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People come to the Yoga Retreat for all kinds of reasons: to enjoy some of our stimulating courses and twice-daily yoga classes, or just to lie in a hammock on the beach.

Raja Yoga: How to Put the Theory into Practice

This year's Advanced Raja Yoga Certification Course (April 28-May 8) will go deeply into the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which deals with the yoga of action and teaches some of the actual practices of the Raja Yoga system. At the conclusion of last year's course, Swami Swaroopananda emphasized the practical, non-theoretical nature of these teachings, and made recommendations to the students on how to practice when they returned home. Here are some of his remarks:


If you really want to practice what you learned in the Raja Yoga Course, you should do the following things: First, learn how to practice karma yoga because this will purify your mind. From the very first moment, the purification of the mind leads you toward samadhi.

Secondly, practice ashtanga yoga. How? The yamas and niyamas should be practiced the way Swami Sivananda taught us, by keeping a spiritual diary. Asanas should be practiced daily, without worrying too much about the length of the sequence. Pranayama should be practiced daily. You can practice pratyahara by developing vairagya, or dispassion for the objects of the senses. Swami Sivananda wrote a book called How to Develop Vairagya. You should read this book and learn how to meditate on the defects of objects, which is the main method, and also how to make life simpler. As for dharana, dhyana and samadhi, we learned that we should select one method of meditation and stick to it.

Swami Vishnudevananda taught us the meditation that Patanjali Maharishi describes as the practice of bhakti yoga. The method that Swamiji taught us is japa, repeating the mantra and meditating on the attributes of Ishwara. If you don't know the attributes of Ishwara, you can go back and study what we learned in this course. If you really want to go deeper into this for the sake of meditation, please study the Vishnu Sahasranama with the commentary of Adi Shankaracharya. It will teach you exactly how to meditate on Ishwara.

Study the technique of meditation from Meditation and Mantras by Swami Vishnudevananda. He teaches the ancient technique of meditation within the yoga shastra, within the system of yoga. When you do this meditation you simultaneously practice dhyana yoga and bhakti yoga, because when you repeat the mantra it is a mental worship of Ishwara. But you have to understand what you are doing, so please study the whole section about meditation in Meditation and Mantras.

And then occasionally have satsanga. This is very important. And a certain portion of the day have swadyaya, or study of scriptures. Read the Bhagavad Gita. It will only take you 15 minutes to read one chapter every day. Study the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with the commentary of Swami Vishnudevananda, which is an easy commentary. Study Swami Sivananda's Bliss Divine. It's a beautiful book, and the introduction is especially important. Every day you can read a chapter or a section of a chapter. If you want, you can alternate. Swami Sivananda says one should not do too much swadyaya. He says no more than one hour a day of swadyaya. Why? Because you need time for other things as well, like meditation.

You should do kirtan every day, at least a little bit. Do kirtan every day and if you can, occasionally do puja. Maybe you can learn a small puja. This kind of small worship is very important. Otherwise, apply the wisdom of karma yoga to service. This is the foundation of everything. And then of course, study the scriptures that deal with liberation, like the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita. Studying scriptures that lead to liberation and reflecting about what you study, this is as much as you can do about jnana yoga, at the moment.

This is all in relation to what should be done when you go home. As for the 2011 Advanced Raja Yoga Course [April 28-May 8], I'm going to teach the Sadhana Pada. There we will go deep into the subject of the raja yoga sadhana.

"I Shall Always Remain Grateful for the Teachings"

Many of the students in our December Teachers' Training Course were inspired to write brief testimonials about their experience. Some of their comments are excerpted below:

"I can honestly say that this experience has been like no other. It challenged me and reminded me that the small things in life should be taken lightly."

"I came to find my strength and courage and now know that it is in me in abundance!!"

"My gratitude and appreciation for the Teachers Training Course go beyond words. I shall always remain grateful for the teachings."

"I like the discipline, that you insist that all your students learn the asana postures correctly."

"I expect that in time, the influence of the course will increase as I reflect on the lessons I have learned, as I continue on my spiritual journey. We were taught that Swami Sivananda said that yoga is not something that you add to your life – rather, it is your life. You have showed me a wonderful example of how to follow this instruction."

"Thank you for holding the space for a lovely, powerful and transformative process for all of us. I have much gratitude for the love, work and heart that you put into us, yoga and the universe."

"For me, Sivananda TTC and the decision to come to the Bahamas was one of the best decisions of my life. Thank you for helping me with the headstand – I will get there! I came to the training to be inspired and that's what I got."

"It has been a life-changing experience, something that will go with me for the rest of my life."

"Thanks for all the help with the asanas. I've had so much fun discovering what I can do! I know that I'll miss the classes and all the people."

"I have a feeling we are all not seeing the last of each other."

YouTube Channel is Next Best Thing to Being Here

There are so many wonderful presenters and activities at the Yoga Retreat these days that it's hard to know when to plan your visit. Now, thanks to our YouTube channel, there's a way to bring the ashram home and even receive teachings during those times when you can't actually be here.


Get a video look at life in the ashram, or watch and listen as Swami Swaroopananda explains compassion and forgiveness, or as Roshi Bernie Glassman talks about "Becoming a Mensch." Enjoy the transcendent chanting of Krishna Das or Snatam Kaur and GuruGanesh Singh. If you subscribe to our channel, you will even receive a notice whenever a new video comes out.



Here are some of our recent featured videos:

Life in the Ashram

Be One with Nature

Swami Swaroopananda explains Compassion and Forgiveness

"Becoming a Mensch" with Roshi Bernie Glassman

The Yoga of Chant Retreat with Krishna Das

Snatam Kaur and GuruGanesh Singh

David Newman (Durga Das) and Mira