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. In January we had our annual Staff Sadhana Week. The Ashram was close to the public and all current staff had the opportunity to fully focus on their Sadhana. All present had the opportunity to deepen their practice by doing their Asanas and Pranayamas as a group every morning. We had a topic for the week “The Yamas”. All staff got to share their thoughts about it with the group in the morning Satsangs. Every mid-day we did group karma yoga. The entire Ashram got a deep clean, the kitchen was completely cleaned and repainted and fresh shelves were added. The reception area had a big clean up as well, including the cathedral ceiling structure. Afternoons, we all went to the Krishna Temple and sang the Lalita Sahasranama and the Bhagavad Gita and had a little study time after. In the evenings, staff got group bonding activities including a full moon snowshoeing, dinner at Uma’s, movie night and a “clean your room night”. We had a fasting day and chanted the complete Bhagavad Gita. That was our 2nd event for the charity program. It was streamed live on our social media platform and during the chant we got more than 700 views. We did the donation pledge to a homeless shelter in Montreal. By the time we reopened the Yoga Camp to the public there was a refreshed vibe from the staff and the buildings themselves. All was set in place for a great 2020 year.
As guests began returning there were a few guests attending afternoon lectures with Swami Vairagyananda, including a week on Yoga and Mental Health. Lalita Chaitanya, from our Montreal Centre, came to conduct the weekend program and it was inspiring to see the interest of the participants. There was a lot of first time guests at the Ashram in January. Staff made sure everything ran smoothly for them. There was a lot of snow mid month, which made for a beautiful silent walk. We also started a meditation retreat, with 7 new guests for a week, of deep meditation practice. The staff pulled together while Swami Shivabhaktananda and a few karma yogis left for Ottawa to help with renovations. Meanwhile, here at the Camp our maintenance team worked on re-doing the sauna. We also reached out to the town of Val Morin to get more involved in the community and gain a stronger connection with the people around us. We looked forward to building this relationship through projects together. May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless us all in this upcoming year.
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Namah Sivaya to all. In January a group of staff chanted the whole of the Bhagavad Gita on the auspicious occasion of Vaikuntha Ekadasi. This first week of TTC proceeded smoothly with the TTC teaching and assistant team coordinating well for the setting up of attendance recording, karma yoga and home work collection and return. All enjoyed the Kathakali performance which told the Kirata story – the story of Arjuna doing tapas in the Himalayas to please Lord Siva and earn the Pasupathi arrow. The performance was paused momentarily when Lord Siva and Parvati, as tribal hunter and wife, were surrounded by students with cameras at the back of the hall. But they pursued in their tracking of the boar through the amused audience up to the stage where Arjuna argued and fought with the disguised Lord Siva over who had killed the boar until he finally realized the divine interaction. After also showing his humility and reverence as well as strength and bravery Arjuna was rewarded with the Pasupathi arrow. A good sized group visited the most southern tip of India, at Kanya Kumari. Most of the Ashram went for a refreshing Sunday morning meditation on Kalipara, the nearby hill top. We welcomed Pierre and Gita from the Camp for a month or so to help with the Neyyar Dam Yoga Vacation program. Padmavati’s clear concise talks on meditation in the mornings were appreciated. Padmavati also led the Yoga Vacation lectures while Rohini took a well deserved break to visit her parents. We were happy to welcome Prahlada and Thagur, bearing Sabarimala Ayyappa Prasad.
The inspiring practice of reading the Universal Prayer in different languages was begun by the French, Tamilians and Iranians students. A Mrtyunjaya Homa was conducted for purification and protection, with everyone repeating the mantra many times. The Yoga Vacation cycle started again on the 16th of January, with a good number of new people; plenty from the previous batch stay another week. There was also a coach load of 32 spanish speaking visitors for three days giving our spanish staff the challenge of teaching and translating classes and lectures into spanish. Dr Vishnu gave an inspiring introduction to Ayurveda for all during Satsang. The TTC bravely attempted the kriyas. They also began their teaching groups. Nataraj commenced the A&P classes. One Satsang included an excellent veena performance. One mid month Saturday a large number of paid and volunteer staff attended the marriage of Gudur director, Sandeep, which was conducted at the Madurai Ashram Temple. Although it was a long drive in each direction, it was a beautiful occasion with family and friends on all sides, with traditions of North and South India side by side. Mr Nagaraj held the fort back at Neyyar Dam where a day trip into the jungle by boat and walking was offered, participated by over 30 people. They had a lovely day with swimming in a waterfall pool and enjoying tea and tapioca root, cooked on wood fires. May Master and Swamiji’s blessings continue to support all in their Sadhana. 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 January the air was wafting with high energy, excitement and sky scraping expectations as the first TTC of the new year began, with 36 students initiated to the teachings of our Masters with the spark of knowledge and learning. We welcomed Swami Dharmananda, from Yoga Farm, California to teach Philosophy sessions for the aspirants. Yoga Vacationers enjoyed their sojourn in the Ashram. Having witnessed the preparations for the ongoing course, a few got motivated to enroll for the next program. With Master and Swamiji’s grace, we were very happy and grateful. With prayers and regards from our family of guests, students and staffs. 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. In January a few new karma yogis arrived to help for the month. We enjoyed a silent walk along the fresh snow around the Ashram. Swami Paramananda (+2 staff) drove to the New York City Centre where Swamiji led an evening Satsang on the topic of Sadhana, by Swami Sivananda. We had several special weekend programs. Lalita Chaitanya came from Montreal Centre to lead Satsangs & workshops on the topic of “Understanding Thought Power in Action”. We also had a Saturday Winter Hiking retreat, led by Satayavati. Finally, we welcomed all 18 participants for the yearly “Warriors at Ease – Winter Creativity” retreat, with Molly Birkholm, Swami Paramananda and Hipolito Arriaga, where the participants experienced a whole week of creativity workshops, Yoga Nidra and understanding more about the Yoga Philosophy. The group practice and busy schedule sparked a great energy in the Ashram, as staff and other guests also joined in and enjoyed some of the classes. Swami Paramananda went to the NYC Centre and started a new Raja Yoga course (3 weeks length), followed by an evening Satsang. We offered a Positive thinking & Silence weekend retreat, led by Swami Paramananda and a Vegan GF Cooking Workshop, led by Chandana. We had a traditional movie night Satsang for MLK day, where we watched a documentary about Martin Luther King, honoring his birthday weekend.
With the blessings of Master and Swamiji all are in good spirits. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. In January we had a Beginners’ Yoga course, taught by Ananda Mayi and Narayan. The students were very inspired to learn about Sivananda yoga. They improved by leaps and bounds with daily asana and pranayama, plus daily lectures on the Five points of Yoga. We also continued with the Ayurvedic Detox Rejuvenation Retreat with Jagadamba. Daily workshops were held on Ayurveda and the students cleansed with a kitcheree diet morning and evening. We welcomed a few beginner students for an introduction to Sivananda Yoga. The students took in a lot for their short stay and came away inspired to implement the practice into their life. We were all feeling the grace of Master and Swamiji.
We offered a Hatha Yoga Sadhana course, taught by Swami Adi Parashaktiananda. The focus of the course was on increasing rounds of pranayama and lengthing the kumbhaka retention point. The students combined group practice along with personal practice. We had a daily afternoon workshop covering the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and students left inspired and energized. We also had a Stress Relief & Relaxation weekend course, with Ananda Mayi and Mangala. Students learned some practical techniques to manage stress and keep the mind in a relaxed state. We also finished the project of harvesting lavender flowers from the 2000 lavender plants at the farm. We collected about 100 lbs. of lavender flower and started mailing them to Ryan in Arizona to do the distilling into Lavender oil & Hydrofoil, to be sold in our boutique. May all feel Master and Swamiji’s blessings. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. In January we were happy to welcome back to the Ashram, Swami Sarvapriyananda, who gave a beautiful presentation of the Mandukya Upanishad. During this series of five Satsangs, Swamiji skillfully guided the listeners through the twelve slokas of this poignant Upanishad, which reveals the Self through a series of negations that point the student toward her real nature. We were also joined this week by guest presenters Mavis Gewant and Paul Selig. Mavis Gewant taught workshop participants how to paint mandalas based upon the teachings of the Jyotish master, Harish Johari. Paul Selig, a medium for the living, presented the words of the spirit guides in a couple of evening Satsangs and well-attended workshops. Members of staff, both resident and visiting, presented on a variety of topics. Srinivasan began the month-long morning Satsang series on The Foundations of Raja Yoga. Arjuna led an Ashram art tour, as well as the classic workshops Yoga for Busy People and The Power of Om. Swami Hridyananda spoke about the power of prayer, while Swami Brahmananda introduced Swami Sivananda’s teachings on finding inner peace. Nirmala, who is visiting from Columbia, taught a two-part series of workshops on Cultivating Virtues According to Sivananda, with a focus on forgiveness and generosity. The students of the TTC and ATTC are finding their routine and immersing themselves in their learning. As part of the first week of classes, we screened In the Name of Peace during one morning Satsang and Krishnan Namboodiri led the Ganapati Vidya Homa in order to remove any obstacles and to invoke Divine knowledge during this month. Karma yogis and guests also had the opportunity to deepen their practice and connection with the lineage through the Essentials of Yoga I and II courses. Essentials I had its graduation on Friday, and those who desired to continue their studies proceeded to Essentials II the following day. Both courses are taught by Surya and Padmavati.
We began this week in the Bahamas by celebrating the festival of Pongal with an Ayappa Puja, well-constructed decorations, and many trays of Prasad. Throughout the week, we heard from guests presenters as well as members of staff during the Satsangs and the afternoon workshops. Dr. Joan Borysenko led the three-day program Frontiers in Mind-Body Medicine: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Mind. Ragani and her musicians performed three beautiful and heartfelt concerts of kirtan. She also shared stories about the time with her Guruji and led workshop participants in exploration of sound. Srinivasan continued to teach about the Yamas and Niyamas and provide opportunities for chanting in the morning Satsangs. Pranava Chaitanya began a popular program on the Yogic diet. Surya led workshop participants in the compassionate and practical series Growing Older and Wiser with Yoga. We congratulate the students who completed the ten-day detox and juice cleanse, which was led by Manu Dawson and assisted by Sanatani and Savitri Devi. After the completion of the course, Sanatani led a series of workshops about how to incorporate a detox practice at home. The students of the Essentials of Yoga II course also celebrated their graduation this week. They were taught by Surya and Padmavati. The new karma yogis began to learn the basics of the practice from Surya in Essentials of Yoga I. May all continue to receive the blessings from Master and Swamiji in 2020. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. In January the TTC students practiced the kriyas and the advanced pranayama. Many chose to take mantra initiation. We were pleasantly surprised by the array of talents shown in the entertaining talent show. By the grace of the Masters all passed the exam. The TTC came to an end with a joyous graduation ceremony. After the end of the holiday season we still had a good number of guests. They enjoyed the relaxing yoga classes and daily lectures on how to deal with stress on both the physical and mental level.
The Ashram staff took time for some outstanding cleaning and maintenance projects. We also prepared for the arrival of the next TTC. The vacation guests enjoyed the yoga classes and lectures on yoga psychology and meditation. The new TTC group arrived safely and had a beautiful inauguration. We looked forward to the coming four weeks. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. In January the 32 participants of the recently initiated SYHET course settled into their program of study and practice. The emphasis was on study of Ayurveda, led by Durga eLela. We were happy to welcome her to the Ashram for a week’s stay. SYHET students did well with the intensive program. We were also happy to welcome Swami Dharmananda who came to the Ashram for a visit of several days before leaving for Madurai TTC. Our other special visitors were Swami Vashishtananda and his nephew, priest Jayakrishnan, along with Swami Pranavananda. Swami Vasishtananda and Jayakrishnan performed several special rituals at the Ashram, including Sudarshan Homa, Vastu Puja, Aghora Homa, Devi Puja and Navagraha Puja. All participants were inspired by the beauty and energy of the rituals, especially the traditional Kerala Yantras, created by Jayakrishnan. Meanwhile, much energy was put into the many preparations for the Lunar New Year holiday, “Tet”, which is the most important festival of the year in Vietnam. Staff were especially busy with the deep cleaning that is a central part of the preparation for Tet. We were happy to be welcoming many international guests for the Yoga Vacation program. The SYHET course participants continued with their program of intensive study as the month progressed. The focus was on psychology. We welcomed two special guest speakers, via video link – Dr Shani Robins and Dr Fed Luskin, both teachers at Stanford University, USA. Course participants greatly appreciated their talks and workshop activities. In addition Swami Sitaramananda taught many classes on Yoga and the Mind and yoga philosophy. When this module of the course finished, participants completed an exam covering the two weeks’ material and received guidance on how the upcoming part of the course will progress. We welcomed a good number of Yoga Vacation guests. They enjoyed early morning forest walks and a special Satsang outdoors with a beautiful bonfire. As the Tet holiday approached, many Vietnamese staff travelled home, leaving a smaller but enthusiastic crew here, enjoying the beautiful traditional Tet decorations. Staff are inspired and thankful for Guru’s blessings. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Tapaswini, Gudur, Andra Pradesh India
Om Namah Sivaya. May Master and Swamiji bless us with true devotion. May the Master’s blessings be with all! Pranams.
TTC ATTC Reports from other locations worldwide:
TTC/ ATTC Garopaba, Brazil: Warm greetings from Enchanted Mountain in Garopaba, Brazil. A quite international group has gathered with 39 TTC students and 8 ATTC students hailing from several countries besides the home country Brazil, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, U.K., Poland and Spain. Staff originate from Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia. The inaugural ceremony took place in a very peaceful atmosphere with students highlighting their will to deepen the knowledge of yoga and the need to share and spread it in their respective communities. TTC classes are running smoothly with many questions being posed both in lectures and in asana classes. Students are getting used to their karma yoga that includes besides cleaning, maintenance, kitchen and boutique activities, many translations both into Portuguese and English. This has been quite challenging for the karma yogis translators, but they are gaining confidence and both students and staff are quite happy with the result. The ATTC group is very focused and disciplined and willing to fine-tune their asana practice. We also had two persons attending the meditation retreat offered as part of the Yoga Vacations Program. Both the practical and theoretical aspects of this practice were included which they thoroughly enjoyed. The week has ended with the study day, where many left the Ashram to visit the nearby beautiful beaches while others preferred to stay and study or relax. Students and staff have also enjoyed the refreshing natural pond located in the Ashram. The 2nd week has concluded and both TTC and ATTC students are feeling more relaxed and welcoming all the teachings. On Saturday night, we enjoyed a lovely campfire with students and staff sharing songs and poetry from different countries. Next day, we began the day with a short silent walk followed by a meditation in a beautiful natural waterfall listening to the sound of flowing water. After the meditation, staff and students joined together taking a dip and swim in the refreshing water surrounded by the exuberant tropical forest. Two yoga retreats took place this week. The first one was Yoga and Nature where, led by Narada, a renown local cook and TTC graduate, participants enjoyed walks in the surrounding tropical forests and to a nearby pristine beach called Praia Vermelha together with the study of the five points of Yoga. The second retreat, was Integral Yoga where students engaged in two workshops: the first one covered the study of theory and practice of asanas while the second one focused on the theory and practice of meditation. The latter retreat, was crowned with an afternoon cooking class taught by Narada where delicious and natural juices were prepared and tasted. We welcomed Durga Devi, originally from Colombia but coming now from the Porto Alegre Sivananda Centre where she has been serving as staff for some months and sadly bid farewell to Ekatman, also from Porto Alegre, who has been very active translating from Spanish into Portuguese in Satsangs, asana classes and lectures both in TTC and ATTC as well as teaching different asana classes. Let our Masters continue to bless us. Pranams to all, Om shanti.
09 Full moon
22 Maha Sivarathri
23 New Moon
09 Full Moon
24 New Moon
You cannot know the love of God, till you remove your sense of ‘I’-ness, and ‘mine’-ness. – Sri Swami Sivananda
PRANAYAMA – The Vedantic Kumbhaka
Being without any distraction and with a calm mind, one should practice Pranayama. Both expiration and inspiration should be stopped. The practitioner should depend solely on Brahman; that is the highest aim of life. The giving out of all external objects, is said to be Rechaka. The taking in of the spiritual knowledge of Sastras, is said to be Puraka, and the keeping to oneself of such knowledge is said to be Kumbhaka. He is an emancipated person who practices his Chitta thus. There is no doubt about it. Through Kumbhaka the mind should always be taken up and through Kumbhaka alone it should be filled up within. It is only through Kumbhaka that Kumbhaka should be firmly mastered. Within it, is ‘Parama Siva’. At first in his Brahmagranthi there is produced soon a hole or passage. Then having pierced Brahmagranthi, he pierces Vishnugranthi, then he pierces Rudragranthi, then the Yogin attains his liberation through the religious ceremonies, performed in various births, through the grace of Gurus and Devatas and through the practice of Yoga.
The divine light and grace will descend only upon the Sattvic or the pure mind, because only a pure mind can receive it. – Sri Swami Sivananda