Monthly Archives: October 2014

Let Us All Blossom Forth Together by Prakash (David) Falbaum

Prakash (David) Falbaum

Prakash (David) Falbaum

Two and a half years ago a seed was planted within me during my first Svaroopa® yoga class. At the time, little did I know what that would mean.  But now I know the seed was the beginning of the explicit knowledge that I am Divinity itself.

I was 49 years old at the time and was as far from any type of spirituality as I believe a human being can get. I considered myself an agnostic at best and spent most if not all my time building walls to keep myself safe from what I thought was a world out to hurt me at every turn.

Fortunately, I was in back pain as well, and to help with that I found a Svaroopa® yoga class near where I live in the Twin Cities. At first, I concentrated on asana, and my tailbone began to open. As fear started falling away I picked up japa and meditation.  With physical opening I had so many changes so quickly that I emailed Swamiji. She answered my email!  Again, I was shocked. I was a new student, yet the Master Teacher and Spiritual Leader of our organization took the time to help me out.  This response was not what I had been exposed to with the religious practices I’d grown up with.

Then came a calling from within me, and I began to offer seva and donations. I initially wanted to give back to Swami and the organization that was giving me so much, but the more I give, whether it’s a financial donation or my time offering seva, the more I get. These practices have allowed me to become more seated within my Self, as I become aware of the more subtle levels of Divinity within myself.

I started my yoga practices as a fearful introverted person, and now I have blossomed forth into a loving, giving, gracious person. Swamiji and the lineage have provided the seed and practices to make the seed grow. All the practices from asana to meditation, to seva, being in the presence of Swamiji and the highest teaching nurture the seed, establishing me in my own svaroopa, more and more of the time.

Thus, as I have given more of myself and increased my monthly donations, I have continued to Blossom Forth. The more I give, the more I blossom and know my Divinity more and more of the time.  I now serve on the Ashram Board and am continually amazed at how the Ashram exists as a living, breathing form of consciousness enlivened by Swami Nirmalananda.

Thanks to the generosity of so many other sevites and to the generosity of monthly donors and annual donors, the Ashram serves our wide community of yogis on our chosen paths under the umbrella of the Svaroopa® sciences. I know that for me to Blossom Forth into the ever-deeper knowing of my Self, it has been essential that the Ashram has been nourished by Swami Nirmalananda’s dedication into stunningly beautiful bloom. Under her unwavering stewardship Svaroopa® yoga teacher training has flourished into a new era for those of us whose path it is to bring the magic of our asana practices into the world. Supporting her work in this transformation via our Consolidation have been talented Trainers, staff and sevites. And now we have a consolidated organization, a brand new website providing easy access to essential information about the various Svaroopa® paths to the knowing of ourselves as Self. And the Ashram is poised for even greater expansion to serve those of us who already benefit from Swamiji’s teachings as well as seekers who are on the brink of finding the Svaroopa® sciences.

Please join me in giving financially to support the current and future work of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, for the experiential knowing of your own Self. Give through monthly donations or your annual donation — or both.  Let your own sense of gratitude for what you have already received blossom forth into ongoing financial support, so that each and all of us can continue to blossom forth and fresh seeds can be planted in new places.

Blossoming Forth by Amala Cattafi Heinlein

amala-photo“Growth is expansive, yet also expensive,” commented Swami Nirmalananda, which resonated deeply with me. Most people think about expense in terms of money, an immediate hot button that lands us in a place of fear and anxiety. Yet, in that place, how perfect it is to consider Blossoming Forth at the same time! Expensive, yet expansive.

I want to share some thoughts with you from the Board perspective and also from a personal perspective. I hope you find it resonates with you.

As Board Chair I have been focused on everything needed to make our new building, Lokananda, a reality: the property search, the contract negotiations, the financing, the inspections, the zoning, and host of details needed before settlement. Thankfully, I had a lot of help. I am also grateful that the whole Board could see that this acquisition is the next step in the blossoming forth for our community.

We are currently working with the architect and contractor on turning the first floor into a bright and airy space for Downingtown Yoga, with space for both meditation classes as and asana classes, and eventually space for more Ashram residents and guests. Lokananda will be your space, your community center, and it will soon vibrate with all the love and Shakti that flows so easily from Swamiji’s presence and teachings. Our expansion is all for you!

This seva project was so amazing because I felt all of you so deeply throughout the process, even though it was also one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced. For me personally, it brought up fear and anxiety — to get everything right. The fear came in overpowering waves that attached to me like leeches with each small task that had to be completed. It would subside for a moment upon completion, but return with a vengeance at the next task. I knew that this mental and emotional pain was a massive karma burn. Expansion is expensive!

I know you all experience moments (or longer periods) of fear, anxiety, despair, anger, stress, even while you also know you are expanding toward the knowing of the Self. It can feel like being stuck in the mud; it’s so hard to see through. Yet every plant that blossoms forth must first rise through the mud. It doesn’t stop. It knows the sun is just a few more inches. This beautiful path has taught me, not only how to keep going, but that the mud is also Shiva.

Please sit for a moment and reflect on what the Ashram means to you, and what we bring to you. Then, please, open your heart, peel off the leeches of fear and anxiety that may attach to you when you hear the word “donate.” Then let your gratitude and generosity flow.

Click here to support the Ashram and support your practice.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah

Continue to Blossom Forth by Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

My inner blossoming began when I started on the Svaroopa® path in 1999. For a long time, I didn’t notice I was starting to blossom, as I had always been very fearful and “in my head.” But when I look back from how I am now to see how I was then, the difference is vivid.

My path has not always been smooth. Countless times I have bumped into my “small-s self.”  Yet even when flower buds open gradually and the change is too slow to detect, still they are blossoming forth. I was slow to know the inner blossoming that I yearned for was actually happening, and that it would continue to unfold.

Now I continue to do my part by being steady in my practices, including japa and meditation, serving on the Board and being open to Swamiji’s flow of Grace.  Another steady practice I started several years ago is donating to support the Ashram and my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati. I knew instinctively that the right thing to do is to give financial support to that which has supported me and continues to blossom forth my inner Divinity.

The offerings of the Ashram through Swamiji are ultimately about you and for you.  The Ashram exists so you will blossom inward.  In this way you can experience your Divine Essence on the inside and then bring that awareness into your life. So many offerings come under the umbrella of the Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. An amazing variety of Grace-filled paths support you blossoming into your Divine Essence. Everything Swamiji does (whether understood or not) is to support your inner blossoming.

Yet each of us must also do our part. We must participate on this path in whatever way works for us. For you it may be practicing the practices, reading SVA email communications, using our beautiful and efficient new website, or taking teacher training and yearlong courses, workshops and Shaktipat Retreats.  Hidden within, each bud has the potential to fully blossom. But without sunlight, water and fertilizer it will not be able to actually bloom. Your ongoing practices and participation, as well as being open to the flow of Grace, are the ingredients you need to blossom inward.

In order for Swamiji and the Ashram to continue to serve you in so many varied ways we need your financial support. In the end it is all for you.  The more you support the Ashram and Swamiji, the more they can continue to support you. It is an amazing circle of giving and receiving.  Neither can grow without the other. Give a plant water, light and fertilizer and it will blossom. We need your contribution so the Ashram can continue to blossom, in order to support you growing and blossoming. The great abundance of teachings and support offered through Swamiji and the Ashram is all there for you – use it, practice it, open to it, bask in it, bloom in it and support it.  Please join me in offering a financial gift so both the Ashram and you can continue “Blossoming Forth.”

The Website That Seva Built by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

Our new website at is my virtual Ashram and yoga center.  Along with important practicalities, like viewing the calendar, enrolling in courses and accessing on-line course materials, it is a place I can go to connect with my Guru and other Svaroopis.  As a Svaroopa® Vidya Ashramite, I can experience darshana (seeing Divine Presence) just by signing onto the home page.  Through the audio recordings I can participate in satsang (a gathering in the company of the highest Truth) or chant the Guru Gita.  The blog posts and e-zine articles provide easy access to the stories of other Svaroopis, some whom I know well and others I haven’t yet met in person.  Either way, we have important shared experiences and that makes us all like yoga siblings.  Because I live many miles away from Downingtown PA, the website is my yoga home-away-from-home.

The decision to say “yes” was easy

Last Spring, when Matrika (Marlene) Gast asked if I could help with the writing part of the website consolidation project, the decision to say “yes” was easy.  I had been resisting every time I needed to sign onto either of the old websites for practical information or to enroll in a course.  The confusion I was experiencing upon accessing the sites was probably due more to my evolving perception of the two organizations as one, rather than actual website functionalities.  Around the time of the Consolidation, I was losing track of what information belonged to which organization.  I could no longer remember which website to go to for what.  The distinctions were blurring.

I was thrilled to start working on the web project, although when I began looking at what needed consolidation and re-writing, the task looked daunting. So I was very thankful for the preliminary work that had been done by others, including Swamiji, Matrika Gast, Sharada McDonald and Jennifer Bloome, to create a template for the overall look and structure of the new site.

As it turned out, I really only worked on a few preliminary drafts for versions of the About Us and Donate pages, but I found the seva process to be valuable, as always.  To do the work, I needed to simply “put one foot in front of the other,” without getting overly wrapped up in the performance aspects of the job.  It also provided another opportunity to connect with Swamiji and the Ashram, and to contemplate how all has evolved since those early days, which were really not so long ago.

Below are the words of other sevites who worked on our website project over the summer.

I was very happy to be called on

  • Matrika (Marlene) Gast

On the Ashram Board, my Area of Responsibility and Empowerment (ARE) is Communications, so I was thrilled when the new SVA Website project began. I knew that consolidating the sites would help our whole Svaroopa® Sciences community easily get the information we need for courses and programs – and ongoing inspiration and teachings from Swami Nirmalananda.

I was very happy to organize writers to write informational pages as well as reshape existing pages to fit the new consolidated format. We have a talented and dedicated group of sevite writers as well as a splendid writer on our SVA administrative team, Jennifer Bloome, who had already drafted several core pages that had been approved by Swamiji. Our Business Administration Manager Sharada McDonald had already worked with Swamiji and the technical experts to design the outline of the web content, and Sharada gave us great guidance on the content “constellations” that we needed to populate. And, wonderfully, Karuna Beaver and Rama Brooke turned out to be the writers who were available to write over the summer.

I was enthusiastic about the project from the beginning, and I believe we four writers – Jennifer, Karuna, Rama and I – all had a great time collaborating.  Not only did we receive guidance from Sharada and Swamiji, but also from our Techno-Wizard, Prakash Falbaum, who coordinated the entire project. I believe our organization is unique in how we all collaborate. Sevites are as committed to their “volunteer work” as full time professionals on a career ladder, and our highly skilled and dedicated staff serves with joy and passion for the divine mission of the Ashram.

I am grateful for the seva that I can offer to Swamiji and our whole community, because seva continues to open and expand my heart.  Through seva I have gotten to meet and talk with most, if not all, members of our community. Every day I feel myself basking in the deep, warm, scintillating connections among us.

It made perfect sense to me

–Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

When I learned that the two websites would be consolidated, it made perfect sense to me. Why would we have two websites, when we are a consolidated organization? Less is more!

I’ve been involved in communications for both Master Yoga Foundation and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, so I’ve written articles and copy from both perspectives. But now these perspectives come under the same umbrella – the same umbrella we’ve always had, really, but made more clear by combined communications, including the website.  Because I’ve been so involved with writing for the organization, it was a natural for me to help with the website.

Because I wrote only a few pages, it wasn’t challenging from either a time perspective, or really, a content perspective. We used much of the content from both websites, and simply polished and shortened it a bit. Like every other seva I have done, this helped me understand the organization that I am involved with, and to appreciate the breadth and depth of what it offers to me and to the whole Svaroopa® community.

I get way more from the seva than I put into it

–Prakash (David) Falbaum

I had been doing website seva for MYF for a while, so I could see the need for consolidation of the five websites that made up the digital identity of SVA.  After a few false starts with outside web consultants, I became Project Manager, and worked closely with SVA’s graphic artist Kemm Sarver, web designer Jean Kindem and fellow Board member Matrika (Marlene) Gast, who oversaw the content and writing part of the project.

There was a lot of back and forth between Swamiji, Kemm, and Jean to determine exactly how the new site would look and function, so that was a major part of my work.  Swamiji was clear that she wanted the site to be a “virtual portal” to the Self, so we set that as the main focus for the project.  I live in Minnesota and don’t have daily access to the Ashram in Pennsylvania, so having this “virtual portal” was an important goal for me to keep in perspective.

I do seva to serve both Swamiji and the people who want to immerse themselves in the Self.  I get way more from the seva than I put into it.  It is such a powerful practice.  I began doing seva for Master Yoga, and now serve on the Ashram Board.  I still find that the more I put in, the more I get out.  It keeps me out of my head and immersed in my Self.  My mind becomes quiet while I am working to serve the Divine and the Guru.

Other sevites I want to thank are:  Glen Christensen, who has done a lot for the prior SVA website, and posted calendar items and pages in our new site.  Glen is also continuing to move the online library from the prior SVA site to our new consolidated home.  Also, Pam Church and Solveig Corbin have helped with link checking, which has been very helpful; an essential task for making the website user friendly.

A Doorway to the Self

–Swami Nirmalananda

I’ve always loved the truth in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I have to add that it takes a whole team to create a new website, if it is going to serve the many that the Ashram serves. When I began the virtual Ashram, before we had any buildings or even offered regular satsangs, we had a website with 5 pages.  As it grew, my rudimentary website skills grew, until the Ashram had administrative sevites who were better at it than me.  Sevites joined the team, ultimately moving and revamping the website about 2 years ago — a huge task that was very well done.

Receiving & Giving Support by Peter Gallagher

Peter Gallagher

Peter Gallagher

I am often distracted by the contradictions that I experience in being me, a unique form of contracted consciousness. Thankfully, I first found a Svaroopa® yoga teacher and then Swamiji. Physical pain got me in the door. At first the relief that I felt from the beginning encouraged me to continue classes. It was, however, the mental and emotional release and personal spiritual reawakening that kept me coming back for more.

Just as I need the support of Swami and the Ashram in order to blossom into my Divinity, the Ashram needs our support to blossom into its future. Just like you and me, the Ashram is a form of Consciousness, a form that supports our discovery that we are a form of Consciousness. Consider how the Ashram has supported your inner expansion. Could you be who you now are without the enlivened and embodied teachings you have received through Swami Nirmalananda and the teachers she has trained?

Through the efforts of our teachers, staff and sevites and the generosity of our donors, we have truly blossomed as an organization, quickly moving through the Master Yoga Reawakening into the Consolidation of Master Yoga and the Ashram. We are now entering a new phase of expansion into the world. This growth brings new challenges and opportunities, and to be successful the process requires your participation. Your donations and seva are needed by the Ashram as it comes into full bloom, fulfilling its work in the world.

I personally experience the gifts of the Svaroopa® Sciences; they just keep on giving me more and more. Because of the gratitude that I have for Swamiji, the teachings and the Svaroopa® yoga teachers I have studied with, I serve on the Ashram Board of Directors. My gifts to the Ashram are my skills, my time and my donations. I give them to assist Swamiji and the Ashram in their purpose, which is to assist you in realizing your Self. In return for what I give, unlooked-for, I live more in my Self in the world.

Both Swamiji and the Ashram are dedicated to serving us. We need to provide the financial support to allow their work to blossom forth, both in us and into the world beyond. Please support this blossoming forth with your generosity. Consider a one-time gift or a monthly donation to fully nurture this new blossoming.

With love,

Taglines (Installment #8)

Svaroopa® Yoga: Accessible Yoga

We meet you where you are, customizing the pose to your needs. Melt away the pain, tension and years to become alive, supple and strong. You don’t have to know what you are doing because we know what we are doing for you.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Profound Results from the Beginning

Begin at the end, reaping the most profound results from your very first experience of Svaroopa® yoga. Our poses and practices remove the blocks to your inherent health, joy and spirituality. Enjoy the multidimensional results promised by the ancient sages, delivered in our modern age.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Healing – Inside & Out

Core opening makes your mind more peaceful. Your emotions become more settled, less reactive. You become both expansive and grounded at the same time. Live n the unmistakable openness and ease of Svaroopa® yoga.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Spinal Magic

Unraveling the deepest tensions in your body, from your spine outward, is a magical process. Your spine lifts and lengthens, an amazingly easy and thoroughly enjoyable process. Best of all is the peace and joy that arises within, yoga’s promise echoing through the ages.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Uncommon Yoga

Transcend the athleticism of modern yoga by exploring the yogic mystery hidden within. Using the poses to unlock the hidden dimensions of your own being, you gain health, personal transformation and the bliss of your inherent Divinity, all at the same time.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Multi-Dimensional Healing

Your physical changes are profound and reliable, yet the inner transformation that gives you a new way of seeing is much more important. Your own life and the world begin to look perfect, even though it is the same world that used to drive you crazy.

Svaroopa® Yoga: You Can’t Not Change

flower4No struggle, no strain – simply do the accessible practices of Svaroopa® yoga and reap the results. Your physical improvements are obvious and immediate, along with your mind and heart being uplifted. Yet it is the discovery of your Divine Essence that makes it all matter.

Blossoming Forth by Swami Nirmalananda

289A dynamic process is under way at the Ashram, with growth and changes in our staff as well as a new building for our local Downingtown programs. Many exciting developments make this blossoming forth tangible and obvious, a flowering that comes from the hard work of our teachers, staff and sevites and the generosity of our many donors.

The yogic process that happens to you on a personal level also occurs at the organizational level, for organizations are nothing but groups of people committed to a shared goal. This process is a reflection of the cosmic process, the blossoming forth of Consciousness-Itself. In honor of this, our year-end fundraising campaign is titled “Blossoming Forth,” described as “unmilana” in an important sutra from Kashmiri Shaivism.

Look at three ways that this blossoming forth is happening right now:

  • Cosmic Level: Consciousness is blossoming forth as this marvelous, multifaceted universe by contracting from pure expansive Beingness into individualized forms, including ants, trees, elephants, you and everything else that exists.
  • Personal Level: As a contracted form of consciousness, you yearn to know your own essence and seek a path of discovery. Svaroopa® yoga reveals your own Self through a profound process of blossoming inward.
  • Organizational Level: We are shifting gears, which is welcome news in a process that began with Master Yoga’s Reawakening (two years ago) and led to the Consolidation of Master Yoga and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram last year. Now we are Blossoming Forth into the world!

We need your support at this dynamic time. Growth is expansive, but it is also expensive. We are adding staff members in order to expand our ability to be responsive to you. In the new year, you will find many new retreats and trainings, both for teachers as well as for yogis who want to deepen their yoga. We are expanding our local Downingtown facility and programming. We are expanding our Teacher Trainer faculty. Plus we have our new website, new taglines and my recent return to traveling and teaching. All this means we are reaching more people, people who want to know their own Self.

In this expansive time, our focus remains intensely personal. This is about you; this is about how you experience your own Self. As our organization blossoms into its own future, its purpose remains unchanged — to support your blossoming into your Divinity.

Support our expansion through your donation, especially important at the end of the year, both for your financial planning as well as the Ashram’s. So many of you helped us survive the recent challenges; now help us thrive! Donate now, in any amount, as a one-time donation or a monthly pledge that provides continuing support.

We are able to serve you because of your generosity. Please help us accomplish our purpose more fully, in this blossoming forth of the Ashram and the Svaroopa® sciences.

With love and blessings,

Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Click here to make a donation today.

Comings and Goings

Transition is a natural current in an organization dedicated to transformation and upliftment. Thus, we announce a number of changes in our administrative staff, as their lives grow and change.

As Sarvataa Christie leaves to focus on personal and family matters, we thank her for excellent and enthusiastic service as Enrollment Advisor over the past year.  Hrdayaa had already expanded her availability in the last few weeks and is delighted to turn more of her attention to supporting your program choices.

Our Business Administration Manager, Sharada Macdonald, is shifting gears as well, in order to be available to her family in a challenging time.  Even with a change in focus and fewer hours at SVA, Sharada is generously making herself available to fill gaps during Swami Nirmalananda’s upcoming teaching tour in Australia. Happily, we are soon welcoming Kanchan (Connie) Mohn, one of our Board members, to serve as Staff Coordinator during this transition, supporting our staff as Sharada has done for so many years.

With gratitude for her expertise in her role as SVA’s part-time bookkeeper, we also say goodbye to Perpetua Seidenberg who is turning her attention to her sweet baby boy. We are delighted to welcome Lindsay Dittbrenner as our new bookkeeper, joining us on October 6th. Expanding to a full-time position means that she will be more responsive to all facets of our organization.

Jessica Kriel is our new Guest Services coordinator, and we have greatly enjoyed working with her during her first three weeks.  Jessica brings years of experience in hospitality and guest services. When you fly to Philadelphia for our programs, you can rely on Jessica to handle arrangements for your transportation from the Philadelphia airport, hotel shuttles from the Desmond to Ashram lunches as well as your accommodations and meals at the Desmond.




Chanting to the Divine by Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

We were never far from hearing the sounds of worship of the Divine on the 2013 Ganeshpuri trip.  I loved the auditory presence of the Divine in Ganeshpuri.  It was one of the reasons our senses were so filled with Consciousness.  That ever-present current of mantra and chanting filled our ears and hearts and the act of chanting sent vibrations of Consciousness through our bodies.  We were in the current of Grace.

Brahmin priests began chanting soon after 4:00 am at the Nityananda Temple for the devotional abhishek (ritual bathing of Nityananda’s murti).  After breakfast, we settled in for the Guru Gita and all the accompanying chants.  Every day, Swamiji gave us a few more Guru Gita verses translated into English and we chanted those too.  In the afternoon, we gathered with Swamiji for more chanting, satsang and meditation.

Some chants were familiar — the Guru Gita and Jaya Jaya Arati Nityananda — and the new and mysterious chants that flowed from the Brahmin priests during the all day yajña, fire ceremony.  Those chants propitiated the gods, the planets and all the forces of Consciousness by using a mysterious and mesmerizing rhythm that propelled us into a meditative state.

In the Nityananda Temple, we heard many beautiful chants as well.  One of the Brahmin priests, Prasad, has a particularly celestial voice.  One morning, I entered the sound of his chanting, and was lifted to a beautiful place of adoration and devotion.  I was especially taken by the nearly monotone Om Namo Bhagavate chant that came through the loudspeakers during a rest period of the abhishek.  That same chant flowed through the streets during other parts of the day and evening.

Some of us chanted the Guru Gita at Gurudev Siddha Peeth, where Swamiji lived, served and sat at Baba’s feet. Their rendition of the Guru Gita has a similar but slightly different melody, sung in call and response with men singing one-half of each verse, the women the other half.

Chanting and the mantra are the powerful pathways to meditation, ways to stay close to God.  Meditation gives us the Self. All the chanting took me right into meditation. When I looked around at the other yogis, often they would be deep in meditation. It was a beautiful sight. During the abhishek and the yajña, the chanting went on for long periods of time and it was impossible to sustain conscious awareness.  I noticed people around me in ecstatic meditation and others immersed deep inside. The sheer magnitude of the chanting overpowered any resistance we might have had.  Our minds became still in that river of Consciousness and there we were, right in ourSelves.

For information on the India 2015 trip, click here for FAQs.