Om Namah Sivaya
This is Sita sending you all a message to let you know that Swami Atma made it to Germany, however, his computer is totally fried and had to be taken to the repair shop. It may be 2 weeks until it is fixed.
He wanted to let you all know if you sent him emails or chats of some sort you may not hear from him for awhile but he will get back to you when his computer is working.
Happy Sivaratri and many oms to all of you.
Just recently I came back from a three week visit to Haus Yoga Vidya in Bad Meinberg, Germany. My main reason for going was to attend some yoga courses led by Swami Atma, and boost my yoga practice. Here are some photos and thoughts about the trip.
My first and last nights in Germany were spent at the very nice Yoga Vidya center in Frankfurt. Maheshwara and Krishnapriya were generous and gracious hosts. I much appreciated the expert guidance on navigating the German train system from staff member Tarpan, and the excellent food and conversation with Maksim.
Maheshwara and Krishnapriya
Haus Yoga Vidya, Bad Meinberg
The next day I travelled by train to Bad Meinberg. The yoga center there is untraditional in the sense that from the outside it looks like a hotel, but on the inside functions as a very efficient and most excellent ashram.
Haus Yoga Vidya front entrance
The center is quite comfortable and the spiritual energy is very high. The staff were all extremely nice and helpful. The food was delicious, lots of variety and tons of different options accommodating all kinds of vegetarian diets.
Located around the center are lots of hiking and nature trails.
The setting is mostly rural which you can see from the upper floors of the center.
view from the 7th floor
And really they are quite surrounded by a peaceful and traditional farming community.
cows by the road
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The main course I attended while I was at Yoga Vidya was the Hatha Yoga Pradipika Advanced Teacher Training Course. The advanced pranayama techniques portion of the course was expertly led by Sukadev, the main teacher at Yoga Vidya. The lecture portion of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika text was led by Swami Atma.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika lecture with Swami Atma in Sivananda Saal
Altogether there were about 50 students in the class, and so we used the main hall where they also do satsang. The course was translated into english and german by Reinard depending on which teacher was speaking. I learned a lot more than I expected and had a wonderful time making new friends as we traversed through the rigorous schedule.
Students attending the center are also assigned an hour or so of karma yoga per day. This is selfless service helping out the ashram with the goal being to help purify the aspirant. My karma yoga this time was straightening the Sivananda Saal with Jagadamba.
After the Hatha Yoga Pradipika course ended, I also took an asana intensive led by Swami Atma and translated by Klaus. After that I attended a weekend intensive on the Secrets of the Mind, also led by Swami Atma and translated by Klaus.
One of the main events at an ashram is satsang. These are held twice a day and include meditation, chanting, lecture and arati. Every Saturday night Yoga Vidya has an extra-long satsang where there is a lot of chanting and special guest speakers.
Sukadev in satsang
One interesting thing for me was seeing someone play a tambura. This is a traditional Indian instrument that you sometimes see pictured with Swami Sivananda. I had never seen one before in person, and there was more than one person at Yoga Vidya who could play it.
staff member playing at satsang
The Yoga Vidya center is the largest in Europe, and at the big Saturday night satsangs there may be as many as 400 people attending.
Swami Atma speaking in satsang
English Teacher Training Course
The all-english Teacher Training Course began towards the end of my stay. This is a month long program where the students learn how to become yoga teachers. This year there are about 20 students going through the program. The main teachings are being given by Swami Atma, assisted by the very knowledgeable Bhavani.
Swami Atma and Bhavani in the Sahasrara Raum where the TTC is held
I was able to attend the first couple of days of this program before leaving.
Puja for Mahasamadhi
The night before I left was a big puja celebrating the Mahasamadhi of Swami Sivananda. This is the anniversary of the day in which Swami Sivananda left his body, and is typically celebrated with a worship ceremony called a puja.
The puja was led by Sukadev and all guests and staff members were able to participate if they wanted.
puja setup for the Mahasamadhi of Swami Sivananda
Overall I had a fabulous time on my trip. I definitely recommend visiting there if you would like to seriously boost your yoga practice. Yoga Vidya is currently making a big effort to reach out internationally and they offer more and more courses in english and spanish. If you want to go but feel intimidated because you don't speak german, there are so many helpful German people who speak english that I never felt lost or out of place.
Finally a big thank you to Sukadev and Suguna who went out of their way to make my stay at Yoga Vidya special. Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya!
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami Muktibhodhananda, gives a unique explanation of how to think of the jiva, or individual soul, in relation to the whole, or Brahman.
A single apple represents the whole tree from which it came. Just because you cannot see the tree when you look at the apple does not prove the tree does not exist. On the other hand, as the tree grows, the apple appears and then falls and dissolves back into the earth from whence it has sprung. We could say there was no individual existence of apple but only the tree's growth and development are real. It is like that with the coming and going of souls. Just as the potential of the tree and the apple expands and contracts, so does the entire universe of individual names, forms and beings within it. Swami Muktibodhananda
marigolds and the sky
orange day lily
dew on lily leaves
the hardest worker
yellow and orange flower
spider on a marigold
All photos by Shakti, age 14, Austin, Texas.
Unruffled state of the mind, poise, cheerfulness, inner strength, capacity to turn out difficult works, success in all undertakings, power to influence people, a magnetic and dynamic personality, magnetic aura on the face, sparkling eyes, steady gaze, powerful voice, a magnanimous gait, unyielding nature, fearlessness, etc., are some of the signs or symptoms that indicate one's 'will' is growing.
The source of all life, the source of all knowledge, is Atman, your innermost Self. This Atman or supreme Soul is transcendent, inexpressible, uninferable, indescribable, the ever-peaceful, all-blissful. It is Omnipotent; the more you reflect upon its infinite Strength, and the more you are conscious of this inner Power of the Infinite in you, the greater is your will-power. Swami Sivananda
As long as there are thought impressions and tendencies, there will be more reincarnation. The tendency of the ego itself must be broken down, for it, too, is illusion. Maya projects qualities onto the individual, and he thinks that he is tall, fat, man, woman, talented or dull. When all such ideas, good as well as evil, have been overcome, the soul stands alone. Swami Vishnu-devananda
For you there is no birth or death,
for you there is no mind,
for you there is no bondage or liberation,
no good or evil.
Why do you weep, my child?
Neither you nor I have name and form. Dattatreya,
... and Happy Birthday, Swami Atma, 4-22-08.
Offerings to God need not necessarily be rich and costly things. What did the lord of elephants (Gajendra) offer? Only a flower from the tank. Draupadi offered a vegetable leaf and Sabari some wild plums. But the Lord was pleased. It is the feeling of love for God that God takes into account and not the material that is offered. He is pleased even with leaves and mere water. Swami Sivananda
Who is God? What is God?
Is there a God? Where is God?
How to realise God?
Man wants an answer to these eternal questions,
Certainly there is God.
God exists; He is the only Reality.
God is your Creator, Saviour and Redeemer.
He is all-pervading, He dwells in your heart,
He is always near you.
He is nearer to you than your jugular vein or nose.
He loves you; He can talk to you.
You cannot find God by the intellect,
But by feeling, meditation, experience and realisation. Swami Sivananda
Life in God is free from sorrow and pain. It is full, rich, perfect and independent. It is full of wisdom and eternal bliss. Live in God, in the inner Divine Being. Swami Sivananda
As I was editing some photos of our guru Swami Vishnu-devananda, I found this rather fun photograph which I really liked. It shows Swami Vishnu doing a headstand on the wing of his Peace Plane which he flew to many countries in the 70's distributing flowers and leaflets to promote world peace.
Swami Vishnu's teaching was that world peace could only happen when people first found peace within themselves. While the above photo is in fun, his mission was quite serious and important. In spite of all the continuing problems in the world today, we can be thankful that Swami Vishnu's peace mission lives on in the hearts of all the students who have taken his yoga teacher's training program.
Keeping up the balance of mind in pleasure and pain, heat and cold, gain and loss, success and failure, praise and censure, respect and disrespect is wisdom. This practice is a trying discipline indeed, but it gives inner spiritual strength. He who is able to keep a balance of mind at all times, in all conditions, even under extreme provacation, is a mighty potentate on earth. He must be adored. He is a most wealthy man, though he is clad in rags, though he has nothing to eat. Swami Sivananda
A beehive is all quiet; when you disturb it with a stick, bah! swarms of bees start chasing you. Our inside also is like that, all the evils are there; but so long as they are not attacked by the rod of Sadhana they do not seem to bother us. But once they sense the impending danger, they start harassing you with all their might. Be bold and face all obstacles. Swami Sivananda
Peace is within. Search for peace within the chambers of your own heart, through one-pointed concentration and meditation. If you do not find peace there, you will not find it anywhere else. Swami Sivananda
This is an interesting video pointing out selective awareness.