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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 in December the Camp prepares for the busy holiday season. Although the mornings were cold the glittering snow was just beautiful. We welcomed Pierre to the Camp who offered a mala making workshop. Pierre has been staff for many years now and is full of knowledge and inspiring stories. Each year he offers this workshop during our TTC for everyone to enjoy. The Krishna Temple was full with students and guests learning how to make their own mala, learning the meaning and use behind it. The mala making workshop came at a great time since the students were being prepared for mantra initiation which will happen their last week. Pierre also gave an inspiring presentation during an evening Satsang which intrigued many. Week three of TTC was filled with coughs and fevers. A lot of the students were hit hard with sicknesses making the week a bit more difficult. They all gave their best as well as continued with teaching the open classes. It was a challenging week, but the support of their fellow classmates and staff helped keep everyone motivated to keep going. Not only were students sick, but a few staff also fell ill. Everyone is taking care to make sure they get better quickly. The staff are keeping up and making sure everything runs smoothly. There are not many projects happening at the moment, but everyone is occupied with just getting the basics done around the Camp as well as managing the course.

As December progressed the holidays arrived and the Camp focused on preparing all its decorations. There were some guests who took part in the Yoga Vacation program. They all did very well and were very motivated to learn as much of the teachings as they could. Swami Shivabhaktananda offered a Yoga for Stress Management workshop with many people attending. All were able to gain some tools and techniques since the Satsangs were also geared towards this topic. Prahlada, Saraswati and family arrived. In addition, we were very happy to welcome Swami Paramananda, Srinivasan, Saraswati, and Yoga Ranch staff to the Camp. They came for a few days and it was great to see them all again. Kanti Devi, Chandra and their family also came. We were very grateful to be able to spend such a special time of year with our Sivananda family. Meanwhile, the staff made sure all the rooms were properly set up. Also the final holiday decorations were put up. Everyone was beginning to get in the Christmas spirit and helping out wherever needed. 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 Centrerejuvenated from panchakarma; Swami Gayatriananda and Kalyani returned from theMahasamadhi 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 Ashram is now closed for the winter season. But it will not be so quiet this off-season. The deconstruction of the Kailash building began, 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. With Master and Swamiji’s grace we are very happy and grateful. Namaste. Om.

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 December. Four students participated in the Yoga Immersion Week for Beginners’ Yoga, taught by Siva. Students enjoyed learning about the five points of Yoga,the Four Paths and the lineage of our Ashram, and expressed enthusiasm for continuingtheir practice once they return home. Srinivasan and Sitaram Chaitanya led several inspiring Satsangs on the topic of mantras and japa. Siva also led several Satsangs, telling storiesabout the birth and life of Lord Krishna from the well-known Purana, Srimad Bhagavatam.One of our Ashram cooks, Sundari, returned to the Ashram. We look forward to enjoying her inspiring meals again. We prayed for the safe return of Swami Paramananda from India.Soon after his arrival four students participated in an Essentials of Meditation Retreat, taught by Siva and Swami Paramamanda. Students learned all aspects of the theory andpractice of meditation, including daily meditation practices, group chanting, and workshops.During the evening Satsangs, staff and guests watched “Jesus of Nazareth” to prepare forthe Christmas holiday. The movie demonstrated that similar threads of truth run through allreligions. Swami Paramananda taught a Yoga for Beginners Weekend Retreat, which
introduced the 12 basic asanas, pranayama and meditation techniques. There was also avery popular Karma Yoga: Love In Action weekend retreat. Guests rolled up their sleeves tohelp out all around the Ashram with maintenance, organizing and cleaning. The Ashram wasclosed from December 23-26. Some of our staff travelled to the Sivananda Headquarters in Canada to celebrate Christmas and others traveled to be with their families. We wish everyone a safe and bliss-filled holiday season! Pranams to all from The Ranch. Om.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namah Sivaya. Om Sri Durgaye Namah! In December we welcomed Swami Jnaneswariananda back to the Ashram from London. Swamiji then started teaching the 5- day Raja Yoga Sutras course with many guests and staff attending, eagerly diving into Raja Yoga psychology. Rudra taught a weekend Chronic Pain course. Students learned how to work with gentle movements and conscious breathing techniques to detach from perceived sensations of pain, calm the mind and to experience clarity and relaxation. Anandamayi taught the 5-day Stress Management Camp as part of the Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training program, introducing concepts of stress and techniques to relieve stress from the 5 Points of Yoga, including simple lifestyle changes around diet, establishing healthy daily routines, and increasing awareness of unhealthy habits. The Ashram was beautiful with Christmas lights and tree. All felt great serenity in this peaceful wintry valley. Ashram maintenance included turning and planting the greenhouse beds; work on the new bathhouse and the removal of the RK Hall deck as we make way for a new sun room.

The Ashram was blessed with the “Living Peace, Living Love” holiday program, sharing the essence of Master and Swamiji’s teachings on Compassion, Unity and Diversity as we welcomed a full-house of guests and devotees for the Christmas celebrations. We were happy to have the staff from SF Centre: Swami Sivasankariananda and Uma, as well as, LA Centre staff, Gopika. We give thanks to Roopashree Rao who gave a wonderful Satsang talk on “Compassionate Living”, how to practice ahimsa and compassion to all beings, sharing the practical benefit of a vegan diet in body, mind, and spirit. The group then visited Animal Place, a local refuge for farm animals recovering from neglect. The holiday program continued with Angelika, leading sublime chants from many spiritual traditions, including a beautiful rendition of the “Lord’s Prayer” in the original Aramaic. Holiday programs continued into the new year. 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 December at the Yoga Retreat, we revolved around healing, with workshops and Satsangs from guest presenters Kate Mitcheom, Ambika (Anna Scorik), Vicki Robin, John Kastner, Frederic Luskin, and Andy and Noella Bouvier. Kate Mitcheom gave both the practice and theory of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a secular technique with foundations in Buddhism that was developed to allow people to stay grounded in the present and, through that practice, regain responsibility and freedom in their lives. Ambika led a series of workshops on the practice of ThetaHealing. Currently she is teaching a series of courses on the same subject. Vicki Robin spoke on Downsizing Consumption, both in a material sense and with regard to the topic of freedom. The capstone was the symposium on forgiveness, which began with a screening of John Kastner’s film, Not Criminally Responsible. This powerful film, focussing on both the lives of the perpetrator and victims of a horrible crime, left the audience with much to reflect upon. Question and answer sessions were held with John, the director, and with the Bouviers, the parents of the victim. The uplifting sequel to this documentary was also screened in workshops. Frederic Luskin spoke from his experiences with the Stanford Forgiveness Project about the science of forgiveness. Swami Brahmananda presented teachings from Swami Sivananda on freedom and forgiveness. This month’s twenty-four TTC students were initiated into their course. They adjusted well to the Ashram life. We wished them great success throughout their month of studies! Many of last month’s TTC and ATTC students joined the karma yoga program and we are grateful for their continued contributions to the community.

We celebrated the Gita Jayanti in the Main Temple, which consisted of a beautiful Puja and a marathon reading of the entire Bhagavad Gita, followed by the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa. Attendees left the ceremony tired, yet full of delicious prasad and spiritual upliftment. Swami Shambhudevananda taught about the Essentials of Positive Thinking in a weeklong course that was enjoyed by visitors and karma yogis alike. He also led several Satsangs, introducing the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in a modern way. Shyam and Mohini, the Hatha Yoga teachers in this month’s Teacher Training Course, led heartfelt and practical Satsangs ranging from how to bring the practice into a busy life beyond the Ashram to love to Swami Vishnudevananda’s “pig’s liver” lecture on unity in diversity. Swami Hridyananda gave a prelude to the Unity in Diversity Symposium through several evening presentations. She drew upon personal experience and concluded with a beautiful musical delivery of the message of unity. The symposium officially began with Shaykh Abdul Haqq, who shared teachings from the Sufi tradition through Satsangs and workshops. Attendees greatly benefitted from his wise and humorous anecdotes about the practice of discipleship and the spiritual path. 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. The TTC group enjoyed their first week and adjusted well to the schedule. We also presented the Christmas special program. The hall was decorated and the Christmas tree put up. The house was vibrating with carol rehearsals in many languages. Visiting staff began to arrive, a joyful spirit is in the air! OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya. The December TTC students created a very powerful energy in the Ashram as they are well settled into the rhythm. They had Anatomy classes and started the teaching groups, doing very well, participated in the Kriya workshop, very determined and serious in trying their best. Anusha came to the Ashram gave a fresh set of Bharatanatyam dance, a quality performance. Swami Kailasananda and Rukmini returned from London after the EBM meeting. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam

Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. In December we said farewell to our large group of retreat guests and welcomed a new group of beginner students who joined us for a one week course, along with several other Yoga Vacation guests. We also welcomed Swami Adiparashaktiananda, who traveled from the Yoga Farm for a one month stay with us to help with development of our new website. Other new arrivals were staff Radhika who just completed TTC here in November, and 3 new seva study program participants from Germany and China. We also prepared for the return of Swami Sitaramananda, also for the upcoming Vedanta and Silence course.

Mid December we saw the graduation of this year’s Vedanta and Silence course. The students spoke of the deep benefits that they had received from the period of intense study, practice of silence and self-inquiry. Following the departure of the students, staff were directly busy with preparations for the next program, “Life without Disease”. We welcomed teacher Dr. Hung, a Vietnamese practitioner of both Western and traditional medicine, from Ho Chi Minh City, along with 55 participants, for the weekend retreat. The emphasis of the weekend’s teaching was the possibility of self-healing and maintenance of good health through the adoption of healthy lifestyle and practice of the 5 points of Yoga. Participants left with inspiration along with much practical advice and many techniques for self-healing. We also prepared for the upcoming Christmas celebration. Our translation team was very busy with the preparation of materials for the upcoming SYHET course. Work on our new website progressed well to reach the targeted launch in the beginning of the New Year. We give profound thanks to the Masters for the inspiration, support and guidance that we receive. Staff are well and inspired to have the opportunity to serve Swamiji’s mission in Asia. Om.

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03 Ekadasi
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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