Monthly Archives: May 2015

International Yoga Day

A9R558D_redThe first International Yoga Day is happening June 21 — are you in?  This great day was approved just last December by the United Nations General Assembly, only three months after India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, made an address, saying:

Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

While this international recognition of yoga’s footprint worldwide is important for us, for Shree Modi it’s also a personal statement.  His political success in India comes from his spiritual depth as much as his political acumen.  Having spent some of his young adulthood as a wandering sadhu (holy man) in India, he chose to serve in the political arena and worked his way up from the grassroots level.  His leadership draws on India’s deep spirituality, contributing to his popularity as well as his political agenda.  I was personally in Varanasi last winter when he and spent several days on a project to clean the Ganga (Ganges) River, doing some of the shoveling and scraping himself.

The yogic basis of his leadership has been recognized by “Hinduism Today,” an international magazine, who just named him the Hindu of the Year for 2015.  Every prior recipient of this prestigious honor has been a Guru, not a Prime Minister!

Shree Modi recommended June 21, the summer solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), as the day of the year with the most light.  It’s also an important time for yogis in India, coming near the beginning of the monsoon season, when hunker down for three months of deep sadhana (practices).

The FIRST International Yoga Day, June 21.  Can we make a big bang, one that will reverberate until the Fourth of July?  Click here to tell Swamiji of your plans or ideas.

Your Gifts Make a Difference

Join Saguna is supporting the Ashram's Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

Thank you for supporting the Ashram’s Next Steps. There’s still time to donate – click the image above to donate today.

Thank you for your generous donations of $34,498.26 during our spring fundraiser, The Next Steps.  Your donations are helping us make the next steps in our service to you – by improving our online presence, expanding our physical facilities, investing in staff training, and more.  Our Board members were deeply touched in their personal phone calls with our monthly donors, as everyone spoke of how much they cherish their relationship with Swamiji and the Svaroopa® sciences.

“I am so grateful for you who reached into your heart and your pocket and gave to support the Ashram. Thank you so much!” — Amala Lynn Cattafi, Board President

“You have brought yoga into your life in yet another way. Your giving is a grateful and practical acknowledgment for the flow of Grace that is supporting you right now. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for responding so beautifully to our fundraising campaign.”  — Rudrani Nogue, Board member

“For your contribution to the our Next Steps campaign, thank you. If you still intend to donate, thank you. Even if you were unable to donate this time, thank you. Whether you make donations, do seva, take teacher training or Ashram programs, or ‘simply’ follow Swami Nirmalananda, thank you. You are why we do what we do.”  — Karuna Beaver, Board member

“Thank you for joining me in supporting SVA in our most recent fundraising campaign. It gives me great joy to financially support an organization that continues to give me and our community so much spiritual support.”  — Kristine Freeman, Board member

“Your donation is the sustaining, nurturing and caring force that supports Swamiji and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram in bringing the amazing gift of the Self to the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”  — Saguna Goss, Board Treasurer

“It fills my heart with gratitude, knowing that we have such generous support for Swamiji and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. Your continued support makes it possible for upliftment to expand into our wider world.” — Prakash Falbaum, Board member

Donor gifts will be going out soon to everyone who began or increased their monthly donation.  We’ll first be asking you if you want the audio of Swami Nirmalananda doing mantra-japa, or if you prefer sacred ash from our February yaj~na (sacred fire ceremony).  If you already know, please email; your gift will be sent out in early June.

If you would still like to add to our ability to serve you, please click here to donate.  Every gift makes a difference.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

Sustaining Our Ashram by Saguna Goss

Join Saguna is supporting the Ashram's Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

Join Saguna is supporting the Ashram’s Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

During my last few years as a Board member for Master Yoga Foundation, I was aware that the organization was being challenged; it was facing the chaos of dissolution and destruction. Then came a stage of creation, with the huge transformation of working closely with our Ashram, which led to the Consolidation of the two sister organizations, which is now complete. A lot was going on; it was very interesting and exciting. In hindsight I can see how my mind was really entertained with details, looking at problems, coming up with unique solutions. But now, in the stability of completed consolidation, our Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram stands in the space of beautiful sustenance. It’s time to keep on keeping on. This is the stage of Vishnu, the cosmic force that sustains the world.

Last February, in our yatra to Ganeshpuri, India, I came to

Saguna Goss

Saguna Goss

know and appreciate Vishnu through Swamiji’s daily satsangs. In the past I’ve been drawn to Shiva, with no interests in the other forms of the Divine. But now it’s Vishnu. I am in the Vishnu stage of my life: sustaining a job, a home, relationships, and my various connections to the Ashram. Vishnu’s role of sustaining the universe is not as glamorous as Brahma’s creating or as Shiva’s destruction of forms that can no longer contain the “Sakti. Those forms of the Divine used to capture my mind. But now it is Vishnu who, in all his incarnations through eons, undertook the sustenance tasks that maintained the world. It’s not particularly sexy to do the tasks that sustain life. Yet this aspect of Vishnu is so beautiful and so precious. Nourishing and sustaining the earth flows from Vishnu’s open heart.

I have the beautiful gift of Shaktipat from my Guru and I need to sustain it. I am grateful now for the Vishnu support in my practice, to sustain my practices of the Svaroopa® Sciences. I now see all strands of my life woven together into a sustaining tapestry. And this is because it is the Ashram, also in the Vishnu stage of life, that sustains me in my life.

So I no longer give seva and financial support to the Ashram from fear and urgency. I give to the Ashram because it’s continuing existence is important. Please join me in setting up a monthly donation— or increasing your monthly donation, and know that your one-time gift in an amount that works for you is also very welcome. This is the time to give, to ensure that our fully created, stable Ashram flourishes. Then you know you are sustaining its life it every day, just as you would water any garden.  In supporting our Ashram in this way, you can count on being able to harvest your own sustenance.

Be an instrument of Vishnu through such continued support. This is a great time to support the Ashram as you would nurture any relationship that you cherish.

Why I Give by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Join Peter is supporting the Ashram's Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

Join Matrika is supporting the Ashram’s Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

We Board members make phone calls to other donors in our spring and fall fundraising campaigns. Anticipation of a fundraising call can agitate the mind. Board members of any organization will confess to an aversion to asking for money. Yet in reality, every Ashram campaign brings me a gloriously different experience.

First, it’s my joy to call previous and current donors just to say thank you. I am truly and deeply grateful to each and every donor — past, present and future. Each of us who gives financially, at the level allowed by our circumstances, sustains the Ashram. This infrastructure, in turn, supports Swami Nirmalananda in passing on the sacred teachings by which she lives and serves.

Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Matrika (Marlene) Gast

We community members benefit. Everyone we touch benefits from our growing basis in Self. We more and more make our choices and take action from that deeply open, divine place. Thus healing, transformation and even illumination ripples outward to our families, to our own students (if we teach) and into our local communities. In this context, a phone call to express gratitude is delicious.

Inevitably, my conversation with the yogi turns to what she or he is grateful for. In the last few weeks everyone spoke of how much they cherish their relationship with Swamiji and the Svaroopa® sciences, how much they value her teachings:

“Swamiji is such a conduit of Grace. Teaching yoga in the context of Swamiji’s teachings, I find that my students make such quick progress in healing. I just want to see the Next Steps be ample finances so that Swamiji is freed up from having to manage any administration tasks, so she can turn all of her attention to teaching and writing. She can just be a Guru. I believe that’s the most important next step in attracting more people out there to the Svaroopa® sciences.”

“Because of Swamiji’s teachings I am compassionate in my relationship with members of my local community. I am more accepting of what is, not fighting to get things to be different. I accept that, as a yogi, I am different from my local community — and perhaps especially because I am a Svaroopa® yogi. Yet within the Ashram community I feel that I am a good fit.”

“I love sharing Svaroopa® yoga and I love seeing what Svaroopa® yoga therapy does for my clients. This yoga is so powerful. One of my students works in an accounting firm, and even in tax season she came to class, even on April 16th this year. She tells me, I’m coming to you because I want what you have.’ Swamiji and her teachings are part of my daily life. She has done so much for me in helping me find my Self. I listen to NPR every day, and I donate to NPR. Why wouldn’t I give money to support Swamiji and the Ashram?”

Another Svaroopa® yoga teacher and yoga therapist related a miracle story about one of her clients who had been in constant pain for 15 years. The client cried during her first session. The tears came because, for the first time in that whole span of time, she felt no pain. When I asked this Svaroopi whether she had any questions or concerns about the Ashram, she just wanted to know the mechanics of increasing her monthly donation.

I thought yoga was all about the poses when I first started practicing. Now I know it’s so much more. It feels to me that the “More” arises because we are all in relationship to our Guru. It’s a relationship that fosters — or uncovers — unconditional love. That’s the basis of connection within our community. So all interactions are infused with pure joy and Grace, which reveals The Truth, that at the core of each of us is the One Self.

Please contribute, with a one-time gift in any amount, or by becoming a monthly donor, if you have not already done so. Support the structure that enables Swami Nirmalananda to spread the teachings ever more widely.

Click here to donate.  New monthly donors receive a thank you gift from Swami Nirmalananda, as do those who increase their monthly donation.

A Rare Opportunity by Rudrani Nogue, Board Member

Join Peter is supporting the Ashram's Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

Join Rudrani is supporting the Ashram’s Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

Swami Nirmalananda is a major part of my life.  Being in relationship with a living Guru is a rare opportunity I may have spent lifetimes preparing for.  I first met Swami Nirmalananda in 1997, and was both frightened and in awe of her.   Two years later I took one of her month-long Teacher Trainings. My tears came in buckets; I no longer knew who I was. At one point during the training, Swamiji sat quietly with her comforting hand on my back while I sobbed uncontrollably.

Before the training, I mistakenly believed when I graduated as a certified Svaroopa® yoga teacher, I would be fully baked.  Of course, I have since realized that my learning and spiritual growth were in their infancy back then.  I was just on the tip of understanding what yoga is Rudrani_Ganeshpuriabout and what being in relationship with my teacher and Guru could look like.  For several years after, I was in a process of new understandings and realizations, so I came to see that there were many steps and possibilities with this thing called yoga.  I was slowly grasping the “more” that the many practices of yoga offer.

Now, years later, I continue to teach Svaroopa® yoga classes, teach meditation and lead satsangs, and I am in an ongoing relationship with Swamiji.  She is a dependable part of my day-to-day life, and I am aware of her often.  As Swamiji grew into her role as Guru, I have become more and more my Self.  Still at times the pathway to Self is unclear, yet Swamiji is the bright beacon and inspiration that guides me day after day after day. And I love her. She is the Grace that gives me my Self.  She is the One who awakened my Kundalini. She has already travelled this path, and I know all she wants for me is that I know my Self.

It’s amazing to have a being in my life with no hidden agenda, only wanting to spur on my spiritual development.  I know this process will keep going until I am enlightened. The longer Swamiji is in my life, the greater is my respect, humility and gratitude for her proven consistency, dependability, evenness, patience, dedication and commitment.  Her steady state helps me be in my steady state. She is wise, compassionate, loving and kind. Who else in my life can be all that I described and give me Shaktipat too? Who else in my life can see the truth of my being all the time, especially when I am blind to it?  She does what she needs to do to wake me up to Self. I don’t always understand her ways, but I always understand that me knowing who I truly am is her main goal.  Nothing else.

Swami Nirmalananda has given me (and all of us) a wealth of ways to be in ongoing relationship with her. I wrote a quick (yet incomplete) list of 16 ways that I am in relationship with Swamiji. Here’s a short list of my favourite ways to be with Swamiji while in the midst of life.  These practices dive me deep inside and bring me back past the web of the mind to Self – which is why I do them:

  • Twice a day I light a candle and do arati with her bigger than life size picture.
  • Swamiji and I repeat japa mantra together, made possible by her “Om Namah Shivaaya” recording.
  • I start and end my deeper yoga classes and satsangs with “OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h” and I can feel the flow of Grace fill the room.
  • Chanting the Guru Gita Thursday on the Shishya call with Swamiji makes me open to the Self for the whole day.
  • I say the food mantras before every meal.

I am in awe of all I have been given through our Guru-disciple relationship. One way I give back is through donations to SVA. My husband Rudra (Bob) and I are long time monthly donors, plus we give one-time gifts too.  Yet any amount we donate seems small in comparison to how much we have been and continue to be given.  Our intention is to keep supporting Swamiji and the Ashram, day in and day out. With steady financial support Swamiji can generously and steadily continue to give teachings and serve as a conduit of Grace for our large established community.

To be in relationship with Swamiji is a rare and wonderful opportunity that I do not want to take for granted.  I plan to have Swamiji’s flow of Grace in my life now and in years to come.  I hope this is true for you, too. Please join me in generously supporting Swamiji and our Ashram with a monthly donation or a one-time gift — or both.