What a productive and fun way to spend time at Sivananda Ashram which gave the kids an opportunity to live with all four paths of Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga.
This year is our first kids residential retreat and kids made history at yoga bharati by participating!
Picture speak thousand words, so we have written this report with more pictures than words!
Children and adult volunteers drove early morning to the Ashram, at Grass Valley, California on Saturday July 20th and reached by the brunch time at 10 am. On the way we learned few mantras like “Shanno Mitra Sham Varunaha”… and getting to know about the Ashram life and discipline. We ate healthy sandwiches on the way and took one bio break.
Sivananda Ashram at Grass Valley was established by Swami Vishudevananda 40 years ago. Swami Sita is the current Swamiji who heads the Ashram and Swami Dharmananda handles many day today activities.
Children settled in the rooms after brunch and explored the area around. They liked the play area, with swings and hammocks. They learnt the aspect of Karma yoga by helping the Ashram in cleaning and gardening.
We made Malas of 108 beads for meditation with materials provided by Ashram.
Our next activity was Swimming in the pond with fishes and frogs :) Children helped each other to overcome the fear of water and the water habitats. Al though the water was 13” deep, they did swim around and experience the fun. They also learned group dynamics and leadership skills.
After the kids had shower and we made our way to Durga temple and lavender fields on the way. Durga temple hike is about 20 min from the front area. On the way we saw Lamas who are part of the Ashram from many years now. We ate fresh super sweet organic blueberries and apricots grown at the farm trees.
At the temple, children chanted mantras they know and they felt comfortable including, Sahana Vavatu.., Viduraneeti…, Sakshepa Ramayana.., Ekatmata mantra, Sarve Bhavantu, Ganesha mantra and many more. Children bowed down to Maa Durga to seek her blessings and we headed back. On the way back we walked through the fresh lavender fields which were both inviting to the visual and our taste senses. Took many pictures and ate some more fresh berries from around. Children were tired due to the Summer heat and the walk. They were also thirsty and wanted to go back soon. Some of them wanted to join for a Labyrinth walk and we headed there. Labyrinth walk took about 20-25 min to have a walking meditation experience.
We had brunch in the evening at 6 pm and played around at the free time. Evening experienced the Satsang which has Sivananda Ashram Kirtan which was our Bhakti Yoga experience. Ashram lights are out by 10.30 pm, but we slept off at 10 pm as kids and adults all of us were tired and had a peaceful sleep in the night. We stayed in cabins with bunk beds which had bathroom very close by.
Wake up time is 5.30 am with another bell at 5.45 am. Ashram has a very nice way of waking the ashram dwellers. They come with traditional bells and “Om Namah Shivaya” mantra and wake us up with a beautiful sattvic way on Sunday July 21st Sunday. Kids woke up early and had fruits and Oatmeal breakfast. Ashram food is fully organic with himalayan pink salt and some of it is vegan too..
Our group had a Raja yoga experience by the Ashram kids camp counselor Kalaila who was still there after the Ashram’s own camp for 10 days. Children had a great time with Kalaila and some of them even slept off during the deep relaxation. They said her voice was very soothing!
Brunch was at 10 am and kids had some more karma yoga experience in helping kitchen cleaning team. They helped wipe the dishes and put them away. Children played some more time. Then was the time for Jnana yoga experience with Swami Dharamandaji. Swami Dharmananda had a discussion on Guru and Guru Poornima. What does Guru mean and his significance in ones life was discussed with them. Kids were very interactive and told Swamiji about what they feel about Guru. Some said their experiences, their mistakes, their parents, teachers, friends are Guru. Swamiji gave them the Ashram lineage and stories of Swami Sivananda. Guru Poornima was in July and the vibes of the day was still fresh and alive in the Ashram air. After taking blessings from Swami Dharmanandaji we left the Ashram to head back to the Bay area. Kids did not want to come back as they enjoyed all of it very much. They were already asking when is the next year trip and they don’t want to miss it.
Ashram packed us some more food and fruits on our way back. We would like to invite you all for this fun and experiential learning Retreat next year. Stay tuned for the dates and don’t miss.
For Ashram information, please visit https://sivanandayogafarm.org/
For information about kids classes and camps at yoga bharati, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408 341 YOGA (9642)