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. Early December was calm and smooth at the Ashram, with the local weather warming up and creating a misty atmosphere around the Camp. Pierre, a long term devoted Karma Yogi, held a Mala Making Workshop one weekend, having both guests and TTC students joining in to learn about the art of mala making and meditation. Pierre loves to share the knowledge he gained from his own journey in Yoga. He presented a movie he produced about the Kumbha Mela, which was very inspiring for the students. The 20 Ashram guests were blessed to take part in it all while enjoying the regular program. As for TTC, we completed the How To Teach part. The room was filled with good vibrations as students and teachers felt proud of the group’s improvement over the course. They also had a lot of fun during the How to Teach Kids class, with Swami Rajeshwarianandaji, learning while laughing and jumping around like children. This TTC was a great group, motivated and united. They even took the time to rehearse chanting during their breaks in between lectures, adding to the group energy which we could feel during Satsangs. Ashram projects: a few of the Camp staff worked hard in Ottawa, going over the small details for a nice finish to the renovations. Other Karma Yogis were in place to serve the community and TTC students with a Charity theme in the office. The Camp provided again this year a batch of soup for the local winter market, in addition to kickstarting the new national wide charity project Outreach Programs. The Sivananda Centres and Ashram in Canada designed a project to help maintaining the spiritual community, by bringing together like minded people to practice and by sustaining the discussion on spiritual practice and charity on various social media. A monthly event was created on the internet so anyone can join remotely from their location. The Sivananda Organization pledged a donation to a community project that will be relative to the number of participants in each of our events. The first event, Winter Warm up is 108 Surya Namaskar, with over 60 people registered for the event in only two days.
For more information visit syvc.ca/getinvolved
Later in December winds and lower temperatures shifted us into the winter season at the Yoga Camp. Guests, new and long term Sivananda family members, started to arrive for the holidays. Swami Vairagyananda gave workshops on various practical subjects. Guests and staff alike had the opportunity to share moments of joy and contemplation on our multiples walk through the beautiful surrounding nature and even enjoy hot chocolate one sunny afternoon. Some staff went home for the holidays. Those who stayed, including some TTC’s, decorated the Ashram with lights, garlands and various Christmas items. One full evening was dedicated to preparing the big Christmas tree in the Krishna Temple while listening to Christmas carols. Staff concentrated on their Sadhana and service to the guests and support of each other. As for other projects, there was little snow removal to do so staff continued building the storage area in the airplane museum, getting all rooms and houses ready for the Christmas visitors and folding a ton of laundry from the departing TTC’s rooms. In the midst of change and uncertainty, the faith of the community at the Yoga Camp seemed to grow stronger. Random acts of kindness, patience, listening, accommodation and others virtues were abundant. The Krishna Temple was kept as usual and neutral spaces were temporarily created in the other halls to accommodate those more affected. 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. After a week of finishing the TTC teaching groups, advanced pranayama, kids and pregnancy, and review classes, the TTC students were well prepared for their exam. This was followed that evening by lots of joy while receiving the Siromani diploma for all their efforts, and sharing lively musical presentations in the talent show. A beautiful Lalitasahasranama Lamp Puja took place to give thanks to the Divine for all the teachings. The group photo went very smoothly. We also had the initiation day for the Fasting & Detoxification program, in which 16 guests participated. The program was under the guidance of Narayana who has been coming for several years since Parameshwara deservedly retired. We looked forward to seeing their shiny new faces. We soon said goodbye to Swami Paramananada and to some of the assistants as well as many of the TTC students. Ravi ji stayed on to support the chanting of the Bhagavad Gita on the occasion of Ekadasi which is was also Gita Jayanti. A good number of students also joined the staff list. With Master and Swamiji’s blessings, all goes smoothly.
By mid December the Fasting Program concluded with the participants looking and feeling good and enjoying the taste of food again. We said goodbye to Narayana ji with thanks for guidance in new eating habits and look forward to his return in the future. Most of the staff were present for a Zoom meeting with the EBM. This was appreciated. Prayers went out for all concerned. Meanwhile, the staff continued to be focused in service and their Sadhana. Christmas celebrations became the main focus with gifts, decorations and food shopping in the background and with carol practice and decorating going on full swing in the foreground. The Yoga Ayurveda Cultural Programme (YACP) started with a Ganapathy Homa in the morning, followed by Kathakali workshop at 2 pm and in the evening by an excellent performance of “Prahlada” where Narasimha appears to destroy Hiranyakashipu in response to Prahlada’s Narayana devotion. There was a talk on Ayurveda and in the evening, a well rehearsed demonstration of traditional Kerala martial arts, Kalaripyattu. Guest numbers went up further as Christmas appraoached. Amongst the new arrivals were Narayani and family from Japan, ready for the upcoming Ayurveda Wellness Course for Japanese students. With Master and Swamiji’s Grace, we trust the holiday season and 2020 will go smoothly and be much enjoyed by all. 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. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/sivananda-yoga-vedanta-Centres-Ashrams
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 December the third week of TTC started with Anatomy and Physiology sessions detailing the students on the intricate machinery of human body and physical benefits associated with asana practice. They were all well established with the mysteries of their mental bodies with Vedanta classes, making it complete by venturing to the physical realms. A Talent Show was an entertaining affair with lots of performances including a parody song mentioning the course schedule in a light-hearted manner. The talents of this TTC group was so much so that we had to shift some of their performances to the following week.
By mid December we bade farewell to Swami Jyotirmayananda and course teachers Kapoor ji and Mahalakshmi. The silence following the conclusion of a course and waiting for the next course to begin has become part of the Ashram lifestyle. Yoga vacationers, a good number of them, are reveling in the beauty and serenity of the Ashram. They came up with a laudable performance of talents on Talent Show night with classical dance and singing performances. 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 for 2020. Namaste. Om.
We would like to share a 2019 Madurai Ashram video. Please link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Rw6ZuvYJQ
Also a brand new inspiring video about the Madurai Ashram TTC courses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySRbyPA6q9w
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Om Namah Sivaya from the Ranch. With the blessings of Master and Swamiji all are in good spirits. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. Early December Krishna das taught the 5-day Beginners Course, introducing the 5 Points of Yoga to students new to the Ashram. Students are very inspired with the daily meditation, chanting, and nature walks and looked forward to carry on their new-found practice at home. We were blessed to welcome MahaLakshmi Chaitanya for the weekend Yoga for Weight Loss course focused on methods to increase metabolism, tips for healthy digestion, diet and nutrition. Meanwhile Jagadamba and Mahadevika led an Ayurveda Massage weekend course with guests receiving Ayurveda treatments and consultations, plus, daily talks on Ayurveda for the winter season. Swami Dharmananda visited the affiliated Divine Grace Ashram in Arizona for a weekend program. Our recent TTC graduate staff teachers continued their training on teaching asana classes. Other Staff learned how to conduct Puja and care required of the temples and shrines while Sw Vasishtananda was away.
By mid December the Ashram staff prepared for the Holiday Retreat, named Joy, Peace and Love, which began with Dr. Marc Halpern (Dr. Siva) giving talks on “Ayurveda: Healing Your Life” and “Yoga Nidra”. These sessions were very practical introductions to Ayurveda and self-healing. Swami Dharmananda taught the Vedanta and Sermon on the Mount workshops, introducing Christ’s teachings (“Beatitudes” and “Salt of the Earth”) and their essential Truth as Vedanta. We wish all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May all feel Master and Swamiji’s blessings in 2020. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. Early December in the Bahamas was full of auspicious occasions (and delicious prasad)! On a brisk evening, we gathered in the Vana Durga Temple for a Puja in honour of the Divine Mother. We celebrated the inauguration of the December Teacher Training Course with a beautiful Puja conducted by Krishnan Namboodiri. We happily welcomed back Swami Swaroopananda, Swami Prema Swaroopananda, Rukmini Chaitanya, Jnaneshwari Chaitanya, and Kumari, who spent the months of autumn in Israel. As another auspicious proceeding was reading all eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita in a morning Puja in commemoration of the Gita Jayanti, the day that Lord Krishna delivered the teachings to Arjuna. In addition to welcoming all of the students, swamis, and staff members, we also were happy to welcome guest presenters Shyamji Batnagar, Zuleikha, Kate Mitcheom, Ambika, and Narayana. Shamji presented Nada Yoga and the Chakras in a series of Satsangs and workshops. During these talks, he introduced the concept of microchakras and engaged the participants in singing mantras. Zuleikha blended dance, song, and storytelling in Healing Movement for Body, Heart, and Soul. Throughout her interactive Satsangs and workshops, attendees explored expression through movement and dance. Ambika (Anna Scorik), with the assistance of Narayana (Lev Melnik), presented a series of workshops introducing ThetaHealing to the Ashram community as a prelude to the course of ThetaHealing Level 1. Kate Mitcheom compassionately presented Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in a series of workshops and Satsangs. To help connect the students and Ashram community with the life and teachings of Swami Vishnudevananda, we screened the short film In the Name of Peace. Swami Brahmananda gave a series of Satsangs about Swami Sivananda’s teachings on God from the classic book, Bliss Divine. In the program Yoga for the Three Bodies: From Asana to Stillness, Arjuna led afternoon workshops and yoga classes that demonstrated to the participants how to form a deeper connection with one’s own Self through the practices of asana and pranayama.
By mid December we were happy to welcome many new guests and familiar faces to the Ashram in preparation for the winter holidays! Several presenters also joined us to share their knowledge in topics such as Ayurveda, meditation, and Zen Buddhism. Sri Devi Marisa Laursen, from the California College of Ayurveda, spoke about Ayurvedic Wisdom Practices: Keys to Healing and Prevention. Tenzin Dasel shed light on remaining in the world but not of it in the program A Call to Awakening: Being the Lotus. Longtime guest Kumar Tom Spector delivered a series of workshops on Meditation, Healing, and Inner Peace. We began the annual Unity in Diversity Symposium with the lighting of the Hanukkah candles and a beautiful explanation of this festival of lights with long-time friend of the Ashram, Nathan Katz. There were several programs offered by members of staff. Omkara from the Wellbeing Center taught the workshop series Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love, and Wisdom. Swami Brahmananda gave satsangs on Swami Sivananda’s teachings about Bhakti. As a prelude to the Unity in Diversity Symposium, Swami Hridyananda shared Swami Vishnudevananda’s message on unity in diversity. A group of karma yogis and guests had the opportunity to deepen their meditation practice with the five-day Essentials of Meditation course, taught by Iswara Chaitanya. We started offering advanced yoga classes in addition to the intermediate and beginners classes. 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 December TTCs the Ashram ran a teacher training program. The students enjoyed the course and participated well. Before christmas the students were learning how to teach asana classes, convened separately in English and in German. Another focus was the preparation of the Christmas/New Year’s season. Many one to one conversations took place to help everyone to reach more clarity, purpose and focus. Merry Christmas to all. Happy New Year. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. In early December in the third week of the TTC, the students had anatomy during the main lectures and also practiced the kriyas, with good participation. They also started the teaching groups, doing very well. The yoga vacationers participated in the “The Foundations of Meditation”. A group of guests arrived for a special weekend program, “Ayurveda – The Science of Life”. Vincent Maréchal, a certified Ayurveda practitioner, gave two lectures and some consultations. Padmavati (from Vienna) left the Ashram and Swami Kailasananda came back from the EBM meeting in London. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. Early December brought a change of scenery for all staff as we took a trip to the coast, near the town of Nha Trang, for some time for staff rest and recreation. We stayed overnight at a beautiful old-style beachside house owned by a friend of the Ashram. Staff enjoyed Satsang and a bonfire on the beach, along with plenty of time to enjoy the ocean and to rest. A special treat during their stay was picking and enjoying the juice of fresh coconuts. Once staff returned to the ashram they prepared for a special group of 30 guests, employees of a computer company in Hanoi, who came to give weekend’s rest and recreation for their staff. The weekend went well, with special workshops organized for the beginner students. Then it was time to welcome Swami Sitaramananda back to the Ashram, along with staff Sivakami, who has been serving at the Yoga Farm for 6 months. Staff are well, inspired and thankful for Guru’s blessings. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Tapaswini, Gudur, Andra Pradesh India
Om Namah Sivaya. In early December we were lucky to have a Devi Pooja and a Sudarshana Homam in the Temple. There was a full Bhagavad Gita chanting and everybody took the benefit. The result was the atmosphere in the Ashram was very spiritually uplifted. The TTC students participated in their third week and started teaching in the groups. Also the anatomy and physiology lectures started with the arrival of Geetajaliji. In spite of the small numbers, the students and yoga vacationers collectively organized an entertaining, as well as, spiritually uplifting talent show. May the Master’s blessings be with all in 2020! Pranams.
SIDDHIS [Sanskrit]: Psychic powers manifested as by-products of spiritual advancement through personal Sadhana practice, such as meditation, mantra repetition and yoga.
Commentary: Siddhis that are brought into the present life by birth indicate their attainment in a previous life, but it does not guarantee that the individual is making proper use of them in this life. Those gained through chemical means are not necessarily associated with any level of spirituality at all, and can be easily governed by the ego. Siddhis achieved by Mantra repetition or tapas, austerities, are generally of a very high order as long as they are performed for attaining God-Realization rather than personal or material gain. Powers that come from ‘samadhi’ are the purest, for they come to the aspirant without being desired. It must be remembered that siddhis are not the aim but a by-product of the path to God-Realization. Those who misuse Siddhi power for destroying others are themselves destroyed in the end.
Example: The repetition of Gayatri or Pranava or OM Namah Sivaya, OM Namo Narayanaya, OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, one and a quarter lakh of times with Bhava, faith and devotion will bestow a Mantra Siddhi.
When you love God, you love everything. All are manifestations of God. – Sri Swami Sivananda