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. The beginning of June at the Yoga Camp Ashram had much movement in preparation before Sadhana Intensive. The staff worked hard to get much of the outdoor projects done in preparation for the start of our summer season. In addition to the continuation of the path, the Krishna Temple roof project was successfully completed. We had two Karma Yoga nights where we went up to the Subramanya Temple and worked in the gardens. We did a lot of cleaning and it is looking very nice. To our delight we also had the pleasure of welcoming Suzanne back to the Camp. She will be running the Juice Fasting program this month. We held the initiation for all the Juice Fasting students in preparation for their 10 day fast. We also had a few Sadhana Intensive students arrive. We welcomed back Prahlad for the summer season at the Camp. The initiation for the Sadhana Intensive took place at the Subramanya Temple. The two courses ran at the same time creating a nice energy throughout at the Ashram. The weather warmed up a bit. With the developing of the gardens, the view grew more and more green and colorful. Hanuman and many other Karma Yogis made the grounds look beautiful. Gita was hard at work starting the new vegetable garden. We hope to soon see some planting.
Mid June was alive with energy as the start of the summer season began. With the start of Sadhana Intensive course and the Juice Fasting, much was happening at the Camp. There was much work done around the Ashram, thanks to the Karma Yogis hard at work. The adding of grass and stones around the brick paths started to tie everything together. The grounds looked better and better each day. With a couple of Karma Yoga nights the putting of the grass and outdoor work in the new garden went well. It was great to see everyone, staff and guests together at work. As the month progressed, so did the Juice Fasting and Sadhana Intensive groups. During Satsangs, Prahlad read the Srimad Bhagavatam as part of the Sadhana Intensive program. We all benefitted from the readings and gained much inspiration by listening to its stories. The Fasting group finished their fasting with many of them came out feeling strong and energized. In addition, we had the hoisting of the flag at the Mariammam Temple. It was a very joyous event, complete with an abundance of food and people. Everyone from the Ashram was able to attend and take part of the celebrations which continued for the next 10 days. We had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Bali. He held a workshop and yoga class one weekend which inspired many of our guests and staff. Other Yoga Camp activities and maintenance went as usual. We were blessed to be carrying Swami Vishnu’s mission. May the blessings of the Divine be upon all. Om Shanti.
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Namah Sivaya to all. With the arrival of June the current Yoga Vacation program continued smoothly alongside a good number of people taking panchakarma treatment. Although silent walks were not possible earlier in June, due to the onset of the monsoon, the rain held off long enough to allow the regular much appreciated walk to the dam side a week later. Instead of a morning walk, guests and staff went to the local Subramaniam Temple next to the Neyyar dam for the evening. The annual Kaavadi Festival took place, providing the foreign guests and staff with an fascinating cultural experience. The festival attracted many devotees carrying a Kaavadi along with traditional drumming. The older ones had thin spears of various lengths through their cheeks, whilst some had hooks in their back and others hang from the hooks – ‘flying Kaavadi’. The finale of the offering of penance is the Agni Kaavadi, where one Kaavadi bearer walks on hot coals of coconut fronds. On the Ashram staff list, we thanked Alba, Jagadamba and Kamala for their service and said goodbye until they return again, hopefully next year. Uma also left for a month or so to do Sadhana Intensive at the Camp and renew her visa; a well deserved break after taking thousands of photos for the new website. Work on the website continued under the direction of Bhavna. We look forward to seeing the results.
During mid June Colonel Nair came to give his fortnightly talk on Hinduism for the guests. Sivadas transferred to the Trivandrum Centre for a month or so. It will give him good experience. An incinerator was constructed at the back of the Ashram in order to facilitate the management of waste. A new batch of Yoga Vacationers started with keen interest to know the depth and breadth of Yoga. At the same time a new record batch of 26 patients started the Panchakarma Detoxification program. This time of the year, when the rains set in, is considered the most suitable for Ayurveda treatment. Having said that the monsoon appeared to have retreated. For the sake of the water supply in the next dry season we hoped it starts again. Suresh was busy handling various requests from schools and colleges around for yoga teachers to provide them with a talk and demonstration on 21st June, International Yoga Day. Narayan returned from home. International Yoga Day gave a little break in the routine; twenty six took the opportunity to challenge themselves in an energizing 108 Surya Namaskars class with Suresh. And about 30 joined most of the staff in visiting the Trivandrum Centre in the evening for a mini satsang followed by exhilarating bhajans from a local group and then the colourful performance of a couple of Bharatanatyam dances from one of the Centre students. For IYD all the teaching staff were busy either teaching in the Ashram or outside at various schools and colleges, introducing Swamiji’s Five Points and the twelve basic postures to almost 2000 people. As always, we pray for Swamiji’s protection and guidance. May the Grace of God and the Masters keep us all. Pranams to all the Sivananda Family.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. In early June, the final week of the second TTC of the season went by rapidly with the students fully focused on absorbing as much as possible of the information from the specialist yoga classes as well as the lectures. A beautiful Devi Pooja was conducted in order for the students to express their gratitude for the whole TTC experience. They studied well on Friday and with the Grace of Swamiji and Master all the students successfully graduated on Saturday. On Sunday they departed with hopes of returning sometime whilst the staff geared up for the cleaning process and preparation for the next inauguration in a week’s time.
Mid June was spent resting a little between the TTC courses and of course preparing the Ashram for the next batch who arrived at the weekend. The initiation took place on Sunday for 38 students. We look forward to the Grace of Swamiji and Master guiding them in their practice and enlightening them with the Yogic philosophies over the coming four weeks. We thanked Swamiji and Master for their blessings and look forward to seeing the students going deeper in the coming weeks. International Yoga Day celebrations: About 40 local school children visited the Ashram to demonstrate their practice of Yoga to the TTC students. A number of them also performed some of the local traditional dances for which they also wore traditional dress. The TTC students appreciated the efforts of the children and the opportunity to experience the local culture. On Friday day off most of the TTC students took the opportunity to visit Gangothri, visiting the cave that inspires admiration for Swamiji’s will power to have stayed there during winter months as it is cold, even in June. May Swamiji and Master continue to bless all with inspiration. Pranams to all. Om.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. Staff are thanking God and our Masters for their blessings. With prayers and regards from all Ashramites worldwide. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Om Namah Sivaya, from the Yoga Ranch. With the arrival of June we enjoyed beautiful summer weather after a long period of cold temperatures and rain. Isani, a long-time teacher at New York Centre, arrived for the week to teach the Yoga Immersion Week for Beginners’. This week we welcomed a new resident priest, Sankaran Namboodiri, and the TTC group started Week 2 and are continuing to do very well. On Wednesday, we celebrated Srinivasanji’s birthday. Thursday morning started with Ganesha Homa performed by Sankaranji, and later that day Denis Chernin arrived to lead the special weekend program, Yoga of Devotion: Kirtan and Mantra Chanting, which was enthusiastically received. We were happy to welcome Gangadhara back from Uruguay; and two new staff, Parina and Gopi, arrived over the weekend. Two new Karma Yogis, Tamara and Alex, arrived for the work-study program as well.
Mid June was lively and inspiring. Monday was the TTC class on kriyas, and the week-long Positive Thinking retreat started. On Wednesday TTCs started Week 3. Ashram priest Sankaran Namboodiri led us in a beautiful and powerful Devi Puja on Tuesday evening. Jared and Bhakti visited on Wednesday and Thursday, giving a Satsang on Permaculture and leading Karma Yogis in work on the food forest. It was an uplifting weekend, with Satyadev and Nirmala arriving from Colombia to lead a program called “Converting Your Home into a Temple,” and Swami Sivadasananda arrived from Munich and Gopala from Madrid, visiting the Ranch for the first time in several years on their way to New York City for the International Day of Yoga event at the UN. On Saturday, Swami Sivadasananda taught a combined asana class for TTC, staff, and guests; and he gave the Satsang that evening. Rabbi Zoe Zak and Peace Ensamble arrived on Sunday to give a concert in the evening Satsang. We were happy to welcome some new and returning staff: Karuna, Sankara, Sita, Rukmini, Pranava, and Luisa. Staff are well and send pranams to all. Staff are well, ever grateful for the grace of the Gurus, and send pranams to all. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. At the beginning of June ATTC students are very inspired to dive into their sadhana of morning pranayam, asana practice and philosophy. The group is very focused and inspired to hear the Raja Yoga, Vedanta teachings and Satsang talks from swami Sitarmananda-ji on Guru and Guru Bhakti. The week culminated with a beautiful Full Moon Mandala Puja led by Swami Vasishtananda at Swamiji’s house, blessing all. Many programs are running alongside the ATTC: The Intermediate Yoga course with Sri Devi introduced the Four Paths of Yoga; Komilla Sutton taught the Jyotish weekend course on Rahu and Ketu including Satsang talks on how to understand karmic situations through Jyotish; Spencer Nielsen shared his extensive knowledge with the Ayurveda Herbs in the Garden weekend course. We welcomed Hasu Patel-ji for a beautiful classical sitar concert accompanied by Samrat Kakkeri on tabla. The weather has been ideal this week for sadhana. The Ashram was blessed with a rare summer rain shower.
During mid June Swami Sitaramananda and staff visited Grace Cathedral in SF to give a talk and Q&A to celebrate International Yoga Day. For many in attendance it was their first exposure to Sivananda Yoga and was gratefully received. Swami Dharmananda also visited the State Capitol for a ceremony recognizing International Yoga Day in California.
Meanwhile, the Yoga Farm is vibrant with energy of ATTC sadhana: the students are very inspired with their pranayama practice and philosophy classes. The Ashram welcomes this week Niranjan Babu, Vastu expert from Bangalore, India, with his wife Umarani for programs later this month. We were especially blessed with beautiful kirtan concerts with Atmarama das, giving evening Satsangs and afternoon workshops, sharing his devotion to Sri Krishna! We thank Dr. Suprabha Jain for her enlightening talk on the integration of Yoga with western medicine for holistic health and self-healing.
The weather now is very hot high summer, staff are watering the grounds to keep the Ashram green, and taking outings to the Yuba River to swim and stay cool.We all felt the grace of Master and Swamiji this month. Om Namah Sivaya to all Blessed Selves, from the Yoga Farm.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. The beginning of June started with the neuroscience symposium “From Brain to Cosmos and Back” as part of Swami Swaroopananda’s birthday celebration. We also welcomed many devotees, staff members and teachers, who arrived for the birthday celebration. We celebrated Swami Swaroopananda’s birthday with a very inspiring celebration consisting of a Dakshinmurthi Puja and Guru Puja. Afterwards, the Swamis, special guests, staff and devotees gave birthday blessings and words of gratitude. A very good feast was served right after. In the evening Suba Parmar, a long time friend if the Organization, gave a beautiful Bharathanatyam music and dance performance. We welcomed Stephen Schwartz. He presented the program “Exploring the Infinite – Opening to Your Nonlocal Self”.
Mid June we welcomed Swami Prakashananda, founder and Acharya of the Chinmaya Mission of Trinidad and Tobago. He presented the program “The Individual and Ultimate Consciousness: The 13th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita”. We welcomed Brant Passalacqua, a trained Yoga therapist, who presented the program “Yoga Therapy for Balance and Health”, which he shared with the inspired audience during Satsangs and noon workshops. Linda Graham, who integrates modern neuroscience, mindfulness practices and relational psychology in her trainings on resilience and well-being, started her program on “Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Resilience and Well-Being” during an evening Satsang. The Ashram priest, Krishnan Namboodiri conducted beautiful and uplifting Ganapati Vidya Homa. Everyone had the opportunity to offer ghee into the fire and flowers onto the Yantra. We also welcomed long-time devotee of the organization, Narayan Jyoti. He taught the ThetaHealing Bsaic DNA course, the ThetaHealing Advanced DNA course and the ThetaHealing: Dig Deeper course. We finished with a wonderful concert with Narayan Jyoti and Machel Montano. For International Yoga Day the Ashram priest, Krishnan Namboodiri, conducted a Patanjali Puja on the beach. It was a beautiful Puja with many participants, finishing with some collective rounds of Surya Namaskar. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. We had a remarkable TTC this past month. The close-knit group were very supportive of each other and got actively involved in Ashram life, as well as immersing themselves in their studies. By the grace of the Masters all passed the exam. Some of the TTC’s chose to some stay on as Karma Yogis for a few days, providing some much needed help in the new Ganga house. The house provides space to accommodate special guests, Karma Yogis and extra rooms for vacation guests. A motivated group of teachers and close students came from around Europe to take part in a photo shoot. Pictures being taken in all corners of the Seminar House and its grounds, as well as some beautiful outdoor locations. We were very lucky to have some absolutely gorgeous summer weather for the special programs at the May Retreat. All enjoyed the classes on the outside platform and daily walks in the surrounding nature that is simply bursting with prana. In an Ayurveda Nutrition Special Dr.Kamlesh shared his many years of experience generously. We had a series of workshops on the topic of Detox – Cleansing for Body and Mind. Kriyas were practiced daily as well as meditative pranayama sessions and a study of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The highlight however was the Bhagavata Saptaha. Every single evening was a divine combination of profound wisdom, masterful music and soul-touching vocals. For the first time were we are running a parallel program at our other yoga vacation location in Mittersill. At Whitsun more lectures on the topic of diet were given by Sigrid Siebert, a nutritionist. She gave us clear insight into the optimal nutrition with vegan and vegetarian diet and the myths and facts about sugar. In a 3- day Further Training for teachers on ‘Breath Work’ study of the anatomy of breathing was combined with in-depth self-practice. Corrections workshops put the teachers in teaching simulations to improve their teaching skills. The priest, Yagneshwara Dixit, led us in several Pujas. Small changes were made to the altar, allowing the energy to flow better. We now shift our focus to the upcoming summer months. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. Upon the arrival of June the Ashram had a Yoga vacation program with the topic “The Light of Hatha Yoga” which enabled students to understand and experience the depth of Hatha Yoga, and refresh their practice. On Tuesday staff had an outing to Mont Saint Michel, a 1300 year old abbey and monastery at the Normandy coast. Everyone seemed deeply moved and touched by the place, especially seeing the monastic life of the monks both past and present and the feeling within the group was light, harmonious and joyful. Senior Teachers and Karma Yogis stayed back at the Ashram and provided the daily programming for the 12 guests present who seemed quite happy. Temperatures have warmed up and staff have the morning Sadhana outside the meditation hall in front of the Temple which is a positive moment in the day for the group. The role assignment for long term staff seemed to have gone well with each member stepping up to the responsibility. We had a meeting to review and discuss Retreat Guru and the general feeling was positive and optimistic after a long period of implementation of the system. The Krishna Kutir house was fully prepared and the Asana platform tent and bungalow tents were cleaned. A project started to assess all the rooms in the Ashram for maintenance and upgrade commenced. A feedback survey which was launched and went out to 40 people with positive responses.
During mid June the mornings found regular rhythm with staff practicing in front of the Meditation hall. Swami Bhagavatananda gave a certificate course about Healthy Cooking with Ayurveda which included five lectures and four cooking workshops with some of them concluding in the afternoon with a nice snack on the lawn. A program Yoga and Nature Walks gave students to opportunity to discover the environment of the Ashram. The Chateau painting continued on the North and East side. The huts had some good maintenance done and were thoroughly cleaned as well as the bungalow tents. The asana Platform decoration was set up and a chanting Satsang was held on it, the energy was high and practically all the staff and some guests had an opportunity to chant. An inspired staff svadhyaya on how to deal with changing energy levels happened with more staff in attendance than anticipated. Swami Kailasananda, Swami Gopalananda and Kailas left the Ashram for the international yoga day events in Paris and London respectively. The energy of the Ashram is very much in preparation for the TTC Refresher and some of the TTC’s have already started to arrive. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from the Da Lat Ashram. With the arrival of June a steady week here at the Dalat Ashram. We have been pleased to welcome new participants for the Seva-study program, we’re grateful for the extra help of Karma Yogis. This week work on the children’s playground was finished, so far it’s been mostly adults who have been enjoying the new swings! We enjoyed a labyrinth walk with staff and guests on Wednesday morning. On the same day we were very happy to welcome Swami Sankaranananda to the Ashram, he will be staying with us for a little under two weeks. On Friday it was time to welcome Saraswati back to the Ashram after 6 weeks of travels on the US West Coast and at the Bahamas Ashram, she arrived recharged and inspired from her experiences in the San Francisco Centre and the two Ashrams. On Saturday morning it was Swami Narayanananda’s turn to travel, he left to teach one day in Hanoi at the affiliated Centre there, then travelled on to the Centre in Chengdu, China. The Chengdu staff and students will go to our TTC location at Qian Fo Mountain for a weekend retreat. The following weekend Swami Narayanananda and Ambika will attend the India/China Yoga Conference in Shenyang, Liaoning province where Sivananda Yoga was sought out and specially invited to represent classical Yoga in China. Staff at the Dalat Ashram are well and inspired, by Guru’s grace.
Mid June Swami Sankaranananda was with us this week helping at the Ashram. Swamiji has been teaching daily Bhagavad Gita classes for the staff, as well as giving guidance on sadhana for staff and Seva-study participants. We have been very busy with preparations for the upcoming Children’s Camp and the Children’s Camp Cousellors’ course that precedes it. Most of the Ashram staff will be participating in the Camp as counsellors. Ganga Chaitanya and Durga traveled up from Ho Chi Minh City to help with teaching the course, which began on Sunday. 12 participants are following the program, guided by Ganga Chaitanya and Saraswati. Atmajyoti left the Ashram for a few days to participate in training at the Vietnam Yoga Association in Hanoi. In the maintenance area, installation started of a new fire protection system. Om.
09 Full Moon
16 Mariamman Temple Flag Hoisting
24 New Moon
25 Pongala Festival
08 Kavadi Flag Hoisting
09 Subramanya Ayyappa Temple anniversary
09 Full Moon (Guru Poornima)
11 Krishna Temple Anniversary
14 Masters Mahasamadhi
23 Kaavadi Chariot Festival
23 New Moon
Empty yourself of your egoism, then the Divine will fill your heart to the brim. – Sri Swami Sivananda
TAMASIC: describes the qualities of darkness, inertia in an object. The root word, Tamas, is one of the three gunas that all objects are comprised. Tamasic is a quality attributed to describe dark, lethargic, unaware properties of thoughts, words or actions.
The Tamasic diet consists of a list of foods that practitioners of the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda consider to be Tamasic, meaning that they may cause certain potentially harmful mental and physical conditions. According to Ayurvedic beliefs, people wishing to become serious students of yoga should avoid Tamasic foods in their quest to achieve a healthy balance between their mind, emotions and body. Ayurveda teaches there are two other diets besides the Tamasic that can also affect this balance: Sattvic and Rajasic.
The natural medical system of Ayurveda has been practiced in India for thousands of years and bases its teaching on three Gunas, or primary qualities, that are said to exist in all natural things. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Each represents a different quality: Sattva is purity, Rajas is activity or passion and Tamas is inertia or darkness. In every material object, person or action, the characteristics of all three gunas are present; one, however, is always dominant. Whether a person’s diet consists of Sattvic foods, Rajasic foods or Tamasic foods determines which Guna influences their thoughts and actions.
The Tamasic diet is characterized by the following foods: meat, fish, onions, garlic, curds, mushrooms, alcohol and any other fermented foods, including vinegar, bread, pastries and cakes. Any stale, overripe or under ripe, tasteless and rotten foods are also considered Tamasic, as is tobacco, or any kind of drug, plus any foods that have been processed, including those that are preserved in any way, canned or frozen. The prana/subtle life energy is low in these items.
Ayurvedic practitioners believe that a person who eats primarily Tamasic foods is doing harm to both their minds and their bodies. Ayurveda teaches that such a person will lose Prana, or life energy, and will be filled with strong, dark urges such as greed or anger, coupled with a lack of proper reasoning skills and a sense of inertia.
The Bhagavad Gita describes the nature of Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic natures in Chapter XVIII as follows:
“That which knows the path of work and renunciation, what ought to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation-that intellect is Sattvic (pure), O Arjuna. That by which one wrongly understands Dharma and Adharma and also what ought to be done and what ought not to be done-that intellect, O Arjuna, is Rajasic. That which, enveloped in darkness, sees Dharma as Adharma, and all things perverted-that intellect is Tamasic.”
Light, positive, sattvic or pure thoughts are calm and can be more easily transcended. Rajasic (extrovert) and Tamasic (dull) thoughts like anger, jealousy and greed are difficult to control. The question, then, is how to purify the thoughts and experience positive thinking.
A glossary can be found at:
Develop the eye of intuition. Have a vision of the Infinite. – Sri Swami Sivananda