Our vision at Ananda Gaorii is to provide experiences, training and information in the areas of yoga and meditation, community formation and leadership, personal development, health and healing, and sustainable and self-reliant living. We would also like to be a space where members of the wider community can come to enjoy music, entertainment and other social functions and meet to discuss means of cooperation for the well-being and progress of the local region.
Our project began in 1987 as what is known in Ananda Marga as a “Master Unit”. A master unit is a community focused rural development project that ideally contains an ashram, a school, a children’s home, a farm, a medical center, a variety of cottage industries and various other projects aimed at benefitting the local community such as seed banks, animal refuges, research centers, etc. Ananda Marga has many such projects around the world mostly in third world countries where they provide relief and educational and medical facilities for needy communities and help them with training and new ideas (you are welcome to visit www.amurt.net for more information about such projects).
Being situated in a developed country such as Denmark, however, we found ourselves surrounded by a community who were mostly better off than we were, at least materially. Limited by lack of money and skilled volunteers, our project developed very slowly for many years as we gradually transformed the old farm buildings into meditation halls, dormitories, kitchen and dining facilities. During these years Ananda Gaorii functioned mostly as an opportunity for hardship training and karma burning for a very small number of volunteers and a venue for small retreats for our local members.
Importantly, during this time we were able to set up an organic bakery which produces gluten-free products. Called Natur Bageriet (now Landbageriet), this bakery distributes gluten-free products around Copenhagen as well as to our own shops in Copenhagen and Rørvig. The income from the bakery is presently our main means of financial support and we are using it to steadily upgrade our facilities. We also have a small orchard where we grow fruit for ourselves and the bakery.
To be a hub for learning and change integrating spirituality, sustainability, self-reliance, holistic health, community living and social justice for the benefit of our residents, guests and the world at large.
At the core of Ananda Gaorii is the spiritual lifestyle experience we offer to guests, volunteers and residents through daily kiirtan and meditation and a focus on mindfulness and spiritual values. We would like to keep this as our main focus going forwards.
Closely related to this is the experience of living in community which is cultivated by living, working and meditating together and by meeting on a daily basis to plan our activities, solve problems, review our achievements and share some inspiration and fun.
Greater self-reliance is a key objective going forwards. We have greatly improved our food self-sufficiency in the last two years but we need to become self-sufficient in energy and water also. Solar power, wind power, growing our own fuels and collecting rainwater are steps in this process.
Increasing our capacity to generate income and provide employment for residents is another key focus. Offering more and better retreats, trainings, workshops, school visits, developing a health center, improving our bakery, starting a farm shop, opening a school, building cabins and tiny houses are some projects we have in mind which will provide useful services to the community and strengthen our economy.
Community outreach is another priority going forward with a particular focus on the youth mental health crisis. We are planning workshops in local schools and community centers along with trainings for youth workers which integrate yoga, meditation, western psychology and social and environmental activism. We also would like to organise music and cultural activities for the local community.
At the moment Ananda Gaorii is more an eco ashram than an ecovillage. We all live together and we do not have an arrangement where families can acquire plots of land and build their own houses. In the short term, we want to expand our accommodation so there are more rooms for staff and guests while in the long term, we want to acquire additional land where families can build their own homes.
Ananda Gaorii was originally set up as what is known in Ananda Marga as a “Master Unit”. The goal of a master unit is to be a multi-purpose local development hub aimed at promoting the welfare of the surrounding region spiritually, socially, environmentally and economically. Typical master unit projects include growing food, making products, reforestation and water conservation, providing education and health services, creating small businesses, promoting local commerce, organising relief work, organising cultural activities, preserving seeds, offering refuge to animals and of course offering spiritual activities. It takes a long time to develop all those projects and become a fully functioning master unit but that is our long-term goal.
Meet the dadas
Many people come to Ananda Gaorii seeking an environment for spiritual growth and refreshment. The quiet atmosphere and natural surroundings are helpful for meditation and the daily routine includes morning and evening chanting and meditation as well as time for yoga asana practice. If visitors are seeking guidance in meditation, yoga, or spirituality in general, the resident Dadas and Didis (monks and nuns) offer classes and individual guidance.
The Ananda Marga system starts with group classes introducing basic yoga, meditation and health practices. Those who wish to go deeper can learn six mantra based meditation lessons which are taught individually. These are combined with individually prescribed hatha yoga postures and a yoga lifestyle that includes daily practice, yoga ethics (Yama and Niyama), service, vegetarianism, and periodic short fasts. Classes are run on a donation basis and individual lessons are given free of charge. Guests who already have their own style of meditation are welcome to practice as they wish.
Regular retreats and seminars are also held with classes on spirituality and yoga lifestyle. These provide an opportunity to go more deeply into meditation, benefit from a powerful spiritual atmosphere and learn more about the practical aspects of yoga lifestyle and philosophy.
Regarding lifestyle, at Ananda Gaorii we follow the yogic system of diet – a type of vegetarian diet based on foods which are good for both the body and the mind. Visitors are also expected to refrain from smoking and use of drugs or alcohol while on the property.
Part of the space is used for our summer activities:
various courses, Prout Convention, youth exchanges, retreats.
We are doing our best to be more sustainable. That’s the reason why we are planning to build outdoor factilities, such as compost toilets, showers and kitchen for the camping area. This will reduce the volume of water used and, as consequence, will reduce the pollution in our local environment. Further, we are looking into funding for sustainable energy to install a mixed system, including solar panels and wind turbine.
Ananda Gaorii is a registered bio-dynamic and organic farm with 13 hectares. The land was rented to local farmers for many years but last autumn we decided to take over. We are currently in the first steps of designing and implementing a permaculture design for the property, which includes space for polytunnels, orchard with nuts, fruits and berries and different kinds of gardens – medicinal, herbal, market and kitchen one. Further, we will also have space for other crops, as cereals, hemp and quinoa.
Specially in a globalized world where we are all dependant on fossil fuel energy and most products in the supermarket come from far, all these elements will make us less dependant on food coming from other sources. Moreover, we will be able to provide with food and medicine to the local community.
At Ananda Gaorii our primary mission is to offer an experiential learning experience to those who come and stay with us. We have a mix of short and long term volunteers including young travelers who find us on volunteer websites, long term volunteers who often become team leaders and local Danes who find out about us by word of mouth or through our website. During their stay volunteers get the opportunity to develop themselves through yoga and meditation, experience living in community and learn a broad range of practical skills including cooking, gardening, baking, building, group facilitation, project management, volunteer management, starting a business, teaching yoga, and many others. We encourage volunteers to start projects which can help create income (such as making miso and growing salad greens) and/or provide a service to the community (working with refugees) and we we would like to set up a cooperative for those who wish to base themselves at Ananda Gaorii and produce a product or provide a service which generates income for themselves and for Ananda Gaorii.
At Ananda Gaorii we also host retreats and seminars on yoga and meditation, yoga teacher training, Prout (an alternative economic model), organic gardening, permaculture, sustainable community design and various subjects which help us build better lives individually and collectively.
We have accommodation for 60 persons and we wish to gradually expand our facilities to the level where we can offer longer and more in depth programs aimed at providing students with the vision, knowledge and skills that will help them become active players in creating healthy, self-reliant local communities wherever they are.
Holbækvej 56, 4560 Vig, Denmark