Healing with Medicine, Yoga, Ayurveda, Jyotish, and Vedanta

Healing with Medicine, Yoga, Ayurveda, Jyotish, and Vedanta

Healing with medicine, yoga, ayurveda, jyotish and vedanta

Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Yoga Farm Director

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and acharya of the US West Coast centers and Ashram.  Swamiji is also the acharya of the Sivananda mission in Asia, especially in Vietnam, where she hails from.

I want to share with you a true story of karmic disease and karmic healing. Disease can be karmic, i.e., not sure of the cause, but meant to happen for self-transformation and growth.

When we have disease, we always asked ourselves the question, “Why? Why me?” It is difficult to see that disease can be an opportunity, an opportunity to slow down, to reevaluate oneself, and to reconnect with what is essential in one ‘s life.

In the best case scenario, we also reconnect with the healing spiritual force within us and within Mother Nature, we reconnect with our natural ability to pray. Disease can make us strong in some way, restoring our faith, and teach us that there are higher forces at play that govern our lives, thus teaching us to surrender, accept, to become humble, and to contemplate life and death.

The other possibility is that disease can challenge our faith, awaken not our spirit, but our anger and hatred, the accumulation of all bitterness, desires unfulfilled, and disappointments of the past. Disease brings lots of negativity to the surface. Disease is purgatory and painful, detoxifying.

Spencer teaches with students standing nearby observing in the sunlight

A young lady named Hannah discovered she has breast cancer. She is in her 40s, a mother of two, happily married, manager at a bank, and normally a joyful person. She has never done yoga or meditated before. She tried to keep her composure during the days between the discovery of the lump and the confirmation that it is cancer. Her mother and sister are yoga teachers. So at that time, she took the trip to the ashram and asked for an appointment with the head teacher, the swami in charge, i.e., myself.

I looked at her and felt her anxiety. I even checked her Vedic astrology chart, which normally will reveal some karmic reasons for something happening. The chart is actually quite positive and balanced, there are no clear causes, no terrible imbalances, no long-term negativity, no big inner drama which would explain cancer. I am actually perplexed. She is in her Jupiter period of life which is a good period for learning, not a Saturn period where we have to pay our karmic debts.

A PDC student observes a flower in our permaculture garden.

Doctors diagnosed cancer and prescribed breast surgery and a course of chemotherapy. She lost her hair, became weak and pale. I prayed for her but did not know what to do besides following my intuitive advice as a yoga therapist: rest, recharge prana, take time, do Ayurvedic pancha karma . Her mother had a lot of faith. One day, She asked me to pull a fortune message card, the kind in a Chinese fortune cookie or on your yogi tea bag. The message said, “You will make a difference in somebody’s life”. The mother immediately said, “It is Hannah, you will save Hannah! I kept silent. Such expectation of cure of the number one disease killer placed on me!

Hannah went to India for 3 weeks of pancha karma treatments at the famous Ayurvedic healing village Vaidyagram, near Coimbatore. This is between her 3rd and 4th rounds of chemo. She wore a turban over her head, having lost all of her hair. She took time from her job and from her family, a new course of events. Her husband and his parents took care of the kids. She came back from her pancha karma feeling better, about to resume her chemotherapy.

It happened so, as karma dictated, that , one day I asked point-blank to the Ayurvedic Dr. Ram Kumar, “What should we do for her? Ayurveda pancha karma, but now what?
Dr. Ram Kumar said, “Maybe she can meet me and another cancer specialist doctor that I will meet for an international conference on cancer in Malaysia!

Students have fun in the permaculture garden at the Yoga Farm.

It happened so that the dates of the conference are a holiday, and Hannah was able to take time from work and her sister was able to accompany her.  During the conference, hearing many doctors talking about cancer, hearing stories of healing from cancer patients, Hannah gained strength. The doctors advised her to stop her chemo if hereditary cancer is not in the family, (she did not know that her own mother was a cancer survivor), and she agreed.

Upon return, she quit her high paying bank manager job, and checked into the ashram for a two months stay. She practiced yoga asanas for the first time, twice a day, practiced breathing exercises and conscious relaxation. She ate vegetarian food twice a day, did her one-hour karma yoga chores in the ashram, and took her time walking in the forest. I saw her walking slowly, relaxing and ẹnjoying herself. After a month of yoga vacation, she signed up for Yoga Teacher Training Course and learned yoga philosophy, yoga psychology, and followed the rigorous yoga discipline seriously. Indeed the disease opened a new door of knowledge for her. She was happy!

A permaculture designer tends to the garden.

After two months she came back and the doctor was amazed. There was no trace of cancer! Even her hepatitis of 5 years that was controlled by medicine had disappeared. Her doctor was so amazed that he himself came to the ashram and sent his own parents for yoga retreats.

The reoccurence of cancer is a commonly known fact. After returning home, she took a lower position in the bank and continued with her daily routine of yoga, meditation, pranayama, relaxation and vegetarian diet. Her spirit came back strong along with her faith.  Ten days later she came back impromptu for the Vedanta Self-enquiry course. I hesitated to take her as I did not want to compromise her new-found balance. I gave her a one-day trial and questioned her.

She was ready. I let her follow the 10-days intensive course, during which she fearlessly shared her past trauma, always with an inner smile. She nailed down the idea that, “I am the immortal atman, I am not this body, not this mind.” She is free from fear!

Yoga classes are an integral part of the permaculture design course.

The medicine of karma, Yoga, Ayurveda, Jyotish, and Vedanta work together for this amazing self-transformation journey.

Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training (SYHET) practitioners are trained to be the health catalyst; in wisdom counseling, prayer, yoga teaching, Ayurveda therapy and working with doctors. Disease is not simple. Life and death are not simple. Consciousness heals. Diseases are opportunities. May all become Yoga Health Educators and may Yoga and Ayurveda therapy be used more alone or with medicine!

Yoga Training to Uplift Yourself

Yoga Training to Uplift Yourself

Yoga Training to Uplift Yourself and Uplift Others

by Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Yoga Farm Director

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and acharya of the US West Coast centers and Ashram.  Swamiji is also the acharya of the Sivananda mission in Asia, especially in Vietnam, where she hails from.

First put the oxygen mask on  yourself!

We have been instructed to first put the oxygen mask on ourselves in case of emergency on a flight, then put it on others who can not do it themselves.  In the same manner, you need to uplift yourself and help yourself first  before helping others.
The oxygen coming from the oxygen mask  is the life prana  (vital energy )and wisdom knowledge that comes from the long tradition of Gurus and Yogis. We just have to expose ourselves to this source of knowledge and our complicated  life falls in place and we develop proper perspective about ourselves and what we should be doing. The airplane journey, metaphorically, is our life, we take off, and there are unseen  turbulences.

One-month Sivananda Teacher Training

Taking one month out of your life to do the Yoga Teachers training course seems a long time and a big investment but really it is not a luxury. Putting the oxygen mask on yourself first is not a selfish act, it is necessary . Once in a lifetime, we all need to do this, learning for the first time or re learning in the wisdom school, things abut yourself that you have not been taught in normal secular education system. To pass it on to others and become a Yoga teacher is another question to consider later. Once you have something valuable, automatically you would want to share with others.But first we need to know that we  do not know the truth and ask the right questions. We need to know that we know uptill now about ourselves and others can be seen in a larger context of our spiritual evolution. And everything starts to make sense.
4 students in tree pose in front of pond

Learn the connection of body-mind-spirit

There will be practical instructions daily how to keep ourselves healthier but Yoga is not only for the young, slim and fit. In this one month training, you really explore the intimate connection between body-mind-spirit and have a wholistic understanding of health. It is also the stepping stone to be a professional health educator  ̣therapist if you wish. The Sivananda ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley is the first ashram to offer the comprehensive 800 hours program on Yoga Health education (Yoga therapy, accredited by International Association of Yoga Therapists ) and the 200 hour TTC is the first stepping stone in that in depth journey.

We get to experience all day long new thoughts and get out of our habitual thoughts.


Your body and mind are sacred instruments. You will learn to stretch their limits to a comfortable level. You will learn the balance between effort and relaxation, a precious balance to learn in life. You will learn to accept your body and mind limitations and to honor yourself . You will feel the thrill when you feel one more inch  stretch, one more deep breath, one more moment of quiet in meditation and in deep relaxation. In the recent TTC in Vietnam, there were 5 students over 70! We did not know in the beginning what to do with them, but we were  amazed how good students they are, they absorbed every bit of the teaching , enjoyed their time immensely and said” I wish I knew this before!” . TTC is for all ages, all mental and fitness conditions. You do to need to be a pretzel to take the training.
Teacher assisting students in the yoga class.
Students study and learn in the TTC lecture classes
Teacher Training Students happy during karma yoga time
Students happy after receiving certificates

A day in the life of TTC

The day goes with sunrise and sunset. There is a natural rhythm to life, not the craziness of the rat race in the city. You breathe, you walk, you sit on grass, you enjoy the company of new friends, you live in the moment present, the precious moment present . It is in the present that you feel yourself alive, free from the binding  past and free from the anxiety of the future. You are now equipped to recreate this eternal inspired feeling in your life. One month is short for such experience. It is invaluable.


You are welcome to join. This is what this country and your loved ones need, for you to be stronger, breathe in your oxygen mask and put it on to others . Have a good flight, stay calm under turbulences, a brilliant future is awaiting you , according to Swami Sivananda a great Yogi from the Himalayas and a modern sage and saint.

Om shanti- shanti-shanti.

Sign up for the Yoga Teacher Training Course today >>

Watch this video from Swami Sita on Why to take the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Couse >>

© Swami Sitaramananda 2019 – No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.


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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.