From 1st to 16th April, an inspiring Bal Yoga Shivir was conducted at Rikhiapeeth for hundreds of children who came from all over India, including Kanker, Raipur, Bhilai, Indore and Bilaspur. The Shivir was structured to provide for the holistic development of the children within the creative and spiritually charged environment of the ashram.
The daily timetable specifically met the needs of young children and gave them maximum exposure to all aspects of ashram life in a fun and inspired way. Daily asana, pranayama and yoga nidra classes were conducted by Swami Nityachaitanya, who introduced the practices in a creative way that the children loved. The practices of yoga that were introduced aimed not only to help keep young growing bodies strong, supple and healthy, but also stimulate the dormant creative and intellectual potentials latent within the children.
The kanyas of Rikhia also conducted a daily chanting class for the children in which they taught chapters 12 and 15 of the Bhagavad Gita along with several of their favourite chants and havan. The visiting children were impressed that these kanyas of their own age could chant with such confidence and they too were inspired to learn! They also insisted that the kanyas taught them some kirtans so they could sing them after they returned to their homes!
The children enthusiastically joined in seva in various areas, including gardening, kitchen, watering and cleaning of the ashram cars and the Yajnashala. They particularly enjoyed interacting with the sannyasins and ashram residents.
The evening satsang during the Bal Yoga Shivir were spirited and uplifting. There were daily dance performances by the kanyas and batuks of Rikhia who due to popular demand were invited again day after day! The visiting children also demonstrated their talents such as yoga performances, singing, dancing, dramas and jokes!
The highlight of the Shivir for the children were the daily satsang with Swami Satyasangananda, who addressed each and every one of the children's numerous questions, answering them all with wisdom and humour. She addressed a common concern expressed by the children in relation to pressure to excel in exams and gave them invaluable insight in how to manage the ever increasing pressures on young people. The children received prasad of new outfits which they wore proudly during their stay.
As exposure to yoga and ashram life fosters balanced physical, mental and emotional development, this Bal Yoga Shivir is the most precious gift we can offer to the next generation.
As the summer heat reached its zenith, the massive project to transform the Samadhi Sthal of Swami Satyananda into a divine and magnificent place continued at an unrelenting pace. The sannyasins, sevaks and Santhali rezas and labourers, whom Sri Swamiji called the load bearers of society, worked tirelessly day and night to transform the Samadhi Sthal of Swami Satyananda into the sublime divya loka that we see today. Their tireless efforts made the Samadhi Sthal into a place that is truly befitting of the magnificence of Swami Satyananda and its vast expanse makes it accessible to the thousands of devotees who come to Rikhiapeeth to seek darshan of his Samadhi Sthal. Each and every aspect of the project from design to execution was guided and directed to the closest detail by Swami Satyasangananda in close consultation with Swami Niranjanananda. One cannot help but feel that Swami Satyananda seeing it from above would love it, for the simple yet stunning Samadhi Sthal is a fitting tribute to him. His glorious ways are forever encapsulated here for the Samadhi Sthal is a perfect blend of tradition beautified with modern new age ideas, which is how he was himself.