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. Although we are officially in Springtime we ended up getting another snowfall in early April! The Camp was once again freshly covered in snow and the snowblower had to be taken out once again to clean up the walk paths and shovelling that needed to get done. Then days became sunnier, and the reflection off the snow made the scenery seem even brighter. We began to incorporate the chanting of the Lalita Sahasranama and Gita 4 nights a week, led by some of the staff, to continue throughout the year. We had many guests come to partake in our Japa Yoga workshop with Mookambika. Mookambika Chaitanya returned from India. We were all very happy to have her back at the Camp with us. She led 2 weekend workshops along with a Q/A on Sunday. The weekend went very well with one of the workshops held in Samadhi Estates which is always inspiring for the guests. Everyone left with some new techniques and tips on how to continue their practice at home. In general, our April weekend programs saw many people registering. Meanwhile the staff continued with the painting around the Camp, finishing up in the Lodge. Another project that has been ongoing here at the Camp is the transcribing of Swami Vishnu’s lectures. We were able to finish with all of the transcripts. The staff pulled together in order to get this done which was very nice. Everyone continued to get their duties done and keep up with their Sadhana.
The snow continued into mid April this year. We had some icy weather arrive which made the paths a bit messy. Although the temperatures weren’t too cold, it seemed we will still be seeing snow for a little while longer. Mookambika Chaitanya led various workshops throughout the day for the Ashram guests. They were all very eager to learn so she offered 2 different workshops a day. We help a Puja for Devi. One of our priests, Manjunath arrived and prepared the Subramanya Temple for opening day. There was much preparation to be done for the Temple opening. The deities were taken back up to the Temple after being with us in the Krishna Temple all winter. The Subramanya Temple opening ceremony had many devotees come to partake in the occasion. The Ashram guests were given a lecture on the 5 Points of Yoga with Swami Shivabhaktananda, before heading up to the Temple. The ceremony was beautiful and the food was delicious. Everyone was very happy to have the Temple open again. Manjunath will be helping us with the Temple for a while. Prahlad also came to the Camp to organize and run the opening. The staff were doing well. We had a couple new karma yogis join us. The staff are all working together to get things creating a nice energy at the Camp. May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless all. Om Shanti.
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Namah Sivaya to all. The month of April saw the current TTC progressing smoothly. Dr Vishnu gave an interesting Satsang talk about Ayurveda for both Yoga Vacation and TTC students, including the theory of panchamahabhutas (five great elements). Forty people enjoyed the backwater trip. Apart from the boat ride they also stopped in Varkala for a dip in the sea at sunset. Thirty-three people participated in a mantra initiation. May Gurus’ grace inspire them in their Sadhana. Work study, Emine, left for Uttarkashi to do TTC there. We wish her a smooth journey and successful course.
By the middle of April the directors and office staff were on tender hooks in preparation for the yoga school surveillance audit. It has been one year now since the Indian Sivananda Ashrams were certified as yoga schools by AYUSH and the Government of India. The audit consisted of checking our documentation and teaching abilities and facilities. We were thankful that Bhavna came from Delhi especially to help out. At the end, the lead auditor commented that he found significant improvements in our system. Nevertheless, we have a few points that need to be corrected. The TTC finished successfully with all but one passing the course. May Master and Swamiji guide them to liberation. Hamsa returned after her visit to Sri Lanka and Madurai. Peace and Pranams to the Sivananda family. Om.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. May Master and Guru be with us all. Om.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. The month of April sailed by with the new group of Yoga Vacationers enrolling for the next program. Healthy yoga sessions, complete with philosophical interactions, snippetty tea times, gourmet meals, energizing and rejuvenating Satsangs; the guests enjoyed it all. The weather was changing colours with fine mornings getting sultry and humid as the day progressed with the night getting wrapped up in a mix of temperatures. Group Karma Yoga for the staff members had them engaged in clearing the pathway of thorns, plastics, wood and stone splinters well ahead of the upcoming Summer Camp for kids. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Greetings from the Yoga Ranch. For the month of April the Ashram saw a very high volume of guests for this time of year, while the weather changed by the day between wintry then springlike. TTC entered Week 4 with enthusiasm. Our monthly Yoga Immersion for Beginners course began, led by Hamsa. We welcomed back Radha, who returned from Chicago after 18 months of service there. The TTCs had mantra initiation. Shakti and Neeti arrived from New York Centre, as well as several of the teachers from the Centre, for the East Coast Teachers weekend. Shyam and Mohini were here from Florida and taught special asana classes for the retreat. Radha led the other weekend program, which was very popular with the guests: Art of Deep Relaxation and Yoga Nidra weekend. The TTCs took their exam, and by the Grace of the Gurus, they did excellent work. Many of the graduating TTCs participated in the teachers meeting, along with Srinivasan, Swami Paramananda, Swami Satyapremananda, Shyam, Mohini, and all the Ashram staff who have completed TTC. We said goodbye to most of the TTCs, sending them off with our best wishes and blessings, as well as Prashanta, Brahmaswaroop and Emily, whose karma-yoga commitment finished at the end of TTC.
The sudden big changes in weather continued into mid-April, with summery temperatures and everyone in short sleeves on one day, followed by snow and wind the next. Our monthly Positive Thinking course began, led by Gopi. Swami Satyapremananda traveled to New York Centre to lead the evening Satsang, returning to the Ashram soon after. The staff focused on preparing the Ashram for another busy weekend. We again had a full house and a waiting list. We were honoured to welcome Swami Paramatmananda, a senior disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who came from Arsa Vidya Mandir to lead a wonderful weekend program on Yamas & Niyamas. There were two other weekend programs, also popular: Native American Sweat Lodge with Heather Principe and Yoga for Back Care with Bharata, who joined us for the weekend from New York City. Shanti arrived to serve for a few months, and Nitya arrived to lead the cooking for a week. Our Staff are well, feeling grateful for the grace of the Gurus and sending Pranams to all from The Ranch. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. During April we were happy to welcome back the Sivananda Yoga Health Educator students for the 2nd module focusing on Ayurveda, A&P, and Yoga Philosophy. The students were last together in October and have returned inspired to resume their studies, many of whom have already begun to apply their Yoga Health Educator knowledge with their own students. Swami Jnaneswarianada, Sw Dharmananda, and Dr Suprabha Jain welcomed the students and initiated the course. The group dove into A&P with Sw Jnaneswariananda, Ayurveda with Mary Thompson, and introduction to western medical conditions and treatments with Dr Jain. Rudra taught the weekend “Stress Relief and Relaxation” workshop with many guests taking time to rejuvenate with Yoga classes and teachings to manage prana and positive thinking techniques. Projects include completion of the new front entrance driveway to the Ashram, new exterior stairway at Swamiji’s house, painting the pond gazebo and deck repairs. The lavender fields continue to thrive! Om Namah Sivaya to all Blessed Selves from the Yoga Farm. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. The month of April we welcomed John Milton and Douglas Canterbury-Counts, who presented the program “The Way of Nature: Reconnection and Renewal”. It was a special experiential retreat, which included lectures with references to Yoga, Vedanta, Buddhism, Taoism, Tantra and shamanic Traditions. We festively inaugurated the April TTC and ATTC. Satyadev and Nirmala arrived from Colombia to teach the Hatha Yoga portion in the TTC. Jnaneshwari Chaitanya gave a program during morning Satsangs on “Sadhana: Understanding and Maintaining a Daily Practice”. We started a very special program with Swami Aparokshananda Saraswati, a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati and a traditional teacher of Vedanta internationally. He gave inspiring teachings from the Bhagavad Gita on Karma Yoga during his program “Relevance of Karma Yoga in Modern Life”. Rukmini Chaitanya taught a 3-day Essentials of Meditation Weekend Course. Isvari Mary Ann Johnson and Vidya Denise Chapman started the 7-day “Ayurveda Marma Therapy Course”. Molly Birkholm and Ford Peck started their 6-day “iRest® Yoga Nidra Level 1 Teacher Training”.
By the middle of April Swami Aparokshananda continued his inspiring program “Relevance of Karma Yoga in Modern Life” during the evening Satsangs throughout the week and also gave an interesting program on ” Different Meditative Practices for Enriching the Mind” during several morning Satsangs. Krishnan Namboodiri performed a Ganapati Vidya Homa, invoking the energy of Ganesha to remove obstacles and of the Divine Mother to bestow knowledge on all the participants. We welcomed Kumari Catherine Gillies, who gave the programs “Oh My Aching Back!” and “Living Through Change: Yoga for the Grieving Process” during noon workshops. Julie Lusk, who has more than 35 years of expertise in stress relief, yoga, relaxation training, guided imagery and meditation, stayed with us a couple of days for her program “Relax, Reflect, Revitalize”, which she taught in the afternoon workshops. Theodore Tsavoussis, who earned professional certification in energy medicine, gave three afternoon workshops on “Healing the Light Body: Exploring Shamanic Medicine”. We concluded the week with beautiful concerts filled with warmth, humour and devotion with Gina Sala and Daniel Paul. Parvati Chaitanya taught a 3-day Positive Thinking Weekend Course. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. A week in Mittersill/Salzburg started in good spirits with a group of friendly guests who all had been here before. All of them needed rest from daily life affairs and were looking for a real retreat and for new inspiration. Lectures on stress management, a presentation on sound sleep in combination with relaxing yoga classes, were well received. Chanting during Satsangs was unusually strong and helped up to keep the mood. Fare well on Friday was sad but new resolutions for the next yoga vacations were made joyfully. The weekend-subject was “thoughtpower and positive thinking”. Open minded, mainly new guests adapted very quickly to the daily schedule. Lectures on “world of thoughts, cultivation of positivity and creative, yogic life-management” were received well. The healthy mixture of yoga, wellness, good food and beautiful nature surroundings was much appreciated. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. The Easter programme ended with the graduation for the Yoga Pregnancy course and a well visited lecture with Angela Hope Murray on Dinacharya, a concept in Ayurvedic medicine that bases daily activities around the cycles of nature. Topic of the week was the Power of Positive Thinking with inspiring lectures and Satsangs, many of them including practical exercises. Swami Bhagavatananda returned from India and we are happy to have her back at the Ashram. Swami Kailasananda went to Paris for a couple of days but was back on Friday. Kailas left for a weekend of workshops in Paris and Charles arrived from Geneva to be with us for one week. The entrance to the Chateau is being repainted and is promising to look fresh and light. A project is underway to digitize (scan) many photos, including some of Swami Vishnudevananda, which were found on the attic. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram where the month of April was much quieter, supporting the steady practice of the Sadhana Intensive group who entered their second week of practice. All participants continued steady with the increased practices, right through to the end of the course which was marked with a special Puja and graduation ceremony for the students. We start to receive again a few international guests. We said farewell to several staff members who had been here to assist during the busy period. Om.
NISHKAMA: Desireless; Selfless
Nishkama Karma Yoga – Desire-less action; selfless action; the practice of doing actions without any expectation of the fruits (results, reactions or effects)
In the practice of Nishkama Karma Yoga, there is no loss of effort. There is no harm. There is no transgression also. Even a little of this practice can protect those from great fear of rebirth, of death with its concomitant evils. An ordinary worldly-minded man can hardly hear the inner voice of Atma. He cannot get pure thoughts of Vichara also. Any Sattvic thought emanates from the Sattvic Buddhi. In the case of worldlings, all thoughts emanate from the mind only.
He who does Nishkama Karma Yoga and has purity of mind begins to entertain thoughts of God. Generally the mind raises various sorts of curious, fantastic thoughts. It deludes all. It may pretend to do Vichar. When it comes to practicality, it will do nothing. If there is serious determination in you to concentrate and meditate, and if you put it into actual practice for months steadily and if the longing for the Darshan of God or Self-realization becomes keen and acute, then alone think that all these kinds of thoughts proceed from your Sattvic Buddhi only.
Peace, cheerfulness, contentment, dispassion, fearlessness and an unperturbed state of mind under all conditions indicate that you are advancing in the spiritual path. – Sri Swami Sivananda