Swami Sivananda's teachings are the inspiration behind the teachings of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, founded by Swami Vishnudevananda, one of Master Sivananda's main disciples and sent by him to the West in 1957 to teach Classical Yoga and Vedanta. The Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm is an integral branch of this International organization. Swami Sivananda is considered the SatGuru of the organization, the Master of Yoga in our contemporary times who revived the classical teachings and made the Synthesis of Yoga accessible to the West through his disciples.
Childhood and Medical Career
Born September 8, 1887, to an illustrious family in Tamil Nadu, South India, he displayed spiritual tendencies even as a young boy. As a young man he channeled divine force for the service of humanity. For this reason, he became a medical doctor and served the poor in Malaysia for many years. He also edited a health journal and wrote extensively on many health issues. He had, even then, the feeling that medicine could not treat all the ills of humanity.
He eventually gave up his medical career and took to a life of renunciation. He returned to India and spent a year wandering before settling in Rishikesh, Himalayas, in 1924. There he practiced intense austerities. The young man found his guru, Swami Vishwananda, and was initiated into sannyas (monkhood), with the name Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
Early Years as a Monk
For the next seven years, Swami Sivananda spent most of his time in meditation. Yet even during this period he served the sick in a small medical clinic, which he established. Wherever he went, he conducted sankirtan (chanting), delivered lectures and taught people how to keep strong and healthy by practicing yoga asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and kriyas (cleansing exercises). Above all he exhorted his audience to strive constantly for spiritual development.The Ashram in Rishikesh In Rishikesh, meanwhile, an increasing number of disciples began to congregate and an ashram grew up around him.
In 1932, he started the Sivananda Ashram; in 1936 the Divine Life Society was born. The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy was organized in 1948. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and the training of people in Yoga and Vedanta was his aim. He spread the knowledge far and large through the works of his disciples and his 200-300 books in english detailing the methods and techniques of the Divine Life and Self Realization. The Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm Boutique holds many of these priceless books for sale.
Swami Sivananda's life was a radiant example of service to humanity, both during his years as a doctor and later as a world-renowned jivanmukta (liberated sage). To serve all, to love all, to mix with all and to see God in all beings were the ideals that he taught and lived by.
Swami Sivananda's teaching crystallized the basic tenets of all religions, combining all yoga paths into one—the Yoga of Synthesis. He made the teaching accessible to all, encapsulating it in the simple motto:
"Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize".
An Exemplary Life
Swami Sivananda's life was a shining example of the ideal of selfless service, of karma yoga. To Swami Sivananda, all work was sacred; no task was too menial. He searched tirelessly for opportunities to serve and to help others, never postponing what needed to be done.
Swami Sivananda was the author of three hundred books. He had disciples around the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions, and creeds.
Swami Sivananda entered mahasamadhi (left his physical body) on July 14, 1963
Swami Vishnudevananda founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers in the 1963 with the Headquarters in Val Morin, Quebec, Canada. Today, the organization is comprised of 10 ashrams and more then 30 centers in major cities across the world. More than 40,000 Yoga teachers have been trained by the organization to date. Swamiji's mission in the West started upon his arrival in San Francisco in 1957. He was sent to America by Swami Sivananda with 10 rupees and the instructions that "People were waiting". He founded the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley in 1971. At that time, he came yearly to the Farm in Grass Valley for teaching and for seclusion. In 2007, we celebrated this great Yogi and Master's 50 years of Yoga teaching mission in the west.
Before Discovering Yoga
Swamiji was born in Kerala, South India, in 1927. As a young child one he was a strong willed and determined. His mother said that whenever her son wanted something, nothing and no one could stop him (she later took sannyas, the vows of renunciation, from Swami Sivananda). As a teenager too poor to attend university, he joined the army to receive a scientific education. During this time he found a piece of paper in a wastebasket entitled "20 Spiritual Instructions" by Swami Sivananda. The pamphlet began: "An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory". The practicality of these words led Swamiji to travel during leave to meet the Master. The visit left such an impression on his mind that he resolved to return as soon as possible.
Later, The Master invited the young boy to study at the Ashram to and become a Yogi. Swamiji spontaneously agreed.
Meeting The Master
On his second visit, the young disciple received a powerful lesson from Swami Sivananda. Swamiji hid because he was too arrogant to bow to the Master. Swami Sivananda prostrated fully before him, demonstrating perfect love and humility.
For 10 years Swamiji remained at the Sivananda Ashram and was trained in all aspects of Yoga by Swami Sivananda. One day the Master gave Swamiji a 10 Rupee note (less than a dollar) and his blessings to travel to the West and spread the teachings of Vedanta. "People are waiting" he said.
The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga
Swamiji authored the best selling book "The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga" (first published in 1960) which brought credibility to Yoga in the West. Swami Vishnu-devananda also wrote Meditation and Mantras and a commentary on The Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
The Flying Swami &The Peace Missions
Throughout his life, Swamiji was deeply concerned about the world and the disaster of constant war. This led him to learn to fly and to then personally pilot a small plane over many troubled areas of the world. He created discussion and awareness in the news media, and he also "bombarded" these war-torn areas with flowers and peace pamphlets while repeating the peace Mantra: Om Namo Narayanaya. Swamiji entered mahasamadhi (left his physical body) on November 9, 1993
A gifted speaker and teacher of yoga and meditation, Swami Sitaramananda has been serving since 1981 worldwide in the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams & Centers (SYVC). She has been since 1995 the director of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA. She leads the daily satsang sessions (meditation, chanting, and lecture) and personally instructs and coaches resident students while at the ashram. She has been the main teacher of the Yoga Teacher Training Course at the Yoga Farm or many years. Swami Sitaramananda was ordained in 1985 as a sannyasin in the lineage of Saraswati, one of the 10 classical monastic orders founded in India .She is a direct disciple of Swami Vishnu-devananda, who is the disciple of Master Sivananda .
She is an internationally respected teacher who presents the intricate yoga philosophy and practice in a simple, down to earth and humorous manner. Her lectures are based on the four classical paths of yoga as well as the 5 points of Health. She is an expert in teaching Positive thinking and how to deal with the mind and the emotions.
Read more on Swami Sita's teaching schedule and see some of her videos here.