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Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Toronto, ON, Canada
Toronto - Canada
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
77 Harbord St.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1G4
Tel: (416) 966-9642
Fax: (416) 966-1378
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
77 Harbord St.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1G4
Tel: (416) 966-9642
Fax: (416) 966-1378
Quote of the Day
The means of getting God's Grace is not by learning, but only by Bhakti. Divine Grace is in proportion to the degree of self-surrender.
Sri Swami Sivananda
About UsThe International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres is a non-profit organization named after Swami Sivananda, one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the 20th century and founded by his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda.
The mission - to spread peace, health and joy through yoga. All are welcome to come to our ashrams and centres to learn not only about how yoga can help maintain a healthy body but also how yogic philosophy, applied in daily life, can help maintain a peaceful mind and spirit.
In 1957, Swami Vishnudevananda on instructions from his guru, Swami Sivananda, came to the West to bring the teachings of yoga. He established the first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta centre in Montreal, Canada, in 1959 and to date there are close to 60 Sivananda locations (ashrams, yoga centres and affiliated centres) around the world. Over 26,000 teachers have been trained in the TTC programs.
The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams and Centres are recognized worldwide for teaching yoga authentically, preserving its purity and tradition dating back several thousand years. They also offer a wide range of programs and even the possibility for spiritual growth through Karma yoga as a temporary or full time staff program participant.
Swami Vishnudevananda made the yogic teachings understandable and available to all by simplifying them into five points, showing specific ways to develop physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth through ~ Proper Exercise (Asanas), Proper Breathing (Pranayama), Proper Relaxation (Savasana), Proper Diet (vegetarian), Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana).
Together with Swami Sivananda's revival of the yoga of synthesis tradition, which integrates the four paths of Yoga (Karma, Bhakti, Raja, Jnana), a well-balanced Sadhana (spiritual discipline) is achievable by those sincerely seeking for a change in their lives.
YOGALifeSivananda YOGALife Magazine is unlike any other publication on the market today and an important tool for teachers and yoga students alike to continue to integrate the teachings into classes and life. The magazine dates back to the 70's when Swami Vishnudevananda himself wrote and edited much of the contents.
YOGALife Magazine is published twice a year and contains articles written by Senior disciples of Swami Vishnudevananda, Swami Vishnu's discourses on yoga, excerpts from the over 300 books written by Swami Sivananda as well as articles by other spiritual teachers to help further the understanding of yogic principles. The magazine also includes many photos and updates about the ashrams and centers around the world. YOGALife is available for purchase at all Sivananda ashrams and centers.
Courses and ProgramsOur ashrams offer a wide variety of special courses on yoga and related topics. Take a look through our schedule of upcoming courses which includes the Ayurveda Wellness Course, The Practical Ayurveda Cooking Workshop, Yoga of the Heart, and a Fasting & Detoxification Program.
If pure relaxation and yoga practice is what you're after, look at our Yoga Vacation program.
We also offer these specialized programs and courses:
Sadhana Intensive - Two weeks of individualized and deep practice of advanced asanas and pranayama, and classical yogic philosophy based on Swami Vishnudevananda's own path to yoga, all taught in a highly disciplined ashram environment. For TTC graduates.
Kids Camp - Yoga can be fun and this month-long program is a great way to introduce and encourage children ages 7-16 to learn about asanas, pranayama, healthy eating, relaxation and the spirit of friendship and community.
Work/Study Program - Live, work and study yoga teachings at one of the many ashrams and centers around the world.
Prison Project - Join the ongoing mission to train men and women behind bars about the yogic lifestyle and the hope that awaits them through it when they return to the outside world.
Teachers TrainingTeachers Training Course - An inspiring, month-long immersion into the yogic lifestyle (at one of the many ashrams) to become a yoga teacher or deepen your practice.
Advanced Teachers Training Course - An exciting opportunity to continue growing through the yogic teachings during an intense, month-long ashram program for TTC graduates.
Yoga Vacation - The Ideal VacationEver feel like you need a vacation when you return from being on vacation? A typical vacation usually gives little rest to our body, mind and senses. The Yoga Vacation program is a great way to go on vacation and really feel a difference. It is designed to recharge your energetic batteries and truly rejuvenate your body and mind to leave you feeling inspired, refreshed, centred and peaceful.
Relief from everyday stress comes from following the basic ashram schedule of two daily satsangs (silent meditation, mantra chanting and spiritual lecture) and two yoga classes while still having plenty of free time to rest, socialize with new and old friends and enjoy two delicious vegetarian meals. This powerful and harmonious program is based on the 5 Points of Yoga by Swami Vishnudevananda. Come for a week or better yet for two to experience the complete benefits of this wonderful way to take a true break from your everyday life.
Anywhere, Anytime!There are 9 Sivananda Ashrams around the world - in Canada, India, France, Austria, Bahamas, and the United States. Most offer the Yoga Vacation program all year round. Yoga Vacations are sometimes offered in other locations outside the ashrams - ask your local Sivanada Yoga Centre for details.
The Ashrams also offer special theme retreats to enhance your experience even further. These range from learning how to cook great vegetarian food to enjoying the performances of special music guests from around the world and much more.
All guests are encouraged to participate in Karma Yoga (selfless service) for an hour a day. Helping around the ashram gives you an opportunity to meet new people and try your hand at some things that may be new to you i.e. gardening or food preparation. Traditionally, Yoga acknowledges that volunteering time and offering donations helps one feel closer to the spiritual mission and the ashram environment is the perfect place to participate with other like-minded people.
I've never tried yoga beforeThe Yoga Vacation is an excellent way to start. No previous experience is required. The program provides instruction for everyone from beginners to advanced practitioners.
How to registerEnjoy browsing the websites of the many different Sivananda Yoga Ashrams for more specific information about everything that is available to you and/or to reserve a space. Each year we continue to add a wide range of appealing programs to enhance your vacation experience. Contact the ashram directly, or get in touch with yourlocal Sivananda Yoga Centre. We are always happy to help you make the perfect decision about where to spend time with us.
Ashram Daily Schedule5:30 am - Wake-up bell
6:00 am - Satsang (silent meditation, Mantra Chanting and lecture/reading)
8:00 am - Asanas, Relaxation)
10:00 am - Brunch (wholesome delicious, vegetarian meal)
4:00 pm - Yoga class
6:00 pm - Dinner
8:00 pm - Satsang
10:00 pm - Lights out
Please note that attendance at all Yoga classes and Satsangs is mandatory in all Ashrams. Sometimes special events will be held. Workshops or lectures typically take place at Noon or 2:00 pm; please check the Ashram's upcoming special programs for details.
TeachingsWhat is Yoga? Yoga means union of the mind, body and spirit with the Divine and while this refers to a certain state of conciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal.
We teach a traditional, exact and easy-to-learn system that aims at naturally achieving the goal through creating a healthy body and mind that leads to spiritual evolvement.
Based in the teachings of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda summarized the yoga philosophy in 5 principles or the Five Points of Yoga which make the complex teachings of yoga easier to understand:
Five Points of Yoga
1. Proper Exercise (Asanas) - Yoga poses help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.
2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama) - Deep, conscious breathing reduces stress and many diseases.
3. Proper Relaxation - Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, easing worry and fatigue.
4. Proper Diet - Eating simple, healthy and vegetarian foods that are easy to digest notably have a positive effect on the mind and body, as well as the environment and other living beings.
5. Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana) - These are the true keys to achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity in our lives.
The Four Paths of Yoga
The Four Paths of Yoga all lead to the same place - union with the Divine - but help in getting there by giving options that fit different human temperaments and approaches to life. Which one fits you best?
1. Karma Yoga (also known as the yoga of action) teaches to act without egoist expectations in all endeavours of daily life ~ home, work, school. It is a good path with someone who is outgoing and enjoys a certain sense of spiritual activism to help others.
2. Bhakti Yoga (also known as the path of devotion) is a good path for someone with an emotional nature and enjoys prayer, worship and seeking God through unconditionally loving others. The rise of kirtan or singing/chanting the names of God is a sure sign that Bhakti Yoga is a growing path around the world.
3. Raja Yoga (also known as the Science of the mind) is the path that takes us on a comprehensive journey to understanding our mind and thoughts. Through mental control, we are able to gain control of the physical body and the life force energy known as prana. This is a good path for those who are interested in meditation and its effects on the mind.
4. Jnana Yoga (also known as the yoga of knowledge) is considered a good path for those with strong intellectual tendencies as it requires great strength of will and mind. Using Vedanta as a vehicle, the inquiry into the individual nature is the key to this difficult path. It is best undertaken after some of the lessons of the other paths have been well understood in order to move along towards Self-realization or profound spiritual awakening.
Teachers' Training Course (TTC)Are you ready to take your yoga practice to a deeper, more meaningful level or teach others about the wonderful benefits of classical yoga?
The Sivananda Teachers' Training Course (TTC) is available in many different countries around the world, and in a variety of languages. For TTC dates, locations and languages consult the schedule. From that page you can apply online.
The TTC began over 40 years ago, is recognized worldwide and has produced more than 26,000 graduates. Swami Vishnudevananda was the first in the West to develop this kind of training program for yoga teachers with the vision to not only develop successful yoga professionals, but also to spread peace in the world through them. The TTC is a unique, profoundly transforming and personal experience that is based on the ancient gurukula teaching system which integrates the student's daily life into the yoga training. For four intense weeks of ashram living, students strenghthen their own yoga practice through self-discipline and awareness of the nature of mind, body and spirit. They also build a firm foundation from which to teach others instinctually and confidently.
The TTC provides a fantastic opportunity to awaken or deepen your yoga practice, meet old and new friends, and to be a part of the global yoga community which is growing each day. The best part of all is learning that everything we need is already within us and how the practices can lead us into accessing our gifts and beauty from the inside out. The experience provides a great way to find long lasting happiness, peace and the ability to share the yogic lifestyle with others.
Graduates of the course receive internationally recognized certification. Certified by the worldwide Yoga Alliance for the 200 hours standard for Registered Yoga Schools (RYS).
For more details and practical information about the course see the TTC Curriculum.
The Advanced Teachers' Training Course is an opportunity for graduates of the Sivananda Teachers' Training Course to deepen their spiritual knowledge over four weeks of intensive yoga practice and the study of Vedanta philosophy.
ATTC is available in many different countries around the world, and in a variety of languages. For ATTC dates, locations and languages consult the schedule. From that page you can apply online.
Individual guidance and yogic self-discipline are important aspects of the course. Upon successfully passing the exam, participants receive a certificate of completion from the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.
Certified by the worldwide Yoga Alliance for the 500 hours standard for Registered Yoga Schools (RYS).
Swami Sivananda (1887 - 1963)The spiritual strength behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. Swami Sivananda taught a synthesis of all the formal doctrines of Yoga. Author of more than three hundred books on Yoga and health, Swami Sivananda was a medical doctor before renouncing worldly life for the spiritual path. The essence of his teaching:: serve, love give, purify, meditate, realize.
Swami Vishnudevananda (1927 - 1993)Sent to the West in 1957 by his Master Swami Sivananda to spread the teachings of Yoga and Vedanta, Swami Vishnudevananda remains a world authority on Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. Founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, he worked tirelessly to spread his visionary message of world peace. He authored the bestsellers The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga and Meditation and Mantras. His teachings and energy remain the backbone of the TTC programs.
Staff TeachersAll courses offer the opportunity to study with over a dozen seasoned senior teachers, most of which had the opportunity to learn from and spend time with Swami Vishnudevananda. Their sharing of insights on yoga and vedanta are a special experience in and of itself, adding to the uniqueness of this yoga training.
There are numerous modern physical culture systems designed to develop the muscles through mechanical movements and exercises. As Yoga regards the body as a vehicle for the soul on its journey towards perfection, Yogic physical exercises are designed to develop not only the body. They also broaden the mental faculties and the spiritual capacities.
The Yogic physical exercises are called Asanas, a term which means steady pose. This is because the Yoga Asana (or posture) is meant to be held for some time. However this is quite an advanced practice. Initially, our concern is simply to increase body flexibility.
The body is as young as it is flexible. Yoga exercises focus on the health of the spine, its strength and flexibility. The spinal column houses the all-important nervous system, the telegraphic system of the body. By maintaining the spine's flexibility and strength through exercise, circulation is increased and the nerves are ensured their supply of nutrients and oxygen.
The Asanas also affect the internal organs and the endocrine system (glands and hormones).
Swami Vishnudevananda recommended daily practice of the 12 Basic Asanas. Traditionally, Yogis practice Surya Namaskar, the sun salutation, before the Asanas.
Most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity for breathing. They breathe shallowly, barely expanding the ribcage. Their shoulders are hunched, they have painful tension in the upper part of the back and neck, and they suffer from lack of oxygen. They should learn the full Yogic breathing.
Three Types of Breathing
1. Clavicular breathing is the most shallow and worst possible type. The shoulders and collarbone are raised while the abdomen is contracted during inhalation. Maximum effort is made, but a minimum amount of air is obtained.
2. Thoracic breathing is done with the rib muscles expanding the rib cage, and is the second type of incomplete breathing.
3. Deep abdominal breathing is the best, for it brings air to the lowest and largest part of the lungs. Breathing is slow and deep, and proper use is made of the diaphragm.Actually, none of these types are complete. A full Yogic breath combines all three, beginning with a deep breath and continuing the inhalation through the intercostal and clavicular areas.
Learning Abdominal BreathingTo get the feel of proper diaphragmatic breathing, wear loose clothing and lie on the back. Place the hand on the upper abdomen, where the diaphragm is located. Breathe in and out slowly. The abdomen should expand outward as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Try to get the feeling of this motion.
Learning Full Yogic BreathingOnce you feel proficient in the practice of the abdominal breathing you will be ready to learn the Full Yogic Breathing. Breathe in slowly, expand the abdomen, then the ribcage, and finally the upper portion of the lungs. Then, breathe out in the same manner, letting the abdomen cave in as you exhale. This is the Yogic complete breath.
PranayamaBy far the most important thing about good breathing is the Prana, or subtle energy of the vital breath. Control of the Prana leads to control of the mind. Breathing exercises are called Pranayamas, which means to control the Prana.
The two main Pranayamas taught in the Sivananda Ashrams and Centres are Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma.
When the body and the mind are constantly overworked, their natural efficiency to perform work diminishes. Modern social life, food, work and even the so-called entertainment, such as disco dancing, make it difficult for modern people to relax. Many have even forgotten that rest and relaxation are nature's way of recharging. Even while trying to rest, the average person expends a lot of physical and mental energy through tension. Much of the body's energy is wasted uselessly.
More of our energy is spent in keeping the muscles in continual readiness for work than in the actual useful work done. In order to regulate and balance the work of the body and mind, it is best to learn to economize the energy produced by our body. This may be done by learning to relax.
It may be remembered that in the course of one day, our body usually produce all the substances and energy necessary for the next day. But it often happens that all these substances and energy may be consumed within a few minutes by bad moods, anger, injury or intense irritation. The process of eruption and repression of violent emotions often grows into a regular habit. The result is disastrous, not only for the body, but also for the mind.
During complete relaxation, there is practically no energy or "Prana" being consumed, althouth a little is keeping the body in normal condition while the remaining portion is being stored and conserved.
In order to achieve perfect relaxation, three methods are used by yogis: "Physical", "Mental", and "Spiritual" relaxation. Relaxation is not complete until the person reaches that stage of spiritual relaxation, which only advanced spiritual aspirants know.
1 - Physical Relaxation
We know that every action is the result of thought. Thoughts take form in action, the body reaching to the thought. Just as the mind may send a messeage to the muscels ordering them to contract, the mind may also send another message to bring the relaxation to the tired muscles.Physical relaxation first begins with the toes and then moves upward. The autosuggestion pases through the muscles and reaches the eyes and ears at the top. Then, slowly, messages are sent to the kidneys, liver and the other internal organs. This relaxation position is known as Savasana, or the Corpse Pose. For further reading, please see chapter 6 of the Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga by Swami Vishnudevananda.
2 - Mental RelaxationWhen experiencing mental tension, it is advisable to breathe slowly and rhythmically for a few minutes. Soon the mind will become calm. You may experience a kind of floating sensation.
3 - Spiritual RelaxationHowever one may try to relax the mind, all tensions and worries cannot be completely removed until one reaches spiritual relaxation.
As long as a person identifies with the body and the mind, there will be worries, sorrows, anxieties, fear and anger. These emotions, in turn bring tension. Yogis know that unless a person can withdraw from the body/mind idea and separate himself from the ego-consciousness, there is no way of obtaining complete relaxation.
The yogi identifies himself with the all pervading, all-powerful, all-peaceful and joyful self, or pure consciousness within. He knows that the source of all power, knowledge, peace and strength is in the self, not in the body. We tune to this by asserting the real nature, that is "I am that pure consciousness or self". This identification with the self completes the process of relaxation.
The yogic diet is a vegetarian one, consisting of pure, simple, natural foods which are easily digested and promote health. Simple meals aid the digestion and assimilation of foods. Nutritional requirements fall under five categories: protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins. One should have a certain knowledge of dietetics in order to balance the diet. Eating foods first-hand from nature, grown in fertile soil (preferably organic, free from chemicals and pesticides) will help ensure a better supply of these nutritional needs. Processing, refining and overcooking destroy much food value.
There is a cycle in nature known as the "food cycle" or "food chain". The Sun is the source of energy for all life on our planet; it nourishes the plants (the top of the food chain) which are then eaten by animals (vegetarian), which are then eaten by other animals (carnivores). The food at the top of the food chain, being directly nourished by the Sun, has the greatest life promoting properties. The food value of animal flesh is termed as "second-hand" source of nutrition, and is inferior in nature. All natural foods (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains) have, in varying quantities, different proportions of these essential nutrients. As source of protein, these are easily assimilated by the body. However, second-hand sources are often more difficult to digest and are of less value to the body's metabolism.
Many people worry about whether they are getting enough protein, but neglect other factors. The quality of the protein is more important than the quantity alone. Dairy products, legumes, nuts and seeds provide the vegetarian with an adequate supply of protein. The high protein requirement still being used by many Health Departments is based on antiquated data and has been scientifically disproved many times in the laboratory.
A healthy motto is: "Eat to live, not live to eat". It is best if we understand that the purpose of eating is to supply our being with the lifeforce,or Prana, the vital life energy. So the greatest nutritional plan for the Yoga student is the simple diet of natural fresh foods.
However, the true Yogic diet is actually even more selective than this. The Yogi is concerned with the subtle effect that food has on his mind and astral body. He therefore avoids foods which are overly stimulating, preferring those which render the mind calm and the intellect sharp. One who seriously takes to the path of Yoga would avoid ingesting meats, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, coffee, tea (except herbal), alcohol and drugs.
Any change in diet should be made gradually. Start by substituting larger portions of vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts until finally all flesh products have been completely eliminated from the diet.
The Yogic diet will help you attain a high standard of health, keen intellect and serenity of mind. To really understand the Yogic approach to diet one has to get familiar with the concept of the 3 Gunas or qualities of nature.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )