News from the Centre – March 2017

Hello everyone,

Spring officially begins later this month. Meanwhile, these photos give you a snapshot of our snowy-rainy February and the wet not-quite-spring at the Centre.

Spring stream

Milo by the tractor, February 2017. We had lots of snow! There’s still some, but it’s melting quickly and now it’s very wet!

Here’s what’s been going on behind the scenes at the Centre. Along with ongoing daily tasks and Wednesday work parties, a lot is being accomplished.

Jesse and Will painting the upstairs hallway; Tyler installing trim

Milo, Bri and Udaya at lunchtime

Milo continues to work with the students of the Salt Spring Centre School every Thursday. Here they are in the propagation greenhouse, getting ready for planting.

Kate’s class in the greenhouse with Milo

Now that the weather is warming up and the snow is gone (for the moment), more people are emerging from their winter hideaways and joining us for kirtan and satsang. If you’re interested in joining our online Bhagavad Gita study group – Tuesday evenings at 7 pm – please contact me ( and give me your email address. Monthly full moon yajnas also continue, the next one being on Thursday, March 9 at 7:00 pm.

Night of Shiva

Shivaratri, the Night of Shiva, an all-night vigil of chanting and prayer, was powerful and uplifting, ending with the submersion of offerings into the pond at dawn. This year the pond was covered with a thick layer of ice, presenting a bit of a challenge. A hole had been cut in the ice to allow the offerings to be made, but the offerers had to stand on the ice to watch.

The altar


Carrying the lingams to the pond

Join us this season!

Our 2017 program season begins this month, with our first Yoga Getaway of the season, March 10-12, a perfect way to renew at the beginning of the spring season.

The Centre’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training is accepting registrations for this summer’s YTT program. This unique residential program on beautiful Salt Spring Island is taught by a 20-member faculty of experienced teachers dedicated to passing on the teachings that have enriched their lives. The program is taught in two segments, July 6-19 and August 12-22.

On another note, we’ve noticed that there are some gaps on our library shelves. If you borrowed a book when you were here last, please know that we would love to have it back. You can bring it next time you come. Thanks!

This month’s newsletter offerings

This month we present Joni Neha Louie, part of Our Centre Community. In Yoga Story, Neha shares her yoga journey, which began when she was in university and led to her taking Yoga Teacher Training at the Centre in 2005. She says the program “opened my heart wide. It ignited a vision and a feeling of how I wanted to live my practice. It also gave me the tools I needed to start.” Her story unfolds from there, leading her to spending time at Sri Ram Ashram, eventually meeting the man who became her husband and bringing a sweet little boy into the world. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading her story.

Whatever your life situation, life invariably involves dealing with other people. Babaji has counselled many of us over the years as we struggled to learn how to live and work together. Although he was directing this advice to the Centre community, it applies equally to anyone who lives or works with others – in any relationship. Here is Babaji’s advice on Getting Along With Other People.

The Salt Spring Centre of Yoga kitchen has fed many, many people over the years. Back by popular request, here are a few recipes from both Centre cookbooks that guests still ask about – Recipes from The Centre Kitchen. If you want more recipes, please let me know by leaving a comment; I’d be happy to share more.

As we move into spring, may we move from darkness into light on all levels.

Purity in thought, purity in speech, and purity in action bring divine presence in the heart.


Getting along with other people – advice from Baba Hari Dass

Whatever we do, whatever our life situation, chances are it involves other people. Relationship issues become very obvious when living in community; it’s impossible to hide. You may not live in community – you may even live alone – but life involves other people – family, work, friends, all kinds of relationships: with parents, children, romantic partners, your boss, your co-workers, friends.

Here are a few reminders we’ve been given by Babaji over the years. These comments and questions and answers come from meetings with Babaji in the early years at the Centre as we were struggling to understand how to work together and get along with each other.

Babaji: People get negative because of their own unhappiness. If we see our pain is caused by outer forces, then we are not seeing right. We are not seeing within ourselves.

B: Human ego is the most mysterious energy. It appears in multitudes of faces. You think you are doing right, but sometimes the ego is hiding and interjecting negativity.
Q: Is there a formula whereby the Centre residents can reduce negativity? You were just talking about open communication.
B: Only formula I know is ‘play volleyball.’ It means keep a positive attitude. Think honestly. It is your life; you want to live in peace, but by dishonest thinking you create pain.

Most of the time we don’t think we’re causing pain; we just think we’re right – but that’s the very thought that causes pain!

No matter what you do, you have to face the pain. It’s very fulfilling when we blame others. You see the ego doesn’t want to lose.

If a person understands his or her anger, then only can they change. Because anger stirs up negativity in everyone, so the person should accept that he or she is not adjusting. A woman wrote me that she is angry and can’t change. I wrote her that a person who is angry knocks him or herself away from others. No one else is knocking out the person.

The purpose of life is to attain peace; that is why you are here.

Conflict of opinion is okay, but anger takes place when one’s ego wants to win. If you understand differently (than others do), then you don’t accept someone else’s idea. It is a conflict. Now the ego wants to win. It will use all possible ways to kill the other person. (not literally)

Q: I’ve been thinking lately that there can be a conflict but anger is a different thing. It comes down to honesty with myself.
B: Honest Communication.
Q: Dishonesty could be just plain delusion, couldn’t it?
B: Delusion is the mother of all.

If you are trying to develop spiritually, then not getting along should be resolved positively. You will have disagreements everywhere. We can disagree with others in our ideas but it doesn’t mean we have to hide or run away. Everything is okay. In every step of life we have to face our fears. There are problems in everything. You have to deal with problems as honestly as possible.

Work honestly
Meditate every day
Meet people without fear
And play.

Contributed by Sharada
All text in italics is from meetings with Babaji

Sharada-Portrait-2016 Sharada Filkow, a student of classical ashtanga yoga since the early 70s, is one of the founding members of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, where she has lived for many years, serving as a karma yogi, teacher and mentor.

Neha’s Yoga Story

Eka pada rajakapotasana variatio

I’ve been practicing yoga for over 15 years and I hope to continue for many more. The reason I’ve kept up with it is because it “works” for me. And when I say “work”, I mean that it continually expands my capacity for kindness, love, patience and peace.

I was first introduced to yoga in my second year of university and I immediately fell in love with the practice. The way asanas made space for different perspectives in my body and mind amazed me. I remember lying in savasana at the end of my first class, feeling content and that I was exactly where I needed to be. My mind wasn’t racing ahead to the future or getting lost in the past as it normally would. It gave me a new response for the stress of student life and I started attending classes weekly. After graduating, I went to work in a smaller community north of Vancouver. I tried to keep up a home practice but felt lost on my own. Then I remembered one of my favourite yoga teachers had once brought a book to share with the class as a resource. That book was The Salt Spring Experience.

A month later, I signed up for the Yoga Teacher Training at the Salt Spring Centre. I was determined to deepen my knowledge beyond what I’d learned in public classes so I could sustain the practice on my own. I wanted to learn how to embody yoga in the way I saw the teachers I most respected did.

Salt Spring Centre YTT Class of 2005

The program opened my heart wide. It ignited a vision and a feeling of how I wanted to live my practice. It also gave me the tools I needed to start.

One of the highlights from YTT was meeting Babaji for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect from the silent yogi monk I’d heard so much about through the program. When he arrived, I was both delighted – by Babaji’s incredible playful sense of humour – and surprised – by the strong sense of peace and stillness I felt his presence, even in a room full of people buzzing with energy. The memory of that peace has stayed with me and guides me to this day.

Another highlight during YTT was receiving my Sanskrit name from Babaji. One day as I headed to an afternoon session, I was handed a little piece of paper with Babaji’s handwriting. I felt a wave of emotion as I looked at the paper while continuing on into class. I sat down on my mat and glanced up at the wall in front of me where my eyes met those of a beautiful little girl’s. It was a picture of one of the girls from Sri Ram Ashram who happened to share the same name I had just received, Neha. In that moment, I knew I had to meet her and I knew I had to go to Sri Ram.

It would take three years for the journey to come to fruition. I ended up in India (for an extended stay at Sri Ram Ashram), the Mount Madonna Centre, and back to India again! In hindsight it was a pilgrimage as I came to know myself in many new ways over those two and a half years of journeying. And through it all, my sadhana was the stable ground I stood on and a safe space that I always carried with me.

Attending a joyful wedding at Sri Ram Ashram in 2008

These days, I’m at the Centre at least once a year for Yoga Getaways, YTT or the Annual Community Yoga Retreat. Every time I set foot on the Land, it feels like a homecoming. Because of this, I call it one of my “heart homes” and the community has become a second family, my “yoga family.”

Wearing the amazing organ suit for YTT in 2010

It’s fitting that my yoga family brought me together with my partner, Mark. We met at the Centre in 2010 and immediately connected over the yoga practice, being YTT grads and having similar family backgrounds. We were both born and raised in Vancouver to first generation immigrant parents. We both grew up swimming in the same community centre pools and playing at the same playgrounds. It was surreal, and sweet, to find out that Mark had even worked with my very first pottery teacher whom I met in Grade 2!

I married Mark in 2014 and we welcomed our baby boy, Noah, the following year. And to complete the circle, we brought Noah to attend his first official yoga retreat (outside of the womb) at the Centre last summer.

Quintessential simhasana breath wedding banquet photo

Enjoying our first summer together as a family

Since Noah’s arrival, life has been fuller than ever. Babaji’s words, “love everyone, including yourself. This is real sadhana.” have helped me soften around the challenging aspects of transitioning into being a mother. From time to time I miss the simplicity of pre-baby sadhana where I could get on the mat or cushion at my leisure! The sweetness of loving my family, loving this phase and loving myself as I navigate the learning curve of new parenthood as “real sadhana” is special. This remembrance makes space so I can feel content and exactly where I need to be, just as I did during my very first savasana, in my very first yoga class. Thank you for this and for everything, Babaji.

Joni Neha Louie

Recipes from the Centre Kitchen

In response to requests, here are a few easy and delicious protein recipes for your enjoyment. Although many new recipes have been developed over the years, these old favourites are still in demand.

If you’d like more recipes, please let me know by leaving a comment; I’d be happy to provide more.

Cashew-Carrot Loaf

6 cups chopped carrots
2 cups finely ground cashews
3 Tbsp. oil
1 cup finely chopped leeks (or mild onions if you prefer)
1 cup finely chopped celery
½ cup flour (or matzo meal for Passover)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. sage
1 tsp. basil
½ tsp. thyme

  • Steam the carrots till soft, then blend them in a food processor or blender. Six cups of chopped carrots make about 3 cups blended.
  • Grind the cashews in a food processor or blender till they’re quite fine. If you’re using a blender, it works best if you do small batches.
  • Mix all ingredients together and place in an oiled baking pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes or until the top edges begin to look dry.

Tofu Burgers

1 cup fine breadcrumbs (any kind)
½ cup finely chopped leeks
1 lb. tofu, blended
1 Tbsp. tamari
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. Sage
1 cup nutritional yeast (for coating the burgers)
olive oil, vegetable oil or ghee for frying

  • Blend the tofu in a food processor.
  • Mix all ingredients except the nutritional yeast in a bowl.
  • Moisten your hands and form the mixture into patties.
  • Dip them in the nutritional yeast, coating both sides.
  • Fry them in oil or ghee until browned.

Breaded and Baked Tofu

½ cup cornmeal
¾ cup nutritional yeast
¾ cup sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. dillweed
2 tsp. basil
pinch cayenne (optional)

2 lb. tofu
½ cup tamari

  • Combine the cornmeal, yeast, sesame seeds, herbs and cayenne to make the breading mixture.
  • Set out two bowls, one for tamari and one for the breading mixture.
  • Slice the tofu into ¼ inch to ½ inch slices (your preference).
  • Dip each piece of tofu first into the tamari and then into the breading mixture, making sure it’s well coated.
  • Place the tofu slices on an oiled baking tray and bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them.
    (For a quick meal, you can fry these instead of baking them.)

Contributed by Sharada