Frequently Asked Questions

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Common Questions | Yoga Vacation Program | Courses | Teacher Training Course | Seva Study/Karma Yoga

Common Questions

What is Sivananda Yoga?

We teach a traditional, exact, and easy-to-learn system that aims to create a healthy body and mind that leads to spiritual evolution. Within Sivananda Yoga, yoga postures (asanas) and breathing practices (pranayama) are an important part of the daily practice. Sivananda Yoga is based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda, and provides an integrated approach to self-transformation and, ultimately, God-Realization. It begins with basic practices, summarized by Swami Vishnudevananda as the Five Points of Yoga, that create a foundation for a yogic lifestyle and prepare the body and mind for advancing on the spiritual path. In addition to asanas and pranayama, daily practice includes a yogic diet, relaxation, meditation and positive thinking. Learn more about Sivananda Yoga

What is an ashram?

An ashram is a spiritual learning center, where students and practitioners go to study, practice, and live in a devotional community, traditionally under the guidance of a particular teacher. We are a traditional yoga ashram in that we are founded on the teachings of our guru, Swami Vishnudevananda, and follow a daily schedule designed to support spiritual practice and devotion, as well as a yogic lifestyle. For more than 40 years, we have served as a destination for people seeking a spiritual environment to study and practice yoga and develop a healthy lifestyle.
We are an ashram that is open to all. We welcome people of all faiths and religions and encourage conversation and practice among everyone. In service to Swami Vishnu’s vision of unity in diversity and a more peaceful world, we invite an array of guest speakers and teachers, finding common ground and expanding horizons. Learn about the Sivananda Yoga Farm

Who is Swami Sivananda?

Swami Sivananda lived from 1887-1963 and was one of the most renowned Indian saints of the 20th-century. As a great teacher of yoga and spirituality, he and his many disciples spread the teachings of yoga around the world, disseminating a wealth of great teachings beyond the ashrams of India, into the hearts and minds of individuals around the world. He wrote over 200 books in his lifetime and founded the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy and the Divine Life Society. He was called a “Master of Masters” because of the accomplishments of his lineage of disciples, who tirelessly served humanity by sharing the teachings of yoga with the world through their writings and the many organizations they founded. Read more about Our Lineage

How do you pronounce “Sivananda”?

It is pronounced, SHEE-vah-nahn-da.

What kind of yoga do you practice?

We practice classical hatha yoga. A typical Sivananda asana class includes a sequence of 12 basic asanas that are considered to be the most important asanas to practice daily. Our classes are taught in the traditional style of entering and exiting a pose slowly and mindfully with concentration and focus on breathing. All classes start with pranayama breathing exercises, and continue with a warm-up of sun salutations and brief relaxations between asanas. We offer open classes and beginner and intermediate courses to suit a variety levels, and more advanced courses as the student moves into a greater depth of practice. Read more about Yoga Classes at the Ashram

What is a swami?

A swami is spiritual teacher who has taken vows of renunciation according to the yogic tradition. At the ashram, they are yogis, teachers, and practitioners who serve as the long-term staff of the organization and carry on the teachings of the lineage.

Why do the staff wear yellow and white?

The white represents purity, and the yellow is the color of a student of yoga. It represents the spark of knowledge that eventually grows into a fire as the student continues his or her practice.

What is satsang?

In Sanskrit, satsang means “the company of the highest truth.”  It refers to the company of a guru or company with an assembly of people who listen to, talk about, and assimilate spiritual knowledge. This typically involves listening to or reading scriptures, reflecting on, yogic teachings, or discussing how to integrate these into one’s life. Our daily satsangs are about 2 hours and are held first thing in the morning and in the evening after dinner. Our satsang is 30 minutes of silent meditation, about 20 minutes of chanting, and an hour talk, presentation, or performance by one of our teachers or many guest speakers.

I live nearby, do you offer community classes?

Yes, we offer drop-in asana classes for $15 per class. You may also join us for a meal and a class, a tour, or for our daily satsangs. Information for Day Guests

How can I come to Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm?

There are four ways to visit us:
o Call or register online for a Yoga Vacation.
o Sign-up for our Yoga Teacher Training Course.
o Choose one of our Beginner Courses / Yoga Philosophy Courses / Ayurveda Courses / Yoga therapy
o Live here, serve, and learn in our Seva Study/Karma Yoga Programs.
We also welcome Day Guests (see above).

I have my own yoga practice, where can I do that?

Though guests are required to attend at least one asana class per day while visiting the ashram, there are also a few places around the ashram available for students to do their personal practice. Our yoga deck, when not in use for classes and weather permitting, is the best option, but the classrooms when available, and the temples can also be used for personal practice. We also invite you to participate in the twice-daily Sivananda Yoga Classes offered at the ashram.

Will my cell-phone work there?

Cell phones do not work reliably at the ashram, though there are a few places where you may get limited service. The ashram offers free WiFi, so guests with WiFi-calling and Skype on their cell phones will be able to make calls through these services. We also have two phones available to guests at which you may receive calls and call out using a calling card.

How do I book a massage?

Our Well Being center offers a variety of different styles of massage and bodywork. You may make appointments while at the ashram at the reception desk, however, we recommend booking appointments prior to arrival to ensure availability. Visit the Well Being Center page

Do I need to bring my yoga mat?

You will need a yoga mat for the daily asana classes, but if you do not have one or cannot bring one with you, we have many mats available for guests to use. We also offer new mats for purchase at the ashram boutique.

What are the meals like?

We serve two organic, delicious vegetarian meals per day according to traditional principles of yogic diet. Every meal is lovingly prepared with fresh ingredients and mild but tasty spices. Though our menu changes daily, we usually serve a salad bar, a soup, a grain, a protein, and at least one vegetable dish, as well as oatmeal, yogurt, and granola at lunch. There will always be options for vegan and gluten-free diets.

What if I get hungry?

If you enjoy snacking midday, we recommend buying some snacks from the ashram boutique. The Boutique is open from 11:00am to 12:00pm, and 6:45pm to 7:30pm. The Boutique carries a variety of snacks, including fruit, nuts, granola bars, juices, teas, drinks, chocolate, and a variety of other snacks. Several health food stores are located in the surrounding towns as well, if you need to bring some snacks with you. We have a refrigerator available in the common area for guest use.

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Yoga Vacation Program

What is a yoga vacation?

Our Yoga Vacation Program offers a real getaway from the hustle and bustle of urban life, and will leave you deeply relaxed, nourished, and inspired. Guests come for the dates that suit them and immerse in yogic lifestyle designed around a daily schedule that includes delicious meals, 2-hour yoga classes, community gatherings (satsangs), inspiring talks and workshops — and, of course, time to enjoy hiking and nature on our beautiful 80 acres in the Sierra Nevada lowlands. Read more about the Yoga Vacation Program.

Is there a fee for Yoga Vacations?

There is no fee for Yoga Vacations at the Yoga Farm. Your accommodations rate includes your twice daily meals, asana classes, satsang, chanting and meditation. If you wish to join a course while enjoying your vacation here, tuition for the course will apply separately.

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Courses

When does my course start and when does it end?

Course dates are indicated in the program calendar and with the course description. Courses generally begin with orientation in the evening of the start date and finish mid-day on the end date. Participants should plan to arrive the day of the start date and depart in the afternoon on the end date; you can also add Yoga Vacation days before or after a course for additional rest and relaxation.

Does the course fee include food and accommodations?

The course tuition includes all of the course sessions. Accommodations are additional and include your room, meals, yoga classes, and access to the ashram amenities.

Who are the teachers?

The teachers for each course are listed with the course description. In addition to our own highly skilled teachers, we welcome leading teachers from a variety of fields. See all Program Presenters and Teachers

What is the daily schedule at the ashram when I am taking a course?

The ashram’s daily schedule provides a framework for immersion in a yogic lifestyle. Each course has its own schedule and may preclude participation in all of the ashram’s offerings.

What kinds of courses do you offer?

We offer courses in many yoga and yoga-related topics, including Ayurveda, juice cleansing, meditation, yoga philosophy, beginning yoga, trainings for yoga teachers, children’s yoga, yoga therapy and more. Please browse our Calendar for inspiration.
If this is your first visit to the ashram or you are new to yoga, we highly recommend our Beginner Courses, which offer thorough introductions to the various aspects yoga lifestyle and practice, guiding you into developing health and well-being through the traditional time-tested system of yoga. These classes provide the attention and care of a teacher in a small group setting, and establish a strong foundation for your yoga practice.

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Teacher Training Course

What kind of yoga do you teach?

We teach a traditional, exact, and easy-to-learn system that aims to create a healthy body and mind that leads to spiritual evolution. Part of an established classical yoga lineage, Sivananda Yoga offers a highly accessible and relevant foundation for yoga practice and a yogic lifestyle. Within Sivananda Yoga, yoga postures (asanas) and breathing practices (pranayama) are an important part of the daily practice. (Learn more about Sivananda Yoga.) A typical yoga class includes four components in this order:
• Pranayama (breathing exercises)
• Warm-ups, including Sun Salutations
• 12 basic asanas (postures), with the practice of relaxation between asanas
• Deep relaxation
The Teacher Training Course prepares you to lead classes as well as firmly establish your own practice and study in the deeply rooted tradition of classical yoga. Find out more about the Teacher Training Course.

I’ve never taken Sivananda Yoga, can I take this course?

Yes. There are no prerequisites for the Teacher Training; yoga is for everyone and everyone can begin where they are.

Is it vinyasa?

Sivananda Yoga is not a vinyasa-style yoga practice, although the Sun Salutation is a foundational warm-up in our classes.

What is the schedule like? Will I have time off?

The Teacher Training Course is intentionally designed with a rigorous immersion schedule in order to transform students into authentic yogis, knowledgable teachers, and leaders for peace in the world. Please see the Daily Schedule (including information about the weekly Rest/Study Days).

What kind of teaching skills will I learn?

By the end of the Teacher Training Course (TTC), you will be able to teach a 2-hour Sivananda Yoga class that includes warm-ups, postures, breathing, and relaxation to beginners and more experienced yoga practitioners as well as unique populations, such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women. View the full TTC curriculum.

Will I be certified at the end?

Yes. Upon successful completion of the course students are certified by the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers and receive a certificate as a Yoga Siromani (Teacher of Yoga).

Are you a Yoga Alliance school?

Yes. This training is registered by and fulfills the requirements for the Yoga Alliance 200-hour certification, for which graduates of the program are invited to register.

What is unique/special about your teacher training?

The Teacher Training Course is a well-established immersion training, offering you an unparalleled classical yoga education and connection to an international yoga lineage. During the teacher training you will live as a part of the traditional “Gurukula” system, in which a student lives and and learns with a teacher and other spiritual aspirants in an immersive yogic environment. Your curriculum will include study of hatha yoga, asanas, pranayama breathing, meditation, Bhagavad Gita study, study of Vedanta or yoga philosophy, anatomy and physiology, and study and practice of how to teach.

Do you offer more advanced training after the basic course?

We do. Yoga teacher training is an important part of our mission and we provide numerous yoga teacher training opportunities — for those just getting started and for yoga teachers seeking to advance their knowledge and practice. Find out about all Yoga Teacher Training opportunities.

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Seva Study Program / Karma Yoga

What is Karma Yoga?

The cornerstone of our Residential Study/Seva Study Program is selfless service, also called seva or Karma Yoga. Swami Sivananda taught that the act of offering our services for the benefit of others purifies the heart and takes us further along the path in our spiritual evolution. Karma Yoga is a devotional practice; it is service performed without any expectation of result or reward for the person performing it. It is dedicating all your thoughts and actions for the greater good. Not an easy task! Practiced faithfully, this form of yoga helps to purify the mind and heart.
At the ashram, Karma Yoga takes the form of work that is performed in service to the community to keep the ashram thriving and the sanga uplifted. Find out more about Karma Yoga Programs at the ashram.

What kind of work will I be doing?

There are a wide variety of assignments, which fall under these basic areas:
• Kitchen help (food preparation and dish washing)
• Gardening/composting
• Grounds/Maintenance
• Garbage removal/recycling
• Reception/reservations/administration
• Marketing/promotion/design
• Housekeeping
• Special guest hospitality
• Teaching
• Boutique
• AV/sound equipment
• Construction/Carpentry/Maintenance

What is the work schedule? Will I have time off?

Your daily schedule will depend on the times you are needed for your work assignment. Karma Yogi’s serve 5 hours daily in the Seva Study program, and up to 10 hours a day if serving as Staff. They are also expected to participate in the ashram’s Daily Schedule of satsangs and yoga classes (when they do not have another assignment). While there are no days off, everyone finds some time in the day for their own activities.

If I am in the Residential Study/Seva Study program, can I take other courses?

When it works with your schedule, you are welcome to participate in the Foundation Courses offered at no charge, and you may seek permission to join the courses taught by guest teachers, though there may be associated tuition for the course. Additionally, attendance at the daily satsangs provides a rich experience of talks, presentations, and performances by ashram staff and guest presenters.

Can I request the kind of work I would like to do?

While we do ask what you are interested in and what skills you bring, a part of the practice of Karma Yoga is to stay open to whatever assignment you are given and do your best at what it is. If you have a unique skill set or special request, you can indicate it on your application.

What is required of me when I am not working?

You are always required to respect the rules and values of the ashram and to remember that you represent the ashram when you go off-site. When not working, you are free to enjoy the ashram’s gardens and amenities, hiking or walking on the ashram land, studying or meditating at our various temples, or just spending some quiet time in your room.

I’ve never done yoga, is that ok?

Welcome! You will learn through our yoga classes and satsang talks.
Interested? Find out more about Residential Study/Seva Study Programs at the ashram.

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