We are a traditional style Yoga Ashram based on the authentic, ancient Indian way of teaching Yoga. What this means is we approach the vast Universal subject of Yoga through many different means; be it the more well-known Asana and Pranayama practice or all the other parts that make up ASHTANGA (the EIGHT-LIMBS) as codified by Maharishi Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras on which many systems of Yoga are based. In our ashram we place vital importance ion the foundations of Yoga which are of course the first two steps YAMA and NIYAMA or the moral and ethical considerations for any aspiring Sadakha or Sadakhi.
Our courses all follow a traditional ashram schedule which typically includes the following:
- Hatha yoga practice (working on the physical body)
- Pranayama Session (working with the vital energy)
- Bhajan and mantra chanting (working with devotion and purity of heart)
- Karma Yoga session (working consciously without desire for the fruits of our actions)
- Satsanga (working on our own self development/swadhyaya through listening to the yogic teachings)
- Home Practice (a set monthly practice for introspection)
- Anatomy and physiology (the yogic systems in conjunction with modern medicine and concepts of disease)
- Teaching skills (through ones own self development and raised awareness intuition unfolds)
- Yoga chikitsa (self-therapy techniques to aid you in your journey)
- Ashram life (learning along with others on similar journeys, observing the ashram disciplines)
Our courses are first and foremost a tool for your own growth and evolution as a human being. To become a great Yoga teacher this is in our opinion the most impotent thing. Yoga today has become on the surface something that Yoga was never meant to be and the word Yoga itself has been taken out of its larger framework and tagged onto the end of many trending fitness regimes or fun exercises. All these things are no doubt of benefit to many and are at least pointing people in a positive direction in the main. For us though Yoga is a very pure meaning which unlocks the many questions mankind has had over his very existence. Many forget the root meaning of Yoga which is a sanskrit word meaning to ‘yoke’ or is often translated as ‘Union’. Union is then mostly assumed to be union of our body with our mind or emotions etc which is an essential starting point. The ultimate union however refers to the union with the Divine or our divine true selves that is the essence of our being. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardinv said ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience’.
The spiritual journey is one for the courageous as many of our students who have seem dramatic changes in their lives have stated! This journey is not the same for everyone as it will always depend upon hoew much the Sadakh is willing to look inside, how determined they are and what they really want out of it all or simply on where they are on the ‘great chain of being’ or evolution in there life.
The founders of the growing Yoga Satsanga Ashram are Yogachariya Jnandev and Yogacharini Deepika. Between them they have around 10,000 hours of Yoga study and have both taught Yoga practices for over 15 years each.
Jnandev was born in India to an orthodox Hindu family, brought up in a rural village in Rajasthan. He spent the first 10 years of his life living in a small hut with a grass roof with his parents and 3 siblings. His father worked as a mechanic on the local copper mines at Khertri and his mother was a housewife as most women in India were at this time. In 1986 they moved into their first house on the outskirts of Khetri and Jnandev and his siblings helped grow crops on the land whenever they were not in School. Like any other good Hindu family they were not allowed to go out and ‘do any nonsense things’ such as ‘go to the cinema’. Jnandev like all his siblings did well at school and went on to complete a pharmacy course to start earning money as soon as he could by running a Pharmacy store. during this course Jnandev met his first ‘teacher’ on the Yoga path. A man who was a practicing hypnotism and had become very good at it showed Jnandev the first step of hypnotism (as it was then, not the modern forms hypnotism) which was perfecting the practice of shava asana – or complete relaxation in order to open the mind. From here Jnandev started practicing daily. After working for a year in pharmacy Jnandev was unfulfilled and went on to complete his Bsc in Maths, physics and chemistry from The University of Rajasthan. During Jnandevs preparation for further studies he saw an advert for a Yoga Msc. at Jain Vishnu Bharat Univeristy in Rajasthan. Jnandev visited the University and was offered a place on the course. His family however were not happy with his decision and wold not allow him to join the course by refusing to help pay his fees. Jnandev went to withdraw form the course and was promptly offered a full bursary to complete the course by the University. At this time he went against his family as he felt it was something he must do.
Jnandev excelled at this course and completed many research papers in his time at the University, spent all his spare time in the library studying ancient scriptures some on leafs and stones in their original forms. He was given special permission to use the teachers reference section as he was such a sincere and dedicated students. In 2002 he graduated from the University as the Gold Medalist (top student) and was awarded his certificate by luck by the President of India (at that time) who was visiting the University.
Jnandev then spent the next three years teaching Yoga in different schools in Rajisthan and secured a sought after position in a well respected college in Jaipur (MGPS) as head of Yoga and Moral science. Jnandev then came to a point where he felt there was still so much more to learn in Yoga and wanted to go back to spending more time on his own sadhana and personal development. Jnandev then left the school work and went on a pilgrimage to holy places places in India living with nothing as a monk, he gave up everything for this time. His travels lead him in 2006 to Ananda Ashram (ICYER) in Pondicherry, s India and he was granted to come back the next day to speak with Ammaji the director of the ashram and Wife or Swami Gitananda Giri. Jnandev asked if he could have a place on the next 6 month intensive yoga teacher training course. Ammaji excepted him in unusual circumstances and this lead him to the next step of his journey.
The 6 – month course at Ananda Ashram is one of its kind in the world today where Yoga in all its rich forms (Hatha,pranayama,chanting, bhajans, jnanayoga, swadhyaya,karma yoga, sanskrit class, carnatic vocal class, satsanga etc) are studied and practiced every day, day after day with no day off! Yoga of course is not something to tae a day off from when you truly understand it. As Swami Gitananda puts it – Yoga is no option Yoga! It is something to be lived 24/7/365!! the 6 months course is so intense that it is said to be equivalent to a 7 year long core in ‘ordinary life’ in the amount of study hours that are covered. The 6 month course consists of around 1,850 study hours which is a great deal more comprehensive than most other courses out there. Taught by Amma Meenakshi Devi and son and successor of Swami Gitananda – Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanni. Here at the ashram Jnandev found the Yoga studies to be even more in depth than his Msc course and he also felt a strong connection with the paramparai of Swami Gitananda. Jnandev was able to appreciate the practices and understand them to a very deep level given all his previous experience and Yoga practice. Many westerners that go to Ananda ashram have to learn about the Indian culture and history to understand the world from which Yoga sprung. Jnandev was lucky enough to already have this knowledge and to have been born into a Hindu family where so many Bhakti Yoga practices are a part of every day life. Here at Ananda Ashram he was blessed with the name Jnandev.
After completing the 6 month course at Ananda Ashram Jnandev returned to Rajastan and took Diksha (renounced) and was named Swami Anantanath by a Swamiji he had been studying under whilst he was teaching in schools. Jnandev spent the next few months in orange robes, practising many hours of intense sadhana and dealing with the general public, many Indian people would visit the ashram for advice on various life issues. Jnandev again came to a point where he felt things were not in harmony with his true path and left the ashram. At the same time one of his fellow students from the ashram (who is now his wife!) contacted him to make a visit back to India and see him en-route back to Ananda ashram.
Yogacharini Deepika and Yogacharinin Jnandev got married in January 2008 and together founded Yoga Satsanga Ashram in wales, UK in 2009. They have a family of 3 sons and a busy ashram schedule! Jnandev complied and now teaches Yoga teacher training courses here in the UK. Through his teaching one can experience a little bit of India and Yoga in its authentic form.
Deepika was born in the UK and raised on a farm with her brother. Deepika was always drawn to ‘spiritual’ paths or things that offered more explanation on ‘the meaning of life’. At 17 yrs old Deepika experienced her first Yoga class with Debbie sheppard who was taught by Phillip Jones a student of Swami Gitananda. So from early on the connection was made with the paramparai. Deepika studied Health and Social Care, completed a Bsc in Sociology and Philospohy and had particular interest in the existential thinkers. Deepika spent some time exploring different ‘spiritual’ paths and studied Reiki, Kadampa Buddhism, Ascention, Dhan Yoga/ Brain respiration, vipassana, Tai chi, martial arts, christianity, paganism and others. Deepika also studied a PGD in Social work and started practicing from 2003 in London initially then moved back to her homeland of Wales.
It was in 2005 that Deepika undertook the 1yr correspondence course with Ananda Ashram and in 2006 that she finally gave up work and took the chance to make some big changes and travelled to India after being given a place on the ICYER Yoga Teacher training course at Ananda Ashram. At the Ashram Deepika followed the ashram routine and did all the practices with sincerity and consequently there were indeed some big changes brought about in her life that she could never have imagined! The power of true Yoga practices when instructed properly in the right environment are never to be underestimated. Deepika feels that once she arrived at the ashram and began to truly understand Yoga on a much deeper level than ever before she was no longer the seeker that she had been. Simply now all one has to do is to continue along the path that is laid out before one, the no option path of Yoga.
Deepika returned to the UK after spending 7 months in the ashram as she was able to stay for a month longer spending some time with the family and practising more sadhana with Dr Nalanie Devi a senior teacher at the ashram. Deepika then spent 4 months back in the UK to return back to ananda Ashram to undertake some further advanced training for three more months. In January 2008 Deepika and Jnandev married and Deepika spent some time living in Rajisthan with Jnandevs family, mostly getting taught how to wear a saree properly!! It is only thanks to the Ashram training that Deepika was able to manage life so well with all the hindu customs and ways of life, codes of conduct, dress and behaviour. By the end of those 3 months she was well accepted as another Indian woman in the family. After this time Deepika managed to convince Jnandev to come to the West to see life there and share some authentic knowledge and experience on Yoga with true aspirants which although not keen he eventually agreed! Deepika has now been able to give up social work altogether and works with Jnandev on the yoga teacher training courses and has compiled a Pregnancy teacher training course based on the teachings and Swami Gitananda and the research work of Dr Ananda.