Sri Swami Satchidananda is founder of Integral Yoga. In the words of Satchidananda, Integral Yoga “is a flexible combination of specific methods to develop every aspect of the individual: physical, intellectual, and spiritual. It is a scientific system which integrates the various branches of Yoga in order to bring about a complete and harmonious development of the individual.” Although this form of yoga was first conceived in 1966, it was not until 1979 that Satchidananda and his followers constructed a place to physically represent its beliefs and practices.
Carole King, folk singer and devout practitioner of Integral Yoga, gave Swami Satchidananda a gift of six hundred acres of woodlands in Buckingham, Virginia. He thought it to be the perfect location for the construction of what he believed would be the headquarters for the Integral Yoga Institution. Satchidananda envisioned a place where people could come to discover the universal spirituality and oneness contained in the purposes of all the world’s religions. Construction of LOTUS (Light of Truth Universal Shrine) was completed on July 20, 1986, and Integral Yoga’s Satchidananda Ashram and Retreat Center at Yogaville opened to the public.
The Satchidananda Ashram and Retreat Center is commonly referred to as Yogaville. According to the Yogaville website, the center “offers a full, authentic Yoga experience to Yoga beginners and established Yoga practitioners.” Yogaville receives 2,000 visitors every year, while another 150 consider this place their home. This founding member of the Yoga Alliance offers to the public a full array of yoga-affiliated workshops and retreats. Dormitories were built on-site for overnight guests, and organic gardens are tilled to provide food for the teachers, masters, and students.
Some of the workshops offered by Yogaville are classes that teach the concepts of each branch of yoga of which Integral Yoga is composed. These include Hatha Yoga, which focuses on postures, breathing pattern, and diet; Raja Yoga, which revolves around controlling the mind through meditation; Bhakti Yoga, which is practiced through constant love of and devotion to God; Karma Yoga, which is the path of selfless service; Jnana Yoga, which concentrates on the existence of everything that is natural and/or unchangeable; and Japa yoga, in which the focus is on chanting. Other workshops and classes include yoga for athletes, stress management yoga, prenatal and labor yoga, laughing yoga, inner tantric yoga, as well as yoga for those with scoliosis. These classes are offered on a daily basis.
Classes can be structured individually and can be organized in packages as part of various types of retreats. Silent retreats last ten days. During these retreats, any form of speech, other than chanting, is discouraged as a way of promoting and enhancing introspection and the discovery of one’s inner self. These retreats are led by senior Integral Yoga teachers . Classes can be organized sequentially so as to maximize the greater benefit of silence.
Yogaville offers personal retreats that are flexible. Participants can choose how long to stay, although the minimum is two days. Mentors are available to help design a program specific to individual goals. The program includes three vegetarian meals a day, three group-yoga classes each day (with individual choices), two Hatha Yoga classes daily, scripture study, as well as personal spiritual mentoring by a senior monastic or minister. Participants can chose to camp outside or stay in the on-site dormitories. Yogaville also has a continuing special events program through which guest speakers, yoga masters, doctors and professors visit and teach. These programs change monthly. For higher level practitioners, Yogaville serves as a yoga teacher training academy, with certification courses offered on the weekends.
108 Yogaville Way
Buckingham, VA 23921-9726
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Profile prepared by John Feole