Advance Your Practice
The Advanced Yoga Teachers Training Course (500hr) starts Jan. 4. Immerse yourself in advanced yogic practices. . . Or escape the cold for a warm yoga vacation as we launch our 2011-2012 season this month with a series of thought-provoking and spirit-arousing presenters.
Cultivate the Garden of the Mind
Q&A with Swami Swaroopananda
Why is it that in order to get the most out of our life we need to set aside time for meditation when instead we could practice embracing life as a gift of being human without having to try so hard to be God?
It is like asking the question, "If we have a garden, why do we need to take care of it? Why do we need to water it? Why do we need to nourish it? Why do we need to take care of the weeds so that they do not overpower the plants that we try to cultivate? Why do we do all these things when we try to develop a beautiful garden?" Just as a gardener who tries to develop a beautiful garden does all these things, and needs to do them regularly, the different practices of yoga are meant to help us achieve the human goal of life.
The human life has different aspects. Some aspects are simple, like taking care of the physical body. There are different ways to take care of the physical body. I can watch the physical body going through health and through disease. As a human being I can attempt to cultivate a healthy body and in order to cultivate a healthy body there are certain things that I need to do on a regular basis. I need to develop a certain quality of sleep. Sleep is very important so I need to learn how to sleep well. Everybody sleeps but human beings are leading a very strenuous life and they may need to learn again how to sleep properly as we need quality sleep. We need to eat good food. We need to breathe fresh air. We need to learn to breathe deeply. The body needs exercise. We need to learn how to exercise and we need to exercise regularly. This has to do only with the physical body. Even if we do all these things, occasionally we may be sick. Nevertheless, as human beings this is the best that we can do in order to cultivate a healthy body. Why do we need a healthy body? The body is an instrument through which we can achieve many human aspirations. If the body is sick it is more difficult to attain or to achieve our human goals and aspirations.
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Swami Swaroopananda, one of the foremost disciples of Swami Vishnudevananda, 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. This article is from one of his spontaneous question and answer sessions, which he frequently offers at Sivananda centers all over the world.
Rev. Prince Hepburn,
Heart of the Bahamas,
Rock of the Ashram
The news of the Rev. Prince Hepburn's passing on Oct. 25 spread quickly through the international ashram community. The beloved 92-year-old Bahamian pastor had not been able to come to the Yoga Teacher's Training inaugurations and graduations for the last couple of years, after literally having been there for every new crop of "TTCs" since the course began more than 40 years ago. Nor had we enjoyed his dynamic presence ("That's an Amen!") at Christmas and Easter services. Frequent ashram visitors to his bedside in Nassau had confirmed that his spirits were good but his strength was failing, so the passing of this rock of the ashram was not a surprise.
The Reverend Hepburn used to tell how he and Swami Vishnudevananda first met in India, during a trip he made to seek out new inspiration for the Bahamas. Even though Swamiji had little English and the reverend had nothing but English, they somehow connected, and Swamiji later arranged for an interpreter so they could converse.
The Reverend Hepburn invited Swamiji to come to the Bahamas for a yoga demonstration, which he did. During that time Swamiji also was able to help a Bahamian family who in gratitude gave him a 99-year lease on the property that became the Sivananda Yoga Retreat and which the organization later purchased.
Swami Brahmananda, manager of the ashram, is one of those who had been visiting the reverend. "For the last few years or so he has been saying that he was ready and willing to go home," Swami Brahmananda said. "I think for him it was a great release."
Swami Brahmananda remembers the reverend as a saintly person. "He truly dedicated his life from a very young age to charitable work," Swami Brahmananda said, pointing out the reverend's involvement in providing annual summer camps to underprivileged Bahamian boys and girls. "For nearly 70 years he gave these children very powerful tools that changed their lives." In a kind of saintly ripple effect, many of those children later became influential figures in their own right.
Apart from this type of social work, Swami Brahmananda describes the Rev. Hepburn as a spiritual force in the Bahamas. "He wanted to be a living example of the teachings of Christ. That was his main thing. Everyone who met him could definitely say that when you looked at him, when you felt him, you could definitely say that this is so. And one of his main projects was the Yoga Retreat, which he always promoted in a very nice way to the Bahamian community.
"He always told us that the two dearest things to him in the world were the kids camp in Eleuthera and the Yoga Retreat. He said that to his last day, that these were the two most important things."
For more photos of the Rev. Prince Hepburn, click here.
To hear him addressing the April 2010 TTC (it was recorded at his bedside and later played at Satsang), click here.
To read an Oct. 27 feature in the Nassau Tribune click
Check Out Our Redesigned Home Page!
Our website home page has a new design, created by dedicated and devoted karma yogis. View beautiful new photos from the ashram accompanied by words from the teachings of Master Sivananda, and from Swami Vishnudevananda's Five Points of Yoga. Go to http://www.sivanandabahamas.org