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Meditation is definitely the most valuable thing that we can take from yoga.

If You Can't Do Anything Else, Meditate
Q&A with Swami Swaroopananda

Swami Swaroopananda is the Acharya (spiritual director) of Sivananda Yoga Centers and Ashrams on the West Coast of the United States, in the Middle East, and in the Bahamas, and is one of the foremost disciples of Swami Vishnudevananda. He is renowned for his spontaneous yet clear, concise, and complete answers to every question. This Q&A is from a Satsang last month in Ottawa.

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What one practice can be done daily to change your life, to bring your life in line with your spirit?

Answer:
If you cannot do anything else, please meditate. That's the thing. If you say, "I have very little time for spiritual practice," please learn how to meditate and meditate every day. Then, if you have a little more time afterwards, do a little pranayama – a little breathing practice. If you have even more time, do at least one yoga asana and pranayama.

Meditation, however, cannot be successful without the practice of karma yoga, without selfless service to society and to our community and to our fellow beings. Karma yoga is the foundation of the yoga of meditation. We also need to remember that fundamental ethics and laws in our daily life are also a foundation of the practice of meditation. So here, we must learn the yamas and niyamas, the ethical practices and the moral practices of yoga.

If there is one thing that we can do daily and that will deal with a lot of the world, it will be meditation, and it is not difficult to learn. But the mind needs some training. In the beginning, the mind may resist the practice so you need to train the mind slowly, slowly, little by little. But this practice is definitely the most valuable thing that we can take from yoga. If you have only five minutes during the day, please meditate. If you have 10 minutes, meditate twice a day – five minutes in the morning, five in the evening. And if you can dedicate some more time, please practice asanas and pranayama, it will be greatly rewarded. Then if you have even more time, read at least one verse of the Bhagavad Gita every day.

Another practice in the yoga of meditation which is very valuable is called japa – repetition of the divine name or the repeating of the mantra. The good thing about japa is that it can be done the whole day in absolutely every circumstance. You can do japa in all situations and in every type of environment – nobody will know if you do it, but you can constantly do it and it has a great value.

All of these things can be done. The main technique is to try to design a daily routine and also to keep a small spiritual diary that you fill out every day and once a week or once a month you can give your spiritual diary to your teacher who then can go through it and give you some good advice how to improve your practice – what can be corrected and so on. All these things can be done, but again, the answer to the question is, if you have very little time, please meditate.

Ashram News

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Yoga Retreat changes to a new dock. This month, the Yoga Retreat's boats will begin picking up and dropping guests off at Elizabeth on Bay Marketplace and Marina, a beautiful new location with a modern dock and waiting area. The new dock is very close to the ashram and guarantees a short boat trip over. The marketplace also features a pharmacy, an ice-cream parlor and other interesting stores. Please visit our website for a printable map to the new dock.

More air-conditioned rooms for comfort. We have commenced the second stage of our air-conditioning project, in which air-conditioning units will be installed in 17 more rooms, allowing you to find your own balance between enjoying the sun and outdoors and enjoying the coolness and privacy of your room.

Ashram in the news. Gaia Discovery Magazine recently published an article about the Yoga Retreat, a place they say "allows you the opportunity to escape from the stresses of modern life and learn enough to go back and make a change to ease those stresses." To see all of Kayti Denham's article and accompanying photographs, go to www.gaiadiscovery.com/latest-places/shivandanda-yoga-ashram-effecting-life-changes-beyond-health.html