Shiva and Shiva Ratri, an all-night vigil of chanting and prayer

Shiva, the destroyer, Brahma, the creator and Vishnu, the preserver, make up the supreme trinity of the Hindu pantheon. Shiva is known as the deity responsible for all forms of destruction. While this can be terrifying when one is attached to the world of form, Shiva, as the god of yogis, is also the destroyer of ego, that illusory entity that identifies with form. In reality, Shiva is the destroyer of all illusion; all that remains is Shiva’s true nature, the formless essence out of which all forms arise, but which is itself timeless and unchanging. As satyam, shivam, sundaram or truth, goodness and beauty, Shiva represents the most essential goodness. This is also our true nature.

Shiva Ratri, the fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight when the moon is waning and the sun is in the sign of Pisces, is the day when devotees of Shiva around the world gather in communal sadhana. This may take many forms including prayer, ritual, kirtan and the austerities of abstaining from food and sleep. These are all aimed at attaining the dispassion and peace that arise with the reduction of egocentric desires and attachments that keep us from knowing our true nature, the essence of Shiva.

A New Year’s Message from Shankar

The new year is a time of promise, optimism and hope. It is also a time when individuals resolve to change their lives for the better, perhaps in the area of exercise, eating habits or spiritual practice. We too are in the process of change at the Centre.

A Virtual Makeover

Some of you may already have seen our new website, launched auspiciously during the recent lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. While the look and feel are not too different (we liked what we had), the website has been completely rebuilt with the bulk of the changes behind the scenes. One important outcome is that a person with minimal web skills can now edit text with ease and also add pictures, slide shows and videos. We have been very busy checking and editing all the text, and this has given us a chance to update and rewrite considerable portions of the website. Also many other processes have been streamlined. YTT and KYSS applications can now be submitted online, and within a month or so we will be able to take registration and other payments online, which will make registration easier for guests and save a considerable amount of office time. With a project such as this there are usually some things that have been overlooked (though so far all seems well), so we would appreciate hearing about errors, needed edits, ease of use and anything else you’d like to tell us (emails to

Changes to Karma Yoga Program

Other changes involve the Karma Yoga Service & Study program (KYSS). 2010 saw more KYs than ever before and eleven KYSS sessions. While this made for a large and joyful community experience, it proved difficult to manage (an understatement, the kitchen staff might say!). Our experiment this year is to have only three KYSS terms which will greatly reduce administration (especially scheduling), work orientation and training.

New Programs

Despite this we will be expanding our program offerings and rentals while retaining the programs for which we are well-known: the Yoga Getaways and Yoga Teacher Training. A new spring break offering March 14-18, 2011 is Yoga in Your School, a wonderfully innovative approach to show school teachers how to introduce yoga into the classroom as an effective aid not just to children’s health and well-being, but also to enhance learning and the classroom dynamic. On April 1-3, 2011 we are pleased to host a new rental program, Loving Your Life – a Weekend in The Work of Byron Katie, a powerful retreat of transformation through simple self-inquiry presented by Caitlin Frost and Kim Howden. If you are suffering, stressed or just feel stuck, this is an opportunity to bring more joy into your life. In addition to these new offerings, we are bringing back two popular programs, Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training (enroll soon, this one is filling fast!), and the multifaceted Ayurveda Lifestyle Workshop. And this only takes us up to the month of May!

The renovations of the program building mentioned in the December Newsletter are well under way, and we are hopeful that we will soon have new floors for all the guest rooms and, with luck, a whole new dish washing room. We look ahead to a fruitful season in which we can bring into the Centre family many new program guests and karma yogis, and of course welcome back old friends, many of whom who have helped shape the Centre into the place of peace, joy and learning that it has become.

Happy New Year!
Director, Salt Spring Centre of Yoga

Sid’s Tofu Scramble

A spicy alternative to eggs, great with buttered rye or sourdough rye toast or rolled in a tortilla. Sid, our local jalapeno aficionado, swears this recipe came down from the ancient Aztecs, revealed to him in a vision.

2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 cup (240 mL) chopped leeks or onions
2 cups (480 mL) chopped green peppers
6 cups (1.54 L) crumbled or cubed tofu
2 cups (480 mL) chopped tomatoes
5 Tbsp (75 mL) tamari
4 Tbsp (60 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) turmeric
1 Tbsp (15 mL) turbinado sugar
2 finely minced pickled jalapeno peppers (adjust to taste)
1/4 cup (60 mL) pitted and chopped Greek olives (optional)

In a wok or large frying pan, saute the leeks and green peppers in olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring regularly until the tomatoes are cooked in.

(Recipe reproduced from The Salt Spring Experience: Recipes for Body, Mind and Spirit. If you would like to purchase a copy of our popular book, email us and we’d be happy to send you one.)

Photo by: rusvaplauke

Relationship Mandala

relationship mandala

This exercise is a continuation of Making a Personal Mandala. As explained there, a mandala is a symmetrical design that uses shape and colour to express an idea. Mandalas are usually abstract, sometimes geometric, and often, but not necessarily, circular. Your personal mandala represents the layers of your self, from the innermost self outward to the face you show the world, with all the protective layers in between.

What you need:

  • Drawing paper
  • Materials for colouring. Colour is important in a mandala; oil pastels are great because they have strong, vibrant colour. Felt pens are also good.

How To Make A Relationship Mandala

  1. In this exercise you make two mandalas on the same page. The first is your personal mandala. The second is for the other person. Let the mandalas come from inside, where you intuitively know about this relationship. Don’t try to control them.
  2. When you’re done, have a look at the page. What does it have to tell you? Colour, size, placement on the page, kind of lines (soft or sharp edges) – all these things can tell you something about the relationship. Is one mandala big and the other small? Is one crowding into the other’s space? There is no right or wrong way to interpret your drawing – you may have reasons for your interpretation or simply a feeling about what it means. Let yourself be intuitive as you look at the mandalas and how they interact on the page.

Photo by: Antediluvial