SNY 2014 Closing Report

SNY 2014 Closing Ceremony and Testimonials

Feb 9th 2014

Yoga Bharati organizes a Surya Namaskar Yagna (SNY) or Sun Salutation Marathon every year from Jan 1st to Ratha Saptami Day which was on Feb 6th this year. Ratha Saptami is a festival celebrated by Hindus to mark the birthday of Surya or the Sun and symbolizes the change of season to Spring. Surya Namaskar (SN) is a yoga practice comprising of an integrated set of 10 asanas or poses done in a flowing manner with breath synchronization. This constitutes one cycle.

Yoga Bharati (YB) Bay Area Chapter conducted a closing ceremony on Feb 9th 2014 at BAYVP temple, Milpitas to mark the culmination of the six-week long SNY. The theme of the closing ceremony was group practice of 108 sun salutation cycles (yagna). More than 60 people from age 3 to 75 years, donning meditative blue YB T-shirts, participated in the closing ceremony yagna. INDTVUSA covered the entire event and will be broadcasted on their channel.

The participants began the yagna by aligning themselves into a formation that mimicked the radiating rays of the Sun. Participants who had trained to practice 108 cycles of SNs formed the innermost circle and led the line of people that were part of their respective Sun ray. People constituting the rays outside of the inner circle were free to practice as many SNs as they were capable of with the option of dropping out or retiring to rest when they needed to. More than 30 people including 10 year old Diya completed the 108 cycles of SN while the remaining completed anywhere from 24-48 cycles. While the majority of participants practiced the traditional SN sequence, a subset practiced less intense variations of SN prescribed either due to age or health conditions. One of the variations was the practice of SN while seated in a chair and a senior participant with no prior SN experience successfully completed 108 chair SN cycles. A second SN variation was indicated for participants with health conditions such as back, neck or shoulder pain and a subset of participants with such conditions successfully completed108 SNs without any difficulty.

In addition to energy derived from community participation, a rock style, background music of the Totakashtakam chant by the famous A.R. Rahman helped build a significant amount of contagious enthusiasm and energy into the yagna. Additionally, each set of 12 SN cycles was interspersed with a quick relaxation in Shitila Tadasana (loosened standing pose) and reading of quotes from spiritual masters by youth volunteers Devaki and Sushant. All this served to create a positive and spiritual environment to the entire event. As a consequence, several adults and young children who had not expected to proceed beyond 12-24 cycles ended up completing more than 50 SN cycles.

The program ended with a chanting of Surya Namaskar Mantra (Hiranmayena Patrena from Ishavasyopanishad) and the 12 beeja mantras (mantras used for awakening spiritual centres) followed by Deep Relaxation for all participants and a hearty healthy snack.

Most of the yagna participants had also enrolled in the 6 weeks of pre-yagna SN practice wherein they practiced between 12-108 sets on their own at home and logged in their counts. Yoga Bharati conducted SN training in all their public yoga classes for students wishing to participate in the yagna. Yoga Bharati also provided one-on-one advice for people who needed variations or had questions or concerns.

This year’s SNY was a different experiment by Yoga Bharati. “We tried SN variations for various health conditions including chair SNs”, says Ashwini Surpur, the Director of YB’s Yoga Therapy initiative. Classic SN may not suit everyone and hence we provided two more variations for people with chronic back, neck, shoulder and hand pain and for seniors. This led to increased participation and people reported great improvement in their health with the SN practice. The focus of Suryanamaskar practice is the synchronization of breath and body movement with integration of the two as the goal. Muscles stretches in combination with breath work to promote good circulation and respiration as well as the overall stimulation and relaxation that are all part of SN practice enables the mind to become peaceful. “We felt that this year’s SNY will become our model going forward”, said Ashwini.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————TESTIMONIALS————————————————————————————————————————————————————————When we were warming up I felt shy. When we were done with 6 suryanamaskaras I thought I could not do 108, but I knew I had done it when we were done with 108 suryanamaskaras. I felt happy and good and I really liked suryanamaskaras.

Sinchana (6 yrs)

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-The suryanamaskara yagna was truly a delightful experience. Four weeks before the actual event I made it a goal to discipline myself by finding time after my school work was complete, and do twenty suryanamaskaras a day.

Gradually I increased my count to thirty, then forty. Finally, when the time had come to lay down my mat and join the group of mostly adults in order to start the event, doubt arose. I was determined to reach my goal but deep in the back of the mind, my conscience persuaded me that I would not be able to complete it. Still, I wanted to try to the best of my ability. In order not to disrupt the event if I happened to get tired after 50 suryanamaskaras, I migrated with my mat to the outer circle. Someone started the music and we all began. There was a sense of peacefulness to the postures. Maybe it was the music, or the synchronized movement of all the participants that created this sense. To tell the truth, I am not sure why. You would think doing these postures repetitively might be arduous, even boring, but it was not. The more I progressed, the more energized I felt. Time flowed fast and before I knew it, I had completed 108 suryanamaskaras. As I folded up my mat, I felt an emotion that I rarely feel: I felt accomplished and proud of myself. This activity showed me that I really could do it. I would love to keep on continuing to do suryanamaskaras everyday, whether there is asuryanamaskara yagna to practice for or not, in order to benefit from that calmness and exercise every day.

Aria – 13 yrs

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-I was introduced to chair suryanamaskara’s by Ashwini at Yogabharati for the first time during the opening day of thesuryanamaskara yagna. I hadn’t thought that doing suryanamaskara’s at my age was a possibility until then. I attended the closing day ceremony of the yagna with the hope of listening to the chanting and doing a few counts of SN. But I realized that breathing into the poses correctly and maintaining a steady pace helps keep up the practice. I was able to complete 108 SN at the closing ceremony without any strain. It was definitely a positive and pleasant experience. Thanks to the YB team! Also, I would like to spread awareness to my friends and siblings back home who can also benefit from this chair yoga variation to SN.

Bhagya (Senior)

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Over the past six weeks, enrolling in the Suryanamaskar Yagna was a great experience. Throughout this period, I was consistent and did my 36 count SN practice every day, except for one. However, I made up for the missed day by doing 72 the next day.

Soon enough, doing suryanamaskars became a habit. The 6 weeks of preparation helped me build core strength and the stamina required to hold through and complete the 108 suryanamaskars on the day of the SNY closing ceremony. I didn’t even feel tired or sweaty after completing the 108 SNs, which means that the 6 weeks of practice really paid off.

I started the SN practice feeling tired because of being woken up at 6 am. However, as I continued through the sets ofsuryanamaskars, I started to feel more energized. When we finished all 9 sets, I did not feel tired anymore. Instead, I felt sharp and awake. The remnants of whatever fatigue I felt were totally gone as I finished the 108th, the final, sun salutation. As I think back from January, I felt that the 6 weeks of practice served as a prerequisite that led up to the final test, which was the 108 suryanamaskars on the closing ceremony day. Overall, the one month journey was exhilarating, and I am ready to sign up for the Surya Namaskar Yagna again next year.

-Sushant Thyagaraj (13)

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- I am sooo happy to be part of this. It was a great experience and amazingly, I had more energy in the 9th round than what I started with. I came mentally prepared to do just 50 as I hardly practiced, but with everyone helping each other in a such a positive way, I was able to complete 108.  Thank you all so much.

Music helped and facing each other helped me smile while practicing.

-Rekha ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- I was not prepared for 108.  I had planned to leave early but instead completed 108.  It was an amazing experience!   Truly felt that my inner strength was complemented by the energy in the room and kept going till end.   The music was great and pace was perfect.

Now this has to be the way we conclude Surya Namaskar Yagna very year!

-Parul ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Due to some shoulder problems I was going to only practice 20 or so and watch the rest :). But the combined energy and enthusiasm in the room was infectious! I skipped only one set to talk to the Indtv folks but otherwise I kept going and the last set was just as strong as the first one!  Thanks to all the volunteers who organized the event and helped make it so successful.

-Savitha

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-My experience with the modified version of the SN practice for neck/shoulder pain

I have been participating in the SNY from 2007 and used to practice SNs fairly regularly. However, I had to abort my participation in SNY 2013 after a couple of weeks of practice because of issues related to cervicalspondylysis and other joint-related pain. I had to discontinue my regular practice of SNs as well because of the ongoing pain.

When the announcement for SN 2014 initially came out, I thought I would not be able to participate this year either because of the continuing neck and other joint pain issues. However, thanks to the SN variation module formulated by Ashwini Surpur and the YB Yoga Therapy team for neck/shoulder pain,  I could not only resume my daily practice of SNs but also work up to reaching the goal of completing 108 SN cycles. This year’s SNY experience with the modified sequence made me realize that the practice of SNs does not have to be all or none for people with health conditions.

-Vidhya Gopalakrishnan

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Kids Yoga Camp Winter 2013

Jan 2nd, 2013

On this Winter Wednesday morning about 30 children came to the camp at 9:00am to learn Yoga while others were still in their sweet sleep. Brave kids and ambitious parents.

Children started to look at the group finding for a friend and looking to see if they knew anybody. Some of them made connections very immediately with other kids whom they have never seen. Once the kids settled, they were asked to spread their mats and stretch! Everybody started the Camp with prayer and this became start of the Camp each day

Sahanaavavatu – May we both be protected (i.e. the teacher and the student)
Sahanau bhunaktu (May we both be nourished)
Sahaveeryankara karavaavahai (May our knowledge be radiant)
Tejasvinaavadheetamastu (May our work be energetic)
Om Shanti Shanti ShantiH (OM Peace Peace Peace)

We started the day off with an hour of yoga consisting of Suryanamaskars and different poses, where kids paid really good attention and performed well. They even attempted challenging postures on the last day, and it was amazing to see their ?exible bodies listen to each and every stretch and pull. Suryanamaskar was given special attention and was taught all the three days. Suryanamaskar is one yogasana sequence which can be performed by kids everyday to improve flexibility and endurance.

Break time: Kids were already hungry and little tired on a first day, they energized themselves with healthy snacks after yoga. Healthy snack like cereal bars, bread butter/jam sandwiches.

Next activity in the Camp was chanting. For some of the children chanting was fairly new, but everyone picked up by the end of the first day chanting. Younger children learnt shlokas, small ones 1-2 lines and also learnt their meaning. One example was the definition of Yoga. “Yogaha Chitta Vritti Nirodaha”, Yoga is to control the thoughts of the mind. Younger children also learnt few shlokas, such as Saraswathi mantra and Hanuman stotram, and their meanings. Few Panchatantra stories with morals were read to them.

Older children group went one step ahead and learnt the first 10 sutras of Patanjali. Not only did they chant but also they learnt the meaning. They learnt the importance of Samskrit language and importance of chanting and how it can help improve memory and build concentration. Sage Patanjali’s definitions of Yoga and who is a Brahman and what is his nature were told. Finally what are the five Vrittis (states of mind), when mind is not in the state of Yoga were discussed. As any other knowledge, Yoga is a science and should be understood thoroughly before practicing. Al though Patanjali Yoga Sutras may not have marveled them initially, but they all wanted to chant and learn more on the last day.

Games were the next activity. Children love to play and of course at their age they need lot more activity and social interaction. Games brought a blend of both. Games such as “Pair Tag Game”, “Number formation” and “Lion and Deer” games gave them the art of coordination between the team members and improve their memory and concentration. Other games such “Yoga Freeze dance”, “Yogi says”, “Sitting and standing Dodge ball” games helped them improve their yoga poses and skills. Next two days kids were looking forward to the games!

Camp Group Discussions
(4-7 yrs kids)
Every day there was a topic taken up for discussion that included being nice to others, saying good things, ways to treat others with respect, teasing, and ways to handle when being teased. It was indeed awe-inspiring to see the kids brainstorm their inputs and ideas. Kids showed great con?dence and positive attitude throughout the discussions.

(8-13 yrs kids. Day 1 – Jan 2nd)
Topics – If you or your friends were bullied…
Kids got to speak on this topic and everyone participated and spoke their minds eloquently without hesitation. Some of their wonderful responses in their own words;
1. The bullier may be a troubled kid herself. So I would talk to her and find out why she does such a bad thing and I will offer to help her to become a better kid
2. I would stand up against such bullies. I sympathize with other kids who tolerate such bullies.
3. I would stand up and protect any kid that is getting bullied
4. I would get so mad that I would hit that child with my Sitar (funny one :-))
5. I would take the matter to the teachers. Someone said LAW
Some serious discussion happened among the kids; note that the adults were not talking at all.
6. There are lots of good things also happening in school and everywhere but the media focuses on only bad things. We should educate people that it is not so bad.
6. There are very few bad people, but they can do lots of damage. World war II was started by 1 bad guy.
7. In my school, we fought against a bully who teased one boy who wore a pink shirt. Because he bullied a kid with pink shirt, the next day, all the boys decided to wear pink shirt and the bully could not do anything.
8. The bully kids don’t know that they are hurting themselves in the process. They can get into serious fights and bad things can happen to them

Summary talk given YB teachers (Parents, please discuss this with your children)
Kids all said wonderful things and we gave a big hand to all.
Each one of them was right. We need to understand that there are different ways of handling bullies. We call it Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda.
1. Sama – Conciliation – Example 1 of talking to the bully and helping her out of being a bully.
2. Dana – Incentives – If you stop being a bully, you will have all of us as friends.
3. Bheda – Warnings/Consequences – If you continue bullying, you will lose friends and you will be lonely, or we will report this etc.
4. Danda – Take that Sitar if all the efforts fail  Basically, even while practicing Danda, you don’t have to cause any harm to the bulliers. Even taking the matters to the school authorities is good enough. The story of the snake and the saint was told where the violent snake was advised to practice non-violence and how the snake got into trouble because he was getting bullied. The saint then tells the snake – I told you not to bite, but I never told you not to hiss!!
5. Non-Violent Danda practice – We took the example of “Pink Shirt” example in the above points (point no 6) and said this is exactly what Gandhiji did. To protest firmly, but non-violently and this example of all kids wearing pink shirt is wonderful act of protest against Bully!

Day 2 – Jan 3rd
Group Discussion – Your Culture and Staying in America

Here is what children expressed.
1. Staying in America gives them exposure to the other cultures.
2. Staying in India, you would only be exposed to Indian Culture only.
3. Teachers in America are nice
4. In America you get to know learn other cultures and also Cultural similarities.
5. It’s fun to be an Indian.
6. Culture is a form of art, music
7. Culture is part of the country, and culture is food too.
8. If you want to learn any culture you have to live in it. Like if you have to learn Indian Culture, one has to go to India and live there.
9. Culture is part of religion.
10. America is also influenced by Indian Culture as they celebrate Diwali:)
11. We have responsibility to carry our Culture!
Teachers summarized: Children already gave a broad picture, so teachers just summarized all and told them all answers were just right and excellent. Learning other cultures is good, but our first responsibility is to learn our own culture and be in it and appreciate other cultures. Also appreciate our Culture by learning them from our immediate family and help other friends understand them. India has a rich culture with different states having different cultures. Learning and appreciating all of them. Living in America broadens our vision to provide exposure to various different culture across nations.

Final Day Performance and Talent show:
Children chanted the shlokas and Patanjali Yoga Sutras that they learnt in 2 days. They also performed a short set of Asanas which they almost prepared in few minutes. Every kid has a unique talent. Their talent was showcased in the form of individual performances. Children brought in their talents such as songs in their native languages, national anthem, keyboard, shlokas, strotras, rhymes and relevant jokes.

Children need appreciation which helps them to motivate and keep their learning going. With this understanding Yoga Bharati presented Certificate of Appreciation to all the kid participants and youth volunteers. Uniqueness about the camp was there were youth volunteers who helped camp activities and earned some volunteer hours.

Both the group children learnt pranayama techniques, to help them improve breathing pattern, improve breath capacity and in turn increase their efficiencies. to ease off the eye strain the kids are exposed to, we did eye a few exercises for the eyes like rotating eyes, massaging around them, and candle gazing (jyothi trataka).

Overall, kids had a very productive 3 days. Teachers enjoyed children’s company as much as they did, and it was definitely a two way learning.

Annual Report 2013

A year in review for Yoga Bharati: 2013

Eleven years of bringing authentic yoga, ancient wisdom and modern research

This year was the eleventh since our founding as a non-profit, volunteer-managed global community. We promote yoga in its authentic form, combining ancient wisdom with modern research. We work in the interest of the public to foster a better understanding of the benefits of yoga, its history and traditions.

Volunteers in the community

Yoga Bharati has trained 300 yoga teachers that now volunteer in local communities to offer our holistic and research-driven approach to yoga. Just this year, we have delivered about 2,500 class-hours of yoga asana sessions in our communities, including special classes for kids, seniors, stress management and therapy. We continued our expansion, adding more public classes in Sunnyvale, Milpitas and the Tri-Valley in the SF Bay Area.

An Authentic Yoga Therapy and Research fellowship

Yoga Bharati has committed to building a world-class research culture that can scientifically validate the benefits of Yoga Therapy, and to bringing authentic Yoga Therapy to our community.

Surya Namaskar Yagna (SNY) 2013 – we conducted SNY as both ‘yagna’ and also a pilot cohort study. More than 500 people participated throughout America for the yagna. More than 100 people signed up for this research study, with 53 successfully completing it. 

Distance Education (Yoga Therapy) – we successfully conducted a distance learning Postgraduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy (PGDYT) jointly with Bengaluru’s VYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthan). This 3-month program was led by Ashwini Surpur and ten students participated this year.

Therapy classes for special groups – we have yoga therapy classes running continuously in Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Milpitas and Fremont. This year, we have conducted workshops on Yoga for back, neck, shoulder and knee pain, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity and metabolic disorders, vision disorders for children and teens, prenatal and postnatal workshops.

Workshops with VYASA faculty – We routinely send folks to visitVYASA’s campus in Bengaluru (called Prashanthi) from the Bay Area for both therapy and educational purposes, with the numbersincreasing every year. This year, VYASA’s Dr. Nidhi Ram conducted an infertility workshop in the SF bay area, led by Savita Joshi where more than 30 people participated. We’re glad to report that some participants have subsequently been able to conceive while others are enjoying their family time with the little ones !

We have conducted conduct corporate Stress Management workshops and Stress and Yoga Breathing workshops at offices, healthcare institutions and education institutions. Our volunteers also conduct free yoga classes in their offices regularly. Workshops were conductedat Philips Healthcare, Sutter Healthcare Institution and at West Valley College in 2013, among others.

Creating lifelong Yogis by catching them young

Yoga Bharati has a unique focus on building youth ambassadors and lifelong yogis. In the past few years we have begun showing special attention to the youth during the YIC course as well as creating opportunities for them to channel their energy and develop their leadership skills.

We also initiated the President’s Challenge workshop. The President’s Challenge focuses on making kids healthy and active for life. The President has called for 60 minutes of fitness activity for 5 days a week to fight childhood obesity and to establish good health in America. Yoga is one of the activities included by the President. Yoga Bharati took this idea and implemented it for Bay Area youth. More than 20 YB teachers volunteered in summer of 2013 providing more than 100 classes – a total of $12,000 worth of free classes for kids and, we hope, habits that will keep them healthy for the rest of their lives.

We conducted a 2 week summer workshop for youth titled Explore Yoga. The workshop was led by Savitha Nanjangud working closely with 6 youth leaders, Vedant, Vinay, Maya, Chinmay, Devaki and Renuka. Over 20 youth ranging from middle schoolers to college students attended the workshop. The program exposed the participants to various fields such as Yoga therapy, Ayurveda, Yoga for Leadership etc., in addition to the regular yoga practices. Several guest speakers shared their knowledge of yoga and Ayurveda with the youth including Dr. Prasad Kaipa, experts from Vedika Global – an Ayurveda School in Berkeley, and the Youth Spiritual Education Manager of Center For Spiritual Enlightenment, San Jose – a spiritual organization of Paramahamsa Yogananda Lineage.  Several of the workshop attendees have now enrolled in the upcoming YIC 2014 course.

Three day long winter kids yoga camp was conducted early 2013 and well attended by over 35 kids. A similar Summer camp was conducted at Safari Kids by one of our youth yoga instructor Renuka. Kids became familiar with the right way to move their body with awareness while practicing various Asanas, and also got to understand the concepts of Yoga. They enjoyed learning to chant various Shlokas. Details available at: 

Promote awareness of Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda

  • Yoga Bharati hosts prominent speakers in the fields of Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda.
  • In 2013, we arranged a series of talks by Prof NVC Swamy from VYASA on the Life of Swami Vivekananda as a part of Swamiji’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations.
  • Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali Yoga Sutra workshop were held by Shri.N.V.Raghuram, the Chairman and spiritual founder of Yoga Bharati, during the month ofApril.
  • Dr H.R.Nagendra and Dr.Alex Hankey of VYASA, Bengaluru visited San Francisco bay area during the month of August. Yoga Bharati organized various talks and workshops during this time, along with adinner get together with local community leaders.
  • The later part of thisyear (November 2013) saw Satsangs on Yoga /Stress Free Parenting , Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita and Mundakopanishad by Swami Bodhananda Saraswati.

Active partnership with local organizations

Over the years, Yoga Bharati has passionately served the community and has created a niche position for itself in the local volunteer organization network. We consistently contribute and support local events in various roles – as specialists in yoga and also as enthusiastic participants. This year was no different.

Sevathon 2013: This was held in the month of July. Yoga Bharati has been a key partner of Sevathon since it’s inception. This year, we doubled the runner registration and also conducted special yoga sessions during the Marathon runners’ training and also on the day of the event. Unish Corporation has sponsored the Yoga Bharati team over the last few years.

Dharma and Yoga Fest: This was organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Fremont and Sunnyvale Hindu temples along with many non-profit and social organizations in bay area in 2 locations (Santa Clara and San Ramon) during the month of September and was attended by 15,000 people on that single day. Yoga Bharati was Raja Yoga track organizer and sponsor. As a part of this track, weconducted a Stress Management program, Kids Yoga formation/ dancechoreographed by Madhavi Jain and Ashwini Surpur. There was a special talk at the end of the Raja Yoga track by Shri N.V.Raghuram of Yoga Bharati who has taken up the role of the President of Hindu University of America. Shri N.V.Raghuram was also specially invited to speak in Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga tracks.

In September, we participated in the Livermore Temple Health Fair, and worked on raising awareness on the benefits of yoga and announced the availability of free classes all over the bay area.

Yoga Bharati has taken an initiative to collaborate and work in various fields of yoga alongside the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE). One such area is SNY research. Volunteers from Yoga Bharati have continually attended various programs offered by CSE during the course of this year. The next year will see this relationship strengthen even further when we actively partner with CSE and conduct the Yoga Teacher’s Training at their facility.

Roadmap for Future Events in 2014

In 2014, Yoga Bharati will work with greater resolve towards our goals, building on the momentum in previous years. In addition, we’re planning a few new projects that are outlined below.

Youth Science Fair – Yoga Bharati wants to promote research, and has a focus on youth. We combine these interests in the form of a science fair project involving research on single nostril breathing on brain hemispheres. This involves providing a platform, the network of research subjects, monetary sponsorship and connections with yoga and research experts from universities like VYASA Bengaluru and San Francisco State University.

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) 2014 Competition – We invite everyone to participate in SNY like every year, and in addition we are also preparing and training for a competition of practicing 108 Surya Namaskars around Ratha Saptami day in February when we conclude the Yagna (Sun Salutations Marathon).

Yoga Study 2014 – We are planning to conduct a pilot study on the effect of yoga on Symptom and Medicine scores on people with minor chronic ailments. It will be conducted over a period ofsix weeks’ yoga intervention program. Participants will be a part of two group practices and have three home practices aided by a video in a given week. They report their symptoms and stress index before and after the intervention.

Yoga Teacher Training 2014 – This year, we are likely to have an additional Yoga Teacher Training as we are running housefull on our Yoga Teacher Training courses.

Yoga Therapy Teacher Training 2014 – We are set to launch the next batch of Yoga Therapy Teacher Training (VYASA’s PGDYT course) contact hours in Sept 2014.

Winter Kids Camp: We will be conducting a camp for the children during their winter recess, at Sunnyvale Hindu Temple. For details please visit our website.

Dr Nagendra VYASA 2013 Report

Aug 28th, 2013

Dr Nagendra Bay Area 2013

Yoga Bharati Bay Area Chapter was honored to host Guruji, Dr. H.R.Nagendra, the chancellor of SVYASA university, and Prof. Alex Hankey, the distinguished professor of Yoga and Physical Science, Bengaluru on April 26th and 27th. They met different institutions, groups and individuals for collaboration with VYASA regarding different yoga projects.

Prominent among them was Center for Spiritual Enlightenment where Rev O’Brian and group gave the campus tour to Guruji followed by a discussion session for a possible collaboration with VYASA through Yoga Bharati. Dr. Nagendra invited Rev.O’Brian and group for their upcoming INCOFYRA International Conference, this time on Diabetes and Yoga. Rev.O’Brian invited Dr. Nagendra to talk in their Yoga Hour radio show which is likely to happen some time Jan 2014. CSE is considering offering Yoga Teacher Training through Yoga Bharati/VYASA.

Dr. Nagendra also visited Mt.Madonna and met his holiness, Baba Haridas and his team. He invited the team to visit Prashanti and also expressed his interest in collaborating with them for their research center on yoga and Ayurveda.

Guruji Dr. Nagendra gave a public program on Monday, Aug 26th evening 7pm at Sunnyvale temple on Yoga for Common Ailments. He explained how yoga would help slow down the mind (manomaya kosha), which in turn calms down the pranic body (pranamaya kosha) and physical body (annamaya kosha). He demonstrated the effects of yoga on various ailments using the results of research done in VYASA on various applications of yoga. He also talked about different projects that SVYASA has undertaken, the courses such as BNYS (Bachelor of Yoga and Naturopathy), PGDYT (Diploma in Yoga Therapy), Bsc, MSc and PhD in yoga therapy among other courses. He also invited folks to come over to Arogyadhama, the health center of SVYASA where people can get yoga practice or yoga therapy in a residential retreat setting.

Prof. Alex Hankey talked about his research on Astrology – Jyotish. He demonstrated the research being done at SVYASA regarding the influence of different planets such as Guru (Julpiter), Shani (Saturn) and Rahu & Ketu (Nodes of the Moon) on the growth of virus and bacteria. They have been studying the effect in vaccinations of animals at different Muhurts (under the influence of different planets). While the research is yet to be concluded, the results are amazingly repeatable and predictable so far, giving hopes about astrology’s effectiveness in daily life and its applications in health sciences.

Dr. Nagendra and Prof Alex Hankey participated in a formal dinner event where community leaders of different organizations connected to Yoga Bharati met. Leaders of Center for Spiritual Enlightment, Hindu Swayam Sevak Sangh, International Association of Yoga Therapists, India Community Center, and more than 40 of Yoga Bharati volunteers attended the meeting. Dr. Nagendra explained various upcoming projects of VYASA, the current and future research of SVYASA. His Stop Diabetes campaign in Gujarat was received with great amazement and admiration. Many Yoga Bharati volunteers were inspired to increase their commitment to support VYASA/Yoga Bharati in their joint mission to spread yoga – Dr. Nagendra’s dream of achieving the vision of Swami Vivekananda – combining the best of the East with the best of the West.

Dr. Nagendra also met different community leaders separately. Prominent among them were Prof. Shyam Raoji, the most revered Music Maestro and teacher in the Bay Area, Prof. Madhu Thangavelu of USC, Mr.B.V.Jagadeesh, a well known and distinguished entrepreneur and Philanthropist in the Bay Area.

Yoga Bharati offers its heart-felt thanks to Dr. Nagendra and Prof.Hankey for their visit. This further enhances Yoga Bharati agenda of spreading holistic yoga to the American society. Guruiji’s dream of spreading the best of East with the best of West needs particular mention on this day where we are celebrating 50 years of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. A little poem by Ashwini Surpur offered to VYASA and to Guruji, Didi, Raghuramji and his team at VYASA on this special occasion using the terms from King’s speech:

They have a dream
To fulfill a dream
The dream of great men and women
The dream of Christ and the Buddha
The dream of the Paramahamasa
The dream of the sages of the Vedanta
The dream dreamt 50 years ago
The vision seen 150 years ago
The dream of the human excellence with no ego
In Prashanti – the hallowed spot
The palace of justice and tranquility
They have a dream

We have come to cash a check
Of the architects of Vedanta
Who spoke magnificent words
The constitution of spiritual freedom
And the declaration of inner Independence
A Promissory note to every Human to fall Heir
All men – black or white, brown or blonde;
The bank of Vedic wisdom
That is ever full and never bankrupt;
The great vault of spiritual grandeur
That is ever open and never shut;
Free for all – let us cash this check
Let us have a dream

They have a dream
They are walking their dream
They cannot walk alone, not for long
May we dream their dream
And walk along and dream along
Of reaching majestic heights
On the high plane of dignity and discipline
Meeting physical force with soul force
Amidst trials and tribulations
Spreading the message of peace
From the sages of the East
To every hill and mountain
Unmindful of the mountain of despair
Changing it into a stone of hope
Until we are free at last – free of desires!
Jai Martin Luther King Jr!

Explore Yoga – Youth Summer Workshop 2013

BY: Vedant Thyagaraj

July 1st, 2013

Yoga Bharati conducted a workshop for teenagers and college students, called “Explore Yoga,” from June 17 to June 27, 2013. The goal of this workshop was to give the youth participants exposure to not only the physical side of yoga practice but also its holistic nature and a glimpse of the evolution of yoga in America and the extent of its adoption and industry. . More than 20 teens, many with minimal exposure to yoga, showed up every day during the two-week workshop  to learn about yoga and its application to their own lives.

Teenager Yoga

Each day the workshop started off with a yoga class that lasted between 60 to 75 minutes. Each yoga class had a specific theme; Surya Namaskaras, Pranayama, Dynamic Practices, Meditative Postures, and Advanced Asanas were just a few of the many that were emphasized. Yoga Bharati’s youth faculty conducted the sessions under the leadership of Savitha Nanjangud, the Youth Program Director. In a typical Yoga Bharati style, the teachers conducted yoga classes beginning with Shanti Mantra, breathing and loosening exercises followed by 4-5 asanas each day, learning about the benefits, limitations, and key awareness points of each one. Finally the participants participated in a guided relaxation (DRT) and Pranayama. After the yoga session, the participants enjoyed a snack break, which was considered as one of the highlights since they got to socialize during this time. The latter half of the session each day was an informative session that covered the impact of yoga on many different fields of study. On the first day, the participants got the overview of yoga’s history in the US, ranging from Swami Vivekananda to modern yogic styles of Iyengar and Bikram and the trends in the yoga industry. Yogic concepts such as Happiness, the five Koshas, the four streams of yoga, and the eight branches of ashtanga yoga were also introduced.

Yoga Teenager

On the second day, the participants learned about yoga research in the U.S. and discussed topics such as the growing number of published yoga papers in recent years, different university-level projects/courses, different studies being conducted, and many stalwarts in the mind-body medicine field, to name a few. The next day, the participants learned the concepts of Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutations) practice and the day after that, they further explored theconcepts of Yama and Niyama. The participants were then encouraged to pick a Yama or a Niayama of their liking and practice it until the end of the workshop. On the Friday of June 21st, Reverend Elena from the Center For Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE) talked to the participants about meditation. The participants enjoyed artistic activities planned for them, in order to illustrate the concepts of meditation.

On Sunday June 22nd, the participants took a trip to CSE in downtown San Jose. They toured the Wisdom, Compassion, and Grace buildings and the main Temple, and also saw different meditation and yoga rooms as well as areas where services were held. They also had to opportunity to go to the teenage den, where they socialized and played pool and table tennis. The group was then led to the main temple to join the adults in a distinct service. Sunday was a special Gratitude for Teachers’ Worship and Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brien (founder minister of CSE) gave a sermon, which mentioned the significance of the summer solstice and super moon and their metaphorical implications. The field trip concluded with a wholesome vegetarian lunch.

The second week flew by even quicker than the first. On Monday, June 25th, Dr. Prasad Kaipa gave a talk on Yoga and Leadership with Swami Vivekananda serving as the prime example. He talked about the qualities of a leader, Swamiji’s burning curiosity and how when we develop and maintain curiosity about a subject matter that interests us, we automatically become leaders in that area. He also mentioned that we should keep both our cultures and not forget either of our cultural identities. However, most of the participants said that the next day’s presentation on Ayurveda was their favorite out of all the informative sessions.

In the following day, four presenters from Vedika Global explained Ayurveda to the participants. They talked about the five elements (Pancha maha bhoota) that constitute everything in nature including human bodies and the Gunas or qualities that can be used to describe something. They then explained the various aspects of the Doshas such as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, relating them to the nature of animals. The highlight of the session was the food. The participants sampled six types of Ayurvedic tastes (shadrasas) – sugar, rock salt, lemon, cocoa bean (bitter), raw banana (astringent) and chili (hot). The participants also watched a cooking demonstration of how to make rose lassi (rose flavored buttermilk) using actual rose petals. After watching the process, they each got to taste some of the delicious lassi.

On the second to last day, the participants played a fun game of jeopardy, where they reviewed all the concepts they had learnt since the beginning of the workshop. The participants had a blast and all of them actively participated. They then were given time to prepare a small skit for the final day’s presentation. The workshop concluded on June 27th with a yoga class for the participants as well as one for their parents. After that, the participants had a chance to present their experiences with Yamas and Niyamas they had practiced for the past week. The students then performed skits in their groups. One group performed a skit in which they acted as an animal from the jungle and did the asana corresponding to that animal. Another covered many topics including asanas, pranayama, Ayurveda, etc. in their spoof of Pokemon, “Yogamon.” A third team performed a yoga rap accompanied by a succession of asanas, and the final team did a mini yoga class, which included various Asanas and a deep relaxation.

Although the participants initially were very reserved and reluctant to talk, by the end of the workshop, they were bursting with energy, “My mom wanted me to do this. I was not very keen on doing it,” said one student in regards to his enrollment. However, after participation in the workshop, he said, “it was an amazing experience.”

There was an overwhelming and enthusiastic response for Explore Yoga this year by the participants and parents alike. At Yoga Bharati, we hope this made a difference in the lives of the participants, and gave them the experience of the benefits of this wonderful science of holistic health. We also hope this will motivate them to take up the regular practice of yoga and spread it to their own generation.

YIC 2013 Concluding Program

YIC 2013 Concludes – addressed by Dr. B. M. Hegde

June 30, 2013

The 2013 batch of Yoga Instruction Certification (YIC) course conducted by Yoga Bharati concluded on Sunday, June 30th. The closing ceremonies were presided over by eminent scientist, Dr.B.M Hegde.

Dr. Hegde is an accomplished medical scientist, author, academician and also a great yogi honored with a Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian awards. In his deeply thought provoking talk, Dr Hegde touched upon a number of subjects related to yoga, human body and the science of healing.

The ceremony was well attended by the faculty, students and their families. Several students and faculty shared their experiences about their 3 month long journey immersing into the various aspects of the ancient science of yoga.

Yoga Teacher Training 2013

Yoga Instructor Certification course is conducted in the bay area by Yoga Bharati every year. Several eminent faculties, some visiting from India, guide the students about topics related to yoga as part of the course.

In year 2013 the course was held from April 6th to June 30th. It was attended by 30 students, 8 of them were youth between the ages of 13 and 20.

Presidents Challenge Using Yoga - Report

June 27, 2013

Yoga Bharati is conducting an observational study to understand and establish the importance of yoga practice amongst children in improving fitness, focus and attention. The study is being conducted as a part of the President’s fitness challenge.

The President’s Challenge is a program introduced by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and it is “for people who want to make physical activity and healthy eating part of their everyday lives”. The Council recently announced PALA (Presidential Active Lifestyle Award) to promote physical activity and good nutrition. This is a 6-week program to put the participants on the path of health. Yoga has been identified as one of the recommended activities under the 6-week program.

The purpose of the workshop and study is to show that regular practice of yoga in healthy children helps improve the fitness parameters as stated on the President’s Fitness Challenge.

Yoga Bharati Kids

Yoga Bharati approached this challenge by announcing yoga workshops for children. More than 130 students between the ages 7 to 12 years are participating in free yoga classes in 8 centers. Yoga Bharati is offering close to $10,000 worth of free classes this summer in implementing President’s challenge. Children are attending yoga classes at least 3 times a week. On the other 2 days, they follow the guidelines of the Presidents Challenge for youth and practice yoga and other physical activity for 60 minutes a day making it a total of 5 days a week. Kids follow 3 weeks of guided yoga practice followed by a home practice schedule to continue with President’s challenge protocol for 3 more weeks. Fitness assessments are being done before the practice, after 3 weeks and after 6 weeks. The students are required to maintain a daily log of their activities and diet.

Yoga for Kids

Yoga workshops are conducted and coordinated by the youth aged 14-21, who are yoga teachers of Yoga Bharati. These youth are responsible for teaching yoga, gathering the assessment parameters and following up with the participants to maintain a daily log that will provide data points for compliance with study parameters. The youth will synthesize and present the data analysis report at the end of the summer. This is a unique opportunity for youth volunteers for building leadership skills and it will also give them valuable experience. For younger kids, the youth act as a role model in developing health awareness.

“Yoga is fun” says Nisha whereas Josh says he loves Sun Salutations. Rakesh says “He likes yogic games”. The kids are enjoying summer with yoga!

Yoga Bharati hopes the summer workshops help in raising the awareness of yoga for children in the community.

CSE Kriya Yoga Congress Report

Mar 11th 2013

Yoga Bharati at CSE Kriya Yoga Congress

Yoga Bharati, Bay Area members attended Kriya Yoga Congress organized by Center for Spiritual Enlightment (CSE) in Holiday Inn, San Jose on March 8-10th 2013. Center for Spiritual Enlightment is a San Jose based organization that carries the lineage of Babaji, Lahari Mahashaya, Sri.Yukteshwar and Paramahamsa Yogananda. Representatives of six organizations were invited as special guests for their banquet dinner. Among them were: Br Prabodh Chaitanya and Sri Rao of Chinmaya Mission, Swami Prasannatmananda of Vedanta Society, Berkeley, Tanvi and Mihir Meghani of Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Ashwini and Anil Surpur from Yoga Bharati and Rev. Masao Tsuruta of Seicho No Ie, the Truth of Life movement who translated the books of Mr.Roy Eugene Davis into Japanese. Yoga Bharati offered greetings to CSE and to Mr. Roy Eugene Davis, Minister of Center for Spiritual Awareness, Pheonix and the direct disciple of Paramahamsa Yogananada on his 82nd Birthday.

The detailed report follows.

Anil Surpur and Ashwini Surpur at Kriya Yoga Congress Yoga Bharati

Yoga Bharati members attended sessions on all three days and also their Sunday Services where they celebrated Maha Shiva Ratri and sungs chantings on Shiva.

The Meditation workshop by Mr. Roy Eugene Davis on Friday started with a small silence meditation followed by Mr. Davis’s lecture on the fundamentals of meditation derived from Patanjali Yoga Sutras. He also talked about his experiences with his master Paramahamsa Yogananda and his method of teaching, his wisdom, etc. Mr. Davis being an avid meditator and the direct disciple of Paramahamsa Yogananada, has immense knowledge on vedantic concepts, especially Patanjali Yoga sutras and he gave a beautiful account of his own meditation experience covering his master Yogananada’s teachings. His session was full of humor and we enjoyed it.

Ayurveda – This was a session by Cythia Ambika Copple of Mount Madonna Center. She covered the basis of Ayurvedic concepts – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. She gave a practical session where she gave a questionnaire and asked the audience to answer them and discuss with their neighbors about their body type.

Phil Goldberg expounded on how Indian Spirituality influenced the west. Many of Yoga Bharati members have read his book American Veda, which is a compendium of all the wonderful yogis who visited from India, influencing the culture of America. In the evening session, Dr. Christopher Chapple talked eloquently about Patanjali Yoga Sutras covering many concepts of yoga. His amazing depth of knowledge on the subject was evident from his lecture.

On Saturday, we attended the devotional session by Swami Nirvanananda and the entire audience was enthralled by the wonderful chantings of OM Namah Shivaya, and other devotional chantings. This was followed by Meditaton workshop by Mr. Roy Euegne Davis who covered some more concepts and his lineage and the master’s wisdom.

Banquet dinner: This was a perfectly organized and flawlessly executed event and we were in the most joyous and ecstasy state – time and again in the program. The Banquet was well attended by 500 to 600 people from CSE and other orgs.

The program began with the chanting of OM and prayer followed by a salad appetizer. The beautiful poem read by Patricia (Kavita) sung the glory of the Vedantic wisdom of her master lineage – Babji, Lahari Mahashaya, Sri Yukteshwar, Paramahamsa Yogananda and the current successor – Mr. Roy Eugene Davis

White Birds fly over the river Ganges, At Sunrise, dolphins ride the waters, Maharaj Babji appears on the illumined path…. Walks along the beach at the merging of the rivers…..calls for the holy sounds of OM to form the holy science of divine oneness; place the holy text on the spotless table of your mind…. the tinkling of the cowbells….the lotus blossom that stands honorable above the mud…one day the child of your heart will arrive…. Paramahamsa – the supreme white swan across the seas….Roy Eugene Davis – the boy rides across the magnetic fields of his country towards his master and steps into his place in the holy lineage….offer nourishment for all who want to enter the center of their spiritual awareness….. Remember the forgotten language of the original sound – the pure vibration of OM that contains all breath, the word that contains all words…. articulate the ancient and profound words – Do what you know you should do.

The band team of CSE sang wonderful songs that reflected the vedantic views, the advaita concepts, the song that were pure manifestations of love and bhakti – sung in acapella fashion, in the chorus, in a festive style and in the slow and easy flowing bhakti style. The audience was in a pure bliss and multiple standing ovations were given to the team.

This was followed by dinner and then a session of greetings by various friendly organizations. All the delegates gave wishes to CSE and their good work. They specially wished Roy Eugene Davis on his Birthday. Rev. O’Brian gifted a gold plated Shri Yantra to Mr.Davis. It was a beautiful piece of art that everyone got to see and enjoy.

Below is YB’s greeting message given on behalf of Yoga Bharati.

On behalf of Yoga Bharati and Sri N.V. Raghuram, Spiritual founder and Chairman of Yoga Bharati, Our special greetings on the mahasamadhi anniversaries of Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Yukteswar and the 82nd birth anniversary of Mr.Roy Eugene Davis – the direct disciple of Paramahamsa Yogananda.

It is indeed a wonderful occasion to celebrate the message of yoga that has inspired millions of Americans, especially when we are also celebrating Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary – the man who brought yoga to the west.

We commend Mr. Davis for his dedication to yoga for more than 50 years. Our special wishes to the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment and Center for Spiritual Awareness who have been tirelessly working to spread global health and peace through yoga.

Surya Namaskar Study Pilot Initiative

Suryanamaskar Yajna 2013 – Pilot Research Initiative

Yoga Bharati conducts Suryanamaskar Yajna every year from New Year to Ratha Saptami – usually for a duration of 6 weeks and this year, we are conducting research to showcase the benefits of Suryanamaskar. We conducted an informal pilot study on the effects of Surya Namaskar practice for 6 weeks.

Goals and Objectives

The main goal of Suryanamaskar Yagna is Yoga Awareness and spreading the wealth of yoga and Surynamaskar in the community. In addition:

  • Publish population and cohort studies towards bringing greater awareness about health benefits of yoga to the community.
  • Build interest in the community about scientific approach to ancient sciences and to look at yoga in a new light
  • Contribute in creating yoga as an evidence-based science so that yoga will be looked up as a preventative and complementary health care by governments and healthcare industry.

STUDY DETAILS

What is the Study?
Simple: You will begin Suryanamaskars on Jan 1st and end on Feb 17th and practice everyday a pre-determined set of Suryanamaskars (10 count)

Volunteers who are committed to yoga and health and would like to showcase the benefits to the community will be a part of this group. We will do some tests and have you answer some questionnaire in the beginning(before Jan 1st) and at the end of the yagna (after Feb 17th). You will enter daily log of your diet and your activity including the number of Suryanamaskar cycles you performed that day. No special diet will be recommended. Your physical activity will consist of a pre-determined set of Suryanamaskar performed in a specified time period.

You will practice a pre-determined set of Suryanamaskar followed by relaxation in loosened standing pose until the breat and heart rate comes to normal. This should be followed by 2 mins of Shavasana (Supine Resting Pose). The style of Suryanamaskar is fixed for the study. Please note that you need to strictly adhere to this style for us to be able to demonstrate the benefits in a scientific manner. Follow the below two links to find out the instructions and youtube video to practice along.
Instructions (Yoga Bharati):

Note: Please note that if you are new to Suryanamaskar practice, Yoga Bharati will be happy to teach you. Please contact us and we will be able to point you to the classes/workshops near your area.

Broad Idea about the tests conducted:
Parameters to be collected at the beginning and end. All data is kept confidential.
Teachers or Physical Therapists would collect the parameters. Alternatively you could ask your partners/family/friends to help with tests. We will explain and help you with the tests and questionnaire.

    • Height, Weight, BMI, Waist, Hip, Mid-arm, Mid-thigh, Mid-Calf circumference
    • Breath Holding Time, Bhramari Time & Respiratory Rate. Also Pulse rate & Blood Pressure for your ownpersonal assessment
    • Questionnaire to measure your Rajas/Tamas/Satva Score and Doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) , SF 36 questionnaire, personality tests, etc
    • Other parameters – Sugar if diabetic, thyroid levels if they have thyroid condition etc.

Swami Vivekananda 150th Birth Anniversary – Panel Discussion

Yoga Bharati members attended the150th anniversary of the birth of Swami Vivekananda organized by San Francisco Vedanta Society. It was a daylong unique free event at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, San Francisco, on Saturday, February 23, 2013

A lively panel discussion about “Yoga and the American Quest for Freedom” was conducted in the morning. The panel was hosted by Michael Krasny (Host of KQED’s Forum). Other speakers were – Jacob Needleman (Professor of Philosophy, San Francisco State University), Ann Louise Bardach (Journalist, Writer-at-Large for Newsweek Global/The Daily Beast, currently writing a book about Swami Vivekananda) and Swami Tattwamayananda (Vedic Scholar and Teacher).  In the afternoon was Freedom: The Song of the Soul ~ A Multimedia Presentation covering the fascinating and inspiring life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda in a captivating presentation, weaving together his words, photos and live music.  Prof Linda Hess explained Kabir’s philosophy and provided samples of his music to the audience.

Michael Krasny  (host and introductory talk)

Quest for freedom is integral to American thinking. The landscape of psychology has gone through dramatic changes to put it mildly and a lot of it is due to not just Vivekaanda but also due to the influence of yoga. Thanks to Vivekananda –  assimilation, absorption and acceptance of many of the teachings of the East that are with us now. Vivekananda was a global figure, addressed parliament of world religions, a figure that enabled American freedom in the sense of religion to a much greater degree. America is the nation that has always wanted to break the shackles of religious oppression. The immigrants came here to find religious freedom. We can take on the pride that religious freedom has taken on a multi-dimensional sphere of influence that can’t be denied. When you are practicing yoga and when you see all those young people who say they are spiritual, but not religious or when you see those who are looking for transcendence without knowing where that quest will lead them, lot of it seems to be to confabulate in ways that it points to the east and to the influence of yoga Spirituality is a way of finding out truth; in fact, much of what yoga is, in aesthetic sense and in intellectual sense is the search of truth.

Yoga is something we use to keep us in shape, and many of us use yoga to combine holistic approach to life; of feeling the greater sense of being centered. What fascinates me in terms of psychology is the expansion of consciousness and the expansion of thought that has been not be so coincidental and certainly been the output under the influence of the East and particularly under the influence of figures of Vivekananda. I also want to talk about the search and transcendence as often involving in the search for selflessness and service. This also is rooted in teachings of the yogis and yoga ideals. I have been teaching at the Esslin institute for many years now. The idea of yoga connected with liberation is simply customary in places like Esslin. The ideals of many people who say we want to do something to de-emphasize the self, to practice compassion, that helps the planet, something that ameliorate the suffering; in many ways these are related to the higher ideals of the yogis. Yoga is a practice of not only body but mind and spirit. The ideal of bringing the body, mind and spirit together regardless of the religion is something connected to the ancient yogis. You can be an agnostic or atheist and still be looking for this path, looking for something transcendent and something that gives life meaning and it is all tied to the ancient wisdom of yogis. The ideal of being in the quest of truth has always been a part of American freedom and has become a wedding between East and West. Although yoga as taught here in the West is different from what is taught in the East, so much has been absorbed, assimilated and accepted that  we can call it the wisdom of the hear. This is a psychology that goes with the wisdom of the heart; the psychology that releases us from the bondage of the Self from the bondage of oppression, that has to do with finding a calling.

The idea of mindfulness, the idea of an alliance to freedom is yoga; it teaches the value of breath as a gift of life, the global reach of this wisdom is what we see in the heterogeneous audience here. Yoga provides a kind of freedom; meditation as a practice has shown to be valuable in breaking addictions, coming out of jail and inner freedom. Yoga frees you, not necessarily from the disease or from afflictions, but we certainly know now that it helps a great degree with improving the immune system and with health and there can be freedom from suffering; Immuno-psychologist Mario Martinez who works with centenarians said there is definitely a relation between joy and living a long life even more than you would imagine the links are to the food you eat or the kind of genetics you have. Joy is central to this whole schema. This means a great deal in terms of how long you live and what kind of life you live. The whole counterculture movement has become wedded to yogi teachings and they are in essence the teachings about liberation, it seems to me the greater desire in making this a better planet is to free ourselves from the kind of bondage we may be in. With modern technology, we are heading towards greater freedom in so many ways that we cannot imagine, but the kind of freedom we are going to enjoy still goes back to the ancient yogis.

What is the meaning of freedom in America?

– Talk by Dr. Needleman

This is an interesting opportunity to understand or revisit a question that arises in many of our minds. What is the meaning of freedom in America?

I once gave a talk in Boston on the birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson and spoke about the extraordinary stand that a small group of farmers led against the military and drive them away. This led me toward the question of freedom, what America is all about. I later met with the group of people afterwards, and I asked them, and in doing so, I asked myself, what do you mean when you say freedom? Most of them were tongue-tied.

What comes to mind instantly is what is this freedom from? From external compulsions, the journey and constriction of one’s life…but what is this freedom for? What are we supposed to do with our freedom, once we have liberated ourselves from the external tyranny and compulsions? This touches on very deep questions of the human mind and soul.

If one takes the briefest of classes of the teachings and writings of Swami Vivekananda, we will see that this is a very deep question of the human heart, which is unanswerable. It is answerable really, but perhaps not in the state of consciousness we ask it in.

There are these questions…what does this freedom mean, what is it for?  What does it even mean beyond being able to do what we want with our desires and our pleasures, or accidental inclinations or conditioned habits and behavior or is there a deeper meaning of freedom that we are speaking about?

The first time I taught the course on the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I was a bit concerned. Emerson was deeply influenced by the philosophy of the Bhagawad Gita and Indian philosophy. He is a great writer in American literature and I was concerned about the fact that my students may not connect with the subtlety of the meaning in his writings. I was concerned that the students may not be able to assimilate the meaning of what Swami Vivekananda calls the soul or the Brahma or Aatman in us all that is intrinsically the divine force, our true identity. Once, Swami Ramakrishna was asked by Swami Vivekananada – “why are you bowing to me?” To this, Ramakrishna replied, “I am not bowing to you, I am bowing to the God within you.” This is a true identity within us. This is the central idea of Indian philosophy, but of course, it is reflected in most great spiritual traditions in the world.

All Emerson’s essays deal with aspects of human life – money, travel, literature, and the meaning of truth or wealth, which leads us, back to our initial quest for freedom. Everything led back to this essential freedom that presents the idea of the divine within us – our true identity, which is what we truly are, underneath the surface of our conditioned self. Our identification with superficial self brings us all the suffering that we have. When we read all those articles the students were deeply touched and thrilled. When I asked them why? –  Most said different things except one who said it brought him hope. Why did it bring him hope? …. because Emerson was not saying good things were going to happen. The hope was the writings from this great tradition touched them in a part of themselves that they didn’t know they had; or they had and they had forgotten. This metaphysical DNA has a deep need to connect with something greater than ourselves and serving that brings hope. The hope and freedom lies in the very paradox that true human freedom is the freedom to obey something deeper within ourselves.

If we look at freedom, as it is today – the ideas of democracy or other social and political policies, the idea of equality that all men are created equal has a spiritual meaning. It does not mean we are all entitled to the same station in life or the same material goods. It means under the reality of God (within) we are all equal, which refers to the nature of all human beings.

Jefferson defined freedom as the hostility towards all tyranny of the mind or anything that oppresses the mind or our power of understanding. Our consciousness, which is the source of our true individuality, brings us the capacity of a higher understanding of ourselves. Freedom is the contact with this higher capacity within us, which is not enslaved to random accidental thoughts, conditions, emotional fears, and desires that pull us around like a mad monkey. Freedom is an inner quality, the liberty from external compulsions. This freedom can and should be used for the search for the inner freedom, which is the voice of our conscience, that voice which is genuine.

The meaning of freedom in America needs to be refreshed. As a nation it needs to make room for search for conscience individually and also in association with other people. What is most important is to become real human beings both inwards free and divinely free and serve from love, which is higher than oneself. If that is lost we are lost. And that is not yet lost, no matter what the state of our political system.

Swami Vivekananda is a man who made such a tremendous impact genius charm; it is time to bring this element of thought into our culture.

Vivekananda 150 - Celebration Report

Vivekananda 150

Various organizations in the SF Bay area celebrated Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birth Anniversary on Jan 12th, 2013 and Yoga Bharati was proud to support them. Yoga Bharati children performed a short skit in Samskritam to showcase a few turning points in Swami Vivekananda’s life such as the vision he got while meditating on the Kanyakumari Rock which led him to undertake his journey to the West to deliver his epoch-making speech at Parliament of World religions. The skit was first performed in HSS Cupertino Shakha on the morning of Saturday, January 12th.

In the evening it was performed at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. It was in this church that Swami Vivekananda delivered his first lecture in the Bay area in 1900. The event was organized by Swami Vivekananda Celebratory Organization under the leadership of Swami Prasannatmananda of Vedanta Society, Berkeley. More than 20 children participated in the two skits with 8 of them dressed up as Vivekananda on stage speaking in fluent Samskritam interspersed by English translation. For all the Yoga Bharati parents, volunteers and children, it was a historic event in a historic place on a historic day for a legendary Hero ! The little Ranganayakis (girls with classical dance mudras) performed symbolic dances to show the action on the stage. At the end of the program, little children of ages 3 to 6 years old came on the stage waving the flags of various countries around the globe with a loud and clear message “Uttishtata, Jagrata, Prapya Varaan Nibodhata! – Arise, Awake, Stop not till the goal is reached”!

Swami Vivekananda is India’s spiritual ambassador to the West. He enriched the religious consciousness of Americans through his teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In India Vivekananda is regarded as a patriot saint of modern India and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day. His mission of East meeting the West is coming to fruition as evidenced by the new wave of yoga and the rapid adoption and application of yogic science in healthcare systems in America today.

Yoga Bharati has been a part of this wonderful movement and recently organized the International Conference Yoga Sangam to commemorate Swamiji’s 150th Birth Anniversary. Yoga Bharati encourages the volunteers of Yoga Bharati to attend and support all the activities related to Swamiji’s 150th birth centenary throughout the year culminating on Sep 11th 2013. That was the day, 120 years ago, Swamiji delivered his historic speech in the Parliament of World religions to a stunning applause. A speech that began with the simple words “Sisters and Brothers of America….”.

We will continue to support various events on Swami Vivekananda through out this year. Below are some of the events we highly recommend everyone to participate and support:

SNY Pilot Research Initiative 2013 – Announcement

Cupertino

Dec 26th 2012
Surya Namaskar Yagna 2013

Yoga Bharati is excited to announce Surya Namaskar Yagna (SNY) – Sun Salutations Marathon 2013 and a pilot Research Initiative in Surya Namaskar this year. The duration of the yagna is a total of 6 weeks, starting January 1st and ending on Feb 17th, the day of ‘Ratha Sapthami’. SNY has been an annual Yoga Bharati event for a few years now, with hundreds of people participating every year and performing more than 100,000 Surya Namaskars. SNY is a marathon where an individual sets a daily goal of Surya Namaskars and starts practicing, gradually increasing the count per day to reach that goal. The idea is to complete as many rounds of Surya Namaskar as possible during the yagna period. The main goal of the yagna is to spread awareness on the benefits of Yoga and Surya Namaskar in the community.

Surya Namaskars or Sun Salutations are performed to give reverence to the internal Sun, the creative force that radiates inside the body, along with the external Sun, which shines outside the body and is the source of all energy. Surya Namaskar is a series of 10 or 12 poses in a seamless flow; synchronized with one’s breath and typically performed at sunrise and sunset every day. It is ideal for people with busy schedules as it provides various benefits packaged as one routine within a small duration of time.

Surya Namaskar is a wonderful energization technique that combines both stimulation and relaxation to bring voluntary control over stress and release responses. It is also an excellent way to get cardiovascular exercise and build endurance with the least chance of injuries to muscles and joints due to the continuous variability of muscle length. Surya Namaskar practice also produces hormonal balance and burns calories to aid in weight management. Regular practice results in regulating and deepening the breath, builds body awareness and brings mindfulness into all our daily activities. In addition there are several psychological and spiritual benefits for true seekers.

Unique Surya Namaskar Pilot Research initiative for 2013
This year Yoga Bharati is launching a pilot Surya Namaskar Research Initiative in conjunction with the Surya Namaskar yagna. Yoga has been studied and practiced for centuries in traditional ways. It was the vision of Swami Vivekananda to apply the scientific research methods of the West to the ancient practices of the East to develop the best of both worlds for the benefit of mankind. Generating statistically convincing data by following rigorous research methodologies is the best way to convince the modern medical community of doctors and therapists and the community at large to adopt yoga for both preventive and curative solutions.

A chosen set of committed volunteers will practice a pre-determined set of Surya Namaskars for 6 weeks per a scientifically developed protocol and record their observations daily. No other changes in diet or physical activities are prescribed. Volunteers will answer a few questionnaires and allow some health parameters to be recorded at the beginning (Jan 1st) and at the end of the research duration (Feb 17th).

The study participants will be diligently tracked by assigned research coordinators who will be trained on all the research methodologies of protocol assignment and parameter collection.

By conducting this research project Yoga Bharati hopes to achieve the following goals

1) Publish population and cohort studies towards bringing greater awareness about health benefits of yoga to the community.
2) Build interest in the community about scientific approach to ancient sciences and to look at yoga in a new light
3) Contribute in creating yoga as an evidence-based science so that yoga will be looked up as a preventative and complementary health care by governments and healthcare industry.

 

East Meets West - by Dr.H.R.Nagendra – a Report

Cupertino, CA July 31st, 2012

Dr H R Nagrndra with Yoga Bharati Volunteers

 On Sunday, July 29th, 2012, Yoga Bharati Bay Area Chapter hosted programs towards Pre-Conference Workshop with the theme – EAST MEETS WEST to highlight Swami Vivekananda’s upcoming 150th Birthday. Yoga Bharati’s International Conference Yoga Sangam is also organized to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s dream of East Meeting West.

Guruji Dr. H.R.Nagendra, the Vice Chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation (VYASA) has worked in making Swami Vivekananda dream of spreading Yoga and its Philosophy to the world by bringing scientific research into yoga and making yoga therapy, an evidence based modality.

Guruji conducted a yoga workshop on Stress Management ((Stress Management for Excessive Tension) in Sunnyvale temple on Sunday July 29th at 7am. This workshop was attended by more than 50 people who were impressed and inspired by the depth of the yoga practice which was not just asanas, but a wholesome practice for the body, mind and soul.

Guruji also conducted a lecture and practice workshop on East Meeting West at India Community Center (ICC), Milpitas. He presented the work of VYASA, its 25 years of research on yoga and its applications in back pain, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc. More than 200 research papers are published in various scientific journals. Guruji had a great response to his program. More than 60 people including alumni of Indian Institute of Science (IISc, Bangalore) attended the program. Some people were so inspired that they decided to visit VYASA Bangalore and expressed their interest to dedicate their time volunteering for VYASA and Yoga Bharati.

Guruji also attended a Yoga Sangam Curtain Raiser Dinner with donors, supporters and Community Leaders on July 29th evening

KLOK’s Mahima Creations hosted a talk by Guruji Dr.H.R.Nagendra on their Altu Phaltu show, at the peak hour on the evening of June 29th. 

YIC 2012 Inauguration

Yoga Teacher Training 2012 Swami Prasannatmananda Vedanta Society

Yoga Bharati San Francisco Bay Area Chapter conducted its annual Yoga Teacher Training aka Yoga Instructor Course (YIC) inauguration on Sunday March 25, 2012 in India Community Center (ICC), Milpitas.

About 120 people, which included Yoga Bharati volunteers, the new students for 2012 YIC batch and the graduating students of previous batches assembled with their families for a spirited and fun filled Sunday afternoon at about 2:00 PM PDT.

It was a special occasion indeed as we commence the next batch of YIC for 2012!

The Event was inaugurated by the lamp lighting as is the Indian custom, by the chief guests –Swami Prasannatmananda of Vedanta Society, Berkeley and Acharya Shunya Pratichi Mathur of Vedika Global, Berkeley and Anil Surpur, President of Yoga Bharati, SF Chapter.

Yoga Teacher Training 2012 Acharya Shunya Vedika Global

A traditional invocation of Lord Ganesha was done by a Bharatanatyam dance – Maha Ganapatim, by the disciples of Guru Vishal Ramani. The audience watched with baited breath as the girls danced in their joyous Mudras. It was a wonderful spiritual ecstasy as they ended their dance with a formation of Ganesha with his trunk, his four hands, and his blessing Mudras, all posed by little girls using their hand and body gestures. It was Yoga in motion.

Yoga Teacher Training 2012 Kids dance

This was followed by Welcome speech by Anil Surpur. The chief guests were introduced by the MC, Binta Patel, followed by the felicitation of the guests by Savitha Nanjangud and Savita Joshi. The audience then got to enjoy satsang and powerful speeches given by both the chief guests.

Swami Prasannatmananda explained what yoga is (Union or ‘Addition of’, Concentration or Control) and brought about the idea of four streams of yoga namely Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga. He also spoke about the contributions of Swami Vivekananda to Raja Yoga.

Shunyaji applauded Yoga Bharati for all it’s achievements and the great service done to the community. She advised the outgoing students to take up Karma yoga and continue their passion. She reminded the students that this is just a beginning of spiritual journey. She said each and everyone who is looking for truth has to come to yoga and its philosophy to find it. She congratulated all for taking the right step in the right direction.

Student graduates from 2011 took center stage as they collected their certificates and received blessings from the chief guests, amidst cheers from friends and family.

A wonderful note addressed to the chief guests by Yoga Bharati Chairman Raghuramji was shared by Ashwini with the audience.

Logistics for the upcoming classes were shared by Shailesh Basani, YIC Training Coordinator, with the new entrants and they were requested to communicate without any hesitation for anything they might need, followed by introduction of YIC faculty.

Yoga Teacher Training

The last 30 minutes were dedicated to the cultural programs. This segment was completely dominated by the kids! Chinmay Surpur and Vedant Thyagarajan performed a Hindustani Jugal Bandhi in Raag Yaman Kalyan that simply resonated in the halls of ICC. Swamiji showered his blessings on all the kids and specially recognized both the singers.

This was followed by a Yoga dance by the children of Yoga Bharati kids classes. The music and choreography was set by Madhavi Jain and Chinmay Surpur. The parents and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the various postures and formations by the children who were totally committed to their practice and gave it their best!

Bhakti Yoga was the topic chosen by three youth. While Ashwin Nimmal spoke on Bhakta Prahlada, Saylee Padgaonkar chose to speak on Meera Bai. Ankita Jain’s passionate speech on Vivekananda energized one and all. She enacted Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the parliament of religions in Chicago in 1893. Her passionate rendering of the speech of Vivekananda brought tears of joy to many in the room.

The event had a beautiful conclusion – Vande Mataram sung by adult volunteers and the kids. The audience joined in and the grand finale wrapped up a great evening of sharing, fun, energy, love, happiness and quest for learning in the most befitting way over a light, hearty Satvik meal!

Annual Report – 2011

Yoga Bharati brings a wealth of knowledge about yoga and its philosophy through Yoga Teacher’s training and its Diploma courses. The courses are brought from Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation (SVYASA), Bangalore, India. We are now an affiliate center of the Hindu University of America in bringing Diploma in Yoga Wellness to our yoga teachers, a course that focuses on Therapeutic Applications of Yoga.

We are excited about the new yoga wave that Yoga Bharati is creating by bringing holistic yoga with its grand heritage and its depth of philosophy into the western world. With your help and support Yoga Bharati will further increase its pace of progress.

Presently Yoga Bharati has chapters in the following locations:

USA:

  • SF Bay Area
  • Detroit
  •  Los Angeles
  •  San Diego
  •  Seattle

Outside USA:

 

  •  Istanbul, Turkey
  •  Bengaluru, India
  •  Canada:
  •  Calgary
  •  Edmonton
  •  Vancouver


Accomplishments
We are proud of the great leap that Yoga Bharati has taken in its mission since its inception in 2002. In its efforts to spread its wings far and wide, Yoga Bharati has taken up various tasks and progressed in many areas. Below is an attempt to highlight some of the achievements

Yoga Alliance (YA) Registration:
We are now a Registered Yoga School (RYS 200) with Yoga Alliance for our Yoga Instructors Course (YICC), a 200 hour course, enabling the teachers to become Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200). We also have plans to register for RYS 500. This is great news for the whole organization, as it will put us on the national map of yoga training in USA & elsewhere.

Yoga Classes:

  • Public yoga classes have taken a big leap. We have a total of six locations in the Bay Area where free classes are conducted, thanks to all our volunteers. In Sunnyvale alone, we are conducting 15 free classes per week. So a total of 20 classes, with a value worth $4000 given out to the community per week by Yoga Bharati Bay Area chapter alone!
  • In Los Angeles, free yoga classes are conducted in four different locations.
  • In Detroit chapter, apart from free yoga classes, yoga is also given to Multiple Sclerosis patients on a biweekly basis. Free yoga classes are conducted in San Diego chapter on weekends.


Yoga Teachers Training (YICC) 2011
As with every year, Yoga Bharati conducted YICC 2011, its flagship course. In Bay Area, LA and Detroit chapters, we conducted this course this year.  As with every year, our Chairman and spiritual founder, Shri. N.V.Raghuram was the faculty for Yoga Philosophy Course(YPC) that is a part of YICC.

Partnership and Collaboration:
In Bay Area Chapter, Yoga Bharati worked with other organizations to help build network, spread the awareness and as a reach out program.  We collaborated with Sambodh Society for conducting annual workshops on Meditation, Yoga Philosophy and Vedanta. We provided volunteers for yoga classes at Chinmaya Mission Balavihar programs, at India Community Center (Milpitas, Bay Area) and other locations. We also worked with Samskrita Bharati in providing yoga for their Sanskrit Workshops and with Chinmaya Mission OM run volunteers in conducting yoga class for Marathoners.

Yoga Therapy sessions:
 Bay Area:
Yoga Bharati Bay Area chapter has made a great leap in therapeutic applications of yoga. Yoga classes have been running for the last three years with significant results.  We conduct yoga for kids, yoga for back/neck/shoulder pain, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, weight loss and stress management, to name a few. This year, we conducted many workshops and presentations on Yoga Therapy. In June 2011, we conducted a workshop on SMET and Yoga Evidence Based Yoga Presentation by Dr. Naveen. Vishweshwaraiah ofFAITHS, who has worked extensively on research in the field of yoga therapy. We conducted Prenatal Yoga workshop in collaboration with Dr. Vidya Mhamunkar and also Yoga and Ayurveda for Expectant Parents in collaboration with Vedika Global, a premier school of Ayurveda in Emeryville, CA. The goal of Yoga Bharati’s yoga classes for ailments is three-fold:

  • Help people with their ailments
  • Spread the awareness about therapeutic benefits of yoga
  • Develop and support research on how yoga can help in achieving positive health for individual and society


 Detroit (MS Society)
Since 2006, Yoga Bharati certified instructor, Ms. Sudha Rao has been devoting two hours on a bi weekly basis to teach yoga to people with Multiple Sclerosis at the MS society in Southfield, Michigan. The MS patients  have noticed a significant improvement in their flexibility and movements.  Ms. Rao intends to conduct a research study on the benefits of Yoga in MS patients in the near future.  She is joined in this effort by Dr Deepa Parikh has been working with the group since the summer of 2011 on a biweekly basis.

Diploma in Yoga Therapy (PGDYT)
The Bay Area chapter successfully conducted the contact program for Diploma in Yoga Therapy (PGDYT), a course for higher studies in yoga and its therapeutic applications. This course is brought in collaboration with SVYASA. The diploma course will be registered with Yoga Alliance as RYT 500 level course. SVYASA’s Arogyadhama (Prashanti – a health center of SVYASA at Bangalore), a premier Yoga Therapy Center provides our students, the required training for practical study of Yoga Therapy.

Apart from the diploma course, we are also conducting certification courses for teachers who can conduct classes for specific ailments such as back pain, diabetes, etc.

Sevathon 2011
On On July 17th, 2011, Yoga Bharati SF Bay Area chapter joined hands with India Community Center to participate in Sevathon 2011.  A free yoga workshop for runners was conducted by Yoga Bharati volunteers. Yoga Bharati was able to collect some donations towards its seva projects.

Satsangs and Workshops:
 SMET Workshop 2011
Yoga Bharati Bay area chapter organized a workshop for doctors and medical practitioners along with interested yoga community in Sunnyvale Hindu Temple on June 18th, 2011.  The workshop was well attended by over 100 people including doctors.This workshop was presented by Shri N.V.Raghuram, the spiritual founder of Yoga Bharati and a faculty member at SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation), Bengaluru, India, and Dr.Naveen Vishweshwaraih of FAITHS (Foundation for Assessment and Integration of Traditional Health Systems). Both these institutions are working on bringing research papers on the therapeutic effects of yoga. SVYASA has published over 150 papers on yoga applications for various ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, backpain, autism, cancer and many more. The program was extremely well received and the doctors got to understand the research that SVYASA has conducted in yoga and its benefits in addressing various ailments including cancer.

  Yoga Philosophy by Shri N.V.Raghuram

This year, Sri N.V.Raghuram taught the theory part of Yoga Teacher’s Training in Bay Area and Detroit chapters. He also conducted workshops on Pranayama, SMET and gave discourses on Bhagavad Gita and other topics in Bay Area, Detroit, Los Angeles area and Canada. The sessions were well received in all the chapters of the US.

Prof. Sastry Memorial 2011

Once a year, Yoga Bharati Detroit chapter celebrates the life and teachings of Prof. Satyanarayana Sastry in the form of a day- long spiritual workshop.  Prof. Sastry was the mentor of our own beloved guru, Raghuramji.   This year’s topic was the Concept of Fullness. Raghuramji discussed the concepts established in Ishavasya Upanishad.

 Workshop by Swami Bodhananda Saraswati
Bay Area chapter conducted annual meditation programs by Swami Bodhananda Saraswati of Sambodh Society. This year, he conducted workshops on Meditation I (Beginners) and II (Advanced) in Sunnyvale Hindu Temple and Meditation Basics in Fremont. The weekend workshops included Vedanta and Parenting and Gita and Management. The program were well received and well attended.

  Study Groups:
In an attempt towards our own Self Growth and our progress in spirituality, Yoga Bharati conducts study groups in its various chapters for its yoga teachers and volunteers. In Bay Area, regular monthly study groups are conducted where discussions on Bhagavad Gita shlokas, asanas and pranayama techniques, meditation practices, etc are carried out.  Detroit Chapter conducts monthly study groups on Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

Plans for 2012
Apart from further progress in the above programs, we will be planning the following:
Commemorating 150th Birthday of Swami Vivekananda & 10 years for Yoga Bharati
Yoga Bharati plans to conduct a Conference on Yoga commemorating 150th Birthday of Swami Vivekananda who kindled the spark of East meeting the West. This spark has gathered a huge momentum and yoga is a word of mouth in the west today. Yoga Research is gaining momentum and the world is looking with hopes towards yoga to solve the growing epidemics such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancer. With this conference, we hope to spread awareness of yoga and its depth to wider audience and to connect like minded people and to build the community. Details will be available soon.

Surya Namaskar Yagna (SNY-2011)
  (Sun Salutations Marathon)
Yoga Bharati conducts Suryanamaskar Yagna every year to spread the benefits of Surya Namaskar (SNY) on yoga participants.  The event starts on Jan 1st and ends on Ratha Saptami Day Jan 30th. Details will be announced soon.

Yoga Teachers Training 2012

Yoga Bharati Bay area and LA chapters will be conducting Yoga teachers Training (YICC) during April – June months.

Yoga Bharati – Yoga With a Difference

Yoga Bharati – Yoga With a Difference

While there are a host of yoga studios mushrooming in every street in America these days, there are very few of these studios or organizations that provide yoga for the body, mind and spirit making it a wholesome and holistic practice. People perform strenuous acrobatic poses, toning the muscles, sweating and stretching in the name of yoga. Very few of them focus on mental and spiritual aspects of of yoga.

Yoga Bharati’s very foundation of yoga classes is to provide health at five dimensions of human existance (pancha koshas) – the physical, the pranic or life-force level, the emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels. With the technique of stimulation and relaxation and with the focus on building awareness, ours is an integrated approach to yoga geared to be holistic. We bring subtle aspects from the ancient wisdom of Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali Yoga sutras with its stress on Asthanga Yoga. This makes our classes very popular and people who attend our yoga classes are simply awestruck by their simplicity and effectiveness. Our goal is to achieve positive health for individual and society (Vyasthi and Samasti as said in Upanishads) combining the best of East with the best of West as envisioned by Swami Vivekananda.

In the same spirit of combining head, heart and hand in all its activities, Yoga Bharati provides many avenues for our trained teachers to offer community service (sewa) whether it is through providing free yoga classes to the community, connecting the community with various aspects of yoga philosophy or instilling in the younger generation a spark of curiosity in yoga practice and philosophy. There is increasing demand for our teachers training program among high school children to help them handle the stresses of high school and college.

Yoga Therapy with Research (Evidence based Yoga)

Yoga Bharati has made a great leap in therapeutic applications of yoga in association with SVYASA, which has immense background on research in Yoga Therapy. SVYASA has published over 100 research papers that are catalogued in pubmed and are peer reviewed. SVYASA houses 250 bed Yoga Therapy Health center called Arogyadhama. We have been conducting yoga classes for common ailments and special groups such as kids and pregnant women in SF Bay Area for the last three years with significant results. We conduct yoga for kids, prenatal and postnatal yoga, yoga for back/neck/shoulder pain, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, weight loss and stress management, yoga for infertility, to name a few. The goal of Yoga Bharati’s yoga classes for ailments is three-fold:

Help people with their ailments by giving them regular classes where they learn to relax better and to get relief on their ailments. Touch the hearts of people with the simple and profound yogic concepts so they understand how to manage their condition as well as they become better in their overall personality – physical, mental and spiritual outlook

Develop research so that we practice Evidence based Therapy.

Yoga Teachers with depth of Yoga Foundation

Yoga Bharati conducts Yoga Teachers Training every year for three months as a weekend course. We bring this course from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation (SVYASA), a premier yoga university in Bengaluru, India with its focus on yoga research. Our course conforms to the Yoga Alliance RYT200. It is however, different from many other courses because we focus on holistic aspects in our course. We bring the best of yoga masters from India and US and give the most authentic yoga concepts along with scientific explanation of the concepts where needed. Yoga Philosophy is taught by Yogashree N.V.Raghuram of SVYASA and Spiritual founder and Chairman of Yoga Bharati who has more than 20 years experience in teaching Yoga philosophy in over 30 countries all over the world. Yoga Bharati also provides a platform for all the yoga teachers to further enhance their yoga skills and for their self growth by providing year round study groups, discourses by yoga masters, yoga retreats, Suryanamaskar yagna (Sun Salutation Marathon), Stress Management and other such workshops.

Stress Management using Yoga

Yoga Bharati brings Stress Management workshops to various communities. Just to name a few,

Yoga Bharati recently conducted a *free* SMET (Self Management of Excessive Tension, a SVYASA technique) in June 2011 at Sunnyvale Hindu Temple Auditorium for public and the doctors in the Bay Area. More than 100 folks participated in the event and enjoyed the wonderful discourse and SMET practice. This was presented by Shri. N.V.Raghuram of SVYASA and Dr.Naveen of FAITHS, Bengaluru.

  • Conducted Stress Management workshop for Foster Parents at the department of Family and Child Services.
  • Collaborated with Breathe California to bring Stress Management workshop for Senior Centers in the Bay Area.

Research Awareness for Medical Practitioners

One of the important initiatives of Yoga Bharati is to facilitate collaboration and awareness programs to bring research work on yoga in India to American medical community. Yoga Bharati arranged a Doctors Workshop in Sept 2010 where more than 30 doctors from various fields participated. Dr. Nagarathna, the chief of Medical staff at SVYASA chaired the event and shared the research work on Yoga in Diabetes, Cancer, Autism and many other ailments. A similar workshop was done in June 2011, where Dr. Naveen of FAITHS (Foundation for Assessment and Integration of Traditional Health Systems), Bengaluru, presented enormous data on research in Yoga Therapy. Doctors and research scientists at UCSF appreciated the presentation and agreed to work with Yoga Bharati and FAITHs in considering possible research collaborations.

Yoga for Kids with a difference

Our children’s yoga classes are also special in that we not only focus on yoga poses, but we do teach them to chant shlokas to build harmony of the mind and to root them into yogic tradition. Children of Yoga Bharati classes participate in Chinmaya Mission Gita Competition, Samskrita Bharati’s shloka competitions and bag awards! They are proud to be little yogis and to chant their Sanskrit shlokas.

Partnerships and Reach Outs

Yoga Bharati works with other organizations to help build network, spread the awareness, to bring the best of yoga research into our practice, and as a reach out program.

Research: We collaborate with SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation), Bengaluru and FAITHS (Foundation for Assessment and Integration of Traditional Health Systems), Bengaluru for bringing evidence based yoga into our yoga classes and therapy classes.
Community Service and Outreach: We provide free classes at various locations in the SF Bay Area, prominent temples, public libraries, community centers, Chinmaya Mission Balavihar programs, at India Community Center (Milpitas, Bay Area) and other locations in USA.
Vedanta: We collaborate with Sambodh Society for conducting annual workshops on Meditation, Yoga Philosophy and Vedanta.

Sanskrit: Since Sanskrit and Yoga go hand in hand, we refer our yoga students to Samskrita Bharati for Speak Sanskrit Course, and for higher studies on Sanskrit and also provide yoga classes for workshops and retreats of Samskrita Bharati.
Ayurveda: Working with Vedika Global (a Ayurveda School in Berkeley) to provide Yoga Darshan course as a part of their curriculum.
Yoga for Sports: We work with non-profit organizations like Sevathon, Ekal Vidyalaya and Chinmaya mission to conduct yoga sessions for their Marathon programs. Marathoners have given a feedback that they were able to improve their speed from 10%-30% after they took the yoga class. They also said they get less pain and less injury after taking yoga classes.

Making a Difference – A New WayInstead of providing fish to the needy, Yoga Bharati teaches them how to fish. Due to modern life style, extreme competitions, economic instability, relationships issues of fast paced individual-centric American society, etc, people are under tremendous stress. Lifestyle disorders such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases are becoming epidemics. To address this and to help people manage their lives better, Yoga Bharati conducts free classes in many locations in the Bay Area and different chapters of America. Our goal is to help people help themselves. Yoga Bharati has provided more than 400 yoga classes per week in various locations in the Bay Area alone (worth $4000 or more).

Simply by attending our regular free classes, people have made their lives better and are living in health and harmony. Many come to Yoga Bharati yoga teachers at the end of the class and explain how stressed they were just a couple of years ago and how peaceful, they feel after attending regular yoga classes.

Innovation - Yoga Bharati 2011 Report

Yoga Bharati – Yoga With a Difference

While there are a host of yoga studios mushrooming in every street in America these days, there are very few of these studios or organizations that provide yoga for the body, mind and spirit making it a wholesome and holistic practice. People perform strenuous acrobatic poses, toning the muscles, sweating and stretching in the name of yoga. Very few of them focus on mental and spiritual aspects of of yoga.

Yoga Bharati’s very foundation of yoga classes is to provide health at five dimensions of human existance (pancha koshas) – the physical, the pranic or life-force level, the emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels. With the technique of stimulation and relaxation and with the focus on building awareness, ours is an integrated approach to yoga geared to be holistic. We bring subtle aspects from the ancient wisdom of Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali Yoga sutras with its stress on Asthanga Yoga. This makes our classes very popular and people who attend our yoga classes are simply awestruck by their simplicity and effectiveness. Our goal is to achieve positive health for individual and society (Vyasthi and Samasti as said in Upanishads) combining the best of East with the best of West as envisioned by Swami Vivekananda.

In the same spirit of combining head, heart and hand in all its activities, Yoga Bharati provides many avenues for our trained teachers to offer community service (sewa) whether it is through providing free yoga classes to the community, connecting the community with various aspects of yoga philosophy or instilling in the younger generation a spark of curiosity in yoga practice and philosophy. There is increasing demand for our teachers training program among high school children to help them handle the stresses of high school and college.

Yoga Therapy with Research (Evidence based Yoga) - Yoga Bharati has made a great leap in therapeutic applications of yoga in association with SVYASA, which has immense background on research in Yoga Therapy. SVYASA has published over 100 research papers that are catalogued in pubmed and are peer reviewed. SVYASA houses 250 bed Yoga Therapy Health center called Arogyadhama. We have been conducting yoga classes for common ailments and special groups such as kids and pregnant women in SF Bay Area for the last three years with significant results. We conduct yoga for kids, prenatal and postnatal yoga, yoga for back/neck/shoulder pain, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, weight loss and stress management, yoga for infertility, to name a few. The goal of Yoga Bharati’s yoga classes for ailments is three-fold:

  • Help people with their ailments by giving them regular classes where they learn to relax better and to get relief on their ailments.
  • Touch the hearts of people with the simple and profound yogic concepts so they understand how to manage their condition as well as they become better in their overall personality – physical, mental and spiritual outlook
  • Develop research so that we practice Evidence based Therapy.

Yoga Teachers with depth of Yoga Foundation - Yoga Bharati conducts Yoga Teachers Training every year for three months as a weekend course. We bring this course from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation (SVYASA), a premier yoga university in Bengaluru, India with its focus on yoga research. Our course conforms to the Yoga Alliance RYT200. It is however, different from many other courses because we focus on holistic aspects in our course. We bring the best of yoga masters from India and US and give the most authentic yoga concepts along with scientific explanation of the concepts where needed. Yoga Philosophy is taught by Yogashree N.V.Raghuram of SVYASA and Spiritual founder and Chairman of Yoga Bharati who has more than 20 years experience in teaching Yoga philosophy in over 30 countries all over the world. Yoga Bharati also provides a platform for all the yoga teachers to further enhance their yoga skills and for their self growth by providing year round study groups, discourses by yoga masters, yoga retreats, Suryanamaskar yagna (Sun Salutation Marathon), Stress Management and other such workshops.

Stress Management using Yoga - Yoga Bharati brings Stress Management workshops to various communities. Just to name a few,

  • Yoga Bharati recently conducted a *free* SMET (Self Management of Excessive Tension, a SVYASA technique) in June 2011 at Sunnyvale Hindu Temple Auditorium for public and the doctors in the Bay Area. More than 100 folks participated in the event and enjoyed the wonderful discourse and SMET practice. This was presented by Shri. N.V.Raghuram of SVYASA and Dr.Naveen of FAITHS, Bengaluru.
  • Conducted Stress Management workshop for Foster Parents at the department of Family and Child Services.
  • Collaborated with Breathe California to bring Stress Management workshop for Senior Centers in the Bay Area.

Research Awareness for Medical Practitioners - One of the important initiatives of Yoga Bharati is to facilitate collaboration and awareness programs to bring research work on yoga in India to American medical community. Yoga Bharati arranged a Doctors Workshop in Sept 2010 where more than 30 doctors from various fields participated. Dr. Nagarathna, the chief of Medical staff at SVYASA chaired the event and shared the research work on Yoga in Diabetes, Cancer, Autism and many other ailments. A similar workshop was done in June 2011, where Dr. Naveen of FAITHS (Foundation for Assessment and Integration of Traditional Health Systems), Bengaluru, presented enormous data on research in Yoga Therapy. Doctors and research scientists at UCSF appreciated the presentation and agreed to work with Yoga Bharati and FAITHs in considering possible research collaborations.

Yoga for Kids with a difference - Our children’s yoga classes are also special in that we not only focus on yoga poses, but we do teach them to chant shlokas to build harmony of the mind and to root them into yogic tradition. Children of Yoga Bharati classes participate in Chinmaya Mission Gita Competition, Samskrita Bharati’s shloka competitions and bag awards! They are proud to be little yogis and to chant their Sanskrit shlokas.

Partnerships and Reach Outs - Yoga Bharati works with other organizations to help build network, spread the awareness, to bring the best of yoga research into our practice, and as a reach out program.

  • Research: We collaborate with SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation), Bengaluru and FAITHS (Foundation for Assessment and Integration of Traditional Health Systems), Bengaluru for bringing evidence based yoga into our yoga classes and therapy classes.
  • Community Service and Outreach: We provide free classes at various locations in the SF Bay Area, prominent temples, public libraries, community centers, Chinmaya Mission Balavihar programs, at India Community Center (Milpitas, Bay Area) and other locations in USA.
  • Vedanta: We collaborate with Sambodh Society for conducting annual workshops on Meditation, Yoga Philosophy and Vedanta.
  • Sanskrit: Since Sanskrit and Yoga go hand in hand, we refer our yoga students to Samskrita Bharati for Speak Sanskrit Course, and for higher studies on Sanskrit and also provide yoga classes for workshops and retreats of Samskrita Bharati.
  • Ayurveda: Working with Vedika Global (a Ayurveda School in Berkeley) to provide Yoga Darshan course as a part of their curriculum.
  • Yoga for Sports: We work with non-profit organizations like Sevathon, Ekal Vidyalaya and Chinmaya mission to conduct yoga sessions for their Marathon programs. Marathoners have given a feedback that they were able to improve their speed from 10%-30% after they took the yoga class. They also said they get less pain and less injury after taking yoga classes.

Making a Difference – A New Way - Instead of providing fish to the needy, Yoga Bharati teaches them how to fish. Due to modern life style, extreme competitions, economic instability, relationships issues of fast paced individual-centric American society, etc, people are under tremendous stress. Lifestyle disorders such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases are becoming epidemics. To address this and to help people manage their lives better, Yoga Bharati conducts free classes in many locations in the Bay Area and different chapters of America. Our goal is to help people help themselves. Yoga Bharati has provided more than 400 yoga classes per week in various locations in the Bay Area alone (worth $4000 or more).

Simply by attending our regular free classes, people have made their lives better and are living in health and harmony. Many come to Yoga Bharati yoga teachers at the end of the class and explain how stressed they were just a couple of years ago and how peaceful, they feel after attending regular yoga classes.

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Yoga Bharati and Vedika Global

Report on Ayurveda Workshop at Vedika Global

Vedika Global in association with Yoga Bharati, SF Bay Area Chapter, conducted a 2-day Ayurvedic Workshop for Yoga Practitioners’ on Sept 17th and 18th, 2011. The event was well attended with over 40 seekers attending and posing some interesting questions along the way.

All of us were greeted in Vedika Global with the tradition of applying chandan. kumkum and rice tilak – a common form of greeting in India. After being served wholesome breakfast of cream of wheat prepared with milk and spices, the session began with prayers and an introduction to Ayurveda by Vedika’s founder Shunya Pratichi Mathur and Dr. Mahesh, a visiting expert on Ayurveda from India.

The first day of the workshop was occupied by the history of Ayurveda and its practicality. Since time immemorial, sincere followers of Ayurveda have led a happy and healthy life without any major illnesses and with good stamina for 90-100 years old.

The Ancient Indian philosophy (Sanatana Dharma’s) pillars of life – Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha and its connection to Ayurveda was discussed. Anyone trying to achieve purushartha have to follow Ayurvedic rules, regulation and advice to achieve the results. The basics of Ayurveda were explained elegantly including the concept of Panchamabutas or five elements of nature – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space and its relationship to the Doshas– Vata, Pitta and Kapha. This led to the discussion on Ayurvedic rule of thumb –  ‘similarities’ increasedosha while dissimilarities’ decrease’ dosha.

The three concepts of Ayurveda – Dosha (Force), Dhatu (tissue) and Mala (Waste) were explained. A detailed explanation on Prakriti and Vikruti and the timing/age for precedence of the three Dosha’s in Human Body was also given. Throughout the explanation, examples of patients were given, some of who were present in the room.

On the second day, the concept of Agni and Aama was explained along with the importance of digestion in Ayurveda. The six tastes (Shad Rasas) and their role in correcting and maintaining proper doshas in the body for health were discussed. Restorative yogasanas and pranayama for different doshas were discussed.  The entire session was interactive with all of our questions answered diligently.

This was followed by cooking demonstration by Sanjayji, whose cooking we enjoyed on both the days. He demonstrated making of rose water, spiced milk and kadhi. The samples were heavenly. We all parted ways after the two-day workshop but it left a deep rooted desire to seek more on this ancient art of life – Ayurveda!

On both days, we had sumptuous, healthy, Ayurvedic breakfast and lunch. We are truly blessed to have received this knowledge and have some true gurus close to us.

Details about Vedika can be found at: http://www.vedikaglobal.org/

Yoga and Stress Management Dr Naveen and Raghuramji

 June 18th, 2011
Sunnyvale
Yoga Bharati conducted a workshop on Yoga and Stress Management where close to hundred people attended and enjoyed the event. The workshop was also attended by the doctors and medical researchers who were interested in the ongoing research in yoga and its therapeutic effects.
This workshop was presented by Shri N.V.Raghuram, the spiritual founder of Yoga Bharati and a faculty member at SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation), Bengaluru, India, and Dr.Naveen Vishweshwaraih of FAITHS (Foundation for Assessment and Integration of Traditional Health Systems). Both these institutions are working on bringing research papers on the therapeutic effects of yoga. SVYASA has published over 150 papers on yoga applications for various ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, backpain, autism, cancer and many more.
Shri Raghuram presented the concepts of yoga and its effect on Stress. He showed the example of Arjuna’s mental condition in Bhagavad Gita and explained that his sudden decision to withdraw from the inevitable war imposed on them, his trembling hands and legs and his hesitation to fight the war in the battlefield showed the signs of anxiety disorder. “Krishna explained him the concepts of yoga and counseled him to come out of his confusions to take his own battle decisions. Simple and profound yogic counseling of Krishna could relax Arjuna to get clarity of mind even in the battlefield” said Shri Raghuram. Raghuramji also explained how yoga can help us in handling our stress in day-to-day life and how we all can learn from the example of Arjuna.

Dr. Naveen presented the research side of yoga in the most elegant and amazing manner. He began with how yoga can help counter stress by giving examples from Patanjali Yoga Sutras and then quickly moved into the most exciting part of the program by showing us the graphs and charts on the effects of different asanas, pranayama and meditation on the psycho-physiology of our personalities. He presented the research on the ability to control involuntary systems of the body such as heart rate, body temperature by the yogis and also showed how the prefrontal cortex of a yogi looks like, using EEG and other clinical neurophysiology tools.. He also demonstrated the research data on heart rate variability of postures such a Shirshasana (head stand) and practices like Kapala Bhati, Nadi Shuddhi (alternate nostril breathing) and single nostril breathing like Surya anuloma viloma (right) and Chandra anuloma viloma (left) and their effects on psycophysiology parameters such as oxygen consumption, blood pressure, galvanic skin resistance, memory and grip strength, spatial memory, etc, using the bio-feedback tools. He then explained SVYASA’s Cyclic Meditation Technique and its effect on stress management and also the physiological effects of Cyclic Meditation such as respiration, peak amplitude, peak latency, memory scores, etc.

 After Dr. Naveen’s presentation, the audience enjoyed the practice of Cyclic Meditation by Shri N.V.Raghuram and at the end was Q&A session where the audience flooded Dr.Naveen with questions which were all answered effectively. The doctors present in the audience were excited over the research data presented and they expressed their interest in working on bringing yoga and its research to their patient community. Sri N.V.Raghuram is a professor at SVYASA University and the spiritual founder of Yoga Bharati. With more than 20 years of yoga experience, Sri Raghuram conducts workshops and yoga discourses during several retreats and conferences around the world. He has been instrumental in starting yoga therapy programs in many hospitals and medical research centers in US and Europe.
Dr. Naveen. Visweswaraiah is the Director, Foundation for Assessment and Integration of Traditional Health Systems [FAITHS], Bengaluru. He is also a Co-Principal Investigator at ICMR Center for Advanced Research in Yoga and Neurophysiology and Associate Professor at SVYASA.

 

Sevathon 2011

On the beautiful sunny morning of Sunday July 17th, approx 1500 people came together at Bayland's park in Sunnyvale to run for the charity of their cause under the banner of Sevathon 2011, wearing beautiful Gandhi topis (caps). 

Yoga Bharati participated in Sevathon 2011 with a great festivity. UNISH corporation sponsored Yoga Bharati. More than 20 participants ran and raised funds for Yoga Bharati at Sevathon 2011. Yoga teachers of Yoga Bharati taught yoga for all the marathon runners and 10k/5k walkers before and after the run/walk. 

Yoga Bharati booth was buzzling with activity where people got information about various yoga activities such as free yoga classes, yoga therapy classes, yoga for kids, prenatal yoga, etc. People signed up for yoga classes on the spot.

Sevathon's vision is to create the largest community-wide walkathon and awareness platform dedicated to “Seva” or “Service” and to local non-profits who share this principle.