Renewals and choices in time of transition – how to turn adversity to opportunity

Renewals and choices in time of transition – how to turn adversity to opportunity

A satsang webinar 04/12/2020


Happy Easter! On this meaningful day symbolizing renewal,  awakening and eternal life, we are being reminded of our infinite potential, infinite inner resources and perfect love which always wins. This holiday celebrates the meaning of life and this is the time for us to remember the beauty and sacredness of our lives. Swami Sivananda said that the true goal of life is to get back to the source from which we came. Just as rivers flow restlessly till they join the ocean, the ultimate source from which they got their supply of water, so too, we would be restless here till we become one with the Peace in the True Self deep within.

In this constant flowing journey of life towards Self realization, there are transitions and challenges that we need to face graciously, taking these as opportunities for growth.

So we will be talking about:

1.how life is constant transition

2. how life has a positive direction, going in and up (and not going out and down).

3. In this journey, we are struggling but we are always progressing. The more the struggle, the stronger we become.

4. We have the power of choice, we are not victims to circumstances. In any given circumstances we still have the choice to move forward in life. We need to exercise our power of choice.

5. Seven stages of conscious self transformation and renewal. How to renew yourself consciously.

6. When our egos are rigid, we have difficulty making choices and making decisions, paralyzed by fears and anxieties. We can learn to make our life easier for ourselves by learning faith, trust and detachment. Mistakes are only stepping stones to success for a person who is aware and working on himself.

7. Adversity is a perception. You can return to your untouched self. You are the master of your destiny. The Self is supreme. Nobody did this to you. Learn to become strong and accept the game of life. You and your experience are one. “There is no world out there besides you”.

8. Everything is an opportunity for practice.

We are constantly in transition

Life is a journey. There is a direction to life. We are always in transition, between stages of life. There is a lesson to be learned at every step. Try to not get lost in the appearances and illusions of life. Our destination is to realize our inner peace that always has been here.

Different times of transition:

  • Between life times (this life is only a chapter in the book of your life. Everything is not permanent.). Step back from your life and recognize the theme of this life.
  • Between stages of life. According to our age and our maturity, we move through 4 stages of life, we learn our duties at different stages: student stage, householder stage, retirement stage, renunciation stage. Our struggles often reflect the lessons we need to learn at every stage. We also learn that our psychology and needs evolve with each stage of life.
  • Between occupations: Our ideal occupation is the one reflecting our inner state of being, from being unconscious with no self awareness, instinctive living, survival thinking  and living only for enjoyment, to the idea of a self centered self, making the best out of separated life, to being more responsible of our fellow beings and our actions, and  last, to becoming  selfless, understanding our oneness and acting out of the vision of oneness.
  • Between gunas, moving from tamas (darkness), to rajas (activity) , to sattwa ( purity, balance, wisdom) . Our journey is the journey of purification where we unveil ourselves from our own veils and recognize the light and knowledge within.
  • Between periods of our karmas . Our lessons are learnt in time and following sequences. According to vedic astrology, our lives revolve from one karmic expression to another, from dasha period to another where we have to learn : self confidence (sun); psychology and emotions (moon), action and energy (mars) , intelligence and reasoning (mercury) , righteousness and wisdom (Jupiter) , devotion and enjoyment  (venus) ,

Self discipline and forbearance (Saturn), desires and compulsion (rahu) , detachment and renunciation (ketu). Everything is set up by heavenly energies for us to learn. The lesson of enjoyment is 20 years, the lesson of self discipline is 19 years, the lesson about desires  is 18 years, the lesson of intelligence is (16 years) , the lesson of wisdom is 16 years, the lesson about the mind and emotions is 10 years , of energy and action is 7 years, detachment is 7 years, ego self is 6 years.

  • Between seasons and weathers: Like the season revolving, winter gives rise to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall and return to winter. Life is cyclical. We just have to step back and enjoy the seasons changing and revolving. The changes of temperatures and weathers affect the moods, and our health. This contemplation helps us to accept change.
  • Between hours of the day: the changes we feel might reflect not only the changes of seasons, but also the changes of energies between periods of the day, the sunrises, sunsets, the middays. Doing things in the right timing would influence the outcomes.
  • Between waking, dreaming, deep sleep. Our daily landscape also keeps revolving between our different states of consciousness, the waking, the dreaming and the deep sleep state. The idea is to learn to become the observer, the witness to all these changing phenomena inside and outside of us.

In fact, we are always transitioning and we indeed never stay still. We renew ourselves constantly. According to Master Sivananda, “Life is a school, in which every sorrow, every pain, every heart break brings a precious lesson. The world is your best teacher, there is lesson in each experience. The world is the best training ground.” Learn to be in the world and be untouched by the world like the lotus flower growing out of mud.

The journey of life is going in and up,not out and down

“In” means inwards towards our peace within and “out” means loosing ourselves in external concerns. “Up” means feeling light and content, “down” means feeling restless and dissatisfied. Recognize your path and renew yourself!

– from impurity to purity:  learning to accept challenges and pains as growing pains, we are cleansing ourselves from our impurities , allowing the light and peace to shine from within when we learn better behavior .

from hatred to cosmic love: learn to hate less and love more every day then we will be moving in the right direction.

– from death to immortality: If we think that we are the mortal body, we will be gripped by the fear of death. By changing consciousness and by going deeper within ourselves through Yoga and meditation, we become more detached from the body and can feel the freedom and lightness coming from our eternal spirit.

– from imperfection to perfection: we might be disappointed at ourselves for not being perfect or judging other people to be less then perfect. Eventually, we mature and know that perfection can not be attained in this world. We do the best we can in this relative life, and at the same time realize a level of ourselves and of life that is perfect. Ultimately, we realize that all is at all times perfect. We stop to try to make a better past, and live solidly in the present where perfection can be found.

from slavery to freedom: we might think that we are victim and that we are bound in our lives to do things we do not like. We might have a wrong sense of what is true freedom. Swami Sivananda said that freedom does not mean eating anywhere you like, going anywhere you like, speaking anything you like …it is found in self discipline. We are in fact slave to our desires and senses. Yoga helps to slowly turn our bad habits to positive habits and realize our true inner freedom.

– from diversity to unity: wegrow when we learn to see the unity in the apparent differences. Example: seeing the suffering of the whole humanity and not just one nation over the other. The test we are going through now as a global community brings us closer together. We are moving from the sense of separation to the sense of interdependence. Open our minds and hearts to accept differences. Become less judgmental.

– from ignorance to eternal wisdom: we are learning to control our mind and emotions and become wise amidst chaos and controversies. We learn to see the bigger picture of our life and learn to avoid to repeat the same mistake and to create new karma.

– from pain to eternal bliss: we learn from our pains and know that we have somehow have forgotten ourselves looking for happiness in a wrong place. We eventually learned that happiness is within and the answer lies within. We breathe, relax, reconcile and forgive ourselves and others in order to be free from our pains.

from weaknesses to infinite strength: Due to our weaknesses, we have fears and attachments, and we create pain to ourselves and others. Life journey teaches us to be stronger and stronger to face more and more demanding challenges. Everything is a test of your strength and faith.

We have the Power of choice

We need to exercise wisely our conscious intelligence over our instincts and emotions

In that journey towards more awareness, we exercise our intellect but often times we are being pulled in the opposite direction by our habitual lower mind. We want to learn and to grow but we are caught in our habits and attachments.  Our emotions pulled us to the past and to the future but resist the guidance of our intellect. We forget ourselves in the past and the future unable to live fully the present. We find ourselves unfulfilled and stuck because we wanted to return to the secure past and have difficulty to venture into the unknown. We are missing out our present which is the key to our freedom.

We need help to make changes. People with higher mind, who have been where we have been can support us in our journey. Our conscious choice can be backed up by our higher mind or the higher mind of somebody.

The seven steps of conscious change

Seven steps to transform our impressions in the mind. How to renew ourselves. How to work with our mind’s tendency to repeat itself. When we leave an old pattern for a new one, we enter the transitional ground that can be unsettling. We often resist new patterns for fear of losing identities we have carefully constructed. It is like a more evolved version of the old self, eventually leading to our true nature. We keep refining and purifying our mind patterns into healthier designs.  It will become easier and easier.

1. -set intention

2.- commitment to “work” on the unhelpful habit. Conscious will to resist falling back on old habits, in crease in awareness, bringing inner wisdom and light.

3.- slowing down to observe the mind, allowing greater reflection and insight. Yoga practice helps you to slow down.

4.- awareness of unseen force that can hold us captive in old samskara.

5.- fearlessness: tolerate unpleasant sensation – like grief or fear of loneliness.

6. – envision new pattern. Visualize the new discovered self when you do Yoga practice, when the mind slows down and relaxes.

7.- Practice. Understand what can trigger a relapse.

Difficulty to make decisions and to make choices come from fears

Mistakes are stepping stones to success.

When our egos are rigid, and when we have inner conflicts, we have difficulty making choices and making decisions, paralyzed by fears and anxieties. We can learn to make our life easier for ourselves by learning faith, trust and detachment. Mistakes are only stepping stones to success for a person who is aware and working on himself. There is no such thing as mistake for a seeker, there is only lesson.

Adversity is a perception

Return to your untouched self. There is no others. There is no world besides you. You are the master. It is easier to say then done. In this time of adversity for many, it would be difficult to resort to wisdom of the Self and try to see the “rope” instead of the scary “snake” – to use the famous vedantic analogy. However, equip with this spiritual strength, knowing that all is well in reality, we can find courage to face the snake, face the worst imaginary outcome. Adversity can be a good trainer. 

we need to train ourselves to be strong, no matter what.  In adversity, we need to get mentally ready for what’s coming. We are not catastrophizing, only facing hardships in order to do the right thing and not running away in fears.

By negative visualization, we can mentally prepare for the hardships in life.

We must face the hardship by imagining the worst outcome. Seeing the worst doesn’t mean you are resigning your fate to it. In fact, it is the opposite. By seeing the worst, you won’t bury your head in the sand and run from it in fear.  So visualize the details of the possible negative scenario: Imagine you lose your mother, or your son. Imagine, you lose your job or your business is bankrupt. Let’s face the bad news and let’s come up with the positive way to think about them. Let’s get ready “there is no way out, there is only through”.

  • Confinement: This is the time to turn inwards. Do inner practice. Meditate, become aware of your thoughts that you have neglected when busy.
  • Overwhelm: Tasks changed, parenting duties are overwhelming when schools closed. This is the time to get to know your kids better. And be creative in terms of tutoring them and keeping them structured.
  • Life plans changed: Events cancelled or postponed. It is OK. We will appreciate the event better when the time comes. It is not the worst thing.
  • Sickness and disease: I might get sick. I might even die. It is OK. Death is not the end of life anyway. But if Karma is the reason why I am in this body, I am not sure that I have completed my karma I am in now, so I ask myself, am I ready to die or not? The prospect of death will give meaning to this life. Death is not the only problem, there is death when I am sedated with the ventilator machine that will take away my capacity to be aware and to pray. And I know the last thought determine the next birth. I rather be conscious, breathe the yogic way, light and slow and deep as much as I can and die ready with the mantras and prayers on my lips. If I survive, I might have to face being sick for weeks. It is OK. There must be meaning for me being alive. I will fulfill my mission sooner or later.

People around me will get sick and may be will die. Estimates are 40-60% of americans will be sick and the US will have more than a million death. It is OK, it is not my will, it is God’s will.

  • There will be riots when people get desperate. It will happen but, it will not be that common so I do not need to worry about it now. More often we will see people coming out of their comfort zone to help. This is the opportunity for me to help others.
  • There will be scarcity of commodities as there will be disruption in the supply chain. It will be short term shortage. We will be fine with simple living. In Yoga and Ayurveda, you can live very simple of kitcheree (rice and mung bean) and some vegetables. We have had too much food, too much variety that come from all over the world. We can return to the garden. Our health and appreciation of life will increase.
  • Economy will enter a recession. Consumer spending habits will fundamentally change. It is OK. We do not need more stuff and this situation makes that very clear. We do not have to consume and consume.
  • Borders will close. We will not be able to travel the way we did. It is OK, by turning inwards and controlling our desire and imagination we learn to be content with ourselves, with nature and people around us. We can connect to people around the world more than ever by Internet.
  • There will be tension between countries. It is OK , the nations will work their alliance with each other out. It is a game that changes all the time

Everything is an opportunity for practice

to follow the flow of life as said earlier.

There are many types of practice:

  • practice of cultivation of virtues:

flexibility, adaptation, strength, courage, fortitude, empathy, patience, relaxation, detachment, calmness, forgiveness, tolerance, selflessness, compassion and love.

  • practice of eradication of vices: 

anger, blaming, judgmental attitude, rigidity , procrastination, blaming, lack of will, intolerance, lack of self control , failures in turning the mind and senses inwards, lack of self awareness , practice of being here and now, practice of doing little by little .


Keep flowing with life with faith and fortitude. If you practice acceptance, awareness and detachment, you will enjoy life for what it is: a school and a play.  You will become better and better at it. You can lose everything, but the main thing is you are not losing yourself! Swami Sivananda said : “Any amount of zeroes have no value, unless you add the 1 before them”.

Asana How To Videos

Asana How To Videos

Swami Jnaneswariananda is from the Yoga Farm in Grass Valley CA and has been a yoga teacher since 1996. She teaches in the teacher training courses along with the Yoga Health Educator program focusing on Anatomy & Physiology and how to modify the postures.

In this video on Adjustments to Key Poses in the Sivananda Sequence, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of 4 of the sivananda postures.

01:00 Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
11:54 Pada Hastassana – Standing Forward Bend
19:20 Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Spinal Twist
29:40 Kakasana – Crow Pose

Swamiji shows us how to do the poses correctly and some common mistakes along with the pose benefits & some small corrections in the pose.

In this video on Exploring the Sivananda Shoulderstand Cycle, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of coming into the shoulderstand, the plow, the bridge, and the wheel.

11:24 Adaptations for Shoulderstand and Plow
19:44 Moving in and out of Bridge and Wheel
27:51 Other Variations
32:45 Advanced Variations for Plow and Shouldertand

Swamiji shows us how to do the poses correctly, how to adpat the posture for certain body types and some key techniques to improve in the practice.

In this video on Sivananda Yoga Gentle Modifications and Advanced Variations of the Shoulderstand & Fish Pose, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of these 2 sivananda postures and their gentle modifications and advanced variations.

01:00 Modifications for Shoulderstand using the Wall
06:42 An Advanced Variation of the Shoulderstand – The Candle
11:05 The Fish Pose – Matsyasana
17:41 A Gentle Modification for the Fish Pose
19:54 An Advanced variation of the Fish Pose – Lotus Fish

90-minute Sivananda Yoga All Levels Asana and Pranayama Class

90-minute Sivananda Yoga All Levels Asana and Pranayama Class


This podcast is a recording of a Sivananda Yoga Class.  Please listen to the class and practice along.  You can see our website for more details on the practice.  Enjoy!

1. Beginning prayer and a short relaxation (savasana)
2. Breathing (Pranayama) (15 – 20 minutes)
3. Sun salutations (Surya namaskar)
4. The 12 basic yoga poses (asanas)
5. Some additional yoga poses (asanas) and variations
5a. An example of a properly sequenced yoga practice session
6. Final Relaxation (15 minutes)
7. Ending prayers
8. General Guidelines to follow in a Yoga Class
9. Benefits of the Yoga Poses and Pranayama practice

General Guidelines

Place & Setting

  • Eat at least 2 hours before the asana session.  It is difficult to perform asanas with a full stomach.  Also, do not eat or drink half an hour after the session.
  • The best time is early morning, after meditation.
  • Find a cool and ventilated, quiet place with an even, level floor.  The best place is a space reserved for Yoga and meditation, with an altar.  It is suggested not to do Yoga in the bedroom as the energy is more tamasic.
  • It is better to practice in silence without music or chanting.
  • Group performance of asanas brings about awareness of collective energy.
  • Wear light and loose fitting cotton clothing for better efficiency of movement.
  • Use a sticky Yoga mat for better grip.

Order, Timing & Rythm

  • Perform the sequence of the postures in order.  This will ensure the proper flow of energy.
  • Try to hold each posture for at least one minute to three minutes.  It is said that holding for three minutes is the minimum time required to get all the benefits of the postures.
  • The sequence of the postures follows the chakras, stimulating the chakras from the top down.
  • The headstand cycle goes first and the standing cycle goes last because of the spiritual principle of turning inward first to find inner balance (headstand inverts all energies, stimulating the highest chakra, going against normal tendencies, after which the energy is flowing properly) then tuning the mind outward and trying to achieve balance and composition with worldly activities (standing postures are performed with the focus on external object to ground oneself).
  • Practice daily, or at least 4 times a week, for 1-2 hours for maximum benefit.

Breath & Mind Awareness

  • Breathe consciously during the performance of postures.  When holding the posture, the breath becomes calm and the mind focused.
  • When holding, know where to concentrate for the specific posture.
  • If there is tension, focus your attention on the tension, breathe consciously while focusing on the area, sending prana to the muscles or ligaments, and during every exhalation try to progress a little more.
  • Keep the mind inspired by being aware of the physical and mental benefits of each posture.
  • Yoga is not a competition, so try to do what you can but observe your limit.  Always try to feel comfortable.  Never push yourself to the point of pain, strain or exhaustion.
  • Do not compare or compete with each other when perform in group.

Body Awareness

  • Gentle modifications, adjustments and variations can be included if you experience any pain or strain while holding an asana. Some accessible examples include chair yoga, gentle yoga and restorative yoga. Click here to learn more about specialized yoga practices.
  • Be aware of your body throughout the session.  Keep your mind focused inward and enjoy the practice.
  • Always relax in between the postures, with deep breathing to restore the prana and avoid fatigue.
  • If there is no time, stick to the basic 12 postures without variations, you will still get the maximum benefit.

Asana Considerations

  • For beginners, take the time to practice headstand by preparing your arm strength with Dolphin.
  • Achieve balance through posture and counter posture, on both the right and left sides, holding the postures on each side for an equal length of time.
  • If you do variations, make sure that you have time for the basic postures first.  Do not skip postures.
  • Try to practice asanas with eyes closed, creating an inner focus.
  • If possible, it is better to perform the asanas without any props.  It is a very natural way of exercising.
  • To maximize the benefit of the session, keep the energy internalized and calm and do not rush right away into worldly activities.
  • Always spend at least 10 minutes in Savasana at the end; it allows you to integrate all of the benefits.
  • Do not take a bath right away but allow the prana to remain for some time.

Listen in for Divine Wisdom

Recipe for Medu Vada

Recipe for Medu Vada

Recipe for Medu Vada

Medu vada is an Indian fritter made in a doughnut shape, with a crispy exterior and soft interior. A popular food item in South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines, it is generally eaten as a breakfast or a snack.
1:  one pound Urad Dal
      Soak the dal in the morning for 5-6 hours. 
      Grind the dal with Food Processor in batches with no water
2:  Salt to taste
3:  one teaspoon whole pepper corn, Pinch of hing 
4:  cilantro, fresh shredded ginger, Chili peppers may be 1-2
5:    Lemon juice 
Mix all the ingredients well. 
6:  take small portion of mixture , pour little lemon juice and pinch of backing soda; mix it well and fry in a medium to high flame. 
7:  Eat with green chutney, Tamarind chutney and coconut chutney 
Eat warm. ENJOY
A close-up shot of some fresh baked vegan coconut banana bread.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving and Kirtan Concert at the Yoga Farm

Vegetarian Thanksgiving and Kirtan Concert at the Yoga Farm

We will have our Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday at 5:00 pm.

Here is the Thanksgiving Menu –

  • Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
  • Shredded Kale Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Orange
  • Green Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Shredded Carrot, Sunflower Seed Dressing
  • Lasagne with Red Chard, Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan (another half pan of vegan, too)
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Lemon
  • Sage Stuffing/Dressing
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce with Orange Marmalade and Mint
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie and Apple-Oat Crisp with Whipped Coconut Cream and Regular Crea
  • Hot Apple Cider with Fall Spices

This will be followed by a concert with Karnamrita Dasi at 7:30pm. 

Everyone is welcome to stay for the rest of the weekend with a theme of –

Thanksgiving Retreat: Success In Life And Self Realization

With Swami Sitaramananda, Swamini Svatmavidyananda, Ellen Grace O’Brian (Yogacharya), Krishna Darshan

In this inspiring Thanksgiving Retreat: Success in Life and Self Realization, you will be learning the deep teachings of Vedic wisdom regarding the fulfillment of our purposes in life and at the same time achieving self realization.

This is an inspiring weekend retreat which will help you to readjust your personal purpose and recommit yourself to your Self Search journey with renewed energy. The teachers are extraordinary accomplished teachers in their knowledge who have pondered on the topics for a long time.