Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Bihar School of Yoga 4 Months Yoga Course

Bihar School of Yoga

Finally, after such a long wait my wish became true and I had the opportunity to join last October the 4 months Yogic Studies Course at the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, India. I had wished to visit this ashram for such a long time. I actually sent my application with two years in advance! Not surprisingly they were not able to process it then, I'm sure they never received such an early application.

For many years I had thought about visiting the Bihar School of Yoga. I came to know about this ashram thanks to some of the yoga books that they have published like "Steps to Yoga" and "Taming the Kundalini". I learned a lot from these books and they gave me plenty of inspiration to follow this path.

I couldn't find much information on the Internet about the course and none of my yogi friends had any idea about how the course would be. They had only heard about it from other people. It seemed that this ashram was mainly focused on Karma Yoga or Seva (selfless service). That means doing activities like cleaning toilets, serving food, cutting vegetables, carrying boxes and the like, just work.

A couple of good friends insisted me not to go there because it would be a waste of time, I wouldn't learn anything and I would be only doing karma yoga. Well, they are actually very good friends and they were just trying to convince me to join them and visit another ashram.

But I was determined, I couldn't believe that I wouldn't be able to learn anything. There most have been a good reason beyond my own understanding of why I had been drawn to this ashram for such a long time, so even if I didn't like the idea of doing only seva I thought that this was something that I was supposed to do. And anyway the only way to find out how the course really was, was by going there and just do it. That's exactly what I did and I had a really amazing experience. It was the most difficult, challenging and painful experience that I've had so far. I was definitely meant to be there, I loved it!

I can definitely recommend this 4 Month Yogic Studies Course to anybody, even if you are a complete beginner or a very advance yogi. I wouldn't recommend it if you are mainly interested in learning hatha yoga or improving your asana practice or if you want to go deeply into pranayama or meditation but if you actually want to get to know yourself, to face all your demons and to purify your mind then this is the right place for you. From my point of view that's what this ashram is all about. It was all about mental purification through seva, mantra chanting and tapas (austerity). I can also recommend this course if you are interested in having plenty of time to study by yourself the Bihar School of Yoga books.

During the daily schedule we did have a one hour and a half of hatha yoga which they call APMB (asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha) but to me the class felt a bit superficial and extremely slow. Of course you do learn something but whatever you learn in those four months you could easily learn in a couple of weeks and even better with a more detailed instruction. There is no meditation practice during the course or as part of the ashram schedule. We had a daily 45 minutes Yoga Nidra practice (a deep relaxation technique) and some times as part of the Yoga Nidra we would do a short meditation, but for maybe just 15 minutes. So there is not much emphasis on Raja Yoga or Gnana Yoga. Although they call it Integral Yoga the main emphasis in this course and at the ashram is on Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and tapas.

But this doesn't mean that this is not a good course. Don't let your preconceived ideas of what a yoga course or an ashram should be impede you from having this experience, which might open the doors for a real transformation. If you were thinking about doing this course stay open and take your time to decide if this is the right place for you or not. Who knows, maybe this could be your path. Some people decided to do the 3 Years Sannyasi Course right after this course! amazing. And even if this is not your path you can still make some great yogi friends. To me that's already something to be grateful for.

If you want to know more about about the challenges that I faced at the ashram you can read the next post Yoga Sadhana: overcoming negative emotions.
For more information about the course you can continue reading below





The 4 Month Yogic Studies Course


Seva, seva and more seva

Seva means selfless service, performing ones duty without any desire for a reward or recognition but with the main interest in serving others. Swami Satyananda teachings make great emphasis in practicing seva because he considered that this is the most important preliminary practice to purify the mind before engaging in more advance practices like meditation. No wonder this ashram makes so much emphasis on seva.

"You should not allow the mind to sit idle even for a minute. The first step to spiritual life is to keep the mind ever busy. Every work is sadhana if done with concentration... Become the master of your mind by applying it to various jobs from morning till night. Do your work efficiently and with full concentration." Swami Satyananda, Steps to Yoga

The daily schedule included 4 hours a day of seva. During the interview at my arrival they asked me if I was able to accept that. Of course I said yes but within me I was a bit hesitant. They also told me that although the schedule showed 4 hours of seva per day it could actually be more. And that was definitely the case. Whenever there was a change in the schedule and we wouldn't have class we would always have more seva. Also in a few occasions where there was no evening program we actually had evening seva for one hour and half.

But don't let this discourage you, it was not that bad, some times it's actually fun. There is indeed a lot to learn from just doing seva, things happen in a very subtle level. When you do a duty that you like the mind immediately starts to become attached to it and feels proud. If you do a very good job at cleaning an ornament for instance you almost feel like putting your name on it so every body can see it, but of course that's completely the opposite to the actual spirit of seva. I used to laugh with my friends from the course at our own behavior.

Having seva was also very useful to deal with the many overwhelming thoughts and emotions that can appear while staying in an ashram. Sometimes I felt very grateful to have some duty to keep my mind very busy so I could stop thinking. But yes, on other days I didn't feel like doing anything at all.

I really like the emphasis that they put on doing things at perfection. When I was doing seva in accommodation, cleaning and arranging rooms for guests, I was very impressed by the focus on details. It was like cleaning a room in a 5 stars hotel. We tried our best to clean every single spot, every single corner and every single item in the room. Every object like dustbins, glasses or jars were carefully placed on an specific spot and we made the beds with the bedsheets folded in a very precise way. It really felt like mental training, like if I was being trained as a samurai... hmm or maybe just like Karate Kit. Everything had to be perfect. And this was the same approach for all duties at the ashram, including cleaning toilets.


APMB Class (asana, pranayama, mudra and bhanda)

From Monday to Friday the daily schedule would start at 5am wih the APMB Class to learn hatha yoga. The first month we focused mainly on the Pawanmuktasana Series. These are very basic joints and gland exercises that anybody can do regardless of the level of experience, gender or age. I normally love this series, they are performed very slowly and with full awareness. However I was very disappointed by the way they were taught to us. The exercises are slow but it doesn't mean that you need to learn them at such a slow pace. Everything that we learned in one month I had already learned in a Bihar School of Yoga center in Bangalore, in just a couple of days and with a much better instruction. During the course they were not making any corrections and there was not much emphasis in performing them with full awareness. I found this disconcerting, perhaps just another way to push your buttons and make you aware of your unconscious reactions. Later on we also learned a few very basic asanas.

By the third month we started to practice pranayamas (breathing excercises) like Anuloma Viloma and Bhastrika. We also practiced some mudras and bhandas. There was no theory covered and not much instruction.

We also learned some of the shatkarmas like Jala Neti, a nasal cleansing technique to eliminate all sorts of impurities from the nostrils and nasal passages using lukewarm saline water. This was another disconcerting thing. During the 4 months we were able to do this practice only three times. The other two occasions we did it because when we were learning Dhauti or Kunjal to clean the digestive track and a special practice called Laghoo Shankaprakshalana to clean the whole digestive system we also had to use lukewarm saline water.

There is no hot water available at the ashram so you can normally not do these practices anymore except during those three classes. I had asked at the reception right at the beginning of the course if I could get hot water to practice neti on my own. They told me that this was not possible so I asked them how does everybody in the ashram practice neti and they told me that nobody practice it!

Another interesting thing is that there is no meditation or asana practice in the regular ashram schedule except for the 4 month course schedule and I never saw any special hall for the residents to practice asanas. Perhaps if they practice they must do it in their own rooms. But anyway this made me think that all that knowledge that you can find in the BSY books stays just in the books. Well, that's just my personal opinion, it doesn't necessarily means that's the case.


Tutorials

Three times a week we had tutorials for one hour. One of the assigned swami teacher would give us then a one hour lecture. I didn't consider this an actual class. I think they were not trying to teach us but rather just share some information and give us the main study points on each topic covered so we could go later and deepen into it in our own study time.

During the course we covered the four main yogas: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gnana Yoga and Raja Yoga.


Study time

One of my favorite things from the course was the study time. Everyday we would get about one hour and half of study time. This was actually self study time were we would have to go to the library and study on our own. The main idea was to read more about what was discussed during the tutorials but we could actually decide to study any of the Bihar School of Yoga books available.

We also had an additional one hour twice a week for combined study. We could then choose either to study in the library alone or in a group.


The evening program

Everyday at 6pm, right after dinner, we would have the evening program that lasted for about one hour and half. The program consisted mainly in doing mantra chanting followed by a few kirtans (devotional chants). I really enjoyed the evening programs but I didn't assisted to all of them. Some kirtan's are really beautiful and when the energy goes up everybody starts dancing.

This is another very important practice at the Bihar School of Yoga. Mantra chanting and kirtan are part of one of the four yogas called Bhakti Yoga, the devotional yoga or the yoga of transmuting and channeling the emotions. Not only during the evening programs but also at the beginning of the APMB class we also dedicated plenty of time to mantra chanting.

I think all the students at the course were very open to this practice, nobody really understand how it works but we all believe that there is an invisible transformation that takes place while chanting all these mantras. At the beginning of my journey in India I had a bit of resistance to all this mantra chanting but a year and half later I feel more open to it and just let it happen. Perhaps I've been brainwashed!

One very special event was the Ekadashi day which happens twice a month. On this day the residents chant the whole Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit in about two hours and half. That was amazing but I didn't always manage to stay for the whole program. Two hours and half sitting crossed leg in the floor listening to Sanskrit chanting can be quite intense.

Some days we wouldn't have any evening program so the buildings would locked at 6.30pm! or sometimes instead of evening program we had evening seva, but this happened on very few occasions.


Course Schedule

As soon as the course started we were all divided in two groups, group A and B, and we stayed in these groups for the whole duration of the course. During the first week the group A would have Study time in the morning and seva in the afternoon and Group B would have seva in the afternoon but study time in the morning. This would alternate each week.

During the course we had a schedule for weekdays and a slightly different schedule for Saturdays and Sundays. But the schedule changes every time that there is a special event (quite frequently) and specially after mid November when the program in Rikhia starts. After Rikhia comes the Satsang Week, Christmas and New Year which involves many different changes in the daily schedule. There was hardly any classes then, we were mostly doing seva.

Weekdays Schedule
05:00 to 06:20 APMB (Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha)
06:30 to 07:00 Breakfast
07:00 to 07:50 Cleaning Seva
08:00 to 09:45 Group A: Study; Group B: Seva
10:00 to 10:50 Yoga Nidra
13:00 to 13:30 Tea
13:30 to 14:30 Tutorials (Monday, Wednesday, Friday); Combined Study (Tuesday and Thursday)
14:45 to 16:45 Group A: Seva; Group B: Study
17:00 to 17:45 Dinner
18:00 to 19:00 Evening program

Saturday Schedule
06:00 to 06:30 Breakfast
06:30 to 07:45 Cleaning Seva
08:00 to 10:45 Assignment
11:00 to 12:00 Lunch
13:00 to 13:30 Tea
14:45 to 16:45 Combined Seva
17:00 to 17:45 Dinner
18:00 to 19:00 Evening program

Sunday Schedule
06:00 to 06:30 Breakfast
06:30 to 07:45 Cleaning Seva
08:00 to 10:45 Combined Seva
11:00 to 12:00 Lunch
13:00 to 13:30 Tea
17:00 to 17:45 Dinner
18:00 to 19:00 Evening program


The Rikhia Program

The 4 Months Yogic Studies Course included in mid November a two weeks visit to Rikhiapeeth, another ashram founded by Swami Satyananda in Rikhia to join the Sat Chandi Mahayajna and Yoga Poornima. We would be basically doing seva all day long.

I was in group A. We went to Rikhia for one week around the 14 of November, then we returned to the ashram in Munger for two weeks and then we went back to Rikhia for one more week during the Yoga Poornima. The students in group B went to Rikhia during the two weeks that group A had returned to the ashram in Munger, and they joined the Sat Chandi Mahayajna.

I was a bit nervous at the beginning, I didn't know how I would take doing seva all day long but it actually was a beautiful and rewarding experience. To me this was actually one of the highlights of the course. It was not mandatory to join this program, we could choose not to go and stay at the ashram following the normal course schedule. There were a few people who didn't join the first week but after listening to the comments of the first group everybody decided to join the second week. To know more about the program in Rikhia you can read Yoga and volunteer work in India: a rewarding experience


Ashram rules - pushing your buttons

So far this is the ashram with the most strict rules that I have been into. I believe this is all part of the purification process, they don't want to make things easy for you but rather difficult to push your buttons and bring subconscious negative patterns to the surface. And this happens even right from the application process, they ask for so many papers and since they don't use e-mail communication some times it can be quite frustrating. "Send us a fax", I hated every time they told me that on the phone.

Upon my arrival I had an interview with one of the swamis. She told me that winter would get quite cold and that there is no heater system or hot water. She asked me if I was ok with that. I told her that if I would be able to use my portable water heater (which I had bought specifically to come to this ashram) to drink some hot water I would be just fine but she told me right away that it was not allowed to use water heaters or any other electrical device whatsoever, and specially mobile phones. There are actually no electrical connections in the buildings so this was not really possible.

Like in many ashrams woman and men are allocated in separate buildings but on top of that in this ashram each building was actually locked after the evening program. The building would remained locked from 7.30pm until the next day at 4.00am (please don't ask me what would happen in case of fire). The buildings were also locked during the evening program so you either join the program or you just stay at your room counting your toes. And if there was no evening program then the buildings would be locked at 6.30pm. It was like being in a prison, and all windows were protected with metal bars. The funny thing is that we did not only give up our freedom voluntarily but we even paid for this!

The cold water shower was a big challenge for me even though I've been trying to train with cold water for a while. In October when the weather was extremely hot and you feel like taking 10 showers a day I would still feel that the water was too cold for me. December and January was a real pain. But don't worry, we all survived.

And there were many other random things to challenge you day by day: having your room in the second floor while the bathrooms where on the ground floor (that's annoying when you feel like going to the toilet in the middle of the night, specially if you have diarrhea!). Some times you would plan to do something on your free time after lunch but then all of a sudden somebody would give you a note to go to the reception at 12.00. Sometimes you were really looking forward for your study time but then without any previous notification we would have a random meeting and the study time would be cancelled. Or some times you would be relaxing during a day off and then somebody would ask you to help with some seva. I really hated that one!

Oh and seva... it is said that seva is also efficiency in action, but I guess in an ashram this is not really applicable because their purpose is not to make profits but to create an environment for self transformation. So if you find yourself doing some duty that doesn't make any sense at all it is there perhaps to create a mental reaction in you and bring to the surface unconscious negative patterns.

Staying in an ashram requires some sacrifices, giving up many of the things that makes us feel comfortable. This is called tapas (austerity), and 4 months can feel like a very long time. But it is rewarding to know that you can indeed live without all that comfort that we are so use to in the western world. Well... at least for a while. It's a real mental training.


About the Ashram

The Bihar School of Yoga was founded in 1964 by Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati. The current spiritual director and guru of the ashram is Swami Niranjanananda, a disciple trained by Swami Satyananda for this purpose.

Swami Niranjanananda founded in 1994 Bihar Yoga Bharati , an Institute for Advanced Studies in Yogic Sciences. Bihar Yoga Bharati is dedicated to the study of yoga in a gurukul environment. It is actually through this institution that the 4 Month Yogic Studies Course is offered to students. The physical location is the same as the Bihar School of Yoga.

Follow this link to know more about Bihar Yoga Bharati.


Ashram facilities

There are a lot of trees and flowers around the ashram which creates a really nice and pure atmosphere. But you should never get attached to any of the nice trees. During my stay they were constantly cutting and planting new trees. I don't know the real reason but it seemed to me that they try to make sure that there are no "hiding" places around.

One of my favorite spots was the garden just behind the peacock cage. In the days that I would be struggling hard with my emotions I would sit there and just practice being present, being aware of everything. When you sit still and quiet everything becomes alive, the animals forget that you are there. It's very easy to see lots of beautiful exotic birds flying around, squirrels smelling your feet and even huge lizards walking on the grass.

Bihar School of Yoga

Bihar School of Yoga

Some of the accommodation buildings are pretty new and decent. I was lucky to be in one of them. All rooms are twin rooms so you normally need to share your room with only one person. It is all very basic, two beds, a small closet, four walls and a window. There is a fan with only one speed, two lights and no electrical connections.

Bihar School of Yoga
Bihar School of Yoga dormitory buildings

About the food

Lunch and dinner were usually pretty good, healthy Indian vegetarian food, and it was not difficult at all to tolerate it for 4 months. Actually, since leaving the ashram I have had a very hard time trying to adjust back to eating regular Indian restaurant food, I'm missing the ashram food!

At the ashram I was eating a lot and after just half an hour I would feel empty but now that I'm back outside into the real world, free to eat whatever I want, I can barely eat two meals a day anymore!

The breakfast was rather disappointing and it was actually the same menu every week. My favorite days were when we would get porridge (I think that was Thursday) or when there would be some left overs from the last dinner.

One important thing to be aware of is that you don't get fruits at all during meals. Luckily there were two men (the medicine man or the market man) visiting the ashram everyday so you can order anything that you might need from the market like medicines or fruits.

More than just a window

Top Bihar School of Yoga books in Amazon.com

Yoga & Kriya Hatha Yoga
Pradipika
Kundalini Tantra Prana & Pranayama


Contact information

Bihar School of Yoga,
Ganga Darshan,
Fort Munger
Munger 811201
Bihar
India

Phone: +916344222430 +919304799615
Fax: +916344220169
Lunch time between 11 am till 1.30 pm

Websites:

Useful links

Related blog posts

If you have followed the 4 Month Yogic Studies Course before or if you have been at the Bihar School of Yoga please don't hesitate to write your opinion or thoughts in the comments form below.

55 comments:

  1. nice review of the programme, thanks for sharing. hair om tat sat!

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  2. thanks a lot marco - this is very interesting! it sounds super scary - and strange.i just met another guy in a german ashram who dod the program and said the same about his experiences with seva - he learned a lot! anyways - proud of you for going through it!!!! petra jaya

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  3. I've never been to any ashram except for Sivananda... This one sounds so different. It's good to know, I would actually love to go there, the way u mentioned things just not going on the way it was planned is just like life... We plan and things go the other way n we struggle to adjust. But after having 4months under these circumstances one will b more prepared to face life than actually having a routine life in the ashram n feeling disoriented when u get out of the ashram.

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  4. Thanks for your detailed account of what is going on at the bihar school in Munger, I heard before that is not an ashram but a giant washing machine, I personally will never pay to do karma yoga, that's ridiculous, you do it in exchange for accommodation and meals. It is terribly sad how the bihar school has degenerated into numbing people specially when we consider they have the best yoga treatises ever by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

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  5. does one have to shave their head? for the women, where do they find a hairdresser?

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  6. @Anonymous 1: Haaa, a washing machine? Well I did feel like in a washing machine but because of the emotional purification and that's a good thing. I hope you didn't get a negative impression from what I wrote, I think this was an extraordinary experience. Swami Satyananda always made great emphasis on Karma Yoga because he considered it to be the easiest and most effective way to purify the mind and make it ready for more advance practice like meditation.

    @Anonymous 2: No, nobody needs to shave their head but if you wish to then there is a hairdresser coming to the ashram once in a while to shave all the swami's heads :-) I heard he is really good at it.

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  7. Hi Anisha! Well, I don't know if you are more prepared to face life after 4 months at the BSY but the experience there is invaluable, real mental training. When I left the ashram I was a mess :-P and it took me a while to come back to normal, if you read my other post "Yoga Sadhana, Overcoming Negative Emotions" you'll understand why.

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  8. Marco, thank you for such an interesting review, as I was also thinking about BSY. I am not sure about that anymore. i did read most of your posts about the ashram and it does sound life a tough experience, lots of respect for that! I was just wondering if you feel it was so cleansing for you spirit, why did you still left the place feeling all the mess, aren't you supposed to gain the peace and leave the place feeling harmony?

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  9. Thanks for your comment Agrippina. Well, it's a bit difficult to explain. I think some people have the view that going to an ashram is like going for holidays where you can just relax and do some yoga and leave the place with a big smile, but that's not usually the case and specially not at the BSY.

    An ashram is a place for sadhana, spiritual practices for self transformation and the process of mental and emotional purification can be painful. Facing the trash that we have accumulated in the unconscious mind might be a difficult experience. That's why the yogis don't recommend LSD or other kind of drugs cause those drugs might give us an extraordinary experience but they can also bring to our awareness stuff that we are not prepared to see, and besides they will affect the nervous system but the yogi is trying to purify his nervous system.

    So why did I left feeling like a mess? Well, I want to transform myself and this ashram gave me that opportunity but the process is painful and takes time. The peace and harmony will come a bit later and that's fine. And now I'm even thinking about returning for the 6 months seva program, I must be crazy! :-D But that's my personal stage and my personal experience, your experience might be completely different than mine so if you go to the ashram please come back here and share your experience. Thanks again

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  10. And just to clarify myself, spending some time at an ashram can also be a beautiful wonderful experience and you can leave the place feeling lots of peace and harmony, I've personally experienced this before, but there are different personal stages and things are not always like a rainbow. Inside or outside and ahsram life will give us difficult situations so we can learn and grow, but an ashram is created specifically for that. I hope this answers your question

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  11. Hari om marco,
    i try since some time to get to know how much this 4 month course costs?! cant find it. do you know? and do you know if there is no 4 month course from okt13 to feb14? maybe because of the world yoga convention? thanks for answering. uma

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    1. Hi Uma, I think the course was 1,200 EUR when I did it. That includes everything except your transportation to and out of the ashram. I don't know if they have a course next October, you can try to call them and ask them directly. Good luck!

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  12. Hey Marco -

    thanks so much for sharing such details account of your experiences. I am struggling with deciding upon a good yoga TTC. I need to do it soon coz I am moving to Santiago in a couple of months. If there could be a short term(upto 2 months) intensive course that you could suggest, which one would it be?

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  13. Hi VJ, thanks for your comment. Well the one that I know is the Sivananda TTC. It takes one month and the ATTC (advance teacher training course) takes another month, you might be able to do one after the other one. I wrote about both trainings in my blog, just use the search bar on the top of the right column of my blog to find them.

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  14. I spent one year over there when I attended the Diploma in Applied Yogic Studies, from 2001-2002. I had a lot of negative impression about the place, even though there are good things to learn. Definitely, bad experiences are inclusive, but the best part is as you said, "Push the buttons" and, a great library to learn from. They have an amazing collection of books. I spent a very good time in the library and we had a great batch, with mates sharing all kinds of wisdom and even had great discussions and orientation on different masters, cults and comparing the teachings. It is not just about the schedule or what they teach there, but the entire exposure it brings like meeting different kinds of people. Of course, the negativity brought a nice change in me. It does change the character, definitely and the food is very plain and simple to make you choiceless.

    Certainly it is one of the most unique systems in India, and a very effective one. I don't know how much has changed now, but the strict routine is really crushing on the ego, the body and the entire system and for some it is really hard and I have noticed students fall sick and lose weight heavily and finally they had to be leave half way through the course. A very beautiful woman became almost unrecognizable by the end of the four month certificate course and lost her voice. It finally depends on you much you want to get channeled to the system and what goal one has set for himself/herself. I have interesting memories of this place. Karma Yoga is a good thing and even when my dad was studying with the Ramakrishna Home, Chennai way back in 1940s, he also was assigned duties of cleaning etc.

    Shyam R

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    1. Hi Shyam, thanks for sharing your impressions from the Bihar School of Yoga. You spent one year there?! Wow, that must have been a very intense and transformative experience, I barely managed to handle 4 months :-)

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  15. Hi Marco adding to the comment is link to my colleague's wonderful experience of joining Ashram... I will update experience too and link it soon to comment here...OM.
    http://myindianeyes.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/wishes-do-come-true-my-journey-to-ashram-life/

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    1. Hi Prabudha, wow your friend's journey to Bihar School of Yoga is fascinating and she tells the story in such a beautiful way. Thanks a lot for sharing her story here. I'm happy to share the link again so others can visit her site and read the story: http://myindianeyes.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/wishes-do-come-true-my-journey-to-ashram-life/

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  16. Hi Marco, thank you very much for your description. IMHO the ashram itself should post the description on what's going on there, incl. schedule, but they did not do it, so people like me have to learn it from posts like yours. Thus my sincere appreciation for your comments.

    Now about real question. The important thing is of course not so much what method is used but how effective this method is on your spiritual path, how much it helps you to get closer to your goals. You say, the life there brings on the surface negative emotions. Well, you do not have to go an ashram to get a lot of negative emotions - there are plenty of them in our usual life. The point is to BE AWARE of them and DO SOMETHING about it, to overcome them... Because if the practice stops at showing you your emotions/problems/issues, than it's not an effective practice, to say the least. A good practice should be designed to eliminate them in an efficient way. Your description places with me many question marks about efficacy of the practice, as in fact you do not mention any tools besides chanting and of course the provided environment which is used at the ashram... And those examples of sick people... Do poor conditions really contribute to your spiritual growth? Do they purify you? From books on Bihar Yoga I understand that there many techniques (from the founder) that can and must be learned, which can help you. This is (for me) would be the purpose of going to an ashram, and this does not have anything to do with relaxation spot or/and happy smile. So why are all those wonderful techniques are not taught at the ashram????? Did you ask this question at the end? Everybody will make up his own mind, but this place I'll pass.

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  17. Well decribed experience with honesty . This four month course is not meant to make a yoga teacher. They explained everything and also have a orientation period for the students before final admission. Different experinces is also all about what we expect .

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  18. Hi guys can anyone tell me what the interview and written test is like. What sort of questions they ask as i'm about to go for the interview in next 15 days. Do i need to read yoga books as im a beginner with minimal knowledge about the yoga or asans.

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  19. thank you for sharing this! i spent a month in munger on a scholarship programme for indian students in 2010 and it changed my life. since i'd done a lot of yoga earlier, i was also not very sure what i was really achieving by doing the basic asanas in a 90 minute class, but i think it helped to have a teacher who was very sensitive to how we were doing it. looking back, if i was looking for specific asana-based training, it might have not been so focused. but it really made me aware of my breath (i am a mouth breather) and of nuances in movement (and a dancer). I've been planning to go back for a short spell this year. Surprisingly, what you said about the fruits was interesting - I was there in June, when their trees were laden with fruit - and there was more fruit than mouths to eat it. So we had mangoes, bananas and black grapes at almost every meal!

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  20. Personally the BSY Rikhiapeeth was a disappointing experience. Most of the sanyasis & sanyasinis seem to have a sad appearance. There was a forced cultivated attitude of smiling and talking. When you sit back and observe the volunteer sanyasis there was a sort of cloud when they were standing by themselves. They all seemed unhappy and I could feel it in the air. Also talking to the ground level staff helps you to understand the reality. It is a controlled environment with no regular schedule, and seems like a front for getting their day to day work done through free labor. Swami Satyananda was a true visionary and had a good aura, but the current heads of both centers somehow seem to be without any JOY. Something is missing in this place. Maybe the 80-20 rule, a law of nature, applies where 80% have to be incompetent in any organisation.

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  21. It is possible to register by e mail? I have not found.
    Thank you very much. Om tat sat.

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    1. @Ricardo. Hi Ricardo, unfortunately no, they have choose to not use any email communication. You have to apply using regular mail.

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  22. I am going this year, by the end of September. Is there anyone going from Europe, so we can travel together? If yes, could you please send me an email on neketamostvari@gmail.com

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  23. I appreciated a lot your sharing. Very enlightening. Keep up the good work! And thank you.

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  24. Marco, thanks a million for sharing. The same to all contributors for valuable info.
    I've finally received a letter via "snail mail", with "provisional admission" to the 4 months' studies Oct. 14. I both dread and look forward to the challenge!
    Could you please tell me on what ashram activities we must follow the BYB dress code (dress in their outfits)? For classes and seva, or all day around? I need to know for what occations I shall bring own clothes. (I suppose there are some rules for private clothing as well?)
    I've written above "anonymous" directly. If anyone else going via Patna for same program: I've hired a hotel car for Munger/BYB on September 18th and will be pleased to offer 2 students a ride. (Can eventually postpone 1 day)

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    1. Hi Bente.

      Well first of all congratulations for deciding to join this program and for being accepted to it :-) . It can be a challenge but I'm sure you'll have a wonderful and transformative experience :-).

      You can use the uniform all day long if you want to, but I think you definitely need to use it for the classes and some events. I didn't like to wear the uniform so many times during the breaks and seva I used my own clothes, though I can't remember exactly how it was. If at any moment you use your own clothes you just need to make sure that they don't offend the local culture, so nothing provocative at all and ensuring that your shoulders are covered.

      I hope you'll be able to share your taxi with others; that would be really awesome cause I'm sure many other people will be traveling by themselves and could definitely share a car.

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  25. Thanks a lot Marco for sharing such details

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  26. THANKS A MILLION, MARCO!

    My offer for a ride from Patna to Ganga Darshan is on September 19th.
    I have booked vehicle and driver from my hotel in Patna. The drive takes about 4 hours.

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  27. Hey, I didn't see any mention about the price of the course? I suppose it wasn't for free? n__n

    (I've been to a Bihar School of Yoga yogashram in Bangalore before. It did cost something, but totally not much.)

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    1. Hi Heidi, yeah that's true, for some reason I never mention the cost of this kind of courses, but I think it was 1300 USD for the four months, everything included but non refundable. I suggest you get in touch with them to make sure that's still the cost.

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  28. I SURVIVED THE Y.S.
    and I'm savely back home with my Diploma and a straight "A".

    It was tough, both to the freezing winter that lastet long and in general the "gurukul" life style with it's strict rules is demanding. But I learned a lot and feel very good, practicing my "yoga capsule" diligently every day.

    Hope life is treating you well, Marco.
    Hari Om and much Meta,

    Bente

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    1. Hi Bente, good to hear that you "survived" the experience at BSY :-) It's an experience that will probably stay with you for the rest of your life, in a good way of course.

      I'm very good thank you, doing a gurukulam at SRSG in Rishikesh. Nothing like BSY but it does has some challenges, and winter is way colder and longer here :-)

      Enjoy your daily yoga capsule :-)

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  29. Marco,that's really the most vivid and detailed explanation on yoga experience ever.
    Thank you.
    Regards.

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  30. Marco, would you please consider removing this endorsement in light of the child sexual abuse charges against this organization? For more information please see - matthewremski.com/wordpress/boycott-satyanandas-literature-and-methods-until-reparations-are-made-for-sexual-abuse/ and also https://www.facebook.com/groups/sy.reavealthetruth/

    Please help others to avoid being trapped in their web of deceit and make your readers aware of the dangers of Bihar School of Yoga

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  31. hi anyone hv know where is the application forms?

    amol

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  32. Om
    Good to see all the details n I m really interested to join this 4 months course, I have done 1 month TTC also. Would be better if email-I'd is there, I tried to call in the mentioned phone numbers but not getting line. Please help.

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    1. Hi Deepa, I understand, they choose not to use email but even you call them they won't help you much. They prefer if you contact them by post. Try to visit their websites from the links that I have shared. Perahps they have changed their phone numbers

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  33. Very nice information. Like you I have also done YIC from Svyasa and whatever you have stated is correct. Even I felt the same way. I have also done course from MDNIY delhi and that is also a good institute. I'm going for the Vipasanna in Bodh gaya and the 4 month course from Bsy in hindi and post that will do diploma from Kaivalyadhama in Pune.

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    1. Hi Super Anush, that sounds like an awesome path, first Vipassana in Bodhgaya and then Bihar. Good luck, it's going to be an amazing experience. All the best. Namaste.

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  34. Namaste everyone! Guys, have you heard that they do not offer this program to foreigners anymore. I am not sure, if it is a correct information. What do you think?

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  36. My first ashram experience at 2 years old was sleeping on roll out straw mats with two blankets which we used as a mattress . In the winter one of those blankets was to keep warm .. We also had no hot water and had to use cold bucket wash at 4.30 am .. I shared with 10 others in room and one toilet ..we use to fight to use it before everyone else to be on time to get into the temple at 5 .. It was a Iskon Hari Krishna temple in India and I stayed for 6 months . Now every other ashram seems opulent .

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  37. Thank you for your detailed information Marco! I have sent my application in back in February. I sent an application three years ago and received my acceptance letter two days before I was supposed to be there so I went to Madurai, India to Sivananda Yoga Ashram. My heart still wants to go to Bihar School of Yoga though. I was wondering, if for some reason I don't get my acceptance letter by the end of August, I wonder if I could just show up there three weeks ahead of time with my application in hand, I wonder if they would allow me to join the course? I've tried calling but no answer, the phone is always busy or I cannot get a connection. So I figured I'd just show up. Looking forward...Carol

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  38. Dear Carol
    What you describe is for me sort of BSY in a "nutshell". You need lots of patience and energy for both application and for participation on an eventual course. You must do all according to BSY rules and instructions. You can not just go there!! And make sure you apply for correct Indian visa.The application process is only a pretest for what you will have to endure later at BSY. Make sure you're both mentally and physically fit for the course! It is hard!
    Wishing you all the best.

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  39. 1300 usd means in indian currency what is it????

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  40. Hi Marco, I'm thinking of doing the yogic studies course next year or blog has been a useful source of info. One question I haven't found answered is are there western toilets to use? I don't think I can handle 4 months of squatting...or should I say my bad knee can't handle it ;)

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    1. Hi Lisa! Yes there are so no need to worries. You'll find both type of toilets. But be aware that during a lot of activities you'll need to sit cross leg on the floor, for events or lectures. Maybe you can request for a chair if you have troubles with your knees. Good luck, I hope you'll enjoy the experience :-)

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  41. Hi Lisa.
    I had problems sitting during different kinds of karma yoga. I managed to get a permission to buy my own small plastic "chair" to use in the kitchen. The "Market Man" fixes most of students' needs. Just ask for permission first!

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  42. Hi Marco, firstly thank you for such wonderful blog. (I've read your blogs on other ashrams as well, very helpful information). Anyways I am going for this course in few days. Truthfully, I was excited as first because I thought it was just hatha yoga and seva. Well I was expecting the hatha to me more intense or more focused on. However I got from your reading is that the course is more seva and less hatha. After finishing reading your blog I questioned myself about going through the course but at the same time I want to go and experience it for myself.

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