There are all sorts of ways—books, TV shows, blogs—to work toward either physical fitness or personal zen, or some combination of the two. One that’s been around for thousands of years is yoga. (more…)
Posts tagged ‘Sivananda Yoga’
By Eva Drienko
Eva recently completed a 30-day 200-hour Yoga Alliance (USA & Canada) certified Teacher Training Course (TTC) at Trimurti Yoga in Goa, South India. Here she shares with us her experiences and impressions of the time she spent there in February 2014. Thank you Eva for sharing your valuable insights with us!
Trimurti Yoga is a centre based in South Goa which offers the Yoga Alliance’s 200-hour yoga teacher training programme, which runs for 30 days. It is located in South Goa between the two beautiful beach towns of Palolem and Agonda. Registered with Yoga Alliance (USA & Canada) Trimurti Yoga is specialised in multi-style yoga with the focus on ashtanga flow, vinyasa flow, hatha yoga, Sivananda as well as yin yoga. Further focus is on anatomy, the art of teaching, adjustments and alignment, pranayama (breath control), meditation and philosophy.
Trimurti’s centre is located about 2.5 km away from either Palolem or Agonda, both of which are easily reachable by taxi, tuk-tuk or bus. Sometimes I wished I were closer to the beach, while on the other hand I was really able to focus on the yoga course rather than on beaches and shopping. The single- or double-occupancy accommodation is basic but includes everything you need. I spent most of my time outdoors anyway because it was great to be close to nature in the centre’s lovingly designed garden. Sometimes the wifi did not work but that’s how I remembered that I was in India! Also, the hot water for the shower often did not work either, but that was not so bad because it is hot in Goa anyway. A new solar energy system for hot water was implemented which is really economical, but they still need time to get more familiar with the technique. One point, which was not really clear for many students, was that the pick-up from the airport was included, while the drop-off was not.
The main focus for the whole team was to pass their knowledge of yoga and its philosophy down to us students – there were 23 of us. Of course it is not always easy, they are also human and have emotions, but all the students could feel their passion for teaching and felt they really gave their best! A very important message was always that we are all individuals and have different needs and by bringing more awareness and gratitude to ourselves, we can bring more awareness and gratitude to others. Something very beneficial was that the team was a very international one and I could see and experience different styles of teaching, which I found very inspiring because each one taught each style in his or her own personal and professional way. Also, the founders of Trimurti Yoga honestly believe in their students and they sometimes hire them after the teacher training programme and support them in becoming a serious yoga teacher.
The main topics for the practical teaching were safe guidance into the asanas (yoga postures), indications and contraindications, as well as how to build up classes, create sequences, and know and demonstrate the differences between the traditional and newer characteristics of the various yoga styles. Another great class, which everyone loved, was adjustments and alignments, where we learned how to perform asanas correctly with different options for adapting them to each one’s needs.
The meals served followed the principles of a sattvic diet. I have to admit that at the beginning it tasted very boring and without any great flavour, but somehow still good. The menu was repeated every few days. After the second week, we could observe a development of the flavours and tastes, and try different foods like brown rice. Furthermore, it was challenging for the kitchen staff because some students had food allergies or intolerances which they tried to accommodate. Though almost every student experienced ‘gas troubles’ common to the Indian cuisine rich in beans and legumes, no one ever had problems due to hygiene. By the end of the course most of the students really started to enjoy the tasty food because of their newly-developed sense of taste and the beneficial effects for the body and as a result, the yoga practice.
Overall I really enjoyed the stay at Trimurti Yoga and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about different yoga styles and I would return to the school again. It also needs to be said that it is always about each person’s own expectations of the teacher training, school, food, environment, etc. which shapes this new experience of learning yoga at an Indian yoga school. We all go through different emotions, this is so human and natural. Sometimes it is about experiencing a new way of life, which lasts for one beautiful month and becomes an unforgettable and lovely adventure, where you are your own creator.
Photos courtesy of Trimurti Yoga
By Clare Hudson
Clare has been practising yoga for almost 10 years and meditation for three. After receiving her degree in Fine Art, she spent five years travelling all over the world, working for Greenpeace in Australia, hitchhiking across Scandinavia and studying yoga and meditation in India. Earlier this year, she launched ThoughtBrick.com, a site dedicated to meditation, mindfulness and self-improvement.
“Before you can change the world, you have to change yourself.” – Swami Vishnudevananda
This is the inspirational story of Sivananda yoga as we know it today.
Swami Sivanada (1887-1963) was a yogi, influential spiritual teacher, founder of the Divine Life Society and head of the first Sivananda ashram in Rishikish, India.
Introducing Swami Vishnudevananda
In 1947 Swami Vishnudevananda was rustling in a waste paper bin for a lost document. I have no idea if he found what he was looking for, but what he did find was a booklet with the words ‘Sadhana Tattwa’ written on the front followed by information about Swami Sivananda’s yogic teachings and ashram in Rishikesh. Intrigued, young and somewhat arrogant he made the trip to the ashram.
Traditionally, people were supposed to bow to holy people; however, Swami Vishnnudevananda, young and proud, chose not to bow when he passed Swami Sivananda on the stairs. The action, or lack of action, did not go unnoticed. Swami Sivananda asked who Swami Vishnudevananda was, where he came from, then bowed down to him and touched his feet.
“Swami Sivananda touched my heart not with miracles or shows of holiness, but with his perfect egoless nature. He didn’t consider that I was just a stupid boy standing there, although I was just that.” – Swami Vishnudevananda
After 10 years of living and learning under the direct guidance of Swami Sivananda, the teacher said to his disciple, “Go to the West; people are waiting.” He gave Swami Vishnudevananda 10 rupees and said: “Everything you need is in these rupees.” So armed with a tiny bit of cash and a big vision of bringing peace and yoga to the West, Swami Vishnudevananda began his lifelong mission.
After leaving India, Swami Vishnudevananda arrived in America where he spent a year travelling the west coast of the US. It struck him that Westerners had no idea how to properly relax, live healthy lives and be ‘present’. With this in mind, he went about creating places where people could immerse themselves fully in the yogic lifestyle and completely relax their minds and bodies.
Just two years after leaving Rishikesh, the first Sivananda ashram offering yoga vacations opened in a cottage with no running water just outside of Montreal, Canada. Paying close attention to the needs of Westerners, Swami Vishnudevananda divided yoga into five main points: physical exercise, proper breathing, relaxation, a vegetarian diet and positive thinking and meditation. These are the principles in which all Sivananda ashrams are based around.
During the sixties Swami Vihnudevananda was said to have had a disturbing vision of people running, fire destroying the world, and utter chaos and turmoil.
From this moment onwards, Swami Vishnudevananda not only continued to spread the word of peace: he believed that patriotism and nationalism shouldn’t exist and advocated the idea of ‘one unity’ and the collective consciousness.
Flying over the Berlin Wall
From the seventies through to the eighties, Swami Vishnudevananda started to gain worldwide publicity after flying his plane across war-torn parts of the world, the most controversial being the Berlin Wall action in 1983.
When I first watched the video in the ashram in Tamil Nadu, I had my hand over my mouth in shock as I watched Smami Vishnudevananda fly a microlight plane across the Berlin Wall from the West side to the East and then positively ‘bomb’ the area with flowers and leaflets spreading the word of peace. No one had flown a private plane from the east side of the wall to the West since the wall had been put up.
“East Germans and West Germans, what is the difference? There was only one Germany. The moment that you put labels, then you think a person is not a human being…So when I went, I went with the label removed. The Berlin Wall crossing was symbolic. The purpose was to break the man-made barriers that exist in the mind. That’s the real barrier.” – Swami Vishnudevananda
Sivananda yoga today
Swami Vishnudevananda dedicated his life to peace and yoga. He explained and taught yoga in a clear, practical way to the West and transformed many lives along the way. In November 9, 1993, Swami Vishnudevananda peacefully passed away leaving behind a message that will be passed on from generation to generation.
Today, there are seven Sivananda ashrams, 20 centres and many affiliated centres providing yoga vacations, inspirational workshops, classes and / or yoga teacher training courses all over the world.
“The only way to change society is like changing a cotton cloth to a silk one — by changing each thread one by one.” – Swami Vishnudevananda
Photographs by Coni Hörler. Clare’s portrait by Hannah Chapman.
Sivananda Yoga is well-known worldwide and follows the teachings of Swami Sivananda. There are five Sivananda Ashrams in India, the largest one being Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram, which you can also find in our book. Clare Hudson, a yogini from the UK, shares with us her experience at the Sivananda Meenakshi Ashram in southern India.
My Sivananda Meenakshi Ashram Experience
– by Clare Hudson
“Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even into your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”
~ Swami Sivananda
Earlier this year, I spent two weeks practicing yoga, meditation and having interesting conversations at the Sivananda Meenakshi Ashram in Tamil Nadu in southern India. I’d now like to share some of my experiences with you.
Before I arrived at the ashram, I had no expectations; I just wanted to learn, observe and totally immerse myself in the experience. I was drawn to the Meenakshi Ashram because people from all walks of life were welcome and although each day had been carefully planned out with 5:30am starts, the ashram didn’t seem elitist or overly strict.
I always think that it’s important to have space to question what is being taught and practiced in order to fully understand. So, despite my daily schedule being full of yoga, meditation and chanting, there were also daily lectures about the philosophy and history of yoga which I found incredibly rewarding.
In the lectures, we discussed everything from God to the importance of a yogic diet. Some of us enjoyed the discussions so much we created our own ‘Question Time’ in the free time after the lectures. Questions included: Is it important to follow rules when you meditate? What is the purpose of meditation? And, is it really necessary to get rid of desire?
Perhaps you’re wondering, ‘but you were at an ashram, you’re not supposed to be thinking, you’re supposed to be clearing your mind.’ However, it was the discussions, laughter and union I felt with other people in the ashram that really made the experience worthwhile. It was the conversations that helped me to become more mindful when I meditated – to simply observe my thoughts rather than trying to get rid of them.
As for the yoga, I practiced for three hours each day and was amazed by how quickly I improved. By the end of the two weeks, my body felt stronger, my head clearer and overall, I felt more balanced. The classes were small and the ashram catered for all abilities, so it didn’t matter if you were new to yoga or you’d been practicing all of your life.
If I were to sum up my Meenakshi Ashram experience, this is what springs to mind – silent meditative walks up mountains as the sun rises, giggling over yoga nose cleaning rituals (it’s another story), pesky monkeys in the bamboo dorm, the fun of karma yoga cleaning and food containing every colour of the rainbow.
Being in the ashram taught me to appreciate the little things, be compassionate and not take life too seriously.
If you’ve spent time in an ashram, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Did you find it rewarding, hard to adjust, life changing…? Alternatively, if you’re thinking about staying in an ashram and have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
By Clare Hudson
“If I was to choose just one thing that makes me excited about yoga, it would be the sense of connectedness and the reminder to always be present!” – Clare Hudson
Clare is a copywriter with a passion for yoga. Visit her website for more information and for some fun reading!
The opinion in the article is the opinion of Clare Hudson and does not necessarily represent the view of yoga.in.
I arrived a bit early again at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh to take more photographs. At 10am sharp I was in Swami Vimalananda’s office: “Hari Om!”. What a loving and natural being he is!
The head of about 160 swamis of the Divine Life Society has spent 60 years in the ashram. He told me about Swami Sivananda’s life and why the Divine Life Society doesn’t go international – to not compete with Swami Sivananda’s disciples who have already set up ashrams around the world.
After a cup of chai, I was asked to come back and meet him again at the samadhi at 11.50am for a photo session. This gave me enough time to find a good spot and get the permission to shoot the asana/pranayama class tomorrow morning.
The shooting with Swamiji was very relaxed – it’s been such a great pleasure again!
For more details and photos of the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, please visit Yoga.in at http://www.yoga.in/centers/sivananda-ashram-185.html
Back to the Himalayas, Coni has visited the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, home of the Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda. Here’s his account.
This morning, I met Swami Vimalananda who invited me at the great Swami Sivananda’s Samadhi in Rishikesh. Since I was a bit early, I had a stroll around and took some pictures of the ashram of the Divine Life Society, which was founded back in 1936.
After a pooja was finished at the Samadhi, Swami Vimalananda arrived and took a seat. He was soon followed by some of the devotees who gathered around him. When he asked “Is Mr. Coni here?”, I knew it was my turn and I took a seat next to the Swami. I shortly told him about the ‘Yoga in India’ book project and he seemed to like it a lot. He told me to come back on Monday at 10am for further discussion. He also gave me the green light to take photographs of the premises.
By the time I finished taking photos of Swami Sivananda’s Samadhi it was already lunch time, and I headed to the busy dining area of the ashram, finishing my yoga day with a tasty lunch.
For more details and photos of the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, please visit Yoga.in at http://www.yoga.in/centers/sivananda-ashram-185.html
From today Heide, a very experienced journalist from Germany, will join us on our journey for about 2 weeks. We will for sure benefit a lot from her professional experience.
Our first center visit together is the local Sivananda Yoga Vendanta Nataraja Center in South Delhi.
At the beginning of our trip, we had visited another Sivananda ashram at Neyyar Dam in a beautiful natural environment in South India. This Sivananda center’s idea is to be a “Prana for Delhi”.
The center offers good, solid, and accessible Sivananda yoga in Delhi. Rajesh, a senior trainer, guided us through the day, and Heide participated in an open class.
H. H. Swami Sivananda (1887-1963) created a very simple system of just 12 asanas, which activate all chakras. Each posture is associated with a counter stretch posture so that your muscles are fully relaxed after each session.
Proper relaxation, breathing, exercises, diet and positive thinking for Delhi residents and the expat community!