(Photo: Camp Yogaville at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville)

The Yogaville Vidyalayam–Integral Yoga School will reopen Fall 2019! Approximately 5 years ago, the Yoga-based elementary school went dormant, due to low enrollment. Most of the elementary-aged children that had been attending the school had aged out. They had moved on to public middle school, or homeschooling.

For a few years, there were no young children in the Yogaville community. Yogaville now, however, enjoys the sounds of young children once again. Since the need for the Vidyalayam is back again, we have committed to bringing it out of its dormant stage, and opening the doors once again, as a full time elementary school. I truly believe in the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Since making the commitment to reopen the school, families who have been wanting to move to Yogaville, but who have felt trepidation due to the closest school being an hour bus ride away each way, have now decided to move to Yogaville in time for the reopening. We are hoping that families that live in the county, and close surrounding counties, will also consider enrolling their children in this unique school.

Soon, we will have our primary teacher. She has 17 years of experience and is currently going through the steps to become certified in the state of Virginia. We are still searching for an assistant teacher. With a solid teaching team, supporting and supported by the teachings of Integral Yoga, we will have a perfect foundation for the students.

Since we already have the school buildings and the school grounds, we have made sure to put them to good use, even with the elementary school being dormant. There are two young boys, ages four and five, who currently live at Yogaville with their families. For two years now, we have been hosting a once a week preschool afternoon for them. This program will continue for the younger children who already live at Yogaville, and any additional children who move here, once the current two students move into the elementary school.

Camp Yogaville, a summer camp held on the school grounds, is still going strong, after 30 years. This past summer it was expanded from a one week program to a two week program, and was very successful. It will continue to be offered every summer. It is scheduled during the summer break for the school, which will make it possible for enrolled elementary students to attend, as well.

Nitya Griffith, an Integral Yoga teacher based out of Richmond, Virginia, has also been using the school grounds to host short children and teen programs. These programs primarily happen when there is a popular weekend workshop happening at the ashram. This allows parents to attend the workshop, while the children attend their own enriching program.

(Photo: Teachers, grandparents, parents and kids gather for a Vidyalayam meeting.)

The Integral Yoga School Board is actively keeping programs going, and expanding what is being offered on the school grounds. The board understands the benefit of keeping the energy on the school grounds active and growing. Currently, we enjoy two school buildings, an upgraded community kitchen, and playground, all on forty acres of beautiful land.

Sri Swami Satchidananda, with some very dedicated students, opened the very first Integral Yoga School on October 8th, 1977, in Pomfret, Connecticut. This school was the USA’s first state accredited school to include a Yoga-based curriculum. When Yogaville moved to Buckingham, Virginia, in 1979, the school was transplanted too. At both the Connecticut and Virginia locations, students were comprised of both Yogaville members and children from the local counties.

In 1979, during a talk with the teachers and students of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville East, Swami Satchidananda, said, “This Integral Yoga School is the culmination of my work.”

The Integral Yoga School is based on open education, Montessori, Steiner, and other methods, that allow children to grow at their own rate. The program is done thematically, and children of all ages can be in the same classroom, and learn at their own level. This is a wonderful method, which can cultivate positive results for all children, including those who might not thrive in a traditional school setting.

We will be utilizing a year round schedule. This will allow for students and teachers to have a few weeks of on time, followed by regular breaks throughout the year. Scheduling breaks throughout the year, instead of one large chunk off during the summer, helps teachers and students to not get burned out. It also creates less time at the end of a school year, and before the next year starts, so children do not forget as much information, as they may with the traditional three month summer break.

In addition to scholastics, the schedule of the Vidyalayam includes Hatha Yoga, meditation, lots of time in nature, sportsmanship, a healthy vegetarian lunch, gardening, visiting the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine, and much more. The entire ashram is their playground and learning environment! The students learn to work individually, as well as how to work as a team.

Because we live in a community rich in knowledge and talent, we bring in guest teachers from the community. This gives even more opportunities for the students to discover talents and interests that they may not even know they have.

“In my vision of a school, the children are just allowed to play. We provide them with many opportunities, and naturally they go and pick different things according to their tastes and inclinations. There is no set pattern, no separate classrooms based on the ages or subjects. Instead, they will just be playing. The children pick up something and ask about it. Then the teacher starts the lesson. Because the children are going to bring up everything in their questions, one can inject all the subjects into the answers—history, geography, chemistry, physics, and philosophy.”  —Sri Swami Satchidananda

The teachers guide the children with love, not fear, knowing that this approach is in keeping with the teachings of Yoga. Throughout the year, the students are learning perceptive self-correction, self-control, self-confidence, and self-contentment, all skills which develop good character.

“That is how I envision a school. The students learn to respect the teacher. At the same time, respect is not demanded. Because of the very attitude of the teacher, through loving care, the teacher is respected. There should be a spiritual relationship between the teacher and the students.” —Sri Swami Satchidananda

We find great inspiration in this Vision Statement from Satchidananda Jothi Nikethan in Coimbatore, India:
 “We aim at producing global leaders who are physically strong, mentally alert, intellectually sharp, emotionally stable, and spiritually enlightened, to serve the humanity with determination, dedication, discipline, and devotion.” We look forward to working with the Vidyalayam School Board, to create a similar vision statement for our school.

If you’ve been involved in education, and want to send an encouraging word, we would love to hear from you. If you believe in Swami Satchidananda’s vision of education, please consider donating to our Vidyalayam fund to help cover the tuition for those with financial challenges who would like their children to attend. Please visit YogavilleSchool.org to make a donation. Thank you!

Please join us in serving the children, because the future of our country and world depends on it. Applying the principles of Integral Yoga to teach and nurture students, we will create good citizens. Good citizens will build a better world.

“That is the purpose of the school—to make good people.”  —Sri Swami Satchidananda

About the Author:

Lilavati Eberle lives at Yogaville with her husband, Sam, and two children, Miles and Max. She is an Integral Yoga Level 1 teacher trainer, and a member of the Vidyalayam School Board.