Sacred Ground – Newsletter Issue 5, 2016

YAS Newsletter Header
Feature Photo
Sacred Ground Issue 5, 2016

I feel that the Ashram is sacred ground, that the land itself has wisdom and that our intention is to live lightly on it and to offer spiritual refuge. Sacred ground is home to sacred teachings – sacred because the purpose is simply to help – to be aware, to heal, to ripple out goodness to others.

In this newsletter, you will meet a diverse group of people including a thoughtful family, strong Indigenous leaders, women standing up for women, and young adults learning through hands-on practice. We also update you on the construction of the Temple of Light that symbolizes the essential unity drawing us toward peace and expanded understanding.

As fall approaches, I am reminded to seek the fleeting balance of the equinox – the inner and outer, the light and dark. I feel deeply grateful for the warm and cool beauty of September and for the opportunity to live a meaningful life, open to the wisdom in all traditions.

 Upcoming Courses

See more in the 2016 Program Calendar online and in this programs-at-a-glance poster.


10 Days of Yoga: A Journey of Self-Discovery
Oct 13-23

Give yourself ten days to expand your understanding of who you are and who you want to be – ten days reprieve from stress in a safe and nurturing place of reflection. For students of all levels, this course offers practices that support your personal and spiritual development. Watch the video.


Stilling the Mind
Oct 14-18

What is the mind? What are its tendencies? How can it be directed? Learn various practices – including visualization, breathing techniques, concentration and reflection – to help you understand different levels of mind and to approach the mind’s expansive potential.


One Month Karma Yoga Introduction

Starting Oct 17, Nov 14, Dec 12

This program is for anyone interested in living in a spiritual community to explore work, develop self-knowledge and gain skills. Experience yoga and work in a truly transformative way!

Special Offer for 2016 only! Come for three months and pay by contribution (value of $2,475).


Yoga Development Course (YDC)

Jan 9-Apr 8

The YDC is an intensive three-month program designed to expand awareness through personal and spiritual development. Built on a series of integrated workshops that weave experiential learning with various practices of yoga, the YDC offers powerful tools for transforming and enhancing life. Watch the video.


Personal Retreats, Artist and Professional Renewal Retreats and Karma Yoga are available year-round. Our popular Taste of the Ashram program runs at least once a month on Saturdays.

  Videos: Temple of Light – Action!

Story 3 photo

These three short videos will keep you updated with the progress of the Temple of Light.

We are expecting components of the Temple to arrive in early October and be assembled starting after the Thanksgiving weekend! Meanwhile foundation work continues onsite with forms being built and concrete poured in the upcoming weeks.

Check our webcam for ongoing action shots.


 Raising $1,000,000 for the Temple

Story 3 photo

Shaun Alsford and Sandra Vandenhoff from Calgary are using our new fundraising platform to raise one million dollars to support the rebuilding of Yasodhara Ashram’s Temple of Divine Light. How are they doing this? One small step at a time.

“It seems ludicrous in some respects,” says Shaun, “but there’s a part of me that thinks we can do this and it will work and by keeping the suggested donation small – only three dollars – everyone can participate.”

After seeing efforts to raise funds for the Temple, she wanted to get involved. “When the Temple burned, I felt such an urgency to have it rebuilt to recreate that warm, quiet feeling of connection I had there. When the opportunity came up to help the Ashram raise funds, I wondered just how I was going to do it. The answer that came was one loonie at a time.”

She got in touch with our fundraising team who has just put together a new method for anyone to raise funds for the Ashram anytime throughout the year. The new platform is connected to our CanadaHelps donations page and replaces our annual Yasodhara 108 fundraiser.

Sandra is doing what she can to spread the word about their million-dollar fundraiser. “Contributing to this fundraiser is open to everyone,” she says. “And really that’s true about the Temple. It represents something available for everyone and anyone who wants to make a connection to the Divine. The Temple has touched people all over the world and each one of those people knows a handful of people who have witnessed first-hand the changes we’ve made in our lives with the support of the teachings.”

“This is a way for us to ask that handful of people for support in a small way. And they can ask their friends, and they can ask their friends. We need the ripple effect to spread and make a big impact,” says Sandra.

Find out more about their Million-Dollar campaign or sign up to start your own fundraising project.


  Video: A Family’s Perspective on Sacred Space


The Wolska-Chaney family of Calgary regularly comes to the Ashram to refresh, grow and share. Agneiszka Wolska and Kevin Chaney along with their children Kalina (11), Tosía (10) and Emmett (6) spoke about sacred space and the Temple of Divine Light. The Ashram welcomes families with children of all ages to experience our community.

Watch the video



 Ashram Attracts People from Around the World

Story 3 photo

Photo by Gem Salsberg

The 10 Days of Yoga in August attracted a medley of international participants who enjoyed reflecting on their shared experience.

Grace Gosine took classes in Trinidad for six years with Yasodhara Yoga teacher, Bhavani, and realized that she wanted to accelerate her understanding. She was touched by the 10 Days of Yoga and said, “The presence of people from other nationalities added to the diversity of ideas and answers that we generated. We were very interested in what each other had to say.”

Grace’s son, Varij, joined her from Waterloo where he studies physics. “I found it easy to fit in,” he said. “I always wanted to understand yoga properly. I’m happy with the understanding I gained and how I plan to further it. I also enjoyed being in an environment that is elevated, with simple living and a lovely group of people.”

Alexandra Sousa says she benefited from workshops held by Yasodhara Yoga teacher, Jovita Oliveira in Portugal, so she chose to spend her holidays from her law practice at the Ashram. “I decided to take time to reflect about important things in my life. For me, English is difficult. Yet I found the group very warm, and we spoke the same language when we talked about feelings.”

Olga De Larranaga of Columbia heard about Yasodhara Ashram from Vancouver friends. “Arriving at the Ashram is like coming to a paradise. Columbia is similar, with the vegetation and flowers. It teaches me I need to take care of my country. I also learned to listen and open my heart and be grateful. I want to come back someday.”

This 10-Days of Yoga course also included people from the US, Canada and originating from Australia and England. The Ashram welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds. Come for your own experience of the 10 Days of Yoga scheduled for October 13-23.


  Finding Yoga – Getting Unstuck


The latest from Finding Yoga columnist Bryn Bamber on getting unstuck.

“The days that I come home drained are often the days where I have put off one or more of these uncomfortable tasks. Then, I feel guilty about not getting what I need to get done. I feel unproductive. I feel useless. My tendency can be to look away, to bury all the things I don’t want to look at in glasses of wine or watching television. But this only makes the situation, the pain, the discomfort go away temporarily. Reflecting on these painful situations I am able to see what is happening.”

Read the article


Fertile Learning Ground

Story 3 photo

Photo by Gem Salsberg

Learning Residencies at the Ashram offer each participant the opportunity to take a leadership role in Ashram management and acquire applicable skills for the future. Of our five Learning Residents (LR) this year, the three garden LRs are staying on to see the season transition through autumn.

Pamela Stockman, Jill Martin, Christine Comeau, Amy Thorne and Sofia Scheuerman were the Learning Residents over the summer of 2016.

“I’m really treating this as my training for life, “says Sofia, who took the Yoga Development Course this year and will stay on until November. “I’m seeing my time here as my university. I’m learning everything from gardening and biology to statistics when I look at procurement and harvest records. And because this is a spiritual community, there’s a depth to what I’m learning, too.”

Amy, a gardener from Toronto, was drawn to the Ashram as a place to learn in community. “I didn’t want to just visit a place,” she says. “Here, I had the opportunity to live and contribute in a meaningful way.”

Pamela worked in the preserving kitchen and kitchen and her project focused on fermenting foods. She said her time here was a “marvelous experience.”

Christine had been here for the Young Adult Program in 2009 and came back this year to work in the garden. “Things have been changing a lot for me internally,” she says about her time here. “Shifts happened in that invisible inner space while I was leading teams in that external space of the garden.”

Jill agrees. “This experience has shown me that a lot of opportunities really are within reach,” she says. “I am thankful to leave here with a whole new way of communicating with people.”

Our 2017 Learning Residency positions will be posted in the New Year.


  Indigenous Teachings

Story 3 photo

Photo by Gem Salsberg

Earlier this month the Ashram welcomed special guests Wanbdi Wakita, Pahan Pte San Win and Cathy Hamilton – all from Manitoba. We enjoyed a warm time together, rich in friendship and learning.

While at the Ashram, Wanbdi, Pahan and Cathy offered Indigenous medicine and songs to the Ashram’s land and buildings with special blessings for the new Temple of Light. They also gave an afternoon of teachings and conducted a deeply moving Pipe Ceremony in the tipi.

Wanbdi Wakita (“Looking Eagle”) is a Dakota spiritual leader who has devoted his life to teaching and healing and continues to share his culture with anyone who asks for help. In July 2016, he received the Order of Manitoba for his work to support the healing of individuals, communities and the relationship between First Nations and non-First Nations people.

Pahan Pte San Win (“Grey Swan Buffalo Woman”) is a counseling therapist, particularly proud of her work with Indian Residential School Survivors. Pahan, a ceremonial leader and sundancer, has a vision to lead an all-women’s Sundance dedicated to the murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Cathy Hamilton also known as Pte Ho Waste Win (“Good Voice Buffalo Woman”), is a counseling therapist who met Wanbdi when seeking guidance in helping First Nations children in a school setting. She became Wanbdi’s adopted sister and is herself a ceremonial leader and sundancer.

Please see their website at To find out more about the Women’s Sundance, contact Pahan at


  Yoga in a Changing World – Women Holding the Earth


Guenevere Neufeld joins us as a columnist for the Ashram Blog. In her first column, she reflects on the role of women in the world and at the Ashram, noting where those roles intersect and where they differ.

“In my own life, yoga – the process of becoming aware of who we really are – has allowed me to look deeply at my own habitual patterns and compare what I see to my ideals. Growing up in small-town Southern Alberta, I’d never been exposed to critically analyzing cultural and gender norms. Now, I use the muscles I’ve made in my yoga practice, and I don’t mean the physical muscles, to deconstruct conventions in the world around me.”

Read the article


Ashram Cradles Self-Led Group

Story 3 photo

Photo by Gem Salsberg

Intuition led Yvonne Werkmann of Didsbury, AB to bring a group of eight women to the Ashram for their own spiritual retreat. She talks about how the setting and service more than met her expectations. Find out more about bringing your own group.

Yasodhara Ashram is different from most retreat centres. The welcome was magnanimous. Every comfort is attended to in the most simple and loving way.

We wanted a safe place for women to work on their spiritual development. We walked in and immediately felt the decades of work here. Everyone in our group agrees that this location gives a feeling of being cradled in the arms of Divine Mother. This allowed so much freedom and blossoming and allowance of Self to arise. Some beautiful healing happened as the women got in touch with themselves.

Just like the Ashram, my lineage of yoga and mantra therapy is focused on the Divine Feminine; many synchronicities happened. The face of the goddess is everywhere. Watching the bees, She was so present. I feel we are the subversives – teaching love as an underpinning in the world.

The amazing food, the practice of eating in silence, the ability to be grateful for everyone – the whole experience affirmed that I was distinctly called here for a reason.


Story 3 photo

Our eastern fall Teachers on Tour program kicked off with a Transitions weekend retreat for 17 participants offered by Swamis Matananda and Satyananda in a beautiful rural setting between Ottawa and Toronto. They returned to the cities for workshops in Halifax and Montreal, followed in coming weeks by Ottawa and Toronto. In October, Swami Samayananda travels to Calgary and Edmonton with innovative workshop titles that are sure to pique interest! She also offers an afternoon Care for Caregivers session at an Edmonton conference for respiratory technologists — a wonderful way of sharing the teachings with new audiences.

Ottawa – Sept. 21 – 25

Toronto – Sept. 29 – Oct. 2

Edmonton – Oct 23

Calgary – Oct. 28 – 30

Cranbrook/Kimberley – Oct. 29 – 30


Online Store

Photo of the month thumbnail

Yoga: A Path to Awareness
Swami Sivananda Radha

Desktop Photo

Photo of the month thumbnail

Make this photo my desktop image

New! Make this photo my iPhone wallpaper

News at a Glance

Local School Collaboration
– As the fall school season starts, we look forward to working with the local Crawford Bay Elementary Secondary School in several program areas. We will support their pilot Homesteading and Survival class with opportunities for grades 7 to 12 to learn in our garden and preserving kitchen. And our resident teachers will offer mindfulness and yoga classes in the school, building on the kindergarten-to-grade 3 sessions piloted in June. We welcome ways of supporting our East Shore community!

Teacher Certification – Congratulations to the newly certified Kundalini and Dreams and Hidden Language teachers. This summer seven new Kundalini and Dream teachers took the certification course along with six teacher re-certifying. The Hidden Language course saw seven new teachers and four returning teachers take the training.

Harvest Abundance – It began with an early bumper crop of cherries. Next our blueberries, raspberries, apples, plums and pears all had a bumper crop this year. Karma yogis have been processing each fruit as it ripens.

Find a Teacher Near You

Saraswati Salon Icon

Expand your experience of Yasodhara Yoga and find a teacher near you.


Facebook icon Twitter icon Vimeo icon YouTube icon

Personal Practice Guide

Five Senses and the Mind – Explore the five senses and your mind – the sixth sense with these reflections from Yasodhara Yoga Ladner.

Mind as a Sacred Vessel – Dive into this exploration of the mind with these reflections from Yasodhara Yoga Ottawa.




Comments are closed.