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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 December the November TTC concluded, now we are quiet and slowing down a little, to gather our thoughts and energy for Christmas and New Years. The last few days of the course were peaceful and light hearted. We covered theory of advanced pranayama followed by practice. The students felt the effects of the pranayama very much and spent most of the practice fairly quiet and reserved. By evening all of them had landed back on their feet, enjoying their last days together. The last Friday most of the students spent the day studying, taking walks, and helping us out a little bit around the Ashram. The Saturday morning the students sat for their exam, and they provided us with some entertaining answers. Although they all passed, majority of them still did not know the answer to ‘what is the highest yoga’, even though we sang the song and repeated the line many many times! After their exam most of the students went out, some prepared for the talent show, some helped in preparing the feast and a handful helped decorate the Christmas tree, dining hall and reception, now they are lit up and colourful, giving everybody a festive feeling as they walk inside. We had a delicious TTC feast prepared by Neeti, most of the students and staff had a food coma! The graduation ceremony was a happy affair, mainly because the group was tightly knit and very supportive of each other. Swami Rajeshwariananda, Swami Shankarananda and Swami Shivabhaktananda presented the students with their diplomas. After the graduation ceremony, we had an amazing talent show. This group was by far the most talented group that we have seen! They sang, danced, read poems etc etc. Ashram staff contributed to the show by putting together a maintenance band, playing with tools and other items found in our workshop. The talent show ended quite late, after which many photos were taken, there were countless goodbyes, and finally we all dispersed although still quiet high in energy, to our rooms. We had a very mellow and quiet Satsang. Most of the staff joined in with the shovelling, as we had over 20 cms of snow over night. By the afternoon most of the TTC students left, all except for 5. In the afternoon we packed into 3 cars and went to the Montreal Centre for the Christmas party. There were over a 100 people at the Centre, it was buzzing with energy and completely covered in Christmas decorations. Susheela returned from London, after being at their Centre for over 6 months, and is here to stay for a year now. Swami Rajesh gave Satsang, during which we had Christmas carols, a few jokes, a very funny Santa Claus who had the whole hall singing… and presents! After the Satsang we were served delicious lasagne, soup, idlli, sambar, paneer, etc. and tiramisu for dessert! Everyone was happy and well fed, meeting friends and family. All the Camp staff gave Swami Rajesh a big goodbye, as we would not be seeing her again for a while. Monday, we spent the day cleaning up, shovelling the roofs, housekeeping and finishing Christmas shopping. It then became quiet, so all the staff took some rest but also making sure we were prepared for the holiday season. We had a few guests checking in for weekends and weekdays. We were very much looking forward to seeing our family from the Ranch and NY Centre, as well as Toronto, visit us for the Holiday Season.

During mid-December staff prepared for the arrival of many guest for the upcoming Christmas celebrations. We were blessed with beautiful snow falls that added to the already white landscape and gave all the feeling of Christmas. One Wednesday we had a Christmas tree decoration evening. All the staff and guests spent few hours together putting ornaments and lights on the tree and adding finishing touches to the Krishna Temple. The Christmas season formally commenced with the arrival of the Srinivasanji, Swami Ambikanandaji, Mahadev Chaitanyaji with the staff from the Yoga Ranch and Lalita Chaitanya from the Chicago Center. Also Prahlad, Saraswati and family arrived from Toronto. The expectation for Christmas have increased and the energy of brotherhood and union amongst those present inspired and uplifted all. All could feel the strong & peaceful energy of Swami Vishnu at the Yoga Camp. Salutations to the worldwide family from the Sivananda Headquarters.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Om Namo Narayanaya. In early December eighteen brave souls began their spiritual path with the Fasting and Detoxification Program, run by Narayana. Their initiation was done by Murali and Kalyani ji during Satsang. The Yoga Vacation group continued well, with both beginners and intermediate classes. For the Fasting group a gentle yoga class was introduced in the afternoons. With its gaining popularity we also offered it to the yoga vacation group. One Friday, yoga vacationers got to enjoy a day on the backwaters, ending the trip in Varkala to swim and enjoy the sunset. The progressive learning of our TTC batch continued, a number of students have stayed back and we have formed teaching groups for them. Everyday two people from each group teach and are given feedback from an experienced teacher as well as the rest of the group. They also have the opportunity to assist the afternoon beginners, intermediate and gentle classes. With that we welcome Amrita, Kamala, Bhargavi, Ishan and Vel to the Ashram, their service time ranging from 1 to 6 months and longer.

During mid-December the Fasting/Detoxification and yoga vacation program were both in their second week and progressing well. One Friday we offered a trip to the Kanyakumari with a good turnout of guests. The Yoga Ayurveda Cultural Program commenced with a Ganapati Homa in the morning, followed by a Kattakali demonstration in the afternoon and a fine performance of Prahlada story in the evening. Guests had many opportunities for photographs to capture the vibrancy of this traditional dance style of Kerala. The following day the Vedic Maths course began with Mr. Haridas. Recent TTC graduates started teaching groups to teach under supervision. They appreciated the opportunity. We bid farewell to our work study Canelle Chinmayi and Mandira and wish them success in all their endeavours. All staff were in good spirits and send their pranams for a new year 2014.

Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India

Om Namo Narayanaya. The Uttarkashi Ashram still remains closed due to the floods and road damage. We are hoping by January 2014 we can re-start our operations. May Master and Guru be with us all. Om.

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

Om Namo Narayanaya. Early December began with the ‘Bhoomi Puja’ ceremony. This Puja was performed prior to the beginning of Ashram construction work, is to seek Gods blessings and also to ward off all the difficulties in our endeavour. The TTC students moved on to the 3rd week of their course, in which they were categorised into teaching groups and made to take classes. They also had classes on Anatomy & Physiology by Dr. Rashmi who left after completing her lecture schedule. We had Bhajan group from Erode, led by Rajamani mesmerising us with their rendition of chants one Thursday night. We had a trip to Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi. The trip gave the students a chance to know more about our traditional richness and cultural heritage. Our guests were enthralled by several awesome talents being showcased in their talent show. Swami Rajeswariananda and Swami Gayathriananda reached here from Neyyardam Ashram. 14 students were initiated in to Mantra with customary rites by Swami Rajeswariananda, Swami Gayathriananda and Swami Satchidananda. New students for the Yoga Vacation program started arriving. Praying for Gods grace and blessings all throughout.

During mid-December the TTC students moved on to their final week in which the teachings and values imbibed by them during their 4-week course were put to test, enabling them to evolve as Yoga teachers. We had Lalitha Sahasranama chanting and Puja to invoke Goddess’s blessings. The TTC students were given lessons on Advanced Pranayama. We had a cultural night in which Shobhana, a danseuse from Chennai entertained us with her Bharatanatyam performance. The Yoga Vacationers also had an enjoyable time with their asana classes and lectures providing them with peace of mind and relaxation. We had the exam for the TTC students, which saw them putting in their best effort to come out with flying colours. We had the graduation ceremony of TTC students in which they were awarded their diplomas. This was followed by a spectacular talent show enthralling the audience. An emotional fare-well was given to the students, taking back along with them loads of fond memories. May all of them have our Gurus grace upon them to spread the teachings of Yoga philosophy afar. Vijay Ji and Nagaraj Ji left for Delhi. 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! In early December Srinivasan traveled to the Yoga retreat to attend the EBM meeting. On the same day Mahadev Chaitanya returned back from India after teaching in the Nov TTC in Neyyar Dam. The focus was on the renovation of the staff trailer and the decoration of the Ashram preparing for our big New Years celebration. We had a big snow fall but that did not stop a brave and eager group of guests to join us for our weekend program – “Prayer the Means for Bliss”. Most of the staff traveled to the NYC Centre to join in the joyful Christmas party. It was a great opportunity for the Ashram and Centre staff to reconnect and to give thanks to all of the Centre’s teachers and students. 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 December welcomed back Swami Dharmananda from the Nassau Retreat after receiving blessing of sannyas initiation. The Ashram welcomed a nice group of yogis for the Beginner Course taught by Anandi, with emphasis on the 5 Points of Yoga. Bharata Surya taught a very inspired and high energy cooking course, sharing the medicinal qualities of foods from Ayurvedic perspective. We have just completed renovating the Library with new hardwood floors and book shelves creating a very light and sattvic space. The Yoga Farm was very cold with wonderful snowfall painting the hillsides and revealing a rarely seen beauty here.

During mid-December the Yoga Farm was very active with a Beginner 2 course, with Swami Dharmananda, with emphasis in increasing prana and offering techniques to balance the mind through hatha and raja yoga practice. This was followed by a Positive Thinking weekend, taught by Shambu das. The guests were very grateful to receive practical teachings that can be applied immediately to their life. Om Namo Narayanaya to all the Sivananda family.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. Our Thanksgiving Celebration was a big success. Arjuna gave the family program that week and also cooked a delicious Thanksgiving feast with the help of our kitchen staff and guests. Gratitude was the important theme. Father William Meninger gave a wonderful series of talks on Christian Contemplation. The first TTC of the season began on December 4th, with 45 students inaugurated. The Ashram was aglow in orange as Swamis and Board members arrived for the EBM meeting, beginning December 10th. Dr Rubin Naiman gave a lecture series on the Yoga of Sleep, and the sacred and scientific practices to heal sleeplessness. A successful meeting of the EBM was held at the Retreat. It was a great honour and very inspirational for the staff to host the all the Acharyas and assistants. Sita Chaitanya was initiated into Sannyas and is now Swami Hridyananda. Karnamrita Dasi and her musicians joined us for a wonderful few evenings of ragas and kirtan. Yoga Nidra workshops with Madhavi were well attended. Brahmachari Shankara gave a program on Vedantic Meditation and the practice of Self-Inquiry. The Ashram looked very festive, with the Christmas tree decorated and Christmas lights up.

During mid-December Swamini Pramananda continued with her inspirational programme on The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form, Teachings on the 11th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. The Introduction to Meditation, which began on December 15, continued to December 19 and was well attended. A programme for Yoga and Self Thai Massage was held with Sundari and was found to be extremely beneficial and helpful for better mobililty of the joints and flexibility. Krishna Das, a senior staff of the Ashram held a workshop Adapting Sivananda Yoga to Your Body. Kirtan was an uplifting and inspirational experience with the return of Ragani and her musicians. From December 20-22 Dale Buegel facilitated a workshop on Prana in Life Enhancement. Dr. Buegel was a long-time student of Swami Rama and has been teaching yoga for 40 years and is known for skilful mastery of yoga postures, breathing techniques and meditation.
“Unity in Diversity: Light the Light Shine” began on December 22 and the programme opened with a beautiful teaching of Shankaracharya, given by Swamini Pramananda. Many poinsettias and other Christmas flowers were planted throughout the gardens adding to the beauty of the holiday season. Pranams to all!

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

Om Namah Sivaya. During the whole month the preparations for Christmas were in full swing. We had two Karma Yoga evenings with the guests generously donating their time to help. Decorations were put up in the boutique and the newly created storage place was organized. The big hall was set up with stage, sound, a big Christmas tree and decorations. Also the new brochure for 2014 arrived from the printer. Guests and staff pulled together in a series of Karma Yoga Satsangs to prepare the yearly mailing. We were very happy that we were able to send out the mailing in a matter of days. The Christmas/New Years TTC students arrived. They adapted very well to the daily schedule and turned out to be a very inspired and open minded group. Daily Pujas and Mantra recitations conducted by an Indian priest helped immensely to keep up the spiritual atmosphere during the first two weeks of the TTC. We are looking forward to welcoming many staffs and special guests for the upcoming celebrations. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya. We offered very nice topics to our guests this month, such as “Simple Living – High Thinking”, “Finding a Purpose in Life”, “Breathing Techniques to Improve the Energy”. Nataraj, a dedicated karma yogi from Hamburg, finished the modelling of the statue of Swami Sivananda, which will be cast in bronze. It looks very beautiful and gives a strong feeling of his presence. The workers continued with the construction of the new bathhouse nicely. Dr Uma Krishnamurti arrived for the certificate course “Yoga Psychology and Mental Health” and started with her series of workshops on Sundays to mark the official opening of the Christmas/ New Year season at the Ashram. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam

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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.

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

VRITTI: Thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta.

Regular meditation makes the mind less powerful. – Swami Sivananda