September Perspective – Issue 9, 2014

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September Perspective Issue 9, 2014
Yasodhara Ashram reminds me right now of a yogini at her flexible best – stretching some people into new positions, swiftly sending others flying off to next steps while welcoming old friends into long, extended stays. She is as transient as the weather – drawing us close with warm affection then storming up challenges to shake us awake.

And so we question: What is Yasodhara Ashram now? Where do we expand? Contract? How is she showing the way?

The season pulses the underlying rhythm of harvest and the hint of limits in time… “Do it now!” Women step up to deepen their connection and make the lineage strong. Teachers prepare to reach out, drawing others in. Guests and karma yogis enter questioning and leave practising.

The Temple calls silently, waiting to inhabit its new form. As we pause for responses from architects, a local craftsman dreams up a simple dome (wood ribs covered in plastic, later to be a greenhouse) to over-winter the foundation and incubate ideas.

Yasodhara moves freely and we are carried on her current, improvising to the rhythm of change in the world and in this place. And I wonder at her precision and abandon, and sometimes glimpse her luminous essence – immutable yet emanating momentum as she constantly renews.


Swami Lalitananda

President of Yasodhara Ashram

Upcoming Courses Following is a sample of courses available:

Living the Practice with Swami Radhananda: This special five-day yoga workshop is led by Swami Radhananda, author and spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram. Swami Radhananda will help you explore how a life infused with practice and self-inquiry can become a life of meaning and potential.

October 5 – 10

10 Days of Yoga: One of our most popular programs for students of all levels, this course offers practices that support your personal and spiritual development. Instruction is given in traditional yogic practices such as Mantra, Kundalini and Karma Yoga, combined with original courses Swami Radha created.

October 16-26

Discover Yasodhara: This program is a unique opportunity to experience yoga, work and community life at one of the most enduring spiritual communities in North America.

October 14-21

Tools for Transformation Retreat: In this spacious retreat you will learn new ways to support yourself in making changes that reflect your ideals. Learn to use tools that will help you make key transformations in your life.

October 24-28

Yoga Development Course: The YDC is an intensive three-month program designed to give students an in-depth introduction to the major branches of yoga and a foundation in personal and spiritual development. The course is of lasting value to those who wish to deepen their yoga practice and make permanent changes in their approach to life. It is the prerequisite for our teacher training.

January 8-April 8, 2015

Personal Retreats and Artist and Professional Renewal Retreats are available year-round at the Ashram – take time to renew spiritually and creatively.

Visit our 2014 program calendar.

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Time to be Holy

Swami Sivananda Radha

“Take time off to think, to reflect. This is your time to be holy.” (p. l3)

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Straight Walk Thinking

Swami Radha, August 1986Video

In this video from August 1986, Swami Radha discusses the Straight Walk, one of her signature workshops. She passes on her original experience with Buddhist monks in Thailand in 1958, and points out the benefits of the workshop, which include thinking clearly and meeting challenges straight on.

View the video


Temple Update

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The Temple platform is clear and we are now into the design phase! Part of this phase is building a temporary structure to protect the floor. Watch our most recent update to learn more about upcoming steps.

Also, this energizing phase inspired Tanin Shunter, a karma yogi and conscious hip hop artist known as Kosmic T, to compose and perform a second rap for the Temple.

Watch both videos


Change a Life – Join Yasodhara 108

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Join us in the second annual Yasodhara 108 fundraiser to support Yasodhara Ashram’s Young Adult Program. Help create a strong foundation for some very fine young people!

This year’s goal is to raise $40,000 toward the program.

To give context, last year the Ashram awarded $60,000 in bursaries to help young adults participate in courses, including the YDC and teacher certifications, and to help those with limited funds attend one-month Karma Yoga programs.

Everyone is invited to join. Be inspired to offer 108 of any practice that is meaningful for you and ask your friends to donate to your cause. You have until Sunday, November 2nd to do it!

Check out the innovative 108 choices of our enthusiastic participants so far. Examples include pulling 108 invasive weeds a week around the Ashram, exploring trees daily through photographs, drawing and asana practice in a “tree-vaganza,” writing 108 poems, creating 108 drawings, taking 108 photographs – all by November 2nd. You can donate to any of these participants and help them meet their personal financial target.

Learn more, participate or donate! Meet your own challenge and support young people in changing their lives!


Brahmacharya Initiations

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On September 8th, Swami Radhananda initiated three long-time devotees into Brahmacharya. Joanne Bellanger became “Padma;” Sharon Wobker, “Parvati;” and Elizabeth MacLeod, “Parama.”

Padma says,”The initiation was touching beyond words. Everyone was glowing and each time I looked over at Parvati and Parama my heart burst with joy for them. I feel like I have found something that was lost and is a perfect fit. The Ashram community has been supportive as Padma emerges like a birth, an opening into something new. My name, which means ‘lotus,’ also reminds me that I am opening into the Light of my own spiritual evolution with willingness and devotion. I am forever grateful for this gift.”

Parvati comments,”The three of us who made this transition have been together in the work a long time and, like sweet ripened fruit, we were ready. It was a shared joy having Padma and Parama beside me while we were embraced in a beautiful ceremony. My name Parvati, came in a dream, and for twenty-four years, this goddess aspect helped me do what I needed to bring her to life in me. The initiation will benefit me, my family and my community and will be a great support, especially at this time in my life.”

And Parama adds, “This was a name given to me in a dream in 1991 and now, twenty-three years later, I have become her. It feels more like an awakening than a dream, an awakening to a new beginning of joy and wonder. Parama means ‘highest truth’ and inspires me to strive for what is most high in myself. I am happy that my friendship with my two gurubais has now blossomed to another level. The initiation occurred on a full moon so each full moon we will put Swami Radhananda and each other into the Light, which is the highest support we can offer.”


Yasodhara Comes to You

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From October 18 to November 2, Swamis Samayananda and Matananda will be offering workshops in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Orangeville and Montreal. Both teachers will contribute to the first residential weekend retreat, “Stilling the Mind,” at the Ecology Retreat Centre in the beautiful Hockley Valley, 45 minutes north of the Toronto airport. Accommodations and meals are included. This is a wonderful opportunity for those in the East to experience an Ashram environment much closer to home.

Alicia Pace will be presenting “Exploring the Spiritual Space Within” at a conference at Columbia University in New York, October 24. She is also offering “Building Awareness in Navigating Conflict,” a Yasodhara Institute workshop, in Boston October 28 and Spokane November 1. Visit the Yasodhara Institute website for more details.

More locally, Padma is leading short workshops in Cranbrook and Lethbridge, as well as at Selkirk College locations in Castlegar and Nakusp.

If you are interested in a workshop in your area or can suggest a conference for our involvement, please e-mail

Visit the Outreach page to see all the fall offerings and get details about each workshop.

Layers of Meaning

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Suzanne Bleaken recently retired from teaching and came to Yasodhara Ashram for an Artist Retreat. She found the rich physical environment perfect for Chigiri-e, a Japanese form of collage that involves layers of paper. Suzanne also presented a workshop to karma yogis and residents that was peaceful, restorative and exciting. Suzanne reflects:

With Chigiri-e, colors flow and change every time you add another layer. I found it is similar to Yasodhara Ashram’s focus on personal reflection that deepens through the layers. My artwork was a good fit with the Hidden Language Hatha Yoga and Karma Yoga that help build a harmonious environment and foster creativity.

Hidden Language, with readings and questions, encouraged me to focus inwards and think about my life. It deepened my reflection on my own well being. And Karma Yoga kept me grounded, providing a balance.

I was supported in the Light while I was here… it was excellent. I appreciate that at this Ashram everyone is welcome for who they are right now, and it moves forward from there. That is a very powerful acceptance.

Is an Artist or Professional Retreat just what you need? Learn more about Retreats at Yasodhara Ashram.


Baby Blessings

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Our community shared in the joy of two babies this month when the swamis gathered to bless Edwin Elder Paquette and Lucien Bruyère French, both ten months old.

Frederic Paquette and Valerie Heffernan from Nanaimo, commented: “As new parents, knowing that Edwin is our responsibility is at times overwhelming. Having him blessed with Light by the loving swamis reminded us that there is a force greater than ourselves to guide and protect him always. It was an honour to be in the presence of Swami Radhananda and a beautiful way to celebrate the beginning of Edwin’s Light-filled life.”

Amanda French and Hugues Bruyère from Montreal expressed their gratitude: “What a gift for Lucien and for us to be blessed by people who have dedicated their lives to the Most High! We could not have wished for a more auspicious beginning to his life. A seed of Light was planted on this day!”


News at a Glance

Harvest Program Opportunity – At this time of abundance, October’s One Month Program is focused on the harvest. Join us October 6 – November 3 to help in our garden, orchard and summer kitchen, as well as in other areas of the Ashram. Learn about yourself, selfless service and living in community. Click here to read more and to register. If you are an experienced Yasodhara karma yogi, come for whatever time period you can offer. Contact Registrations at

Community Classes – Our fall session runs from Wednesday, October 1 until Wednesday, November 26. Drop-in Hidden Language Hatha Yoga 6 – 7:30 p.m. Dream Yoga 7:45 – 9:15 p.m. runs for eight weeks. Contact Registrations to sign up or register in person. Visit our website for more information.

Live Satsang – Join us in October for Satsang live from the Ashram. This is offered instead of a fall Bhajan Blast as a way of coming together in devotion and to share what is happening here. Date and time will be announced soon. In the meantime, go online to watch previously recorded Satsangs and Bhajan Blasts.

Nelson Festival – Swami Matananda offered Hidden Language and Rebecca Dale taught Sacred Dance at the first Kootenay Spirit Festival in Nelson, September 13-14. The response was positive with 15 participants in each class and a list of those interested in further study. Swami Matananda comments, “Being in community helps us acknowledge we are not alone in our desire to evolve. I was delighted to see such a diversity of yogis and yoginis.”

Gurudev Birthday Celebrations – On September 8th we came together on the foundation of the Temple to honour Gurudev Sivananda’s birthday and to offer our promises to the lineage. Together we danced and did the Light. Traditionally a day of initiations at Yasodhara, you can ask yourself, What am I initiating at this phase in my life?

Fall Fair Winners – Yasodhara Ashram attended the Kootenay Lake Fall Fair where our team of chefs Steve Kruse and Garry Sly and Paris Marshall Smith won the Iron Chef competition. The Ashram Garden and Preserving Kitchen won eight 1st-place ribbons, five 2nd-place and four honorable mentions; and the hens picked up a 2nd place for their gorgeous eggs. Entries were auctioned off to raise funds for next year’s fair.

Personal Practice Guide
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In this video from March 2007, Swami Radhananda speaks about transition and how the spiritual practices and awareness can help bring meaning and joy into our lives.

Link to video


Swami Radha, using the symbol of the Tibetan drum (the damaru), challenges us to reflect deeply about time and our choices.

Link to audio

“Time & Ethics”

Reflection QuestionsSeptember marks the change of seasons, the end of summer, the start of something new. This month we are focused on time and transitions, as well as exploring ethics that carry us steadily through the phases of our lives.

  1. Read the chapter on “Time” in Time to be Holy. Choose one or two questions to reflect on or use the following reflection: “What have you done with the time you have already had? If you realize that it is time-consuming to make significant changes in thinking, significant changes in attitude, in putting what you understand intellectually into practice, then time becomes something extremely precious.”
  2. Reflect on the time and seasons in your life, in the Tree Pose. How can you become aware of life span, continual growth, integrity and silent giving? How are you sustained by life? For what purpose?
  3. Reflect on a transition you had or are experiencing. Consider:
    • What’s ending? What are you moving toward? What are the challenges? The opportunities? What do you need to learn?
    • Are there perceived limitations that hold you back from a current need for transition? “There will always be another step. Be ready to explore and take a risk.” (Living the Practice, Steps to Freedom by Swami Radhananda, p.52)
  4. In the teachings of Patanjali’s yoga, the moral foundation or ethics come first for the yoga practitioner. Choose a yama and a niyama to reflect on for the month.
    • Yamas: non-injury, non-lying, non-stealing, celibacy, non-greed or non-possessiveness
    • Niyamas: cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study, surrender to the Divine.

For more Teaching and Reflection ideas, click here.


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