Interrupting Life as Usual – Newsletter Issue 2, 2015 

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Interrupting Life as Usual Issue 2, 2015
February 2nd is a special time for us, marking the day that Swami Radha became a sanyasin, which led to the birth of Yasodhara Ashram and the opportunity for each of us to access practical tools to evolve. Before the puja (devotional ceremony) in the transitional Temple this year, we each identified an ideal, the obstacles to living the ideal, and then determined actions – either renouncing a habit and/or committing to a practice – that would help clear the way. We wrote down our tapas and along with a flower of devotion, offered it at the altar and to the teachers of this lineage who have lived their words and inspire us with their examples. For a specific time we will observe our tapas, which means “burning,” in the sense of purifying to become more radiant. I’m finding that what is revealed is the deeper roots of the obstacles and what is elevating is the power of commitment to set me free.

Try a tapas for yourself. It’s like a small interruption of life as usual to help wake us up to life as it could be!

Upcoming Courses

Here is a sampling from our 2015 calendar:

Relaxation Retreat: Experience the quiet and tranquility of Yasodhara Ashram. Focus on going inward, stilling the mind and body, connecting to your inner source of peace, harmony and joy. Re-enter your life with sustaining practices to keep the relaxation, with all of its benefits, alive.
March 20-22, May 15-17, July 15-17, December 4-6

Hatha Yoga Teacher Certification: After completing the Yoga Development Course, the next step of our Teacher Training program is the Hatha Yoga Teacher Certification. The approach is experiential – learning through teaching in small groups.
April 9-19

Power Pack: Life Seals & Straight Walk: This special five-day program gives you the opportunity to gain perspective on your life through two of Swami Radha’s most powerful self-development workshops. Personal retreat time is included for review and synthesis. Register for one or both workshops.
May 8-13 and July 27-August 1

Personal Retreats and Artist and Professional Renewal Retreats are available year-round. Take time to renew spiritually and creatively.

Upcoming Outreach

Watch for spring workshops offered by senior Ashram teachers:
Calgary, London (England), Nanaimo, Spokane, Vancouver and Victoria. Learn more.

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Featuring five of our mantras: Divine Mother Prayer, Hari Om, Om Tara Tuttare, Divine Light Invocation, Om Namah Sivaya

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Conscious hip-hop reflects evolution – Tanin Shunter


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Freedom and Sacrifice

Swami Radha, 1994Video

In this 1994 video, as ground was prepared for building Mandala House, Swami Radha describes sacrifice as a powerful energy that leads to liberation. She reminds us that when we sacrifice selfishness, we set ourselves free and become more truly human.

View the video


Temple Update: The Lotus Rises…

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For the past two months, Patkau Architects have been exploring conceptual design possibilities for the new Temple of Light. Guiding their work is the idea of luminosity. We were thrilled when they told us their intention was to “use light as the primary building material.”

The image of a lotus has arisen as especially meaningful in this process. The organic elements of bud and petal, plus the symbolism of the lotus opening to the light, have led to inspiring blossom-like forms for the new Temple.

What’s next? Before a concept can become a final design, we meet with the architects and a team of engineers to consult on the practicalities of construction – materials, maintenance, environmental resiliency and energy efficiency – to be sure that we can bring the new Temple into manifestation.

What we’ve seen so far is exciting, beautiful and full of Light. We are on course to be able to reveal a visual of the new Temple design in the next month or two!

(US donors click here to donate to the ADHP)


Reunion in Yoga

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Elizabeth Taylor and Claire Gilmore did the YDC together in 2008 and their paths keep crossing . Recently they met again at Yasodhara Ashram through the Teacher Service Program.

“We’ve always felt a connection so it’s a joy when we come together,” comments Elizabeth, here for six weeks from England. “This is the first time we’ve taught together,” notes Claire, who came from Vancouver Island to help during the YDC. “It’s neat to be open to the genius of someone else and to see how different minds plan a class.” Both women teach Hidden Language, Kundalini and Dream Yoga.

“I connected with the Ashram in a deeper way this trip through my Karma Yoga ,” Elizabeth reflects. “What I’ve learned helps me to detach from home and material things, to be more free and open to the Light, more willing to move in new directions.” Elizabeth is past president and current treasurer of the Yasodhara Yoga European Network.

“The teachings mean so much to me,” Claire says. “They enable me to live my purpose of evolving. Offering classes is a spiritual practice for me. When I’m teaching, I connect to my heart-centred place where I can hold the Light for people.”


Join us for an Internship!

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Yasodhara Ashram is offering internships in six diverse areas – Accommodations, Garden, Kitchen, Grounds, Marketing & Communications and Infrastructure. The Internship Program gives career and life development opportunities and is open to all ages. Discover this great way to practice selfless service while gaining professional skills and experience!

Details are on our website. Consider these positions for yourself or spread the word. The opportunities include specializations in organic gardening, food preparation, housekeeping, photography and web design, lands and grounds management, building project coordination and repair and maintenance. Applications are due on February 25.

Our interns from last year – some staying as long as two years – credit the experience with deepening their skills and expanding their self-understanding in ways that gave them new approaches to life.

Learn more about the current internship openings here.


It Just Melted Away

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Montreal author, Sabina Walser, describes her recent Artist Retreat experience where she focused on her novel.

I needed a serious place. I’ve never been to a serious spiritual place like the Ashram for this length of time. I’ve done meditation retreats but not in a place like this where everyone carries the lineage forward, embodies and embraces it.

I had considered going to The Banff Centre but realized I wanted spiritual practice present in a daily, consistent way. That presence was key to getting into my project from a different perspective.

My editor had pointed out that the narrator in my novel needed to show more empathy towards the main character. Being here I realized I needed to show that empathy to myself. Only then could the writing be more organic and authentic. I can be so demanding of myself, so self-critical. That voice is not productive.

I thought I would show warmth toward the character by using words, by creating sentences – a very structural approach. But after awhile, the distance, the criticalness just melted away. It was an amazing process. I’ve been able to do what I need to do. I feel more sympathy for the character and for myself now – a gentleness. It has been truly profound.

“Thank you for the Light. Thank you to all the pine trees and pine cones and turkeys and squirrels and chipmunks and deer and ferns and rocks and leaves and statues and bridges and streams and clouds and rain and ravens and robins and the mountains and the sun and the stars which make this place so magical.

“Thank you to all the swamis for their constant kindness and support and wisdom and gently curiosity. Thank you for the Perfect Tiny Cabin next to a sparkling burbling brook overlooking a majestic lake. Thank you for all the satsangs and their beauty and wisdom which cut deep and for the chanting and singing and praying which touched my soul.” (excerpt from Sabina’s thank you card.)


Introducing the Saraswati Salon

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The Saraswati Salon, our newest column, shines a light on the creativity in our spiritual lineage, the Saraswati Order.

Saraswati is the goddess of learning, beauty, poetry, music, dance, knowledge and the arts.

Each month you will meet an artist connected to Swami Radha’s teachings. In January we featured visual artist, Lindsey Curtis, a hatha teacher and karma yogi at the Ashram. February’s artist is Tanin Shunter, a conscious hip-hop performer currently taking the 2015 YDC. You may have seen his raps on the Temple site.

Drop into the Salon anytime by clicking on the graphic in the left-hand column or go directly to the artist’s page by clicking on their name below the graphic. The Saraswati Salon is also available on our website.

We welcome your suggestions for future artists to highlight.

(PS: This column replaces Kali Café recipes, which can still be found on our website.)


Making the Most of the Present

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Shannon Clarke first came to the Ashram at age four and subsequent visits chronicle significant stages in her 28-year life. She returned this February for the fifth time to listen to her heart and clarify her next steps.

I’m going into a new part of my life as my partner and I move back to the interior of B.C. This time I came to the Ashram to reflect and to make sure I direct my energy in a positive way toward the move. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do for the future is to make the most of the present, which is going to be my practice.

The approach to spirituality at the Ashram holds true for me, especially the openness, the looking within and the focus on symbolism. I find a feeling of home here. When I came for Teen Camp at age 14, I was old enough to appreciate how important it was that people stopped and reflected together. Checking in like this is an amazing way to connect, and something I want to do with people I care about when I leave.

My aunt (Elizabeth Macleod, aka Parama) originally brought my family here, and I’m so glad she did. She tapped into something very special.


News at a Glance

Program Brochures Available – The 2015 program calendar is now available in print format. Let us know at if you want copies to distribute in your area. This is a great way to tell others about what the Ashram offers. The calendar is readily available on the website too.

Karma Yoga Inspires – Once each week, Yoga Development Course participants join with residents and karma yogis for a day of Karma Yoga. We work and reflect together – and the results are inspiring. Facebook photos tell the story.

Celebrating Swami Radha – On February 2 we celebrated the 59th anniversary of Swami Radha’s initiation into sanyas with a puja led by Swami Lalitananda in the transitional Temple. See photos of our community together in gratitude and devotion.

Supporting Others – The Ashram is taking part in a Day of Peace Yogathon in Castlegar next month, in support of people with Multiple Sclerosis. Senior teacher Padma will offer a Hidden Language Hatha Yoga class. We also joined One Billion Rising – a global movement to end violence against women – on Valentine’s Day by offering the positive vibrations of the Divine Light Invocation and Divine Mother Prayer Dance. Watch the dance on Facebook.

Personal Practice Guide
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In exploring speech, Swami Radha asks us questions for reflection. Is language, the Devi of Speech, a pathway to freedom, to liberation? What is the relationship of language to the universe?

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“The Power of Speech”

Reflection QuestionsWhere does speech lead us? Why is speech considered powerful enough to be called a goddess or “the devi”? Explore the nuances of your own power of speech with these reflections from the Yasodhara Yoga Spokane group.

Mantra, being the highest form of speech, can be used with any of these reflections to open to intuition.

  1. Listen before you speak. Ask, do I listen? How is what is happening to me influencing what I hear? What needs to be said? What is behind the need to speak?
  2. Repeat this line from the Divine Mother Prayer throughout the day: “May all my speech and idle talk be mantra.” Bring to mind the mantra as much as you can. Reflect on what you experienced. What did you learn?
  3. Do a mind watch for 10 minutes. Then chant for 10 minutes. Then do another mind watch. How have your thoughts changed? (Kundalini Yoga for the West, p. 123)

For more Teaching and Reflection ideas, click here. Check out The Devi of Speech book in the online store.


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