DYNAMIC DO-GOODER SWAMI YOGARATNA SARASWATI …a world expert on nidra meditation, may be found at the Shankar Prasad Ashram in Gorkarna for months at a time. Paris-born of Australian parents but raised in India, she is a true blue swami-ji! Travels a lot promoting the good life of service and devotion to various causes initiated by her for children and adults alike living a village life.
By Kenneth Goes
SWAMI Yogaratna Saraswati must now be pushing 90 years but you won’t believe it, she swims like a dolphin in the sea off Gokarna and you just have to see her (if you are so lucky)! Who? Meet the amazing Swami Yogaratna Saraswati. Yes, she is a swamiji, she trained as a sannyasin disciple of the Bihar School of Yoga (BSY) founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati who is a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. She has also been initiated by Swami Niranjananda, the present guru with.
With over 30 years of experience in yoga meditation, Swami Yogaratna has conducted yoga programs all over south India and overseas. She is particularly appreciated for her skill in leading yoga nidra (psychic sleep) and other meditation from the Tantra, yoga therapy, yoga for children, the higher techniques of chakra sadhana, kundalini yoga, she also leads satsang (talks) and kirtan (group singing).
Today she is a trustee of the Shankar Prasad Foundation near Gokarna where she is still in the process of setting up a spiritual retreat and a retirement home on a two-and-a-half acre organic farm. Attached is an English/Kannada medium playschool and she has several volunteer community projects from this village setting. She also gives classes and retreats on all aspects of yoga meditation.
What you may find interesting is that Swami Yogaratna was Paris-born of Australian parents and raised in India. She completed her Indian School Certificate at Bombay International School and then went to Australia for further education, she studied Art for two years (East Sydney Technical College). She studied Education for three years at the New Castle College of Advanced Education and received a Teacher Training Certificate in Special Education (teaching English as a foreign language).
She taught for ten years with the New South Wales Department of Education, Australia, to all ages from four-year-olds to adults, she also engaged in teachers’ training. During this time she completed a BA majoring in Linguistics (University of Newcastle). After having had enough of experiencing Western life she got interested in spiritual searching and after travelling the world she decided to return to India which she considers her home, she is now an Indian citizen. Swami Yogaratna had joined the Bangalore branch of the Bihar School of Yoga, Atma Darshan Yoga Ashram in 1984 and took sannyasa diksha in 1985. She received complete training in all forms of the Satyananda tradition of yoga, meditation, yoga therapy and all aspects of Indian spirituality.
At first she served as a sannyasin sevak (voluntary service) in the ashram for 21 years and assisted in its running from top to bottom, giving therapy and spiritual counselling, running classes for a cross section of society. She conducts yoga teacher training courses and has edits the ashram’s spiritual magazine “Atmabha.” She also established a reforestation project called ELA.
IN 1998/1997 she went to the mother ashram in Munger, which is the world’s first Yoga University, Bihar Yoga Bharati. In 2002-2004 she returned to Atma Darshan Yogashram in Bangalore and soon after received her Guru’s blessings to be a “free sannyasin” independent of the ashram. Swami Yogaratna got engaged in conducting yoga program in south India and overseas. She researched the yoga therapies to go with Naturopathy treatments and set up the Yoga Department in the Naturopathy and Yoga Centre Ghataprabha, in North Karnataka.
Needless to say this very rooted in Indian tradition Swami Yogaratna evergreen aim is to help people and try in some way to relieve suffering and help them develop through awareness consciousness and the science of yoga. She researched “Yogas for Augmenting Ayurveda” and set up the Yoga Department at Kalari Kovilakom, “Palace of Ayurveda”, Kerala, and “Yoga & Meditation for Finding the Self through Nature” at SwaSwara, Om Beach, Gokarna, for the CGH earth.group (wws.cghearth.net).
All this and much more. She is based at the Shankar Prasad Ashram in Gokara where she runs individual and group classes in yoga guidance to all, she also travels whenever requested to do special programs. She helped to set up the “spiritual” component in Fireflies Ashram (www.fire-flies.net Bangalore, an earth-spiritualty social activism NGO helping farmers implement organic agriculture, women and slum people to improve their lives.
Swami Yogartna is particularly appreciated for her talent in leading Yoga Nidra (psychic sleep) and other meditations for children, women and the elderly…there are also the higher techniques of Chakra Sadhana, Nada Yoga, Attitudinal Yoga, Kriya Yoga Kundalini Yoga and loves be satsang and kirtan groups for the cause promoting peace of mind and harmonious living. She is a yoga advisor, yoga therapist, teacher and spiritual counsellor in Gokarna and her life’s work is spiritual practices for a divine purpose.
The Shankar Prasad Ashram motto is :
Love, serve, give, purify, meditate, realise.
Be good, do good, be kind, be compassionate.
Enquire who am I, know thyself and be free.
You will soon attain immortality.
Adapt, adjust, accommodate, bear insult and injury for it is the highest sadhana! (This was composed by Swami Sivananda, our paramguru, as being the essence of spiritual life).
One of these days if you’ve got a mind to find some inspiration to walk the straight and narrow path of making life worth living…travel to Gokarna to look up the Shankar Prasad Foundation ashram and Swami Yogaratna Saraswati!