Article from Bindu no 7
A yoga school sees the light of day
Silver Jubilee 1970-1995
25 years ago Swami Janakananda returned from India and started the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School.
After using yoga for many years to obtain increased creativity with theatre and painting, for well-being and as a means to discover more about himself, Swami Janakananda was inspired by his teacher Swami Satyananda to share his experience with others (read more about it in the article Kriya Yoga III).
It all began in the summer of 1970 in a little shop in Østerbro, Copenhagen. The school grew quickly, people moved in to become yoga teachers and/or get a closer contact with the spiritual side of life.
Already after a year, it was necessary to move to larger premises. The choice fell on a villa in Hellerup, a suburb of Copenhagen, and in 1974, when this also became too small, the school moved to a large building in central Copenhagen - and was made a non-profit organisation. The school is still there, and is an active center for yoga and meditation with a shop, 5 large halls for teaching, "the Pyramid" - an isolation tank, a lay-out studio and a large ashram with accomodation for the yoga teachers.
Very soon the teachers started looking for a place to have intensive retreats, and in 1972 Håå Course Center was founded, beautifully situated in southern Sweden, about 150 km north of Copenhagen. It has become an international course center that has given many different people, from Scandinavia, the rest of Europe, USA, Australia and elsewhere, the possibility to discover their potential, obtain perspective, insight and energy - a spiritual power center, where we build a bridge between the inner and the outer life.
Bindu appeared in Danish already in 1971, with Swami Janakananda as the driving force. He wrote the book "Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life" in 1975; in 1978 it was published in English, and has been republished in an expanded and revised edition in 1992 by Rider Books in the UK and Weiser in USA. It has now been translated into 8 languages. The cassette tape with the deep relaxation "Experience Yoga Nidra" was released in English in 1983.
In 1977 the school organised an international yoga congress in Stockholm, Meditation Yoga 77, with participants from all over the world. Apart from Swami Satyananda, who during those years often visited the school, yogis came from India, Europe and USA. Yoga teachers and pupils, artists, psychologists, sociologists, musicians, people from the film world, philosophers and therapists met and received inspiration, attended courses, lectures, meditations and concerts.
Swami Janakananda is the leader of the school's comprehensive yoga teacher education, a process that gives a stable personal experience of Tantric yoga and meditation. Besides training yoga teachers he teaches the annual 3-month courses and a few shorter courses at Håå Course Center. He also gives lectures, satsangs and meditation courses at the different city schools. From 1979 Swami Janakananda has travelled a lot, teach ing in America, Australia, New Zeeland, Singapore and around Europe. He now spends more time writing, but he still finds time for his international students, for example a tour to Australia is scheduled.
As the yoga teachers gained in experience and became independent many chose to continue the co-operation with the school and founded new branches. Today the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School consists of ten mutually independent schools.
Apart from the ordinary classes, the teachers of the school have taught in the most varied of places over the years: hospitals, sports clubs, associations and music festivals. Major companies and banks, health fairs, prisons and orchestras invite us to teach. We arrange courses on charter- and health tours to the Mediterranean and on holiday camps. Schools and other educational establishments frequently employ us for theoretical and practical introductions.
Swami Janakananda was one of the pioneers of the 1970 Poex-exhibition in Copenhagen and Århus, when meditative art, yoga and meditation could be experienced together for the first time in Denmark. In the course of time the school has on several occasions held art exhibitions on its premises.
In this silver jubilee year we have opened the doors to an exhibition of meditative art by the internationally recognised artist, Sohan Qadri (see illustrations on pages 2 and 35). He was born in north India and raised with the Tantric tradition, but today he lives mostly in Copenhagen.
The exhibition is in Hannover until Oct. 15th, then in Århus, Stockholm and Copenhagen.
The goal of the school is
- to raise the teaching of yoga to a level where it is free of all superstition and with no extras attached, based on a profound knowledge that stems from the sources of the tradition, personal experience, human contact between teacher and student, and the research of modern psychology and medicine.
- to be able to offer a practical yoga ranging from physical and mental well-being to spiritual insight, which for instance C.G. Jung asks for in our culture, where man not only lives superficially, but has a creative and conscious relationship to all of himself and to life around him.
- to be an independent school where people can come and go as they like, with no attachment other than the teaching they participate in.