Satyam Yoga Ashram

Report by Swami Nityabodhananda Saraswati

The Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School was founded in June 1970, in some small rooms in the centre of Copenhagen by Swami Janakananda Saraswati after he returned from his long, inspiring stay at the Bihar School of Yoga. During the summer of 1971 it moved to the outskirts of town. The ashram is a foundation, an independent institution financed by yoga classes and the rent that the ashramites pay.

Some of the ashramites are swamis, but most of the others have occupations outside the ashram. Some of the ashramites have been making a film on yoga and meditation to be shown at different places. Others are involved in research such as measuring brainwaves during meditation. We are trying to use every tool we can find in the mediums of art, technology and science to inspire the people to start working creatively. All the ashramites participate in the running of the ashram in one way or another. We are mostly concerned with maintaining an intense level of activity, which will be a constant inspiration for each individual to expand the dynamic atmosphere throughout the ashram.

In our classes we teach only pure yogic techniques which the people can use. We don't expect anybody to have a special attitude towards life. The practice of yoga has definite effects, but everyone must decide for himself to what degree he will integrate yoga into his daily life.

Swami Janakananda gives special training for yoga teachers. This includes asanas, pranayamas, the physiology of yoga and its influences on the body, mind and emotions, Sanskrit, anatomy, discussions on different yogic scriptures, putting together programmes, etc. Other classes deal with yoga nidra from all possible angles, different kinds of modern therapies and psychiatry. We have been comparing yoga with other similar techniques as well, and specialists often give lectures on particular topics and techniques. The yoga teachers' training lasts for about four years, but the students start teaching beginners after one or two years.

At the ashram practical yoga classes are given two hours a week for students coming from the town. The Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School also co-operates with the community evening school programmes. The community subsidises a portion of the teaching programme and thus reduces the cost for each pupil to a minimum. Furthermore they offer the use of large halls in schools and many other places in town. Both swamis and yoga teacher trainees teach all over Copenhagen and its suburbs.

Many practising yoga teachers also come to Swami Janakananda, and he has arranged special seminars to supplement their teaching. Colleges all over Denmark have invited him to give one-week courses. He also gives special courses in prisons.

The ashram in Denmark runs only from September to May. The rest of the year is spent at the school in the south of Sweden, where courses are given throughout the summer. In the spring of 1972 the school in Hamneda, Sweden, was expanded in order to have a place for intensive courses. Since then we have also opened centres in Oslo, Norway; Gothenburg and Stockholm, Sweden.

Everyone in the ashram learns formal yoga and meditation, and also how to live together as members of a group, fulfilling every function in daily life. Everything is done without paid help. By participating in a course you get an idea of what ashram life is like, what it is to make life a game. Participating in a course also means sharing with the cooking, everybody takes his turn as a karma yoga task to help cut and prepare vegetables, bake bread, wash dishes and so on.

Every night after dinner we have kirtan and meditation. On Sundays even all the pupils and everybody who wants to come are welcome.

Satyam Yoga Ashram publishes a magazine Bindu about yoga, tantra and meditation. This magazine is sold all over Scandinavia.

We have been travelling all over Norway, Sweden and Denmark giving lectures and demonstrating yoga and meditation techniques. We have also had kirtans and stands at different exhibitions and other public places. This is a short presentation of Satyam Yoga Ashram. In the future we will continue our intense work, inspiring others to spread the knowledge of yoga.