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Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Sivananda Headquarters, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada

Om Namah Sivaya, Greetings from the Headquarters. During early May the Yoga Camp was beautiful and warm, so warm that the yoga afternoon classes were done outside on the pool platform. The staff, locals and guests were delighted in the outdoor classes and they did not mind the flies swarming around them during their practice. Our longtime staff member, Pierre Corvine helped to host a sacred fire walk. The first one since Master Swami Vishnu’s time. The inspiring and delightful Chief Guy Frigon and his wife Monique got us all ready to walk on the hot coals with vibrant chanting, team building exercises, love and kindness. Pierre, Gita, Mario and Jean were all very beneficial in supporting us all with the evenings energizing, culminating momentum buildup to the actual time to walk on the fire. Everyone that was present and initially agreed to do the fire walk, DID! It was inspiring and amazing to see all the fire walkers reach the other side safe and somehow changed. Some people walked together, up to 3 at a time. Some others walk alone. Everyone agreed that this experienced was amazingly mind changing. Apart from the weekend program, the Ashram slowly gets ready for the summer, as the work on the grounds got started with cleaning and moving things around. Soon the gardens will be started, as we’ll be hosting a garden karma yoga week.

During mid-May saw we had our last snowfall plus a cold front that lasted for a few days, before Spring settled in. As the whether warmed up we concluded the cleaning of the Dorms, bathhouses, Kids Camp cabins and the staff cabins, having all summer buildings ready for the opening on the first week of June. The May Long Weekend was a busy time for all of us, as lots of guests came with their families and children to benefit from the family programs and kids classes. We had a team from Montreal Centre that came with Nikhila to look after the children and keep them busy with activities and yoga classes. Saturday night we had a nice bonfire up at the airfield where guests and staff alike enjoyed the full moon, fire, popcorn and the plays the children prepared for all of us. It was a joyful evening. Up at the Temple we had a wedding ceremony. The Temple was fully decorated and music was played the entire day. We look forward for our Garden Karma Yoga Week to have all the gardens cleaned and set up for the summer. May Master and Swamiji’s blessings be with all of us. Om + Prem.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Namah Sivaya to all. During early May the Kids’ Camp continued to bring a lot of joy into the Ashram. The children went on a two-day trip to the very tip of India, Kanya Kumari, where three oceans meet and Parvati stood on one leg as tapas to win the attention of Lord Siva. They had a wonderful time. We were also entertained by them in their talent show: lots of wonderful dance, singing and asanas. We celebrated the end of the Detoxification and Fasting Programme with a very nice graduation ceremony. Twenty-nine shining faces collected their certificates and more importantly had their first meal in thirteen days!!! We bid farewell to Bella and Kamala Chaitanya and thank them for their service and wish them well in their next phase of life. And we welcomed Rakesh as new staff and Govinda as returning staff. We wished Kalyani and Nataraj safe journey on their travels to renew visas and to represent India in China in a major Yoga Festival there. The Kids’ Camp was a resounding success thanks to the hard work of Suresh and his dedicated staff. Parents were very happy and many of the children were already asking to come back next year. The Ashram was strangely quiet. The monsoon season began. Continual rain for a few days made us aware of the power of Mother Nature. We scurried around with umbrellas as torrential rains descended from the skies. We welcomed a new Yoga Vacation batch. We held a chanting workshop for staff, to get them up to speed on some of the bhajans.

Mid May saw the Ashram settling down into the quieter season, but even so there were plenty of guests to look after. The weather was in full flood, almost literally. It rained very hard non-stop for about three days, followed by a little sunshine. The new teachers’ teaching group continued apace. The TTC graduates began to find confidence and were soon ready to teach the guests. We had a very joyful talent show, with lots of participation from our Yoga Vacationers, with some very funny games and skits. Kaavadi was held in the local villages so staff and guests went down to the Neyyar Dam to watch the fire walking and other “penances”.  We said goodbye to work-study Susan and thanked her for her hard work. We welcomed Chandrika back and said hello to new staff Alan. Om. Pranams.

Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India

Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. During early May the April TTC finished, with all 29 students graduating successfully.  Within days they almost all departed. The Ashram was then cleaned and tidied for the May TTC starting a week later.  This time 30 students were initiated and participated in the Ganapathy Homa for a good start.  Swami Parameswariananda presented the main lectures; Mahalakshmi Hatha Yoga; Ravi Easwaran Bhagavad Gita and chanting; Sivani assisted with Chanting and Hatha Yoga and another Sivani and Shaji assisted with Hatha Yoga.  We prayed that with Swamiji and Masters blessings these new students will experience some spiritual unfoldment in the coming weeks. With Master and Swamiji’s Grace, all staff are doing well. Om.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Om Namo Narayanaya. During early May the second week of Kids Camp saw the kids getting more acclimatized to their daily routine after much coaxing and cajoling during their first week stay at the Ashram. It was water splashing time one Monday in the swimming pool at a nearby ethnic resort to where we took them for a cooler refreshment. We took them to Rameshwaram temple where the kids enjoyed getting drenched in water and for a change without getting scolded from the elders. The hired guide explained to kids about the legend behind the temple and also about the importance of taking bath with water from 22 different wells before entering the inner sanatorium. On our way back we got down at Pamban Bridge and enjoyed the scenic beauty of sea from atop the bridge taking back memories imprinted in videos and photographs. After this we went to a nearby beach aptly named ‘Khushi Beach’ meaning happiness. We bought lemon and water containers and made lime juice for the kids at the sea-shore. It was fun and fulfilling to see all of them coming together to help us in preparing and later to collect the litter from the area. Then we proceeded to make the kids take a dip in the sea with all the staff forming a protective barricade around the kids beyond which they were not allowed to venture. We organized a blindfolded payasam eating competition during happy assembly. All of us had a wonderful time laughing our heads off seeing the kids smelling their way to payasam. There was face painting competition that saw the kids coming up with innovative ideas that were given a pictorial representation on the face of their friends much to the merriment of both the painter and the canvas. Talent show displayed the kids adeptness in singing and dancing embellished with a touch of professionalism in their performances. Yoga vacation concluded and a modest number of new guests started arriving to enroll for the next vacation program.

Mid May saw the first ever Kids Camp of our Ashram culminat with the final week flying by. We had Lalitha Sahasra Naama Puja with the kids seeking blessings from Devi. We had torrential rainfall here in Madurai, forcing us to limit the kids to indoor activities. We showed them cartoon movies like Good Dinosaur to keep them engaged during rains. One Thursday evening we took them out for their swimming sessions. Suresh ji with his family was here for the final days of Kids Camp. The treasure hunt saw the kids running hitherto all around the Ashram to solve the riddles given to them. Parents started arriving early on graduation day to attend the graduation program. We had Talent Show with programs like singing, dancing and drama performances by the kids for which preparations had been going on for the past weeks. All of them gave a terrific display of their talents in front of their parents, making them feel proud. Most of the kids left, leaving behind fond memories for all staff members. We bade farewell to Damodhara who left for Canada. Next, it was day out with all the staffs, as a token of thanks and gratitude to them to have put in their share of hard work for the Summer Camp. Yoga vacation program then commenced with some of the older guests opting to stay back for few more days. Thanking our Masters for their blessings in the successful completion of our Kids Camp. Om Shanti. Pranams to all.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA

Om Namah Sivaya! During early May we started to get a taste of the first glimpses of Spring. Flowering plants were planted into the ground including several hundred marigolds planted for use in the Pujas. There was also a lot of work happening in the annual garden. Srinivasan attended a local town board meeting and received approval to move forward with the parking lot and solar panel construction. Swami Satyapremananda went into NYC to teach at the Centre a four week program on identifying and eliminating false limiting beliefs. She also gave the evening Satsang and returned to the Ashram with a new staff member, Tara, who was sent from the Bahamas, to help us run the Reception department for the season. Bharata, a direct disciple of Swamiji, came up from South Florida, for a few days of rest and rejuvenation. Swami Satyapremananda taught an Introduction to Meditation program to full house of first time guests.  The weekends were always busy, and we were also seeing an increase in weekday overnight guests and for drop in classes. Swami Paramananda went into NYC to teach the 4:00 o’clock advanced class and give the evening Satsang. He continued to meet with the staff weekly for Sadhana groups, helping staff get over the hurdles of spiritual practice.  By the grace of Master and Swamiji, the staff were maintaining regular practice, supporting each other by attending several of the new teachers’ practice classes. Paul’s health improved daily and now has 2 outside home health aides that come to the Ashram to help him in the morning to prepare for the day. Pranava, who is on staff, oversees Paul’s health care needs and supervising the aides.

Mid May saw fabulous weather, with warmer temperatures and plenty of sun.  We continued to put a strong emphasis on gardening and grounds.  We had a karma yoga night where staff worked together to clean-out the barn and reorganize the barn storage.  It was no small task, as all of the staff helped carry outside the entire contents of the barn and then sorted through what needed to be recycled or thrown away. This project took 2 days to complete, but well worth the effort as we now have a tidy and organized storage and recycling area under the large barn platform.  It was our last Groupon weekend of the year and we were completely full for the two weekend programs. The Joy of Right Living, taught by Mukti Devi, a karma yogi form the New York Centre and former staff of both the New York Centre and Yoga Farm. Mukti Devi discussed the Yamas and Niyamas as the foundation of a yogic life, that leads to true happiness and joy.  We also had a Sweat Lodge, lead by Heather Principe. Heather led a vision quest for her students on the Ashram property, doing this for the past 20 years and always offering a sweat lodge to our guests before her students went for the quest.  The vision quest participants camped out around the sweat lodge area and into the forest where they will be in complete solitude for 5 days, fasting and praying. The Swamis, Swami Satyapramananda and Swami Paramananda, continued to go into the NY Centre to teach and lead Satsangs.  Staff had weekly Sadhana meetings with Swami Paramananda, and by the grace of Master and Swamiji, made strong commitments to their practice. There was a staff practice class a few days a week for the newer teachers to practice teaching for feedback and support. Staff are happy and well and send pranams to all! May the Blessings of Master and Swamiji grace all of our lives.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namah Sivaya! During early May we welcomed the May TTC to the beautiful Vrindavan Yoga Farm Ashram with 34 students coming from all parts of the world , including Brazil, Portugal, England, China and Indonesia. The TTC was initiated by Swami Sitaramananda with a Guru Puja led by Swami Vasishtananda-ji. Swamiji gave inspiring words to all TTC, staff and karma yogis conveying Swamiji’s vision to train Yoga teachers to become ambassadors of peace. The TTC initiation continued with a beautiful Ganapathi Homa at the Krishna Temple led by Swami Vasishtananda with all TTC, staff and karma yogis offering their intentions for a successful month of Sadhana.  TTC introductions were very sweet and sincere with much appreciation for the opportunity to learn and live the classical teachings in the house of the Guru. Swami Sitaramananda taught the Main Lectures and Satsangs; Swami Jnaneswariananda – Anatomy and Satsangs; Swami Dharmananda – Gita and Chanting; Ananta Chaitanya – Hatha Yoga and his team composed of Sri Devi, Mahadeva, Radha Krishna Das and Karuna Devi.

We thanked Swami Kashi Muktananda for his several days of teachings of the Upanishads. We wished him well on his travels. A wonderful and energizing kirtan concert was given by Shakti Rising, from Mt. Shasta, sharing uplifting bhajans. The weather in the Spring at Vrindavan Yoga Farm was perfect, sunny and not hot or cold. The valley was lush and green with natural flowers and so much life, birds, deer, geese, and the Farm animals. We were blessed with inspiring Satsang talks from Swami Sitaramananda-ji that included a special Puja to celebrate Adi Sankaracharya’s birthday, with Swami Vasishtananda-ji also speaking about Sankaracharya’s life. The group enjoyed a morning silent walk to the beautiful Durga Temple, making offerings and chanting bhajans with the sunrise. We were blessed to welcome master sitarist Hasu Patel for a classical concert sharing her sublime music (accompanied by Samrat Kakkeri on tabla) and inspiring all. The Ashram welcomed Manas Kshirsagar for an introductory talk on Ayurveda and ways to bring Ayurveda into one’s life.

Mid May saw the Ashram’s energy very high with the TTC in full swing. We celebrated Buddha Purnima with a beautiful Puja workshop for the TTC and Ashramites and very inspiring for all. The students were very focused and appreciating the deep teaching and practice, enjoying the beautiful natural landscape of the Ashram with sunrise Satsang walks to Durga temple and Siva temple as well as afternoon lectures at Durga temple, Krishna temple and Swamiji’s house. The TTC kriya practice was received with much enthusiasm. We welcomed special guest talks from Mary Thompson from the California College of Ayurveda speaking on Ayurveda Psychology; Dr. Fred Luskin speaking on meditation to cultivate gratitude; classical Bharat Natyam dance with Anuradha Prabhushankar; and the TTC Talent Show with music, poetry, and dance. The weather remained not too hot, ideal for Sadhana among the beautiful valley of Vrindavan. We were all feeling the grace of Master and Swamiji. Om Namah Sivaya to all Blessed Selves from the Yoga Farm.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. During early May we welcomed back Swami Swaroopananda, Rukmini and Minakshi, who returned from the Yoga Camp, after attending the EBM meeting. The May TTC students completed their first week of  the course. We welcomed Prof. William Chittick, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, Dr. Daniel Drubach, Prof. Nathan Katz and Prof. Jan Willis for The Spirituality: Heart and Mind Symposium. The theme of the symposium was on the hear and the mind in the teachings and practices of the world spiritual traditions. We offered the Essentials of Yoga 1 course and the Power of Positive Thinking weekend course. Petra Rakebrandt returned to the Ashram to offer The Yoga of Eating: A Fresh New Approach. Morning Satsangs were led by Jnaneswari who gave beautiful talks on Karma Yoga: Love in Action. Gina Sala gave three evening Satsang Kirtan programs and daytime workshops. The title of her program was: Sound Tantra and Bhakti Chant: Align with the Divine Vibration. Om Shanti from all the staff in Nassau.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith/Kitzbühel Tyrol, Austria

Om Namah Sivaya. After their arrival on the last day of April the TTC-May- group settled nicely into the daily schedule of their trainings programme. Dr. Kamlesh gave two interesting and well appreciated talks on the principles of Ayurveda and the usage of spices and herbs. The next highlight was the May Retreat which saw many guests – both newcomers and close students. Swami Sivadasanandas workshops focused on specific movements of the spine enabled by certain arm- leg-  and shoulder-movements. In two well received lectures Swami Sivadasananda explained the process of contraction and streching in forward – and backward bends. For the first time Prof. Dr. med. Walter van Laack was invited by the Retreat House to give talks on “Near Death Experiences”. In two captivating presentations the students got in depth-information about the latest state of scientific researches done in this field and mind-brain-relationship. In the second week of May the priest Yagneshwara Dixit performed an inspiring Krishna murthi Pooja. The Whitsun yoga retreat programme started on the following Friday with the first of three special asana workshops with Swami Keshavananda. Surya Namaskar was practised intensely and some interesting particularities of skeletal and respiratory muscles in the sun salutation were explained. Sigrid Siebert, a nutritionist from Germany was here for the third time to share her expertise in vegetarianism, super foods, trends and acid-base -balanced nutrition. Swami Sivadasananda stayed with us for whitsun. Both of his Satsangs were very inspiring as he was sharing profound thoughts on the different dictates of the mind, our faculty for rational decisions and the principles of ahimsa. The spiritual highlight of the second May- weekend was the Sivalingam Yantra Pooja on Sunday evening. The geometrical forms of this yantra radiated purity and clarity right from the beginning of the ceremony. 300 names of Lord Siva were sung producing a peaceful atmosphere in the meditation hall. A good group of vacationers stayed for the following week on “Vital breath – vital energy”. Anuloma Viloma and Kapalabhati were systematically built up. Lectures on the interplay of Prana and thoughts and the yogic model of the physical and astral bodies were received with big interest. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

The month was very inspiring at the Ashram.  It started with “Dynamic Asana Week”, which made us focus on the physical aspect of Yoga. Guest appreciated the meditative holding of the asanas, but also the challenge of being taught some advanced postures.  Ananta taught a certificate course “How to Teach Yoga to Children”; Swami Kailasananda gave an inspiring programme “The Light of Hatha Yoga – Connecting to the Source of Power within”; at the same time, she also gave the further training for Sivananda Teachers, “How to teach Meditation and Mantra Chanting”. Also, we focused on the preparations for the first TTC, which started on May 19 with 58 students. The compulsory water reservoir for the fire brigade has been cleaned and refilled, the bungalow tents have been installed, new flowerbeds created for planting flowers and bushes – particularly around the Kanya Kumari shrine. Temperatures are picking up slowly, a number of tents are to be seen in the tent area already and sometimes we could use the outdoor platform for teaching. Ramanarayan, the new Ashram priest, conducted a Maha Mrityunjaya Yantra Puja on Sunday evening, reciting many mantras and also a Ganesha Homa for the beginning of the first TTC of the season. Dr Kamlesh arrived for Ayurveda nutrition programs. OM.

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Spiritual Calendar

JUNE 2016

01 Ekadasi.
05 New Moon.
16 Ekadasi.
17 Mariamman Kodieatrum (Flag Hoisting)
20 Full Moon
26 Pongala Festival

JULY 2016

01 Ekadasi
04 New Moon
09 Subramanya Kodieatrum (Kavadi Flag Hoisting) and Anniversary
11 Krishna Temple Anniversary
14 Masters  Mahasamadhi
15 Ekadasi
19 Full Moon (Guru Poornima)
24 Kavadi Chariot Festival
30 Ekadasi


TAPAS – Tapasya –

Austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline; spiritual force.

Literally it means the generation of heat or energy, but is always used in a symbolic manner, referring to spiritual practice and its effect,  i.e. the roasting of karmic seeds; the burning up of karma.

Walk in the foot-steps of the great Saviours and Saints of the world. – Sri Swami Sivananda