Yoga Paramparas Revealed

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Daaji’s Message from Kanha! 

Heartfulness proposes meditation on the heart with an aim of attaining subtler levels of consciousness. The heart is not merely a pump for blood circulation – its role goes far beyond that. References in ancient Indian literature on Yoga, especially that from Sages like Patanjali,…

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30 Nov 2021
Legacy Series


International Centre for Yoga Education and Research at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry, India

This Yoga Centre of International repute has been established since 1968 in Pondicherry with more than hundred affiliated centres in nearly 30 countries worldwide. It was founded by the world-renowned Guru Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj, who is considered as one of the five leading exponents of Classical Yoga in the twentieth century and hailed as the “Father of Modern Scientific Yoga”.

ICYER at Ananda Ashram is a founder member of the Indian Yoga Association and has three branches in Pondicherry: ICYER its residential centre on the shores of the Bay of Bengal six kilo­meters North of Pondicherry on the East Coast Highway; its city centre Yoganjali Natyalayam in Central Pondicherry; and its spiritual and religious centre Sri Kambaliswamy Madam in That­tanchavady behind the famous JIPMER Hospital.

ICYER has published more than 50 books and 20 DVDs, as well as a monthly magazine, Yoga Life, which has completed 51 years of publication for a worldwide audience. Its main service is the con­ducting of a Six-Month International Yoga Teachers Training Course from October 2nd through March 25th each year. This Internationally Recognized Yoga Training Course has been held each year with­out a break since 1968. Thousands of students from all over India and the world have been thoroughly trained in an intensive Yoga programme which runs from 4.30 am to 9 pm every day. Classical Rishicul­ture Ashtanga Yoga (Gitananda Yoga) as expounded by Swamiji Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj is taught in carefully graded steps. Swamiji, a Medical Doctor born in India but who spent forty years in the West, taught Classical Yoga with a scientific, medical basis. Yogic cleansing practices and fasting, diet and nutri­tion are also basic to the course and more than 108 Asanas, 44 Pranayamas and 56 Kriyas are taught in the six months. Thorough study of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Upanishads, Yoga Vashistha, Hatha Yoga Pra­dipika, Gheranda Samhita, Bhagavad Gita and other important Yogic texts is made. Training is also given in Carnatic Music, with emphasis on devo­tional Bhajans. Those interested may also study Bharatanatyam and Classical Instrumental Music. Training in Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga techniques are given, including elaborate work with Yogic relaxation, concentration and visualization prac­tices. Seats in the course are limited to ten per­sons annually, who are accepted only after going through preliminary instruction with the Institute’s trained teachers and participation in the 52 Les­son Correspondence Course, Yoga: Step-by-Step. The Institute has a traditional Gurukula setting, in an ideal garden atmosphere, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. Students are also introduced to the Indian way of life, festivals, cultural programmes, community activities and Hindu rites and rituals, to cultivate an awareness of the culture from which Yoga has sprung.

ICYER is headquarters for several worldwide organizations, including Vishwa Yoga Samaj, Yoga Jivana Satsangha (International) and the Society for the Preservation of Rishiculture Yoga (SPARC). It is also the office headquarters for Sri Kambaliswamy Madam, a 150-year-old Samadhi site of the great Ashtanga Yoga Guru Srila Sri Kambaliswamigal at Thattanchavady, Pondicherry. Daily Pujas are conducted with elaborate Pujas on Sunday that are open to the public who wish to experience traditional Hindu Pujas. Grand Sa­madhi Pujas for the eight Gurus of the lineage are conducted throughout the year.

Yoganjali Natyalayam, the City Centre was estab­lished by Swamiji and Ammaji on March 29, 1993. This flourishing Centre of Yoga, Bharatanatyam and Carnatic Music with more than 500 actively enrolled students and more than 30,000 alumni is located in Central Pondicherry, behind the New Bus Stand. It caters to the local populace as well as special individual and personally tailored les­sons for those visiting Pondicherry on a short-term basis. YOGNAT has developed a very popular Bharatanatyam troupe, which specializes in per­formance of the difficult acrobatic Natya Karanas, which are essentially a form of Yoga Asanas. It has presented more than 50 Bharatanatyam Dance Dramas over the years and its Annual Day is a feast of spectacular music, dance and Yoga demonstra­tions.

The Founder, Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj was the purveyor of a vast, sci­entific, rational and systematic body of yoga knowl­edge. He embodied in himself the Bengali tantric tradition of his life-long Guru Yogamaharishi Swa­mi Kanakananda Bhrigu with the Saiva Siddhanta Shivayoga expertise of the line of Gurus of Sri Kambaliswamy Madam, as imparted to him by his predecessor Sri Shankaragiri Swami­gal. The vast living and vibrant knowledge which he impart­ed so freely to hundreds of thousands of stu­dents included a complete and ratio­nal system of Hatha Yoga practices which provided a base for the higher techniques. Swamiji’s expertise and contri­bution to Indian society was recog­nized by the Central Government when he was appointed in March, 1985, as a mem­ber of the prestigious Central Council for Research in Yoga, under the Ministry of Health, New Delhi. In 1986 the President of India, Sri Giani Zail Singh, awarded him the title of “Yogashiromani”. Swamiji looked every inch a Rishi, with long flowing white hair and beard and a majestic stance. His magnetic personality dominated the stage wherever he went. He was a marvelous orator, capable of holding crowds of thousands in thrall with his large-hearted humor and resonant voice. When he entered a room, all felt the effect of his presence. One of his fore­most messages was, “Yoga is a way of life.” He was an exemplar extraordinaire of his own words and lived life fully, consciously and skilfully. One of his major projects was the upliftment of village children through Yoga and Indian cultural arts and many thousands have benefited from his legacy.
The work and teachings of the great Guru are being carried on by his Dhar­mapatni AMMAJI Yogacharini Meen­akshi Devi Bhavanani and their son and successor Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani and who are the Resident Acharyas of Ananda Ashram.

Ammaji was honored by Pondicherry Government in 1999 with its highest title “PUDUVAI KALAIM­AMANI” for her selfless service for Bharatanaty­am. She is a an internationally acclaimed Yoga ex­pert with a dozen books including her twin volumed Magnum Opus “The History of Yoga from Ancient to Modern Times” and “The Rishi and the Raksha­shas” that details her experiences over five decades in India. She was awarded “YOGAMANI” by President of India Sri Zail Singh in 1986 and served on the CCRYN (Ministry of Health), TKDL project, National Board of Yoga (Ministry of AYUSH) as well as numerous National and International com­mittees.

Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani is also Director and Professor Yoga Therapy at the CYTER of Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth one of India’s top health­care universities. He has authored 19 DVDs and 25 books on Yoga as well as published more than 300 papers, compilations and abstracts on Yoga in National and International Journals. He is a Classi­cal Indian Vocalist, Percussionist, Music Composer and Choreographer of Indian Classical Dance and has taught all over the world. A recipient of the coveted DSc in Yoga from SVYASA Yoga Univer­sity in January 2019, he is a recognized PhD guide for Yoga Therapy and is the first Indian to be recog­nized as an IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) by the International Association of Yoga Therapists, USA. He is currently member of numerous expert committees of the Ministry of AYUSH including its NATIONAL BOARD for Promotion of Yoga and Na­turopathy, Scientific Advisory Committee & Standing Finance Committees of CCRYN, Technical Commit­tee of the Yoga Certification Board, Expert Commit­tees for Celebration of International Yoga Day and the Yoga & Diabetes program. He is Consultant Re­source Person for the WHO Collaborative Centre in Traditional Medicine (Yoga) at MDNIY, New Delhi. He is also EC member and Director Publications of the Indian Yoga Association.

During the COVID Pandemic, Dr Ananda has ex­panded the online presence of ICYER with non-stop teachings through social media. He started with 48 days of morning and evening sessions of the Syn­chronised Global Prayer (One Mandalam) which then continued into an 108-day Yogathon of free teachings online. This now continues in the form of “Scintillat­ing Saturdays’’ sessions on Facebook and YouTube every Saturday from 7.15 am onwards. He has run countless online courses on the Yogasutras, Yantra, Mantra, Yogic Psychic Neurology and Adhikara Yoga. He is guiding weekly sessions of Swamiji’s Yoga: Step-by-Step course with hundreds of Yoga Sadhakas worldwide lovingly supported by 25 Inter­national Mentors as part of Team 52 of the Gitananda Yoga Parivaar.

The Legacy Series articles are contributed by institutional members of IYA and are published as pro­vided by them; we encourage all Member Institutions of the Association to send a six page article with some photos about their organisations

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