Questions and Answers

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.

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.”

Why do brahmacharis wear yellow, 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.


Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Montreal

5178, St-Laurent blvd
Montreal, Quebec
H2T 1R8
(between Laurier and Fairmount)


(514) 279 3545

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