Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada
Om Namah Sivaya. We received two groups of students for the week-long retreat “Cultivate Good Habits”. We were happy to see good interest and attendance in all activities. All students got a small task of Karma yoga and were helping in the kitchen, gardens and housekeeping daily. Different staff went to Montreal to give Satsangs, workshops, asana classes and just to help with any chores that needed to be done in the Centre. The weather is very beautiful right now and we give lots of classes on the outside platforms as well as taking guests for the longer meditative walks. The following week we held a very well-attended retreat: “Boost your Energy and Mental Health”. During the week and weekend students practiced and learned different points about how to stay balanced, healthy and inspired in day-to-day life. We were happy to welcome Isabelle who did several meditations on the sound of the crystal bowls. The sound meditations were very soothing and relaxing. Staff and guests alike plunged into the gardens and continued to clear it out from old leaves and weeds and started to plant flowers and take care of the vegetable garden as well. We also started to work on the swimming pool which was greatly needed: different repairs were done, and painting continued. The Subramanya Temple held a big wedding ceremony and Swami Shankarananda and staff helped with different services. Several students from Canada and South America subscribed for the Teachers Training Course in July.
We held a “Mind, its Mysteries and Control” retreat. Many of the students came for the first time and participated in activities with sincerity. We also began a ten days’ celebration for Divine Mother Mariyamma. The first evening started with a beautiful Puja for the divine Mother and with hoisting the flag. There were many Indian families and devotees present. It was a very inspiring evening for all of us, as the energy was very strong and vibrant at the Mariyamma temple. We also began a Sadhana Intensive course with a small group of students. The Inauguration took place in the Subramanya Temple. Students looked inspired to start their Sadhana which continued very well. Each student has a separate hut for their practice in Samadhi Estates and they followed the different practices with good focus and enthusiasm.
We had several different retreats. During the week we had a retreat named “Asanas – Strength and Flexibility” and on the weekend we held an “Art of Forgiveness” retreat.
On Saturday we held several events on the grounds of the Ashram as well as in the Subramanya and Mariyamma Temples. Despite the rainy day we welcomed nice groups of students to celebrate International Yoga Day. We offered two asana classes in the morning and evening, a lecture, sumptuous meals and evening Satsang. It was a beautiful energy shared at the Ashram busy with many eager students. Quite a few students visited the Ashram for the first time and enjoyed their day with yoga a lot.
The Mariyamma festival continued for the whole week and on the weekend the Temple was full of prana and auspiciousness with many Indian and Sri Lankan families/devotees joining. Staff and guests alike attended celebrations almost daily and felt very uplifted after each Puja.
The gardens started to bloom more and more as staff took good care of them. We also did some very thorough cleaning of kitchen storage in preparation for the upcoming TTC.
We had two well attended Detox Retreats which were led by Gita, a long-time Karma yogi. All the students were very grateful to her as she really took care about each detail of the program. Besides the Detox Retreat, side by side, we had our regular retreat as well and many students were eager and enthusiastic to participate in yogic activities as well as Karma Yoga every day. Some of them thought about the possibility of becoming temporary staff or coming back to the Ashram as a guest to stay for a longer period.
Sadhana Intensive students concluded the course and had a lovely graduation. We were very happy to welcome Kanti Devi, Acharya of South America and Canada, who will stay with us for two months. Staff are keeping up and are inspired and healthy. May Masters` blessing be always with us all. Om Shanti.
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Om Namah Sivaya. Once we had more breathing space in the low season, staff were engaged in various deep cleaning projects. We also had plans to do some paving work around the Ashram and Temple areas. After the heavy rain and thunderstorms of the previous week, the monsoon became regular with afternoon downpours. Regardless, indoor painting work continued. In addition, we began re-painting the Balakrishna statue near Vaikuntham, putting it under wraps between sessions for protection. A human chain of Karma yogis, guests, and paid staff finished moving chopped fallen trees from below the dining hall to the stacks outside the kitchen. Despite the rain, the guest numbers picked up again from 1st June with the new Yoga Vacation cycle starting and even went over 50 on the weekend. The SIH had a few panchakarma patients. On Friday guests and staff received the blessings of Lord Murugan on the last day of the local temple’s annual festival. They had the opportunity to witness the kaavadi procession and experience the spiritual fervour of devotees drumming and the kaavadi bearers with their long spears or hanging from hooks and finally the firewalking kaavadi.
The monsoon continued to bring daily showers. The guests appreciated the green environment and steady practice following the Ashram schedule. A group of about 15 guests had an enjoyable trip to Kanya Kumari, taking in the Padmanabhapuram Palace on the way and Suchindram Temple on the way back. Mangoes were incorporated into one of the meals during the week – a rare and enjoyable change. There isn’t a huge crop this year, so they are only occasionally found on the ground. We are looking at some development projects for improving the Ashram facilities.
The rain continued regularly, and the birds continued to chirp and sing in between times.
The guest numbers for both Yoga Vacation and for Ayurveda dropped a little further which is to be expected at this time of the year. With fewer staff, the Karma yogis continued to be busy with their duties and sadhana practices.
A beautiful group of almost forty young souls came for an Ashram visit from Christ Nagar
School in Trivandrum. The attention of these seven-eight-year-olds was thoroughly engrossed by thought-provoking ideas, demonstrations and questioning from Suresh and Puja, who demonstrated. Despite a new batch of Yoga Vacation having only just started, Saturday night still produced a beautiful mixture of performances of song, dance etc., from guests and staff. The silent walk was almost a wash-out; fortunately, the
group didn’t go far and most got to the Temple mandapam before getting soaked and were happy to enjoy kirtan watching the rain on the surface of the lake. Our guests continued to appreciate the Ashram programme and the natural environment, and the staff continued enthusiastically with their sadhana including karma yoga. Padmanabha is doing wonderful work touching up and refreshing the artistic paintings in the Ashram. Ganesha near Vaikuntham has a beautiful fresh lotus seat, and the Radhakrishna wall paintings and Krishna statue next to the Rama Hall are coming along nicely with help from guests with the removal of flaky paint and the initial base colours refreshed. The highlight of the week was, of course, the International Day of Yoga. Three teams of teachers, assistants and demonstrators from the paid and volunteer staff covered five programmes ranging from juniors to college students to working adults. The teams felt honoured with the opportunity to share the benefits of Yoga with around 900 people and very much enjoyed the human connection provided by the occasion. May Master and Swamiji’s blessings continue to further the teaching of Yoga. Om shanti.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namah Sivaya. The TTC moved on to the second week. The Shat Kriyas were conducted, and the students could really notice the effect they had on the body. Some even claimed that other students’ faces were glowing after the practices. This was followed by the healthy yet delicious khichdi and steamed vegetables. The students felt this gave them a glimpse into true tapasvi yogic life.
On Friday around 50 members which included Yoga Vacationers, TTC students and staff travelled to the Cave in Gangotri led by Swami Hariomananda ji. It was a blessing to have the sun shining on the day. We stopped en route for a nice Poha for breakfast prepared by Manmohan ji and at the Cave, did an Aarti along with Jaya Ganesha chanting. Some of the members then took a dip in the Holy Bhagirathi River there. After lunch, we departed for the Ashram. Although we got delayed due to traffic while returning, everyone enjoyed the journey with scenic beauty.
The group teaching sessions began in the TTC, and one could hear students practising instructions for the yoga class by teaching others during their free time.
On Saturday night, we had the regular world famous Sivananda Talent show. Many TTC students and a couple of Yoga Vacationers gathered their courage to face the audience. Most of them told stories or spoke on a topic that interested them.
On Sunday we started the Medical Camp for villagers. Around 35 villagers came, and Dr.Chandhok was very happy to be back. We are now conducting the Medical Camp every Sunday from 2pm to 4pm which has made the villagers very happy.
We finished the third week of TTC and had the photo session of the TTC group on Tuesday. The staff were invited to a bhandara taking place in the neighbouring Ashram of Madhya Pradesh Tyagi Baba on the occasion of Ganga Dusshehra on 30th May. Those who attended got to see the traditional Sadhu Bhandaras that take place regularly in the Himalayas. Swami Hariomananda ji guided the group of staff and a few Yoga Vacationers to get the feel of such a divine experience.
Some tourists visited the Temple in our Ashram for Ganga Dusshehra and we had quite a busy day on that occasion. On Thursday Mantra Initiation ceremony was conducted for the TTC students by Swami Hariomananda ji and Nirmala ji. On Friday, a walk was organised to a village on the mountain nearby. The trek was tiring with steep climb yet was fulfilling as the view from up was beautiful. People sang bhajans and songs with snacks being passed around. Everyone seemed to have a good time.
Some local children attending a summer camp in Swami Vivekananda Yoga Foundation School in Ganeshpur along with their teachers and staff were invited to the Ashram on Saturday morning for brunch. The children chanted Chapter 12 of Bhagavad Gita and in return the staff and some TTC students chanted Chapter 15 and Sivananda Kirtans. The children were delighted with the energetic Satsang. A scrumptious meal of Pulav, Payasam and Jalebi was served to all. Everyone including the staff, Yoga Vacationers and TTC students enjoyed the company of the children.
At night, the talent show brought out the togetherness of the TTC students and we could see them getting sentimental with the TTC soon ending.
We entered the last week of the ongoing Teacher’s Training Course. Lalitha Sahasranama Puja was conducted followed by mantra initiation for a couple of students who decided later to get initiated. The Students and the Yoga Vacationers were all dressed colourfully in traditional Indian attire and naturally it ended with photography sessions. Students were filled with positive vibrations after the Puja. Many of them talked about the beauty of having so many oil-filled lamps lit across the hall along with the chanting of the Lalitha Sahasranama. We then had the Advanced Pranayama class for TTC. Students enjoyed the practice. The rest of the week was busy with preparations for the TTC conclusion. On Saturday the final examination was conducted after the special breakfast provided to them along with tea. In the evening, the graduation ceremony took place which was followed by the Talent Show. At the end of it all, emotional students were all sharing their affection for the teachers, the Ashram and fellow course mates. The TTC had a great success rate with only one student unable to acquire the Yoga Siromani Certificate out of those who took the examination.
On Sunday the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand visited the Ashram for the morning Puja at the Akhandeswara Shiva Temple. He had spent the previous night in a guest house nearby. We welcomed him with appropriate fanfare. After a brief interaction with some students and teachers, he departed from the Ashram for his further commitments.
June 12th was the Birthday of Swami Premananda Saraswathi ji, who is the only living direct disciple of Swami Sivananda. He resides in Ganeshpur, Uttarkashi. We received an invitation for the grand ceremony. It was great to be in the company of such a senior and knowledgeable person in the same parampara on such a great day in his life.
During the break between two TTCs, a deep cleaning of the Ashram premises was conducted, and all the Yoga Vacationers were enthusiastically involved. A lot of maintenance work was also carried out along with the painting of the Dining hall and a large portion of the flooring on the ground and second floor.
On Wednesday, Swamini Tanmayi ji arrived at the Ashram. She is the Bhagavad Gita teacher for the ongoing TTC. She also had taken over the daily evening chanting at the Temple. This has filled the evenings with a lot more fervour. On Sunday the Teachers’ Training Course was inaugurated in the evening Satsang.
The first week of TTC went well. The energetic lot of students are beginning to get into the flow of the schedule of the course. The aches in their bodies have settled and they are enjoying the course.
We entered the period of Gupt Navaratri which translates as Secret Nine Nights which are said to be auspicious for awakening the energy of the Divine Feminine, and true to this belief the Ashram is filled with feminine energy with the Teachers of TTC all being women along with Rohini ji. The vibrance can be felt during the satsangs.
Rohini ji is continuing with the lectures for the Yoga Vacation. The sessions are going longer than the stipulated time because of the number of questions raised leading to healthy informative discussions. The Vacationers are enjoying the classes.
On Friday, many of the students went to the town for visiting the temples and to the markets for an outing and returned with rediscovered motivation for the resumption of classes on Saturday. On Sunday, the weekly medical camp was conducted successfully catering to the medical needs of about 33 people from the local communities. Om shanti.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Namaste. Suddenly, after the conclusion of the Teens Camp, everything seemed very quiet and calm for the first time in 2 weeks, although we missed the contagious energy and cheerful smiles of the children. The Ashram was, however, kept busy with the preparations for the upcoming TTC. On Sunday evening, 34 aspirants were initiated into the course by the Teachers, with prayers to guide them always. The Yoga Vacation program is also happening though the numbers were low, with the guests deriving inspiration and motivation from the yoga classes and Ashram routine. They also got a chance to witness the positive energy levels of our TTC students especially during the Initiation Ceremony, sowing the seed somewhere in their minds the desire to become a Yoga Practitioner for life. The TTC started with a Ganapati Homa where all the students gathered at the Temple wearing their uniforms and looking bright and happy. This was followed by the first basic asana class where we could make out the practice level of students, and everyone seemed very good with asanas. Slowly and steadily the students have gelled well with the schedule and are gradually adapting to the yogic way of lifestyle. On Friday we had organised a trip to Rameswaram temple which was joined by most of the students, the trip proving to be a very special experience for them.
The TTC moved onto the last week, and, as always the week seemed short because of exam preparation time. They concluded their Open Class teaching with the realisation that they now have a great responsibility to fulfil to the best of their abilities with blessings from Swami Sivananda ji and Swami Vishnudevananda ji.
On International Yoga day, we had the guests and students practicing 108 rounds of Sun Salutations in the morning at 6.15 am in Vishnu Hall, the surroundings reverberating with the energy of the group practice. This was followed on the next day by the Advanced Pranayama class, the review of all subjects and finally the last TTC Asana practice dedicated to Master and Swami ji. The day off saw the students at different locations within the Ashram immersed in final preparation for the exam. Finally, on Saturday, we had two exams, one our TTC exam and other the YCB exam. Both the exams went well with the students reaping the fruits of their hard work and dedication of last four weeks, moulding them into empathetic humanitarians. The graduation saw them collecting their diplomas with great satisfaction and pride. Kalyani ji arrived from Neyyar Dam and she, along with Nataraj ji and Anoop, went to Chennai to attend the Puja for Anjaiah sir’s departed soul.
Sending Prem and Om to all from our group of guests, students and staff. Om shanti.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. By the grace of God and Guru, the Yoga Ranch reopened for the 2023 summer season with the Memorial Day weekend starting May 26-29 supported by an enthusiastic group of Karma yogis. It is such a blessing to see the Ashram full once again. Jorge Alfano and Rabbi Zoe Zak offered an inspiring Interfaith concert on Saturday night with workshops in the afternoon. Isvari reopened the Ayurvedic Well-Being Center. Staff tents are all full once again. The garden is already offering asparagus and greens. Spring is unfolding and the lush Catskill verdure has reawakened from a long winter.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. The highlight for the TTC was Mantra Initiation with all students participating and receiving their mantras and spiritual names, feeling the blessings of Master and Swamiji. Students are excelling with their teaching in the group practice. Swami Jnaneswariananda taught the Anatomy & Physiology section. As part of our Memorial Day program, “The Truth Shall Set You Free,” Silvia Nakkach led a beautiful Nada Yoga concert and presentation joined by Nishaant Singh on the traditional pakhawaj drum, leading all in kirtan chanting, voice and rhythm. Swami Adiparashaktiananda gave a talk on “Prana”; Swami Dharmananda on “Meditation”; and Swami Hamsananada on “Positive Thinking”. Swami Sitaramananda led the International Satsang on “How to Progress Toward Peace of Mind” exploring the gunas and yoga practices to cultivate sattva in daily life. The final week of TTC was very high energy, with students continuing their group teaching practice, tratak, introduction to advanced pranayama practices, and a talk on Yoga of Recovery with Durga Leela. The TTC graduation was inspired with words of encouragement from Swami Sitaramananda and the Swamis and teachers. Students gave heartfelt testimonials to the challenges and inspirations from their TTC experience. We celebrated with a wonderful Asian feast on the Yoga Deck. Swami Sitaramananda led the International Satsang on “Yoga of Relationships” with teachings on how to see one’s own Self and the Self in others.
Having just completed the TTC, the Ashram turned around quickly for the Sadhana Intensive course led by Swami Sitaramananda and Swami Adiparashaktiananda. Students were very inspired by the disciplined practice and lectures. Swami Dharmananda taught the five-day Positive Thinking course, giving practical instructions for overcoming negative thought patterns and understanding yoga psychology. The weekend Ayurveda Massage Rejuvenation Retreat was a great success with many students joining for massage therapies and daily Ayurveda talks with MahaVidya. Swami Sitaramananda led the weekly International Satsang on the topic of “Viveka Chudamani”. The Ashram is beautiful and green, the garden is bursting with fresh greens and vegetables; fire prevention is taking place all around the Ashram for the summer months; a new gazebo has been erected for the Pancha Karma Detox retreat; and a new fountain installed for the pond.
The Sadhana Intensive students were very dedicated to their practice. They were very peaceful and contented and had a sweet, inspired graduation ceremony led by Swami Sitaramananda at the conclusion of the two weeks.
Meanwhile the Ashram had many programs parallel to the SI course with the Positive Thinking course, Ayurveda Massage Rejuvenation Weekend with MahaVidya, Yoga for Emotional Regulation with Swami Dharmananda, and Beginners’ Yoga weekend with Anandamayi. Many new students visited the Ashram for the first time and werengrateful for the teachings, the beautiful nature, visiting the Temples, the positive atmosphere and care from the staff.
We were blessed to run the first seven-day Panchakarma program at the Yoga Farm. Supervised by Dr. of Ayurveda Bharati Venkatachalapathy, guests enjoyed daily Ayurveda massage therapies, kitcheree and greens diet, gentle yoga practice, and satsangs. Guests are grateful for the care from the Dr. and staff and the nurturing environment of the Ashram. Swami Sitaramananda taught the Essentials of Health and Self-Healing six-day course, with teachings from the classical Four Paths of Yoga to identify the causes of suffering and to guide people with Yoga and Vedanta practices to heal ourselves (alleviate suffering) by knowing our True Self. Students are deeply inspired and take home many tools to increase awareness, understand how to manage their prana, develop Self-discipline and to open their hearts to the Divine in all. Radha taught the five-day Positive Thinking course, introducing students to Positive Thinking techniques from the Four Paths of Yoga and how to integrate asana, pranayama, meditation, and diet to support their positive thinking. We are grateful for this opportunity to serve. Om shanti
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Namaste! We welcomed Debashish Banerji, a Bengali scholar, professor of Yoga Psychology and Art History and author, who has analysed the work of Sri Aurobindo and who offered us a detailed, clear, and inspirational interpretation of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings at evening Satsangs and mid-day workshops. Later in the week we welcomed Peter Russel, who is on the faculty of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Peter gave a series of talks on the deeper, spiritual significance of the times we are passing through. The 10-day Detox Juice Fast concluded on Sunday, leaving all participants radiant and ready to return home inspired to follow a healthy lifestyle. The TTC entered week 4 and had their Mantra Initiation.
The following week the TTC class graduated as a group of inspired students, ready to go out and be yoga teachers. We welcomed Dr. John Douillard to the Ashram, who presented on Science of Ayurveda Longevity at Satsangs and workshops. Dr. Douillard also led a five-day kitchari detox program. With a few days in between to prepare for the next group, the June TTC was inaugurated. We had sixteen students from all around the world, exemplifying Swamiji’s motto, Unity in Diversity. They had their introduction on Sunday morning, and we were able to hear about their varied backgrounds, careers, and what brought them to the TTC. The common thread was to cultivate inner peace and help others do the same. We are feeling blessed to have another opportunity to teach, assist, and support the students along their journey of becoming Yoga teachers.
We celebrated Swami Swaroopananda’s birthday with many special programs. Menas Kafatos gave a virtual satsang on Monday night to start off the week. We welcomed Ramesh Parmar who gave satsangs on Jain meditation. On Wednesday, Swami Swaroopananda’s birthday, we had a birthday Puja in his honor, honoring the Guru Parampara at the morning Satsang, and even though Swamiji was in Israel, we all enjoyed a yummy pistachio lemon birthday cake. That evening Suba Ramesh Parmar performed a Bharatanatyam Dance. Master Ou was not able to attend live, but gave a virtual Satsang from China, on Wen Wei Mystical Qigong. On Friday morning we showed In the Name of Peace to the new TTC group. Over the weekend, Swami Paramananda Giri started a Satsang series of Upadesa Saram of Ramana Maharshi. It was a beautiful, inspiring week, with much joy permeating the Ashram.
The TTCs entered their second week and we had a Ganapati Vidya Homa on Monday to help remove any obstacles that may be on the path. Karma Yogis started to move into rooms, as part of the preparations for the summer season. Antonio Sauysa arrived to teach a program on Yoga and Grief Relief. He also gave a few Satsangs to introduce the topic. Swami Paramananda Giri continued his satsang series on Upadesa Saram of Ramana Maharshi at the morning Satsangs. The Ashram Swamis and senior staff gave Satsangs throughout the week on topics of the virtues as taught in the Bhagavad Gita, the power of prayer and 20 Important Spiritual Instructions. The weather is warming up, and an afternoon shower is becoming part of the norm.
The International Day of Yoga was celebrated with a Guru puja on the beach and sun salutations performed by all facing the sun rise. Swami Medhananda Puri, who served as Acharya of Kailash ashram in Rishikesh, and has mastered the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Brahmasutras and many more sacred texts, was with us to conclude the teaching of Chandogya Upanishad. Swamiji started a Satsang series entitled “What does Swami Sivananda teach?” The energy was very high with TTC entering the third week of classes. By Master and Swami’s blessings, staff and karma yogis are happy and well. Pranams to all!
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. The Whitsun Yoga Event and the further training “Yoga in Medicine” finished. The participants were happy after an inspiring long weekend of practice and studies. The TTC group had a wonderful third week. They made good progress in their asana and pranayama practice and enjoyed teaching in the afternoon groups. On Thursday they had the Kriya workshop. Three TTC Online graduates arrived for the 9-day additional module. They integrated quickly into the TTC schedule, learned headstands, and took part in the teaching groups. The 7-day programme Bhagavata Saptaha with Sri Venugopal Goswami started, and all were uplifted by the inspiring wisdom of the Srimad Bhagavatam accompanied by wonderful Indian musicians.
Our special guests and some staff went to the Ashram in Orleans for the following programme. It was an intense last week for our TTC group. Almost all of them took mantra initiation. The participants of the 9-day additional module left after a small graduation ceremony. The TTCs did very well in the exam, and it was a joy to see their happy faces in the graduation and the get-together in the evening. Due to the beautiful early summer weather, the guests could enjoy outdoor yoga classes and mountain walks. Later, a group of yoga teachers arrived for the further training “Yoga during Pregnancy” taught by Chandrika. She shared her knowledge and her experiences with a lot of dedication.
Besides the Yoga Vacation program we spent the week with preparations and the hall setup for the forthcoming July TTC. Kamala Devi from Australia arrived on Thursday to be with us for one week. On Saturday she started a wonderful lecture series for the staff with many amazing and inspiring details on Swami Vishnudevananda´s life. The guest enjoyed the mountain magic program with hikes on Monday and Tuesday and showed great interest in the lectures on yoga philosophy. Om shanti.
Ashram de Yoga Sivananda, Orleans, France
OM Namah Sivaya. The weather became warmer and we were in full preparation of the Ashram for the summer. During the Pentecost weekend and the “How to Teach Yoga to Children” programme, we had a good number of teachers and students; they all left happy and rejuvenated.
Mid-June was the highlight of the month. We had a very special time at the Ashram with the arrival of the European Acharyas and Sri Venugopal Goswami from Vrindavan. During this time, the Bhagavata Saptaha took place with Sri Venugopal Goswami and his accompanying musicians. It was the jewel of all the programmes of the Sivananda Yoga Academy Bhakti year. For ten days, around the Saptaha, the Academy students attended their last Retreat and graduation at the Ashram. On top of this, for the first time since the pandemic, we welcomed 75 teachers for the TTC Refresher. Swami Sivadasananda taught various classes. The teachers were very satisfied and left with fresh inspiration. All this was happening alongside the TTC. The staff were happy and flowed seamlessly through the busy schedule. The Saptaha succesfully harmonised the melodies of our hearts through seven days. The TTC Refresher Retreat brought much joy and reviewed practical teaching skills for the staff. Welcoming the Academy students brought much inspiration to us too. All concluded with the Brahmacharya initiation of four European staff members on Sunday. Much gratitude to the Masters for holding us in their cradle. Om shanti.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya. We experienced a few quiet days at the beginning of the week, giving time to reorganize and recoup after a busy period. A second group of staff left to spend three days at the coast to relax and recharge. Swami Narayanananda and Sivashakti left for a ten-day trip to China to visit teachers and students in Beijing and Chengdu. Programs in Beijing were very successful, attracting a large group of students for a two-day intensive focused on the Yoga Sutras. In Dalat we received a group of forty-three students, organized by a close student, for a weekend retreat. Swami Sitaramananda supported with participation online in the evening Satsang. On Thursday the Kid’s Yoga Teacher Training Course was initiated with an enthusiastic group of students, preparing for the upcoming Kid’s Camp. We also received a steady stream of other guests, including international guests, for the Yoga Vacation program.
The following week, the main focus at the Ashram was on the Kids’ Camp. The Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Course finished on Monday, with sixteen teachers graduating, most of whom would stay for the practical experience of the Camp itself. The Initiation was on Thursday, and we welcomed thirty-nine young aspiring Yogis, ages ranging from seven to twelve years old. Many staff were involved in supporting the course to create a positive learning experience and ensure the children’s safety. The program started well. At the same time, we were taking care of a small number of Yoga Vacation guests. The Health House was very active, hosting SYHET practicum courses and other visitors for classes and counselling. Swami Narayanananda and Sivashakti Chaitanya continued with the programs in China, traveling from Beijing to Chengdu in south-west China, then to a mountain location outside Chengdu, a Taoist monastery where we have previously held TTC programs. Thirty-two people joined the four-day retreat, enjoying the uplifting atmosphere and the cool, clean mountain air. We felt the strong effect of Gurus’ grace in making the whole event possible. Following the retreat the attention of all was very much on the Kid’s Camp. Participants in this year’s camp, thirty-nine young yogis, were particularly focused and engaged, and notably harmonious in their interactions with each other. Counsellors and teachers gave their all in supporting and encouraging the group. In addition to the busy daily schedule at the Ashram the group took a day’s excursion to a nearby tea plantation to learn about the tea growing and processing activities. On Friday evening the group entertained all at the Ashram with a well-presented talent show. Graduation took place on Saturday, which was also departure day. At this point we did witness some tears as some found it hard to separate themselves from the group and the Ashram. Our sense is that many positive seeds were planted in young minds. After departure teachers and counsellors took a short break and were then busy again preparing for the imminent arrival of twenty Teen Camp participants. We continue to welcome what seems to be an increasing flow of Yoga Vacation guests. At the weekend we welcomed a group of twenty visitors, including a group of regular guests from the coastal city of Can Tho. The Health House continues to be very active, specially at the weekend, hosting drop-in visitors, and teachers and students participating in SYHET practicum teaching.
The nineteen participants of the Teen Camp arrived and were initiated into the course, which had the theme of “Subramanya” and transformation. Ganga Chaitanya and Saraswati planned activities and led the group, assisted by a full team of teachers and counsellors, supported by all the Ashram staff. The group were harmonious and well-motivated, enjoying the many different activities provided in addition to Satsang and Yoga classes. They especially enjoyed a night’s camping experience, cooking their own dinner on an open fire outside. Graduation was on Sunday. The next step for some of them will be as young participants in a future TTC.
At the weekend we welcomed a group of thirty-two school teachers from the Tue Duc schools in Ho Chi Minh City. These are special schools that place particular emphasis on the emotional well-being of students. The teachers were very happy with their immersive experience of Yoga life: for most of them it was a first experience of classical Yoga practice. In addition to the group, we welcomed other international Yoga Vacation guests. At the end of the week staff were busy with clean up and preparations for large groups scheduled to arrive in the coming week. The Health House is increasingly busy with teaching and counselling activities, both for drop-in and residential students. Staff are inspired and delving deeply into learning more about of the health benefits of Yoga practice. Om shanti.
Sivananda Ashram Tapaswini, Gudur, Andra Pradesh India
Greetings from Tapaswini Ashram Gudur. After almost a month and a half of guests the Ashram is in a quiet mode with very few guests. This has given everybody a chance, despite the rising temperatures, to do some basic Karma yoga and get back to their practices. The mango season is in full swing, and all are patiently waiting for the Ashram mangoes ripen. The monkeys are not waiting, however, and the gardener has his hands full driving them away. The normal activities of the Ashram are conducted with a lot of devotion and prayers. On June 4 the occasion of Jyestha Poornima, a Pooja was organised by the village families of Guthavaripalem at the village Temple. Summer is at its peak, and we made the most of the mangoes, using them in cooking and prasadam. Daily Satsangs and Friday Lalitha Sahasranama keeps us motivated along with our Sadhana.
The 9th International Day of Yoga was a highlight where we conducted yoga sessions in Gudur and Vijayawada. We travelled to Vijayawada one day before and held the classes the next day. In Vijayawada the first session was conducted with close to seven hundred children at Shri Vishwashanti School. Then we went to A.G & S.G Siddhartha Degree College with three hundred students and finally to Lahari Vidhya Mandir with one hundred children. In Gudur, a yoga class was held in Narayana College of Engineering and Govt School in Kadivedu. The sessions went very well as the children and college students were very disciplined and participated with a lot of enthusiasm. Every year a theme is decided to celebrate this day, this year the message was ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ highlighting the ancient Indian wisdom and our motto ‘Unity in Diversity’ by seeing this Universe as one family and showing love, compassion and kindness to all. We feel blessed to have these experiences where we get to share Master and Swamiji’s message of peace and love through yoga. Sending our prayers and pranams to all of you. Om shanti.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Tokyo, Japan
Om Namah Sivaya. Guests from France and the UK came visit us at the Shojiko Retreat, enjoying the countryside of Japan which is quiet and very different from Tokyo. On Saturday, we offered a Kirtan workshop in Tokyo. A good number of students who had only been participating in online Kirtan programs joined us for the workshop in-person for the first time, enjoying the energy generated through chanting. A new online Jyotish Night Talk session led by Keiko Ito was held on Thursday.
The following week we had many guests coming to stay causing us to think that perhaps things are finally coming back to the situation before the pandemic. There are many foreign tourists visiting here to climb Mt. Fuji, the sacred mountain, and we see many colourful tents they put up at the shore of the Shojiko Lake. Asana class for guests in-person in addition to online courses and classes are going well.
The third session of the Yoga 1 course was completed successfully. They were so committed to their spiritual learning with a positive attitude, reviewing what they had learned at each session and coming to the following session with many questions. The bitterly cold season has gone, and the weather is bearable finally. Staff are busy with renovating and cleaning the lodge, gardening, farming, etc. before things become hectic ahead of the busiest season of the year, while enjoying the beautiful nature.
The two-month Sanskrit Beginners’ course taught by Vanidevi was completed on Saturday. The students go on to the subsequent Sanskrit Beginners’ Course II to deepen their knowledge and understanding. The briefing session on TTC to be held at the Da Lat ashram in Vietnam with Japanese translation service was given on Friday and Saturday. A good number of students were interested in traveling and studying abroad as the pandemic has almost subsided.
The six-day program” Essentials of Yoga Health & Self-Healing” taught by Swami Sitaramananda has been underway at the Yoga Farm in California, with Japanese translation service provided to Japanese students. The session starts early in the morning because of the international time differences, however, a good number of students have attended and gained a great opportunity to learn important teachings. A study session on Sivananda Yoga led by Atmashakti Chaitanya was held on Friday, joined by eight students, in which they enjoyed the feel of the Ashram even though it was given online. The Yoga 1 course was completed on Wednesday, and the students are proceeding to Yoga 2 course for deeper level of spiritual learning. Om shanti.
03 Full Moon
03 Guru Purnima
14 Swami Sivananda Mahasamadhi
17 New Moon
Thoughts of God cheer up the body, mind and spirit. Names of God soothe the nerves. Love of God bestows peace and joy. Knowledge of God breaks the fetters of Karma. – Sri Swami Sivananda
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. This is the birthday and the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). It is observed throughout India, as well as by devoted Hindus in all parts of the world. Clay figures of the Deity are made and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, they are thrown into water.
Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first in any prayers. His Names are repeated first before any auspicious work, or any kind of worship is begun. He is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and the elder brother of Skanda or Kartikeya. He is the energy of Lord Shiva.
Without the Grace of Sri Ganesha and his help nothing whatsoever can be achieved. No action can be undertaken without his support, Grace or blessing.
Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom and bliss. He is the Lord of Brahmacharins. He is foremost amongst the celibates. He has as his vehicle a small mouse. He is the presiding Deity of the Muladhara Chakra, the psychic centre in the body in which the Kundalini Shakti resides. He is the Lord who removes all obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant and bestows upon him worldly as well as spiritual success. Hence, He is called Vigna Vinayaka. His Bija Akshara (root syllable) is Gung, pronounced to rhyme with the English word “sung”. He is the Lord of harmony and peace.
Lord Ganesha represents Om or the Pranava, which is the chief Mantra among the Hindus. Nothing can be done without uttering it. This explains the practice of invoking Ganesha before beginning any rite or undertaking any project. His two feet represent the power of knowledge and the power of action. The elephant head is significant in that it is the only figure in nature that has the form of the symbol for Om.
The significance of riding on a mouse is the complete conquest over egoism. The holding of the ankusha (goad) represents his rulership of the world. It is the emblem of divine Royalty.
Ganesha is the first God. Riding on a mouse, one of nature’s smallest creatures and having the head of an elephant, the biggest of all animals, denotes that Ganesha is the creator of all creatures. Elephants are very wise animals; this indicates that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. It also denotes the process of evolution–the mouse gradually evolves into an elephant and finally becomes a man. This is why Ganesha has a human body, an elephant’s head and a mouse as His vehicle. This is the symbolic philosophy of His form.
On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel his Presence in it. Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.
May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path! May He bestow on you all material prosperity as well as liberation!
From Hindu Fasts and Festivals by Swami Sivananda