Integral Yoga School
No village is complete without a place to educate its children, and when that village is a Yoga village you can be assured that the school is an exceptional place indeed. Swami Satchidananda’s deep love of children shines forth in his Vidyalayam, a private parochial school founded in 1980 on the Ashram’s grounds. The history of the school begins in 1977 at the Connecticut Ashram with a dream of creating a place where children could bask in a true holistic, spiritual education. As Swami Sarvaananda, one of the original teachers, recalls, “Sri Gurudev would drive up in his golf cart, pick up a hammer, and help build the school along with everyone else.” It was truly a labor of love. The Vidyalyam relocated to Yogaville Virginia and has been nurturing the minds of young people for more than 20 years.
In this age of challenges in the public school system, this small nonprofit elementary school provides a wealth of opportunity. Swami Satchidananda always had a twinkle in his eye when speaking of his wish to create an environment in which teachers and students learn together. His vision of a true Vidyalyam, the Sanskrit word for “temple of learning,” is fully realized in this intimate, nurturing forum.
Children aged five through twelve grow spiritually and intellectually from the holistic curriculum, which emphasizes Swami Satchidananda’s core teachings. Nonviolence, truth, dedication, universal brotherhood and interfaith understanding are taught with love by certified teachers who live at the Ashram.
The day begins with meditation and Yoga practices after which the students work on individualized lesson plans. Experiential learning makes for an exciting and challenging day. Besides the three Rs, children learn invaluable skills from doing group projects. Interacting with teachers and peers with mutual respect, as well as students at other levels, fosters social agility.
Students develop a solid platform of real-life skills that encourage them to realize their full potential. Hands-on learning is taken to a new level; children study pollution by observing smog from an airplane and learn about spirituality from speaking directly with the Ashram’s Swamis. Sri Gurudev created a model by which the next generation of Yogaville citizens could carry on the message of peace and interfaith collaboration.
At the Vidyalyam, children have fun pushing the boundaries of their curiosity. Students are considered “small bodies with old souls” in accordance with Sri Gurudev’s teachings, and thus grow up with a strong sense of worth and belief in their own intellect. Swami Sarvaananda states, “The goal of the Vidyalyam is to make good citizens and help children discover the happiness within.”
“As Vidyalayam graduates, wherever our lives led us, our successes can be credited to Sri Gurudev’s teachings and all we received at the Vidyalayam. I think it’s no coincidence that such notable Vidyalayam alumni have included: Emmy-nominated actor Liev Schreiber, musician Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), apprentice editor Scott Dinsmoor (Warner Bros.), musician Stefan Lessard (Dave Matthews Band), film festival director Mohini Shapero (Jewish Museum, NYC), musician Gopal Metro (Bella Morte), author Lakshmi Bertram (Choosing Water Birth).”
—Radha Metro, Vidyalayam graduate