The Integral Yoga End-of-Life Project Workshops
Spiritual Guidance and Practical Advice
Six workshops, monthly from May through October 2022
All hosted by Karuna Kreps and Chandra/Jo Sgammato and featuring special workshop presenters
At every age but especially in our later years, each of us must address death in all of its manifestations—releasing attachments to this life, disposing of our bodies and belongings, and helping our loved ones cope with their losses. The Integral Yoga End-of-Life Project honors this journey by providing an array of spiritual guidance and practical advice on a topic we may have avoided but that is inevitable. Discover and implement the ideas of six unique, new workshops from Integral Yoga to save your family and friends from these daunting obligations and to prepare and liberate yourself to enjoy the rest of your life.
These workshops are based on the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda and taught by his senior students. The companion website, yogicendoflife.org, is an offering built by one of the first Integral Yogis, Karuna Kreps. It provides clear and even inspiring advice and resources to help you make this experience easeful and, maybe even, joyful. Rather than seeing death as frightening and sad, we can embrace liberation from the human form to return to our eternal cosmic consciousness.
Each workshop is offered on a sliding scale, please choose your contribution at registration: $0, $18, or $36.
A recording of each workshop will be made available free of charge on this website one week after the live event.
Thursday, May 26th, 7 – 8:30 p.m. EDT * 4 to 5:30 p.m. PDT
Watch or listen to the recordings. Q&A not included.
The best preparation for one’s final transition is a life well-lived. Spiritually, we can equip ourselves with a proper understanding of the nature of existence, that the world is defined by impermanence, and that all things are passing. Based on this understanding, we can learn how to release attachments by coming into the right relationship with our bodies, possessions, people, and ideas. In the midst of constant change, we can cultivate a greater awareness of the unchanging Spirit within and around us. By daily practice of prayer and meditation, asana, and pranayama, we can realize that the body is the vehicle for who we are in truth. Thus, by applying the principles and practices of Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga, we can face that final journey gently and peacefully, with courage and grace.
Swami Karunananda, E-RYT500, has taught Yoga for fifty years. Today, she specializes in programs that focus on Raja Yoga, meditation, pranayama, and personal transformation. In 1989, she developed the Integral Yoga Teacher Training program in Raja Yoga and, in 1991, in Meditation, and has conducted training for students since then.
She is featured in the interfaith documentary, With One Voice. She compiled the Lotus Prayer Book, consisting of prayers from various faiths, and Enlightening Tales as told by Sri Swami Satchidananda. She contributed to The Breath of Life: Integral Yoga Pranayama. Her book, Awakening: Aspiration to Realization Through Integral Yoga, provides guidance for the spiritual path.
Swami Karunananda served as president of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville in Virginia and in California and as director of the Integral Yoga Institutes in San Francisco and Santa Barbara. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees and Spiritual Life Board at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville, Virginia.
Sandra Amrita MacLanahan, MD
Sunday, June 26th, 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT * 11 to 12:30 p.m. PDT
Watch or listen to the recordings. Q&A not included.
What happens to the physical body as it moves toward and ultimately achieves release? Dr. MacLanahan, who spent decades practicing medicine while learning from Swami Satchidananda, will cover the process of aging, what actually happens to the body in our final days, and the mysterious yet fascinating topic of after-life experiences. She will share experiences from having aided her father so he was able to spend his final six years at Yogaville and to die in his bed at home.
Dr. McLanahan is a graduate with high honors from Swarthmore College, an MD from Wayne University, and a family practice specialty from the University of Massachusetts. For twenty years, she served as director of stress management for Dr. Dean Ornish’s research, using Yoga and lifestyle changes to reverse heart disease and cancer. She now practices integrative medicine at Yogaville.
Dr. McLanahan has made multiple study trips to India and Asia, where she visited centers that use Yoga and other natural means to prevent and treat disease. She is the co-author of the book, Surgery and Its Alternatives, and helped to write the books, Dr. Yoga and After Cancer Care. She also appears in two DVDs, “Living Yoga” and “Health, Yoga, and Anatomy.”
David Deva Barrett, Esq.
Tuesday, July 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m. EDT * 4 to 5:30 p.m. PDT
Preparation, in terms of putting papers in order and presenting your wishes to your family and the world, will make things easier for all involved. New York attorney David Deva Barrett, who wrote the first bylaws for the IYI, will guide you through the process in a clear and simple way. He will explain what papers are needed and why. Learn about the advantages of working with an attorney as well as how to avoid incurring such an expense. States and online resources offer free and affordable forms, and this workshop will help you navigate them, if you choose that route.
David Barrett is an attorney licensed in the State of New York and practicing law with an emphasis on wills and trusts, family law, and business law. In the late 1960s he had the pleasure of representing many famous musicians including James Brown, The Four Seasons, The Rolling Stones, Donovan, and many more. In the early 1970s, he was In House Counsel for Apple Records. He had the extreme honor and pleasure of meeting and developing a relationship with Swami Satchidananda in 1966 and was instrumental in obtaining his citizenship in the U.S., as well as in the IYI purchase of the 13th Street building in New York City.
Memorials & Interment
Saturday, August 6, 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT * 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT
How should you dispose of your physical remains? Would you like to have a memorial service that you yourself have planned? More importantly, how can you make sure that your survivors are aware of your wishes and not burdened by having to make decisions you should have made? Swami Sarvaananda, a senior Integral Yoga monk and a chaplain at the University of Virginia Medical Center, will guide you to gently and firmly make and communicate your plans.
Swami Sarvaananda, Ph.D., has lived at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville since 1980. She worked with the Yogaville Vidyalayam (children’s school) and with community service projects. She is a Board-certified Chaplain and she serves on national committees, since retiring from local hospital and hospice service. At Yogaville, she serves on the Board of Trustees and the Sannyas Board, is the Secretary of the Spiritual Life Board, Vidyalayam President, and oversees many committees and projects. She has taught Chaplaincy college courses online. Swami Sarvaananda’s doctorate is in education administration. She co-founded the Living Yoga Training program, was instructed by Swami Satchidananda in establishing the Integral Yoga Extra Gentle Hatha Training, and helped develop Yogaville’s mentoring programs.
Saturday, September 17, 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT * 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT
As we age, we need more and more personal assistance. The burden on caregivers can be overwhelming, if not well managed. One of Integral Yoga’s most fundamental teachings is Karma Yoga, selfless service, as a way to be useful to others and to unlock deeper inner peace. Swami Chidananda, longtime monk and former treasurer of Yogaville and the New York IYI, will explore the meaning of service in terms of being available to serve those at end-of-life while maintaining your own well being.
Karuna Kreps, of Net Ingenuity, will introduce us to a web-based platform used for requesting and providing service to the elderly as a Karma Yoga service or as part of the gig economy.
Swami Chidananda is a monastic and a longtime disciple of Sri Swami Satchidananda and has managed the finances for Integral Yoga’s ashrams, institutes, and teaching centers for decades. He teaches Hatha Yoga and leads study groups on Yoga and Buddhist teachings and philosophy. Swami Chidananda also conducts spiritual pilgrimages to India and Nepal.
Karuna Kreps met Swami Satchidananda in 1967. Initiated by him, she taught classes of all levels at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York,1968–1982. She has traveled with Sri Gurudev, staffed Yoga retreats, and lived in the Integral Yoga Institute. In 1986, she was awarded the title of “Guru Tattwa Ratnam,” or “Jewel of the Guru’s Teachings” by Sri Satchidananda. She built the original websites swamisatchidananda.org, lotus.org, iyta.org, and LivingYogaMovie.org, and for a decade she helped to edit Integral Yoga Magazine and maintain integralyogamagazine.org and sent out the “Weekly Words of Wisdom from Sri Swami Satchidananda.”
Leaving a Legacy
Thursday, October 27, 7 to 8:30 p.m. EDT * 4 to 5:30 p.m. PDT
What will remain to tell of you and your impact on the world after your departure from the earthly realm? How do you want your life story to be remembered? What will be your legacy? Are there lessons you’ve learned that can impart wisdom to future inhabitants of our planet? Are there material resources you wish to bequeath to people, organizations, or causes that have meant something to you? This workshop will offer ideas to explore and tools to utilize so you can take your leave with peace and gratitude for your incarnation this time around.
Chandra/Jo Sgammato served for more than two decades in numerous capacities at the Integral Yoga Institute of New York, where she obtained her first teacher training certification in 1998. A former book publishing executive and bestselling author, she is an enthusiastic student of the history of Swami Satchidananda and Integral Yoga. The creator of Integral’s Yoga At School program, Chandra is also a founding member of the Integral Yoga Global Network and continues to work with the international sangha on a variety of initiatives including the Integral Yoga Global Conference, to be held virtually in October 2023.
I am a planner. I like to have things in order, to sweat the details of any event in advance, to be a person who makes sure, takes care, and gets things done. But for planning the one event that will happen without a doubt—my death—I haven’t done a thing. And now that I’ve turned 70, this is one set of plans that can no longer be avoided. In fact, now I wish I’d taken care of it sooner.
An “End-of-Life” Project Woke Me Up
I had an aha moment and a sense of relief when longtime Integral Yoga instructor Karuna Kreps created the Integral Yoga End-of-Life project. I knew right away that this was the push I’d been waiting for, as they say, “to get my affairs in order.”
Advice and guidance grounded in the Integral Yoga teachings that have so enhanced my life, would make it easeful, peaceful, and useful to prepare to depart the Yogic way.
Facing death did not frighten me. We are all going to die. Yet to die with grace and with some understanding of death’s meaning is worth the effort of exploration. Having expert guidance from teachers I trust is a gift.
Who Am I When the Body Dies?
Spiritual practices like Yoga and meditation, along with all religions and philosophies, exist to help us understand the meaning of life. They can also offer insights into what happens after we leave the body, as the Yogis describe death. What is the nature of existence? What is the meaning of impermanence? Is there really a cosmic consciousness to which all of us return?
Then there is the body itself. The physical process of dying is another mystery to me, one I would like to understand in order to quell fears and encourage acceptance of mortality.
Don’t Be a Burden to Family and Friends
Beyond my personal coming to terms with my demise, it seemed the ultimate irresponsible act to die without making these plans. Why leave it to family and friends to figure out what I might want and to make decisions I should have made?
The practical matters of disposing of my worldly possessions and money are easily made clear by a will. Assigning a person to decide when to “pull the plug” in the event I cannot decide for myself is a matter of filling out a form. And planning my own funeral and burial or cremation will be a gift to those who remain after I go.
I’m Feeling More Peaceful Already!
Part of my legacy, beyond leaving money and my home to my loved ones and to nonprofits whose mission I support, will be that I did not make my death harder for those whose love and friendship I am fortunate to have. They can remember me for the story of my life, not the story of my death.
Chandra/Jo Sgammato served for more than 20 years on staff at the Integral Yoga Institute of New York.
Please share your thoughts about this Community Service track, as the Integral Yoga End-of-Life Project is evolving. Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Please let us know what you would like added or changed. Please also let us know a little about who you are, and what experience inspires your contribution. Please click the white read more link to leave your comments in the comment box.