Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Sivananda Headquarters, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada
Om Namah Sivaya from the Yoga Camp! In early February the Ashram was a surprised one for one major reason: no extra snow! With another peaceful month at the Camp, a handful of guests were able to enjoy our regular programme and snowshoeing, with plenty of sun and temperatures hovering around -15C most days. The Camp said a bittersweet, temporary good-bye to Swami Shivabhaktananda, who will be in India for the next several weeks. He is currently in Neyyar Dam, teaching the ATTC. Returning from Neyyar Dam was Yamuna, who was happily busy doing French translation for their past TTC. The staff was glad and joyful to have her back, though it will be a short-lived reunion as she will be relocating to the Montreal Centre. We also held an extraordinary event: a healthy pie-baking workshop held by Uma, a longtime staff member and disciple of Swami Vishnu. The event, though originally intended for staff and guests, also drew visitors from neighbouring communities and even Montreal! With some participants seasoned pie-bakers, and some baking for the first time, Uma guided partakers in making Cossack, fruit, and assorted vegetable pies, which were all incredibly flavourful, delicious, and destined to disappear almost immediately.
Mid-February continued to be a peaceful month at the Yoga Camp. The days have started getting longer and the sun is getting brighter, hinting at the not too distant spring. Meanwhile, unseasonably warm temperatures have brought freezing rain and left the trees covered in shimmering ice. With a thick covering of snow still on the ground, guests have enjoyed many beautiful snow shoe walks, with bright sunshine glistening through the the icy tree tops. Six eager students arrived one weekend to begin the two-part Thai Yoga Massage course, taking place for two weeks. Guided by their teacher Krishna, a long-time student of Swami Vishnudevananda, students will be learning how to use acupressure and passive yoga postures to release tensions and energy blockages, stimulating the free flow of energy in the body. We were also happy to welcome back local author Destein, who spoke at Friday evening’s Satsang about non-duality, emphasizing the importance of letting go of attachment to all objects, even to ideas we maintain about ourself or our future, focussing instead on the subject, our eternal Selves. Work continues on the Stone House renovations and extension, which we are happy to report should be finished very soon. We are so grateful for our weekend karma yogis coming up from Montreal to help out around the Camp, especially Narayani, a devoted karma yogi over the last 40 years, who still teaches all who want to learn Swami Vishnu’s art of folding the laundry. Lord Siva’s blessings to all, and may happiness and peace surround you. Salutations to the worldwide family from the
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. Early February began with a Ganapati Homa for the commencement of the ATTC. All the students dove into the course program with excitement, beginning their Raja Yoga, Anatomy, Vedanta, Pranayama and Asana practice classes with enthusiasm. Energy levels remained high with daily morning Pranayama practice. An India directors’ meeting took place one weekend. We were blessed by having Swamis Durgananda, Sivadasananda and Keshavananda present. The meetings proved to be intense, yet fruitful for all involved. Several guests and ATTC students went on a Kanya Kumari trip, taking some time out of the Ashram one Friday. Swami Gokulananda arrived to take on ATTC German translation. Regular karma yogi, Bheeshma joined us from Toronto. Gopalan and Mandira have completed their staff commitment, as has Haridas who will hopefully be joining the New York Ranch. Swami Shyamananda returned to Orleans. We thanked him for his service.
Mid-February saw the ATTCs finish their second week and are now joined by the newly initiated Ayurvedic Wellness Course group. The main event was the Yoga Walk for Health and Peace arranged by the Trivandrum Centre in the city on Thursday. Over 1500 people participated. The Yoga Vacation, ATTC and AWC students were joined by several local schools as well as the Trivandrum Police academy The program came to an auspicious end with an unexpected downpour of rain. The event was a beautiful experience for all involved. On Friday many people enjoyed the Jungle trip in nature and swimming in the natural pool under the waterfall. The weekly talent show uncovered some hidden talents, with a lovely mix of performances by the Yoga Vacationers, ATTC, AWC and the never failing Murali and Neelkanth performances. Swami Shivabaktananda along with several members of staff joined the Trivandrum Centre for afternoon Asana class and evening Satsang. Dearly beloved Murali and Lakita have left the Ashram as staff, as their time of service has come to an end for the time being. We thank them for their love and selfless service and wish them well on their next endeavor.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namo Narayanaya. With guidance and blessing from Master and Guru, Uttarkashi is functional and operating again, after the floods from 2013. The April TTC course is full in numbers. All courses are going on as planned. May Master and Guru be with us all. Om.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. Early February was abuzz with the preparations of TTC students eagerly awaiting their examinations. The TTC students with their training schedule nearing completion, began to put in lots of hard work for reproducing the teachings acquired by them during their training sessions. We had Lalitha Sahasra naama chanting and Puja offered to the Goddess for her blessings, creating a positive vibration and energy to help guide us through the right path in all our pursuits. We had the examination for TTC students, with all of them having worked earnestly to come out with flying colours. This was followed by a delicious feast of Indian cuisines being served, as a token of our love for the TTC students. We had the talent show in the evening with students showcasing their special talents to the audience who were awestruck with the performances. This was followed by the graduation ceremony to provide the TTC students with their diplomas, the fruit of the hard work they did to evolve into Yoga teachers. They became a part of our big family to carry on the essence of yoga teachings and thus spreading our Masters ideals among the people. The Yoga Vacationers had a wonderful time revelling in the beauty and lush greenery of our landscape. They are having a 3-day long symposium on VASTHU SHASTRA by Olga/Narayani. Swami Keshavananda left for Neyyar Dam Ashram. We wholeheartedly thank him for enlightening the students with his lecture sessions on Bhagavad Gita. We also bade farewell to the TTC students taking back with them fond memories of their stay at the Ashram. Let our Masters grace help and protect them always. Praying for the guiding light of God and our Masters to brighten up our paths.
Mid-February saw the TTC move onto its first week with its students, some new and others of long time stint with Yoga, beginning their training schedule. They got accustomed to the Ashram and its surroundings and went on with their lecture classes and practice sessions under the guidance of experienced teachers that would enable them to propagate the message of Yoga to the needy people. On Thursday, a group of students from the Ashram went to Trivandrum to participate in the Yoga walk campaign organised by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Trivandrum, to raise social awareness about Yoga and its multitude of benefits that still remains to be unexplored. Our group joined in the walk covering a distance of 4 kms thereby contributing our share in spreading Yoga teachings and philosophy. The Friday trip had the students being taken for a visit to Thiruparakundram. The trip presented the students with a flavour of the life of local people of Madurai and proved to be an exhilarating experience for them. One Saturday we had the Talent Show with students entertaining the guests with their awesome display of unique abilities. The Yoga Vacation program brought in a fresh whiff of breath into the otherwise busy and hectic life of the students. The Ashram life gave them a varied viewpoint and experience about the meaning of life and their existence. May the blessings and guiding light of our Masters be ever upon all of us. Looking forward to a wonderful month ahead by the grace of Almighty. May Master and Guru be with us all. Peace and Pranams to the Sivananda family.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Greetings from the Yoga Ranch! In early February we offered a “Introduction to Yoga” week. We had three wonderful ladies in attendance. A heavy snowfall started one Monday night and continued into Tuesday. All of the staff spent time each day shovelling and clearing paths. The planning for the spring garden continued as well as projects promoting our upcoming programs this summer, including video for “The Solar Sustainability Conference” on June 3rd 2014. The men’s bathroom floor in Ananda was in the process of being replaced. Our Teachers’ Training Course is just around the corner and the class size continues to grow. Vishwanatha taught the “Bread Baking” Workshop one Saturday, adding a cozy warmth and fresh baked smells for the weekend guests.
Mid-February had guests stay for week and weekend programs. Snow and a brief temperature increase made for some sunny days with slick pathways. Staff spent more time sanding and de-icing than shovelling snow. Padmavati, from the NYC Centre, taught the “Introduction to Meditation” workshop one weekend, to a large crowd. It is always lovely to have Padmavati with us if only for a weekend. Renovations to the men’s bathroom in Ananda are almost complete. Our annual brochure with the schedule of events for the Ashram will be on it’s way to you very soon. Staff is busy finishing any winter projects and making preparations for the spring/summer season. We will begin the spring season with Mahasivaratari and continued building more momentum and energy through March with the Teacher Training Course. Staff are well and send there pranams. May the Gurus’ blessings of be with us in 2014.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namo Narayanaya. In early February we included a 5-day Beginner Course with Karuna Devi introducing the 5 Points of Yoga to our new guests. A weekend program included the Prana and Pranayama course, with Shambu Das, and the AMRR Ayurveda weekend, with Ambika, giving talks on Ayurveda and Prana. The Ashram received much needed rain and the first signs of Spring with many colourful flowers blossoming, along with the return of many birds. We welcome our new staff member Priya, formerly of the Chennai Centre.
During mid-February the Yoga Farm held a Staff Sadhana week with staff having the opportunity to practice asanas with added pranayama and workshops on Hatha Yoga, Kirtan/Chanting, and Bhakti Yoga. The staff enjoyed a trip to the beautiful Yuba River to meditate, practice pranayama and swim in the cool river water. The Ashram welcomed Tara Durga Devi to teach a weekend Positive Thinking course, offering tools for raising awareness of the nature of our thoughts and switch them to positive, including a fun and insightful practice of Laughter Yoga. Om Namo Narayanaya to all the Sivananda family.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. In early February the Yoga Teachers’ Training Course began with 51 enthusiastic students. Niranjana arrived from Portugal’s Lisbon Centre to teach in this course. Krishan Darshan and Mahashakti left the Ashram. Krishna taught in the ATTC course and gave a series of morning Satsangs on the topic of Hatha Yoga which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. We were happy to welcome Arjuna back to the Ashram for his February programs. His daily yoga classes, silent walk Satsangs and Ashram tours are appreciated and enjoyed by all our guests and staff. February 7-11 the Intermediate Yoga Course began under the experienced guidance of Shakti from the Yoga Farm. Amy Weintraub began the “Yoga for Mood Management” LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training. This program was geared towards yoga teachers and mental health professionals. It provided strategies appropriate for clinical settings that safely release chronically held physical tension and repressed emotions as well as experience yoga techniques as tools for self care. The “Yoga for Peace Symposium – Changing the World from the Inside Out”, took place featuring world-renowned speakers who have dedicated their lives to promoting peace, each in their own way. The participants include Joshua Goldstein, scholar of war and peace who talked about the overall decline of war and gave an informative lecture on the role of the UN over the past few decades; Brant Secunda, Shaman and healer who cofounded the Peace University in Berlin; Moshe Cohen, who integrates Zen and Clowning and founded the US chapter of Clowns without Borders; Elaine Valdov, founder of Yoga Peace Ambassadors and Yogis without Borders; Linda Graham, author, who integrates neuroscience and mindfulness practices; and Mirabai Ceiba, a duo with a beautiful style of devotional music blending mantras with traditional and original english and spanish songs.
Mid-February: “Awakening the Mystic Within Ourselves” was the title of the program given by Matthew Fox, acclaimed theologian who has written more than 30 books, February 19-20. Swami Swaroopananda held his monthly Q&A with important questions and answers on Yoga and Spiritual life on February 20. We hosted Krishna Das for his annual “Yoga of Chant Retreat” from February 21-23. Once again, his concerts and workshops uplifted us all. The TTC students are on the home stretch as they begin their final week of studies. Staff are well and send lots of Prem. Pranams to all!
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. The last week of January we were surprised by the return of snow, marking a restart of winter. We took the guests on several walks and had lectures in thought power and positive thinking. We took the advantage to give the boutique and reception area a deep clean. At one weekend we had series of teachers workshops on backward bending asanas and meditation postures. The students left with renewed knowledge. At the end of the week Swami Durgananda, Swami Sivadasananda and Swami Annapurnananda arrived for a short stay. Beginning of February we had lectures on meditation, relaxation and at the weekend classes and lectures attuned to beginners. The guests repeatedly expressed their joy at being in the mountains and enjoyed the walk at the weekend. We are also gaining some new ideas for winter walks in the area by joining in on professionally guided walks organized by the Kitzbühel tourist office. Later on in February the warm sunshine and fresh snowfall made for a magical combination. The Yoga Body Check programme offered a full scedule, with a plumb line test and an introduction into the kriyas. The guests keenly joined in to try out neti for the first time. The Puja on Wednesday also was a new experience to most students. Lectures on the anatomy of the asanas and relaxation gave a more theoretical knowledge to the yoga practice. Swami Ramapriyananda left for a special programme at the Centre in Rome. Swami Sivadasananda made a brief visit departing after a most inspiring staff Satsang. The week ended with a very successfull TTC preperation weekend. A seriously interested group of students eagerly dived into the programme on offer. At the Sunday evening Satsang we said goodbye to out staff member Saraswati who will be supporting the Vienna Centre for the coming weeks. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. Mid-February had a steady group of guests. They were basically all beginners and they were introduced into the 5 points of Yoga, received a gentle introduction to meditation and we spoke about the science of the 3 gunas in order to properly explain the principles of our yogic diet. We prepared for the cooking course to show a balanced vegetarian diet, how to use spices etc. Swami Bhagavatananda gave the class. It was very well received and guests were quite satisfied. It was a large group of guests for this time of the year. Girija went to Rudraprayag to help with the TTC. The work on the new Bath House is in the final stages, the workers put the tiles around already and the gardener is putting new plants in the area in front. Vishnupriya from Paris was a very welcome help for the busy weekends. A new temporary staff, Ivan arrived to stay for the month. Pranams to all. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
01 – New Moon
08 – Ramanavami
Purushartha can give you anything. Change your habits. Change the mode of thinking. You can conquer destiny. You are now thinking: “I am the body.” Start the spiritual anti-current. You can conquer death and attain the immortal seat of supreme splendour.
Even for realization, the Lord’s grace is necessary. For obtaining the Lord’s grace, intense Purusha Prayatna, otherwise known as Purushartha, can be voiced forth throughout the famous “Yoga Vasishtha”.
By virtuous deeds and right thoughts you can disarm destiny. You have a free-will to act. By self-exertion, Ratnakar became Valmiki. By Purushartha/self-exertion Markandeya conquered death. By Purushartha/self-exertion alone did Uddalaka attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi (higher realization). By Purushartha/self-exertion, Savitri brought back her husband (Satyavan) to life.
Meditation leads to Samadhi – the super-conscious state. – Swami Sivananda