Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada
Our last Teachers’ training course of year ended very well. The students were brave and enthusiastic and completed the last two weeks with flying colours.
We were happy to receive groups of students for the Yoga Vacation program “Yoga and Ayurveda”. It was a step by step program which introduced the science of Ayurveda, enabling all participants to learn about how to live everyday life and to have all round wellbeing according to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda. This month, we held a Sitar and tabla concert which was a real delight to everyone.
The focus for another of our month’s yoga retreat was “Who am I”. We explained different meditation techniques, learning also about detachment, awareness in day to day life, understanding and deepening the awareness of the unchanging Self within.
Later in the month, a retreat “Mysteries of the Sanskrit” was held for a small group of sincere guests and staff, guided into the basics of the Devanagari alphabet.
Another retreat focused on deepening the practice of Hatha Yoga. Every day students could enjoy asana classes as well as midday workshops, where they could ask questions, clarifications about asanas and pranayama, as well as practice and have more personal corrections. We also held a retreat “Overcoming fear”.
For Christmas, big pine trees on the ashram grounds were decorated and spreading a joyous ood to everyone in the ashram. All staff joined the Christmas celebration in the Montreal Centre. An utterly uplifting rendition of the Christmas carols in French, English, Spanish and Russian. The evening ended with a delicious meal prepared.
On Sunday Christmas, a celebration started with a small Sufi music concert. It was followed by meditation, Jaya Ganesha and a message given by Kanti Devi. Marilyn Rossner gave a beautiful message on Swamiji`s work with great love and dedication to Swamiji’s work and mission. Santa Claus’ assistants came just on time and distributed many gifts for all present. We chanted Christmas carols in many different languages and finished the evening with chanting of peace mantra into the midnight.
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
The Ashram continues to host many yoga vacationers from all around the world, including a ten day-certificate course on Vedanta. We had a great group for the end of year’s TTC. The ashram is preparing for the YCB Yoga Protocol Instructor exam.
During the month, we conducted a special Lalita Sahasranama puja which filled our hearts with devotion. Staff also enjoyed a one day visit to Kovalam beach. Another trip to the Kanyakumari trip included the Thirparappu waterfalls and Suchindram temple provided an opportunity to experience South India. We also welcomed a great artist, Sanjay Raj Chirangatu, and musicians for a delightful Indian classical music concert in Carnatic style. It was a melodious evening enjoyed by all.
With guests from all over the world, the Ashram is currently a confluence of many different cultures coming together to celebrate Christmas and participate in the ten-day Yoga Ayurveda Cultural Programme – YACP. A warm and celebratory energy was felt at the ashram. Special programmes included Ganapathi homam, Kathakali workshop and performance, marma and first aid therapy by Anoop Nambiar and carnatic music performance with Sadhgun, Vaishnav and Jayakrishna on mandolin, violin and mridangam, respectively. For Gita Jayanti, the entire Bhagavat Gita was recited by some staff and guests. Christmas Eve satsang included a music concert, Christmas carol chanting and a visit by Santa with five little helpers to distribute presents to one and all. Everyone enjoyed the Sattvic energy, Christmas carols, a gift from Santa Claus, and a piece of Christmas cake!
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Greetings from the Banks of Ganga. Ashram is closed for winter and is undergoing important maintenance work during the time. We are painting the entire ashram
Following the damages caused by the 2017 flood, essential work has been completed to the safety wall of Gangotri Cave. This proactive measure ensures its continued strength. Plans are in place for additional construction in the coming year to further enhance the cave’s infrastructure.
The ashram continues to prioritise community welfare by conducting weekly medical camps for local residents every Sunday. This ongoing effort underscores our commitment to supporting the health and well-being of the surrounding community.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
All the programs and courses are happening in a very uplifting manner with the blessings of our Master and Swami ji. TTC students are having a very wonderful time with the course routine and being introduced to new avenues of Yogic practices which included Kriyas and Advanced Pranayama. They also enjoyed the Lalitha Sahasranama Puja where we all thanked the Divine Mother for her love, care and blessings she has showered on everyone. Yoga vacation program is also continuing with modest attendance.
We had good attendance for the Fasting and Detoxification Program. The benefits of the retreat were quite evident from their glowing faces and radiating vitality. The students visited Meenakshi temple and then broke their fast at the end of the pilgrimage. Towards the end of the month, we started another Panchakarma detoxification programme. Guests find motivation from the yogic tools that prepare them to face for their daily life more efficiently.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
During the month, Swami Sitaramananda continues with weekly online teaching of the Self-Healing course and the International Satsang from Vietnam. We had an Ayurvedic Massage Rejuvenation Retreat as well as a Raja Yoga Meditation course.
We decorated the ashram halls for Christmas and dutifully prepared the holiday play on the “Birth of Krishna”. Renovations of the cabins continued. We worked on a new farming area in the orchard. We are starting a fundraiser for a new Well-being center.
Our holiday programme was busy under the theme “Yoga for Peace and Contentment” with a full house of guests with workshops on “Bhagavad Gita”, “Christ, Krishna and You”, “Emotional intelligence”, “Steps to Contentment”. Guests enjoyed Temple walks and asana classes. All present had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration with a cookie baking workshop, a lovely feast, Christmas carols, and an appearance by Santa Claus and his many elves handing out gifts for all. On Christmas morning, we watched a recent recording of Swami Sitarmananda’s talk on “Sermon on the Mount and Vedanta”.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namah Sivaya! It was a busy and full beginning of the month, with the November TTC/ATTC in the 4th week, exam and graduation, and the December TTC students arriving for the upcoming December course. The students were blessed for their last days of classes, to attend concerts with Karnamitra Dasi, on mantras, ragas and voice, and Latif Bolat, on healing sounds of mystic Sufism. During the month, we also welcomed Dr. Paul Dugliss to the ashram, who led satsangs and workshops on Heart-Based Ayurveda.
The ashram prepared for the holidays with many decorations and Christmas lights. We started the holiday season by celebrating Hanukkah and lighting the Menorah on Thursday night at satsang. We hosted a Unity in Diversity Symposium, and to start things off, we had Lama Karma Chotso join us from the Buddhist tradition, to teach on awakening compassion. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa also joined us, from the Sikh tradition, teaching on science and biomedical research. Kate Mitcheom and Lucia McBee gave talks on mindfulness based stress reduction. We continued with Rabbi Rami Shapiro and Kyriacos Markides, representing various religious traditions. We had a full ashram for the Christmas Eve celebration on Sunday night. The night started off with a delicious feast, there was a puja for baby Jesus, a Christmas play, a choir, Santa made a visit with gifts for all, and lots of good cheer. It was an extremely fun and joyous celebration.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
December brought a large amount of fresh snow and transformed the area into a beautiful winter landscape.
The online TTC went well. We had a well appreciated cooking workshop online with the students. Everyone cooked and ate together from their homes.
We restarted the online morning pranayama course after a longer break, which is very much appreciated by many students.
The online course Yoga and Medicine continued with focus on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, joint problems, respiratory conditions, pain management and autoimmune diseases.
The free online workshops “Fire of Yoga” every Saturday and Sunday are much appreciated with good attendance.
Mid-month, as the online TTC completed, new students arrived for the TTC at the ashram. Students were from Europe, Taiwan and China.
Our Christmas and New Year programme was indeed special. We started series of Ayurveda talks explaining the three body types and a healthy diet for body and mind.
The highlight the Christmas Eve celebration with a Christmas message on inner peace and Christmas carols in many languages, at the end of which, everybody could enjoy tea and cookies.
Ashram de Yoga Sivananda, Orleans, France
For the yoga vacation, the guests at the ashram followed various programmes “opening the heart through Bhakti yoga and kirtan”, “vitality and vegetarian cooking”, “the power of positive thinking”. The TTC students completed their last two weeks with much enthusiasm. During the month, we completed the meditation hall project, staff helped in maintenance of the forest paths and the different gardens. A good amount of time was spent in the boutique to get it ready for the last week of the year.
The last ten days were entirely focussed on the Christmas and New Year retreat. We had a very special programme with acharyas from Europe Swami Durgananda and Swami Sivadasananda, staff and special guest Sri Venugopal Goswami from Vrindavan. For seven days, the Bhagavata Saptaha was recited and beautiful music that transformed the heart was played. On Christmas eve, we had a very fun evening with keen staff and guests taking part in the Christmas carols. New Year’s eve was also very special with a Sudarshan yantra puja and peace messages. Guests had a complete experience and left content.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
At the beginning of the month, we completed the November TTC. We received various touching testimonials from the participants attesting to their learning and growth during the time here. Other activities at the ashram continued well. We have been receiving a number of Yoga Vacation guests who have enjoyed the heightened energy during the TTC time. We welcomed a group of 50 guests from a meditation club for business leaders and the a group from the Ozen meditation club. We welcomed a good number of students for the Vedanta and Silence retreat, the Yoga and Deep Relaxation retreat. The Health House continues to receive a steady stream of visitors who have a particular focus on improving health issues. Staff are well and inspired to serve.
A group of staff, led by Swami Sitaramananda, took a short trip to the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam to visit some archeological sites of the Oc Eo / Funan civilization there. Although little is known of the culture, it is clear that they were focused on worship of Lord Vishnu along with other Vedic deities. We visited two different sites, at the second seeing the remains of a Brahma /Vishnu /Siva temple. It was specially interesting to visit a nearby Buddhist temple where a four-armed Vishnu statue from the Oc Eo time (1st to 8th centuries CE) is worshipped. In addition to touring these sites, we visited the city of Can Tho.
Swami Narayanananda accompanied a group of staff for some days of rest and recreation at a nearby coastal area, Cam Ranh. All were very appreciative of the few days break. On the trip participants’ return to the ashram, preparations were underway for the arrival of a large group of guests for the Christmas retreat. Staff practiced Christmas carols, our reception area and yoga hall were decorated. On the morning of 24th December Swami Sitaramananda gave a satsang reminding us of the significance of the festival with a talk on the teachings of Jesus interpreted according to Vedanta philosophy. We celebrated the evening of 24th December with a special meal, satsang with further reading from Swami Sivananda on the life of Jesus, Christmas carols and a visit from Santa Claus bearing gifts for all those present.
Sivananda Ashram Tapaswini, Gudur, Andra Pradesh India
During this month, we experienced heavy rains due to cyclone and also power cut and water supply was stopped completely. We managed well and we are getting back to normal daily functioning. Currently, the Yoga Vacation program is going well. We welcomed a good group of students for the TTC. A lot of cleaning work is taking place and we are making sure no area is left untouched. We have set up the boutique in a new location behind the yoga hall.
Shojiko Japan Retreat, Tokyo, Japan
1 New Year’s Day
11 New Moon
26 Full moon
Understand life. Live divinely. Seek good company. Fear not. Waste not time. Depend on God. – Sri Swami Sivananda
Abhyasa or practice is the effort to secure steadiness of the modifications of the mind. The effort to restrain all the vrittis (waves) of the mind and to make the mind steady like the jet of a lamp in a windless place is called abhyasa. To drive back the mind to its source – Hridaya Guha (the cave of the heart) and get it absorbed in Atman (the Self) is abhyasa. To make the mind inward and to destroy all its outgoing tendencies is abhyasa. And this practice should be done for a long time without any break and with perfect devotion.
Through abhyasa you will have to change the outgoing vishaya vrittis of the mind. Without the vrittis of the mind you cannot enjoy sensual objects, and if the vrittis along with samskaras are controlled, manonasa or the annihilation of the mind follows.
Abhyasa becomes fixed and steady when practised for a long time without any break and with perfect devotion. Constant, steady application is indispensable for perfect control of the mind and attainment of asamprajnata samadhi which alone can fry all the seeds of samskaras. Therefore, constant and intense practice is needed for a long time. Then alone the wandering mind will come under your perfect control. Then alone wherever it is directed it will be ever at rest. Without practice nothing can be achieved. The practice should be accompanied by perfect faith and devotion. If there is no faith and regularity, success is impossible. Abhyasa should be continued until you get perfection.
From Sadhana by Swami Sivananda