Welcome to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp. If this is your first time here you may have a few questions. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
What is an Ashram?
An ashram is designed as a retreat from the concerns of worldly life. It provides a safe space for personal development and the pursuit of spiritual ideals. The common intent of those who visit helps create a space for like-minded people to experience the benefits of Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda. The Sanskrit word “Ashram” translates as a place away from work. The peaceful setting in Nature allows the yogi a chance to reflect, to nurture, to meditate and deepen their personal spiritual practice. This Ashram is open all year round.
What is an asana?
Asana is defined as steady posture. Originally, the asanas served as stable postures for prolonged meditation. More than just stretching, asanas open the prana energy channels, the chakras and psychic centres of the body. Asanas purify and strengthen the body and focus the mind. Asana is also one of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga, which states that asana should be held steady and comfortable, firm, yet relaxed.
What is a Satsang?
At an Ashram we are blessed to have wise senior teachers with us. A senior teacher will lead the satsang. A satsang is the gathering of like-minded yogis. To begin there is a group meditation, then chanting of mantras to open the heart, followed by an inspirational reading and profound words of advice from the lineage of teachers that reaches us all.
Where can I learn more about meditation?
Ask any staff member to sit with you for a few pointers. Ask reception about the meditation coaching class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
What are the statues in the temples?
These are called murtis. A murti is an image which represents a divine spirit (murta). Meaning literally “embodiment”, a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped. The murti is a way to communicate with the abstract one God. Once a year, in July, the murti of Subramanya-Ayyappa is taken out of the temple, placed on a chariot and escorted around the village of Val Morin. This celebration is called Kaavadi.
How do I take my practice to a deeper level?
Stay for longer periods of time. Staying for a week can create opportunities to ask more questions, practice and read. Some yogis join the month-long TTC program to take their practice to a deeper level. Each year we aim to design a summer program filled with courses specifically focused on deepening the personal practice. Feel free to ask questions to any senior staff member.
Why do we chant? … and why in Sanskrit?
We chant to assist in opening the heart. Our being consists of vibrations. Chanting helps tune that vibration. Chanting has a profound effect on our body, mind and soul and even our surroundings. Chanting is the yoga of sound. The various musical notes have their corresponding nadis, or subtle channels, in the chakras, the energy centers. Sanskrit is special because the vibrations of the sounds have a direct correspondence to the meanings of each letter. So even if we don’t know the intellectual dictionary meanings of the words we chant, we will still be able to intuitively understand what we are chanting. That is the magic. First and foremost is that you try to chant. The most important ingredient is your intention. “Kirtan is the easiest, surest and safest way for attaining God”- Sw. Sivananda
We are in Quebec. Shouldn’t the classes and Satsangs be in French?
The Sivananda Organization is an international organization with Centres and Ashrams all over the world. We aim to speak to all languages as our guests and staff come from countries all over the world. Swami Vishnudevanada teaches us to live in “Unity in Diversity”, support all languages, cultures and beliefs. With the motto “Unity in Diversity”, students from different countries, cultures and religious beliefs have found that the practice of Yoga is a path towards respect for differences, transcending limitations and achieving inner harmony.
Can I use my cellphone in the Ashram?
The Ashram has reached the 21st century and cellphones do work in the ashram. Remembering the idea of an ashram is to turn to one’s personal practice of yoga and step away from the material world, waiting for text messages and phone calls can distract the mind from any inward exploration, plus distract those around us. Therefore to assist all yogis in their practice and create a peaceful environment for all, we ask that all cellphones are shut off and stored in safekeeping. Ask at reception.
What should I wear in the Ashram?
It is recommended to wear comfortable casual clothing in natural fabrics such as cottons or wools. Fleeces are also very useful for any change in the weather. Slip-on shoes are recommended when coming in and out the various buildings. Gardening clothes/shoes for garden lovers. There is a silent meditation walk twice a week, so walking shoes may be useful. In the warmer months the asana classes are held outside in the fresh air. Wearing layers is recommended.
Why do swamis wear orange?
The word swami means monk. There are swamis from virtually all known religions. And here lies a very important point; a swami dedicates their life to the absolute truth, beyond the different forms of religions. Serving others, supporting life in every way without expecting any reward, is akin to the sun shining selflessly onto the world. Some say this is the reason for the customary orange/saffron clothes of a swami. Others say the orange clothes are a reminder of the fire, the fire of knowledge that burns away ignorance; the fire of the hardship that burns away desire and attachment. As Swami Sivananda joked: “A swami wears orange clothes so that those that seek his teachings can find him easily, those that don’t can turn away.”
I enjoy gardening. Can I help with the gardening?
Certainly. Meet the gardener at the Krishna Tree at 11:00AM.
Why do brahmacharis wear yellow? Why does staff and Teacher Training students wear yellow & white?
A Brahmachari has accepted absolute brahmacharya as a preparation for sannyasa. After taking the vows of brahmacharya, there is a name change, followed by the surname of ‘chaitanya’. Traditionally, the brahmachari would wear yellow clothing, to signify the quest for true knowledge, in recognition of their commitment on this path. Yellow represents the seeking of true knowledge. White represents purification of the Self.
Where can I ask for some help with my headstand?
Our staff is happy to offer coaching classes for any of your asana postures. Ask reception about the schedule.
What is some of the protocol when visiting an Ashram?
Here are some guidelines for staying in an Ashram
- Cell phones: To ensure a full Ashram experience we ask all cell phones are left at safekeeping. Making or awaiting phone calls or text messages can distract a yogi … and their friends from their yoga practice. The Boutique has alarm clocks or perhaps follow the Ashram bell to guide you through the day.
- Check in/Check out: Check-in time is after 3:00pm. Checkout time is before 11:00AM. Check in/out at reception in the main Lodge. When checking out please clean your room of litter as best as possible then bring your used bedsheets and towel to reception and retrieve a clean set.
- Conservation and recycling: Please conserve water while bathing and washing. Report any leaking taps and toilets to reception. Save electricity by switching off lights and electrical items when not in use. Be aware of how much paper products are used. Used batteries can be left at reception. Kindly use the recycling bins found in the common areas. Any used items of clothing can be donated at reception. Remember: “Every Action Matters” when consciously living in yoga.
- Counsellors: We all experience times where many questions arise about ilfe. Staff counsellors are available to assist with any personal questions. Ask any senior staff member to arrange a time to sit with you.
- Dress Code: Please cover the shoulders, upper arm, midriff and legs at all times, including asana classes & temple visits.
- Fire Hazards: Please do not burn candles, incense, mosquito coils, etc in your room, dormitory or tent.
- Food: We serve a vegetarian diet, nourishing and balanced with proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and plenty of local vegetables. Snacks are available at our Health Hut during high season. There is no consumption of meat, fish, eggs, garlic and onions. Alcohol, tobacco and any drugs is prohibited.
- Free Days: Fridays are free days from 7:30AM to 7:30PM, with no workshops, coaching. We offer a yoga class in the morning and one in the afternoon. Feel free to visit the nearby towns on foot or rent a bicycle. Group tour outings can be organized to explore the nearby region. Ask anyone at reception on the Wednesday before Friday day off if there is anything planned. These tours often have a nominal fee to cover rentals, etc. Please be sure your karma yoga duty is covered if you leave the Ashram on day off.
- Hygiene: A good yogi leaves the premises, rooms and bathrooms cleaner than when they arrived. For hygienic reasons, please leave your Ashram pillows, blankets and sheets in your room.
- Internet Cafe: WiFi users can use the internet area on the ground floor of the Registrations building during free time.
- Karma Yoga: The Ashram is run by volunteer staff members. Selfless service, karma yoga or seva is an essential part of the Ashram experience. Maintaining a positive spiritual atmosphere requires participation from all the guests and staff. In addition to staff duties, we ask all guests to participate for 1 hour each day contributing to the upkeep of the Ashram. A small task can make a big difference. Kindly meet the karma yoga coordinator at reception at 10:45AM, after morning meal, to arrange your assignment.
- Laundry: Coin-operated laundry facilities are located in the ground level of the Registrations building during daytime hours. Quarters and dollar coins are required. Approximately 40 minutes is required for a wash & 40 minutes for a dry.
- Lights out: Kindly respect the silent time after evening satsang on your way to your room. Please turn all lights out and observe silence by 10:30PM to ensure everyone a peaceful rest.
- Massages: We offer a variety of massages year round from Deep Tissue, Swedish and Thai. Appointments for these massages can be made at reception. Ayurveda consultations with our doctor, treatments and massages are available at the Ayurveda Clinic during high season.
- Personal Belongings: A safety deposit facility is available for your valuables and cellphone. Ask reception. The Ashram cannot accept responsibility for anyone’s personal belongings. Consider labeling your yoga mat, bags, shoes and other items left in common areas.
- Phone calls: Pay phones can be found in the parking lot; the north entrance of the Registrations building and downstairs in the Lodge. Phone cards are available in the Boutique. Cellphone use is not permitted in the Ashram, however calls can be made in the parking lot during free time.
- Photography: To ensure people’s privacy during their stay, photography or video recording is not permitted during satsang, pujas, or asana classes. See Ashram Director with any questions.
- Punctuality: For everyone’s benefit, kindly arrive to classes, events and satsangs on time or even arrive a little early to settle. Leaving your room at the 10-minute bell will help you arrive on time. Punctuality ensures peace for all for the beginning of any event. Note: the doors are locked at the start of the meditation sessions and opened once chanting begins.
- Post: You can leave any outgoing mail at reception. If you are expecting any mail, check with reception.
- Relationships: Kindly restrain expressions of affection in public – kissing and hugging. Women and men’s dorms: kindly respect the gender privacy of these dorms. Couples are advised to observe celibacy as part of the spiritual discipline.
- Sauna and Swimming Pool: A wood-fired dry sauna is available year round. An outdoor pool is open during the summer when life guard is on duty. Kindly wear discrete swimming clothes in the sauna and pool. Bring an extra towel to sit on.
- Shoes: Please remove your shoes and place them in the shoe racks when entering any of the buildings.
- Schedule: It is expected that all guests attend all satsangs, lectures and asana classes. To help with the upkeep of the Ashram we ask all guests participate for 1 hour of Karma yoga each day.
- Silence: To maintain the tranquil setting of an Ashram we aim to observe personal silence before the morning and evening satsangs and especially at mealtimes. Maintaining silence conserves energy and instills a peaceful environment. To maintain the energy received during evening satsang try observing silence for the remainder of the night.
- Spiritual Respect: Kindly maintain a respectful attitude when near an altar, satsang hall or temple. When sitting, sit cross-legged, or in a chair. Kindly refrain from pointing the feet towards any altar, deities or teachers of the satsang. Kindly do your best to remain in the satsang hall for the entire satsang.
- Staff: Staff members are willing and able to answer any of your questions. Feel free to go to them and ask your questions. They will most often be wearing yellow and white.
- Suggestions, Comments & Special Requests: If you have any suggestions, comments or special requests, feel free to write them down with your name and drop them into the suggestions box at reception. Any immediate concerns, feel free to mention to any staff member.
- Temples: The many Ashram temples, large and small, are available for visiting and silent meditation during your free time. You are welcome to visit the Krishna Temple, the Master’s Statues near the dorms and the Sivananda Temple on the pond for silent contemplation or meditation. Up on the top of the hill is the Subramanya-Ayyappa and Mariamman Temple and inside these temples are more temples. Kindly enter the temple of your choice in silence. Visit each temple with grace and awareness. You are welcome to prostrate in front of each murti, then sit to feel the resonance of the temple. There are donation boxes inside the Subramanya-Ayyappa and Krishna temple. Feel free to donate to help the maintenance of these temples. Kindly leave food or drink outside of any temple area.
- Water: The tap water is city water. We also offer pure artesian well water for drinking. Bring your own water bottles and refill them at the pump located in the middle of the Ashram, near the first step of the Peace Trail. If we touch our drinking bottle to the tap when filling we may spread our bacteria to others. To prevent any spreading of bacteria, please keep the bottle away from the tap or hose when filling. If drinking from a hose please keep mouth away from the end of the hose.
Any other Questions? Ask your asana teacher, the staff at reception or review the Visitor’s Handbook.
- 6:00 am – 7:30 am: Meditation, Chanting, Daily reading
- 8:00 am – 10:00 am: Asana yoga class
- 10:00 am: Brunch
- 11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Karma Yoga
- 12:30 pm: Coaching or walk (optional)
- 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Workshop or other activity
- 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Free time and Nature walks
- 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Asana yoga Class
- 6:00 pm: Dinner
- 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Free time
- 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm: Meditation, Chanting, Daily reading
- (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm: in low season)
Any changes to the schedule will be announced during Satsangs
“Yoga balances, harmonizes, purifies and strengthens the body, mind and soul.
It shows the way to perfect health, full control over the mind and total peace
with our own Self, the World, Nature and God.’’ – Swami Vishnudevananda