Category: General

SOUR – The Rasas of Ayurveda

SOUR - The Rasas of Ayurveda -A Learning Experience

There are 6 tastes or RASAS recognized in the Ayurvedic diet. They are Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent.  They all have a relationship to the FIVE ELEMENTS and transmit the properties of the elements.  We need a balanced diet containing all of the tastes in every meal, adjusted for personal requirements and seasonal concerns of course.  It is a very satisfying and nutritionally sound way of eating as all of the major food groups and nutrients are present and each of the tastes has its own therapeutic benefit when absorbed. You can feel the level of satisfaction when eating like this.

Today I am just going to share a little about my personal experience with the SOUR  taste as we have been talking about it in class this week.  Sour soothes Vata and can aggravate both Pitta and Kapha. It acts as an appetizer when taken in moderation and will kindle the digestive fire.  It strengthens the heart and stimulates digestion.  We all need a little sour taste this season (FALL)  even if we do not like it!   This is Vata season and it will help to sooth and calm Vata imbalances.  Sour contains both Earth and Fire Elements, it is light, hot and unctuous.

Watch out though when taken in excess!  I had this experience in India last winter while living in Tamil Nadu which is in south India. The weather was beautiful, warm, just a little humid but not unpleasant at all and I had no idea why my legs were so swollen. I thought it was because I was sitting in class for 8-10 hours a day.  Every day I had this edema, swelling in the ankles, that I had never experienced before. Even growing up in Montreal where the summers can be quite humid I did not recall ever having this experience.  So I walked more, kept my legs elevated when in class and never did figure it out.

Until now, I finally put it together -  look at the picture above for the answer.  That is the fruit  AMLA, Indian Gooseberry, growing abundantly on a tree in my neighbor's yard.  Everyday I passed it and took a little handful of these very potent, very sour little fruits to class. It was such a novelty for me to see Amla growing like this. I have been studying Ayurveda for close to 20 years but had never seen the live fruit before. I overindulged daily for a month.  Amla is one of the three ingredients of Triphala, a commonly prescribed herbal compound, it is considered to be an excellent source of vitamin C.

However, in excess, what the sour taste does is cause sensitive teeth, involuntary closure of the eyelids, hyperacidity, heartburn and ,yes edema or swelling.  Mystery solved. I was eating way too much.  It was not the Amla causing the swelling but rather my excessive consumption of it.  More is not better, anything in excess will cause an imbalance.  Sour can also aggravate Pitta and the blood, causing skin disorders. We need to notice these things, it can be something as simple as over consuming a taste that is either not appropriate for your constitution or not needed in the season you are in.

Some other examples of sour taste are citris fuits, vinegar, sour cream, yogurt, grapes.

Everyday there is something new to learn. It took me hearing all week from my students about how they experience edema when having too much vinegar to put that little puzzle together and now I will never forget it.   Food is powerful medicine. Still learning. S

(Amla in fact has all of the rasas except for salty but it's predominate taste is sour)

Kitchari ( Kitchada) FALL SEASON

Kitchari (Kichada)   FALL SEASON

Kitchari is versatile, you can flavor it to suit your constitution or the season.

This sample recipe is just a starting point for your own creativity. Eating this simple diet for periods of time gives your digestive system a rest. The basic ingredients for all kitchari are white basmati rice and split mung beans which form a complete protein and are easily digested.  Add seasonal or constitutional spicing and fresh vegetable for a cleansing and refreshing restart to your digestion.

1 cup white basmati rice

1 cup split mung dahl (rinsed thoroughly)

4-5 cups water depending on how soupy you want it to be

2 tsp ghee

1 tsp asofoetida (hing)

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp coriander seed

1 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp salt

your choice of seasonal vegetables ie. zucchini, squash, scallions, sweet potatoeadd coconut milk and cilantro to taste if you like at the end

1. Wash beens and rice then set aside, you can also soak them overnight for shorter cooking times and easier digestion.

2. Heat the ghee and add the spices for a few minutes

3. Add rice and beans for a few minutes. 

4. Add water and bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes

5. Prepare vegetables and add to the mixture in the last 5 or 10 minutes depending on the vegetable and how long it needs to cook.

Be creative, you cannot do this wrong!   (I like double the ginger & coriander - experiment !)

Incompatible Food Items

From Chakrapani Ayurveda. . . .

Dear Readers,


We all desire for a long and healthy life. To achieve this our daily diet plays a pivotal role. The old saying 'We are what we eat' should be ignored at no cost. A diet which has all essential nutrients, balanced, cooked in a proper manner, consumption of two or more food items not contrary in qualities to each other is considered good and wholesome for the body and that which is opposite to the above mentioned qualities i.e. not balanced, not cooked adequately or cooked too much, food items differing in qualities to one another is considered unwholesome, harmful and incompatible. Consumption of such food leads to improper formation of Dhatus (body tissues), causing many rogas (systemic diseases) in the body. In this newsletter we shall see in detail about Viruddha Ahara (Unwholesome / Incompatible foods) and the diseases caused by their intake.

We welcome your suggestions and submissions.

Enjoy reading and get benefited by Ayurveda.

Vaidya Lakshmi Anoop

Viruddha Ahara (Incompatible Food Items)

The literal meaning of the word Viruddha is opposite or contrary. That food which is wrong in combination (Samyog), improperly processed (Sanskara), consumed in inappropriate time of day or in wrong season is Virudhha Ahara (Incompatible food) and it can lead to disease formation. Food items which are opposite in qualities or which has opposite action on the tissues may exert undesirable effects if processed in a particular form or combined in a certain proportion or consumed at an incorrect time. Some incompatible combinations which may lead to diseases are explained below. A person desirous of healthy and disease-free life should avoid incompatible food combinations.


Some Incompatible Combinations : 


1) Desha Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to place) – Excessive intake of hot and sharp food in dry regions and sweet, unctuous food in marshy regions is an example of Deshviruddha.

2) Kaala Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to season) – Excessive consumption of pungent and sharp food articles in summers and cold, dry food in winter season is an example of Kaala Viruddha.

3) Agni Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to digestive fire) - Intake of light to digest food when there is strong digestive fire and heavy substances in weak digestive fire.

4) Maatra Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to quantity) - Honey and cow's ghee when consumed in equal quantity is incompatible.

5) Satmya Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to habit) - Intake of light to digest and dry food by a person who is accustomed to eating heavy and unctuous food is an example of Satmya Viruddha.

6) Dosha Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to Dosha) – The use of diet, herbs and treatment which are similar in qualities to the predominant dosha present in a person.

7) Sanskar Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to mode of preparation) - Heated or cooked honey is considered to be like poison for the body while uncooked honey is like nectar.

8) Veerya Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to potency) - Intake of hot and cold potency food together in a meal is incompatible. Eg. Intake of fish and milk together.

9) Koshtha Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to alimentary canal) – Administration of ununctuous herbs or substances in small quantity to a person having Krura Koshtha (hard / costive bowels) and administration of large dose of laxatives to a person having Mridu Koshtha (soft bowels).

10) Avastha Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to status of health) - Consumption of heavy to digest, cold potency and unctuous foods that aggravate Kapha by a person after sleep and intake of light to digest, hot potency and dry foods that aggravate Vata by a person after physical exertion are examples of Avastha Viruddha.

11) Krama Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to sequence) - Taking hot water after honey and consuming curd at night is incompatible.

12) Parihar Viruddha (Contraindication Incompatibility) — Consuming cold water immediately after having hot tea or coffee.

13) Upachaar Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to treatment) - Intake of cold items after taking ghee.

14) Paaka Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to cooking) – Cooking food with bad fuel and undercooking or overcooking or burning food during the process of preparation.

15) Samyog Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to combination) - Intake of banana or sour fruits or sour food items with milk.

16) Hriday Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to palatability) - Intake of unpleasant food.

17) Sampad Viruddha (Incompatibility with respect to quality of food) - Intake of substances that are not mature or over mature or putrified.

18) Vidhi Viruddha (Not following the rules of eating) - Not eating food which is warm, unctous and in appropriate quantity, eating too slow or fast, talking and laughing while eating and eating without concentration.

Diseases caused by Viruddha Ahara

Viruddha Ahara causes various skin diseases, ascites, fistula-in-ano, intoxication, abdominal distension, fever, rhinitis, stiffness, swelling, anaemia. Incompatible foods does not produce diseases in those who are habituated to physical exercise, who are strong, who have good digestive power, who are accustomed to it by it's long use and who consume it in little quantity.

The treatment of diseases caused by Virudhha Ahara is Shodhana (purificatory therapies which includes mainly emesis and purgation) and Shamana (palliative care with herbs and measures contrary to the nature of the disease). One should gradually discontinue the intake of incompatible and unhealthy food items and start consuming healthy foods and not abruptly as withdrawal symptoms due to sudden discontinuance of unhealthy substances may occur. By discontinuation of unhealthy foods and intake of healthy foods, bad effects of unhealthy measures will decrease and good effects of healthy masures being adopted will increase, thus striking a balance restoring health to the body once again. Thus by treating the diseases caused by Virudhha Ahara and by consuming healthy food in proper quantity, the person can attain optimal health and well-being.

This article is written by Vaidya Janaki Jayaraman, Consultant Physician at Chakrapani Ayurveda Clinic & Research Center.

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8, Diamond hill, Behind Birla Temple, Tulsi circle, Shanti path, Jaipur-302004, India.

Telefax : +91-141-2624003   Phone: +91-141-2620746

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Chakrapani Ayurveda Clinic & Research Center located in Jaipur is the largest wellness center in North India providing genuine services in the field of Ayurveda from the past 17 years.


A Simple 5 Day Cleanse

A Simple 5 Day Cleanse

To start the cleanse, drop dairy, wheat, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, all processed foods and any foods your body does not digest easily.

First thing in the morning, after drinking a cup of warm (hot)  water, take ghee or flax oil as follows:

day 1  2tsp

day 2  4tsp

day 3  4tsp

day 4  4tsp

day 5  8tsp

Sip warm water( hot) every 15 minutes and drink 2 litre room temp water every day.

15 minutes prior to meals, take 1tsp, agni appi (frsh ginger slivers with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime juice)

Eat only fresh cooked foods on Day 1 and Day 5

If possible eliminate all oils in/on food on Days 2-4

Eat only kichada on Days 2-4

Take one tsp triphala at bedtime every day.

Depending on body weight, take 2-3 tsp castor oil on evening of Day 5

Enjoy a warm oil self massage and hot Epsom salt bath every day

shared with permission

from Savita Leah Young

Ayurvedic Consultant and Practitioner,

Integrated Bodyworker, YTT 200hr

Amrit Dhara Ayurveda

Salt Spring Island BC.


if you are interested in longer, supervised cleanses please contact Savita directly

PDF  Simple 5 day cleanse

Daily Morning Lifestyle Routine

In our current  7 week session of weekly yoga classes we are exploring how to adopt an Ayurvedic lifestyle, by making simple changes ... . . .here is a little sample of one of the weekly handouts that support our growing yogic practices. . . . .

Dinacharya: The Daily Routine

This daily routine has been adapted from several sources and enhanced based on my own experience. Add your own daily routines here and share them as part of the weekly lifestyle modifications.  This is how we build a healthy lifestyle, by making one change at a time, slowly the benefits will be experienced and negative habits will fall to the side naturally.

The strongest influence of nature comes to earth from the sun.  As the sun makes its way across the sky it generates different qualities of energy and these different energies of the sun support different activities.  If you follow the sun as you wake, and throughout the day as it travels from east to west you will have natures support in all of your activities.

1. Rise with the Sun: The eastern light of the morning brings a powerful, healing, peaceful energy that will clean your aura and start your day with the highest satvic quality. This pre dawn energy sets the body chemistry for the day.  As soon as you wake, look at your hands and then move them over your face and chest to your waist, this also refreshes your aura and will support a peaceful state of mind.  A regular daily practice of greeting the rising sun will improve your health, strength and power to concentrate.  Set an intention for your day before leaving the bed and be grateful for this new day.  Before getting out of bed notice which nostril is open and step out of bed with the same side foot hitting the floor first, this is where the saying ’getting off of on right foot’ comes from. This practice forms an energy shield that wards off negative energy for the day. ( see page 20 of Dhanwantari for inspiration)

2. . Clean the Face, Mouth, Eyes, Ears and Nose: As soon as you rise attend to the five senses, wash the face with refreshing cool water, splash the eyes, nose, massage the ears and do a few eyes exercises, stretching the muscles of the eyes in all directions.  Brush the teeth and scrape the tongue with a metal tongue scraper, this stimulates the internal organs, helps digestion and removes dead bacteria.  Add the use of the neti pot to your daily routine.

3. Drink Water in the morning: First thing after the mouth is clean drink a glass of room temperature water, preferably water that has been sitting in a copper cup over night. This washes out the GI tract, cleans the kidneys and stimulates peristalsis.  Next have a glass of warm water with the juice of one lemon to loosen toxins from the tissues.

4. Oil Pulling: Swishing oil around the mouth has many benefits for both the health of the teeth and gums as well as pulling toxins out of the body.

5. Lubricate the nose: A few drops of ghee or sesame oil in each nostril helps to lubricate the nose and clean the sinuses.  The nose is the doorway to the brain and this practice will improve the vision, the voice and mental clarity as well as nourishing the prana and bringing intelligence.

6. Oil drops in the Ears: “ Conditions such as ringing in the ears, excess ear wax, poor hearing, lockjaw, and TMJ, are all due to vata in the ears.  Putting 5 drops of warm sesame oil in each ear can help with these disorders." Dr. Lad   www.

7. Adhyanga Oil Massage: Morning oiling of the body and scalp before bathing will bring happiness, prevent headaches, balding and receding hairline(contact Sandra for full details on this practice )

8. Elimination: The body will naturally eliminate waste in the early morning when vata predominates as the force of movement supports defecation and will keep the system regulated if the daily routines are consistent.

9. Bathing: Removes any fatigue or lethargy (tamas) from the night, brings energy to the body and clarity to the mind.  Sing or hum in the shower to bring joy into your life.  Now purified within and without the day is off to a good start.  The system has been cleared of wastes and toxins, is relaxed and the stomach is empty, the mind ready for a focused spiritual practice.

10.Meditation: While the gentleness of the morning hours still pervades find a clean, quiet place, preferably facing east and sit in stillness for a prescribed length of time.  There are many concentration practices (Dharana) which lead to meditation.  Tratak or candle gazing is one such concentration exercise which induces single pointed focus of the mind( see pg. 52 Dhanwantari for instructions)  Optimal times for meditation are sunrise and sunset.  At the moment the sun hits the horizon both nostrils are open simultaneously and in this state the energy flows up shushumna nadi and the brain hemispheres are balanced, this is ideal for meditation. Meditate twice a day for at least 15 minutes to bring peace and happiness.

11.Prananyama: Alternate Nostril Breath is a good morning practice for all doshas.

12.Exercise: A brisk morning walk or an active yoga asana practice such as suryanamaskar will improve circulation, strength and endurance.  Regular exercise helps us to deal with the stresses of life, to sleep well and improves digestion.

13.Meals: After the morning routine the body is ready for breakfast. Lunch is eatenwhen the sun is highest in the sky between 10am and 2pm and is the biggest meal of the day when the digestive fire is at it’s strongest. Dinner should be light and nothing eaten after the evening meal.

14.Sleep: In general, if one wakes at 6am the bedtime would be 10pm, this is adjusted somewhat depending on the season as well as the persons dosha. Kaphas require less sleep and Vatas more than the average, Pittas are the average.

Having a daily routine is essential for health. It establishes balance in all the constitutions by regularizing digestion. absorption, and assimilation of food as well as the evacuation of wastes.  Establishing these beneficial lifestyle practices is the foundation of a healthy mind, body and consciousness and is the basis of an Ayurvedic Lifestyle. Do not underestimate simple, small practices!

References: The Daily Routine by Dr. Vasant Lad,

Dhanwantari by Harish Johari

                      ISLAND YOGA VISTA PAYTA Module Two:  Introduction to Ayurveda

Professional Ayurveda Yoga Therapy Apprenticeship

2015-16 Professional Ayurveda Yoga Therapy Apprenticeship  250hr

 offered by Sandra Sagarmurti Shotton  &  Faculty of  Island Yoga Vista

Have you been practicing yoga for a while now and are looking for your next step?

Are you a yoga instructor looking for more skills to offer your clients?

Can you see yourself taking your knowledge and experience out into your community to diverse groups of  people who would benefit from what you know? 

Are you inspired by yoga and want to share it?

Consider joining me for an in depth exploration of what Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda have to offer everyone.

Nanaimo's own 300 hr Professional Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist Apprenticeship program was born out of 19 years of teaching experience and studies along with a deep desire to bring this simple clear wisdom to all people.  So many people are not able to attend regular yoga classes yet are looking for a way to learn about yoga and benefit from it.  Yoga Therapy offers many ways to adapt and modify to meet any sort of health challenge or limitation.  My training is rooted in Integrative Yoga Therapy and fully developed through years of study in Ayurveda.

I have presented this information to hundreds of people over the past 19 years and have seen countless lives change in the most beautiful ways.  The 300hr program is designed to give you all the skills and knowledge you need to do the same.  It is a 300hr program for those with a 200hr training and a years worth of teaching experience .

(In October 2016 Island Yoga Vista will be offering the Integrative Yoga Therapy - 200hr Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training as it's 200hr foundation and prelude to the PAYTA Training.. . .more to come on that soon!)

This year offers an excellent opportunity for serious students of yoga and yoga teachers to participate in a deeply enriching guided experience of Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda.  I will guide you through how to set up your business and make your offering a useful and productive part of your life as you inspire others to bring these timeless tools and wisdom into their lives.   You will learn to work one on one with individuals as well as design and teach group classes for people with health conditions or other special considerations.

The program is designed in 10 modules to make it as affordable and flexible as possible.  You can complete the entire program in one year or you can spread it out over two years.   My intention is to have this appeal to all serious students of yoga wishing to learn more about how to apply this information therapeutically and effectively both in their own lives and to share with others.

These are the basic modules: 

ONE; Introduction to Ayurveda Yoga Therapy

TWO; Ayurveda in General

THREE: Yoga Psychology

FOUR: Meditation Mantras Yantras Mudras

FIVE; Yoga Nidra

SIX;  Anatomy, Physiology and Energy Systems

SEVEN: Ayurveda in Practice

EIGHT; Cycles of Stress & the Kleshas

NINE: Taking AYT into Your Community

TEN: Home Study

 The programs will all be held at Island Yoga Vista, in the beautiful seaside town of Nanaimo, located on the east shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As well as myself, Sandra Sagarmurti Shotton, the faculty includes a Physiotherapist from Saltspring Island,  Sannyasins from the Bihar School of Yoga, an Ayurvedic MD from Jaipur India, various local Ayurvedic Practitioners and Yoga Teachers all who enrich the program further adding their special interest areas. (see visiting faculty.. )

Please call me if you would like further information Sandra 250-754-0939

( Details are also on the website


Jaipur India February 2015


Chakrapani Entrance
Chakrapani Entrance

February 16, 2015

Dear Yogis and Friends

It is now mid February and I am well settled into my life here in Jaipur. Most mornings I work at the clinic, Chakrapani Ayurveda, then in the afternoons explore the city and surrounding area. The dry desert air is clear and the evenings still have a slight chill which is welcome after the muggy heat of the south The planning for the second level of the PAYTA training is almost complete. This was the main reason for the trip this year and it has been very successful. I have had the assistance of Dr. Parvathy as well as the support of the other Drs. here to add the Ayurvedic component to the training. We have designed a unique and fabulous program for the graduates of the PAYTA Apprenticeship Level One. I am now 100% confident to bring my group here in February 2016.

P1050730The residence is beautiful, elegant in all ways, safe, quiet and very suitable for the training and purification processes that are part of the program. With the free time I have now I am looking in to other possibilities for the renewal and expansion of what Island Yoga Vista has to offer. Gems for the 8 point pulse therapy are in plenty here and it is intriguing shopping in the markets. I have been fortunate to make good friends here to help me with that. I love India’s warmth and hospitality and plan to bring some of that flavour home as the studio will become a Guest House and retreat centre for world travelers seeking solace in health and wellbeing.

There has been little time for writing so I will have lots to share when I return in a few weeks. The yoga class schedule will continue as usual starting the week of March 6. 2015. Registration will be at the first class though I would love to hear from you all once I am back in Canada and have access to my email. Having a full on fast from anything digital has been cleansing and restful for me though I am looking forward to reconnecting with the world soon.

Warm Wished to all,
With Love

Wishing You a Happy & Healthy New Year – Welcome 2015

Dear Yogis and Friends

Warm wishes to all of you for a festive season and healthy New Year.

Island Yoga Vista has now been in business for 17 consecutive years,  in Nanaimo, - amazing!   Thanks to YOU!

This coming week will be the last week of classes for 2014,  a week later I leave for India for a few months.

Wendy Anthony will continue to teach a few of the regular classes on Tuesday evenings, one at 5:30pm and another at 7pm.

These will be the only classes offered until I return March 3.  Please register this week if you plan to attend, after Friday Dec. 19  registration will be closed.

Wendy is a recent graduate of the IYV - PAYTA teacher training and her classes are lovely.  The 9 week session starts the 6th of January 2015, the last class is March 3.

The regular class schedule will continue after that, registration will be at the first class.  I will be in touch again long before that.

I am off on an adventure that will include studies in Vedanta with Ramji in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, as well as writing and relaxing for a month in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

I am leaving lots of unscheduled time this trip for creativity and relaxation . The PAYTA program is being finely tuned with the assistance of  Dr. Kotecha and his team.

I will make an effort to share some of it on the blog on the IYV website

There are changes in the air as always, these are exciting times of growth.  I anticipate that 2015 will be extraordinary.

I look forward to sharing that with you.

With Love





Sandra Sagarmurti Shotton   PAYT  ERYT500

Vastu Shastra Consultant



World Yoga Day – Interview with Swami Niranjan

Swami Niranjan's Interview: This is the FULL text of the interview of Swami Niranjan by NDTV Anchor Manish Kumar
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to the people across the globe to observe a day as the World Yoga Day, a move welcomed by the International community. In addition, there is a new Ministry established for Yoga and Alternative Therapies, but people are curious as to what really is the road map for these initiatives. Watch the interview of Yoga Guru Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati (SWAN) by NDTV Correspondent Manish Kumar (NDTV)
NDTV: Nowadays there is excitement relating to the subject of Yoga. Since the Prime Minister raised the issue of the World Yoga Day in the UN, and has spoken of solving the world’s problems including issues like global warming through the medium of Yoga. There is the subject of the World Yoga Day; 140 Nations have endorsed it. To understand Yoga of all the places in this world, you will need to travel to Munger, in Bihar (India). Speaking to us today is Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, perhaps the greatest Yoga exponent in the world today, and a living yoga legend. Swamiji, once again there is a focus on Yoga.
NDTV: How do you feel? People such as you for so many years were powering the Yoga movement. Did you ever expect such a day would indeed arrive (when a World Yoga Day would be celebrated, or Yoga would achieve global acceptance)? And how do you interpret it?
SWAN: We were waiting for this. For the last 50 years we have been working on imparting Yogic training. So we were waiting for this, knowing that someday it (Yoga) will attain global recognition. And the way it is now happening, and what the Prime Minister has announced is very good, and in my view is a first step, and in whichever way we can support him, we will.
NDTV: But tell me, the news is about celebrating a World Yoga Day, so is there not a concept like a World Yoga Day in Yoga?
SWAN: Earlier it wasn’t there. However, for the last 3-4 years, in some parts of the US, every January, there is the practice of public yoga on the roads (to celebrate Yoga). So this tradition has begun from there. And now, our Prime Minister has articulated it, and we like it that a World Yoga Day will be observed, so that people can understand that with sensitivity (awareness) of oneself, sensitivity (awareness) towards the environment we can maintain our life (force) and achieve excellence.
NDTV: But this World Yoga Day, when (which day) can should it be observed as per you? Because nobody knows the road-map of this. (02:09)
SWAN: There is no road-map for this, but in the last few years, since 2007, we have observed 25th of December as Yoga Day, and celebrate it as Yoga Poornima Day, because that is the day our Guru Swami Satyananda was born, and it was a Full Moon day (Poornima)… so we celebrate his birth as Yoga Poornima. And in the contemporary setting if someone could be characterized as having spread the message of Yoga, one of the important names that will be known is the name of our Guru Swami Satyananda ji.
NDTV: But tell me one thing, there is a confusion, we are laymen in this field. We don’t know anything about Yoga, is it an Art or a Science or is it a Religion or what is it?
SWAN: Yoga is a way of life. Even though many may confuse it to be linked to religion to culture, or they may characterize it as a part of Hindu Religion, but those who know Yoga, they accept that it itself is a culture by virtue of which we can imbibe excellence in each and every action/act/activity of our life. And in the ancient days Sadhus would practice Yoga, while the mainstream society considered it a means of attainment of Moksha or Self Realization, but our Paramguru Swami Sivananda ji said the objective of Yoga should be to uncover/develop the (hidden) potentialities of the human being. And once these creative faculties have been awakened/developed, then mental peace, stability and moksha are not far away, and in this context we are acknowledge Yoga as a Science of Life (Jiwan Vidya), through which we can attain physical fitness and mental peace (may be attained)
NDTV: But who practices Yoga? Is it the Hindus, the Muslims? Christians? Because whenever the topic of Yoga is examined, especially in the context of Islam, it is believed that there is no concept of Yoga. When you prescribe Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) it is met with resistance. So what is the religion of Yoga?
SWAN: There is no religion of Yoga. In 1971 we did some research in the Western civilizations, in South America, in the Northern side of the foreign countries, we found evidence in the form of drawings (statues) and historical literature and in the form of Yantras, from which we arrived at the conclusion that Yoga was once a great universal culture. But due to some reasons, maybe wars, maybe ravaging attacks, or natural calamities, the practice of Yoga in other civilizations became less, but these practices (and knowledge) were securely maintained in India.
NDTV: But who is the Guru of Yoga? Is it Swami Sivananda? Swami Satyananda? Or is it Patanjali?... (04:50)
SWAN: We divide Yoga into three parts historically. The first is the Ancient Phase. In the Ancient Phase, the Progenitor and Guru of Yoga is considered to be Lord Siva, and along with Him Lord Dattatreya, and Guru Gorakhnath, Guru Matsyendranath etc are renowned. Then comes the Medieval Phase of Yoga. In the Medieval Phase, the names of Patanjali, Gheranda, Swatmarama are prominent, whose teachings today we impart and spread in the world. And in the modern context, in the sphere of Yoga, Swami Sivananda ji, Swami Satyananda ji, Paramhansa Yogananda ji and Swami Vivekananda are renowned, through whom, in the modern day context, the Science of Yoga was taught and it spread. (05:45)
NDTV: But why isn’t Yoga reaching the masses? For example, even when we come to Munger, the doors of Munger Ashram are always closed. So my point is that the amount of popularization and spreading of the science in the midst of the common man that should have happened, why has that not happened?
SWAN: It has been spread also amongst the common man. In the Ashram we do not have so many facilities, and if reporters popularize us through interviews and large numbers of people come to the Ashram, it will be difficult for us to manage. But we always maintain a program, whereby the Courses in the Ashram are always on, but also, alongside that we go to the villages, the rural areas, in cities, in states our teachers continuously travel to teach/ preach the science of Yoga.
NDTV: We are now in front of the main building of the Munger Yoga Ashram. What is the history of this building? How did this movement begin here? Tell us.
SWAN: In the very beginning in 1975, we had come here, at that time in this spot there were ancient ruins. And then with the permission of the Government, we constructed this Yoga Ashram, and behind this was the vision of our Guruji, as to how we can make Yoga useful in the modern life, and the Yoga aspirants who come, we can provide them appropriate facilities, so that they can stay and practice in peace.
NDTV: Tell us one thing. Why did Swami Satyananda start his mission in Munger of all the places? Because Munger was known only for 3 things – the Cigarette Factory (ITC), the Gun Factory and the third is Yoga. Why Munger?
SWAN: In the tradition of Sannyasa there is a precept which requires a Sannyasin to stay on in the place he is, when his Guru leaves his body. So Swami Satyananda was in Munger when His Guru our Paramguru Swami Sivananda took Samadhi, hence according to the Sannyasa tradition, He had to establish Himself in Munger itself.
NDTV: How difficult was it? Because this area is kind of notorious. What kind of resistance did He encounter? Because it is not easy to create an institution of this sort.
SWAN: Our Guruji always said, that the people of Bihar are sleeping Hanumans. The only requirement is to tell them that such capabilities exist within you. So to tell them the only requirement is that of a Jambavanta (the mythical bear who reminded Hanuman of His extraordinary capabilities, and awakened Him). And of course when Swamiji initially came here, nobody knew Him, and people didn’t understand. But as the awareness and interactions grew, and the Ashram activities and Yoga programs began, then they came in large numbers to support Him. So His assertion was proved right that the people of Bihar are sleeping Hanumans.
NDTV: But even now in Bihar, the popularization and spread of Yoga is not so widespread. Why is it so? (08:58). Do Biharis not have the curiosity / willingness to learn or didn’t you have the resources to teach (09:04)?
SWAN: No, Biharis have great desire and interest to learn, adopt and understand Yoga, but our hands are restrained due to a continuous shortage of teachers, and most of the teachers we prepare here, they get 'poached' by other institutions and centers where they make them teach Yoga. So the normal amount of Yogic training that we should impart in our State (Bihar), we are currently unable to do so. But for that efforts are on. (09:43)
NDTV: Why is the degree (credentials) of Bihar Yoga considered so tough/difficult?
SWAN: It is considered difficult because the Yogic aspirants here have to live in Yogic discipline. We are not in favor of imparting one hour of instructions here in a day in the Ashram, and aspirants after that return to their homes for the rest of the time and go back to drinking, smoking etc, since then to what extent will they identify with Yogic Culture? When you live here, in this environment, from morning to evening you have a routine, and discipline within which you live, and you learn in that context, undoubtedly you will derive greater benefit.
NDTV: But Swamiji, tell me one thing, nowadays there are many schools of Yoga, like Swami Ramdev’s, which is very popular, he comes on the TV, and there is the Iyengar School of Yoga, you have your BSY; how, different and similar are these three? (10:44)
SWAN: See, there will always be a difference in approach. Since Sri Iyengar primarily teaches Hatha Yoga. And Sri Ramdev also, teaches Hatha Yoga primarily, which focuses on Asana and Pranayama. But BSY doesn’t teach about a limb or type of Yoga, instead preferring to teach about all the key elements (holistic yoga) of Yoga, because we believe that the connection of Yoga is with the life of the individual. And Yoga will awaken/develop the faculties of his personality, and therefore our Yoga programs include asana, pranayama, hatha yoga, raja yoga, karma yoga, gyana yoga, bhakti yoga, kriya yoga – all integrated. This is so that we can develop and experience every aspect of our personality.
NDTV: What are all these paths? Generally we believe Yoga to be a combination of Asana and Pranayama. (SWAN: Hmm … yes). To what extent is this true and correct?
SWAN: Not correct. Asanas constitute only 10% of Yoga, 90% are beyond Asanas.
NDTV: So what are they?
SWAN: There are various elements like Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Kundalini, Chakras, Kriya yoga.
NDTV: So what are these? This Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, what are these?
SWAN: See, the beginning of Yoga is via Hatha Yoga, whereby via Asanas and Pranayama, we make our body healthy. Once we have a healthy body, then we progress to Raja Yoga, in which we learn techniques for the management of the mind, stress, worries, tensions. And once we manage the oscillations of the mind, and attain peace and stability, then we progress to Kriya Yoga. And Kriya Yoga transforms our descending (external/ base) energies into ascending (subtle/internal) energies. And by the pursuit of Kriya Yoga, we awaken the latent un-awakened energy of the body, which people call the Kundalini. So Swami Satyananda had systematized and preached these three progressions of Yoga here. Starting with Hatha Yoga, then Raja Yoga, then Kriya Yoga. So mainly the systematic instructions of these three progressive categories of Yoga are imparted in this Ashram.
NDTV: There is one course here called the Sannyasa training course, which is a 3 year training course. We believe Sannyasa to be a phase in life after adopting which you are free from (normal) life and are free to do whatever you want, and can live in solitude. What is the meaning of Sannyasa training course?
SWAN: Sannyasa has two aspects. One is Virakti (detachment from sensory attachments) and the other is attainment of Spiritual Consciousness. So there are only 6-7 Virakt Sannyasis in this Ashram – those who have been given the traditional Sannyasa Diksha, and who follow the precepts of Sannyasa tradition. And the others who come here for training, they are coming to learn the aspect of Sannyasa focusing on how to awaken the Spiritual Consciousness in their lives. And here they are taught various aspects of Yoga, like Yogasanas, Pranayama, Kriyas, and they are exposed to different Spiritual aspects, so that they can understand how they can link Spirituality with their day to day lives in the external world.
NDTV: So after doing Sannyasa training you can still work in an office?
(SWAN: Definitely) You can live with your family?
SWAN: (Yes). Because that is training on how a Sannyasi must live his life. Once you know how a Sannyasi must live life, what should he think, what should be his objectives/goals, after that you are free to return and figure out what kind of a life to live within your family environment, and also pursue your occupation. And live the life of a Sadhu (aspirant).
NDTV: Sir, for a layman, who will decide which type of Yoga should be pursued and where should he go? This is confusion in the lives of everyone – they all want to pursue Yoga. (15:23) But they do not know which type of Yoga is important for him and which teacher he should follow. Don’t you think this should be more simplified?
SWAN: Yes, certainly, and for this we have established and we manage the Yoga Mitra Mandalas in different cities/towns, where the trained disciples of that area, make a community and teach Yoga to aspirants. And in our country there is an acute shortage of Yoga Centers, and apart from Centers, even teachers are few. But we never conduct a summary 1 week course and certify trainers. Our minimum training is one month. In this aspirants learn the basics of Yoga, and after that they return to your home and family, and they spread/teach Yoga. After that we have a 4 month course, after which you can professionally become a Yoga teacher. After that we have a 1 Year course, and then we have a 2 year course, and then a 3 year course. So the minimum qualification is for 1 month. So we start with 1 month, then 4 months, then 1 year.
NDTV: Sir, but for me, based on my specific problems, what is more beneficial for me? BSY or Iyengar Yoga? Who decides this?
SWAN: Nobody can decide this. Everyone has their inclination and needs. Many ailments we cannot treat but Sri Iyengar manages to treat, because his Asana program is different. And there are so many ailments that they cannot cure and their aspirants come to us, which we manage to cure, because we have a different way of teaching those techniques. To each his own.
NDTV: Sir, Yoga and therapy. Tell me, regarding the curative aspect of Yoga – is this a first aid remedy or alternative medicine or post diagnosis recourse. What is it? Different Yoga teachers claim they have cure for ailments (including cancer). But tell me, the therapies in Yoga, or the research which you do, what is it? It’s a supplement or in itself it’s a cure
SWAN: This is not a cure. Because you mentioned cancer, I will give you an example. In 1977-78, we performed an experiment on cancer, and in that experiment, we taught them very simple practices, of asana, of pranayama, of relaxation and concentration. The asanas restored the blood circulation in their bodies, pranayama increased their energy levels, relaxation techniques freed them from their mental tensions, and with dhyana (concentration) there was an increase in their creative power of auto suggestion (sankalpa). And these cancer patients who had been declared by physicians as having a life span of no more than 1 year to live, with these 4 sets of practices, 20-25 years later they were leading healthy lives. But we do not make a claim to cure cancer, (because we know that if you practice Yoga properly and) our Guruji would always maintain that if an individual practices yoga with 100% dedication following the rules of Yoga, he will be freed of the most incurable of diseases, because there is a relationship with balancing the energies / imbalances. (19:47)
NDTV: However, I have one more question that if one falls ill, is Yoga an alternative therapy, complementary or post-operative?
SWAN: I will say it is complementary. I say from my experience it is complementary, because along with Yoga therapy, allopathic diagnosis, yoga practice and Ayurvedic diet, these 3 are very powerful together. Discipline in eating in lines with Ayurveda, yoga practices and diagnosis in line with Allopathy. So these three together become a very powerful technique.
NDTV: What we hear about Ramdev Baba having (ayurvedic medicinal) cures for ailments, and they do research on herbal medicines, which are supposed to cure ailments, do you feel this is a little bit of a grey zone/danger zone? (20:46)
SWAN: Yes. I don’t have much knowledge of medicines and cures, but I believe merely that by making Yoga the central principle we can attain good health, and when we see others giving out different types of medicines, then the mind does not accept that.
NDTV: I have one question, do you believe at this time in the Nation, the requirement of Yoga teachers is being met, and if not, what should be done about it? So who will produce (the teachers)? Since our country has a population of 1.2 billion, and in a country of 1.2 Billion spread across, obviously all the teachers cannot come from one source. What should be the role (of the government)?
SWAN: The Indian government had selected four institutions in India, and officially the gazette notification was also published. In the North, there is Sivananda Ashram, in the East there is BSY, in the South there is Vivekananda Kendra, and in the West there is Kaivalya Dham Lonavala. The Indian government has recognized these four institutions as resource centers or training centers, but in our country in addition to these four, there are many small institutions and ashrams, where yoga instruction is imparted, and nowadays everybody is trying to make Yoga attractive, and to make it attractive, they drape yoga with new costumes to make it dazzling. Whereas Yoga is a simple culture of living life, and for this the Indian government had accorded recognition to only four institutions, where Yogic instruction may be imparted. And wherever we get an opportunity, we also say this
NDTV: But why is BSY so ‘closed’. They say there is quite a lot of stiffness, and is a ‘closed group’, and if you go anywhere else the entry is quite easy, compared to here, despite BSY being the oldest.
SWAN: BSY from the very beginning was run by Sannyasis. There is no Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4 (government official) worker / manager running the show. From sweeping the floor to running a class, from cooking food to running the administration – it is all managed by us Sannyasis. And this tradition was established by our Guruji that there will be no employee in the ashram, only those doing desire-free sewa by Sannyasis will be done here. Now since only 15-20 Sannyasis live here and they have to do everything, we have limited our interaction with people and imparting of yoga training in line with our routine, but as our capability also increases, we once again open our doors. For example, last year we hosted the World Yoga Convention (in October). After that till March the crowds that came here were becoming unmanageable, and we were unable to manage other key activities of the Ashram. So from April this year, we resolved to close the doors of the Ashram for an year, and this year by closeting ourselves in the Ashram, we are charting out what needs to be the role and requirements of Yoga over the next 50 years. And along with that training is also on, so that people can go out and in a systematic manner impart training.
NDTV: Sir, is there medical research happening here? What is this? What are the findings? And what is the validity?
SWAN: In the Ashram we do not conduct medical research. We do medical research in collaboration with medical institutions and doctors and hospitals, and we launch a project with them. For example in the BHEL Hospital in Bhopal, we are conducting research on High Blood pressure and Diabetes, With Apoorva Medical College Sambhalpur, we are doing research on Diabetes. Raipur Medical College we are researching Asthma. Mumbai KEM Hospital we are researching Hypertenison. So with the cooperation of the medical fraternity and the collaboration with medical institutions we are conducting this kind of research, and in a way it is a clinical activity itself. Now we are making efforts to collaborate with Apollo Hospital Hyderabad, which is reputed for Cancer therapy, there we wish to conduct a clinical study of effect of Yoga on Cancer. So in this manner with cooperation of different doctors and hospitals, we are conducting research.
NDTV: So what are the findings of these research projects? What is the contribution of Yoga? What are the findings?
SWAN: the findings are very good. Much of the medicine intake is unnecessary, body resistance is developing, medicine can be take, healing is happening, Findings are very encouraging, and the compilation of the findings of the research we publish in our publications.
NDTV: I have a basic question, my basic question is now that the Prime Minister is emphasizing Yoga so much, and you have dedicated yourself 24 X 7 to Yoga, so in your view what steps should be taken? What is the road map? How should he develop this area? What are your views? (27:12)
SWAN: In my view for Yoga in India there should be a National Resource Center. We had given these suggestions in the past as well. The Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga that has been established in Delhi, there we were keen to establish a National Resource Center for yoga, where all the work done in our country relating to Yoga, all the institutions relating to yoga, all should be recorded there, there should be publications and research and the different traditions of yoga taught in different institutions should also be taught there. So we will have one place in the country, where we will have all the Yogic schools, traditions, literature, techniques and viewpoints. So a National Resource Center of Yoga is important. In addition, we have to ensure that in Yoga, there should be a minimum qualification for Yoga. Like there is a minimum qualification for Medicine, there must be one for Yoga, and Yoga should be divided into two parts – one, that is necessary/ beneficial for society, and important for their health, that helps in managing tensions and reducing mental vacillations; this should be the objective of one part which has to be popularized in society, to make our lives balanced and well managed. And the other should be to develop the potentialities / faculties of our personality. And the person who wishes to impart training on the socially beneficial part, this should be supported fully in these 4 institutions recognized by the government. In addition, higher forms of Yoga, like Kriya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Nada Yoga, Mantra Yoga – there should also be awareness in society about these forms of Yoga, to make people aware that Yoga is not merely Asana and Pranayama and is not merely linked to the physical body but is a multi-faceted science of life.
NDTV: Thank you very much Swamiji. This was Swami Niranjanananda ji, who is saying that in the World the Yoga movement has arrived at a decisive point, and the coming days are luminous at least for Yoga. (30:12)


Diwali and the Bliss of Ayurveda

Diwali and the Bliss of Ayurveda
‘Deep’ is the ‘light’ and vali is the ‘rows’, thus the “rows of light or the festival of light” is known as Deepavali or Diwali which spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. This is perhaps the most well-known of the Indian festivals. It is celebrated throughout India, as well as in Indian communities throughout the diaspora. It usually takes place eighteen days after Dusshera.
“Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya”- (Remove Darkness & Bring lightness everywhere).
It is colloquially known as the "festival of lights", for the common practice is to light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around the home, in courtyards, verandahs, and gardens, as well as on roof-tops and outer walls.
The Five Auspicious Day and its Significant History:

The first day of Diwali: Dhanteras
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. On this day, Lord Dhanwantari the “God of Health”, came out of the ocean with Ayurveda for mankind. So Dhanvantari pooja is done on this day. This day marks the beginning of deepavali celebrations.
The second day of Diwali: Choti Diwali
The second day of dipavali is called Narak Chaturdasi. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. On this day, one should massage the body with oil to relieve it of tiredness, bathe and rest so that Diwali can be celebrated with vigour and devotion.
The third day of Diwali: Lakshmi Puja on Diwali

This is the day when worship unto Mother Lakshmi is performed. Hindus cleanse themselves and join with their families and their Pandit (priest) and they worship the divine Goddess Lakshmi to achieve the blessings of wealth and prosperity, the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
The fourth day of Diwali: Padwa & Govardhan Puja

On this day, Govardhan Pooja is performed. Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vraja to perform Govardhan Pooja. From then on, every year Hindus worship Govardhan to honour that first Pooja of Go(Cow). Cow is considered as sacred and also the milk, ghee(butter) obtained known to be medicinally rich properties.
The fifth day of Diwali: Bhai Duj

The fifth day of the Diwali is called Bhai teeka. It is a day dedicated to sisters. Brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire of their welfare. This builds the stronger bond of relationship between the brother and sister.
Ayurveda Says:
As the lamp ignite the fire with the help of the oil and spread the light everywhere in same way we have the ‘Agni’ known as the digestive fire which should be always kindle for being in Healthy state. So Acharya charak an ancient Ayurveda author says that Proper “Agni’ is the health of an individual. In our fast, workaholic lives, we often forget to clean our body and senses. Our minds too are perpetually over-stimulated with stress, worries and negative thoughts. With the body, mind and senses unclean, we are unable to realize our inner light. That’s why, even though many of us are trying to find the peace by mediating or chanting mantras, we still do not feel that joy in our lives.
This Diwali, let’s not only clean, decorate and light our houses, but learn this simple method of cleansing with the help of various purificatory procedure and realize our inner light.
Diwali and Ritu (Season):

Sweets are hard to resist and during Diwali, when there is plenty of colorful sweets everywhere, it becomes even harder to resist. Diwali is the festival which arrives in the end of the Sharad Ritu (autumn season) and beginning of Hemant rutu i.e. from mid September to mid November. In Sharad ritu the Pitta dosha prakopa takes place. As the sweet taste is known to decrease the pitta so usually the more of sweet is being prepared and distributed in diwali. But the care should be taken by the kapha prakruti people who are prone to get the vitiation of the kapha doshas.
The diwali arrives in the Visarga kala (Period where the winter becomes the stronger). In this season the Agni ‘digestive fire’ starts becoming stronger in Hemant rutu. So the heavy diet is digestable in this season. So we see lots of different varieties of dishes are being prepared in Diwali.
In this occassion where winters receives, the skin becomes more dry and rough due to the cold attribute of the winter. In diwali traditionally people do the Abhyang snan(Holy bath). It helps to boost blood circulation, it removes dead cells from the surface of the skin, it makes skin smooth and soft to touch, it cleans body thoroughly, and finally aromas used while performing this ritual calms the mind. Ubtan is the king of natural scrub which is made with the use of all natural ingredients. All the ingredients in this natural scrub have ayurvedic properties. It leaves skin smooth and baby soft. The granules in the scrub help to get rid of dead skin. The natural scrub contains ingredients like chandan (sandalwood), kapoor (camphor), manjistha, rose petals extracts, orange skin and haldi called turmeric.

Some Tips for Safe and Healthy Diwali
Stay away from sweets that use chemical preservatives, because the intake of such preservatives can cause damage to our kidneys and liver.Avoid sweets that have ‘silver’ coating. Such foils are often adulterated by aluminum and aluminum being a hazardous metal can accumulate in our body tissues and can also enter the brain. It can also cause asthma attacks and can be one of carcinogen. so one can enjoy homemade sweet which is free of chemical preservatives and the healthier ones.


In times of increasing air and noise pollution that we are witnessing today, it is important that we be responsible while using firecrackers. It is good to buy as little firecrackers as possible, because that can help us spend less and can also stop us from polluting our environment. Researches says that burning ghee or any oil release 10 times oxygen in the environment thus harmful effect of the pollution due to fire cracker etc can be prevent by burning the ghee or oil diyas to make diwali more healthier.


Diwali is also the festival of joy so make it special especially if there has been any unpleasantness with your family or friends in your past. Shed all your inhibitions and misgivings and make a fresh start. Wish them a ‘Happy Diwali’ and embrace them in joy.

    "Wish you Happy, prosperous and Healthy Diwali from Chakrapani Family"

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