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Swami Sivananda 1887 – 1963

Swami Vishnudevananda 1927 – 1993

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International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres
Swami Sivananda (1887 – 1963)
The spiritual strength behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, Swami Sivananda’s teachings are a synthesis of all the formal doctrines of yoga. Author of more than 300 books on yoga, Swami Sivananda was a medical doctor before renouncing worldly life for the spiritual path. He founded the Divine Life Society and the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy, Rishikesh, Himalayas. His main message was: Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise. In 1957 he sent one of his foremost disciples, Swami Vishnudevananda to the West to spread the ideals of yoga. Swami Sivananda entered Mahasamadhi on July 14th 1963.

Swami Vishnudevananda (1927 – 1993)
Born in South India in 1927, Swami Vishnudevananda entered the ashram of Swami Sivananda at the age of 18. A world famous authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga, Swami Vishnudevananda founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres in 1957 and was author of The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, Meditation and Mantras, Karma and Disease and a commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Swami Vishnudevananda entered Mahasamadhi on November 9th, 1993.

The Executive Board
The Executive Board of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres is comprised of senior disciples of Swami Vishnudevananda, personally chosen and trained by him to direct the organisation after his departure. Each of them has had many years’ experience in teaching all aspects of yoga. They are renowned for their devotion to Swami Vishnudevananda and Swami Sivananda and for their profound knowledge and inspirational teaching and guidance, wisdom imparted to many thousands of students throughout the world.

Swami Mahadevananda

Swami Durgananda


Swami Mahadevananda Swami Swaroopananda Srinivasan

Swami Durgananda Swami Sivadasananda Swami Kailasananda
Swami Swaroopananda Swami Sivadasananda Swami Kailasananda

2012 – here we are. In the midst of all sorts of predictions, excitement and worry as the world as we have known it for the last few centuries seems to fall apart, yoga feels like a “sheltering monastery” (see article of Swami Swaroopananda): it gives us a sense of stability, connection to the source within and a different perspective on the transformation of the world. The message of the Bhagavad Gita, to do our contribution to this world but remain unaffected by it, is more modern than ever (see the article on the Gita). We need to focus on connecting to the Self within, take responsibilities for our thoughts and actions rather than create suffering for ourselves by trying to please the world and generate endless karma (see Swami Vishnudevananda’s article on Karma and reincarnation). To remain balanced in this challenging world, we need to stay connected to the source of energy within and learn how to recharge: you can improve your skills in this practice by connecting to your solar plexus. See the article of Swami Sivadasananda on this topic. Harmony in our environment is also of great help to restore a sense of inner wellbeing: the article on the science of Vastu – Indian architecture, or the art of placement, will inspire you to become aware of the energy flow in your home and how learn ways to improve it. Finally, it is a great joy to announce that the Sivananda organization is developing its activities in Australia: we will be conducting a Teachers’ Training course there in 2013 and will hopefully soon open a centre in Sydney or Melbourne. It is a time to connect, practice together and encourage one another in staying strong in our spiritual practice. May the blessings of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda be with us all. May we be humble instruments in their hands to help spread the light of yoga in the world.

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of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres in Europe


2012 marks a milestone 40 Years of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres in Europe. The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Vienna was founded in 1972 by Swami Vishnudevananda and was the first Sivananda Yoga Centre in Europe. Since then 10 Centres and 2 Ashrams have been established helping many people to find health and inner peace through Swami Vishnudevananda’s 5 points of Yoga.

Om Shanti, The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, London

Eighth Avenue, Val Morin, Quebec, Canada JOT 2RO Tel: +1 819 322 3226 email: Est 1957
With ashrams and centres located around the world see page 68 for addresses

The International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, founded by Swami Vishnudevananda is a non-profit organisation whose purpose is to propagate the teachings of yoga and vedanta as a means of achieving physical, mental and spiritual well-being and Self-realisation.




8 12 17 22 28 32 35 36 38 42 46 48 50 54 57 58 60 62 64 68
Excerpts from Philosophy of Dreams
By Swami Sivananda



Lasting Peace through Satsang
By Swami Vishnudevananda

12 32 54

Precepts for Practice, Precepts for Teaching
By Swami Durgananda

Becoming a Sheltering Monastery
By Swami Swaroopananda

The Solar Plexus – A Gateway to Consciously Balancing your Nervous System
By Swami Sivadasananda

Sivananda Bliss in Thailand’s Bamboo Forests
A report on the Teachers’ Training Course 2011 in Thailand

The Bhagavad Gita, What for?
By Charles Poncet

Yoga Asana Chart
An ideal aid for home practice.

Yoga in Australia
By Swami Bhagavatananda

The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy
By Professor Pandey, retired professor of Indian philosophy from Vrindavan, North India.

Serving Time: Prison Yoga Outreach Project Yogic Vegetarian Recipes
Cooking with Fresh Green Herbs

Conversations on Vaastu Shastra
By Olga Mandodari

Sadhana Intensive Report
By Swami Vasudevananda

Sivananda Ashram and Centre News
Updates on new developments in Ashrams and Centres around the world.

The Yogic way to Selfless Love
By Swami Sitaramananda

The Art of Science – Performing Arts and their function in India
By Rajyashree Ramesh

Poems from the Autobiography of Swami Sivananda The Power of Vedic Rituals Sivananda Ashram and Centre Addresses
A listing of Sivananda Ashrams, Centres and teachers worldwide



Excerpts from
By Swami Sivananda

Chuang Tze, a Chinese Philosopher, once dreamt that he was a butterfly. On waking, he said to himself, “Now, am I a man dreaming that I am a butterfly, or am I a butterfly thinking that I am a man?”


he mind creates the dream out of the materials supplied by the experiences of the waking state. The dream creatures spring up from the bed of Samskaras or impressions in the subconscious mind. Indigestion also causes dreams. The Taijasa is the dreamer. It is the waking personality that creates the dream personality. The dream personality exists as the object of the waking personality and is real only as such. The waking and dreaming states do not exist independently side by side as real units. Why do we dream? Various answers have been given to this question. Dreams are nothing but a reflection of our waking experience in a new form. According to Sigmund Freud all dreams without any exception are wish-fulfillment. The physical stimulus alone is not responsible for the production of dreams. The dream mechanism is very intricate. The wishes are of an immoral nature. They are revolting to the moral self, which exercises a control on their appearance. Therefore, the wishes appear in disguised forms to evade the moral censor. Very few dreams present the wishes as they really are. Dreams are partial gratification of the wishes. They relieve mental tension and thus enable us to enjoy repose. They are safety valves to strong impulsions. You will know your animal-self in dream. The objects which manifest during the dreaming state are often not different in many respects from those which one perceives during his waking state. During the dreaming state

he talks with members of his family and friends, eats the same food, beholds rivers, mountains, motor cars, gardens, streets, oceans, temples, works in the office, answers question papers in the examination hall, and fights and quarrels with other people. This shows that man does not abandon the results of his past relations with objects when he falls asleep. The person who experiences the three states, viz., Jagrat or waking-state, Svapna or dreaming state, and Sushupti or deep-sleep state is called Visva in the waking state, Taijasa in the dreaming state and Prajna in the deep sleep state. When one gets up from sleep, it is Visva who remembers the experience of Prajna in deep sleep and says, “I slept soundly. I do not know anything.” Otherwise remembrance of the enjoyment in deep sleep is not possible. The reactions to dreams differ according to mental disposition, temperament and diet of the person. All dreams last for mere seconds. Within ten seconds you will experience dreams wherein the events of several years happen. Some have dreams occasionally, while some others experience dreams daily. They can never have sleep without dreams. The sun is the source and the temporary resting place of its rays. The rays emanate from the sun and spread in all directions at sunrise. They enter back into the sun at sunset, lose themselves there and come out again at the next sunrise. Even so the states of wakefulness and dreaming come out from the state of deep sleep and re-enter it and lose themselves there to follow the same course again.



Whatever appears in the dream world is the reproduction of the waking world. It is not only the reproduction of the objects seen, experienced or dealt with in the present life, but it may be the reproduction of objects seen, experienced or dealt with in any former life in the present world. Therefore the dream world cannot be said to be independent of the waking world. The objects that are seen in the state of wakefulness are always seen outside the body. It is, therefore, external to the dreamer, while the dream world is always internal to the dreamer. That is the only difference between them. During the dream state the whole wakeful world loses itself in the dream state. Therefore, it is not possible to find the distinctive features that would help the dreamer to distinguish the waking world from the dream world. Scientists and Western philosophers draw their conclusions from the observations of their waking experience. Whereas the Vedantins utilise the experiences of the three states viz., waking, dream and deep sleep and then draw their conclusions. Hence the latter’s conclusions are true, correct, perfect, full and integral, while those of the former are partial and one sided. The individual soul does not know that he is dreaming during his dream state and is not conscious of himself as he is bound by the Gunas of Prakriti. He passively beholds the creations of his dream mind passing before him as an effect of the workings of the impressions (Samskaras) of his waking state.

Many riddles of life are solved through hints from dreams. Dreams indicate which way the spiritual life of a man is flowing. One may receive proper advice for self-correction through dreams. One may know how to act in a particular situation through dreams. The dreams point out a path unknown to the waking consciousness. Saints and sages appear in dreams during times of difficulty and point out the way. The Vedantins study very deeply and carefully the states of dreams and deep sleep and logically prove that the waking state is as unreal as the dream state. They declare that the only difference between the two states is that the waking state is a long dream, Deergha Svapna. So long as the dreamer dreams, dream-objects are real. When he wakes up the dream world becomes false. When one attains illumination or knowledge of Brahman, this wakeful world becomes as unreal as the dream world. The real truth is that nobody sleeps, dreams or wakes up, because there is no reality in these states. Transcend the three states and rest in the fourth state of Turiya, the eternal bliss of Brahman, Satchidananda Svaroopa.

Dream Philosophy
Certain Karmas are also worked out in dreams. A King experienced a dream in which he acts the part of a beggar and suffers the pangs of starvation. Certain evil Karmas of the King are purged out in this experience. If a man is not able to become a king on account of the evil influence of some planets, he plays the part of a king in his dream. His strong desire materialises in the dream state. One derives more pleasure in dreams than in the waking state when he experiences pleasant dreams, because the mind works more freely in dreams. When a strong desire is not gratified in the waking state, you obtain its gratification in dreams. The mind has more freedom in the dreaming state. The mind is then like a furious elephant let loose. One dreams many things that are never to be experienced in this life such as,“He dreams he is flying in the air.” A dream is not an entirely new experience, because most often it is the memory of past experiences. In the waking state the light of the self is mixed up with the functions of the organs, intellect, mind, external lights etc. In dreams the self becomes distinct and isolated as the organs do not act and lights such as the sun that help them are absent. The dreamer is not affected by whatever result of the good and evil he sees in the dream state. No one regards himself a sinner on account of the sins committed in dreams. People who have heard of them do not condemn or shun them. Hence he is not touched by them. An action is done by contact of the body and the senses,

“Scientists and Western philosophers draw their conclusions from the observations of their waking experience. Whereas the Vedantins utilise the experiences of the three states viz., waking, dream and deep sleep and then draw their conclusions.”
It is possible for a dreamer to remain cognisant during his dream state of the fact that he is dreaming. Learn to be the witness of your thoughts in the waking state. You can be conscious in the dream state that you are dreaming. You can alter, stop or create your own thoughts in the dream state independently. You will be able to keep awake in the dream state. If the thoughts of the waking state are controlled, you can also control the dream thoughts. Profound wisdom comes through reflection on dreams. No one has known himself truly who has not studied his dreams. The study of dreams shows how mysterious our soul is. Dreams reveal to us that aspect of our nature which transcends rational knowledge. Every dream presentation has a meaning. A dream is like a letter written in an unknown language.


“So long as the dreamer dreams, dream-objects are real. When he wakes up the dream world becomes false. When one attains illumination or knowledge of Brahman, this wakeful world becomes as unreal as the dream world. ”
which have form with something else that has form. We never see a formless thing being active. The Self is formless, therefore it is not attached. As this Self is unattached, it is untouched by what it beholds in dreams. Hence we cannot ascribe activity to it, as activity proceeds from the contact of the body and the organs. There is no contact for the Self, because this infinite Self is unattached. Therefore it is immortal. Dreams are due to mental impressions (Vasanas) received in the waking state. The consciousness in a dream depends on the previous knowledge acquired in the wakeful state. The dreams have the purpose of either cheering or saddening and frightening the sleeper, so as to requite him for his good and evil deeds. Even in the state of dream the instruments of the self are not altogether at rest, because scripture states that even then it is connected with Buddhi (intellect). “Having become a dream, together with Buddhi it passes beyond this world.” Dreams, though of a strange and illusory nature, are a good index of the high or low spiritual and moral condition of the dreamer. He, who has a pure heart and untainted character, will never get impure dreams. An aspirant who is ever meditating will dream of his Sadhana and his object of meditation. He will worship the Lord and recite His name and Mantra even in dream through the force of Samskara. beginning. But as causality itself is baseless, a thing cannot exist as the cause of another. That which has a beginning and an end is changeable and hence non-eternal and unreal, for change implies non-existence in the beginning or at an end. Hence all perceived objects are unreal. As the objects of the waking state do not work in dreams, they are unreal. As the objects of the dream do not work in the waking state, they are unreal. Hence everything is unreal. One who eats a belly-full during the waking state feels hungry in the dream state and vice versa. Things are real only in their own realms but not always. That which is not always real is unreal, for reality is everlasting. The perception of an object is unreal, because objects are creations of the mind. An object has a particular form, because the mind believes it to be so. In fact, the objects of both the dreaming and the waking states are unreal. An object lasts only as long as the particular mental condition cognising the object lasts. When there is a different mental condition altogether, the objects also change. Hence all objects are unreal. Both in the dream and in the waking state, the internal perceptions are unreal and the objects of external perception appear to be real. If in the waking state we make a distinction of real and unreal, in dreams we also do the same thing. In dreams also objects of internal cognition, are unreal. Dreaming is as real as the waking state. But since dreaming is proved to be unreal, waking must also be unreal. Dreaming is unreal only from the standpoint of waking, and equally so is waking to the dreamer. From the standpoint of True Wisdom, waking is as unreal as dreaming. Pascal is right when he asserts that if the same dream comes to us every night we should be just as much occupied by it as by the things which we see every day. To quote his words, “If an artisan were certain that he would dream every night for fully 12 hours that he was a king, I believe that he would be just as happy as a king who dreams every night for 12 hours that he is an artisan”.

Waking as a Dream
In both states – waking and dreaming – objects are “Perceived” , i.e., are associated with subject-object relationships. This is the similarity between the two. The only difference between the two states is that the objects in dreams are perceived in the space within the body, whereas in the waking condition they are seen in the space outside the body. The fact of “being seen” and their consequent illusoriness are common to both states. The illusion of both the states is established by their “being seen” as “object”, other than the self, thus creating a difference in existence. Anything that is “perceived” is unreal, for perception presupposes relation and relation is non-eternal, for the relations of the waking state are contradicted by those of dream and vice versa. As duality is unreal, all objects must be unreal. As long as the dream lasts, waking is unreal; as long as waking lasts, the dream is unreal. The reality of the one is dependent on the reality of the other. But dream is proved to be unreal; hence waking is also unreal. Dream-relations are contradicted by waking-relations. Waking relations are contradicted by Super-consciousness which is uncontradicted. Non-contradiction is the test of reality. That which persists forever is real. That which does not and which has a beginning and an end is unreal. Dreaming and waking have both a beginning and an end. But it may be contested that one thing exists as the cause of the other in the

Raja Janaka’s Dream
Raja Janaka ruled over the country of Videha. He was once reclining on a sofa. It was the middle of the day in the hot month of June. He had a short nap for a few seconds. He dreamt that a rival king with a large army had invaded his country and slew his soldiers and ministers. He was driven out of his palace barefoot and without any clothes covering him. Janaka found himself roaming about in a jungle. He was thirsty and hungry. He reached a small town where he begged for food. No one paid any attention to his entreaties. He reached a place where some people were distributing food to the beggars. Each beggar had an earthen bowl to receive rice water. Janaka had no bowl and so they turned him out to bring back a bowl. He went in search of a vessel. He requested other beggars to lend him a bowl, but none would part with his own bowl. At last Janaka found a broken piece of bowl. Now he ran to the spot where rice water was being distributed but all the foodstuff had already been given out. Raja Janaka was very tired on account of travelling, hunger and thirst and heat of the summer. He stretched himself out near a fireplace where foodstuff had been cooked. Here someone took pity on Janaka and gave him some rice water which was


left at the bottom of a vessel. Janaka took it with intense joy and just as he put it to his lips, two large bulls tumbled fighting over him. The bowl was broken to pieces. The Raja woke up in great fear. Janaka was trembling violently. He was in a great dilemma as to which of his two states was real. All the time he was dreaming, he never thought it was an illusion and that the misery of hunger and thirst and his other troubles were unreal. The queen asked Janaka, “O Lord! What is the matter with you?” The only words which Janaka spoke were, “Which is real, this or that?” From that time he left all his work and became silent. He uttered nothing but the above words. The ministers thought that Janaka was suffering from some disease. It was announced by them that anyone who cured the Raja will be richly rewarded and those who fail to cure the Raja will be made life prisoners. Great physicians and specialists began to pour in and tried their luck, but no one could answer the Raja’s query. Hundreds of Brahmins well versed in the science of curing diseases were put in the state prison. Among the prisoners was the father of the great sage Ashtavakra. When Ashtavakra was a boy of only ten years, he was told by his mother that his father was a state prisoner because he had failed to cure Raja Janaka. Ashtavakra at once started out to see Janaka. He asked the Raja if he desired to hear the answer to his questions either in a few words as the question itself was put, or in as much detail as his dream experience could be explained. Janaka did not wish to have his humiliating dream repeated in presence of a big gathering and consented to receiving a brief answer. Ashtavakra then whispered into Janaka’s ear, “Neither this nor that is real.” Raja Janaka at once became joyful. His confusion was removed. Raja Janaka then asked Ashtavakra, “What is real?” There upon there was a long dialogue between him and the sage. This is recorded in the well-known book, “Ashtavakra Gita,” which is very useful for all seekers after Truth. In dreams the Samskaras of your previous births, which are imbedded in your Karana Sarira (causal body), will assume forms and become dream pictures. You dream that you are a king. You enjoy various kinds of royal pleasures. As soon as you wake up, everything vanishes. But you do not feel the loss because you know that the dream creatures are all false. Even in the waking consciousness, if you are well established in the idea that the world is a false illusion, you will not get any pain. When you know the real Tattva (Brahman) the waking consciousness will also become quite false like a dream. Wake up and realise! my child. There is a temperamental difference. Some rarely have dreams. A Jnani who has knowledge of the Self will have no dreams. During dreams you see splendid, effulgent light. Where does it come from? From Atman. The light that is present in the dream clearly indicates that Atman is self-luminous (Svayam Jyoti, Sva Prakasa). n


Ustka, Baltic Sea, Poland
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Lasting Peace through Satsang
“A true understanding of Dharma alone can bring peace to the world.”– Swami Sivananda
On the 8th May 1985 Swami Vishnudevananda gave a Satsang at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in London. It was a day of great celebration throughout Europe and the United States as people commemorated VE Day, Victory in Europe, marking the end of WWII in Europe. This is an edited version of Swamiji’s talk.


e are celebrating what? Today we are celebrating what? Not VE Day. Not victory. We are celebrating ‘Defeat Day’, ‘DD’, because victory comes only when you have control over your own inner enemy and when you conquer the inner battle. That is the day that is called Victory Day. When are you going to conquer your inner enemy, and who are your inner enemies? There are five big enemies. Their leader is called the mind, and his five generals are the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. These five generals take the army into sensual pleasures. The cause of war is because we are unable to control and conquer these inner enemies.

Today, just before I came to Satsang, I saw a newsreel about the Victory Day celebration by the Russians and I saw them marching: left, right, left, right, left right. Of course, the Americans are also marching, so also the British, the French and so on and so on. But do you know, whether you are German, British, Russian, American, believer, or non-believer, death is painful to all of you, whatever you are called, whatever label you give: German, American, or Russian. Because you put a label on someone do you think that their pain is not less? Do you think that death is less painful for a German mother compared to a Russian or American mother or a British mother? Death is painful to all. Twenty million Russians died in the war.

After the newsreel I saw the street parade and people were celebrating. What are you celebrating? Twenty million people, thirty million people died; six million Jews went to the gas chambers. We have not learned to conquer the inner enemy. It doesn’t matter how many times you celebrate Victory Day, VE Day, the coming days are going to be extremely difficult because there will be no-one to celebrate Victory Day. There will be neither victor nor vanquished, there will be only one vast burial ground. The whole planet will be a burial ground. You all came from earth to earth and ashes to ashes. What victory is there? God doesn’t understand this putting on of labels so that you can destroy another person. You put ‘British’, ‘American’, ‘German’, and now you can kill, you have a licence to kill? This is the situation because you don’t understand the purpose of life. Satsang means ‘association with the wise people’. Wise people talk about what? Non-wise people think about what? Suppose you are at a social party now, what would you be talking about? ‘Ah, look at the mink coat, look at the hairstyle, look at the nice, beautiful rings and the earrings etc. and oh, nothing much to worry about: we can die and everything is over for us. It is not. When you go to sleep tonight what will happen? There is no tomorrow for you? You forget your wife; family; children; money; and bank balance for the whole night and then, when you wake up, things will start all over again. So death is only like a deep sleep or a dream and you have to come back again. What kind of life you have in the future is determined by the last thought, and the last thought is determined by the sum total of the thoughts of what you are doing in everyday life, and the cream of the thought will come to the top at the last moment. It is not only yogis who have been saying this for thousands of years. Before you die you get a complete playback of your past lives, your past incarnations, everything, including in this life, in a very short time, like fast playback on television. And so just before you are born, just before you come out of your mother’s womb, there is a fast playback of your past life. This has been confirmed by recent research of people who have drowned or died accidently and have been resuscitated in hospital. They all say that just before they died they had a fast playback and they had been received by some of their relatives or friends on the other side. Such stories of people who died and crossed the border but did not completely reach the other side and came back, are described in the book Life After Life by Raymond Moody. Invariably, the experience of people who die and who are subsequently resuscitated after they leave this planet Earth or from this consciousness is that they are not afraid to die anymore because they see that there is a free world there. They are not yogis. They can be believers, nonbelievers, Christians, or non-Christians. Many of them are really unhappy to come back. This is their story. A man said he was in part of the hospital, he had a heart attack, he was resuscitated, and he was telling his doctors, ‘Please don’t bring me back! I am OK! I am OK! Please leave me alone’ and they wouldn’t leave him, they brought him back and he was not happy at all, he was very angry with the doctors who brought him back. It is just like a man who has escaped from prison and then they want to put him back in the dungeon, his body, full of cancer

“Arise, awake! Stop not till you reach that Immortal Self which Thou Art. That Immortal Self doesn’t have any birth or death: that is only for the body.”
yes, and he’s having an affair with her, and she is running with another man, and she is divorced...’ These are the thoughts you are going to have every day. That is called ‘asang’. You never have any benefit out of it. This type of scandal, back-biting, idle talk, can you get any peace out of it? So, Satsang is to remind you, Man, don’t worry about others. Even if there is a World War and the world is going to vaporise, you are Immortal. There is no death or birth for you. Arise, awake! Arise, awake! Stop not till you reach that Immortal Self which Thou Art. That Immortal Self doesn’t have any birth or death: that is only for the body. Satsang is to remind you, do not just think of your money, bank balance etc. This lifetime is only for a very short time, for one hundred years. But what will happen after a hundred years? Even if there is no World War III, what will happen? Still you have to die and then, can you go with your wife, can you take your wife with you? Your children with you? Money? Bank balance? All the ornaments and earrings and the gold watch etc.? You can’t even take a MasterCard there! Even your American Express card has no use. You can’t take money. You can only go as you came: you came naked and you go naked. You are not even allowed to take this physical body because it belongs to the earth, plants, vegetables or bacteria that will turn it back. When you leave this place again in a short time Satsang will make you ready to face the last thought. The last thought determines that both your astral life and also your future incarnation will be happy. It determines what kind of incarnation you are going to have. We believe in reincarnation, not that life is going to end after this particular lifespan and then there’s

“ Now, the question is, if we all leave this planet Earth today or tomorrow what type of last thought will there be?”
etc. Always, invariably. Now, the question is, if we all leave this planet Earth today or tomorrow what type of last thought will there be? Now I will tell you a small story from a Purana, from one of our ancient epics. There was a great Brahmin, a priest born in the Brahmin caste. He did lots of pranayamas, sandhyavandanas and Gayatri morning, day and evening according to the tradition. He led a very spiritual life, but when he grew up he fell in love with a prostitute, and started drinking and forgot all his Brahminic actions. He had several children with this woman and the last boy, the youngest boy, was called ‘Narayana’. Now this Brahmin was lying on his death-bed and suddenly he saw some frightening figures. There was


a conversation between this Brahmin and the horrible astral entities that came to take his body away to the other planes. He was terrified, and like any father, any loving father, he didn’t want to see this son who was playing outside in the garden frightened, and so he shouted, ‘Narayana, come here! Narayana, come! Narayana, come!’ Suddenly, the story shows, this figure, demonical figure, was about to take his life away when the attendants of Lord Narayana, with four hands and beautiful smiling faces came to help him. Now the attendants of Yama, the demonical type of people, said, ‘How come you are here? We are the people to take these people away to the place where they suffer. Who are you?’ They said, ‘We are the attendants of Narayana’. So they said, ‘You have no rights over this man.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Well, you don’t know the truth. You can go and ask your Lord Yama.’ ‘But we have never had any type of challenge by anybody. Who are you?’ They said, ‘This man is not under your control because he repeated the words, “Narayana, come”.’ ‘Oh no, he was talking to his child who was playing outside, “Narayana come inside, Narayana come”.’ ‘It doesn’t matter, the moment he repeats that word at the last moment, his thought is on Narayana and he cannot come under your influence, he can only go to the higher planes, the higher dimensions, and he is under our control now’. So this went on. And then the attendants sent him to Narayana. So in this story, what the attendants are explaining, is that this man, repeating, ‘Narayana, come here’ also could have called, ‘My son, come here’. As the father is very attached to the son he could call ‘Narayana, my son, come inside!’ but he did not call, ‘My son’ he said, ‘Narayana, come’. Though he called the son’s name because in earlier days he did intense practice, then suddenly, he fell from this path when he was an you in your past lives. Which country you are going to be born in, Britain or England or Germany, how you are going to die, whether you are going to a concentration camp or you are going to die on the battlefield, all this is determined by your past karma and past experiences. Whatever you are doing now will create and determine your future life. Even if the bombs are going to fall down, if your mind is so strong, identified with the Atman, the Self, the Immortal Self, then there is neither fear nor death. Your body will die but you are identifying with the Atman, like Narayana, ‘I am That I am’. There is no birth or death. So that is the purpose of Satsang. Satsang is to remind us that death is there, whether through World War III or by natural causes. Some of you may not even reach your home tonight. What guarantee is there that we will reach our homes safely? What guarantee is there that we will see tomorrow morning? There is no guarantee for anything, but Satsang says, yes, there is one guarantee, you always think of the Immortal Self, Thou Art, meditate within, bring the extrovert mind to be introvert, bring all the external senses, the generals, into the Self and identify I Am, Aham Brahmasmi or Om Namo Narayanaya, I am Narayana, I am Krishna, I am Rama, and make that thought powerful and strong, and stronger and stronger and then, at the last moment, when the time comes for you, you inhale, exhale, and pull the energy up, otherwise, you will be just like the man with the plastic heart. He was in a very critical condition with a blood clot and as soon as he came out of the anaesthesia from getting the new plastic heart he was asked, ‘What do you want?’ What did he say? ‘I want a glass of beer.’ That is the first thing he asked for. That’s called ‘old desire’. Then he moved next to the hospital where they rented a beautiful apartment with twenty-four hour nursing attention and he went fishing. He’s got a new heart, he is dying, and he went fishing. He doesn’t understand: he himself is hooked here, and he thinks he is going to hook another fish. In my boyhood village in Kerala there are lots of paddy fields, rice fields, and the rice fields are full of water and lots of frogs and water snakes. The water snakes don’t bite generally, but even if they do bite there is no poison. The main diet of the water snakes is frog. Now, if a snake catches a frog, the snake’s mouth is small, the frog is bigger, so the front portion of the frog is still outside. Because there are no teeth the frog doesn’t get injured and he will go on crying. It takes so long: slowly, slowly it will go on, swallowing little by little, little by little and the frog is slowly going, it takes about half an hour, forty-five minutes before the whole frog will go and still he is alive and well because he is not injured, there is no injury and so the frog is slowly going, disappearing into the mouth. Now, if a fly passes by he will stick his tongue out and try to catch that fly and have one more last meal before losing the game. We are just like that. Little by little ... one more ... one more. I will catch my fish and enjoy my fish before my heart stops beating. You think that life is only for running the heart for a few more minutes, a few more months, but no matter how many hearts you get, how many lungs you get you still have to leave this planet Earth. Are you prepared for that? What are

“According to yoga psychology your last thought determines what your future thoughts are.”
adult, but still from his earlier life, the intense pranayama and mantra he repeated, the mantra is still in his mind, his subconscious mind, that is why he called, ‘Narayana, come here’, otherwise he would have called, ‘My son, come here’ and that would have been completely different. According to yoga psychology your last thought determines what your future thoughts are, so whatever thoughts you are creating through Satsang, repeating Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namah Sivaya, Hari Rama etc. these thoughts will become very powerful and create new grooves in your subconscious mind, and the last thought will be of Narayana or Krishna or whichever mantra you are repeating. That is why we have Satsang and ask you to repeat God’s name. It is not to convert you to any ‘ism’ but to make your thought very powerful; otherwise your last thought will be ... money! ‘Ah, the stock market investment’, then you will be born as a teller, a bank teller and you can count millions and millions of dollars morning till evening! So, whatever position you are in now, whatever existence you are having now, these things were already determined by


you thinking at the last moment? Your money, your heart, your liver, your spleen? What are you thinking? That is the purpose of Satsang. Satsang is to remind you, no, do not think of all these things, this is all just temporary. Things came to you because of your karma, but you have to leave everything here. So these are the things that you must understand. Satsang is the teaching of the wise. We also need to think while living how we should live, and how we must bring our energy to higher levels, to the higher centres, so that at the last moment when we die we can also leave and die with our own consciousness. If we take the energy upward more consciously and bring it to the higher centres, we are released from this physical body. We escape from this physical body to the higher dimensions. According go for the water, or do you sit? Generally, your perception is more powerful than your reasoning. You know this world is full of sorrow because you are accustomed to living by sight, smell, and taste: all of the five senses you believe, all of the time. You think your senses are real, so, ‘Intellect, you keep quiet. Let me go. It is only fifteen minutes there. If I walk fifteen minutes I can find the water. If there is no water I always can come back. Only fifteen minutes!’ So you got up, tie your head in a cloth and slowly walk for fifteen minutes. And in the fifteen minutes where is the water? Still fifteen minutes away! And you turn back towards the shade. The shade is fifteen minutes this way. Now, which way do you go? That way or this way? You say, ‘O.K. Let me try once more’, so you start running now, faster, and after fifteen minutes still the water is fifteen minutes away. Now the shade is thirty minutes away. Now you start running, running, running toward the water and the shade is getting further and further and further away, until you dehydrate and die. This example is literally an example of how you are living now. In the West you think that all happiness is somewhere outside. If you have a good house, a good palace, a good air conditioner, and a good car then you are going to be happy. You created everything. The more you create the more you want and you are moving away from the Self, Atman. You never thought that happiness is within you. You think that it is all outside. So you run away, run away, thinking that everything is outside and now, like the man who is going to die in the desert, we are going to destroy the whole world thinking that we can save the world. This is the situation of our life. So there are two things, perception and intellect.

“The purpose of Silence or meditation is to bring your energy level within: not outward, extrovert, but introvert.”
to your evolution you go to the third dimension, fourth dimension, fifth dimension or even to the seventh dimension if you are very highly evolved. Otherwise people with fear, with no idea, they will go to the first and second heaven and there they suffer terribly, because they do not know how to use their thought. In Satsang we are also teaching you how to use your thought from the very beginning. It is called, ‘Go within’. The purpose of Silence or meditation is to bring your energy level within: not outward, extrovert, but introvert. I will tell you some stories that explain what ‘extrovert’ and ‘introvert’ mean. ‘Extrovert’ means that the senses go outward to the sensual pastures like wild horses, and ‘introvert’ means bringing those wild horses to the centre, to the soul. That is called, ‘meditation’. Through meditation you can bring the senses inward and you will have happiness while living on this planet and also happiness hereafter. The first story is about a man who is seated under a tree in a desert. The tree gives him shade and a little cool breeze. All around he is surrounded by white sand. As the sun starts rising on the horizon, he begins to get thirsty and as the sun gets higher and higher he gets more and more dehydrated and thirsty for water. Still he sits under the shade. Suddenly, as his thirst increases, his desire for water becomes important for his very existence. He sees in the white sandy area a beautiful, shimmering lake. Waves. Ripples. What is that? A mirage! If you haven’t seen a mirage you would know what it is like. It is literally like a lake or a sea. I have seen that. That white sand is not white sand any longer; it is a lake, full of water and waves. Now he has seen with his perception that there is water, but, by intellectual analysis he knows that there can’t be any water, there is only sand. But his perception, his eyes, he sees this beautiful, shimmering lake. So the question is, ‘Shall I go, or shall I not go?’ The intellect says, ‘Don’t go. You are sitting under the shade. When you go there you will get dehydrated and die in the desert.’ But the perception says, ‘There is water’. Now, which one are you are going to follow? Are you going to believe your perception, or your reasoning? Do you get up and

“In Satsang, we make you think. There is no happiness outside. If there is happiness, it is coming from within.”
In Satsang, we make you think. There is no happiness outside. If there is happiness, it is coming from within. The dog who is chewing a dry bone and is having beautiful juicy blood coming out of it thinks, ‘Oh, it is coming from the dry bone’ but it is coming from his own palate. In the same way, we think that happiness is coming from the outside, but everything is from within. So Man, Satsang says, ‘Don’t go outside. Don’t accept this perception. Use your intellect, your reasoning and analyse it’. That is what Satsang is doing. Satsang is trying to remind you again and again, go within and make your mind one-pointed and strong.

“Satsang is trying to remind you again and again, go within and make your mind one-pointed and strong.”
The last story is about a hunter who went hunting, and after hunting was tired and sat under the shade of a tree to eat his lunch. He was about to open and enjoy his lunch and suddenly, in a nearby bush, there was a lion. The lion was also hungry, and he saw this hunter seated comfortably. He thought, ‘Ahhh,


So you are being bombarded: the tax, insurance, this man, that there’s my lunch’. He was about to jump on to the hunter but man, terrorism and so on, constantly bombarded. Thousands the hunter saw him, ‘My God! I must escape, but there’s no of bees are stinging, politicians and so forth, and the honey time to run anywhere’. Luckily, he was sitting near a big well. is a little bit of those pleasures, like caviar and vodka, that you He jumped into the well to save himself from the lion’s mouth want to enjoy. Eventually the black rat and white rat cut the but when he looked, the well was dry and there was a big vine and you go to the bottom and you die. This is what python lying at the bottom of it. The python was also hungry. happens. Our life is constantly moving. Now the hunter has a choice: he can be lunch for the lion, or lunch for the python. Which one do you prefer? Anyhow, So Man, Satsang is to remind you don’t run, run, run; you the choice is not so good! will never reach anywhere. Stay wherever you are, go within, and get your strength from within. Not in your Luckily there was a creeper, a vine on the bank balance, your money, wife, children, home, walls of the well, so he caught hold of the family, beauty, strength or power. Everything creeper and was hanging in between it so the will collapse. Everything is moving away from lion wouldn’t reach him and the python you, but still you think that it is going to come wouldn’t catch him. Temporarily, he was happy, but as he was hanging there, two rats to you. Money cannot bring you health, strength, came from a hole when they saw that the vine power, or anything. Everything moves away. was moving. One was a black rat and one was So Satsang is to remind you at this time every a white rat, and they started gnawing the vine day to spend some time in cogitation and while he was just hanging there. But suddenly meditation for your inner development. he also saw nearby, within reach, there was a It doesn’t matter who you are or what you beautiful beehive full of honey and, of course, are: attend Satsang to remind you that death lots of bees too. Now he’s thinking, ‘There’s is waiting, otherwise you will forget this. lots of honey here, why can’t If you don’t come to Satsang “So Man, Satsang is to remind you don’t run, to be reminded again and I enjoy this honey?’ So he lent run, run; you will never reach anywhere. over, to get the honey and again the subconscious mind naturally, the bees are not going Stay wherever you are, go within, and get will be overpowered with to let him have a happy honey weeds, like in a garden, and your strength from within.” lunch so they start stinging all your last thought will be only over his body, thousands of them, and the rats are gnawing weeds. So, come to Satsang whenever there is an opportunity, and the lion is looking from the top, and the python is looking move with people who are wise, sing God’s name, repeat God’s from the bottom, and he is enjoying the honey. Well, he must name and move on, and bring your mind from extrovert be a very stupid hunter, don’t you think? to introvert through meditation. This story illustrates all of us. We are like the hunter. The lion For that we also need other things to bring the mind inward, represents old age. Old age is chasing us constantly. Look at my like asana and pranayama, the eight steps of Raja Yoga: yama, grey hair. When I came to America in 1957 I didn’t have one niyama, asana, pranayama, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. grey hair. Old age is chasing constantly, pushing, pushing. And People try to reach samadhi only through meditation. the python represents death. He chases all of us towards death. That is just like going on to the last step climbing a staircase. And the vine on which you are hanging represents your life If you want to reach the top before going to step one you will span of one hundred years. And the black rat represents the fall down. So do not think that mediation will come easily night, and the white rat represents the day, and the day has because you close your eyes or you go to your guru and your been chewed off from your lifespan. Now the night rat has guru has got a specific kind of formula that by hitting you, your started chewing already. You are not aware of it. Even in this Kundalini will awaken and go to a higher level. It is your effort. time, as I was talking, a few more hairs are turning grey. Is it In each life go on increasing your level of consciousness. happening? Or has it stopped? No more grey hairs? It has all Depending on which chakra you are able to awaken you will ended? My nose is changing? I have more wrinkles? A bit more be born in the next plane. If you die when the third chakra fat? So, this body is changing little by little, little by little. That is awakened, then you will go to the third plane; the fourth is called ‘old age’. You are not aware of it. Well, do you think chakra; the fourth plane. Each of the planes corresponds to the this is only happening to Swami Vishnu? You’ve forgotten that chakra in the physical body. Many people only know how to this happening to you also! At this very moment it is happening use their first and second chakra, their sensual and sexual to you! Old age is chasing you every moment. And then those organs. They only go to the first and second planes. That is honey bees and the honey. Honey is the sensual pleasures. different from yogis; yogis want to go to the higher planes. You can get a little bit, but when you try to have those sensual Satsang will increase your awareness of the higher pleasures they don’t want you to enjoy it.You go into a bar dimensions, the higher planes and higher chakras and you can to have that beer and you have to pay taxes. And then if you be a God-realised soul or Self-realised soul in this very life have a big house, you have to pay a bigger tax and with more according to our timeless teachings. n rooms, more bedrooms and bathrooms there is more cleaning.



Precepts for Practice, Precepts for T eaching
By Swami Durgananda
From a lecture given at the graduation of an International Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course in Vrindavan, North India, and from excerpts of a teachers’ workshop at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Madrid.

“There is nothing more elevating and sublime than to be a witness to the living divine Presence in all beings, and to strive to awaken that consciousness in others, too.” – Swami Sivananda


e are the result of many generations which moved away from the laws of nature. Look at the way our ancestors and our family lived: greatgrandmother, grandmother and mother, many of them moved away from nature. Therefore, we think it is normal. It has brought us physical and mental problems. Many have complaints about eyes, teeth, gums, joints or stomach. People say, “I don’t know why I am so sluggish, why I am depressed.” These things happen because we have moved away from nature. Not just our body, but also the bodies which created this present body, what we now call genes. When we are out of touch with nature, we lose our inner balance, our centre, our emotional balance, our balance of body awareness. We do not have the quality of life we would like to have, and so we lose contact with our atman (the inner Self), and with shanti (peace). Separation from the Self happens when we do not accept the laws of nature. This is the root cause of all our suffering. Look at nature, understand nature around you as well as the nature within you. Then you will connect back to the atman.

Slowly, suffering will cease, like fog moving away from the shore. Nature moves quietly. Diseases come quietly; at first you don’t notice them. Also, well-being is so quiet that you soon forget how bad you used to feel. Pain is forgotten very quickly, otherwise women wouldn’t have second babies. They forget the pains. Yoga helps you to reconnect in different ways, depending on your personality. There are different paths – there is bhakti yoga, karma yoga, jnana yoga, and raja yoga. By slowly integrating these systems, the practice takes you from jiva, (individual consciousness, believing I am this and that), back to the inner Self. That is how yoga works, it unites jiva with atman, the immortal Self.

Three great blessings in life
To follow the path of yoga, you need three great blessings in life. First you have to recognize that there is something imbalanced in you, that you have moved away from the Self. More and more people are becoming aware of this. Those who have a full tummy, a roof over their head, and clothes to wear, they are beginning to think. Those who still have to look for their shelter and their food don’t have time to think in this way.


Secondly, you need the opportunity to bring yourself back to balance. These opportunities do not come by themselves – you need time, financial stability, and good health. Then the search can start. Looking at today’s world, there are not many people who have that opportunity, who have the time, the funds and the health to go on this search. Either there are no funds or there is no time, or they have certain ties in the world which do not allow them to go away for any amount of time. We have these conversations with many people who would like to participate in the Yoga Teachers’ Training Course (TTC). They say: “I just cannot leave my dad for four weeks”, or “my boss won’t let me go for four weeks.” Finally, after you recognize that something inside is not balanced, and once you have made space in your life to look for the lost balance, you need the teachings. There are many wisdom teachings available to us. Each person is different and thus some teachings are not acceptable for us, they don’t fit us. We keep looking until we find a teacher whom we can trust and from whom we can accept training in the techniques, the rules and the regulations of yoga. To have all these conditions in one place is a great blessing and very rare. Those who come to the Yoga Teachers’ Training Course accept to follow for four weeks the teachings of the two masters who guide us in this ancient tradition of merging jiva with atman. It immerses them in the teachings and gives a solid foundation of how to live yoga and how to teach yoga to others. Below are some precepts for the yoga teacher; many of these can be helpful to any person who has chosen to follow the path of yoga. practicing them for a longer time you will feel that. You also feel it when you leave out one asana – the energy is not complete. Swami Vishnudevananda was very strict about this. Another thing Swamiji emphasized is that you do not do the asanas along with the students. I know that in some institutions it’s done, but in the International Sivananda Centres and Ashrams it is not done, because then you cannot correct the people verbally anymore. Verbal corrections are very important, for instance when you teach surya namaskar. This is not possible if you practice the surya namaskar yourself while you teach it. If the students are not guided verbally, they fall into the same old habits as they do when practicing at home. The toes are not aligned properly, the hands are not flat on the ground, the head position is not correct, etc. Everything falls back into the old sloppiness. The dharma (duty) of the teacher is to catch the sloppiness of the students in the class. Some of them just come once or twice a week, and they need the corrections. Maybe they think that they don’t need the corrections. Let them think what they want to think. Your dharma is to correct them properly. When you teach kaphalabhati or anuloma viloma and when you do asanas like the fish, the lungs are very open. Then we should have the windows open. Imagine what stale air comes out. It’s an amazing thing. Whenever I am at a center, I know when there is a trial class, when people come for the first time to find out what yoga is. I smell it. Most people have a short and superficial breath with a very limited exchange of air. When they start doing asanas, their lungs open up, and all that stale air is left in the room. Please remember to open the windows, even when it’s cold. In some countries where we have centers it’s sometimes minus 15 degrees Celcius, but still you open the windows for a moment, and then you close them again. The more you teach, the easier it will be for you to find the right timing of the asanas. When you’re not yet so experienced, you get hooked on one asana or one person. Just as it is not good to adjust the timing to the slowest person in class, it’s also not good to always follow the fastest one. Take the average. If you have many beginners in your class, put them on one side. Then you can help them more easily. Cultivate this detailed attention, be regular, smile, be very cheerful and be uncomplicated. Try to walk the middle path.

Move like a river
Yoga has to become part of your life now. For this, you have to learn to flow like water around the rocks. When the water in a brook encounters a rock, it doesn’t say, “Hey! Let’s stop here: there is a rock”. It simply goes around the rock. At the same time it remembers its goal and always continues to flow towards the ocean. You also have a goal – you want to be a yoga teacher. Sometimes you may have a specific plan what to teach in a class, and then there is someone in the class who is a difficult person or cannot follow, and you have to change your plan. Maybe you don’t reach your goal for that class. Just let it be, don’t give in to a bad, irritated mood. Don’t give your mental pain to others.

Apply all 5 points for proper energy flow
Start applying the five points which Swami Vishnudevananda constantly reinforced. Besides proper exercise, proper breathing and proper relaxation, positive thinking and meditation, you should also emphasize food. If your own diet is sattvic (pure), the energy within your astral body will flow properly. When you correct somebody, this pure energy will be transferred to the other body. Correcting an asana, is not just physically adjusting somebody – the energy within your astral body is flowing to the other body. Then it becomes easier for the students to adjust themselves to what you’re suggesting. Swami Vishnudevananda could have a hundred people in one room and put most of us in the headstand. It was the energy, it was the thought power, it was that purity which he had assimilated in his body through proper food, through the proper thinking, through his own sadhana (spiritual practice). Of course you don’t need to develop this to the extent

Teaching yoga has its rules
We have received certain rules from Swami Vishnudevananda, which he gave to the Sivananda Organization. For example, we base each asana class on the twelve basic postures. We have to learn to be very disciplined in our timing, and not spend too much time on one asana. Make sure that you have the sequence in place. It’s better to practice one asana for a shorter time and be able to practice all the twelve postures, than holding one asana for a long time. The asanas work on the chakras. They are stimulated by each asana. Then the energy is pulled up to the sahasrara chakra (the energy center at the top of the head). This is how it works, and this is why Swami Vishnudevananda’s method is so successful. He is a recognized yogi. He assured us that the effect of these twelve asanas expand to every corner of the nadis (subtle energy channels). Once you are


“Your words, as well your thoughts, should always bring students to the idea that yoga is not just physical, but also energetic.”
to put a hundred people into the headstand. But you can develop it for the fifteen or twenty people you’re teaching. Prepare yourself. Then this clarity will be passed on to the other person. The students feel it. That is the austerity, or tapas, which you are doing, to teach yoga as charity for humanity. This charity is possible if the austerity is in place. The austerity is for yourself and the charity is for others. If you are teaching tomorrow, see that you are rested, that you only eat healthy things without filling the stomach too much. Have a proper bowel movement so you feel clean. Then you can give a good class. The stronger your thoughts, the more you will attract the students; they want to come to you. Very often, the simplest and humblest teachers have the most students while those who know everything and have flamboyant ways do not really attract the students. Be humble, don’t show off, be simple and share. are the astral and the causal bodies. We think we are the physical body, but the physical body is just a reflection of the astral body, which is composed of the vital, mental and intellectual sheath. And again that astral body is a reflection of the causal body.

Changes on a subtler level in class
Your words, as well as your thoughts, should always bring students to the idea that yoga is not just physical, but also energetic. As you bring the attention more to the subtler level, competition will become less. You can say sentences like: ‘It doesn’t matter how far you go into the posture, what’s important is how you breathe in the asana, and how relaxed you are in that posture’. Everybody will then reach their own asana for that particular moment. If they push too hard and struggle, the result will be competition and aggression. The ego will be bigger than before. People find it difficult to look at their own human side. We should try to make the students look at their human side. This relaxes the atmosphere. Then they will feel better after the class. They hardly notice you after the class. They go out like they were in heaven. They may even forget to put on their shoes. Then you know you’re giving a good class.

Teaching Autosuggestion
Swami Vishnudevananda was a master in teaching autosuggestion. He would announce the autosuggestion very thoroughly. It was a logical sequence, you just had to follow it. He would start from the feet and slowly work the way up to the head. He would say each autosuggestion three times: I relax the feet, I relax the feet, my feet are relaxed. He was not speaking to himself, he was speaking it for you. So you could lie there and hear it as if you’re speaking to yourself. My feet are relaxed. After relaxing the limbs, the back and the head, autosuggestion is given to the inner organs: heart, liver, kidneys, etc. Through the power of thought all these inner organs relax also. The teacher sits and concentrates with the students. You go with the students through all the inner organs. It is a very powerful technique. Mental and spiritual relaxation follow. Finally, there is silence. The teacher sits in silence and does Japa (mantra repetition). After some minutes you chant OM very softly. Everybody sits up and you close with the final prayer. This completes this master class, which we learned from Swami Vishnudevananda.

No place for competition
There should be no competition among the students, nor among the teachers. Be humble if you have achieved something and know that if you practice you will achieve more. It’s a natural law. If the seed in the earth is well nourished, the tree will grow. Avoid competition, then there will be less fear, fear of being judged. Repeat your mantra, teach, do your dharma. Gradually confidence, faith and cheerfulness will vibrate in every part of the body. Due to the challenges of life the energy gets blocked. During the asana session energies are unblocked again. Energies block, unblock, block, unblock… have you noticed it? Can you say, I will be unblocked forever? As long as you live there will be changes in energy. This helps us to accept the fact that life is one big challenge. Some people think when they start yoga that there will be no more challenges in life, everything will go smoothly. This is a very tamasic, lazy attitude. It’s not accepting life as it is. Life is one challenge.

Cultivate purity and allow the light of yoga to shine
Remember that by taking good, pure, sattvic food, your mood will also be up, your energy level will be higher, and your thoughts will be more sublime. Cultivate good humour, which is pure and coming from inside. Then all the cells of the body get uplifted, and then you, as a teacher, will be a living example for yoga. It’s not just what you know, it’s what you’re reflecting through your clothes, your face, your gestures, your voice and your attitude. It must not be a put-on-attitude – people feel this. It has to be real. If you put yourself aside, the light of Yoga comes through. And if you do this for many months, many years, you become that light. Swamiji would tell us: Like a fresh yellow flower attracts the bees, so also that peace of Yoga will attract the students. You are actually ambassadors of peace.

When you start teaching, be a friend to the students
We have one very devoted student from Bombay, an elderly lady, she is seventy four. She comes to Austria and we teach her pranayama, gentle anuloma viloma, without any retention. She practiced that for one year. Now she has started sitali. Sometimes she calls us and says: “You know, sitali is very difficult. Even though I practiced it in Austria for a week, I have forgotten how to do it; please can you show me again?” In these situations we must be a friend to the students, not a teacher. If you are a friend to your students they will accept the difficulties in their practice. So I said to that lady: “Don’t worry, practice anuloma viloma and next time we meet, we will go to the next step.”

Negative emotions will be transformed
Then confusion, depression and other negative emotions will be transformed, as all the cells of your body will be slowly transformed. Remember all the three bodies. Besides the physical body there

Applying common sense
Actively accepting life and at the same time trying to keep up a


sadhana schedule is a challenge. If you try to do kapalabhati every day, 45min of anuloma viloma, fast once a week and meditate half an hour every day, and sing Jaya Ganesha, you simply may lose your job, just like when you eat too much you will get indigestion. Your friends, husband or wife will say: “I told you, you are not the same, you were really brainwashed, I warned you, now you see where this has brought you. Before we got along and now I’m not even allowed to smoke my cigarette. I want to go with you to a nice restaurant, and you say you don’t like the smell there – before you loved it!” Don’t make such mistakes. You have to serve your loved ones. They also have to serve you a little bit. You can ask them: “Please can you smoke on the balcony?” If she or he feels you are giving a little bit, then there will be some acceptance on the other side: “Go with you to the fish restaurant? Yes, I would like to go, but let’s go to a nice Italian restaurant, then you have your dish and I can have pasta and vegetables.” I know of a man whose wife was doing yoga. She was not smoking, and he and she agreed amongst themselves that every time he wanted to smoke a cigarette he would go out on the balcony. In the summer this is ok, but in the winter it is a cold affair. Having a cigarette and cold back, standing on the balcony, is not so nice. It’s much nicer to sit in a comfortable chair, maybe watching the news, and puff on the cigarette, but they had made an agreement. Finally smoking on the balcony in the winter became so uncomfortable, that this man stopped smoking altogether. Adaptability with each other is necessary. Not just adaptability of giving up smoking, but the adaptability of giving the other person a chance to adapt gradually. It’s love. It’s giving. Again, it is also an austerity. get along with that person.” Particularly in offices people get very tired of seeing each other for eight hours. Sometimes your work colleagues are also your family members. There can be difficulties. Maybe you’re thinking negatively about that person. Maybe you don’t like how the other person drinks, talks on the phone or walks. Find out what it is and let it go. If you’re changing your attitude towards a person, the relationship will change. Many people have done this after talking to us about yoga, and it has really changed their relationships with colleagues at work.

A lesson learned

Don’t be rigid
Rigidity is to be avoided. Nobody is bad because he eats fish and is smoking. We used to do it ourselves, maybe you are still doing it. Don’t judge, just work on yourself. Otherwise you will not fit in society anymore. Today vegetarianism is more widely accepted, smoking in public places and at work is prohibited in many countries and alcohol is becoming less fashionable. It takes time to understand the psyche of your surroundings and to understand yourself also. Avoid extreme attitudes, these make life unnecessarily difficult. If you remember the universal law of love, then you will be fine. You will find the strength to be patient and compassionate. Instead of looking at the mistakes of others, we must learn to see how much love they actually have. Everyone has love, we were all born of love. Atman and love are the same. In most people, love is coloured or camouflaged. Once you learn about someone’s upbringing, you may start to understand why they have to cover up many things. When you talk about their childhood you understand why they are the way they are. When you teach yoga, don’t think everybody is like you. Many different people and situations exist in this world, so patience, compassion and understanding are needed. Be like a friend, not like a teacher. In yoga it is very difficult to separate one from another, because yoga is so personal.

The first time I saw Swami Vishnudevananda was at a lecture in California. There were about fifty people. I was sitting in the back and wanted to see who Swami Vishnudevananda was. Everybody was sitting. But in a corner of the room there was a man standing on his head during the whole lecture. He looked a little rough, his clothes were not very fresh and the headstand was not very straight. Yet he managed to remain in the headstand for a whole hour. And Swamiji didn’t say anything. I was wondering: “Why does he not say something?” My mind was quite negative. The fact that I kept repeating this thought did not change the situation. The man was still in the headstand and the lecture was going on. I missed most of the lecture, as I was so much involved in judging the situation of this man remaining in the headstand. When the lecture was over, the man came down from the headstand and went to see Swamiji. Swamiji right away introduced him to the audience. He had learned yoga while in prison in San Francisco, by studying the Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga by Swami Vishnudevananda. He actually taught himself the headstand. He was now out of jail and wanted to show how much he had learned. As a sign of gratitude he remained in the headstand throughout the lecture. You never know how one thing relates to another. When we think about something, when we say something, or rather our thinking wants to say something, we must be careful and not judge. I learned a big first lesson that day. I saw that I had no compassion, that I was completely judgemental. My mind was negative towards something which I thought was not correct. Yet in the context of the connection between this man and Swamiji, it was perfectly correct. This happened almost 40 years ago. I have never forgotten it.

The Power of proper thinking

Avoid judgements
According to the universal law of cause and effect, whatever you think will come back to you. Often people say: “Oh! I don’t

How do we preserve our energies? As you go through the TTC experience, and learn the asanas and the pranayama, you know that the aim of yoga is peace, or shanti. The most important peace is mental peace. Thoughts can travel. Whatever you think will reach other people, it will reach the universe, and it will bounce back to you. Thoughts have a great power. You, as teachers, must be very aware of your thoughts, particularly


when you’re teaching: not just what you say, but also what you think. Whatever you have been thinking for months and years makes up your present thoughts. First is the thought, then it expresses itself as an action, and then the action leads to a reaction. Be very careful of what you think, and how you are acting. Your thought creates a vibratory level all around you. The dynamic force of a positive thought will shape you into a very influential teacher, not only in yoga, but in other subjects also. A good teacher is not necessarily somebody who can repeat by heart what’s written in the book, but rather somebody who has reflected on the words within through personal spiritual practice. Mantra repetition and prayers help to live the true spirit of yoga: peace of mind, bliss, happiness. Swami Vishnudevananda put it all in a beautiful slogan: “Health is wealth, peace of mind is happiness, yoga shows the way.” in society. People are jealous of your house, your car, or your job. They are jealous of what you do and what you have. In yoga, jealousy should not be allowed because we are all equal. Everybody has something to work on, whether it is the character, something physical, or mental. There is work for everybody. Students who have been practicing for some time, will need more advanced exercises. Those who are just starting can be inspired and supported by those who are more advanced. There should be compassion, no jealousy.

Mental growth is the most important goal
Mental growth is the most important goal in yoga. Physical growth will follow, but mental growth is more important. Some people are very healthy, and their practice is very good, all the muscles and joints function well. But if they are depressed, after

Being a yoga practitioner is the key to teaching
Please don’t be like a tape recorder, don’t be somebody who just passes on knowledge in words. Be a practitioner. Being a practitioner, you can be a very simple teacher. Some of you are very shy or you used to be shy when you started to teach. Maybe you are limited in the language or you don’t pronounce the Sanskrit very well in the Gajananam prayer. Simply read it off. At the beginning, I used to read from a sheet of paper. Everybody can do this. That doesn’t mean you are a bad teacher – if you have yoga inside, you have a peaceful vibration, the students will accept that.

“ Mental growth is the most important goal in yoga. Physical growth will follow, but mental growth is more important.”
a while the body will show it. Later on they may have diseases due to a lack of certain hormones, which they stop producing properly because of depression. Watch your mental health constantly, your body will benefit tremendously, along with the help of asanas and pranayama.

The common goal is peace
Many volunteers run the Sivananda Yoga Centers worldwide, and the only thing all these people have in common is yoga. We have different languages, nationalities, likes and dislikes, and we’re all coming from different walks of life. Some have gone to university, some have PhDs, some haven’t even finished high school… and we all live together! Not only is this an art, it is really a way to become ambassadors of peace. Swami Vishnudevananda would say: “The common goal is Peace.” Amongst the staff, cleanliness is a common goal, doing the asanas together, sitting together in meditation, the mental cleanliness. The common work of service is actually quite simple. You don’t need degrees for what we do: you learn yoga, you speak a little bit about yoga, you teach asanas, all this is very simple. But what is not so simple is to put aside your own raga-dvesa, your likes and dislikes, as well as the ego which makes you think: “I’m not good, I don’t know if I can teach well enough.” Teaching has nothing to do with that. The ego is either tamasic, which means it doesn’t believe in itself, or it is so rajasic that it thinks it is better than anybody else. Both are harmful for the development of the yogi. Thank you very much for coming to this Sivananda teaching institution. Thank you for giving us your trust. The Swamis do their very best to share their experience of yoga with you. May you all go into the world and be shining lights of yoga. n Swami Durgananda is Yoga Acharya (spiritual director) of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres in Europe. e-mail:

The vibratory level makes a good teacher
The vibratory level of your being is very important. If you’re practicing, if you have compassion for yourself, you will also have compassion for others if they are not performing the way that the book shows. Being compassionate with the students, teaching them by sharing what you are practicing yourself, these are very positive thoughts. It is this positive vibratory level which makes a good teacher. The stronger the thought, the sooner it will bear fruit, both within yourself as well as in the class. Teaching yoga is definitely not an academic situation, where you know a lot and you present your knowledge. There are people who have a good memory, they can read something and repeat it immediately. Some know all the Sanskrit slokas (verses) by heart or remember the benefits of the asanas from A to Z. All this is good. But the effect of the class depends more on the vibratory level of the mind of the teacher, not on academic capacities.

Japa before teaching calms and opens the mind
If you practice 15 – 20 minutes of Japa (mantra repetition) before teaching, it helps you to detach from all previous impressions, it calms the mind. When you meet the students with that energy, the class will be soft like butter. It’s almost as if somebody is speaking for you. You are not the doer. You are actually being used, a medium, so to speak. It is a very beautiful experience.

Everybody has their things to work on
Work on your character, for instance jealousy. It’s so common



Becoming a Sheltering Monastery
By Swami Swaroopananda
Everywhere across the continents, humanity and our planet Earth are experiencing unprecedented trauma. Many aspirants worry that our entire world seems ready to collapse. If we are to survive the negative forces of terrorism, economic and social turmoil, dramatic climate change, natural disasters and escalating war – what can we do?
It became Swamiji’s mission and the mission of the T.W.O. from then on to spread the practice of yoga worldwide to ensure a bright future. Swami Vishundevananda reminded us near his death, “A time will come when this vision of fire will manifest. At that time, yogis and yoga teachers will become essential to help humanity.” Swami Vishudevananda taught that in order for humanity to realize this wonderful new future, people must learn the practice of peace. The world would need new kinds of leaders who would embody peace, pacifism and help end war and all divisions between nations. A fundamental principle he taught is that we cannot give to others what we do not possess ourselves. Unless you know peace, you cannot give peace to others. Swami Vishnudevananda taught that the key to external peace is inner peace. Once inner peace is found, it can be shared with others.


any years ago, Swami Vishnudevananda, the founder of the Sivananda International Vedanta organization, the largest yoga organization in the world today, foresaw this cataclysmic time we are experiencing at the beginning of the 21st Century. In 1969, as he sat in deep meditation in our ashram in the Bahamas, he experienced a powerful vision that the whole planet Earth was engulfed in fire forcing everyone to flee. As everyone tried to escape the fire, they broke loose of their self-made barriers: physical barriers, mental barriers, spiritual barriers, gender barriers, religious barriers, and racial barriers. All those limitations that people artificially restrict themselves with suddenly became meaningless in the presence of that disaster. Swami Vishnudevananda awoke from this vision trembling for he thought that a great calamity was imminent. Then he had a sudden insight. Swamiji realized that by transcending their barriers to escape this fire, humanity could actually become united. For in this tragedy, people of all nations, races, classes and religions fled side by side. They did not notice their differences. They were of one mind together. In the face of a common threat, humanity would finally learn to join together. Once all barriers are broken, Swamiji said, mankind can be united. Even though the vision itself was frightening and terrifying, it pointed out the opportunity for humanity to change and move on to a greater and brighter future. This vision revealed a new mission to Swami Vishnudevananda: the pursuit of peace. He responded by creating the Sivananda organization under the banner of the T.W.O. (True World Order) whose purpose is to promote unity in diversity.

“He taught that the key to external peace is inner peace. Once inner peace is found, it can be shared with others”.
He gathered around him sincere aspirants from all walks of life, cultures and religions. First he taught them yoga and then trained them to teach yoga to others. This was the beginning of the formal Sivananda Teacher Training Course (TTC) initiated by Swami Vishnudevananda over forty years ago. He said, “I am going to sow the seed of peace in my students’ hearts. Their yoga practice will water the seed of inner peace. Then that seed will sprout. They will have a direct experience of inner peace first and then they will go out into the world and share it with thousands.” As soon as he trained yogis, he immediately sent them out into the world on this mission. He visualized a new generation of leaders graduating from the TTC who would transmit the meaning of peace sending it out like a wave to soothe a world ravaged by war, destruction and suffering. Swami Vishnudevananda compared yoga teachers to peace ambassadors and new leaders. He was not only referring to trained yoga teachers but any aspirant who sincerely studies yoga. He foretold how people would approach yogis with questions and find comfort, guidance and protection in the teachings that yogis give them. What people need most during these times is spiritual protection. Swamiji foresaw that yogis and yoga teachers would generate a lot of change in our world. He predicted that in 20 or 30 years time, when his vision manifests, millions and millions of people will be practicing yoga everywhere. Swamiji’s vision of many millions practicing yoga is happening today. It is now acknowledged that yoga is the fifth largest

“Swami Vishudevananda taught that in order for humanity to realize this wonderful new future, people must learn the practice of peace”.


“Through the knowledge of yoga, all doubt, all conflict and all darkness that engulfs us within and without can be removed and we can attain a reality of happiness, peace, harmony and light.”



Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas

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Yoga Teacher Training Course
December 4 - 31, 2011 4 - March 2, 2012 May 2, 2012 January 4 - 31, 2012 February April 5 March 5 - April 1, 2012

Advanced Bhagavad Gita Course Swami Swaroopananda
March 11 - 21, 2012

May 6 - June 2, 2012

Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Course
January 4 - 31, 2012

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Course Marc Halpern
March 23 - April 1, 2012

Manu Dawson, Sita Chaitanya, Grace Van Berkum
January 5 - 14, 2012, April 26 - May 5, 2012

Vedanta and Silence Course Swami Sitaramananda
April 2 - 11, 2012

Advanced Sadhana Retreat Alan Wiuker (Krishna)
February 10 - 18, 2012

Yoga for Children Teacher Training Courses Mira Binzen
April 14 - 29, 2012

Meditation Immersion Course Swami Brahmananda
February 20 - 25, 2012, April 15 - 20, 2012

Advanced Raja Yoga Course Swami Swaroopananda
April 29 - May 9, 2012

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religious movement in the world with about 500 million practitioners worldwide. If I ask someone who practices yoga if it has affected their life, will they answer positively or negatively? Would they think they have become a better person, more peaceful, less destructive to themselves and to others through yoga? If you ask yogis these questions, you will hear affirmative answers: “Yes, yoga helped me – yoga improved my life. I became calmer. I became less violent. My motivation to help other people increased.” The core teachings of asana, pranayama, savasana, sattvic food, meditation and positive thinking create an inner storehouse of peace. This accomplishment evolved from Swamiji’s creation of the Yoga Teacher Training Course. It was the first instrument to shape a new generation of leaders to help humanity endure during the period when his vision manifested on the planet. Some essential yoga teachings of Swami Visnudevananda were based on two verses from The Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The first of these verses tells us that the compassionate Yogi Swatmarama, author of The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, offers the light of Hatha Vidya for those sunk in the “darkness of conflicting sects”. There are many philosophical views in the world, many paradigms, many worldviews with conflicting sects fighting one another. Ordinary people who want to attain peace and harmony are bewildered by the multiplicity of opinions and conflicting sects. Through the knowledge of yoga, all doubt, all conflict and all darkness that engulfs us within and without can be removed and we can attain a reality of happiness, peace, harmony and light. The second verse teaches that Hatha Yoga serves as a “sheltering monastery” for those who are scorched by the three fires of suffering: the suffering of the body and the mind that comes from within us; the suffering that is brought to us by other beings; and the suffering that is brought to us by natural forces like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, and fires. Swami Vishnudevananda taught that yoga is like a sheltering monastery where we can find refuge from the scorching fire ignited by these three types of suffering. It is a place where people can find comfort. Swamiji would say that each one of us must become that sheltering monastery where others can have protection and guidance. This is the true mission of the graduates of the Yoga Teacher Training Course. Observing what is happening right now in the world, it seems that Swamiji’s vision is materializing in front of our eyes. The fire that he spoke of is all around us and it is spreading. People are bewildered and don’t know what to do; they are seeking answers and need help. Worldwide, there is a need for shelter, food, livelihood and clean water. All of us crave health and healing. But the ultimate quality we really need in such turbulent times is spiritual shelter and inner strength. If there is inner strength, then there is a possibility we can successfully overcome this critical juncture in the life of humanity. Otherwise, if people only receive food, shelter, water and medicine, they may not have enough inner strength to endure what humanity is going through right now. What was Swami Vishnudevananda’s final conclusion about his vision? Is the world heading for disaster or is there a different scenario? Towards the end of his life, Swamiji concluded that the visionary fire was not a negative fire. It was a sacred fire. In its presence, humanity would unite and march toward a glorious future. According to Swami Vishnudevananda, our future is bright. In fact, there is a transformation taking place right now and it’s a wonderful and positive transformation. We are not going toward some terrible destruction; we are not surrendering to a hellish type of existence. Rather, we are in the midst of a transformation that will prepare us for a new future. Transformations are chaotic by nature. When we evolve from one state to another, we enter chaos. There will be much turmoil before change can occur. If we resist transformation, we will suffer more. If we understand it for what it truly is and we do what is advisable, we will enter a wonderful future for all humanity. Although this transformation is beyond the power of any human to stop, Swami Vishnudevananda assured us that humanity is not helpless. We are key and essential partners within this transformation. We should be active, participate, contribute and be involved in positive action.

“Swami Vishnudevananda taught us to be a ‘sheltering monastery’, offering strength to others through the teachings of yoga”.
There are many who worry during these difficult times; they focus on the turmoil itself. One of the principles that Swami Vishnudevananda taught us was the principle of positive thinking. Not foolish positive thinking but reasonable positive thinking. Things are happening on the planet that are of a positive nature too and that have never happened before in our history. Yogis must remain positive and strong. We must always remember that Swami Vishnudevananda taught us to be a “sheltering monastery”, offering strength to others through the teachings of yoga. So what can we as individuals do? First of all, we can keep our Self connected to the seed of inner peace and good within us by our daily yoga practice. Then, we can share our knowledge with others, teaching by our example. In our humble way, we can help by offering this wonderful knowledge to others. It will give people inner strength. It will give them hope and a clearer vision of their world and their own role in it. So it becomes extraordinarily important to teach yoga. It is essential to teach yoga and spread its message worldwide. As a trained yoga teacher, you can have a great impact. Even if you are not a graduate of a yoga teacher training course, as a yoga practitioner you are a yoga teacher by example. Whether you are a yoga teacher or not, understand that your existence is very meaningful and important for humanity. Whether you believe it or not, you will start to see more and more people coming to you to ask for spiritual shelter, help, advice and support. Your centeredness will be an anchor for many. Yogis are not the only ones who can offer this help. All peaceful people, aspirants who have knowledge, training and power can offer spiritual support. If we are to survive these scorching fires of suffering predicted by Swami Vishnudevananda, we must become an essential shelter or monastery for others in this very moment. n Swami Swaroopananda is a senior disciple of Swami
Vishnudevananda and is Acharya (spiritual director) of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres on the west coast of America and Israel. He is also director of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in Nassau, Bahamas.


Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Sadhana Intensive Yoga Vacation Yoga Teachers’Training Course
8 Jan – 5 Feb 2012 12 Feb – 11 Mar 2012 21 Oct – 18 Nov 2012 25 Nov – 23 Dec 2012


Near Paavana Vilakku Junction, New Natham Road Saramthangi Village, Vellayampatti P.O. Madurai, Tamil Nadu, 625503 E-Mail:

Tel: +91 986 565 5336 / +91 452 291 2950



A Gateway to Consciously Balancing your Nervous System
By Swami Sivadasananda

The Solar Plexus


low and rhythmical abdominal breathing is part of every yoga session. Each time you breathe using the diaphragm, your solar plexus is being stimulated. This article aims to explain how the solar plexus can function as a gateway to gaining conscious control over the autonomic nervous system.

The solar plexus, or celiac plexus, is a complex network of nerves located in front of the abdominal aorta, behind the stomach, on the level of the first lumbar vertebra.


The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates all involuntary body functions. The sympathetic nervous system elicits the fight or flight response of the body in order to cope with stress. The solar plexus acts as a relay station for the abdominal section of the sympathetic nervous system, connecting it with organs, blood vessels and glands in the abdominal area. Sympathetic nerve impulses which are relayed by the solar plexus promote: • Inhibition of peristalsis (digestive movement) and inhibition of secretion of gastric juices • Conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver (blood sugar balance) • Secretion of adrenalin and noradrenalin in the adrenal glands (increases stress and affects behaviour, motivation and attention). The parasympathetic nervous system stimulates “rest and repair” throughout the body. The vagus nerve is one of its major components. The solar plexus also acts as a relay station for the lower branches of the vagus nerve, supplying parasympathetic impulses to the intestines, the kidneys and the spleen.

Parasympathetic System
Contracts pupils Ganglion Stimulates flow of saliva Constricts Medulla bronchi oblongata Slows heartbeat Stimulates digestion Stimulates secretion of digestive juices Contracts bladder

Sympathetic System
Dilates pupils Inhibits flow of saliva Dilates bronchi Accelerates heartbeat Secretion of stress hormones Inhibits digestion Release of extra blood sugar Inhibits bladder contraction

Vague nerve

Chain of sympathetic ganglia

(This relay action is not shown in the drawing above.) The solar plexus also communicates sensory information from the abdominal area back to the central nervous system. During the final relaxation at the end of a yoga session, this sensory information considerably deepens body awareness.

Conscious control of the solar plexus
The solar plexus includes a number of smaller plexuses: hepatic plexus, splenic plexus, gastric plexus, pancreatic plexus, and adrenal plexus. The hepatic plexus, the largest offset from the solar plexus, receives filaments from the right phrenic nerve. The phrenic nerve provides the only motor supply to the diaphragm. Only the impulses of the left and right phrenic nerves allow this movement of the diaphragm. The connection of the right phrenic nerve to the celiac plexus suggests an influence of the movements of the diaphragm on the functions of the solar plexus (and thus the autonomic nervous system) and vice versa. This is an indication that conscious diaphragmatic breathing as practiced in asanas and pranayama, might have a voluntary influence on the solar plexus. Self-observation shows that this influence tends to balance the “fight and flight” activity of the sympathetic nervous system with the “rest and repair”activity of the parasympathetic system.

Figure A Inhalation

Figure B Exhalation

A. During inhalation the diaphragm contracts and moves downwards. B. During exhalation it relaxes and moves back up. Visualizing the connection of the phrenic nerve via the diaphragm to the solar plexus can help in understanding how conscious abdominal breathing is a major tool in achieving: • Improved digestion and absorption of nutrients. • Improved blood sugar balance. • A balanced adrenalin secretion, which in turn helps to balance the fight and flight response as well as regulating behaviour, motivation and attention. • Improved sensitivity for the abdominal organs.


Breath retention in pranayama
When we hold the breath, it appears that the activity of the respiratory system has stopped: after inhalation, the diaphragm remains contracted, keeping the lungs filled with air. Yet this contraction of the diaphragm is only possible through a constant flow of impulses along the phrenic nerve. Each impulse which travels through the right phrenic nerve is linked to the solar plexus, which in turn has a direct influence on the autonomic nervous system. From the perspective of the nervous system, breath retention is very dynamic. Breath retention is an essential part of pranayamas such as alternate nostril breathing (anuloma viloma) and lung purification (kapalabhati). Many pranayama practitioners experience warmth, magnetism, lightness and expansion of energy in the abdomen during breath retention. Through relaxation, visualization and concentration, these sensations can be guided along the spine to the third eye (ajna chakra) between the eyebrows, evoking an elevating experience of mental clarity and expanded consciousness. These sensations can be understood both as activities of the solar plexus and the nervous system, and as movement of prana (subtle life energy) in the nadis and chakras of the astral body.

Solar Plexus and Manipura Chakra
Illustration showing the seven Chakras with Nadis

Yoga teaches that we are in essence pure Spirit or Consciousness, which expresses itself through three bodies – the physical, the astral, and the causal body. The astral body contains 72,000 nadis, or subtle energy channels. Seven chakras, or networks of nadis, are found along the sushumna nadi, the main energy channel located in the spinal cord. Each chakra of the astral body corresponds to a nerve plexus in the physical body. The solar plexus is the physical counterpart of the manipura chakra. Through the practice of asanas and pranayama, as well as other Hatha Yoga practices, the two main energy currents of the astral body, prana and apana or ha (sun) and tha (moon), converge and unite in the manipura chakra (ha-tha-yoga). In the physical body, this union can be compared to balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Prana, nadis and chakras are subtle in nature. Therefore one may doubt that they actually exist. Visualizing the

From unconscious to conscious
Yoga aims at quality more than quantity. The quality consists in becoming more aware, more conscious of all changes in body and mind, and being able to bring them into a harmonious balance. The conscious control which yogic breathing produces in the autonomic nervous system via the solar plexus opens a gateway to consciousness. Every new breath is a chance for a new awareness. n

Manipura Chakra, the Astral counterpart of the Solar Plexus

impulses of the phrenic nerve travelling through the solar plexus to your diaphragm can help you to deepen your sensitivity for the solar plexus. By focusing on these physiological changes, you may become aware of the more subtle life force, or prana, which operates “behind” or actually “within” the impulses of the nervous system.

Swami Sivadasananda
Is a long time disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and the director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Madrid. He is also Yoga Acharya for the Sivananda Yoga Centres in Europe and S.America. e-mail:


Loire Valley, France

Further Training for Sivananda Yoga Teachers
June 19 – 25, 2012

Deepen your vision, expand your knowledge, fine-tune your skills
With Swami Durgananda, Swami Sivadasananda, Swami Kailasananda, Swami Atmaramananda
and many swamis and teachers from the Sivananda Centres
Donation for the 5 days all included: Tent space: 60 €, Shared room: 110 €, Double room: 160 €

Fresh Inspiration!

Ashram de Yoga Sivananda
Founder: Swami Vishnudevananda. Est.1957. •


T eacher T raining Course 2011


igh in the mountains of Thailand, far North of Bangkok city, sits a jewel of a sanctuary, perched high on a hill amongst the cascading, lush greenery of the Chiang Rai province. The serenity of the place takes your breath away with its beauty and stillness. Some 420 meters above sea level, we find ourselves amidst bamboo forests, organic terraced vegetable gardens, water lily ponds, luxury cottages, tree jasmine and tropical orchids which together create a silent, ecological blend with nature. This bamboo-themed oasis, the Phu Chaisai Resort and Spa, was the location of the 2nd annual Sivananda Thailand Teacher Training Course (TTC), in October.



The TTC welcomed 71 students from all over the world including Thailand, Japan, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Australia, Canada, the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and India. The TTC teachers and support staff came from Canada, India, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Swami Mahadevananda and Prahlada arrived to head the event. On the first day, the course initiation ceremony was held in the new bamboo sala, built especially by Phu Chaisai Resort for the TTC program. Swami Mahadevananda, Prahlada and special guest Khun Da, the owner of the resort, presided over the event. Since the inaugural Thailand TTC in 2010, our host, Khun Da, has visited Swami Mahadevananda in two locations: at Yoga Camp/Organization Headquarters in Canada, and at Dhanwantari Ashram, Neyyar Dam, in Kerala, India. From these experiences, Khun Da has developed a close affinity with the logistics and rhythm of the Sivananda Organization Ashram life, leading to more opportunity for Khun Da to participate in the 2011 course and enhance the experience of the TTC students. The students settled quickly into the resort facilities and the TTC program, making new friends and enjoying the beautiful natural setting of the tropical gardens. Immediately, Swami Mahadevananda inspired students with his thought-provoking Satsangs and vedanta lectures, discussing the paradigm of today’s “western” society and its stereotypical views. Meanwhile, Prahlada delivered the introduction to teaching asanas, with students showing precision and confidence in their own asana practice. Prahlada also kept the

students focused with the Bhagavad Gita classes, simplifying the verses and teaching how to apply these lessons to their daily lives. From the Bhagavad Gita, Prahlad shifted to the Anatomy and Physiology lectures, where students showed much interest in learning and asked many in-depth questions during the study nights. Vijay (from Delhi) and Anjeli (from Yoga Camp) taught the asana practical classes. Practicing pranayama in the serene atmosphere of the mountains filled the students with more prana each day. The harmony with nature was evoked during many beautiful silent walks with the scenery of undulating hills and pockets of mist in the bamboo forests. The first silent walk was through giant bamboo forests and ponds with water lilies. Another walk, led by Khun Da, was to the picturesque tea plantation nearby where students had the memorable experience of picking tea leaves at sun rise. There were excursions into the forests after overnight rains, experiencing the fresh smells of wet soil and washed leaves. Another time, Prahlada led everyone on a magical pre-dawn silent walk to Khun Da’s house. On the roof of her hilltop mud house, students sat for a silent meditation and Satsang. The sun rose, lighting up the entire landscape of hills, river valley, forest and farmland, all framed by a rainbow. Following the Satsang, rain appeared so the pranayama class was quickly relocated to inside Khun Da’s house. Later Swami Mahadevanandaji joined the group and took everyone to his house for a surprise ice cream party. It was a morning to remember. As a long-standing tradition of Swami

Vishnudevananda’s, bonfires were occasionally lit, with locally-grown popcorn and hot chocolate drinks, and students quickly offered their talents of singing and dancing to enhance the experience. Days off comprised of exciting adventures away from the resort, or a rest by the resort’s pool or massage table. On the first day off, most students opted to take the local tour, organized by the resort. The first stop was the famous Mae Fah Luang Gardens at Doi Tung, former home of the Thai King’s mother. Next was the Golden Triangle – a famous yellow sandbar in the middle of the Mekong River, forming the border of Thailand with Burma and Laos. The Opium Museum displayed the region’s turbulent history. Another option was an overnight trip to nearby Chiang Mia and the Tiger Kingdom, where students could pet the tigers, followed by a visit to an Elephant Show for elephant rides, elephant football and to view the talented elephants painting scenic watercolours! One morning, Kriyas were taught with some students having success on their first attempt at Vastra Dhauti. The talent shows were enjoyed by all, with lovely singing from the TTC students and a very entertaining Japanese comedy dance. A group of guest students from a local university came to perform graceful Thai dances and lively percussion sessions. As the students became familiar with the chanting, the Satsangs were noticeably filled with prana, culminating with the first Sunday prayers ending in applause. It was noted that during the TTC, the Universal Prayer had been presented in a total of 13 languages. One evening after Satsang, students


watched the video of Swami Vishnudevananda and his Peace Missions. This beautiful video naturally beckoned students to connect even more closely with Master and Swamiji. During the TTC, Swami Mahadevanandaji had a vision to bring children to the Phu Chaisai Resort for a Sivananda Yoga Kids Camp. Khun Da, inspired by her Summer 2011 visit to Canada and the annual Yoga Kids Camp, agreed with Swamiji’s vision. Together, Swami Mahadevananda and Khun Da developed the first steps towards inviting both local Hill Tribe children and international students living in Thailand to participate in yoga. Saraswati arrived from Canada to look at the suitability and feasibility of the idea. She visited local villages and saw great potential for the Sivananda Yoga Organization to enrich the lives of the local Hill Tribe children. Spontaneously, the Hill Tribe children gathered and arrived to Phu Chaisai for their yoga experience. Saraswati taught the TTC students how to teach children of all ages, with the class filled with local children. It was a fun event for all, filling the class with big smiles, joyful laughter, and giggles. Before Saraswati departed back to Canada, Khun Da spent a lot of time with her and the Thai teachers, planning a future Kids Camp for the local children. We thanked Saraswati for her inspirational teaching of the Kids Yoga portion of the TTC, and for creating interest in a future Kids Camp. The TTC students were inspired to come back again and help at the next Kids Camp at Phu Chaisai. Swami Vishnudevananda’s energy was felt as the glorious seed was planted for future Kids Camps and Family Camps at this beautiful sanctuary in Thailand. During the TTC news arrived of the excessive flooding throughout Thailand due to the storms. Manjunath performed a powerful Maha Mrityunjaya Homa, while many prayers were sent to the people of Bangkok and other areas of Thailand affected by the floods. Mantra Initiation was offered during the last week of TTC. Twenty-three students took Mantras in a special ceremony presided over by Swami Mahadevananda. The students each offered traditional Thai-style Kratong baskets, made from banana trunks and pandanus leaf, decorated with flowers and fruit. Forty-eight students took spiritual names which were readily practiced around the Ashram. Manjunath conducted a Durga Puja with beautiful rose petals. A celebration not to be missed was Deepawali – the Festival of Lights, an event held in Thailand, as well as India and other neighboring countries. Khun Da and the resort staff were very helpful in assisting with decorations at Phu Chaisai. Manjunath conducted a beautiful ceremony in honour of the Goddess Lakshmi. Everyone felt the power of this auspicious night of new beginnings. A wonderful fireworks display completed the evening. Other highlights of this high prana month included one evening when Khun Da invited people from the local tribe, the Akha tribe, to visit and perform. Famous for their richly coloured handicrafts, these tribes originated from Tibet and Southern China. Children from the local tribe performed a sound and light show, depicting traditional village life. Inspiring videos of the Yoga Camp Headquarters and Neyyar Dam were also shown one evening, which attracted students to join the Organization as Karma yogis or staff. All students passed the exam, much to their relief. After a post-exam relaxation, the whole group enjoyed a Thai feast provided by the Phu Chaisai Resort. The Graduation Ceremony was full of energy, with all students graduating. Their Siromani certificates were presented by Swami Mahadevananda and Prahlada. Khun Da gave an inspiring appreciation talk to the congregation. In turn, the energetic group of students presented stellar performances in their lively talent show. The next day after Graduation the students departed with high prana and shining faces. Everyone was deeply moved by the one-month TTC experience, the teachings of Master and Guruji, the presence of Swami Mahadevananda and Prahlada, plus the rest of the TTC teachers and staff. n


The Life and Teachings of Swami Vishnudevananda in audio files…
Over 300 talks by Swami Vishnudevananda are now available at The talks can be selected by topic and many have translation into other languages.
Swami Vishnudevananda’s life was dedicated to teaching Yoga. His classes, lectures and satsangs were carried by great sincerity and inspiration. The atmosphere was charged with authoritative first hand knowledge, which addressed the essential points in a very straightforward and clear way. Swamiji’s presence emanated a special blend of discipline and humour, which deeply touched the lives of thousands of people. Thanks to the untiring volunteer work done at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp Headquarters in Val Morin, Canada, over 3000 recordings have now been transferred from cassette tapes to mp3-format. This impressive archive constitutes a most precious legacy of Swami Vishnudevananda, this great pioneer of Yoga of the 20th century, who served his students by actually living with them.

If you would like to help review additional recordings, so we can make more available on the internet, please send an email to

The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres


The Bhagavad Gita,What for?
t was the summer of 1973 in Val Morin, Canada. The American involvement in the Vietnam war had terminated in the spring, every week Richard Nixon seemed more and more embroiled in the Watergate scandal and Swami Vishnudevananda was teaching the fifth Sivananda TTC to a group of some 80 youngsters, mostly from the US, Canada or the UK. There were three foreigners: one Finn, one Spaniard and one Swiss, me. As a healthy 25 year old, my main interests were predictable: improving the practice of asanas and acquainting myself with the attractive young yoginis in the TTC who did not seem to mind a French accent at all. Both proved to be no disappointment and are fondly remembered. Swamiji was shaping us like clay, teaching everything himself: a lecture in the morning, then the asanas class, then the main lesson ranging from anatomy to Vedanta, then asanas again and finally another lecture in the evening. He knew how to keep us busy all day with one exception: teaching the “Gita class”. That job had been given to a marvelous Indian musician and singer, Sant Keshavadas, whose talent was way beyond our grasp. He quit after a week or so, probably disgusted by our attitude: youngsters in those days kept trying to figure things out, to no avail of course, but we thought we were infinitely smart. The next teacher was an Indian gentleman doing his best, but his delivery was monotonous and with a class at noon, well, you know what I mean: everybody kept dozing off. He too quit (understandably) and after a while, the swimming pool seemed to be the place where we would congress at noon, supposedly to “read the Gita”. In short, it was a disaster. In those days yoga was exotic and remained largely alien to mainstream western schools of thought. The Sivananda approach was that one had to sit down, shut up and listen to a teacher – not an obvious choice for self-conscious “intellectuals”. We didn’t really buy it and tended to grab the few books available, on the assumption – ubiquitous at the time – that westerners were much more qualified to explain Indian philosophy than the Indians themselves. Being a voracious reader, I had been on a heavy diet of whatever we could access: Ram Dass’ Be Here Now was naturally a must, but so were Mircea Eliade’s Yoga Immortality and Freedom – an obscure and difficult work I should say; Carl Jung’s musings on Eastern philosophy were arduous enough and sometimes boring, but he was a Swiss after all, so what could one expect ? To get a taste of exotic ideas and inspiration, there were Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret India, Arthur Osborne’s Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self Knowledge and other romantic books. By then I knew that people I admired had described the Gita as a major work in human history. Besides Schopenhauer’s famous comment about the Upanishads being the passion of his life and the solace of his death – frankly a rather dull


By Charles Poncet

remark, but Schopenhauer was then the favorite of any young man romantic enough to be caught in the Zeitgeist and wondering what the future may have in store for him. Albert Einstein had said that after pondering about how the universe was created and reading the Gita, everything else seemed superfluous. Herman Hesse saw it as the revelation of wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion; according to Carl Jung, the famous analogy in the Gita of the tree growing down and not up (Chapter 15 as I did not know back then) showed that we are not an earthly but a heavenly plant. Ralph Waldo Emerson claimed that Krishna had all the attributes of a monotheistic god and those of the Upanishadic absolute and even that misanthrope, fellow humans hater Henry David Thoreau would praise the Baghavad Gita! Such unanimity had to mean that the text was worth an effort. I tried and I submit that the Gita is similar to Ornytorinchus paradoxus, an Australian wonder, which lays eggs but breastfeeds its progeny, has a duck’s beak but four legs, displays a beaver tail but has a venomous sting, sleeps 14 hours a day but reacts to the smallest electrical current generated by its prey. The Gita is liber paradoxus, a paradoxical book, not an intellectual pursuit as such, but neither fully in the realm of mystical musings; devotional in many ways but rigorously logical in others. In other words it is hard to categorize. Think of it as a handbook, perhaps. It contains the “how to” of the various yoga paths and the more one comes into contact with it, the deeper it seems to become. The idea that a warrior would refuse to fight because he does not wish to kill people he knows and loves seems pretty straightforward, and the reader immediately sympathizes with Arjuna’s despondency on the battlefield, only to see the other main character – nothing less than a God, mind you – give the hero a thorough dressing down and a brutal reminder that his duty as a soldier is to fight and kill. That has to be the most original and eye catching introduction to a philosophical discourse in human history! Beginners should not read the Gita but simply listen to an introduction and approach it with the firm assurance that nobody is asking them to believe anything, then read a couple of chapters and start thinking. Reactions may vary but the book is likely to be somewhat heavy going after the second chapter. It is then better set aside for a while, to be taken up again whenever the mind is tired of the daily Mahabharata. Not a “holy” book in the traditional sense, it is profoundly Hindu in its presentation of a universe working its ways through various cycles, yet obviously compatible with whatever Weltanschauung one most easily relates to. It is one of the few pieces of reading that seem to become more and more relevant as one’s life moves through its different cycles, so it would be really self-defeating to stay away from it when it happens to be available. n



Yoga Asa
Swami Sivananda (1887–1963)
Exhale and place the arms by the side. For the next round, in position 4 stretch the left leg back first. (Alternate the legs for each round). Exhale, palms together. Inhale, stretch up and back keeping the arms and legs straight. Inhale, stretch up and back keeping the arms and legs straight.

“Health is wealth, peace of mind i

Swami Vishn

Exhale, bring the left foot forward so both feet are together, keep the head touching the knees

1 2 3
Exhale, bend forward and place the hands by the side of the feet, head touching the knees.

11 10 9
Sun Salutation
Surya Namaskar
Repeat 12 times


Inhale, stretch the right leg back, place the knee on the floor, keep the chin up.

Inhale, stretch the right leg forward and place the foot in line with the hands, keep the left knee on the ground and the chin up.

8 7 6


Retain the breath, keep the body in a straight line, hips parallel to the floor.

Exhale, push the hips up, and push the head in towards the knees. Exhale, drop the knees chest and forehead to the floor.

Inhale, lift the head and chest, keep the hips on the floor, the feet together and the arms slightly bent.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres •



na Chart
Swami Vishnudevananda (1927–1993)
• Practice in the morning or evening before meals. • Begin with the Sun Salutation. Synchronise the breath with each movement. • The asanas should be practiced slowly and in a relaxed manner. • Between asanas, relax with six to eight deep breaths in the Corpse pose
to avoid fatigue.

s happiness, Yoga shows the way.”


• Concentrate your thoughts on each asana and try not to let your mind wander. • After completion of the asanas relax for 10 minutes in the Corpse pose.



2 Shoulderstand





5 Sitting Forward Bend



7a Half Locust
Ardha Salabhasana

7b Full Locust



9 Half Spinal Twist
Ardha Matsyendrasana



10b Peacock

11 Standing Forward bend
Pada Hasthasana

12 Triangle

Final Relaxation



Yoga in Australia
Bringing Swami Vishnudevananda’s 5 Points of Yoga ‘Down Under’!
By Swami Bhagavatananda


ne of the most distinctive traits of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda was that they perceived the whole world as one family. For them, there was no stranger on this planet. Therefore, what made them most happy was when they saw the universal teachings of yoga spread to every corner of the world, and both dedicated their life and energy to help this to happen. Through the tireless and lifelong service of Swami Vishnudevananda to teach yoga in the name of his master, the Sivananda Centres and Ashrams came into being all over the world – in Asia, the US, Canada, Europe and South America. Sivananda Yoga Centres all over the world? Wait a minute, there are indeed some blank spots left on this planet, none of them purposely neglected by Swamiji and Master Sivananda, who simply ran out of their span of life. One of these blank

spots is the whole continent of Australia, a huge country filled with sweet, yoga-enthusiastic people, writing emails to the Sivananda Centres such as: “I am Australian and live in Sydney/Melbourne /Brisbane/ Perth and would be very interested in learning traditional, integral yoga as taught by the Sivananda Yoga Centres. As I saw on your webpage that you have Centres in many countries, but cannot afford a long distance flight, I was wondering if there are any Sivananda Centres or Retreats or Teachers’ Training Courses here in Australia?” So far, all that could be done was, with a heavy heart, to send a reply in the negative.



Photo: Govinda Valley

Photo: Govinda Valley

Photo: Govinda Valley

Photo: Govinda Valley

Photo: Govinda Valley

Actually, to say there is no Sivananda Yoga in Australia is not entirely true – there has been quite some activity in the past. Swami Vishnudevananda himself was in Australia in the fifties for a month on his way from India to the West. He stayed mainly in Perth, but also visited Sydney and Melbourne, and over the years, some Australians became close disciples of Swamiji. Further, there were two Teachers’ Training Courses in Australia, in the years 1980 and 1981. Both took place on the Gold Coast in Queensland and were taught by close disciples of Swamiji with Swami Vishnudevananda himself being present for some time in one of the two courses. There also existed for some time affiliated Centres in Brisbane and the Blue Mountains and some Retreats also took place, mainly conducted by Swami Mahadevanandaji. Over the past years, activities have been mainly kept up by Kamala from the Blue Mountains, who knew Swamiji in person, ran an affiliated Centre for many years and is still teaching Sivananda Yoga Classes on a regular basis. Now, in order to continue Swamijis work, Swami Kailasananda, who is the Acharya for Australia, went there in December 2011, accompanied by a small group, to conduct a retreat near Sydney and programmes in Sydney and Melbourne. The idea was not to only re-establish activities, but also test the waters for a future TTC and maybe even a Sivananda Centre in Australia. The organization of the programmes was done through the London Centre and everyone involved got quite excited during the progress, feeling like pioneers! We were surprised how extensive the Australian database turned out to be and how many Sivananda teachers were among them. One of our close teachers in London helped to find a suitable place for a Retreat one hour south of Sydney while on a family visit to Australia. Other former London teachers, now living in Australia, helped with finding locations for the Sydney and Melbourne Open House programmes and organized a team of Karma Yogis who did a wonderful job with poster and leaflet distribution. Enrolments for the retreat started pouring in immediately

after we had set up a special webpage, sent out some e-newsletters and started flyer and poster distribution. In the end we had 43 registrations (and one baby), among them many students who had done the TTC. Flying from London to Australia with over 20 hours flight time, 13 hours of time difference and 2 days of travelling brought the term “long distance flight” for us to a whole new level. Upon arrival in Sydney we were warmly greeted and lovingly hosted by the Sydney Sivananda teachers and spent the rest of the day relaxing, taking a stroll along the harbour and trying to get rid of jetlag and body stiffness caused by the long flight. In the evening we had Satsang with the teachers and Karma Yogis and we could feel Master Sivananda and Swamiji’s energy already manifesting. The next morning, after Satsang, we took a lovely walk through the famous botanical gardens and then got ready for our Open House. We had been able to secure the excellent location of the Sydney Park Pavilion, a light and spacious hall surrounded by beautiful gardens in a well frequented area of town. We had a good turnout for the evening, both complete beginners as well as people who had in some way been in touch with Sivananda Yoga already. They all enjoyed the Asana classes and lecture on Swamiji’s 5 points of Yoga, followed by delicious snacks and tea. We also had set up tables with brochures and flyers and distributed loads of information material. Many expressed their joy and gratitude of having Sivananda Yoga coming to Sydney. Again we could strongly feel the blessing and support of the Masters. The next day, which was a Friday, we left Sydney for the Otford weekend retreat. By car it is one hour south of Sydney, Govinda Valley Spiritual Retreat Centre is situated in a lovely natural setting of pristine forest and luscious bushland. Amazingly enough, in spite of the setting, the Otford train station is just five minutes walking distance away, making the Retreat Centre easy to access. The staff welcomed us very warmly and served us delicious,


lovingly prepared meals throughout the weekend. Govinda Valley is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and is a short drive from several sparkling beaches. Invitingly illuminated, endowed with the purity of the forest air, the spacious Yoga hall proved to be a wonderful place for Asana classes, lectures and Satsangs. Students started to arrive from all over the country (including Tasmania!) and got settled in their rooms or tents, and then the retreat started with an introductory talk and yoga classes for the different levels. After enjoying a yogic feast for dinner, everyone gathered in the big hall for Satsang. Thanks to Kamala, who basically brought the complete contents of her meditation room with her, we could decorate the hall beautifully and set up a gorgeous altar. Swami Kailasananda led the Meditation and powerful Mantra chanting and gave a well appreciated talk on mind control. Saturday, we had another lovely day and besides the yoga activities we all enjoyed a walk through the forest and along the cliff line providing a gorgeous ocean view. The eucalyptus scented air of the Australian bush and colourful exotic birds made us feel we were paying a visit to paradise. In the evening Swami Kailasananda led a teachers’ meeting with 19 teachers. Many among the teachers expressed their heart’s desire to have a Sivananda Centre in their area, retreats on a regular basis and TTC and ATTC in Australia. With great zeal and enthusiasm, strategies were discussed to set up future activities and Karma Yoga projects were allocated such as: • Looking for suitable places for retreats and TTC • Looking for possible locations for Sivananda Centres in Sydney and Melbourne and maybe also Brisbane • Setting up a webpage with profiles of active Sivananda teachers to enable students to find a teacher in their area, with something similar on Facebook • Forming Satsang groups for Sydney and Melbourne with the intention to meet once a month Parallel to the teachers’ meeting we held a Mantra talk for those interested in Mantra initiation and afterwards everyone met for another inspiring Satsang before a full day came to its end. All rested for the night, sending a silent prayer of thanks for the working heaters in the rooms since an unexpected drop in temperature made the nights quite chilly. On Sunday, we had another gorgeous day of yogic practice and nature walk and Swami Kailasananda gave Mantra initiation to four students who felt ready to take that important step on their spiritual path. She also blessed in the name of the Masters the sweet baby son of former staff members Madhava and Shyamala and applied holy powders on his surprised, frowning little forehead. May he be blessed with a glorious future, long life and happiness. Needless to say that the little one quickly became everybody’s pet during the weekend, being passed from one person to the next for a cuddle with the poor mother searching through the whole building for her son. After a final gathering and Arati, warm goodbyes were exchanged and we returned to Sydney. On the way back, we stopped for a beach walk. We made a second halt at the huge Venkateshwara temple and immediately felt transported to India. The temple consists of two spacious separate buildings. In the first one Vishnu, Lakshmi, Andal, Rama and Hanuman are worshipped, the second one is dedicated to Siva, Parvati, Ganesha, Subramanya and Durga. The temple is richly decorated and buzzing with pujas and other rituals of worship performed by a number of Indian priests. The following day we paid a visit to Kamala in the Blue Mountains, who showed us around that area of spectacular beauty and also drove us to the place with the best view on the famous peaks called the “Three Sisters” Afterwards we went to . her beautiful house outside of Katoomba and prayed in her meditation room and had tea. The next morning we took a flight to Melbourne, the last stop on our trip. The Melbourne teachers and Karma Yogis received us affectionately and with the same hospitality that just seems to be part of Australian nature. The VIYETT/Hampton Yoga Centre had offered to host our two-day programme and made its beautiful, large yoga hall available for our activities. We had very well attended asana classes, lectures and Satsang, and everyone enjoyed delicious prasad and tea afterwards. Many students came for personal talks and guidance on their further practice. Some future teachers from a Teachers’ Training programme at the Centre also participated on both days. Our heartfelt thanks to the owner and staff of the Hampton Centre who made the programmes happen so smoothly! As we had some time during the day, we enjoyed an early morning walk and sunbath at one of Melbourne’s beautiful beaches and drove through town afterwards to search for suitable areas for a Sivananda Centre. Time flew by and the next morning we had to leave. Swami Kailasananda flew to India for the EBM meeting and the rest of the group returned to Europe. All of us had the feeling that it is the strong wish of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda to have a TTC and a permanent place in the form of a Centre in Australia, and work to make it happen continues.

This is the current state of affairs:
• A TTC will take place January 12 – February 10, 2013 and Govinda Valley has been booked for the occasion. • Some teachers are actively searching in Sydney and Melbourne for a location for a Sivananda Yoga Centre and have already looked at several interesting places. • September 2012 there will be a TTC promotion tour with programmes in Sydney, Melbourne and Byron Bay as well as another weekend retreat in Govinda Valley. • Investigations are in progress regarding charity status, certification, work permits for European staff, etc. • The Sydney and Melbourne Satsang groups are meeting on a regular basis. • Database, webpage and Facebook are being maintained and extended. We request everyone to send prayers and positive thoughts to support Swamiji’s mission in Australia. If you would like to actively participate please contact us:



Sivananda Teachers’ Training Course
January 12 – February 10, 2013 Govinda Valley, near Sydney, Australia
Tuition Fee: Shared Room 3,650 AUD; Tent space 2,850 AUD.

A four week intensive residential course covering all aspects of Yoga, just one hour south of Sydney in the luscious bush land of Otford. Govinda Valley is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and is a short drive from several sparkling beaches.

Yoga Vacation

January 14 – February 9, 2013 (free choice of dates) Weekend Retreat: September 21 – 23, 2012 In Sydney, Melbourne and Byron Bay in September 2012
Sivananda Yoga Australia
Founder: Swami Vishnudevananda

Special Workshops

Phone: +61 (0) 3 9016 0508



The Six Systems of Indian philosophy
By Professor Pandey


here are six systems of Indian philosophy, not more nor less. Before we discuss these 6 systems, it will help us if we understand what Indian philosophy is, and even before that, what philosophy itself is. Philosophy (philo-sophia, love of wisdom) is the pursuit of wisdom and as such is superior to any of man’s other pursuits, including knowledge, and it is more subtle. In everyday life, manpower, or money-power, shouts. It can’t speak in a low voice. Bull-power, or muscle-power, also shouts. Wisdom speaks very slowly and quietly, but it goes deeper inside the listener. In the western tradition, philosophy is an intellectual pursuit which relies on reason, argument, discussion and debate. Philosophical knowledge has grown from age to age, from the

Greek tradition – Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle – to the contemporary stage. The philosopher states a belief, and then through logical argument explains how he has penetrated the multifariousness of life to arrive at his conclusion. In this way, a philosopher is a distinguished person who tries to provide the key to the beginning and the end of the world, to existence and life itself. Indian philosophy is much older than its western counterpart, and has a slightly different approach. In the west, philosophy is predominantly an intellectual and rational pursuit based on reason, argument, discussion and debate, Indian philosophy is more intuitive. Intuition is supra-rational, above reason, above argument, above debate. It is direct experience, or direct perception, for which the special term is realisation.

This is not to say that Indian philosophy undervalues reason 1. Nyaya and intellectual activity for, of course, philosophy without The Nyaya system is mainly epistemology. Epistemology means reasoning is inconceivable, it is something else – it may be the theory of knowledge, i.e., what is knowledge, how does Bhakti (devotion), or religion. It is not philosophy. But there are man acquire knowledge, how do we distinguish valid realms where empirical knowledge, or knowledge gained knowledge from unsound knowledge? Is man born with through experience, cannot go. For instance, the sense organs knowledge or does he gain it over time? – skin, tongue, nose, ears, and eyes – gather our knowledge for For instance, say we mistake us, but can they tell us the identity a rope for a snake in the dark. of that which experiences all these “Suppose I have to know what Because of the dark, we think the phenomena? Suppose I have to know rope is a snake, but afterwards, when the soul is, what is Brahman, what the soul is, what is Brahman, we put on the light, it becomes what is the Absolute? what is the Absolute? Certainly obvious that it is actually a rope. some other source of knowledge Certainly some other source So there is valid and invalid is required, which is where intuition, knowledge. Man has senses, of knowledge is required, or realisation, comes in. intellect and reason; is it possible to which is where intuition, Indian philosophy originates know everything through perception from the Rishis (“seers” who were or realisation, comes in”. and inference? Can we know Self-realised) and is conveyed everything or is there something through the scriptures of the Vedas, which is beyond knowledge? We Upanishads, Smritis, and Dharma Shastras. They convey that have access to the scriptures, the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, eternal, lasting and absolute reality which is over and above the Srimad Bhagavatam, etc, and this is the ultimate place the changing, perishable and transitory world. This is, in short, to search for knowledge. Why do you think that man is born the beginning, the pursuit and the approach of what we call again after death? A believer would say: because it is written Indian philosophy. in the Gita, in the Bhagavat, in the Vedas etc. Ultimately, our knowledge is limited unless we have superThe six systems of Indian philosophy human or divine knowledge. The Nyaya system enquires into the meaning and truth of knowledge, and what is the touchstone The six systems of Indian philosophy are said to be orthodox to decide between correct and incorrect knowledge. and theistic because they believe in the authority of the Vedas. The Vedas are divine revelations. Just as the sun shines in the morning, without any engineer, without any technician, it comes 2. Vaisheshika The sage propounding Vaisheshika was called Kanada. Kanada out of nothing, shines and gives light, so the Vedas are superhuman, beyond human reach, and beyond human intellect. That literally means small particles, and true to his name, it is said is why their character is revelatory. They are revealed. Revelation that Kanada survived on small grains, avoiding heavy meals. The Vaisheshika system similarly looks at the composition means something which comes into light out of itself without of the world asking what is the substance out of which this any human mechanism. Other books are written by man, but peculiar, vast world has been created, or has emerged? the Vedas are superhuman and eternal, they were not written It believes that objects in the world can be analysed into in time, they transcend time. One who has this idea about the 7 categories (padarthas) and that the tragedy of human life Vedas is a believer, which is why all 6 systems are theistic is that we try to identify ourselves with one or other of these although 2 of the systems do not believe in God (the Samkhya categories when really we should contrast ourselves with them. and Mimamsa systems). When a believer of the Vedas needs For instance, we see a multitude of stars in the night sky, but advice, he will turn to the Vedas. No other testimony, argument, we are not one of those stars. What are we then? Who is this or evidence is needed. This is known as the Vedic authority, entity which is responsible for experiencing, seeing, or perceiving the scriptural authority to which all the 6 systems subscribe. this complex and variegated world? Analysing the world into Each of the 6 systems has its own technical name and as many objects as possible, trying to know them and trying a separate preceptor at its source. The systems and their to know the distinction between those objects and ourselves, preceptors are: this is the business of the Vaisheshika system. Nyaya and Vaisheshika are supplementary and comple1. Nyaya, propounded by Rishi Gautama mentary. They have very intricate, subtle theories of Self and 2. Vaisheshika, propounded by Rishi Kanada consciousness, investigating whether man has innate knowledge or whether it is acquired later on through various means. 3. Samkhya, propounded by Kapila 4. Yoga, propounded by Patanjali 5. Purva Mimamsa or Mimamsa, propounded by Jaimini 6. Uttar Mimamsa or Vedanta, propounded by Badarayana (also called Vyasa)

3. Samkhya
Samkhya subscribes to dualism and is itself a dualistic system. Dualism means that there are two parallel realities: like the two rails of train track, they run close to each other but never collide. One reality is matter (Prakriti) and the other is spirit (Purusha). The world is the manifestation of Prakriti, and the soul or Self is Purusha. Our bodies, including the physical body, mind


and thoughts etc, all belong to the material hemisphere of Prakriti. Purusha alone is the Self, the one who sees, the one who looks upon. The great mistake we all make is to identify the Self with the non-Self. Suppose there is a big mirror showing our reflection. The mirror has nothing to do with the individual whose reflection appears in the glass. If the individual runs away, the mirror will not lose anything and if the individual returns the mirror will not gain anything. The mirror is completely disinterested in the individual. Similarly, Samkhya says that the Self has got entangled with the material world. This is known as bondage, and explains our fear of death. Samkhya says that the soul is immortal, it is not born and will not die. It is only the body which has been composed and which will decompose. Why should the soul worry for this bodily existence?

5. Purva Mimamsa or Mimamsa
Purva Mimamsa, or just Mimamsa, mean the same thing – thorough criticism. The system of Mimamsa subjects even religion and ritual to thorough enquiry, asking why we do any number of spiritual practices, e.g. circumambulation, visiting temples and churches to worship, pranayama etc. It asks what these practices will yield. Mimamsa is a philosophy which discusses what religion is and what dharma is. It discusses what heaven is and how it can be achieved. It enquires about existence, both in its highest and sublimest form, and its lowest form. It holds that all religious performances, all rituals, all duty, all spiritual activities ultimately lead to heaven, and if the opposite path is chosen, it will lead to hell. Mimamsa also has a great contribution towards the theory of Pramanas, more than any of the other systems. Pramanas means evidence, proof or the tools of argumentation. This is in short the essence of the Mimamsa philosophy propounded by Jaimini.

4. Yoga

Yoga is the supplementary and complementary system to Samkhya. The sage Patanjali says that there are 8 steps to yoga and, one by one, the aspirant can ascend to Samadhi, the 8th and final stage, a trance-like state when one forgets pain and pleasure, 6. Uttar Mimamsa or Vedanta the body, sickness, thirst, hunger, sleep and all the functions The last of the 6 systems is known as Uttar Mimamsa or that belong to the lower range of our existence. Vedanta, propounded by Badarayana (also called Vyasa). Just The 8 steps are: Yama; Niyama; Asana; Pranayama; as Samkhya and Yoga are complementary systems, as are Nyaya Pratyahara; Dharana; Dhyana; and Samadhi – all terms used and Vaisheshika, so also can Mimamsa and Vedanta be deemed by Patanjali. Step by step, the complementary and supplementary aspirant ultimately reaches Samadhi. systems to each other. Samadhi is union with one’s own real “Samkhya says that the soul Vedanta is the philosophy being. Yoga does not interfere with is immortal, it is not born propounded by the Upanishads. the Samkhya theory of existence, it The Upanishads are the cream and will not die. It is only supplements it by adding the practical of the Vedas, coming at the the body which has been steps we can take to realise that our concluding portion of each of the soul is immortal. If one mistakenly composed and which will Vedas. Whatever has been identifies the Self with nature, which depicted, discussed and conveyed decompose. Why should the is inert, unconscious, mind-less matter, through the Upanishads is known soul worry for this bodily then yoga has a methodology to put as Vedanta. It is a thoroughly us back on the right path. The existence? ” metaphysical, ontological theory, methodology is known as Ashtanga dealing with the nature of ultimate yoga: Ashta means 8, Ashtanga reality and the contrast of this means 8-fold path. It can be understood within a few minutes changing, perishable, mundane world from that absolute, but it takes a whole lifetime of actually practising it to master it. eternal, abiding reality. How can we know which sources will Otherwise, when it comes to the crunch, when we are facing reveal the ultimate reality to us? That has been discussed death, we forget the philosophy and our fear of death takes in Vedanta. over. Like a rat is afraid of a cat and a cat is afraid of a dog, so Vedanta has a huge literature, but it’s essential philosophy there is a systematic fear of being hunted by death throughout has been contained in just 5 sentences. They are known creation. Man has many problems but the last and foremost as Mahavakyas. problem is death. All the 6 systems of Indian philosophy were initially When we are born we do not experience pleasure or pain propounded in aphoristic sutra and are very cryptic with because we need some amount of knowledge or consciousness few words. Since then, they have been discussed in detail to experience even pleasure. Similarly, we cannot know what death by acharyas and scholars. Like mantra, the aphorisms of the will bring us, we can only imagine it. Yoga says that, although 6 systems are short and uncomplicated but they carry great the spirit is quite apart from the physical material body, the two depth of meaning. n separate entities have become compromised, and therefore the real purpose of life is to discriminate between the two. Then fear of death will be eliminated. That is the purpose of yoga, or yoga philosophy. All of the 6 systems ultimately have the same target – liberation (also known as mukti, or moksha, or salvation). They Professor Pandey is a retired professor of Indian philosophy from show the way to move from ignorance to knowledge and break Vrindavan, North India. the cycle of bondage which causes us to suffer.



Serving Time: Prison Yoga Outreach Project
by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center


alvation, liberation, “When I first started working on the project, psychological enlightenment, patterning, and karma. I thought I would be helping and teaching Samadhi: these those inside, but I quickly realized that I had This ignorance brings words name about conditions as much to learn from them. The boundless where the individual’s a transcendental state of being. Yoga students rights are sacrificed, wisdom of the yoga teachings were often are instructed that the crystallized in the correspondence from our lost, or stolen. The experience of such a state individual finds himself incarcerated yoga students, people just like of spiritual attainment with a relative loss me, searching for an intrinsic peace from the of liberty to experience is beyond all and any description, but its potential ultimate imprisoner of us all – our own egos the consequences of is immediately inferred by his plight, and ends up and minds”. looking into our longing for in prison to live a freedom and our joy when we have it, even fleetingly. The tragic form of personal dominion in the name of justice and ultimate goal of yoga practice is moksha, the liberation of the supposed “rehabilitation”. fragmented psyche from the worldly bounds of ignorance and “As above so below,” the dictum says, proclaiming that our suffering, to the glory of Self-realization, bliss, and eternal expansive personal interior psyche tends to fructify as the world wholeness. Here, in my country of residence, the United States in which one dwells; all exterior manifestations are no less than of America, the word freedom is imbedded into the national symbolic mirrors bringing us face-to-face with the darkest psyche and the civic fundamental philosophies. Society’s history corners of our minds and our edge of learning. The human and mythology, for better and for worse, is framed around a psyche’s tendency to lock away our fears, misjudgments, shame, center point of freedom. The culture strives to define and live up and the resulting confusion deep into the shadowy recesses of to the ideal of liberty, albeit a different, more immediately our subconscious is much the same scenario, magnified by the collective consciousness. It is shaping, or warping, our communities, graspable form of freedom than that of moksha or Samadhi, society, and culture. By “putting away” individuals into prisons which have, in a way, no external or apparent qualities. In the at alarming rates, they disappear from the public mindscape, name of liberty, individuals, communities, and nations set out in but not without the societal consequences similar to the jailed force to attain freedom, defend it, and secure it at all cost – emotions of the individual, where one becomes emotionally even, it seems, if the cost is freedom itself. numb. Empathy and intuition die as the underground streams Ironically, the nation that uses the word ‘freedom’ most of the individual mind and collective mind do not see light. frequently casts the longest shadow from the brightness of its The teachings of Yoga tell us that, beneath the illusory veils unmet ideals. Currently, the United States incarcerates more of our isolation, insecurities, and instinctual emotions, there is a than 2.3 million human beings (mostly for nonviolent drug perfection; the Self. This Self is pure, eternal, and ultimately free. offenses), amounting to more than 1 in every 100 Americans This is who we really are. This greater wisdom, for those of us being in prison. The United States has the largest prison on “the outside”, can easily be taken for granted, mistaking our population in the world: although its country’s population own good fortune as an end in itself. This builds a mental cage makes up less than 5% of the global population of 7 billion, that imprisons the flight of the pure mind and erects a new it holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. kind of wall around our hearts, blockading the ability to truly This supposed land of privilege and freedom often comes acknowledge the suffering of others at an existential level, and into collision with personal responsibility and integrity. even at a grossly obvious apparent level, with millions on the Sometimes this happens intentionally, sometimes accidentally, inside of barbed wire, iron bars, stress, and pain. but always it is through ignorance of the greater social forces,


In 1996, Prison Life magazine published an article written by an inmate describing the inspiration and joy the "Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga" (CIBY) by Swami Vishnudevananda had brought him. A book review mentioned that the book was available to all prisoners at no cost. Within weeks, a deluge of letters from inmates arrived at the Sivananda AshramYoga Ranch, upstate New York, requesting copies of the book. Letter correspondence with the prisoners began immediately, as did a fundraising program to meet the growing requests for books. Heartfelt letters of gratitude from prisoners proved the initial success of the Project. The correspondence gave them a sense of “belonging”, enabling them to express their feelings and aspirations, and gave them a safe place to ask questions and have their doubts cleared. This service continues today, mainly out of the New York and California Ashrams and Centers. The Prison Yoga Outreach Project is small in its logistics and effort. It is the steady work of just a few karma yogis and the generosity of donors that keep it steady. But it seems it is time for it to grow. The entire income for the project in 2011 is just over a mere $4,200 and the expenditure was $4,435. A hand to mouth effort that sent out 166 copies of Swami Vishnudevanada’s Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, 43 copies of Meditation and Mantras, 45 different books by Swami Sivananda, and over 30 copies of other books created by the SYVC, which gives a total of 284 books delivered free by mail to the imprisoned. Follow-up letters always follow, full of gratitude for the relief and knowledge that the books bring, but also for the realization that someone on “the outside” cares. Serving the Prison Yoga Outreach Project, a part of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, has been an eyeopener for me. Those of us who spend our time working on the project start the process by opening a hand-written letter from someone on the inside who somehow found our posted offering in a listing of non-profit support services. They write to us looking for answers; answers to questions we all might be asking: How can I reduce stress? What is the mind? How can I find lasting peace and happiness? How can I be free? The difference is these individuals are pondering these life questions in a 4x4 cell – a cage. When I first started working on the project, I thought I would be helping and teaching those inside, but I quickly realized that I had as much to learn from them. The boundless wisdom of the yoga teachings were often crystallized in the correspondence from our incarcerated yoga students, people just like me, searching for an intrinsic peace from the ultimate imprisoner of us all – our own egos and minds. These individuals were not placing blame outwardly or searching for band-aid escapism from the conflicts in their minds, what could they hope for in that? Instead, they had been led, driven, and trapped with no alternative but to turn inward. And these students do turn inward, they go deep for good reason, but for no better or more motivating reason than each of us could ask for. These yoga practitioners, meditators, hatha yogis, bhaktis, and jñanis that live on the inside, locked up in concrete and steel, inspire me to go deeper: deeper into my commitment to practice for my own salvation, but also deeper into my commitment to practice for the service of all humanity, including those thrown away into the shadows.

Prisoners Letters
May these few inspiring quotes from letters awaken your own sense of duty to uplift all beings:
“Hello! I recently received the book you sent me (CIBY). WOW!!! Thank you very much. I didn’t expect something so nice.” – T.M. Colorodo. “I’ve just started reading ‘Mind; Its Mysteries and Control’ . . . its proving to be another fantastic book. I also wanted you to know that the letter you sent with the book was really appreciated as well. We all took it as a huge compliment that our progress on the yogic path means so much to all of you who are part of the Prison Outreach Project and the Yoga Center itself too.” – E.J. Nevada “I leave here in 18 days. The book has been a great help in dealing with my transition back into society.” – D.W. South Carolina “Dear Friend . . . thank you for sending it to me (CIBY) . . . Also, thank you for writing ‘If you have any difficulties or questions, please feel free to contact me.’ Prisoners are basically an abandoned group of people. So you offering to help with difficulties and questions means a lot.” – S.C. Texas “My paths are becoming clear and I’m ever-guided to cleanse and purify all about. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. P.S. Is it possible to write to Swami Vishnudevananda? If so, where???” – J.D. California

Checks can be mailed to: Sivananda Prison Project 1200 Arguello Blvd. San Francisco, CA

Online: (paypal) Or call (415) 681-2731 (visa, mastercard, discover



eCooking with
Fresh Green Herbs
Fresh green herbs do not only turn the simplest dishes into delicious treats but also supply the body with precious vitamins and anti-oxidants. Enjoy this yogic-vegetarian meal which promotes Sattva (harmony) in body and mind while at the same time fulfilling all dietary needs of the body.

Health benefits of the herbs used in the recipes:
Dill: appetizing flavour, stimulates digestion, rich in Folic Acid and Vitamin C. Basil: anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, rich in Iron, Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, Potassium, Copper and Magnesium. Rosemary: anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antiseptic, very rich in Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Vitamin A. Sage: very rich source of many B-complex groups of vitamins, such as folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine and riboflavin. Antiseptic. Enhances concentration, attention span and quickens the senses. Parsley: highly anti-oxidant, very rich in Vitamin K, rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron. Rucola (also called Arugula or Rocket): anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folic Acid. Lemon Balm: anti-fatigue, anti-stress, calming, soothing, relaxing.



Creamy Squash Soup with Dill
Ingredients: Serves 2
½ 2 1 tbsp 1 1 ½ tsp 1 bunch Small squash, seeded, peeled and cubed Small potatoes, peeled and cubed Oil Pinch salt Pinch pepper Nutmeg Fresh dill, finely chopped

Carrot-Rucola (Rocket) Salad
Ingredients: Serves 2
2 1 handful 1 2 tsp 2 tbsp 1 pinch Small carrots Rucola (rocket) Pinch salt Olive oil Lemon juice Black pepper

Peel and grate the carrots. Wash and tear the rucola. Mix all ingredients together.

Heat the oil in a pot, add the potatoes and the squash and stir fry for a few minutes. Add 4 cups of boiling water, salt, pepper and nutmeg, cover and let it simmer until the vegetables are tender. Blend into a creamy soup and add the dill.

r es

Brown Rice with Lime and Parsley
Ingredients: Serves 2
1 small cup 1 1 ½ bunch Brown rice (basmati is best), Pinch salt Lime Parsley (curly is best)

Chop the parsley, leaving a few sprigs whole for garnishing. Wash and drain the rice, add 2 small cups of water and the salt, put a lid on, let it boil and then simmer on low heat without stirring for about 30 minutes until cooked (if you are using other rice than Basmati cooking time can be up to one hour). Sprinkle with the juice of half the lime and the chopped Parsley. Cut the remaining lime into wedges and use it along with the whole parsley sprigs for garnishing.

r es

Pureed Butter Beans with fresh Basil
Ingredients: Serves 2
½ small cup 2 tbsp 1 dash 1 pinch 1 tsp 4 tbsp Butter beans Olive oil Lemon juice Black pepper Salt Finely chopped basil

r es

Fragrant Veggies with a Mediterranean Sauce
Ingredients: Serves 2
Crown of broccoli Fennel Black olives Crumbled Feta Oil Black pepper Ground nutmeg Salt to taste 1 tbsp Sunflower seeds or pine nuts ½ sprig Sage 1 sprig Rosemary 1 1 6 2 tbsp 2 tsp 1 pinch ½ tsp

Soak the butter beans overnight in water and boil them in fresh water until soft (approx. 1 hour). Blend the beans with some of the water in which they were boiled and all other ingredients (except the basil) into a creamy puree. Fold in the chopped basil and garnish with a wedge of lemon and a few basil leaves. This puree also makes a great dip or bread spread.

r es

Raspberry Delight with Lemon Balm
Ingredients: Serves 2
50 g 150 g 4 tbsp 4 tbsp ½ small cup 1tsp 2 sprigs Mascarpone Yoghurt (greek style is best), cream for whipping raw cane sugar or maple syrup raspberries vanilla essence lemon balm

Wash and dice all veggies. Chop the sage and rosemary (discard the hard stem of the rosemary). Heat the oil in a pan, stir fry the veggies for 3 minutes, add a few spoons of water, cover and cook on low flame until the veggies are cooked, but still crunchy (approx. 10 minutes). Put the sunflower seeds or pine nuts, green herbs, salt, pepper and nutmeg with some water into a food processor and blend into a creamy sauce. Mix it with the veggies. Sprinkle with the crumbled Feta cheese and the olives.

Whip the cream and set aside. Mix the Mascarpone, yoghurt, sugar and vanilla essence. Mash half of the raspberries and fold the pulp and whole berries along with the whipped cream into the Yoghurt crème. Garnish each portion with a dab of whipped cream, a sprig of lemon balm and a raspberry.



The Science of Space and Time A Healing Architecture
By Olga Mandodari
Note: This is a continuation of Conversations on Vaastu Shastra. Please see the first article in Spring 2011 edition of YogaLife Magazine.


This article is in memory of my great Teacher, Padma Bhushan Dr. Ganapati Sthapati who left this physical plane on September 6th 2011.

“Let the gods purify me, let men purify me with a prayer. Cleanse me all creatures that exist! May Pavamana make me pure.“ With this mantra the central hole should be established. – Vastusutra Upanishad
I would like to start this second article with words of wisdom of an American well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959). Please don’t be afraid to think “out of the box”, don’t hesitate to follow your dreams and to stand out from the crowd. Don’t hesitate to dive into the Vedas of the ancients! You may find that many well-known scientists, moviemakers, architects, artists, poets and us regular folks did really dive into the Vedas and then made our own small or big discoveries, or found explanations to the very scientific or very private questions about life, truth or laws of nature. For example, a world known psychologist Carl Gustav Jung was fond of the Vedas. Look at his beautiful mandalas in the book entitled The Red Book. According to Albert Einstein’s niece, Albert Einstein kept on his desk an esoteric book, The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky which most likely had helped him to understand the TimeSpace “reality” of the Universe even deeper, and so forth. Wow! These world known people could connect their professional fields to the Vedas and make use of the Vedic knowledge in the modern world of

“Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union”.
– Frank Lloyd Wright, 1908

I was talking on the phone to one landscape architect about business and went to his website. Then I found the above quote. I asked my customer, “Did you place this quote on your website?” He said, “Yes.” I replied to him happily that it is very true what Frank Lloyd Wright said! I was so thrilled that Frank Lloyd Wright “got it right”! Someone would ask me how much I know about Frank Lloyd Wright. I would reply that I know very little but I do know that he was a unique thinker and was not afraid to follow his great intuition. We all have wonderful intuition but we rarely listen to it. Dear readers!

thinking! Why can’t we? So let’s try again. Frank Lloyd Wright said that "Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." Why is that so? OK. Please get ready to dive really deep! Function is the intrinsic structure of a form. Function is the quality of the main idea embedded into the form. Form is the function. Form and function are one. Yes, they are in a “spiritual union.” Why is this union spiritual? It is spiritual because function has its own energetic configuration in the Subtle or Spiritual Space. This specific configuration is the


is the subtle sound of the mantra – the Bija sound! The mantra is the mechanism performing function of the form. “The subtle sound of the mantra is the bija (seed-word). Being united with it the action of the mantra is manifested.”
– Vastusutra Upanishad

By chanting a mantra we are turning on the engine of the function. Someone might say ,“God! This is really complicated”. Yes and no. This is a very natural process which was known by ancient saints and described in the Vedas, Upanishads, Shastras and other scriptures. This had been forgotten by our modern civilization. Now we are finally waking up. For example, the heart pumps blood. So the heart has a very specific form in order to pump blood in the most efficient way. The form of the heart is the optimal form to perform the pumping function. So Vaastu Shastra refer to different types of energy grids (mandalas) for specific functions. According to Vaastu Shastra, a building with an octagonal shape is dynamic and is recommended for example for theatres. A building with a round shape is not recommended for living in because it has a very moving, spinning space – but it is good for market places. It will help retailers to sell their products faster and so forth.

When form is not representing true feelings, experiences and necessary functions then this form suffers and becomes sick. This is why some buildings are sick buildings and have “sick building syndrome”. These sick buildings internally suffer like real beings from their wasted lives like humans suffer on the death bed from the realization of life’s unfulfilled purpose. Buildings are real living organisms because they encapsulate conscience Space inside themselves.

“From the North come the twelve divine forms, thus they say. In this way according to the different qualities the one Brahman becomes twelvefold. Just as Surya is the Lord of all lights, according to their qualities are the (different) gods, and according to their features their forms arise, and from those the secondary divinities are derived. This is truth.” – Vastusutra Upanishad
It is not part of a fairytale. It is actually a description of deep cosmic processes happening in the space. It is about the Divine Mechanics of the conscious space. There are twelve different intrinsic qualities evolving from a single source of the Living Energy – One Brahman. These twelve qualities are the base for twelve Divine Forms – Gods. When twelve Divine

vibration of Divine String(s). (Please see the first article in the Spring 2011 edition of YogaLife Magazine). When the vibration of the string(s) becomes rhythmic then the subtle form “hardens” and organizes itself as a Mandala of energy or the energy grid. The next step is the manifest of the subtle form (Mandala) into the material world as a living material form. What is vibrating? The consciousness is vibrating. Why is the consciousness vibrating? It is vibrating with its own ideas, feelings and experiences because it is alive! This “hardened” form has its own sound! What is that sound? That sound

The diagram above illustrates the quotation from Vastusutra Upanishad and gives us an idea of the roots and causes of the form.


Forms are organized in the space then the forms acquire their own specific features, characters, emotions and influences. When twelve Divine Forms are completed in the evolution of the Space then Forms give birth to the secondary Divinities (Sakties) or very specific functions. Divine Forms are inseparable from their functions.

Examples of Good and Bad Vaastu Shastra

“As Visnu bestows liberation, (the Sakti of) liberation is Sri, Prthivi is to be enjoyed in the form of the object of enjoyment. As from Rudra’s aspect of liberation arises Amba, from his attitude of enjoyment Ambika, these two. As from Indra’s action of surrender comes the sacrifice, in his aspect of enjoyment (his Sakti) is Indrani.”
– Vastusutra Upanishad

Example 1


Example 2


Example 1
The image of the house on the left shows a violated rule of Vaastu Shastra – Unobstructed Brahmasthan. The central part of the building, the Brahmasthan which is the concentration of the Divine Energy, is obstructed by the chimney. This building is really sick. It cannot breath and charge its own inhabitants with living energy. This house has a negative effect on the lives of the inhabitants.

This is the description of the intrinsic processes of the Space and its organization. This is the description of the roots of functions. This is the organics of the Form in a spiritual union with its own function – Sakti. Do we really need to know these processes? Do we really need to dig that deep? Yes, of course we do need to know in-depth the processes. How else can an architect create a healing form for a building if he doesn’t know about the birth of the form, the sacred processes behind it. The architect and designers are like good doctors – they should know the philosophy-theory and the anatomy of the space organization. A good doctor knows not only the physiology of the body but is also aware of the complicated energetic structure of the whole body-mind-spirit system. A good doctor cures the root of disease first from disturbances in the energy fields and then the physical ailment naturally goes away. It is the same with a good architect who knows about the energetic structure of the space; thus, he can create a healthy and fully functioning form for the building which will be giving energy to people instead of draining it from them in the trial of restoring its own energy field. If our modern professionals know and understand these principles of Nature then they can definitely create beautiful, healthy and functional buildings and cities! Cities follow the same rules as buildings do. A building is a cell of an organism called the city. The Vaastu rules are the same for the city as for the building. It is like fractals implemented in nature. For example, a leaf of a tree resembles the form of a tree. The same Divine organic rules are working in a small unit of Living Energy – a house, as well as in the big unit of Living Energy – a city.

Example 2
The image on the right shows a healthy building where the Brahmasthan is reinforced with a skylight in the form of a cupola. This house accepts the Divine Energy freely and charges itself and also the people who work in this building with living energy. It is a very happy house. It makes people happy too and gives them more inspiration to work better with enthusiasm. I would like to share from my own experience. Somebody asked me to evaluate a mini hotel whose owner had died in a car accident. I found that the main door of the owners living quarters was in the pada of “death” of the Vaastu Purusha Mandala, and the grid of the building had also shifted. The owner had lived fifteen years in the building before the accident happened. Of course, we can argue that many things pointed to different correlations but you will be amazed how precise the ancient teachings are. It is a big dream of mine to conduct a study of cities based on the Vaastu Shastra. Evaluation criteria, supported by the facts derived from the study, would be used to create a manual – a suggestion of true Green Design Rules of Nature for future city developments. This work would help to create well balanced and happy houses and cities. Now we can see how crucial design and planning are. Architects, town planners and designers are in charge of the development of proper architectural forms and images. Proper images lead us to the liberation impacting positively our entire well-being and vise versa, discordant forms and ill proportioned images lead us to darkness and depression. If architects, town planners, designers and other creative people from different fields don’t know or don’t want to know the importance of the spiritual unity of the function and the form, and that if they violate this unity then the suffering of a building or a city will make people suffer too. So let’s dig really deep into the Vedas and Shastras and build happy cities and houses!

Vaastu Shastra Rules
There are many very important rules of the Vaastu Shastra. Some are listed below: • Proper orientation of a house or city with the cardinal directions • Proper proportions of buildings and cities • The unobstructed Brahmasthan of a house or a city • Proper usage of the functionality of the floor plan according to Vaastu Purusha Mandala • Proper location of doors and windows according to Vaastu Purusha Mandala and much more.



Vaastu Shastra Tips for Home Owners
• It is highly recommended that the house is not at the end of a street facing towards it. The turbulent energy of the street will enter the house bringing chaos. • It is best to live in a building which is almost aligned with the cardinal directions of our planet. • It is not recommended to sleep with your head toward north or south. The energy rises from South to North. It is the line of rising energy. • It is recommended to sleep along the East-West line because this line has a quieting quality of Water. It is best to sleep toward the East. • It is not recommended to have in the front of the main entrance a pool with water such as a pond or fountain or any other obstructions like large trees, etc. The water feature will absorb all the living energy which should enter the house. Trees will block the passage of energy into the building. • Make sure that your main door is not located at the corner of the building. Such a building will loose a lot of energy. • It is very healthy to have a skylight above your Brahmasthan area (the center part of the building). It helps Cosmic energy to freely enter your building.

Wishing you all a happy life, a happy city and a happy house! n Olga Mandodari is a civil engineer and a renowned Vaastu Shastra practitioner consultant. Born in St Petersburg in Russia and now living in Washington DC. Olga runs a successful consultancy advising on how to design and build living spaces with healing properties.



Sadhana Intensive
in Orleans, France, August 2011
By Swami Vasudevananda




n early summer I learned that I would be participating in the August Sadhana Intensive in Orleans. It is a special course and I silently looked forward to the opportunity. The Sivananda Yoga Center in Munich, where I am serving as a staff member, kept me busy for the weeks approaching the course and, as is always the case, time passed by very quickly. The date of my departure to Orleans drew nearer. Last projects had to be finished, the monthly accounts had to be sent to our accountant, the last yoga class had to be taught, and packing had to be done quickly. The last day before my departure was quite intense and ended only way after midnight. The next morning I rose at 5am to get the train to Paris. For a couple of years now there has been a fast train connection (with the French highspeed train TGV) between Munich and

Paris which takes six hours. It leaves Munich at 6.20am and arrives in Paris at lunchtime, 12.30pm. It is, in a way, a door-to-door connection between the Sivananda Yoga Centers in Munich and Paris because both centers are very near to the train stations. Having arrived in Paris, I went directly to the Sivananda Yoga Center for lunch. There I met the staff, some students and teachers whom I knew from my staff-time in Paris, and Isvara and Vasudev – staff from the Sivananda Yoga Center in Berlin – who already waited to continue the trip to Orleans with me. In the early afternoon, the three of us, joined by Mahadev, one of the Paris staff, took our train from Gare d´Austerlitz, the Paris railway station for trains going to the South-West of France, to Les Aubrais – Orleans. By chance we met two other yoginis at the railway station

who were also on their way to do the Sadhana Intensive in Orleans. Finally we arrived at the ashram. It is always a great relief to arrive there after the long journey. The first thing you notice is the very peaceful energy at the ashram. The ashram is in a rural area of France, and in fact the Bois d´Orleans is the largest forest area in France. The ashram is in the middle of fields and woods, the next village a few kilometers away. It is a beautiful area for silent walks – walking over the grass and in the woods, the sun slowly setting, the only noise to be heard that of birds flying in the skies. The ashram area itself has many beautiful, tall, ancient trees. The main building is the Chateau – an 18th century castle - with a lot of guest rooms, the reception and the boutique. The large meditation room is under the old wooden roof of a side building and has a very large glass window front facing east. During morning satsangs you can experience the beauty of the rising sun. The ashram temple is under a large, permanent tent construction and for most of the year is cared for by an Indian priest. The main murti is a beautiful white marble Krishna.

“During the course we did almost all of the classical pranayamas and bandhas described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika”


The other murtis are in black granite, South Indian style: Lord Ganesha, Holy Mother Mookambhika, Sivalingam and the Nine Planets (Navagraha). There are two other shrines with murtis on the ashram premises: a Hanuman shrine under a group of old trees and a Subramania shrine in front of the Chateau. The evening walks one can take in the ashram are very special: the paths in the park are illuminated by little lanterns. When you approach the Chateau and see the light from the windows – yellow and red from the red curtains – you have the feeling of being in an 18th century movie! The ashram is an ideal place for such a programme as the Sadhana Intensive: it is very quiet, nature is very pure, the air fresh and clean and the temperature moderate and not too hot. In a way it has many of the qualities that the Indian yogis were seeking in the Himalayas. The following day we had the inauguration of the Sadhana Intensive. We were a group of 34 yogis from many different countries – France, England, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Canada and Senegal. Quite a few of the group had taken the course before. One of us – Madhava from Paris – comes every year! It was the first Sadhana Intensive in Europe in which staff members were also participating. Apart from myself there were Swami Krishnadevananda, director of the London centre, Swami Vidyananda from the Sivananda Yoga Retreat House in Reith, Tyrol, Austria, and Ishwara and Vasudev from the Berlin Centre. Before going to the Sadhana Intensive, the other staff at the Munich center had jokingly warned me that the main thing I would do in the two weeks of the course would be holding my nose! We started the practice slowly on the first day. But the practice increased quickly bringing us to two sessions of three to four hours each day. We always started with 40 minutes of asanas, mainly the basic postures, to loosen up the body. Afterwards, the pranayama began with Kapalabhati. The main practice consisted of many rounds of Anuloma Viloma with sessions, when we did asanas towards the rising sun, are unforgettable, and equally unforgettable are the evening practices, when we were warmed by the last rays of the setting sun. Afterwards, it was beautiful to sit under the stars in the moonlight, sometimes hearing the kirtans from the evening satsang (which we no longer joined), doing pranayama. All of us were very impressed to learn that Swami Vishnudevananda´s own practice, when he was a young man living in a small hut in the Himalayas, consisted of four sessions of about 14 hours of pranayama. He slept barely more than two or three hours per night.

“The ashram is an ideal place for such a programme as the Sadhana Intensive: it is very quiet, nature is very pure, the air fresh and clean and the temperature moderate”
bandhas. During the course we also did almost all of the classical pranayamas and bandhas described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The practice for the day was always presented to us by Swami Kailasananda, acharya and director of the ashram, who was the main teacher of the course. She was assisted by Swami Gopalananda and Swami Anantananda. In the beginning, most of us practiced on the large asana platform but over time many of the participants moved to the garden choosing a suitable tree under which they did their practice. During the day we came together for one lecture. Swami Kailasananda presented the Hatha Yoga Pradipika to us and sometimes we studied the Viveka Chudamani and the Srimad Bhagavatam. The food consisted mainly of kicheree (cooked after Swami Vishnudevananda´s own recipe) supplemented by other vegetable dishes. In the mornings we were served delicious and very nourishing almond milk. In the second week, a third practice session was introduced in the evening. We started our daily practice after a short morning satsang at around 7am and ended the third practice sometimes only at 10pm, with of course some break periods in between. By the end of the course, the practice took me almost twelve hours to complete. The morning

Swami Vishnudevananda stands in front of the small hut where he practised intense pranayama for fourteen hours daily.

Time passed by very quickly as always. In the beginning of the course, we found the practice quite strenuous (we noticed that it can be hard work just to sit doing pranayama) but towards the end it started to flow. In the end, we were all very happy to have had the chance to do this very special course given to us by Swami Vishnudevananda at this equally very special place. Some of us were already starting to miss the kicheree at the graduation meal that the kitchen had lovingly prepared for us on the last day. n Swami Vasudevananda
is co-director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Munich.



Ashram and Centre News
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram
Eye Camp
On 25th June, we hosted a free Eye Camp with a medical team from the Aravind Hospital, Tirunelveli. People had their eyes and eye sight checked and treated. If necessary they were given glasses or even booked for an eye operation. The Camp was attended by 342 people and 19 people went to Tirunelveli for cataract surgery. We are very grateful to Dr Sadasivan and his team for this excellent service.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
Interest in yoga is booming in France. Since the move of the Paris centre to its new location in 2008, the centre has seen its student numbers increasing very steadily. Students enjoy the spacious and bright reception area, a place to meet, read and contemplate. A yoga festival organized in November around the release of Swamiji’s newly reprinted French Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga resulted in the busiest day in the history of the Paris centre so far with 158 students for the trial class alone. The book is now selling much better than in its photocopy format and is distributed in bookstores, allowing for Swamiji’s message to touch many more people in French speaking countries.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre

Renovation of Kailash Building
The characteristic Kailash building designed by renowned architect, Lourie Baker, was renovated with many improvements. The walls have been plastered and brightly painted, the floors tiled and new doors and windows fitted. The guests are very happy with the improved accommodation.

Ashram de Yoga Sivananda
The garden project at the Orleans Ashram is taking shape : We have the visit of Julia and Charles Yelton, specialists in permaculture, who have already helped at several of the Sivananda Ashrams. They made a master plan for the property and had many inspiring ideas to move the Ashram towards sustainability. With the help of the Ashram gardener and inspired karma yogis, we are starting to implement the plan. We need help, both financial and energy wise. If you would like to be part of this exciting project, please email us at

The Sivananda Yoga Center in Montevideo, Uruguay is 35 years old! We celebrated with a wonderful Yoga Festival. Many teachers, some of them serving at the Center since its inauguration in 1976, like Kanti Devi, Chandra, Karuna and Nirmala, together with more recent but very dedicated yogis such as Ramachandra, Vyasa, Madhavi, Rudra and Lalita offered a broad program of activities, some of them free of charge, covering many aspects of yoga, including a Hindustani music concert by local classical musicians. Radha Chaitanya came from Buenos Aires, Argentina to teach several courses. The celebrations started on Friday, September 31 in the morning with a Puja to the Divine Mother. Later, in the afternoon meditation for peace, a lecture by Kanti Devi, an asana demonstration by the advanced group and a performance by the Sivananda choir, including local songs and kirtans. Ramachandra, one of the senior teachers of the centre, gave an inspiring lecture on the five points of Swami Vishnudevananda. Teachers and students were happy and inspired by the festival celebrating the inauguration of the first Sivananda Yoga Center in Latin America, focal point from which all other centers in the continent gradually developed.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
On September 8, 2011 the Sivananda Yoga Center in Neuquén, Patagonia was officially inaugurated, with an extensive programme including asana classes, meditation, a Puja for Swami Sivananda and a lecture on yoga as a tool towards inner and world peace by Kanti Devi. Swami Premananda inspired us all with his course on meditation. Teachers and students participated with enthusiasm. Gauri and Vyasa, who also do Karma Yoga in Canada and India, direct the Center. The beautiful house has been completely renovated by Vyasa and many karma yogis. Spacious, luminous rooms, decorated with inspiring images welcome newcomers and old students alike to start or deepen their spiritual practice. Best wishes to the youngest official Sivananda Yoga Center in South America!

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
The main asana hall as well as the boutique got a new look – the asana hall was repainted and got a new wooden floor. The boutique area was equipped with a new carpet, new sofas and new tables. Everything looks very shiny and gives the centre a more modern outlook. The renovations were finished just in time for the annual special guest program in January.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
The Vienna Centre is glad to have received three new white marble murthis: On the 20th of June Lord Ganesha, Sri Lakshmi and Sri Sarasvati arrived from Jaipur and were immediately welcomed with a small puja by the staff. Their wonderful and powerful shine is the highlight of each and every Satsang and they are adored by students, teachers and staff alike. A new altar is being designed and presumably early next year the official installation will take place. Everybody is already looking forward to this grand event.



By Swami Sitaramananda


hakti Yoga is the branch of yoga that focuses on devotion and devotional practices. God is love and love is God. Bhakti yoga uses our fundamental emotional relationships and sublimates them into pure, selfless, divine love. There are 9 traditional ways to sublimate emotions to devotion, overcome egoism, and realize God according to the teachings of Bhakti Yoga. These methods can be applied in our relationships with others: 1. Listen to inspiring divine stories – Develop the capacity to listen to others without judgment. Be honest in what you say about yourself. 2. Sing God’s glories – Learn to praise others and to look for their positive qualities and be appreciative of one’s own positive qualities.

Practice of Bhakti Yoga in daily life: learning about Self and seeing God through relationships
There are many different types of relationship and, in fact, life is nothing but relationships. Nothing is independent. If you think you are independent, you are creating problems for yourself because we are constantly in relationships at all times. The yoga of relationships teaches us to understand that we are in this constant complex network of relationships. It also teaches us that we need to learn from the emotional patterns that we usually follow within relationships. It is through the network of relationships that we learn and grow. People in relationships will serve as mirrors to each other emotionally in various ways so that they reach the core issue of relationships, which is the relationship with their own Self. In Yoga, we aim to stop the cycle of recurring negative emotional patterns of past relationships by looking within and starting to develop awareness about oneself. It is about being self-sufficient – not in an egoistic manner but in a spiritual manner. We must find ourselves in order to have true relationships with other people. The moment that you improve your level of self love, your level of love of other people will also improve. It is automatic. If you hate yourself, you will hate other people. If you’re angry with yourself, you will be angry with other people. If you are disconnected from yourself, then you will also be disconnected from other people. So there is no point in projecting blame or in trying to correct things externally, you need to correct things internally. If you find that you are always losing yourself in relationships, it is because you have lost your connection with your inner self. If you can constantly maintain the relationship with yourself, then you will have beautiful relationships externally.

3. Remembrance of His name and presence in prayers – Learn to hold people you love in your heart in a prayerful mood, feel the sacredness of relationships. Be detached and forgiving. Be grateful for all people who you interact with in your life. 4. Service with humility – Learn to actively serve everyone as God whether you like them or not. 5. Worship – Learn to see God in your relationships. Offer your time and presence, as well as beautiful gifts, as if they are being offered to God. 6. Prostrations – Learn to give utmost respect to people you encounter or people surrounding you no matter who they are. 7. Cultivate the feeling of being a servant of God – Learn to develop an attitude of self-sacrifice. 8. Cultivate feelings of friendship for God – Learn to open your heart equally to all, without ulterior motives and discriminating who is higher or lower than you. 9. Complete self-surrender – Learn to accept all things happening to you with equanimity and overcome your own expectations or feelings about anything done by yourself or others.

Ideal Relationships
In Yoga, an ideal relationship is based on respect, devotion and self-sacrifice. Respect means you are tuning your mind to the needs of the other person, and that you accept their uniqueness, no matter what you think about it. It implies a non-judgmental attitude. Devotion is about seeing the other person as God, and that means you will treat that person with pure, unreserved love and trust, and be ready to dedicate your time and efforts to make them happy.


Self-sacrifice in relationships implies that you are aware of the ego tendency to be selfish and that you consciously offer up your own needs to serve others, who you consider as God, because you understand that while you are serving him/her you are, in reality, serving your own Self. So self-sacrifice does not mean you are losing something. Instead, you are exchanging your limited view and your egoistic needs with a more unselfish desire in order to purify and uplift yourself. everyone you meet at all times. That love will free you and bring you lasting happiness. It is quite different from other types of relationships because in those relationships there is always a certain amount of fear, which is a negative emotion. It could be fear of separation, fear of loss, fear of being alone, fear of other people, fear of being abused, and fear of the other person. You have to go through all these different lessons and learn to trust. If you do not feel the connection with yourself and are not grounded in your true Self, then you cannot trust and you will not be able to understand other people. You will always see them as different. If you are young, you do not understand the old; if you are male, you do not understand the female and vice versa; if you are rich, you do not understand the poor, and so on.

How the mind reproduces impressions of past relationships

Usually in relationships we reproduce the relationships that we have already known. Our minds have already been imprinted with impressions of past relationships. The way in which we view ourselves, and the way we view other people, is seen through Why do we have problems in relationships? the prism of those impressions left by past relationships. When you look externally at another person, you are defining The impressions created by the relationship with one’s yourself through the differences you perceive as existing mother and father are especially strong. Those relationships between yourself and them. This is the basis of the feelings began when we were young and only our sub-conscious of attraction or repulsion we have towards others. This is or emotional instinctive minds were operational, so the because you do not really love impressions made then are your true Self, though you may very deep and unquestio“Devotion is about seeing the other nable. In yoga, it is said that person as God, and that means you love external qualities about yourself (such as gender, beauty, our karma chooses our will treat that person with pure, race, intelligence, etc). In the mother and father in this same manner, you form unreserved love and trust” life so that we can learn relationships based on the and grow. external appearance of other people. So in reality, these Yogis believe that we carry the joys and sufferings from relationships are just reproductions of your own belief about past lives and from the subconscious minds of our family yourself. You might blame other people but if you look back and ancestors. We carry these on in our own lives and we within yourself, you can cure the problem from within by reproduce them in our own relationships. As an example, starting to love yourself truly for who you are, and not for the a person who grew up in a dysfunctional and very angry family external qualities of illusion that you believe yourself to be. will likely form a dysfunctional angry family later on, unless he/she does a lot of conscious inner work and develops Remedy for problems in relationships detachment and awareness of the pattern. Many patterns begin Healing relationships start with self-love or Love of God. You in childhood and then get reproduced. For instance, someone have to start to love your true Self or love God. That means you who was spoilt as a child may struggle to accept blame; rather have to go through the maze of your mind and emotions and they will place blame externally because they have constantly sort out who you are and who you are not. You have to look been told that they are perfect. Other scenarios include: you at what you believe to be true, and examine whether it is true were loved, or not loved; you were isolated, or constantly put or not. If you can discard the ideas about yourself that are not down, and so on. true and you can understand the core value of yourself that Of course, we are all perfect inside but our minds are not is true, you come to accept and love your true Self. In other perfect. Our minds need to be molded in order for us to be able words, you will stop waiting for someone else to give you to reflect the perfection that is within us. We will have to do a great permission to love yourself. So often, we wait for someone else deal of self-inquiry to become independent from past impressions to make us love ourselves, and usually it is just a chain of and to correct the pattern of reproducing past relationships. projections and reproduction of expectations that creates much confusion and pain. Finding the relationship with Love itself In Bhakti Yoga, either we address the partner as a symbolic Many of us do not want to acknowledge that our relationships idealized God (the “Ishta devata” concept of a personally are not selfless and we cannot truly find ourselves in relationchosen form of God) or we cultivate the ideal relationship by ships. We are instead actually learning through our relationseeing our own Self or God in our inter-relationship with other ships – usually in a painful manner – to find ourselves. That people in our lives. The same principles apply. The same Love means that we have to recognize there is another level shines. By seeing God in your own Self or seeing God in others, of relationship that goes far beyond relationships with or a mixture of both, we are all, knowingly or unknowingly, co-workers or romantic partners or friends. It is the highest on a journey towards true unity, pure joy and pure bliss. n kind of relationship and the most difficult to get. It is the essential relationship described as pure, selfless love. It is the Swami Sitaramananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda relationship with Love itself. When you form that relationship, and is the director of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in California, USA. you will be able to feel love everywhere you go and for



The Art of Science –

Performing Arts and their function in India
By Rajyashree Ramesh


t is common practice in India to use metaphors and symbols to help explain the complex nature of life in all its aspects. Not only can abstract concepts relate to the physical entities of the world, they are a means to comprehend reality in terms of the relationship between the jivatma and paramatma – the living and the divine soul – and, as is often the case, in exquisite visual forms. For instance, yantras, temple sculpture and architecture use squares, circles and triangles in more abstract geometric forms. In the physical disciplines, we see embodied geometric forms. Both the use of abstract symbols and the practice of physical disciplines are part of a tradition which sees in them the means to attain knowledge of a higher, primordial order. These traditions reveal how the body and mind work in close association, with the ultimate outcome being to transcend both body and mind. Then there is no outer knowledge being imbibed, but the tapping of what is already there as a primordial aspect. Thus attaining knowledge is seen as an experiential process. At the same time, knowledge is considered either a science (sastra), attained through study and therefore suitable for enquiry about the concrete and material aspects of life, or an art (kala), attained through practice, and thus appropriate for dealing with the abstract or intangible aspects of life, like the mechanisms of the mind. However, where physical disciplines practiced in India are concerned, science and art seem to get intermingled. Yoga, for instance, enables scientific scrutiny, but Dance remains in the domain of the arts. The practice of each of these disciplines has its own specific function, yet they are both based on the study of the concrete (the body), as much as the mind, by focus and awareness. They are considered to enable experiential knowledge, because here practice is experiencing, knowing or revealing, and knowing through experience has been given utmost importance. They can be both an art and a science considering the above definitions and reveal how scientific scrutiny and experiential knowledge can go hand-in-hand when seeking knowledge of the higher order. In this article I will reflect upon how the common denominator, which is movement, can be both a sastra and a kala by looking at a performing arts tradition of India, called natya. In this art form, the world view presented in the Vedas takes a visual form, to be seen and experienced. However, I believe that what is seen as the outer form presented by a dancer can have its siddhi, or impact, only when the dancer seeks awareness and experiential knowledge, coming from practice and above all from within.

state, Siva had the desire to become many forms, causing a ripple accompanied by sound (nada). This icchashakti or I-consciousness, also understood as bhava or emotion, is thus the source for movement and has a primordial function in creation. The five elements and the five senses that were subsequently created constitute all animate and inanimate life. Creation is thus defined as Siva inhabiting the pura, or body, as purusha, and the blissfully eternal dancer, Nataraja. The senses gather knowledge of the world, but do not enable us to know what is before them, namely the eternal state. Our perceptions are based on the movement of the elements in nature abstracted into, for example, the circular movement of water or the tetrahedral shape of fire. In dance, we see both the expression of emotions and the creating of shapes through movement. The interesting part here is to understand that these movements are means by which we can retrace the path to the primordial state and, by using the senses in specific ways, experience what was before them. An analysis of movement used in dance will help reflect on this function of dance. In its first chapter, the ancient dance treatise, Natyasastra, bestows the practice of the performing arts the status of Veda in their function of giving knowledge, by calling them the Natyaveda. The sage Bharata explains that Brahma created natya by deriving its four relevant aspects, i.e. text, expression, music and sentiments, from each of the four Vedas. Natya therefore contains the knowledge of the Vedas and can show the path that they show. It is, however, the study of the practiced form, seen even today, based on the subsequent chapters that shows how this is brought about. Movement here is studied in perfect detail and in its various functions. While the performing arts are seen as a kala entailing all the four classical art forms of music, literature, sculpture and painting, here is then a sastra, a science behind it.

Knowledge through movement in performing arts
Narratives, poems, and plays express content and movement in themselves, and the movement of the limbs in expressing such contents reveals a certain level of understanding of the body by the artist. For example, the hands or face are given great relevance as articulators, based on observation of the behaviour of people in any given situation. From Neurosciences today we know that the representation of these parts of the body is significantly large in the brain. When defining the movement of the feet, sides, chests or even the chin, it is interesting to note how an understanding for the limb which initiates movement has been taken into consideration. For example, the feet are defined as initiating the movement of the legs, and at the same time influence the entire lower body’s movement.The actual practice of these movements reveals how executing movement based on this

Natya and creation
I am grateful to the vedic scholar, Sri Viswanadham, for drawing my attention to the primordial quality of knowledge which I present here. Dance is seen as the origin of creation when, in the formless, motionless


definition reflects the importance given to subtlety. These movements cannot be performed mindlessly. They require focus and concentration. At the same time, when performed with concentration, they enable the experience of a subtle core – the breath core. Thus through a structured movement of the actual limbs, the gross parts so to say, one experiences the realms beyond the material. In order to do so, both body and mind are required. Similarly, the typical stances that are considered the beginning or end of a movement are finely geared to correlate body architecture and space. When, let us say, the hand is brought to a specific position on the side, front or behind the body, there is a corresponding movement of the foot to a position that provides not only a beautiful pictorial shape, but also stability. There is thus both counter tension and clarity of movement. The way these movements are orchestrated shows that they are not just random movements of the limbs, but follow neuromuscular patterns that connect them. For instance, there is a deep connectivity between the fingers and the scapula, or between the heels and the head, along which the body organizes its movement. Finally, the hand and foot get connected right through the medial chain of the body. This is modern movement analysis. However, it is not just a scientific phenomenon which leads to the execution of such movement. The connectivity patterns experienced during movement execution give a feeling of having reached or opened some core within. Awareness in execution, combined if possible with knowledge of how the body connects, thus enables deeper experiences and reveals the physical and how it can be used to reach the more subtle dimensions of experience. Not in the least, this experience leads to a sense of well-being. It also implies that knowledge of the body was essentially one of experience in the ancient tradition of dance. Knowledge through movement practice. Nevertheless, it suggests parallels to the study of the kinetics of the body in a modern scientific sense.

Emotions and their relevance
Talking about awareness of inner changes, this sensitivity is then the basis for expressing emotional content, which is the cornerstone of Indian performing arts traditions. The content of any narrative is interpreted based on the emotional state of a character in a given situation. Dance has been used over the last several centuries to put into context the concept of the Jivatma-Paramatma, in other words the relationship between man and the divine. Even here, it is the emotional content of such a relationship that is portrayed: of yearning and the array of emotions which accompany yearning. From the movement perspective, the refinement of the movement required for such expression cannot come from a studied use only, but has to come from so-called sattvika abhinaya – expression coming from conceptualizing an emotional state. In other words, it comes from empathy, or from within, or through the imitation of behaviour patterns in emotional states. Thus, in sattvika abhinaya, it is the placing of oneself in the situation of another that brings about such an expression. This has been seen as enabling happiness (sukha) as opposed to sorrow (dukha), the latter seen as the outcome of actually experiencing emotions. The pleasure one gets has been termed rasa, or ‘relish’. Thus the portrayal of emotions has the status of transcending the emotions, with the final outcome being relish. If this is the function of portraying various characters, what greater benefit than spirituality would one derive from portraying the divine stories where Rama, Krishna, Siva or Devi are themselves the characters? Emotions are laid at the feet of the divine, becoming Bhakti Yoga. At the same time, the movements executed come from the externalization of inner feelings, or bhava. Bhava is the source of any movement and is related to creation itself as icchasakti, as discussed above. Thus, the kinds of movements seen in emotional expression take us to the more intangible dimensions of reality, in fact to the primordial state. A final note as to how we human beings have a natural tendency to depict something. When asked to portray any object, like a tree or bird, participants at workshops at once put their hands together in such a way that the image of these objects we visualize are shaped. Similarly, when asked to show an emotion like anger or fear, the face promptly takes a particular more or less ‘distorted’ shape. Interestingly enough, the observers and the performers alike laugh about it. We recognize, in shapes and forms, objects and emotions and it leads to delight. Relish or rasa corresponds to bliss, ananda. This then finally is the goal that was set for the practice of performing arts. Also, associating situations and objects by way of thought are surely mechanisms of the mind, which need not be conscious to be effective. Neuroscientists today see it as the workings of the brain. One may conclude from this that the body and the brain together enable the mind. They are the physical entities. The experience derived however transcends these and gives us an inclination of the primordial state, of Paramatma, through the experience of rasa. So, finally, dance here becomes the movement from outward to inward and back outward again, similar to how the mind has been defined in the Upanishads as taking the senses inward and bringing them out. All these show several other parallels to modern science as much as to ancient knowledge, a subject much too vast to mention here. But this analysis enables one revelation. That the physical discipline, dance, is the expression of natural manifestations as much as studied movement. It shows parallels to the practice of Yoga in as much as the experience enabled in both the disciplines are based on physical practice. At the same time, it enables an understanding as to how dance is the art of science and perhaps Yoga can be the science of art?

Sensing and shaping
When the body moves along these so-called kinetic chains, it also creates shapes, which one perceives as an observer. The movements executed in dance are traditionally taught by the watchful eye of the Guru, not by explaining inner connectivity patterns but by correcting the outer shaping, i.e. by making sure that the limbs are positioned properly during the stances (sthanakas), that the movement of the feet is correct (caris), and use of the hands appropriate (hastas). These shapes in Indian dance forms are geometric. For example, one sees the square in the basic stance called ayata. One sees straight lines in the arm movements and tetrahedrons in how the hands are joined in certain basic stances. They determine both stability and mobility. The square of the ayata, for example, is experienced as stability. Analytically, it is a deep-seated stance, using the stabilizing mobility provided by the pelvic floor. It is carried by the centre of gravity situated there and it gives us an understanding of the earth quality of the Muladhara. This is not only movement analysis and yogic knowledge, but also reflects the symbols known and used since ancient times in India. As mentioned at the outset, squares, circles and triangles are seen in yantras and principles of the ancient science of architecture. The square and its threedimensional version, the cube, symbolize earth and thus stability. However, a detailed analysis and reflection upon the deeper meaning behind it is beyond the scope of this article. These stances when analyzed this way also reveal parallels to Yoga asanas. In asanas too there is a specific beginning and end position for the various limbs, the exact shaping of the body is important, and there is counter-tension, for example, between head and heels in backward bends. Most importantly, there is the experience of the breath core. While this experience is the focus in the yoga asanas, the primary function in executing movements in dance is imagistic and expression based. Yet, as with Yoga, an inner core can be experienced when one draws attention to the inner changes taking place, rather than concentrating on the outer impact of a specific movement. In as much, I would say Yoga and dance complement each other.

Rajyashree is a dancer, choreographer and master teacher of Bharatanatyam with a dancing and teaching career in India and Europe spanning four decades. She is also a Yoga practitioner for the last 30 years.



Dawn of New Life
I was tired of this illusory life of sense-pleasures I became quite disgusted with this prison of body. I had Satsanga with Mahatmas And imbibed their nectarine instructions. I crossed the dire forest of love and hatred. I roamed far beyond the world of good and evil I came to the border-land of stupendous silence And caught the splendour of the Soul within All my sorrow is over now My heart is now brimming up with joy Peace has now entered my soul I was suddenly lifted out of my life There was a dawn of new life. I experienced the inner World of Reality The Unseen filled my soul and head. I was bathed in a flood of effulgence ineffable And saw the Lord behind all names and forms And realised that I am the Light.



I Am That I Am
Timeless and spaceless is this goal Painless and sorrowless is this seat Blissful and peaceful is this Abode Changeless and boundless is this Dhama I know that “I am He” I have neither body, mind nor senses I have neither change, nor growth nor death I am the Immortal, All-pervading Brahman. Neither virtue nor sin can touch me Neither pleasure nor pain can affect me Neither likes and dislikes can taint me I am Existence-Absolute, Knowledge-Absolute and Bliss-Absolute. I have neither friends nor enemies I have neither parents nor relatives I have neither home nor country I am that I am. I am that I am. I am never born, I never die I always exist, I am everywhere, I have neither fear of death nor fear of public criticism I am Siva, full of Bliss and Knowledge Chidananda-rupah Sivoham, Sivoham.



The Power

Vedic Rituals
Every human being requires protection, consecration and refinement. Puja is a traditional Vedic form of worship which enables us to offer our lives and activities to God, a way to pray that He guides us through the destiny which ultimately He controls.


There are many ways in the Vedic tradition to worship a chosen deity. Fire ritual (Homa, Yajna) is the most powerful of these. Through Agni, the God of fire, selected items are offered to a chosen deity. Agni banishes illness, expels negativity and protects us from distress. He is the mediator between God and men. Whatever is offered to him, he burns, purifies and accepts. A fire ritual is so powerful that it removes negative vibrations not only from the minds of those attending, but also from the area where the ritual is performed.

Yantra Puja
The second most powerful form of worship is Yantra Puja. A yantra (power diagram) is a tantric symbol of cosmic unity. Every yantra has a geometric structure which represents a particular configuration of the divine. The more abstract and precise the diagram, the greater the power of the yantra, and the use of appropriate mantras (Sanskrit sound syllables) in conjunction with the yantra, further enhances this power. When an aspirant attains a high degree of spiritual progress, he is initiated into the use of a particular yantra. That yantra fully arouses the aspirant’s inner life-force so that his dedication


to the deity is one with the process of his awakening. The aspirant experiences a physical, psychological and spiritual opening into the comprehension of the mystery. The yantra’s central point is called a bindu (a triangle, square or circle) from which the diagram’s form is constructed to encapsulate a particular pattern of energy. To identify wholly with the yantra’s configuration is to realise or to release the inherent forces that each form within the yantra denotes. A yantra makes visible the energy contained within the mantra, and together, yantra and mantra may be said to build form, to conserve form and finally to dissolve form as the aspirant comprehends its inner meaning and soars beyond it. Each element of a yantra is a multivalent symbol. Every yantra is a sacred enclosure of a chosen deity, an aniconic alternative to the anthropomorphic image of a deity. While the yantra bears no resemblance to the iconographic image, it retains the suprasensible vitality of the image and expresses the sense and spirit, the very essence of the deity. The power diagrams allow us to make spiritual journeys to return to the primordial centre and ultimately perceive the unity of self and cosmos. symbol, personality or deity accepted as an expression of the Supreme Being with absolute faith, will take an aspirant to the realization of his nature and to the attainment of salvation in Brahman. Salvation is the sure and certain goal of anyone who attains the purity of mind required for the practice of Bhakti and Jnana. There are many forms of God to choose from; the spiritual aspirant is taught to choose one which satisfies his spiritual longing and make that the object of his adoration and love. This is his Ishta-Devata. It may be one of the Trimurti or one of the Avatars, for instance, or one of the myriad forms of Shakti. Or it may even be a local or tribal deity rendered concrete to the eye by means of an idol. It is wrong to call Hindu worship of images idolatry. Hindu scriptures do not say that an image is God. According to the Upanishads, “Of Him whose name is Great Glory there can be no image”. The scriptures clearly state that the image or symbol of God (the pratika), is not God, but only a means of making the mind dwell on God. They point out that in this kind of worship, God is the object of worship, and that He is superimposed onto the pratika temporarily. He is duly evoked, superimposed and worshipped by means of ritual acts and restored again at the end to His true place in the heart. Idol worship is therefore recommended to strengthens one’s devotion. n

Murti Puja
The third and most popular form of worship is Murti Puja (idol worship). Vedanta teaches that God is the universal spirit, one with all, and wherever a person of faith wants to see Him, He will be there. However, it is hard for imperfect man to comprehend this, which is why a holy image can be so helpful: the holy image is a point at which His real presence is available to us for commune and worship. Like water running through the ground, God is everywhere, but to access Him we need a focal point, a well of faith to make Him available to worship. The great sages of India adored the holy images for they knew that when the eye of faith reveals that He accepts worship and offerings from the devotee, it is a point of real communion with the divine. Murti puja is an effective and necessary aid for the vast majority of men to gradually rise in the spiritual scale. The divine presence is made concrete, and prayers and adoration are made meaningful to those men who cannot dive into the depths of consciousness by meditation, introspection and commune with the subtle spirit within. A spiritual aspirant is free to choose and worship any form of deity, incarnation or world teacher. Any religious


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