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. Early April’s temperatures hovered above 0C indicated Spring was on its way. An even more positive note of the upcoming change in the season was the feedback from our guests. The guests who stayed in the Ashram were involved and regularly attended Ashram activities. One of them, Sivakami, who’s been a part of the Sivananda community, since the time of Swami Vishnudevananda, was thrilled to participate in our social media project (People of the Ashram) and share her years long participation in the Ashram. We were very grateful to have Anjaneya coming from Ottawa to give the Chair Yoga workshop. The students were happy to expand their approach to yoga and continue their education. Karma yogis were mostly focused on the maintenance and grooming of the Ashram for the guests and the upcoming events. We started the preparations for the Krishna Temple painting project. The boutique staff worked on the design of the new T-Shirt collection. Ongoing video and social media projects were successful so far with many new ideas unfolding as we go further with the projects. Everyone did their best to serve and contribute in every way they could.
By mid-April we saw sunnier days here at the Camp and the piles of snow slowly started to melt. The walking paths began to clear up but not without some mud. Nonetheless, the warmer weather was fully welcomed. Ashram guests attended workshops and lectures available to them. The Easter weekend filled the Ashram with families and guests from all over, including about 15 kids for the scheduled family weekend activities and many Toronto karma yogis. Staff organized many activities like making chocolate figures, arts and crafts, and an egg hunt Sunday morning. The families had such a nice time. In addition, Ken Whiteley came to give a concert that Saturday night as well as Easter Sunday morning. Before leaving he put together a small singing activity for the kids on Sunday afternoon. The energy of the children filled the Ashram and made for a heart-warming weekend. We also offered a workshop on the Ayurveda perspective of yoga asanas, led by Mayavan, a Sivananda teacher from Toronto. Mayavan offered 2 workshops as well as 2 yoga classes. About 15 people participated in this program and were interested to get another point of view on the practice. Meanwhile Staff were busy preparing for the upcoming EBM meeting. Many of the buildings and Kutirs needed to be reopened and set up after the long winter months. With the improvement of the weather the plastic coverings to the entrance of some of the buildings were removed, opening up the entrances once again. New signs was installed around the Camp as well. Everyone pitched in to get the Ashram ready for the busy season. May the Grace of Master and Swamiji bless you all. Om Shanti.
Mark this in your calendar: International Sivananda Teacher Training Course, Chiang Rai, Thailand
SEP 29TH — OCT 27TH, 2019
Be a part of this life-changing experience!
The Teachers’ Training Course (TTC) is a four-week intensive residential course, based on the ancient gurukula system of India where teacher and student live together. You will be in a traditional Ashram setting and closely interact with our experienced and dedicated teachers and staff who themselves are immersed in the yogic lifestyle. Set in the humble abode of the Phu Chaisai Resort, the mountain atmosphere & surroundings are most conducive for the practice.
Connected to an ancient teaching lineage (guru parampara), passed down from guru to disciple through thousands of years, the curriculum is extensive and covers both theory and practice. Devotional practices, traditional to India, are an integral part of the Course.
For more info, visit our website – www.sivananda.org/thailand
Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India
Namah Sivaya to all. An April highlight was the mantra initiation. Swami Gayatri and Nataraj initiated thirty odd students into their chosen mantras after prostrations to Raja Rajeswari Devi and the Gurus in the Temple area. Whilst everyone else was on the silent walk, the initiates continued with their first practice of Japa for half hour. We wished them a life filled with God’s name. Being the third week of the TTC, the teachings groups continued and the Anatomy and Physiology classes concluded. The popular Bhajan group from Erode, Tamil Nadu was very much enjoyed. On Friday day off, a small group went for a boat drive and then a walk in the jungle to the Nemmoothy water falls; enjoyed a simple camp fire food, water fun and a beautiful time with nature. The staff took time together to watch a shanti movie on staff night. During the Lunar New Year Ugadi for the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and also Maharashtra, students from these states made a traditional 6 rasas prasad – each rasa represents an emotion. A group of 30 odd children from the Chinmaya Mission in Trivandrum came for a day out in the pleasant surroundings of the Ashram, away from the city heat. Arjuna finished his stint serving at the Ayurveda clinic and headed back to HQ via the Middle East. Satya left for a visit to Netala for the beginning of their TTC season there. May all remain blessed. May Swamiji and Masters guide us all! Pranams to the Sivananda family. Om.
Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India
Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. The 2019 season at Sivananda Kutir, Netala began after a very chilly winter season. During the low season the Kailash building was fully renovated. The fitting of the windows was the only work remaining. In order to avoid working in the cold of the next low season, work continued on the other buildings which were not being used for the TTC. The first TTC began Apr 7th. Twenty eight students were initiated into the TTC on 7th April. Kapoorji, from Delhi, provided the main lectures, Mahalakshmi taught the Hatha Yoga, Sukumari Bhagavad Gita and Dr Ghansyam covered the A&P. The students enjoyed a day trip to Gangothri. May Swamiji and Master’s blessings be with all. Om.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Om Namo Narayanaya. Namaste from Madurai. The Medical Camp on Sunday focussed on the Surgical aspect of Medical Science with a good number of villagers in attendance for the same. The location of the camp has been transferred to a makeshift arrangement in the vicinity of the pre-existing old age home run by Vikram group of Hospitals in whose collaboration we conduct the health camps. Our hospital building was demolished to accommodate space for road widening in the process of making it a 4 way path from the present binary pathway. Plans are being discussed for the construction of a new block that would serve us the requirements of functioning as a hospital. Praying to our Masters for their continued guidance and blessings.
In the combat with summer heat sometimes we emerge victorious and at times the Sun God gets the better of us. But nothing could dampen the spirit of our staffs in preparing for the upcoming Kids and Teens Camp. The dorms are getting a new coat of paint in addition to following stringent rules in cleaning and tidying up. The area around the pond is also getting revamped with the clearing of pathway of weeds, stones and pebbles making the path suitable for walking. Nasim returned on Monday after getting together with her family in Iran.Yoga vacationers are all doing good and is taking immense pleasure in the Ashram schedule and classes. On Monday we celebrated Vishu, a festival that marks the birth of New Year in Malayalam calendar. The legend says that if one sees good and positive things the first thing in the morning on this day, the entire year will pass on the same note. In continuing with this belief we had arranged for all such items that included fruits, vegetables, pulses, cereals and most importantly a variety of yellow flowers called Cassia ( the Golden Shower tree that is in full bloom at this time of year )in the Temple. All the guests and staffs were taken to view the setting by the Temple priest. In contrary to the normal routine of us giving Dakshina (token gift) to the priest, on this day priest gives us Dakshina in accordance with the Vishu traditions. Sending Prem and Om to all from our family of Guests, Students and Staffs. With Master and Swamiji’s grace, we were very happy and grateful. Namaste. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA
Happy New Year from the Ranch! By the Grace of the Gurus, life in the Yoga Ranch Ashram went very well in April. We were very happy to welcome two special teachers to the Ashram: Lila Lolling, and Saraswati from Toronto Centre. Saraswati led a retreat on “Pratyahara: Tools For Conscious Disengagement From Sensory Stimuli.” Guests learned techniques to aid relaxation in daily life and create a strong foundation for meditation, no matter the external circumstances. We were also very inspired by the stories she told from her time with Swami Vishnu. Lila led a retreat on “Understanding and Overcoming Body Stiffness.” This adapted yoga retreat offered participants ample tools to learn how to effectively reduce body stiffness and stress. Lila taught daily anatomy sessions centred around the systems affected by stress, balanced with time for personal investigation on how to create a more stress-free life. Our TTC students made it to their third week and started their teaching groups. The entire group was very positive and dedicated and they all bring great energy to the Ashram. We bid farewell to our Karma Yogi, Kamala Devi, as she returned to France and welcomed home longtime staff member Ambika, from the Philippines.
As April continued we featured an incredible weekend named the Interfaith Easter & Passover Retreat. More than 90 guests and staff attended a special Passover Seder, led by Rabbi Zoe Zak that included singing, drumming by Zorkie Nelson, storytelling, and eating delicious traditional Passover foods. Swami Narayanananda led Satsangs and workshops on the topic of Bhakti Yoga in Daily Life. Guests explored the practice of Bhakti Yoga, the path of divine love and discovered how to apply classical Yoga teachings to their daily life and relationships through stories, chanting, and theory. A weekend retreat named “Yoga for All Levels” offered yoga classes and workshops led, by special guest teachers Shyam and Mohini. Staff from the New York Centre also assisted with classes and Satsangs. And finally, Rev. Amy Dalton led an uplifting Easter Sunday service. Rev. Amy comes from Stony Point Centre, a local multi faith community and conference Centre. We were so happy to be connected with their organization. Pranams to all from The Ranch. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA
Om Namah Sivaya. In April we were blessed to welcome back Swami Sitaramananda-ji and Swami Adi Parashaktiananda to the Ashram. Swamiji was sharing the teaching for 4 months in Vietnam (TTC), China, and Japan. We were also happy to welcome back Karuna Devi after 4 months looking after the LA Centre. Many Yoga Vacationers visited the Ashram with the arrival of more sunny days, participating in the asana classes and Satsangs and karma yoga. Staff and karma yogis are emerging after the rainy Spring weather and are now getting ready for the May TTC, continuing with garden/greenhouse work parties; mowing lawns; bathhouse construction; kitchen deep-cleaning; Puja closet revamp and more. Swami Vasishtananda-ji visited the Divine Grace Ashram in Arizona for Durga Temple installation this week.
By mid month we were able to offer the Permaculture Design Certification course. Spencer and Lydia taught the course, along with our staff Krisha Das. The students learned the fundamentals of permaculture design and how to build according to the patterns in nature. It was nice to see the students out in the garden doing hands-on projects and creating composts, swales, and sheet mulch. We had the annual Easter Retreat with a focus on East/West medicine. Fred Luskin and Shani Robins, both Stanford professors, joined us for the long weekend and gave inspiring talks on tools for forgiveness and finding wisdom. That Saturday night, we had a classical Indian music concert with Jonathan Kay who played classical Indian instruments and also the saxiphone. We also had a weekend visit from the Yoga Bharati group from the Bay Area. They brought about 30 of their students and stayed with us for 2 nights, following the Ashram schedule. We welcomed back Hamsa Chaitanya who has been in Taiwan for the past month. Om Shanti to all Blessed Selves from the Yoga Farm. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas
Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. April was full of learning and new beginnings, Amy Weintraub taught the community how to turn heartbreaking circumstances into catalysts for spiritual growth throughout the three-day program Heartbreak as a Path to Wholeness. Over the weekend we hosted the symposium Continuum of Consciousness: Experiencing the Phases of Life, Death, and Rebirth. Eben Alexander, Helen Newall, Paul Aurand, and William Peters presented stories and perspectives about encounters with extended states of consciousness. In this series of Satsangs and workshops, attendees got to hear the presenters’ spellbinding tales, as well as to ask questions and learn techniques for contacting and deconstructing their own experiences. As a precursor to the symposium on consciousness, Swami Brahmananda gave an evening Satsang about Swami Vishnudevananda’s teachings regarding the conquest of death. Jnaneshwari Chaitanya presented Swami Sivananda’s guidelines for establishing a daily practices. These practical and elevating guidelines serve to strengthen the resolve to practice upon returning to the world beyond the Ashram, and their regular teaching is greatly appreciated. Arjuna led told stories of Swami Vishnudevananda during the morning silent walk. He also led workshops on meditation, mantras, and The Power of Chanting Om. Iswara Chaitanya presented a Satsang on the topic of Sadhana. Shambhavi led workshop participants through a ThetaHealing session. Savitri Devi coached attendees into the headstand in the workshop Turn Your World Upside Down. Sanatani taught about proper diet through the program Diet, Fast, and Detox: The Yogic Perspective. Congratulations to the graduates of the March Teacher Training Course! We wish them all the best as they continue their journeys and begin to share the teachings of yoga. On Thursday we inaugurated both a Teacher Training Course and an Advanced Teacher Training Course. We extend our best wishes to the students as they begin their studies! Vacationers and staff members had the opportunity to deepen their practices of meditation this weekend with the Essentials of Meditation course, led by Rukmini Chaitanya.
From the Bahamas, we extend a heartfelt “Happy Passover” and “Happy Easter” to all! On Friday evening we celebrated the Passover Seder, which was led by Swami Swaroopananda. Throughout the traditional service, the Ashram community learned about the meaning of Passover and had the chance to join in singing some beautiful songs. Many thanks to all of those who contributed to the gorgeous decorations, sumptuous feast, and dedicated cleanup! On Sunday morning we welcomed Bishop Trevor Williamson and his gospel choir, as well as Dr. Marilyn Rossner, for the Easter Sunrise Service. Smiles were seen throughout the Garden Platform as joyful music and jubilant teachings accompanied a beautiful sunrise. We welcomed many esteemed guests to our shores this week. As part of our weeklong symposium on Integrating Yoga Into the Western Medical Model, Dr. Mala Cunningham gave the insightful Satsang How Yogis Can Help Doctors, as well as popular workshops on the intersection of neuroscience and yoga and on the theory and clinical application of medical yoga. Dr. Suprabha Jain taught about the link of consciousness as the ultimate cure that is shared between Ayurveda and Western medicine. Dr. Jain also taught workshops about developing a strong and healthy gut as well as the roles of medication and meditation. Durga Leela presented on how social factors influence the outcome of disease. She also gave a beautiful workshop about the healing power of time. Swami Dharmananda taught about Swami Vishnudevananda’s 5 points of Yoga and how they benefit health at all levels of being. He also spoke of the importance of letting the heart guide one’s life. Dr. Ramkumar Kutty gave a wonderful introduction to the spiritual origin of Ayurvedic practices in an evening Satsang. Later he taught practical tools to measure one’s own health and how to change one’s behavior to match desired health outcomes. Dr. Arun Deva compassionately brought the perspective of Yoga Therapy to the symposium and suggested methods for bringing an Ayurvedic and Yogic practice into one’s daily life. Swami Sitaramananda introduced the Sivananda Institute of Health and the future directions for Yoga service that it entails!
Throughout the symposium, we also got to hear from our resident staff members. Swami Brahmananda informed Satsang attendees about Swami Sivananda’s teachings on Health. Swami Hridyananda presented methods for spiritual health in a couple of Satsangs focused on the Power of Prayer. During a beautiful silent walk one morning, Swami Shambhudevananda taught about the importance of proper breathing. A large congratulations is extended to the participants of the Essentials of Yoga I course that concluded on Sunday! Along with all of their extra karma yoga duties this week in preparation for the weekend celebrations, they completed the course with spirits intact and full of good cheer under the adept tutelage of Pranava Chaitanya. May all continue to receive the blessings from Master and Swamiji. Om.
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith/Kitzbühel Tyrol, Austria
Om Namah Sivaya. We started the month of April with a dedicated group of teachers came for the Sadhana Days. We had early morning pranayama sessions, which was also attended by some of the staffs. In the Satsangs we read inspiring verses from the Bhagavad Gita. We had daily Pujas and asana coaching for the teachers. The group left recharged and inspired by the end of that week. Several guests also came for a second topic that week – The Healthy Spine”. The guests were happy to learn gentle variations for the back and asanas to improve flexibility along the spine in the yoga classes. Staff engaged in several projects concerning advertising. Guests received information about the TTC courses. They expressed interest for different TTC locations. Plans were made to replace the outside platform. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France
Om Namah Sivaya. An April highlight was the focus on “The Power of the Asanas”. The workshops and lectures were mainly focused on the benefits of the asanas, the system of 12 basic postures, the link between asanas and our emotional state, etc. The group of guests was nice, most of them beginners. The Ashram was also busy with the latest group of TTC students. A large group of students arrived to the Ashram for their inauguration. The Introduction to the Teachers’ Training Course preparation weekend also went well. The program’s guests were inspired and some of them immediately booked for TTC. Swami Kailasanada came back from London and also Rukmini returned to the Ashram. OM.
Sivananda Ashram Dà Lat, Vietnam
Om Namah Sivaya from DaLat Ashram. In early April we said farewell to our Sadhana Intensive students, while members of a group attending for our next retreat were already arriving. Around 50 participants, all leaders from the Vietnamese business community, came to experience ashram life. We welcomed the first part of the group, more experienced in Yoga, many having visited the Ashram already. Then we welcomed a second group, this time, all beginners to classical Yoga and to Ashram life. Staff made an extra effort for the orientation of newcomers, offering clear “how” and “why” explanations for the different practices. The group settled in well and enjoyed their 4-day Ashram experience. Because we welcomed two different groups, the events that we offered for all visiting groups were repeated. Staff enjoyed two sunrise walks, two bonfire evenings and two labyrinth walks. We were also able to start use of our new meditation building, which offered beautiful forest views and a serene atmosphere for practice. We also ran an Introduction to Meditation course, with a group of six students following a step by step introduction to the practice. Our Yoga Vacation and Resident programs continued steadily. We welcomed a retired couple from Israel, staying as residents for one month. Swami Narayanananda left the Ashram for a 6 week trip, with first stop in Ho Chi Minh City for a teaching certification course, along with Swami Pranavananda and Shanti Devi, with the new Yoga Federation of Vietnam. Om.
04 New Moon
18 Full Moon
Renunciation is the bestower of peace and immortality. – Sri Swami Sivananda
SIDDHIS – Psychic Powers
The Aspirant becomes free only when his individual will becomes merged in the Divine Will. Licentiousness and autocracy must not be mistaken for spiritual freedom. By becoming a tool (Nimitta) in the hands of God, the Bhakta destroys the egoism or the little false ‘I’, but gains all the Divine Aisvarya or the Siddhis of the Lord. He becomes perfectly free. He has become one with God now.
Siddhis that are brought into the present life, by birth, indicate their attainment in a previous life, but it does not guarantee that the individual is making proper use of them in this life. Those gained through chemical means are not necessarily associated with any level of spirituality at all and can be easily governed by the ego. Siddhis achieved by Mantra repetition or tapas, austerities are generally of a very high order as long as they are performed for attaining God-Realization rather than personal or material gain. Powers that come from ‘Samadhi’ are the purest, for they come to the aspirant without being desired. It must be remembered that siddhis are not the aim but a by-product of the path to God-Realization
A Hatha Yogi gets Siddhis (psychic powers) by uniting Prana and Apana and by taking the united Prana-Apana through the six Chakras (Centres of spiritual energy) to Sahasrara at the crown of the head. A Raja Yogi gets Siddhis by Samyama, i.e., combined practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi at one time. A Jnana Yogi exhibits Siddhis through pure will or Sat-Sankalpa. A Bhakta gets Siddhis through self-surrender and the consequent descent of grace. Kriyas, viz., Neti, Dhauti, Nauli, Basti, Tratak and Kapalabhati belong to Hatha Yoga. All need not practise these Kriyas. Those who have got much phlegm in the body should practise these Kriyas. Learn these under an expert Hatha Yogi. Hatha Yoga is not the goal. It is only a means to an end. Take to Raja Yoga after possessing good health.
Beware of Siddhis! If you are drawn to the psychic powers or Siddhis, you will miss the supreme goal.- Sri Swami Sivananda