Satyananda Yoga Women’s Groups in Greece and the annual Women’s Yoga Symposium
In 2007, various women’s yoga groups were formed in different parts of Greece under the guidance of Swami Sivamurti Saraswati. The groups address the challenges women face today, and aim to cultivate the strengths inherent in every woman through the myriad of yogic techniques and practices within the Satyananda Yoga Tradition. They also aim to inspire more women to take an active role in benefiting the community in which they live. Currently, there are groups in Athens, Thessaloniki, Kavala-Xanthi, Volos-Larissa and Kalamata.
The Satyananda Yoga Women’s Groups also support the philanthropic work of Satyananda Math within their own communities by organizing a number of projects some of which involve preparing regular food packages and blankets for the homeless, providing vaccinations and medical care for children, supporting and assisting cancer patients and the elderly, offering work opportunities and free yoga courses to the unemployed, supporting children in orphanages, cleaning up municipal parks, and bringing yoga classes to prisons.
A Women’s Yoga Symposium is held in Paiania ashram once a year where women from all over Greece are welcome to attend. Workshops, lectures, film projections, art exhibitions, plays and musical performances are but a few of the activities that are presented on a particular theme which the women have been working on throughout the year in their seminars with Swami Sivamurti Saraswati.
Janaki/Volos women’s group
Years ago, when we first formed the Women’s Yoga Group in Volos, we could never have imagined the scope of knowledge we would gain through our seminars with Swamiji. Our convictions, the way we thought, the way we perceived things, all changed drastically.
Looking back, it was as if we could only see ourselves through a small slit. But today, this tiny slit has become a wide window through which we can look at ourselves and others, and the whole of society. This is indeed a very precious gift, especially when you have to deal with negativity, jealousy, antagonism, anger, obsessions.
All these difficult emotions cause us to withdraw into our own shell, and not want to see ahead. The wide open window, is in fact, our awareness expanding which allows us to come closer to our self, to discover our strengths and our weaknesses, to accept ourselves, and then to accept the other women in our group, and support each other.
Of course our group has had to overcome difficulties as well. We have been tamasic at times, but Swamiji’s energy, her words of advice and guidance have helped us restore sattwic communication. We have learnt to be more positive, more forgiving. The feeling that motivates and unites us is our love for her, our love for Satyananda Yoga, and our love for our guru.
The Women’s Yoga Group gives us the opportunity to discover who we really are, to unite and create. It brings us happiness and positivity, and for all these reasons we must continue to have such groups.
Laya/Kavala women’s group
I started yoga classes three years ago. At first, it was the calmness and relaxation I felt that made me love it. However, I later noticed that my emotions began to change. I could see things more logically and with greater understanding, I could forgive more easily and open up my heart more.
A year ago, my yoga teacher suggested I join the Women’s Yoga Group in Kavala, and my immediate response was, ‘No’, as I had had negative experiences when joining groups in the past. Having attended the Women’s Yoga Symposium that year though, something inside me changed. On the second day of the symposium, I saw smiling faces, and an inexplicable energy all around me.
All this was the result of one enlightened woman’s work, who has dedicated her life to yoga and made it her life’s mission to show to her fellow humans that there is another way to live life. Ever since October 2015, I have been a member of the Women’s Yoga Group.
KalyanaRatna/Salonika women’s group
Each year I feel that I place one more ‘precious gem’ in my little ‘pouch of knowledge’. This year, in our seminars, we worked on swabhava and swadharma bringing us greater awareness about what our true nature is, and discovering our true purpose in life. Our efforts to gain greater insight into ourselves are of course ongoing. To develop emotionally and spiritually our efforts need to be continual.
It is a great honour to be part of the Women’s Yoga Group, and to be present at the Symposium celebrating with other women, sharing ideas and collaborating in projects and together walking on this beautiful spiritual path. A big heartfelt thank you to Swamiji for this opportunity.
Vedanta/Volos women’s group
Organizing Satyananda Math projects really does not need that much money. What we need is heart and spirit. We need to be optimistic, cheerful and loving. Because this is what our fellow human beings need, and what we can offer freely.
People need a little company, a smile, someone to accompany them to the doctor if they are alone, or to have someone by their side during a difficult period. We need to expand our projects and also become involved in juvenile detention centres and prisons, because we tend to marginalize these people. Society has turned their back on them.
I would like to offer these people the love that Swamiji has given me, as they have been deprived of this love. If only we could start the day by offering a smile to those around us, by offering what we can, rather than what is beyond our capacity.
With the help of our beloved Swamiji, I believe we will be able to achieve quite a lot in our Satyananda Math projects. I also truly believe that we will achieve quite a lot in our own self-development.
Katyayani/Athens women’s group
When I was asked by Swamiji to be the president of the Women’s Yoga Group in Athens, she also said to me “There will be good and bad things that will happen. You will learn a lot.” I did not respond, but when I went home that day, I was panic-stricken. What did she mean by “bad and good things”? Swamiji never mentions “bad” things, so I assumed that something really “bad” was going to happen. I thought it must have to do with confronting myself.
The Women’s Yoga Group in Athens was made up of older members who had been practicing yoga much longer than I had, and other very new members, all of whom I had to co-ordinate, but how? I had sleepless nights trying to think of ways I could manage this task. For some time, I kept putting off ringing the members to organize a gathering.
One night, before going to sleep, I said, “Swamiji, you have asked me to take on this task, but tell me how I should do it?” Then I lay in bed, and just before I drifted off to sleep, a thought came into my head. It was actually something Swamiji had said once, “Do what you can, and do not worry about the results, remain detached to the results.” So I thought to myself, “O.K. then, I will do what I can, and whatever happens.”
And the next day I began ringing up each woman, one by one. Now one of the greatest obstacles for us in Athens is the long distances between us, and it is very hard for us to meet up. Despite this problem, we managed to get together and discuss the homework we were given in each seminar.
The women in the group were so supportive, encouraging and willing to help. I was so happy that it was all coming together. With Swamiji’s guidance and teachings, I can see that we have evolved into quite a dynamic and creative group of women.
Gauri Sankara/ Larissa women’s group
The Women’s Yoga Group is for me a long spiritual journey guided by Swamiji. On this journey, I feel myself coming closer to the women in my group, and embracing them all, with their different personalities. I feel as if we are all one big family. Swamiji trains us, guides us, encourages us, inspires us to be positive, and to offer the best of ourselves to our community. We work together with the Women’s Group in Volos, which is a great experience.
At first I thought this collaboration would be very difficult, but slowly, slowly and step-by-step, we managed to work very well together. The women in Volos were very supportive, and I felt this more when we worked on a play we were to present at the Symposium. I felt an acceptance and genuine love emanating from these women. I would like the Women’s Yoga Group to continue, and I believe it will. It is about helping and supporting our community.
Yashoda/ Kavala women’s group
I feel very privileged to be part of this group of women which is guided by Swamiji. We participate in seminars where we work on ourselves and become better people. The group has also given us the opportunity to look into our own Greek culture, language and ancient Greek philosophy. We have begun to enhance our understanding and go deeper into our own civilization through yoga, because we never had the opportunity to do all this at school.
Jaya - a magazine for women
Download back issues of "Jaya", the newsletter for all the news, activities, meetings and programs related to the Satyananda Yoga Women's Groups from all over Greece. (link)
If you enjoyed reading our past issues of Jaya and would like to see this project continued, please contact us.
How to connect
1. Link to Satyananda Math - AMBA projects
2. If you are interested in joining any of these groups please contact us