New Retreat Environment by Marlene Gast, Board, VP, Communications

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The Desmond Dining Room

Pennsylvania Svaroopa®  programs are now being held in a luxurious retreat environment. The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center in Malvern provides beautifully appointed guest rooms, dining room, and other spaces, both inside and outside, that form our “temporary Ashram,” in Swami Nirmalananda’s words.

As I write this blog, the ATT 201: Teaching Half Day Workshops course is in its last day in our temporary Ashram. Student Sarvataa Christie has been posting food portraits on Facebook. The vegetarian meals are sumptuous!  Yesterday, another student said, “This is so wonderful, like a retreat even while I’m learning so much. I really needed this.”  The “A” in Ashram is translated as “away from” and “shrama” is the fatigue that can accumulate from the daily routines of driving, working, shopping, caring for others, etc. As 2014 begins, we yogis can all look forward to immersing in that Ashram experience, whether we are in professional teach training or immersing in a program to support and expand our capacity to live in Consciousness. Check out our 2014 Calendar to make your plans today!

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Breakfast at The Desmond during ATT: 201 Teaching Half Day Workshops

The consolidation of Master Yoga with Svaroopa®  Vidya Ashram has been the impetus for this move to a retreat environment. Because Svaroopa® YTT and retreats are now organizationally under the “sacred umbrella” of the Svaroopa®  Vidya Ashram, explains Swamiji, “The Grace flows more powerfully…With your inner processes fueled by Grace, the outer environment needs to be one that provides more support.  We cannot provide a cocoon, nor do we want to create isolation from the rest of life, but we must begin with providing you with shelter and food.”

Now yogis can look forward to freedom from the chores of daily living and more time for deep immersion in the “yoga” of it.  Our new retreat environment will support us as the unfolding of transformation takes place from the “inside-out,” as Swamiji describes it. Especially in Teacher Training, programs have always been immersions, but change and growth have progressed from the “outside-in” — through being taught “breathing practices, poses, anatomy lessons, philosophy discourses, teaching theory and experiential processes,” as Swamiji summarizes it.  This approach enabled us to “get inside.”  Now being trained under the “sacred umbrella” of the Ashram will mean, according to Swamiji, that “Grace creates the inner opening, and then you do the outer work, trying to keep up with the internal shifts that are happening…”

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Lunch: Black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, and artichoke hearts

Ample support and downtime for this process will be a significant part of YTT going forward. Those of us who fly into Philadelphia will no longer have to rent a car; the Ashram will shuttle you. Instead of rising early to drive to class, all of us will commute in slippers from our hotel rooms to early morning classes; we will be served fresh, hot meals on china in a beautiful dining room, just an elevator ride from the classroom; at evening’s end we need travel only a few hundred feet from class to bed. As Swami Nirmalananda describes, “Lunch breaks can include a nap, some time outside (depending on the weather) or a walk on the hotel’s footpath.  The yoga classroom will be a quiet room during meal breaks, both for yoga therapy sessions with the Trainers as well as for those who might want to do Shavasana, Ujjayi or extra meditation.” And sharing a room with another yogi undergoing the same process offers the support of heartfelt connection.

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Fruit Cup with Sherbet

Swamiji explains that the goal of Svaroopa® YTT is the same as before: “That you get beyond technique and theory, as important as they are, so you experience the ‘yoga’ of the yoga.”  Now, clarifies Swamiji, “when teacher training is an Ashram program, you get the ‘yoga of the yoga’ through Grace.”

Photos from this first week of January plus student comments say it all: The move into our “temporary Ashram” it’s going just the way Swamiji predicted.

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