Sent out on 8th November 2021
To My Friends, Fellow Yoga Practitioners and Seekers of Truth,
The Ashram is moving into a new era. My role was to get things started. Now it needs different skills and younger body-minds to continue the development of the Ashram and its teachings.
In the growth of the Ashram, there were many challenges, but these were essential in moulding its current form and structures. I have always felt that there were, and still are, greater energies behind me at every step, including the difficult times. Without the loving and awe-inspiring Conscious Presence, the Ashram would not have been possible.
In June 1985, I returned to the UK after 14 very intense years in which I was totally absorbed in the mystical teachings of India. I learnt and practised Yoga, Tantra and Advaita, under the guidance of my guru, Swami Satyananda and other spiritually enlightened teachers. I am eternally grateful that I was welcomed into this unique spiritually orientated world which has, for thousands of years, guarded, developed and passed on these sacred teachings.
Before returning to Europe, I was asked on at least a half a dozen occasions to start an ashram in different parts of India. Somehow, it was not meant to be; later I discovered that I was destined to bring these extraordinary teachings to the western world. Eventually I started Mandala Yoga Ashram (initially called Satyananda Ashram) in July 1986 in what was then a delipidated and neglected farmhouse in rural south Wales. I moved there with Swami Sivadhara, who some of you may remember. It seemed an impossible task, but we started without thinking of the future, just concerned with the day in hand. We worked like trojans.
We often slept rough, and were constantly involved with building construction, teaching, digging trenches, gardening etc. etc. From the very beginning we were joined by many motivated people, who stayed for periods of anywhere between a few days to a few years, so many that it is not possible to name them (so forgive me for not mentioning your name; I certainly haven’t forgotten you). Every day was an adventure. Everyone could feel that there was, and still is, a powerful energy field which bathes the whole Ashram.
Over the years, the Ashram welcomed visitors from all over the world, either to participate in courses or to experience Ashram life for long or short periods. The Ashram offered a wide range of courses covering the different paths of Yoga: Hatha Yoga (including Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha and the Shat Karmas), Mantra Yoga, Raja Yoga, Gyana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Kriya Yoga, as well as seminars on Meditation, the Chakras, Pranayama, Yoga for Women, Prana Vidya, Tattwa Shuddhi, Facing Death – the Practical Approach of Yoga, Yoga for Stress Management, Yoga and Symbolism and Yoga Nidra and Lucid Dreaming. In addition, the Ashram conducted seminars on the classical yogic texts including Yoga Sutras, Ishavasya Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, Katha Upanishad, Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Bhaja Govinda and the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra.
An important aspect of the Ashram teachings was, and still is, Yoga Teacher Training Courses. Participants come from all over the U.K., and from Eire, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. Over the last fifteen years, this has been ably organised by Swami Krishnapremananda.
Ashram news and inspiration was also provided by a regular newsletter, which was posted to all parts of the world. Recently, it has recently been replaced by a bi-annual online newsletter (similar to the previous hardcopy newsletter), supported by a monthly online newssheet entitled ‘Inspirations’ (which you are now reading).
Now it is time for me to take a back seat, as I should have ten years ago. To carry on the Ashram work, I have designated Swami SatyaDaya as the new Ashram Director. He will be assisted by Swami Krishnapremananda as Assistant Director. I will continue to support the Ashram in any way that I can and will take the title of ‘Founder Director’.
At the helm, Swami SatyaDaya brings not only his practical organisational skills and his capacity to lead, but also his enormous experience and understanding of yogic science, especially his deep insight into Advaita (non-dualism, also known as Gyana Yoga). Swami Krishnaprem is a child of the Ashram, having been involved in Ashram affairs almost as long as myself; he continues to bring his in-depth knowledge of Yoga and spirituality, as well as his capacity to inspire.
We are living in a time of confusion and lack of trust. Many people feel lost and that their life is meaningless. As such, the Ashram has a vital role to play in the world. It will continue to be an oasis of peace – a haven where people can find their spiritual roots and be motivated to go deeper into the mystery that lies at the heart of all of us, including all other creatures and everything. It will act as safe place where people can find hope, inspiration and clarity.
During the pandemic, the Ashram was obliged to start teaching online. This has opened up a new way of getting out the Ashram’s message. In the past, serious practitioners often came long distances to be physically in the Ashram. Now, with the advent of online teachings, the Ashram can reach people world-wide in a flash with a click of a switch. Instead of people coming to the Ashram, the Ashram can come to them wherever they are! This is a game changer. This opens us all to the potential of the Metaverse, which will offer even greater potential for participating in the Ashram teachings without actually being here. Of course, the Ashram will still be open to those who wish to come physically, either to participate in courses and retreats, or to serve the Ashram as a resident.
I want to thank you all for the support that you have given over the years. It has been, and still is much appreciated. Without your support, the Ashram would not have survived and thrived as it has.
May the Ashram continue to inspire those who are looking for deeper meaning, wisdom and joy in life. Even if one person among the hundreds and thousands who have had contact with the Ashram is able to realise and experience hope, solace and inspiration, then the Ashram will have served its purpose.
I thank you all, dear friends, for sharing this journey with me. It has been both exciting and exhilarating. The journey continues . . .
May you be blessed, or rather, may you know without doubt that you are blessed.
May you all realise your fundamental nature as Conscious Presence.