Arunachala mountain behind AshramI have recently returned from a one-month Yoga Teacher Training Retreat at the International Samwit Sagar Yoga School for Self-Knowledge, Swami Suddhananda Ashram, near Tiruvanumalai, Tamil Nadu, South India. 


The course was incredibly intense and demanding, with 16 hours of teaching, training, and lectures per day, 6 days per week, but an amazing experience. I am very happy to have passed the exam with 85% (which proved that after a decade in Plett my brain hasn’t rusted yet!) So I am now a qualified Hatha Yoga teacher, with international certification recognised by the International Yoga Federation, and European Yoga Alliance, at the 500 hours level.


I had not intended to go to India this last year-end, and this trip came about as an unexpected Christmas present! It was a real gift (very good karma) to end up on an Ashram that emphasized an integrated approach to Yoga as a spiritual path. Yoga means “union with the divine” – it is so much more than just physical asanas.  


For me, the best part of the course was the daily teachings on Self-knowledge that we had by the wonderful and wise Swami Suddhananda (whose ashram it was). Thank you to Venu (main yoga teacher) – it was due to his integrated and holistic vision that such a course came about. Over the next months, (in my own words) I will include extracts from these teachings in our newsletters, as well as more snippets from my trip. Please hold pointer on photographs for description.





Ashram Yoga HallYou are a wave in the ocean of existence. Just as a wave cannot believe that it is part of the ocean, we sometimes don’t feel ourselves to be part of the Totality. We think that we are an isolated individual, a separate self. This is maya, illusion, and it causes us a lot of suffering. It is not the true reality. Self-knowledge is coming to know – first intellectually through the teachings, then experientially through meditation, and then with your very being – that you are one with the Totality, that you are SAT CHIT ANANDA. Just as a wave cannot escape being immersed in water, you cannot escape the embrace of the Divine, because you are inseparably part of it.





Om Sat Chit Ananda Parabrahma

Purushothama Paramatma

Sri Bhagavathi Sametha

Sri Bhagavathe Namaha

Hare Om Tat Sat

Hare Om Tat Sat

Invoking the highest energy of all that is, formless consciousness of the universe that is pure love, bliss and joy, the Supreme Creator who has incarnated in human forms to help and guide mankind, and consists of the female creative and manifest aspect, and the male unchanging and unmanifest aspect, I bow in reverence and acknowledge this presence in my life. [Moola mantra translation]



Ashram Meditation HallOn my first trip to India 12 years ago, we spent several months at the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune. This was our introduction to the spiritual path, which subsequently became the most important path in life. Osho spoke a universal language that spoke to my heart. He referred to the Ultimate as SAT CHIT ANAND (Truth, Consciousness, Bliss) and I fell in love with this name, hence the name of our Centre. Later, when we became a Buddhist Centre, we kept this name, even though it is not a Buddhist name. And throughout the years, some people have suggested that we change our name because it is too foreign, difficult to relate to, difficult to remember, difficult to pronounce etc. But I always continued to love the name, and so it stayed.


During the Yoga Retreat, we had minimum of 3 hours teachings per day with Swamiji, which was fantastic. He spoke over and over about SAT CHIT ANANDA being our true nature, the nature of everything. I was deeply touched and realized the profound beauty of the name chosen for our Centre. It was like a completing a giant circle and coming back to the same name, with which there is a very deep connection, and a sense of familiarity reaching back to who knows how many past lives. So I want to try and share some of the beauty of this name with you:


SAT CHIT ANANDA is the name for the Ultimate State of Realization which is expressed as eternal existence, all pervasive consciousness, supreme bliss.


The name comes from the Vedas, which describes the attributes of the Ultimate as SAT (Being), CHIT (Consciousness), and ANANDA (Bliss). The combination of all 3 is called SATCHITANAND, which is the infinite and eternal Reality. One of the reasons that I love this name is that it speaks in abstract terms, which are non-religious specific, and free from any interpretations and limitations that might be associated with any particular religion. It is part of the universal language of Truth.


“Once attained, the state of self-realization is the same by whatever path and in whatever religion it may be approached. There are 3 aspects of God, according to one’s approach to realization. They are SAT (Being), CHIT (Consciousness), ANANDA (Bliss).


The aspect of Being is emphasized by jnanis who are said to repose in the Essence of Being after incessant search and to have their individuality lost in the Supreme.


Leela sitting with Swamiji and VenuThe Consciousness aspect is approached by yogis who exert themselves to control their breath in order to steady the mind and are then said to see the Glory (Consciousness of Being) of God as the one Light radiating in all directions.


The Bliss or Beautitude aspect is approached by devotees who become intoxicated with the nectar of love of God and lose themselves in Blissful experience, remaining forever merged in God.”


Quote by Sri Ramana Maharshi (Indian Self-Realized Saint, whose nearby ashram I used to visit on our free days).


“Vande Saccidananda: Adoration to the One who is Being, Knowledge, and perfect Joy. The highest goal, the one for whom the ascetics sigh, but the world rejects." [Christian Indian hymn]


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