FIFTY Golden Years of BEING

For me, it was initially difficult to imagine FIFTY (50) years of existence of an organization. For most of us youngsters, 50 would be just a quantitative number. 5, 15, 25 or 50 doesn’t really make any qualitative difference if we do not think beyond. However, 50 years is half-a-century and I must say this place has vast reserves to offer. 

Ananda Ashram (ICYER), my spiritual home, is located at a small village near Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu in Southern India. Nobody misses the famous quote written on top of the main entrance of Ashram “Enter Here Only if You are Happy”. It can be called as an ashram, a gurukul or in modern terms a research center for experiencing authentic classical yoga. Established in the year 1968 by Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj this fifty-year-old institute has been an epitome of authentic yogic philosophy which is preached and practiced through varied dimensions of services to society.
Ananda means a state of Bliss. To run an organization for such a long tenure, while being committed to yogic principles and deeply establishing into Yama Niyama – Ethical and Moral practices is only possible when the foundation is built on certain firm values. The unwavering and steadfast objective of Swami Gitananda was to help common man lead a better quality of life through ancient practices of Yoga. He believed Health and Happiness are our birthright and can be easily achieved through the right practice of ancient yogic techniques. Yoga means union, a connection or integration. As Swami Ji says “Yoga is a way of life”, the practice of yoga goes beyond the yoga mat by integrating the philosophy with our day to day tasks and actions. In Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga or Gitananda Yoga, the real purpose of yoga is not just limited to physical benefits but extends to emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. Here Yoga is taught not as a course or subject but as a practical approach to implementing yoga into each breath and every cell of the sadhaka (practitioner).

“Just like in any art form Discipline is fundamental in Yogic Lifestyle”
The philosophy behind the teachings is to nurture the individuality of each student. Each individual is unique and takes his own time to grow, prosper and establish into yoga. My Six Months stay at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry, in the year 2016, was simply life transforming. It helped me lay a strong foundation of yoga which helps sustain future growth in all aspects of life. This is the most crucial step: if the foundation is strong and unwavering the structure built on it will be more stable and will last longer.
The strict discipline and operations of Ananda Ashram are well maintained under the guidance of Kalaimamani Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani. Fondly called as Ammaji, even at the age of 75 she has been dedicatedly living and teaching the sacred path of yoga as learned from Swami Ji and continue to transform the lives of thousands of spiritual seekers. Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani has been a successor and torch bearer of Gitananda Yoga tradition for over last two decades. His dynamic personality with multidimensional feathers on his hat and his unique ability to manage them all as a Medical Doctor, Bharatnatyam Artist, Carnatic Classical Vocalist, Mridangam Artist, Yoga Therapist, etc is simply mind-blowing. His cheerful smile, youthful heart and persistent focus enlightens each interaction with him.

Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani and Devasena Bhavanani’s divine singing on stage.

My yogic journey has helped me become a more thoughtful person with a bigger heart. In addition to a healthy body and mind, Yogic science has given me a purpose to pursue in life. With humanitarian ethics and morals as core principals, Yoga has enabled me to reshape my beliefs and perspectives. My decision of leaving the glamorous corporate life and being in this holistic profession has rewarded me with the opportunities to live and transform numerous lives through my gurus, students, patients, spiritual seekers or other yoga therapists. Their constant support, encouragement, recognition, and appreciation makes each day of my life not only challenging but interesting and purposeful as well.

This year I had the opportunity to be a part of 50th Golden Jubilee Celebrations at Ananda Ashram (ICYER), 25th Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Yognajali Natyalayam and 75th Jayanthi of Ammaji. The Grand event took place in Puducherry amid prominent dignitaries including the honourable Chief Minister of Puducherry V. Narayanasamy. The grand event was celebrated on the 5th August 2018. The day was filled with a plethora of activities from mesmerizing Bharatnatyam dance performances to vocal musical performances; from panel discussions on Yogic lifestyle to yoga demonstrations; from launching of exclusive commemorative Souvenir by Chief Minister to award distribution and recognition. Below are some of the pictures with highlights of this memorable day.

Classical Yoga, when practiced wholeheartedly, teaches an individual to tap into universal energies. It’s a realm of spiritual oneness with infinite potential and possibilities. Once established in Yogic wisdom, eternal bliss and a sense of fulfillment accompany you forever.

Indeed, Yoga is a journey and the purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

Useful links:
Commemorative Souvenir 2018
Informative Blog on Ananda Ashram
Ananda Ashram Blogs

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