Sivananda Yoga Ranch

Holiday Greetings from New York!

The Sivananda Yoga Ranch is 90 miles northwest of New York City, making it an easy retreat center for urban residents. I arrived here in November for a 3 month work exchange program. In exchange for work in the kitchen, laundry, and housekeeping departments, I get room and board and the availability of  6 hours per day of Yoga Sadhana. Sadhana is the Sanskrit term for practices aimed at developing one’s spiritual potentials. It is valuable to me to live in a community that shares and supports my interests in yoga and Eastern philosophy. With the practice time and the work time, there is very little “free” time, thus blog posting becomes a bit problematic.

In these photos you meet some of the fellow residents with whom I share many hours of work and study. As most of them are in their early 20’s, I feel rather fortunate just to keep up! Living in close proximity with others is never easy, therefore the lifestyle provides a groundwork for the development of patience and allowing. I feel very blessed to have a lifestyle that can afford me such an opportunity.

As we have safely navigated the Mayan Calender and will soon be celebrating the New Year of 2013, I send to each and everyone blessings for a joyful and loving holiday. We have so very much for which to give thanks. As we bustle about in our celebrations, be sure to include a few deep breaths of thanksgiving.

Happy Happy Holidays! You can click back and forth on the photos for a better view.


Hindu Spiritual Practice

Upon writing this, I realize it is February and I have neglected to wish you all a Happy 2011! Since we are into the second month of this new year, I would hope that your year is shaping up to be full of good health, success, and happiness.  As my blogging efforts are irregular, many thanks to all of you who are reading and commenting on my travel log!

For the past 10 weeks I have been immersed in the discipline of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Grass Valley, CA. One of my friends has compared it to military basic training and that is not a bad analogy. Rising at 5am to share one bathroom with 8 other females, attending up to 6 hours of practices (asana, lectures, meditation) daily, and contributing to the work force of the ashram in daily duties has been full time to say the least. Similar to basic training, it has been tremendously beneficial in deepening my own relationship to personal practice. As I move onto the next leg of my journeying I feel blessed and renewed for the return to life in the “real” world.

In the following photos I have captured aspects of the devotional art and practices that play a big role in Hindu ritual. Puja is a worship service to help deepen one’s emotional connection to the Divine. When the senses (eyes, ears, nose) are engaged in worship the effect is of a heightened experience. The somewhat personal nature of these rituals limits the opportunity to take photos, as photography feels like a distraction (flashes are so rude!). If you live in a metropolis there is likely a Hindu temple where you can experience a puja service. There is also the opportunity to arrange a weekend retreat at the Ashram here in Grass Valley.  Check out their programs at

Be sure to click back and forth on the photos to get the full view.


Life in an Ashram

As we move to tie up the loose ends of 2010 and to celebrate the holidays and the coming year, I wish that all of you may find a moment for yourselves to reflect on the beauty and joys of life. That we are free to enjoy  holidays and each other is a wonderful blessing.  Friends, Family, Community, and the Planet are good reasons for the season!

I have spent the past weeks at the Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA. Grass Valley is some 75 miles northeast of Sacramento in the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Yoga Farm is an “ashram” , a word which translates from Sanskrit as House of God. In the photos you will see the daily schedule which is full with practice and study as well as work. Thus far my work includes feeding the animals, laundry duty, and assisting in the kitchen.

The master Sivananda was a Hindu teacher who sent his student, Swami Vishnudevananda to the States in 1959. Swami Vishnu was the first asana teacher to arrive in the West. Most early western yoga practice was influenced by Vishnudevananda. As he was a Hindu monk, those classes had a decidedly religious flavor. My first Yoga Teacher Training Course was here at the Yoga Farm in 1980 with Swami Vishnu. After 30 years I have come full circle through the mainstreaming of yoga as fitness, to return to my interest in yoga as an aid in the explanation of life.  This obviously is a personal decision. The use of yoga for fitness and therapy is entirely appropriate. The day to day living in a community dedicated to furthering spiritual development is a 24/7 growth experience for me. I am tremendously grateful for this opportunity.

Here are a few pictures to give you the flavor of the Ashram.  As it has been steadily raining since I arrived, I will plead weather as a determining factor in the sharing of photos. Click back and forth for the full images. To be continued in 2011!!

Happy Happy Holidays!  Love and Blessings in the New Year.