About This Center

The International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres is a non-profit organization which, for over 50 years, has been sharing the teachings of classical hatha yoga and Vedanta (yogic philosophy) as a means of achieving physical, mental and spiritual well being and self-realization for all.

Over 26 thousand teachers have been trained through the organization. The organization is named after Swami Sivananda who in his lifetime, was responsible for promoting the philosophy of Yoga and Vedanta in India. He was also the founder of the Divine Life Society, still in existence today, and the author of more than 200 books. His legacy was carried on by Swami Vishnudevananda who brought the teachings to the West.


The Yoga Camp:

Swami Vishnudevananda was sent by Swami Sivananda in 1957 from his Ashram in Rishikesh, Himalayas, to bring yoga to the West. After travelling extensively in the Far East and the USA, Swamiji settled in Montreal in 1959 and established his first yoga centre there on boulevard Saint-Laurent, where it remains to this day.

During the summer weekends Swami Vishnudevananda noticed a considerable drop in class attendance, as people left the city to enjoy nature in the countryside. He devised the concept of a Yoga Vacation and held his first Yoga Camp in 1961 in nearby St Hippolyte. The Camp was a resounding success and an increasing number of visitors spent their weekends practicing yoga under his guidance. He realised the need for a permanent base and was drawn to Val Morin, nestled in the ancient Laurentian mountains. In February 1962 the present site of the Yoga Camp was established. Students worked tirelessly to clear the land and in the summer of that year the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp was opened.

Our Teachers:

We are deeply grateful for our teachers, Master Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda – their dedication to the teachings of classical yoga from a young age, reverence for tradition and an earnest love of changing people’s lives for the better through yoga and spiritual evolvement, continues to be the Sivananda Yoga organization’s steadfast mission.

The 4 Paths of Yoga:

Swami Sivananda’s Yoga of Synthesis integrates the four paths of Yoga for the aspirant to

develop him/herself in a complete way.

Karma Yoga or selfless service: Also known as the Yoga of action, Karma Yoga is the core of the entire Sivananda Organization. Simply put ­ it is the path of Yoga where one serves with no expectations of reward. The duties are performed with the feeling that one is serving God through humanity. Karma Yoga is meant to purify the ego.

Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of devotion: In Swami Sivananda’s words, Bhakti Yoga is the easiest and surest way to attain God­Realization in this present age. Through prayers, chants and worship one turns his/her emotions into devotion, developing an unconditional love towards seeing God in all of creation.

Raja Yoga deals with the control of the mind through the study and understanding of its workings. A set of practices is prescribed to discipline and control the components of the human being: body, prana (vital energy) and mind. With the tools provided by these practices, one develops will power and clarity of mind.

Jñana Yoga or the Yoga of knowledge: This is the intellectual approach of Yoga in which through the practice of Vedanta and a deep philosophical enquiry, one investigates the nature of the Self. This path is said to be the most difficult one and the aspirant needs some previous qualifications as well as great will power and courage to face the Truth.


The 5 Points of Yoga

Swami Vishnudevananda made the yogic teachings understandable and available to all by simplifying them into five points, showing specific ways to develop physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth:

Proper Exercise (Asanas) – The word Asana means steady and comfortable posture. They are practiced in a systematic way in order to stretch the body, relieving tension and increasing flexibility and to improve blood circulation, oxygenating the tissues, removing toxins and carrying nutrients throughout the entire system.

Proper Breathing (Pranayama) – Pranayama is a powerful tool to render the mind calm and clear and the intellect sharp. Through slow, deep, conscious breathing one can reduce stress and many other disorders associated with poor breathing habits.

Proper Relaxation (Savasana) – Techniques of deep conscious relaxation, allow the practitioner to experience a complete rest for the body and mind while aware of it. It allows the body to replenish itself with energy overcoming the fatigue and the mind to become free from worries and anxieties.

Proper Diet (Vegetarian) – There are various reasons for vegetarianism, among them are the non­violence against other living creatures, environmental and economic purposes and also the subtle effect that the food has on the body and mind. Yoga teaches that foods which stimulate the mind and the system and those that make them slow and lethargic like eggs, meats, fish, onion, garlic, coffee, drugs, tobacco and alcohol, are best avoided.

Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana) – Through the practice of the four previous points, one becomes happier and with a better approach of life. Then through positive thinking one begins to feel better about oneself and to accept the situations in life with a clearer understanding. Meditation is then achieved as the mind no longer dwells scattered on worries and preoccupations and is slowly brought to one- pointedness.

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