Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

2015 Yoga Youth and Children’s Retreat

by Rabindra Sahu

22-31 December 2015, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh

Om Shri Gurubhyo Namah.

We have had two previous children’s retreats at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (in 2011 and 2014). They had children of all ages; there was even one 82 year old child by the name of Swami Veda Bharati! During the second retreat in 2014, on the last day all the children gathered around Swami Veda and begged him to have such a retreat every year and Swami Ji agreed.

The 2015 retreat conceptualized with the theme Namami-At the lotus feet of Swami Veda. Families with youth and children flowed into each other’s and our hearts and minds at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama from 22nd – 31st December, 2015. They came in response to Swami Veda’s invitation to come “So that the Grace and the practices and teachings of meditation in our lineage may continue into next generations and meditation may become a family-centered experience.”

The Guru puja followed with silence meditation and short talks by Swami Ritavan, Swami Radha Bharati, Swami Prayag Giri, and the retreat organizers who were present (Namita and Rabindra) marked the official beginnings as our hearts overflowed with love and grace that continues to flow through the unfolding events. 

Namita Sinha, Nalini Behari, Apoorva Pal and Rabindra Sahu have been active in this effort since the last retreat.  We missed the presence of Nalini and Apoorva, but they did participate via emails and Skype.

We were happy to sponsor a group of highly motivated, disciplined and talented boys from the Navaprabhat Gurukulam run by Bhagabandev Ji along with 12 children from the Research and Development Institute (R.D.I) of the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust in addition to other participants from different parts of the world.

Surendra led the group for the Ashram Tour and the walk to Sadhana Mandir. We were surprised to know things about SRSG that we did not know before even though we have been coming.

Keeping up with our “Daily Theme”, each day the teachers and children shared discussions on one of the Yamas and Niyamas. The days were filled with yoga practicum, classes in the arts and music, free play, excursions, music performances, and children talent show.  The children loved to spend time with Swami Maa Radha and Swami Prayag Giri.


Yuko Metsugi travelled from Japan to teach the “Calligraphy” and “Origami” workshops in addition teaching yoga in an innovative way. Radhika taught the “Mandala” and “Angel Drawing” workshops. The children enjoyed these workshops and demanded more. Yuko was kind enough to provide personal lessons on calligraphy to some participants.

The music workshops were lead by Aditi Sharma, Dhrupad Vocalist from Delhi; and Shivananda, the director of the C.J. Maa Music School of Rishikesh.  Aditi, daughter of the late Pandit Shree Datt Sharma, uplifted us with Raga Bhoplai. Her brother Arush Datt Sharma and sister Ila Sharma accompanied her in a profound evening of dhrupad music.  We also experienced a fine musical concert by Shivananda with his wonderful students.

Dr. Gopalkrishna Prabhu helped measure the changes within the participants during the retreat and the encouraging results were shared among all which includes: reduced stressed level, improved breathing pattern, improved creativity level, stable heart rate etc.

Workshop for Parents

There were separate yoga classes for the parents in addition to intimate discussions with on spiritual parenting along with two separate lectures; “The Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita” and “Purpose of Living”.  Following the guiding principles of Swami Rama on parenting and Swami Veda Bharati on Nurturing Spirituality in the Family, series of three sessions on Spiritual Parenting were conducted by Sofia Foteina, Namita Sinha and Rabindra Sahu.

The group of parents and teachers shared their experiences, challenges, dilemmas and ideas on raising children spiritually while living in modern, competitive and often stressful environment.

The topics of discussions included

  • Marriage and family life, creating loving, open environment at home that nurtures child’s independent growth, how to make relationships within family members loving and giving so children receive spirituality as a way of life
  • Family as a unit of the world and practice ground to sharpen personality and prepare for the outside world, Principle of Family as a Karmic Pool, practicing vairagya (detachment) and doing one’s duties with love
  • How meditation helps in purifying thoughts and enhances one’s personality
  • Creativity as a key to self awareness for children and how art helps in developing meditative environment
  • Role of ahimsa and the thin balance of discipline in raising children
  • Importance of gratitude and expression of love among family members
  • Children as guides to parents

In the concluding session, these practices on raising spiritual families were discussed:

  • Spending time in nature, doing Contemplative Walks with children where breath or mantra and steps are coordinated
  • In cities, where access to nature may be limited, children can learn gardening, have a plant of their own to experience the nature unfold
  • Two minute meditation together at multiple times in the day
  • Importance of Kalyana Mitras with whom parents can have satsang on spiritual parenting
  • Maintaining a dairy of practice and a discussion with the child once a week

Healthy competition

We held a healthy competition between the children and the parent on the following

  • Ashtanga Yoga, Yama and Niyama
  • How to fold the blanket
  • Steps to Makarasana
  • Steps to Meditation

Our team of judges: Sophia, Namita and Yuko adjudged the children as the winners.

On the 25th December, we had a beautiful fire offering ceremony lead by the Navaprabhat Gurukul Students.

On the 31st December, participants enjoyed their visit to the “Vashishta Cave”. They loved to meditate inside the cave and had a playful time near the bank of the river Ganga.

The regular ashram kirtan saw many young children participate with enthusiasm and devotion. We experienced a wide range of chanting and kirtan; from traditional Indian prayers to the Buddhist prayers.

Outdoor Games and Nature Walk

Playtime is a rewarding time for a fresh, renewed look at life. It's the time when a zestfulness of living takes place. We experienced that the outdoor games created a deep emotional bond between the parents, children, teachers and adults. It's the bond that set the path for joyful, creative, cooperative times by being together. We adults seem to shun fun and games in our daily lives as we often get so caught up in "grown up" business that we forget how to have pure fun, but with the children’s retreat it seemed natural for most of the adults to draw themselves into the spirit of the game and become childlike. Most adults played as children. They experienced being silly, laughing at nothing, and losing graciously.

It was a common feeling that participating with the children, whether it's on the floor, eye-to-eye, sitting next to each other or across a table, creates enjoyment and spontaneity, happiness, and an opportunity to interact as no other activity can.

This year, the outdoor games were planned and organized mostly by the gurukulam students. Children played many non-competitive games along with football, badminton etc.

One afternoon we decided to take a nature walk, to explore the beautiful surroundings, we set off with a group of 33 kids and a few adults.

The first place we went to visit was a special archeological site; it is the remains of one of the most ancient Shiva temples in India. The guards unlocked the gates and let us go inside. The children were fascinated. They had the opportunity to take some pictures and even touch the old structures. Afterwards we went to visit the famous Virbhadra Temple, which was colorful and extremely peaceful. The kids were curious and asked a lot of questions; we all learnt a lot about the meaning of different statues. The Indian kids took a lot of pleasure sharing their knowledge. Almost all of them rang the bells.

After it was time for everyone to put their shoes back on and continue towards the Ganges. It was beautiful, the water was light green and the bank filled with polished rocks. The sound of the river was so calming, peaceful and grounding. During the walk many of the kids took the time to learn and exchange with the others about their different cultures and education. The discussions really strengthened the connection between them.

Then we crossed the dam to get to the Shiva Temple on the edge of the forest, it turned out to be the perfect spot for a break, we ate the delicious snacks Tejas didi prepared for us and sat for meditation. The meditation was relaxing and calming, even though it was cut short by the monkeys who were eagerly trying to steal the snacks.

Finally, we returned to the ashram where the children were excited to share all they had seen and experienced with the guest and people that hadn’t joined us on the walk

Talent Show

We encouraged the children to plan and organize the Talent show this year. Aditi and Kush came forward to plan and lead the beautiful evening which showcased exquisite dance, gymnastics, asana performance, Sanskrit recitations, song, and drama. [See sideshow in the previous article — Ed.]

We experienced deep bonding between all the children this year as we saw tears rolling down from their eyes as the Navaprabhat Gurukulam students were leaving. They exchanged gifts and shared pleasurable moments together. Everyone knew each other by name. The power of love penetrates everything. Only the power of love makes it possible.

The December 31st night featured a glorious huge bonfire. The participants and the residents chanted the peace mantras and kirtans throughout the whole night. Sweets were distributed, and we exchanged loving Hugs.

We thank all the teachers and volunteers to come forward and make it a great success. The teachers included Namita Sinha, Sophia, Radhika, Yuko, Ramprakash, Adhikari, Gita Bhoi, Borim and Rabindra. We extend our special heartfelt thanks and love to the gurukulam student Rosa and our prized guest Guillaume who contributed tirelessly - to whom we could look up to for all kind of possible help. Rahul and Erik also assisted with many other tasks like the distribution of morning and afternoon snacks, organizing outdoor games, nature walk, etc. We thank our kitchen staff and Mandala Office staff for a fabulous job. The food was loved and appreciated by all. Everyone felt they were well taken care of by the staffs.

We all had a great silence, learning, inspiration, laughter and joy. Such a coming together as we played together, worked together, studied together, practiced together. And in this stream of time, meeting those that will succeed us or those who have preceded us, the perennial within these many expressions of the same life force, the timeless Guru lineage pulsed love.

 “baalyena tishthaased baala-sva-bhaavah:

Seek to remain in childhood with child nature through the whole of life.”

—The Su-baala Upanishad

If you missed this retreat, feel free to send us an e mail to: [email protected] for the upcoming retreat dates.

Always in your service
and in Service of Gurudeva


Reading List

Here are some of Swami Rama’s Books for SRSG Children and Family Retreat:

  • Love and Family Life (Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Pr 1992)
  • Marriage, Parenthood and Enlightenment (Swami Rama, Himalayan Publishers, 1988)
  • Let the Bud of Life Bloom: A Guide to Raising Happy and Healthy Children (Swami Rama, Lotus Pr, 2002)
  • The Art of Joyful Living (Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Pr 2007)
  • Creative Use of Emotion (Swami Rama, Swami Ajaya, Himalayan Institute Pr, 2000)
  • Happiness Is Your Creation (Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Pr, 2005)
  • Fearless Living: Yoga and Faith (Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Pr, 2005)
  • At the Feet of a Himalayan Master (Five Volumes) (Prakash Keshaviah – Editor, Lotus Press, 2010 – 2014)
  • Bhole: Adventures of a Young Yogi (Hema de Munnik, Lotus Press, 2006)
  • Nurturing Spiritual Families (Swami Veda Bharati, Himalayan Yoga Publications Trust, 2015)
Photos by Jay Prakash Bahuguna.



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