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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 from the Yoga Camp! In early January it was as quiet and serene a week as possible at the Yoga Camp: Sadhana Week, the one week of the year when the Ashram is guest-free. With no guests or visitors to accommodate or teach, the staff used this time for group hatha yoga practises each morning, afternoon chanting of the Bhagavad Gita, and focussing on our karma yoga. A few challenges arose at the Ashram as we struggled to keep up with sanding, salting, and shovelling as Mother Nature threw us multiple winter curve balls. The end of the Sadhana week came quickly and quietly, with an intense, early-morning advanced pranayama session, and a very uplifting and special visit by Swami Sivadasanandaji. Swami Sivadas, who arrived from Europe for a one-night stay at the Ashram, led two beautiful, vibrant, and intimate Satsangs, a slight contrast to the jam-packed and pulsating Advanced Asana class and Satsang we staff journeyed to take part in at the Montreal Centre the following evening. This was the staff’s second visit to the Montreal Centre in a week, the first being a bittersweet send-off Satsang, hours before Swami Shankarananda departed for his new position at the Rome Centre. Sadhana Week ended, and we look forward to the Ashram visitors and guests returning!

Mid-January saw a busy and energetic return to a regular schedule with guests and visitors coming out of Sadhana Week. This was an especially exciting week for four of our staff who recently finished the November TTC, who were able to get their feet wet teaching their first full classes since the end of the course. Kalyani (now in Nicaragua), Maitri (now headed home to Japan), Shivani, and Bharati (both remaining as staff) were all enthusiastic and honoured to begin teaching classes that were sometimes cosy, sometimes packed. By the first Friday back, the Ashram was occupied with many guests come for one of the most special events of the year: the Snowshoeing Weekend! As if on cue, Mother Nature immediately brought us perfect -5 temperatures, a soft wind, and very gentle blanket of fresh snow. Using our Amba, Saraswati, and Durga trails throughout the stunning and heavenly Ashram property, guests were able to choose between shorter and more relaxing trails or longer and more challenging ones. Eager and energetic, the snowshoers were treated to the absolutely breathtaking views of the Laurentian mountains, rivers (some frozen, some still flowing), the awe-inspiring Subramanya temple, and the peace and serenity of the entire Ashram property. With some delicious hot chocolate and cookies between runs, guests were rejuvenated (and some a little sore!) by the end of the day, and happily took part in a soothing and gentle hatha yoga class by Narayani. After a long but invigorating day, the Ashram had a very distinctive guest for evening Satsang: Desthein, a writer originally from St-Adele (about 10 kms from the Ashram) and now based out of British Columbia. Having written four connected books on spirituality, with an almost otherworldly peace, Desthein’s talk focussed mainly on the one-ness of all people and the universe; the importance of detaching from one’s mind; and constantly remaining present and accepting of reality as it presents itself in each moment. Profound, thought-provoking, and deeply inspiring, guests were captivated by his energy and talk and most stayed far past our usual Satsang end-time, asking questions and engaging in fascinating discussion into the night. Now that the snowshoers have left, the temperatures have again immediately plummeted to our usual Laurentian January frigidity! Wishing you a warm and happy Salutations to the worldwide family from the Sivananda Headquarters.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Om Namo Narayanaya. In early January the first week of TTC manifested with high energy and strong chanting from day one, starting with the traditional Ganapati Homa. Despite the large number of students and ten simultaneous language translations, the classes started smoothly; Philosophy lectures with Swami Sadasivananda, Hatha Yoga with Mani Chaitanya and the Chanting classes with Kalyani. The Swami Sivananda video was shown. On cultural Thursday everyone enjoyed Bharatanatyam dance performed by Bijoy Anand Shivram and the JD College of Performing Arts from Ahmedabad. We said goodbye to Amrita and welcomed Durai, Karna (Chile) and Olga for Tamil, Spanish and Russian translation respectively. One hundred TTC students and YV guests took advantage of the day trips to either Kanya Kumari or Backwaters, leaving the Ashram relatively quiet The Ashram talent show was the first one of the TTC, an overflow of volunteers signed up, having to be wait listed for the next week. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful and creative line-up which included sitar, singing and traditional Indian dance performances. We offered s Silent walk to Kalipara Hill one Sunday morning, with meditation, another beautiful sunrise, chanting and a Devi Puja. In the evening Satsang, Jyoti, and the ‘Finding your Voice’ workshop participants, gave a performance encouraging the audience to join in the peaceful and heartfelt chanting.

During mid-January the TTC was well under way and began the Bhagavad Gita classes with Nagaraj. The ‘In the Name of Peace” movie was screened during Satsang, illustrating the life and work of Swami Vishnudevananda to the guests and students. One Wednesday the 15th, being the transitioning day between the yoga vacation courses, was a busy day, as many new yoga vacationers began arriving. We were honoured to experience a performance by Prince Rama Varma and talented musicians. One Friday day-off, 46 brave souls set out to the Jungle trip, confirming the crocodile myth to be true after spotting one about 10 minutes away from the Ashram. A group of TTC students and yoga vacationers went on a boat ride to the Backwaters, and later enjoying the sunset in Varkala. One Saturday brought another vibrant program filled with numerous talents, as volunteers took the stage for the weekly Talent Show and shared their various talents, including a dramatic stage performance of the Ramayana, in which roughly 10 TTC students and staff took part. The staff paid farewell to Kamala who will be joining the staff at the New York Ranch in a couple of weeks.

Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India

Om Namo Narayanaya. The Uttarkashi Ashram was closed due to the floods and road damage. May Master and Guru be with us all. Om.

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

Om Namo Narayanaya. Early January had been eventful with the conclusion of Fasting and Detox program and the preparations for the forthcoming TTC. We had the Graduation ceremony of Fasting and Detox program students. The two week long course schedule had the students feeling energetised and rejuvenated. All of them had a peaceful and soulful stay at the Ashram. We started with our preparations to receive students for the next TTC batch. We gave a hearty welcome to Janaki and Shira, Janaki is the main Hatha Yoga teacher for this TTC batch . The Yoga vacationers also enjoyed every bit of the calm and serene atmosphere of the Ashram and its surroundings. One Saturday, we had the talent show with performances filling us with awe and delight. We had the initiation of the students by Swami Jnaneshwariananda and Swami Satchidananda evening marking the beginning of new TTC. A total of 23 students have joined the course. Let our Masters grace help them in overcoming any sort of difficulty they might come across. May they become capable under the Godly guidance of their teachers to spread our Masters message of world peace and harmony. Praying for the continued blessings of God and Masters in all our endeavours.

During mid-January the Ashram was brimming with the activities of ongoing TTC. The students getting themselves tuned to the rhythm of their course schedule went on with their practice classes and lectures with elan. Swami Keshavananda from Austria was given a warm welcome to the Ashram. He will be taking the Bhagavad Gita classe for TTC and the Yoga Vacation lectures . Jyothi who is here for the ‘ Finding your Voice ‘ program arrived. Her classes focused on voice modulation has generated loads of appreciation among the Yoga vacationers. The local people were busy with the activities of ‘ Makara Pongal ‘,a major festival celebrated throughout South India. As part of the celebrations ‘ Jallikattu ‘, an age old practice where people fight and tame the bulls, let loose in an open arena with a vast crowd of onlookers cheering the participants would be conducted. The local people here had a great time ushering in the festivities of Pongal. We had Santoor recital by Shri Haridas wtih his son giving him accompaniment . The entire audience were entranced by the recital of soulful music transferring their selfs to a higher plane. We had the Friday trip to Thiruparakundram and to Meenakshi temple. The students took in the sights of Madurai city and were busy capturing the beauty of the locales on their frames. The trip proved to be an exhilarating experience for the students. Another Saturday talent show saw various awesome talents delighting the guests and staff members. The yoga vacation students also enjoyed a calmly and peaceful state of their minds with the routine schedule of classes and karma yoga at the Ashram. We had an enjoyable and joyful week at the Ashram. May Gods blessings and our Gurus guiding light continue to be with us always. Praying for Gods blessings and guidance all throughout. All the staff send their pranams and hope all are well and contented. May Master and Guru be with us all. Peace and Pranams to the Sivananda family.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA

Greetings from the Yoga Ranch! Early January was a bit quiet so the staff concentrated on finishing the staff trailer and planning of the garden for spring. Snow arrived with some guests for the weekend “Healthy Cooking for Busy People” program with Chandana. All enjoyed on a wonderful meal made Chandana and the course attendees followed by energetic and inspired chanting. The guests departed with some of the staff, accompanied Mahadev Chaitanya, to the Centre in New York where he taught an advanced yoga class and led Satsang. Both events were filled to the maximum with not a seat or yoga mat available. Swami Ambikananda and Padmavati made a wonderful soup that we all enjoyed before the trip back to the Ranch, refreshed and invigorated.

During mid-January the staff were very happy to complete the renovation on the staff trailer. We had homemade oatmeal cookies and high energy for the final push, Karma Yoga night, to finish off the final touches. The planning of the spring garden was finalized and seeds were ordered for both spring and summer. The marketing team is busy planning for summer promotions including our 40 year anniversary coming soon in July. During the Martin Luther King long weekend we offered the Positive Thinking Workshops, lead by Mahadev Chaitanya. They were a great success. We welcomed over 40 guests, almost all of which were first-time Ashram visitors. The Grouponprogram we have had over the winter months was the main draw for these new comers, and we will keep in touch with them so that they return. Everyone was in great spirits, the prana was high. Overall, the winter was proving to be a productive and positive time at the Yoga Ranch. Staff are well and send there pranams. May the Gurus’ blessings of be with us in 2014.‎

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namo Narayanaya. In early January the Ashram welcomed a lovely program “Ganesha Goes to Lunch” with Payson Stevens and Kamla Kapur. This mult-faceted program featured Kamla giving beautiful readings of classical Indian stories and tales from Rumi with forthright philosophical discussions, and talks from Payson regarding healthcare and services in remote Himalayan villages and ecological and human concerns surrounding the Himalayan National Park. Chandika and Vaikuntha taught the 5-day Beginner course introducing first-time guests to Swamiji’s teachings on the 5 Point of Yoga.

During mid-January the Yoga Farm welcomed first-time guests for the Beginner Level 2 course, taught by Shambu das. The guests were very inspired as the course emphasized how to increase prana and to balance the mind and emotions. The weekend workshops focused on Hatha Yoga: Variations with talks on the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga. The Ashram continued to experience unseasonably warm weather allowing for many projects: the continued clean up around the Maintenance sheds, the planting starts in the greenhouse and garden, and a new gazebo by the Siva hill cabins.Om Namo Narayanaya to all the Sivananda family

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. Unity in Diversity: Let the Light Shine Christmas and New Years Symposium concluded on December 31, with Kirtan with Gaura Vani and his musicians until 2:30 a.m. and continued again at morning Satsang. In early January the Yoga Teacher Training Course (53 students) and the Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Course (32 students) inaugurations were held on January 4th. We welcomed Srinavasan and his wife Saraswati from the Yoga Ranch. Srinivasan taught in the ATTC plus led morning Satsang programs on the Foundations of Raja Yoga throughout the month. Twenty-seven students were inaugurated for the 10-day New Year’s Cleanse, Detox and Juice Fasting Experience on January 4 with Shivanter Singh, Julian DeVoe and Grace Van Berkum.

The Neuroscience and World Religions symposium took place last week with presentations by Stepen Kaplan, PhD.,Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College; William Waldron, PhD, Professor of Middlebury College in Vermont, researching the relation between theories of mind in various religious schools and modern cognitive science; Daniel Drubach, MD, a member of the Behavioral Neurology Divison at Mayo Clinic writing on the neuroscience of music and religion and Prantik Kundu studying neuroscience with fMRI technology with the Brain Mapping Unit at the University of Cambridge and at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful 5 days of exploration between religious/spiritual practices and contemporary neurosciences. On the final night a panel discussion was held with all four speakers.

During mid-January our Annual Interfaith Devotional Singing Festival “On the Wings of Ecstasy” was held and thoroughly enjoyed by guests and staff. The talented participants included Davod Azad, Sufi musician from Azerbaijan; Nirinjan Kaur of the Sikh family of Kundalini’s sacred music; Jan Kirschner, charismatic chazzan (cantor) from the Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder Colorado; Tia Pittman who provided us with gospel renditions together with her husband on the keyboard. The highlight that evening was a very lively gospel duet with Tia Pittman and Cantor Kirschner; Shantala, the Kirtan husband and wife team of Benjy and Heather Wertheimer; and Vishal Vaid, Ghazal musician. Our priest Krishnan Namboodiri officiated at the Ayyappa Puja on January 14, bringing extra joy and inspiration to the entire Ashram. The Gracious Living Vegan Nutrition Retreat with Grace Van Berkum January 15-17 graduated 7 students after a successful course of workshops creating menus of sattvic vegan dishes and introducing the compassionate principles of vegan nutrition. We were delighted to welcome back Jeffrey Armstrong again who spoke this year on “The Mahabharata The Greatest Story Ever Told”. He had a very insightful and inspiring perspective on the Mahabharata speaking in great detail of Dharma, and making it practical and relevant to us on our current spiritual paths. John Beaulieu and Silvia Nakkach have returned to the Ashram to teach The Yoga of Sound and Voice Training. Many students came for their course this year which combines devotional chanting, movement and music making with the science of sound and explores the dimensions of healing with sound. Pranams to all!

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria

Om Namah Sivaya. In early January the last week of TTC went very well. The students gave an entertaining talent show. Most of the students took the opportunity to be initiated into a mantra and receive a spiritual name. All passed the exam and we celebrated the end of this TTC with a beautiful graduation ceremony. Almost immediately afterwards Swami Keshavananda departed for the TTC in Madurai India. He will be staying on in India for the TTC in Rudraprayag. Two TTC graduates decided to stay for karma yoga for a few weeks, which is greatly appreciated. With the high season coming to an end we now focus on several projects at hand. Deep cleaning and repairs in Kailash got underway and in the office a lot of work was done on advertisments for upcoming programmes.

During mid-January a big order of meditation cushions arrived and also the English programme. Miraculously everything fitted into the already packed basement. A small group of guests this week, therefore we are cooking for the guests in Kailash. We enjoyed the intimate and peaceful atmosphere, especially at the Satsangs and the Krishna Puja. We had some very nice walks for the Winter Magic programme. Snow is scarce and temperatures are higher than normal at this time of year, causing an almost spring like awakening in nature. Furthermore there were lectures on inner focus and [email protected] and a practical meditation workshop. The Karma Yogis were of great help with several maintenance and clearing projects. Office projects continued at a pace. Vishnupriya left to give support to the Munich Centre for a week OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya. In early January we had a one-week yoga retreat at reduced rate with nine guests. The guests enjoyed their sadhana week with meditations, Satsangs, chanting, the yoga classes and the afternoon lectures and silent walks. One guest was a dog educator, he help us to train our new dog Tejas who has lot of energy and need to be chanel and train properly. The first lesson was that Tejas has to seat next to Girija without moving, Tejas made some progress but it was not easy at the beginning. It was the main topic during the meals “How to train Tejas”, Philippe, the dog educator gave us lot of advices to gave to Tejas a good education. He told us that Tejas should have only one Master and he should receive the food and the education only from one Master. Girija took her duty seriously and gave Tejas two education sessions per day combine with walks and play. We hope that Tejas will behave properly in the futur specialy with our guests. We had also this weekend on “Yoga at Home” with few guests to guide them in their practice at the Ashram to be able to continue their practice at home.

During mid-January we had a week on “Yoga can change your life” with a few guests. The guests enjoyed their sadhana week with meditations, Satsangs, chanting, the yoga classes, the afternoon lectures and silent walks and they left recharged from the programme. Swami Bhagavatananda came back from Australia and led the morning Satsangs. Kailas went to Vienna on the same day for a asana program for the weekend. Pranams to all. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam

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MARCH 2014

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OM: This sacred syllable, sometimes written AUM, is the original mantra. The Sanskrit letter represents the journey of the human spirit towards eternal peace.

ATMAN: The individual spirit or Self.

CHITTA: The subtle energy that is the substance of the mind.

VRITTI: Thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta.
Use your mind as a filter; watch and do not allow any useless thought to enter the mind. Filter all useless thoughts. – Swami Sivananda