. This group we have 26 students !! Swami Sitarmananda is teaching Yoga Philosophy and Psychology; Sw Dharmananda Hatha Yoga (body/mind integration); Swami Sivasankariananda; Dr Fred Luskin, Dr Shani Robins, Dr Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz.

With great inspiration, the SYHET 2019 group completed the first 2-week module focused on Yoga Psychology and Philosophy as applied to health and healing. Students learned how to assess lifestyle and habits through the Pancha Maya kosha and how to apply the 5 Points of Yoga and Four Paths of Yoga. They learned about yoga for depression, anxiety and stress. How to guide from tamas-rajas to sattva lifestyle choices and habits. Students began to role-play the intake/assessment process to develop their assessment skills. We thanked our special guests teachers: Dr. Mala Cunningham (Yoga Therapy and Medicine); Silvia Nakkach (Nada Yoga for Healing); MahaVidya Mary Thompson (Prana Tejas Ojas). The 10-day Vedanta and Silence course concluded. Students were grateful for the Vedanta teachings, led by Swami Jnaneswariananda, learning from Viveka Chudamani. The staff and karma yogis prepared for the Thanksgiving Holiday Retreat. We received our first rain in nearly 6 months, the Ashram was beautiful with falling leaves, deer, and peaceful yogis. All felt Master and Swamiji’s blessings. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. In November we welcomed Swami Shantananda from the Chinmaya Mission. He joined us for several days to present The Yoga of the Imperishable Brahman: Talks on the 8th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. Throughout the course of these Satsangs, the Ashram community learned about the path of liberation. We celebrated the birthday of Swami Hridyananda with a Puja, led by Krishnan Namboodiri. We thank Swami Hridyananda for all of her service with the Organization and wished her a long life, good health, and Self-realization. We happily welcomed back Arjuna, who will spend the high season in the Bahamas teaching yoga classes, leading the welcome and history tour, and sharing stories about Swami Vishnudevananda. Satsangs at the Ashram included a series on Swami Vishnudevananda’s Teachings on the Conquest of Death. These teachings came from a transcription of one of Swami Vishnu’s Satsangs in the Yoga Life article. Swami Brahmananda presented these heavy topics in a light-hearted way that gave inspiration to continue practicing. Swami Hridyananda began a four-day program on The Devotion of the Disciple. Throughout these Satsangs, she and Swami Brahmananda taught about the importance, meaning and methodologies of the spiritual teacher. Karma yogis and vacationers interested in healthy living got to learn the basics of detoxing from Sanatani so to continue their practice at home. In these interactive workshops, participants prepared and enjoyed juices, smoothies, and raw foods. Other workshops included a pranayama coaching workshop, with Bhargavi; a deep relaxation workshop with Radha; yoga for busy people with Bhargavi and Vidya’s presentation on how to stay in balance with a daily Ayurvedic routine. Narayani Chaitanya taught the three-day Essentials of Meditation course, equipping participants with the tools needed to go deeper with the practice of meditation. 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 early November the Seminar House was closed. However, the remaining staff worked on various projects. The Ganga House was given a thorough cleaning, as were parts of the shop and Ganesha Hall, we washed asans, yoga mats, blankets and cushions; repairs were made and we prepared the garden and grounds for the winter. The renovation continued and the work progressed on schedule. The off-season retreat at the Eco-Hotel Grafenast started with the Yoga and Mountain Magic program. A long time student and teacher, joined us to guide the two to three hour hikes. The guests enjoyed Nature very much as well as the wellness facilities. We had short lectures on how to integrate the yoga experience in daily life and a theoretical cooking class.

Swami Vidyananda and Mahadev returned from Rudraprayag, bringing with them the blessed energy of the Himalayas. A close karma yogi, Bhavani, arrived to serve with us for a few months as well as Chaitanya, temporary staff from Latvia. The preparations for the upcoming Christmas season began. The boutique was stocked up and the Christmas decorations were put up. Work also continued on the 2020 program. Vishnupriya and Narayani returned from a well received vacation program at Grafenast. We had a small inspired group with three yoga newcomers. We went on wonderful hikes in the snow with plenty of fresh air at 1400m elevation. The guests were interested in the topic of the week: Active Relaxation and Stress Reduction with Yoga. Swami Ramapriyananda left for a special weekend event in Vienna and Pushpa left to serve at the Berlin Centre for the coming weeks. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam

Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. Our November TTC students, 34 in total, started their full program of theory and practice. Their experience went well, despite the challenge of having first one tropical storm, then a second tropical storm crossing Vietnam, bringing very rainy and cold weather here. Trainees took the advice to wrap up well and keep warm. We made it through the difficult period, safe and healthy. Staff gathered in the Krishna Temple for a Puja to celebrate Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi day, chanting of Swamiji’s name was repeated for the whole day. We remembered Swamiji and celebrated further into the evening with a tea ceremony, led by tea master, teacher and Karma Yogi, Amba. All participants enjoyed the practice of making and drinking tea in the traditional way. We were happy to welcome again 20 members of a singing group from Dalat who sang songs on meditation and spiritual life. Their beautiful performance was an ideal and inspiring accompaniment to the tea ceremony. They taught two of the songs to the TTC group who joined in with the singing enthusiastically. TTC completed their first week with a well earned day-off one Saturday and starting their Sunday refreshed and ready for a busy second week. At the same time as TTC, SYHET practicum courses were conducted. We were also welcoming a steady flow of Yoga Vacation guests.

As November continued our TTC students launched into the study of Anatomy and Physiology, with Swami Pranavananda. They continued with their practice in a steady and diligent way. With the improved weather we were able to increase our outdoor activities. Learning about prana took a very practical turn as we ventured into the virgin forest covering the slopes above the Ashram for our morning silent walk. Though challenged by the climb, students experienced all the energizing effects of close contact with pristine nature. We were able to venture outside again for our evening Satsang in the open air with a bonfire. Meditation and Kirtan were followed by some impromptu musical performances by staff, as all enjoyed a delicious snack of sweet potatoes baked in the embers of the fire. The evening was rounded off with the celebration of staff member, Shakti Chaitanya’s birthday, with a special “agar agar” cake. We also held an “Introduction to Meditation” course with the participation of several international guests. Staff are well and inspired, thankful for Guru’s blessings. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Tapaswini, Gudur, Andra Pradesh India

Om Namah Sivaya. During early November the Tapaswini Ashram was on its toes, cleaning everything and preparing for the upcoming TTC. We had a Kriya class in the morning about which the guests were very excited and were keen on trying both the jala neti and sutra neti. The silent walk had them enthusiastic for an impromptu photo shoot which saw the staff and guests doing asanas by the bank of the lake. On the occasion of the Mahasamadhi day of Swami Vishnudevananda Satsang and chanting were organized in the Temple premises in the morning and a feast was served for brunch which was appreciated by the guests. The weather was fine. We were spared rain, but the mornings continued to be misty and there is a slight chill in the air in the evenings.

The Ashram activities increased due to the TTC. Swami Janardananda ji arrived from Uttarkashi to lead the Vedanta classes. Bhavanaji arrived from Delhi to lead the Bhagavad Gita and Chanting class. Aryan and Rahul arrived from Kerala and Madurai respectively. Nine students arrived from various locations in India and abroad. The Yoga Vacationers numbers increased to five, including 3 foreigners and 2 Indians. The TTC started with the traditional Initiation and the Homa the next day. The activities for the staff increased with each of them running multiple aspects of the TTC and Yoga Vacation Program. The weather smiled upon us. We were thankful that there is no added complexity of figuring out the where and how to dry the clothes. All in all a busy time at the Ashram. May the Master’s blessings be with all! Pranams.

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ANTARATMA [Sanskrit]: inner soul; inner self

The secondless Supreme Being who resides in the chambers of your heart as Antaryamin or Inner Ruler or controller or Sutradhara or Sakshi (silent witness), Antaratma (inner Self) has no beginning, middle or end. The Supreme Being is the source for this world, the Vedas, the body, the mind, the Indriyas and the Pranas; is All-pervading; is unchanging; is the one homogeneous Essence (Ekarasa); existing in the past, present and future; is Self-existent Svayambhu; is Svatantra (independent) and is self-luminous (Svayam Jyoti) as God or Atman or Brahman or Purusha or Chaitanya or Purushottama.

Thought must agree with your word and word with your deed. – Sri Swami Sivananda