Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada
Om Namah Sivaya. In early June we had a nice group of students for an inspiring retreat about Vedanta. Students and staff alike enjoyed the various talks on the basic concepts of Vedanta as well the 5 Points of Yoga. A weekend program focused on the power of Mantras. We were blessed with beautiful sunny days, so, we took advantage of the ideal temperatures to work on the grounds, planting new plants, weeding, moving the laws and growing promising veggies in our beautiful garden. We also did a karma yoga evening at the Subramanya Ayyappa Mariamman Temple and we took the guests for a peaceful evening silent walk. Swami Rajeshwarananda and Swami Sankarananda went to the Montreal Centre with a few staff to attend a Bhakti Yoga Satsang followed by a delicious meal.
A big group of enthusiastic students joined a weekend juicing and detox retreat with a core group completing the whole 7-day program. Gita, a close teacher, adeptly led the retreat, lovingly preparing nutritious fresh juices and vegetable broths and providing the students with many informative tips about fasting and detox. All students greatly benefited from the combination of fasting plus healthy diet and yoga classes and Satsangs. All left with shining and smily faces. Marilyn Rossner, Swamiji’s long-time disciple, spent a few days at the Ashram. We all enjoyed her calm and joyful presence. The inauguration of the Sadhana Intensive was done at the Subramanya Temple. Swami Vashishtananda performed a Puja and Swami Shankarananda, Swami Rajeshwarananda and Swami Dayananda initiated a small group of devoted close students into the course. Atmaram went to Ottawa to represent the Ashram at the commemorative ceremony in honour of Arjuna, Swamiji’s long-time disciple, who left his body recently.
In mid June the Ashram retreats were dedicated to the topic of “Karma Yoga and Meditation”. The students really enjoyed the teachings on this topic from the Bhagavad Gita as well as their practice of the 5 Points of Yoga. A highlight was the celebration of the International Yoga Day. We received a diverse group of 60 students (including 2 recently arrived Ukrainian refugees) who joyfully joined the program of yoga classes, a lecture on Master and Swamiji’s teachings, a Satsang on ”Unity in Diversity” plus, two lovingly prepared sattvic meals. During the whole day the Ashram reception, boutique, Temple and the grounds were bustling with the happy visitors showing lots of interest for the teachings and the Ashram programs. Sadhana Intensive continued very smoothly. The students started to shine from their pranayama practice. We completed three months of daily chanting of Om Namo Narayanaya for world peace.
The Staff are well and inspired to serve. May Blessing of our Teachers be always upon us all. OM and Prem.
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Om Namah Sivaya to all. Greetings from Kerala, India. June was a bit drier than the previous but hotter and more humid. Regardless of the weather, the guest numbers almost reached 60 by the end of the week with the beginning of a new cycle of the Yoga Vacation schedule, and the number taking panchakarma increased also. The accounts office came back to strength with the joining of two new accounting staff on Wednesday. We were particularly happy to welcome Akhil who has previously been a hardworking karma yogi in the Ashram. We also welcomed Adarsh from Yoga Vacation as a new staff. On Friday Sajan and Saju set up a stall for the Ashram at the Ayurveda Exhibition at the nearby Rajeev Gandhi Institute for three days. Oshyane and a small group went to give a demonstration on Friday and some guests who visited on Sunday with a few staff gave an impromptu demonstration for the many locals who were enjoying a day out at the exhibition. On Saturday and Sunday, the six STIC (Sivananda Teachers Intensive Course) students, having completed almost three weeks of group teaching and the practice of corrections, dispersed to the Trivandrum, Chennai and Delhi Centres for further guided onsite teaching. On Friday, Suresh had over 60 students for the first asana class in a series of online programmes for IDY month. Dr Vishnu also had a very good turnout for his talk on Jatharagni on Sunday. We look forward to the programmes of the coming weeks and pray that many more may benefit from the teachings of Yoga.
By mid June the Ashram was very busy. We focused on hosting the fourth-anniversary function of the India Yoga Association (IYA) Kerala Chapter. A special welcome and accommodation was provided to a few special guests speakers from Chinmaya International Foundation, Ramakrishna Mission, Amritanandamayi Ashram, Art of Living Foundation and the Patanjali Yoga Training & Research Centre at Kochi. A bus came from Trivandrum and also a couple of buses of faculty and students came from the local Kerala Institute of Co-operative Management as well as some day visitors to the Ashram arriving independently for this programme. Nataraj gave the welcome address and explained the activities of IYA to the guests and visitors. This was followed by inspiring talks from the special speakers on the Four Paths of Yoga. The programme finished with a musical asana demo of basic and advanced postures from our staff, a meditation practice and Arathi. The visitors were fed a tasty Kerala feast served traditionally on banana leaves. Nataraj arrived the night before and then immediately returned back to Madurai for the TTC exam and their graduation. He returned again to Neyyar Dam along with staff member Arun, as a new TTC graduate. We also shared in the joyful occasion of the first feeding of twin babies at the Rajarajeshwari Temple. The family were closely connected to the Ashram. Swami Gayatri, Nataraj and Kalyani fed the babies a couple of grains of sweet rice, as well as the family members. Meanwhile we focused on creating a schedule for the teachers and assistants for the many International Day of Yoga programmes for which we have been requested. A large Central Govt. connected programme was conducted at the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum which required meetings with the Minister concerned. They were expecting 400 students attending the Temple on IDY. Meanwhile the Ashram guests enjoyed a silent hike up Kalipara Hill to view the sunrise. June generally is the quietest month of the year for Yoga Vacation guests so it was not surprising to see the numbers drop a bit. However there were lots of enquiries with people using the Yoga Vacation advance booking system, now accessible through the Ashram website.
We thank Master and Swamiji for these opportunities to learn, serve and grow. We pray for peace for all. May all be blessed. All of us send our Pranams. Om.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namo Narayanaya from Uttar Kashi. Namaste. Please note we continue to offer classes, courses & programs online. Details regarding this can be found at sivananda.org.in/Online-sessions. Please like our Facebook page to stay notified about live open classes, Satsangs & other programs. Our thoughts are with you all and we pray that you keep well and positive during these challenging times. Om.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. Namaste from Madurai. In early June the second week of TTC got more intense with their yogic practices especially with the Kriyas. The discussion on Kriyas followed by practice was well taken by the students. They were all giving feedback on the “feel good and feel light” experience after the practice. The students were taken to Thirupparakundram Temple and Meenakshi Temple, all of them visiting for the first time gifting an exhilarating experience to them. TTC students started their hands on teaching practice, giving them an overview of the progress they have made since their arrival from one on one teaching to group teaching. The talent Show was a modest affair with singing and few dancing performances.
Wrapping up the TTC mid June, the last week of TTC always seems short especially for students who need more prep time for their exams, actually 2 exams with most of them having enrolled for YCB as well. The course moved towards it’s conclusion with a Lalitha Sahasranaama Puja. We also had a few guests joining us for the Yoga Vacation program. Advanced Pranayama was taught to the TTC, taking the students into a higher realm of peace, happiness and awareness, motivating them to join for either the Sadhana Intensive or the ATTC, the course details about which were given to the students. The final TTC exams went smoothly with all being rewarded their fruits of hard work and dedication. They also had the theory and practical exams of YCB scheduled the same days making the final days tightly packed. They all went about it with happy smiling faces literally putting into practice the real meaning of Yoga.
May all of us be guided well by the blessings and grace of our Masters and Gurus. We send Prayers and Regards to all from our family of guests, students and staffs. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. By the Grace of Master and Swamiji, the ATTC students were very focused on their Sadhana, morning pranayama and asanas, plus, enjoying their studies. They were very happy to dive deep into the teachings including talks on the deities and Bhakti Yoga and Adi Sankaracharya and Vedanta philosophy. Swami Sitaramananda shared many stories of Swami Sivananda and also shared many personal stories of her time with Swami Vishnudevananda in the Satsangs. Meanwhile, preparations for the Yoga Farm’s 50th anniversary celebrations were underway with cleaning and staining of the Krishna Temple deck; painting of the Temple and flags flown. It looked very beautiful. The kitchen was cleaned and repainted. Karma yogis were inspired and worked very hard to beautify the Ashram. We were happy to welcome back Hamsa Chaitanya from her time in Taiwan.
Mid June brought International Yoga Day worldwide. To honor the day, Swami Sitaramananda presented a wonderful talk to the West Coast and Taiwan online on “The Classical 4 Paths of Yoga for Health and Peace”. Prior to this, the Yoga Farm’s 50-year anniversary celebrations continued with more of our close special guest teachers joining us to present on the Vedic Sciences: Komilla Sutton (Yoga and Jyotish); Olga Mandodari (Vastu Shastra); Durga Leela (Yoga and Ayurveda); Dr. Marc Halpern (Churning of the Ocean); Silvia Nakkach gave a wonderful sound and voice meditation concert accompanied by Joss Jaffe on tabla and guitar. The swamis gave talks through the week on 5 Points and 4 Paths of Yoga for health and healing: Swami Pranavananda (Proper Breathing and Pranayama); Swami Jnaneswariananda (How the Body Heals and Balances Itself); Swami Sivasankariananda (Holistic Health and Healing); Swami Adiparashaktiananda (Swara Yoga); Swami Dharmananda (Yoga Life: Synthesis of Yoga). The celebrations concluded with talks with Swami Sitaramananda (Who Am I?) (Yoga of Relationships). Staff and karma yogis enjoyed a staff lunch to thank them for their efforts during the celebrations. We feel the blessings of Master and Swamiji for this very inspiring time at the Yoga Farm. The Ashram was beautiful, the grass is cut, llama and alpacas roaming the grounds, garden giving results, orchards have been cleaned up, Krishna Temple painting retouched. The senior staff prepared to leave for the NY Yoga Ranch.
We are grateful for this opportunity to serve. May all feel Master and Swamiji’s blessings. Om.
Om Namah Sivaya from the Ranch. In June the Yoga Ranch staff and karma yogis worked to get the Ashram in shape for our July and August reopening. We were all busy reopening the gardens, grounds, doing maintenance and housekeeping. We also received short-term visits from local karma yogis which provided much needed support. This year’s spring and early summer weather was breathtaking at the Ashram, keeping us energized and inspired. Daily Satsangs continued with study of Swami Sivananda’s commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Overall the Ashram was undeniably a sacred space supporting our practice. We looked forward to sharing the space for practice with our guests and students once again. We were also awaiting Swami Sitaramananda, Yoga Farm staff and swamis arriving at the end of June for the July 4th weekend and Ranch Ashram reopening. We welcomed a few karma yogis arriving for short periods of time, from a day to a couple of weeks.
We thank Master and Swamiji for the blessing of opportunities to share the teachings and to help wider circles find good health and peace of mind. May Masters’ Blessings and Gurus Grace be with us all. Pranams from the rolling mountains of New York State. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. June 2022 in the Bahamas: All of the May Teacher Training students and one guest took mantra initiation. We then celebrated the graduation of the May TTC. Four of the students (Chandika, Lakshmi, Kumari Maria, and Iswari) stayed for the karma yoga program. The staff from the Tel Aviv Centre (Sivakami Chaitanya, Pranava Chaitanya, Bhargavi Chaitanya), as well as Vishnu and Shanti, traveled from Israel to prepare for the celebration of Swami Swaroopanandaji’s birthday. Pooja Goswami Pavan, A. Pavan, and Vinay Desai joined us for the Hindustani classical music festival. The Pavans presented two workshops introducing the guests to North Indian classical music, as well as an evening performance of vocal music. Vinay Desai gave an enchanting concert on the santoor, which is a hammer dulcimer from Kashmir, with a sound that is reminiscent of dancing fairies. For the birthday symposium, Menas Kefatos presented two virtual talks via Zoom. Prantik Kundu visited onsite and spoke about neuroscience and consciousness. Sylvia Nakkach and Joss Jaffe gave the course Deep Chant: Immersion: Devotion, Wisdom and Renewal, using chant from different traditions as an immersive way to bring healing and inspiration.
We celebrated the birthday of Swami Swaroopanandaji with a beautiful Puja, an evening of Bharatanatyam dance, a greetings video, decorations galore and a delicious cake. The staff of the Tel Aviv Center came for a week to join in the celebration. Many guests came to visit the Ashram. They were very engaged in the workshops, Satsangs, and other activities. Guest presenter Antonio Sausys gave a well-attended program on grief. It was inspiring to see how the guests were able to connect with the material and find healing. Sandhiya Ramaswamy joined us to lead a kitchari cleanse. The participants did well and finding good nourishment through their simple diet. Wishing everyone a very good and blessed July.
May all be well and may this be an opportunity to turn inward to that which is eternal and ever-free. Om Shanti. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. Early June the Ashram was filled with guests attending the Yoga Vacation program on relaxation. The asana classes where focusing on stress reduction and the relaxation potential of Pranayama. The guests explored the connection between relaxation and positive thinking. The TTCs had their Kriya workshop. They performed a very creative and entertaining talent show. One Online TTC graduate arrived for the 9-days additional module. She integrated into the group very quickly. We had a special Ayurveda program with Shanti Kumar Kamlesh from Lucknow in India. It was his first visit after three years. He gave two lectures for TTCs and guests on the six tastes and the daily routine according to Ayurveda. We had a wonderful cooking class with him in the Ganga garden. The students were inspired by his knowledge and his practical explanations, plus, enjoyed his delicious Ayurvedic dishes. The online program with courses: “Health and Hatha Yoga” and “Asanas practice – Your Next Step”. Sankar Sreelal and Poornima Sreelal, Ayurveda experts from Kerala, India started their new online course: “Ayurveda for Health and Rejuvenation”.
By mid June, the latest TTC experienced their last week with advanced pranayama workshop. Almost all of them took mantra initiation and received their spiritual names. All TTCs passed the exam successfully. They were happy and grateful in the graduation ceremony. We had a nice open air get together on the Ganesha platform. The Yoga Vacation guests enjoyed several walks. “Breath freely” was the Yoga Vacation program on the long Corpus Christi weekend. Shanti Kumar Kamlesh left the Ashram to continue the Ayurveda programs at the Berlin Centre. We look forward to his next program here in Reith in July.
All staff are healthy and happy to welcome both long-time students and new guests. May Master and Swamiji bless all the efforts to follow the teachings. We send greetings to all and pray that all remain healthy and safe. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. By the Grace of the Masters, all went well in June 2022. We had various guest programmes running in parallel. Swami Bhagavatananda completed the certificate course “Finding Purpose in Life”. Gopala came from Paris for a week to support the Ashram and teach the guests lectures. A group of students arrived from London to experience a full week retreat, while the guests on the Ascension retreat left. Our Pentecote guests arrived, followed by teachers taking part in the “How to Teach Pregnancy Yoga” with Chandrika. It was dynamic. We had good weather conditions. Guests also had various workshops and walk in nature.
Monthly Mediation for World Peace and Health. Please accept this invitation to join us for the Unite for a Healthy Planet worldwide meditation – Every 1st Sunday of the month at 2PM Continental European Time, for 30 minutes. https://sivanandaorleans.org/unite-for-a-healthy-planet
The staff were full of gratitude for this opportunity to serve dynamically. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from Da Lat Ashram. In June the Ashram welcomed a group of 12 students to take part in the Children’s Yoga Teacher Training, the course led by Ganga Chaitanya and Sivashakti Chaitanya. Participants were inspired by their learning and practice with most of them participating in the upcoming Children’s Yoga Camp as counsellors. In addition to this course we welcomed a group of 40 students, led by guest teacher Nirmala, for a weekend retreat with the theme of “Yoga and Nutrition”. Several other guests joined us for the Yoga Vacation program. Gradually the flow of vacation guests, including international guests,increased now that Covid restrictions were eased. The group had a good stay, receiving a basic introduction to classical Yoga and yoga life. The rain eased a little so that they were able to enjoy a morning walk around the labyrinth, and an evening Satsang on the island. All staff are well and inspired, grateful for Guru’s grace.
By mid June the Kid’s Camp was in full swing, with many activities taking place. The group of children stayed fully engaged and joyful for the whole ten day period. The last evening they performed a very sweet talent show for all staff and guests. There was just a two day break before the arrival of a group of fifteen teenagers, aged from 13-17, for this year’s teen camp, taking place onsite after a break of 2 years. We continued to welcome Yoga Vacation students in addition to the children’s and teen programs. We were especially happy to welcome international guests once more.
The staff are well and inspired to serve. We were grateful for Guru’s grace during these challenging times. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Tapaswini, Gudur, Andra Pradesh India
Om Namah Sivaya. Namaste. In early June, by Master’s blessings, we all kept well in the Ashram and continued to spread their teachings. We had 2 kids for the Yoga Vacation course, who also joined us for Kids Camp. The staff started painting projects in the Vishnu Hall. Preparations continued for the Kids & Teens camp. Prahlad ji along with Nirmala ji and Sandhya ji from Chennai visited us. Mangoes finally ripened for this year’s crop. All staff are fine and keeping up with their Sadhana and practice.
By mid June the first week of Kids’ & Teens’ Camp was filled with laughter, fun, yoga, new learnings and bonding. All children adjusted quite well in the schedule and staff were always there with them, helping them around as and when needed. We went to the beach, played games and took some nice photographs to keep as memories from this Camp. A Devi Puja was conducted with all kids sincerely participating. As part of International Day of Yoga 2022, we collaborated with a Mumbai based school called Unmath and conducted two classes with 50 students each class from Nepal and Abu Dhabi. We also celebrated a staff birthday with a home baked cake amongst all kids. After many days of planning and rehearsal we witnessed a talent show like no other, where all kids participated and showed their creative side. The Gudur Yoga Vacationer program went well with one guest from France and another from AP.
Our thoughts are with you all and we pray that you keep well and positive during these challenging times. May Master and Swamiji bless us with true devotion and blessings be with us all! Pranams. Om.
PRANAYAMA – Pranayama During Meditation
If you do concentration and meditation, Pranayama, comes by itself. The breath becomes slower and slower. We will practice this Pranayama daily unconsciously. When you are reading a sensational storybook or when you are solving a mathematical problem, your mind is really very much absorbed in the subject-matter. If you closely watch your breath on these occasions, you will find that the breath has become very very slow. When you see a tragical story being enacted in the theater or a film-show, when you hear a very sad striking news or some glad tidings, when you shed tears either of joy or sorrow, or burst into laughter, the breath is slackened—Pranayama comes by itself. In those Yogic students who practice Sirshasana, pranayama comes by itself. It is obvious from these examples that when the mind is deeply concentrated on any subject, the respiration slows down or stops. Pranayama is being done automatically. Mind and Prana are intimately connected. If you turn your attention to watch the breath on those occasions, it will regain its normal state. Pranayama comes by itself to those who are deeply absorbed in doing Japa, Dhyana or Brahma-Vichara (enquiry of Atman).
Prana, mind and Virya (seminal energy) are under one Sambandha (connection). If you can control the mind, Prana and Virya are controlled by themselves. If you can control Prana, mind and Virya are controlled by themselves. If you control the Virya by remaining as an Akhanda Brahmachari without emission of even a single drop of semen for 12 years, mind and Prana are controlled by themselves. Just as there is connection between wind and fire (light), so also there is connection between Prana and mind. Wind fans the fire. Prana also fans the mind. If there is no wind, fire or light gets steady. Hatha Yogins approach Brahman by controlling Prana. Raja Yogins approach Brahman by controlling mind.
In this Pranayama you need not close the nostrils. Simply close the eyes if you practice it in a sitting posture. Forget the body and concentrate. If you practice this during walking, just feel minutely the movement of the air that is inhaled and exhaled.
Pranayama While Walking
Walk with head up, shoulders back and with chest expanded. Inhale slowly through both nostrils counting OM mentally 3 times, one count for each step. Then retain the breath till you count 12 OMs. Then exhale slowly through both nostrils till you count 6 OMs. Take the respiratory pause or rest after one Pranayama counting 12 OMs. If you find it difficult to count OM with each step, count OM without having any concern with the steps.
Kapalabhati can also be done during walking. Those who are very busy can practice the above Pranayama during their morning and evening walks. It is like killing two birds with one stone. You will find it very pleasant to practice Pranayama while walking in an open place, when delightful gentle breeze is blowing. You will be invigorated and innervated quickly to a considerable degree. Practice, feel and realize the marked, beneficial influence of this kind of Pranayama. Those who walk briskly, repeating OM mentally or verbally do practice natural Pranayama without any effort.
Pranayama in Savasana
Lie down on the back, quiet at ease, over a blanket. Keep the hands on the ground by the side and legs straight. The heels should be kept together, but the toes can remain a little apart. Relax all the muscles and the nerves. Those who are very weak, can practice Pranayama in this pose while lying on the ground or on a bedstead. Draw the breath slowly without making any noise, through both nostrils. Retain the breath as long as you can do it with comfort. Then exhale slowly through both nostrils. Repeat the process 12 times in the morning and 12 times in the evening. Chant OM mentally during the practice. If you like you can practice the ‘easy comfortable posture’ also. This is a combined exercise of Asana, Pranayama, meditation and rest. It gives rest not only to the body but also for the mind. It gives relief, comfort and ease. This is very suitable for aged people.
The breathing in men and women is very irregular. In exhalation the Prana goes out 16 digits and in inhalation only 12 digits, thus losing 4 digits. But if you inhale for 16 digits as in exhalation then you will have rhythmical breathing. Then the power Kundalini will be roused. By the practice of rhythmical breathing you will enjoy real good rest. You can control the respiratory Centre that is situated in medulla oblongata and other nerves also, because the Centre of respiration has a sort of controlling effect on other nerves. He who has calm nerves, has a calm mind also.
If the units of exhalation and inhalation are the same, you will have rhythmical breathing. If you inhale till you count 6 OMs, exhale also till you count 6 OMs. This is breathing in and out in a measured manner. This will harmonize the whole system. This will harmonize the physical body, mind, Indriyas and will soothe the tired nerves. You will experience full repose and calmness. All the bubbling emotions will subside and the surging impulses will calm down.
There is another variety of modification of rhythmic breathing. Inhale slowly through both nostrils for 4 OMs; retain the breath for 8 OMs (internal Kumbhaka); exhale slowly through both nostrils for 4 OMs; and retain the breath outside (external Kumbhaka) for 8 OMs.
Repeat the above process a number of times according to your strength and capacity. You can gradually increase the duration of inhalation and exhalation after some practice of 8 OMs and the period between breaths to 16 OMs. But never try to increase the duration until you are sure that you have power and strength to do so. You must experience joy and pleasure in doing the same. You should not feel any undue strain. Pay considerable attention to keep up the rhythm. Remember that the rhythm is more important than the length of breath. You must feel the rhythm throughout your whole body. Practice will make you perfect. Patience and perseverance are needed.
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