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Sivananda World News: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada

Om Namah Sivaya, Greetings from the Headquarters. In mid October the Yoga Camp received the first snow of the season. Still, Navaratri brought along an intense spiritual wave and an unexpected crowd. Many guests joined our prayers for the Mother Divine and enjoyed the Pujas at the Subramanya Temple. Sponsors, guests, Temple and Ashram staff were pleased to receive the blessings of the celebrations, and enjoy the feasts that followed. Morning Satsang readings, talks and Q&A sessions explained the significance of Navaratri. Swami Shivabhaktananda’s sense of humour brought lightness to the intensity of Durga’s battles, and Chandrika helped people relate to the story by mirroring this battle to our mental battle. The Temple received a group of Indian music students & their teacher who performed to the Mother during a Friday evening Puja, making the first comers experience even more incredible. The 3 Lebanese brothers hosted another Puja and filled us with their generosity, great hummus and baklava. It was inspiring to see the spiritual hunger of so many guests and short term Karma yogis, showering everyone with questions about the Deities, the Masters, and the practice. Three guests requested and received a Mantra initiation and spiritual names, which they celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and devotion, equipping themselves with all there is to support their Sadhana: books, statues, posters, scarves, etc. Other guests were inspired by the Ashram activities and expressed interest to serve the Ashram as Karma yogis in the future. Another highlight for the guests was an open house, which received 44 guests, who were delighted to learn about the Ashram, enjoy a yoga class, and an Indian meal. “I don’t know what happened in there but this feels so good, I will never stop” one guest exclaimed delightfully after the asanas class. On the staff side, Swami Gayatriananda left the Camp after the busy Temple season back to South India, demolition work continued at the Annapurna building preparing it for the new kitchen and laundry, shoe racks were cleared of summer left-behinds, and the peace trail cleared of the fallen leaves. Narayani, other staff and guests worked together to continue closing the gardens, which “felt like giving the plants a haircut, aiding them for the long sleep” as Sivapriya put it. Other work continues as usual. May the Grace of Masters continue to bless us all.

Towards the end of October we continued Navaratri’s Pujas celebrating the Mother Divine. Saraswati’s energy brought musicians, writers, and students who offered their instruments, notebooks, and books for blessings for the last day of the celebrations. On the 22nd, we had the final Puja during the day, then brought the offerings out, and cracked all coconuts and the exhilarated shouts of the new Karma yogis. Later, all the team of staff stayed and gave the Subramanya Temple a good cleanup. As the wave of the Pujas slowly faded, another wave quickly arose. A large group of guests arrived for the Juice Fast, led by Suzanne. The guests were very pleased with the experience, which to many was a first in experimenting with fasting. For the rest of the guests, the daily program ran as usual. The morning walk turned to a little adventure in the mountain. Q&A sessions answered questions about the culture of the Ashram, the gurus, the practice, etc. Following a workshop on Desire, Swami Shivabhaktananda clarified during a Satsang talk that desire is the outcome of separating oneself from others, an eye opening concept to many. A beginners course started with students who are hungry to receive the teachings and eager to experience a new transformation in their lives. Some returning guests were glad to introduce friends and family members to the Ashram. A lady from France happily exclaimed after a yoga class she and her father had just taken, “I came here with my mother and sister during the summer and we spoke so much about it, that my father finally decided to come from France and visit”. Another man said in tears, as he counted his story on how yoga had saved him after a stroke and an “extremely unhealthy life” – “I am starting to believe in miracles again”. To finish, all Ashram staff and the priest Harisha drove to the Montreal Centre to perform a Lamp Puja, recitation of the 1008 names of the Divine Mother and enjoy a delightful time with the Montreal staff and members. The work at the Ashram continued, with construction at the Annapurna building, closing the gardens of the Ashram and the Temple, printing new signs, and deep cleaning of the different buildings. We are grateful everyday for the blessings of the Masters. May they remain alive in us. Pranams.

Sivananda Dhanwanthari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

Namah Sivaya to all. In mid-October unseasonal heavy rains continued. For two days we hosted a film crew who were shooting a series program about Swami Vivekananda’s life. Pri left the Ashram for Madurai TTC. Abhinanda, new workstudy has taken over his duties. Two new staff joined from Quebec, Sri Devi and her son Nourredine. Prahlada ji came for a lightening speed visit from Thailand TTC. He managed to lead morning Satsang to everyone’s surprise.

Towards the end of October, high season preparations with cleaning, painting and general repair works continued. Most of the paid and some voluntary staff were able to attend Anil’s (Meenakshi Ashram staff) marriage to Swetha. The Ashram gave donation and brass lamp for the occasion. May Gurus’ bless them for their future together. Dr Vishnu traveled to Thailand to teach TTC A&P and have a break with his wife. Pranams & Om Namah Sivaya from all staff at Neyyar Dam.

Sivananda Ashram, Netala, Uttarkashi, Himalayas, North India

Om Namo Narayanaya – Greetings from Uttar Kashi. Please note: The Yoga Vacation program at Sivananda Kutir will not be available for the rest of 2015, due to a number of factors. Pranams to all.

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

Om Namo Narayanaya. Pranams from Madurai. In mid-October we participated in the Navarathri week! The opening Pooja was performed in Temple. Staff were chanting Lalitha Sahasranamam everyday in the shrine, joined by guests. The other highlights were an invited lecture on eco awareness by Mr. Hariharan from ZED buildings and, of course, the beginning of TTC on Sunday the 18th.  P.C. Kapoorji arrived to teach Vedanta for TTC students and Kalyaniji arrived for chanting class. Anoopji will be teaching Hatha Yoga. New karma yogi, Koely, has come along with Kapoorji who will be assisting in the course. Most students arrived by the Saturday prior and were already made to involve in karma yoga helping us out in every area. Seventy students, predominantly resident Indians, were initiated into the program. The students are an interesting mix of yoga graduates, fitness trainers, musicians, police officers and home makers. It was an energetic beginning of busy days ahead.

Towards the end of October saw the first week of TTC underway. The trainees were disciplining themselves into the module and are coping up well with little push and motivation from faculty. Beginner classes and how to teach sessions were scheduled for mornings while asana practice is given in the evenings with just the basic postures simultaneously fine tuning pranayama and sun salutations. Chanting classes were received enthusiastically, more so by foreign nationals. Vedanta lectures, by Kapoorji, were gradually taking the students into philosophical inquiries. Michelle, a new short term karma yogi joined the team. We saw a special day that marked the inauguration of the Sivananda Mobile Ambulance and Clinic, launched for the benefit of the rural neighborhood. Minister of Electricity Hon. Shri. Natham Viswanathan graced the occasion, as chief guest, along with other dignitaries. The same day was the concluding day for Navarathri celebrations. A Pooja was arranged in the Temple, chiefly attended by garden and kitchen workers. Saturday talent night was a treat showcasing the students’ skills in music and theater. The next morning students and guests were taken for a good long walk to a distant pond. The same day, in chanting class, the sunday prayers were introduced that acquainted the students to its chanting for Satsangs. Om Shanti. All are well and conveying Pranams.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch Colony, Woodburne, NY, USA

Om Namah Sivaya! In mid-October Srinivasan and Mahadev Chaitanya were teaching in the prison several mornings, preparing the students for the conclusion of the prison TTC.  The students had their mantra initiations and we celebrated the first ever TTC graduation in a US federal prison. Srinivasan and Mahadev Chaitanya went into the prison early and administered the exam.  All of the students passed, doing very well on the exam, demonstrating an understanding of the course material.  Staff from the Ranch, Radha, Janaki and Esther joined the graduation ceremony after receiving special clearance to enter the prison for this historic event. It was a moving ceremony.  The graduation took place in the gymnasium where a temporary alter had been set up.  On the altar were two smiling photos of Master and Swamiji. Their presence and blessings were felt strongly this day. There were about 10 prison staff in attendance, including the warden, who spoke words of gratitude to the teachers and congratulated the students.  Srinivasan awarded each student their diploma and gave out spiritual names. The experience of working with this isolated population and seeing the change and transformation the course had on them, is truly fulfilling, both individually and in the purpose of Swamiji’s mission.  The inmates, now yoga teachers, have the tools to experience inner peace, even while living in conditions that can be challenging to maintain peace.  They have their mantras, the teachings and the practice, and with this knowledge, they can transform their lives and be positive role models for other inmates. At the Ashram we began the celebration of Navaratri, performing evening Pujas and reading from the Devi Mahatmyam at the evening Satsangs.  One weekend brought a large group of guests, going from just 3-4 during the week, to 42 on the Saturday night, many coming for the Devi Puja.  Srinivasan taught a weekend workshop on Raja Yoga. Neeti came up from New York City to teach an Indian Cooking workshop.  By the Sunday, the Ashram settled down to a quiet atmosphere again, back to a handful of guest.  Mahadev Chaitanya went into New York City to teach the advanced asana class and lead the evening Puja.

Towards the end of October Navaratri celebrations continued, with beautiful Pujas and chanting every night in the Krishna Temple.  Construction was underway on the new septic system in the front field.  The large cranes being used on the work site managed to knock down the power lines twice in a week, leaving us without power until repairs trucks arrived. Fortunately, the generators kicked in and we not effected by the mishap.  Srinivasan and Mahadev Chaitanya went to Boston Massachusetts to teach one weekend to Sivananda teachers and students.  We had a large group of Sivananda practitioners in Boston, and by them going there to teach, helps to keep the students inspired and connected to the Ashram.  At the Ashram Michael Hutkins (Anjanaya) came down from Canada to teach a weekend Chair Yoga training.  It was very well attended and brought a gentle energy to Ashram.  The weather was getting cooler so efforts were being made to winterize the buildings and grounds before the freezing temperature set in. Staff were adjusting to the quieter days and are maintaining their regular hatha yoga practice as well as making sure to get outside daily for physical exercise. All staff are well, strong in their Sadhana and send their pranams.‎

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, California, USA

Om Namah Sivaya! In mid-October the Yoga Farm welcomed a wonderful group for the October TTC with students coming from the US, Brazil, Italy, Ukraine, and Japan. Stephen Longfellow Fiske inspired all with stories of Sw Vishnudevananda and his mission of peace, generating energy and inspiration for the coming month. The Guru Puja and Ganapathi Homa were conducted by Sw Vasishtananda while Swamis Jnaneswariananda and Narayanananda led the initiation of the TTC. Swami Jnaneswariananda taught the Main Lecture and Anatomy; Sw Narayanananda led the Hatha Yoga; Sw Dharmananda taught the Gita and Chanting classes. Swami Vasishtananda led the daily beautiful Devi Pujas for Navaratri including a special Chandi Homa at the Durga Temple. The Ashramites were very inspired and felt the Mother’s Grace descending on the Ashram and the TTC.

Towards the end of October the TTC course saw the students adjusting to Ashram life and their daily Sadhana. They were an enthusiastic group and very open to receiving the tachinas and inspired to learn about Master and Swamiji’s lives. Swami Vasishtananda led the beautiful Vijaya Dasami Puja, with all the Ashramites and TTC gathering into the Radha Krishna Hall to have their tools of karma blessed by the Divine Mother. We welcomed specials guests Ambika (Jennifer Andrews), introducing Ayurveda and Bidyut Bose, founder of Niroga Institute, who gave a dynamic talks on the four paths of Yoga and finding one’s purpose as a Yoga teacher. The Ayurveda Massage Retreat ran alongside the TTC, with talks given by Ambika. Guests also received Ayurveda treatments and consultations. Om Namah Sivaya to all blessed selves from the Yoga Farm.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Nassau, Bahamas

Om Namo Narayanaya, Blessed Selves. In mid-October we had a full schedule with many special guests. Narayani (Olga Mandodari Sokolova) started explaining the principles of Vaastu Shastra Design. She brought with her a vimana for use during meditation, and educated us on sacred geometry in architecture and interior design. Shyam and Mohini gave workshops on the secrets of hatha yoga, exploring pranayama, asana and deep relaxation. Stephen Michael Pague gave a hugely popular series of workshops on waterfall Qigong. We welcomed back Swami Brahmananda from Israel and Krishna Namboodri, our resident priest. They arrived just in time for the beginning of the Navaratri celebrations. The Ashram was very happy to have our priest leading the Pujas for the first time this year. With many creative ideas, every day the Divine Mother has been worshiped with beautiful rituals. We look forward to the climax of the celebrations!

Towards the end of October we saw the close of the Navaratri celebrations, with evermore elaborate Pujas performed by our resident priest Krishna Namboodri. Celebrations continued on the day of Vijaya Dasami that evening with a short re-enactment of the Ramanyana. Dussera, the victory of Rama over Ravana culminated in the burning of a Ravana scarecrow. It was great to see karma yogis and guests getting involved with the play and prop making. To round off a beautiful 12 days of worship, a Sudarshana Homa was performed to welcome in the high season, inviting new energy into the Ashram in preparation for the TTC that was about to begin. We welcomed a group of teacher training graduates into a renewal program, ran by Swami Brahmananda and Saraswati Sylvie Boisclair, and a group of detox-ers who came in light of autumn. Special guest Ram Vakkalanka educated us in how Nada Yoga is used for inner healing and chakra balancing through a series of workshops and lectures, accompanied by his sitar. Connie Numbers rounded off the week with talks about her experiences with exploration of the soul, combining her qualifications as a psychotherapist and a spiritual teacher to show us how self-discovery exercises can help us gain a more profound understanding of our humanness and our divinity. High season preparations were well on the way – the weather was drying off, and construction was full steam ahead on many projects that will improve the Ashram and it’s growing population. Tent hut platforms have been officially opened over a month earlier than usual to keep up with guest demand and karma yogis moved from rooms into tents as we embark on room renovations. Om Shanti from all the staff in Nassau.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat House, Reith or Mittersill, Tyrol, Austria

Om Namah Sivaya. Beginning of October a small group of yoga vacationers enjoyed their stay at the Retreat House. We offered gentle yoga classes with detailed explanations on each asana. Due to mild and sunny weather we had some nice and long nature walks during the days. In Satsangs we discussed about health and prana which was received with full interest. The following week we explained about Vedanta philosophy in 3 afternoon lectures. The philosophical aspects of life regarding the better understanding of reality and the true nature of our existence. In the asana classes the guests tried to experience the deeper levels of the asana practice through detailed corrections and instructions and meditative holding of the postures. One weekend we welcomed a nice group of TTC graduates for the further yoga teacher training on “yoga for children”. We discussed how to adapt the 5 principles of Swami Vishnudevananda and the 12 basic postures to the children’s needs and expectations in a yoga class. Especially the practical parts of the training brought fun and awakened the creativity of everyone. Swami Ramapriyananda gave inspiring Satsangs on Ahimsa and on Swami Sivananda’s letters in the Sivananda Upanishad. Some guests were here to get information on TTC and some were happy to get information on healthy diet in combination with healthy snacks lovingly prepared by Mira. All Navaratri Pujas created a strong, uplifting energy in the meditation hall. The guests happily joined the celebrations. The energy was building up day by day. OM.

Sivananda Ashram Chateau du Yoga, Orleans, France

Om Namah Sivaya. The month was full of activities. We had a 5 day certificate course on ‘Ayurveda Cooking’ with Swami Bhagavatananda. Then there was a ‘Yoga Vitality Week’ for the guests. Ganga, teacher from the Paris Centre came to give the “Yoga and Vegetarian cooking workshop” for the next weekend. Then, we offered a week program with the title, “You are the architect of your reality”. Jayabharati, a long time teacher from the Paris Centre, came for the “Further Training for Sivananda Teachers, How to teach Yoga to seniors”. It was a big group, most of whom took TTC here; the team of staff worked very well together, to make the program successful. It was especially nice to see so many teacher again back in the Ashram, mostly from France, one from Hamburg, one from Algeria, etc… It was inspiring to talk with them and listen to their experiences after the TTC. The staff had a final meeting with Swami Kailasananda before she went to Paris and on to the Rudraprayag TTC. We marked the beginning of Navaratri, and during the pm Satsang the priest conducted a powerful Durga Puja, with a beautifully decorated altar. The priest then went to Paris for a few days. The Ashram looks beautiful in autumn, the gardener is putting much effort to keep everything clean, and we are working on the gardens and putting the bulbs for spring next year. Om Gam Ganapatayeh Namaha. OM.

TTC Worldwide other than held in Sivananda Ashrams:

TTC China: The TTC delved in the teaching of Anatomy and Physiology with Swami Pranavananda. The students enjoyed the Navaratri Pujas, specially the Lakshmi Puja workshop. They put up a very nice “Chinese” talent show with chinese opera, folk songs, dances, traditional poems, and a very clever skit on the “Sadhaka and his Mind”. We also got a Russian poem and a Vietnamese song from our two international students. The students improved much in group teaching. We went to Chengdu City to inaugurate the Chengdu Centre and have sent a separate email reporting the ceremony. Swami Pranavananda held an Open House at the new Centre on his way leaving back to Vietnam, with enthusiastic students for classes and Satsang.

The last week of the Chengdu TTC was intense with Navaratri Pujas and Vitaya Dasami final Puja accompanied by auspicious rain and which coincides with Mantra Initiation of 21 students who happily received their spiritual names. Swami Sitaramananda for the first time knew how to call students by name as the chinese names are like “Chinese” for her. Students did very well on the exam and all passed. Students started tearing at the graduation feast and ended up crying again at the graduation ceremony which started with Guru Puja and ended with testimonies and words of gratitude to all staff, teachers and karma yogis. We packed up in a few hours and said goodbye to the beautiful trees and the Temple to come to ChengDu Centre for an intensive One-day program where Swami Sitaramananda taught about Yoga and stress management to a nice group of students. Many students who already were Yoga teachers decided to “convert” their teachings to “Sivananda Yoga” and continue with Sadhana and service at the Chengdu Centre. They made resolves to connect with each other and encourage each other to keep Sadhana till the next retreat or come to assist next TTC course, next year in September/October again. One student, Lalita, joined staff at the Chengdu Centre and another one, Saraswati, will join later on. Guru’s grace is shining over China as all went so well as if “the people are waiting”.

TTC Thailand: By the grace of Master, and with the blessings of Swamiji, we entered the third week of TTC with all the group staying together and happy.  The group is quite tuned into Satsangs with a lot of them already chanting. We had a very nice Thai Cultural program where we had traditional dance and drums, which was enjoyed by students. The talent show had a very good range of variety program.  Students started teaching their beginners classes and were slowly absorbing Swamiji’s teachings and getting more tuned to the energy.  Prahladaji was away on the day off and went to Cochin to meet some lawyers and then to Neyyar dam Ashram to over see the matters there and was back two days later in time for main lecture.

The group stayed together and was happy, tuning into Satsangs a lot of them already chanting. We had 38 of 48 students taking Mantra initiation and a spiritual name. We had a very nice light and sound program which is showcasing the Thai origins and culture.  From India, Dr. Vishnu, and his wife arrived.  He will be doing A&P classes for the group, in addition to Ayurveda presentation.  This relieved Prahlada to go to Utttarkashi, Delhi and Trivandrum to oversee official matters there and meet officials of AYUSH Ministry.  On the Saturday talent show we had a very good range of variety program.  Students started teaching their beginners classes and were slowly absorbing Swamiji’s teachings and getting more tuned to the energy. Pranams to all.

TTC Rudraprayag: TTC in Rudraprayag started with 91 students from many countries. Translation was offered in German, French and Spanish. Students and staff enjoyed the warm weather in the middle of the Himalayas with the view of the Ganga. The group was eager to absorb the high vibration of Master and Swamiji’s teachings. Pranams to all.

The first Sivananda Federal Prison Teachers Training Course:
On Friday, October 16, 2015, the Sivananda Yoga Ranch staff joined with 12 graduating prisoners and several staff of the Otisville Federal Prison for the graduation ceremony of the first ever Teachers’ Training Course, taught inside a USA federal prison. Because we had to teach the course in the prison, we extended it for 6 months, which not only allowed us to teach the entire TTC material, but also to create a daily group sadhana within the prison. Witnessing their development and progress over this extended period has been an extremely rewarding opportunity. The course was done without charge as karma yoga for this confined population. The students, over the several months of training, opened up to each other, crossing the boundaries of separateness that defines the various groups in prison, and became brothers in a common goal of yoga, supporting each other and practicing together. All took spiritual names and all but two took mantras. Srinivasan, Mahadev Chaitanya and Bharata, teachers in the course, arrived early for satsang and to proctor the examination. All of the students passed the course, proving they were serious and dedicated by excelling in all aspects of the course, including the exam. Several ashram staff arrived in the afternoon, after receiving clearance to enter the prison, in order to be part of this historic event and to show support to the inmates. It was a short but very touching ceremony. About 10 prison staff attended the ceremony and the main directors, including the warden, spoke at the graduation, expressing gratitude to the teachers and congratulating the inmates. They also requested that we continue with another TTC next year, after witnessing the positive effect it has had on the inmates and how it reverberates throughout the incarcerated community. Srinivasan began the ceremony with the Dhyana Slokas and gave an inspiring speech regarding the students’ effort and dedication. Mahadev Chaitanya also said a few words of thanks to all involved in making this possible and acknowledging the motivation and commitment of the students. The diplomas were then given out. The students had taken mantra initiation on Thursday and were inspired by the spiritual names given with their diplomas. Afterwards, Srinivasan read the chapter entitled “Freedom” from Bliss Divine offering hope to the inmates, that even though some may never live outside of a prison again, true freedom lies within and can be theirs, wherever they are.
After the ceremony, a group photo was taken with photos of Master and Swamiji in front of the altar. Unfortunately, because of privacy laws we are not allowed to photograph the prison or inmates and do not have access to these official photos. The new TTCs are eager to teach other inmates in the prison. Many were asking when the next time teachers from the Yoga Ranch will be visiting. Mahadev Chaitanya plans on continuing to teach asana classes and send in Sivananda volunteer teachers as regularly as possible. We are also planning the next TTC to start in early spring of 2016. It was a day that left a lasting impact and gave us all the satisfaction of knowing we are carrying on the mission of the propagation of yoga, regardless of race, class or social circumstances. The Course was possible by the Grace of Master and Swamiji, and we feel grateful and blessed to be involved with this transformative process, through yoga in prison, giving the inmates tools to cultivate inner peace and freedom.

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Greet everyone as the Lord Himself. Feel the presence of the Lord everywhere. – Sri Swami Sivananda


Anushthana is the systematic practice of Japa, worship and Swadhyaya. Anushthana is concentrated spiritual practice. Full-time aspirants devote 12 to 16 hours per day, when they perform Anushthana for the practice of Japa Yoga. This is meant for quick spiritual progress, to have control over the mind and senses and for acquiring Asana Jaya. One who performs Anushthana for 21 days, 40 days or ten days or even one week will have great peace of mind and satisfaction.

If you want God, you must turn your back to worldly enjoyments. – Sri Swami Sivananda

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