Monthly Archives: July 2016

July Shaktipat Reports, Boston

Reports gathered by Vibhuti King

“She is the power of Grace, Consciousness revealing my own divinity to me.  The wielder of the Shakti is one with the Shakti.” — Vidyadevi Stillman (teaching about the Guru)

“The great ‘wielder of Shakti’, Swami Nirmalananda opens me to a 1406 Nirmalananda-Yogeshwari-Vibhutimyriad of experiences.  Kundalini snakes through my whole spine, from tail to top. Lights, heat, movements on the physical, mental and emotional levels, culminating in tears of anguish and tears of joy.  One thread runs throughout all these experiences: the unmistakable familiarity of what has been opened up in me — of who I am and have always been.  As this awareness surges through, I remember Swamiji’s teaching, ‘The Self knows the Self.’   This flow of Grace is precisely why she is a Guru:  darkness turns into light, the subtle becomes perceptible, the hidden is known, the mystical stands revealed.”  — Jyoti Yacobi

Phil Milgrom“My experience was wonderful. My heart was opened immensely. I felt joyously overcome with gratitude. When I returned home, I felt like I had come back to earth from the moon. Everything seemed heavier than it was in the presence of Swami. I must admit that although I did add more time to my daily meditation practice as Vidyadevi urged us to, I did not amp up my practice enough. I learned my lesson.” — Phil Milgrom

“So does anyone else see some irony here? I had some rather dramatic stuff happen at the retreat and when I got home relapse started kicking in.  I woke the next morning to a clogged kitchen sink.  We had to open the trap in the cellar and ummmm use a snake to pierce the clog so the gunk could be cleared…I’m doing more meditation, lots more meditation. I expect the gunk will clear soon.” — Shanti Catacchio (by email)

I love the metaphor and parallel. When I returned from India 2013 my sink also clogged except the snake did not work and the pipe burst.  Hmmmmm.” — Lajja Mitchell (email reply)

“Thanks for sharing.  Jacinthe came home to a double door freezer that had been left open while in Massachusetts, while her husband was also away. She is a great cook and had tons Shaktipat hand on headof food that she had prepared and frozen.  She lost every item.  Putting each one in the garbage, she is calm and still smiling.” — Manini Martin (email reply)

Grace continues to transform us…

DIY Heart Openers: Margaritas & More

Nityaa Robin BlankenshipNityaa Robin Blankenship

I am always looking at the Ashram calendar online, plotting a get-away to Lokananda for more yoga!   When I received a postcard about the four-day DIY Heart Openers retreat, I realized it was during my vacation and I could attend.

Tendonitis in my wrists was my initial reason for beginning Svaroopa® yoga seven years ago.  It healed, but I still have a lot of tension in my shoulders, neck, head and hands.  While the vertebrae behind the heart is the cause of that tension, it is difficult to unravel.  So, when I found this weekend focused on opening the heart, taught by Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini, it was an easy decision to come.

Not only would the retreat provide physical and emotional openings, it was an opportunity to be in the presence of the Guru.   I feel so fortunate and lucky to have found my Guru – Swami Nirmalananda.  It is so rare and special in today’s world to have a link to the Grace
and wisdom of the ancient yogic teachings through an unbroken lineage.

yoga situps 13.00.22_V1It seemed as if the poses were selected from my personal list of “most difficult poses!”   Matsyasana (not to be confused with Supported Fish), Purvo Arms, Yoga Sit-ups and Dhanurasana Leg Diagonal were difficult for me. I was actually sweating just sitting doing Purvo Arms with abs.  I rarely sweat doing yoga; Kundalini was doing her work!  Yes, I had avoided doing and teaching these poses.  Of course they are the ones I need.

I received some helpful insights in the partner pairings that made the poses easier. It was fun to meet other yogis who also have a deep practice, some who teach and some who do not.  Swamiji led us in a wonderful deeper Shavasana with a guided awareness of inner light, plus we had an opportunity to ask her questions in a Q & A session.

It was rich weekend of yoga practices, including chanting, meditation and guided Vichara. Sitting at a table drinking frozen margaritas with Swamiji at the festive Mexican style luncheon at the Ashram was a Divine tantra –weaving the sacred and the mundane in a delightful way.   There was no alcohol in the margaritas of course, none was needed as we were all in a state of bliss just being there!

20160205_184909 - CopyIf I had known how great this course was, I would have taken the whole series. Yogis who took all three DIY Retreats participated in follow-up phone calls to share their experiences.

I received tools to take home with me, including a daily practice that is unraveling the next layer of tension in my body and mind.  It is getting easier to do the difficult poses by doing them everyday.

I experience a greater capacity for love and an opening into my heart center.  I realize the experience of love is not dependent on the external triggers of my family members, pets and music.  Love exists inside as a quality of the Self.  We learned that love begins with self-love, and I found a sacred place in the cave of my heart that is a deeper opening into my Self. This course was exactly what I needed… and more.

YTT Streamlining?  Upgrade!

By Swami Nirmalananda

I was looking for words.  Words to describe the incredible change in our YTT program.  Words that convey my delight about how much more powerful it will be than ever before.  Words that help you understand the new levels that will open for yogis who dive into the deep end with me.  I was looking for words.

I always begin with contemplation, letting my mind be filled with consciousness.  Consciousness-Itself is the source of words, the form of intelligence itself.  “New” and “improved” doesn’t work any more, not even when they put it on the outside of a box of detergent or package of munchies.  Plus we have the move toward heirloom veggies and Grandma’s original recipes.  Who says “new” is at all “improved?”

So I won’t say that this incarnation of YTT is improved over the previous one.  I stand by all I’ve done to marinate the teachers I’ve had the opportunity to train.  But marinating has to happen faster.  This is Kali Yuga.  Time is of the essence.  After all, this is the age of the quick pickle!

pickling cucumbers on the vine pinterest.comMy dad used to grow cucumbers, the little pickling cucumbers, and then make his own concoction for the pickle juice.  It took a couple of months for them to come to perfection.  Every summer day, as a kid on that interminable summer vacation, I’d ask, “Are they pickles yet?”

Are they teachers yet?  How quick can a yogi be transformed into a teacher?  The first Teacher Training I took was 25 hours.  I graduated with a certificate but didn’t feel ready.  I taught, but felt like we were all just going through the motions, a pantomime.  So I took another Teacher Training.  And another one.  And then Kundalini showed me the way.  Thank you, Baba.

Now you can make pickles in a couple of hours.  And they’re good!  Is this “new” and “improved?”  We have to turn out teachers this way.

So I was looking for words.  I could see the whole of what I’ve birthed, but how to describe it?  “Streamlining” is what I’ve been calling it; it’s the word that Chiti (consciousness) keeps giving to my mind.  So I went to the thesaurus.

Modernize, update — yes, I’ve modernized our Teacher Training, but that could easily mean dumbing it down.  Modern doesn’t always mean improved.  And yoga doesn’t honor the updates; it honors ancient knowledge and systems.  Yet the sages, through the ages, came up with new and updated ways of teaching the ancient truths.  So this is modernized and updated, yet the essence is unchanged.  A tricky thing to accomplish.

Reorganize, rearrange, reschedule, move around, reorder — yes, I reorganized the schedule, moving things around, putting them in a new order, so all these words are true.  Yet they don’t cover an essential piece, which is that the new order gives new meaning to all of it.

Revolutionize, reform, restructure — ah, this is closer.  It is a revolutionary new way to approach it, but it’s not new information.  It’s revolutionary information, spinal release, tail-to-top, core opening, but we already knew that.  Yet the re-forming of it, into a new structure, gives it a new power.  New potential.  Amazing new vitality!

Make more efficient, sort out, simplify — check.  More efficient, as in getting there quicker, with less energy expended.  Making it easier and more accessible.  Simplifying the profound.  Isn’t that what shaktipat is all about?

Develop, upgrade — yes, these are best.  Develop means that everyone who has ever taken one of our programs has contributed to our latest development.  Upgrade means you get a new system, one that does the things you already relied on and yet offers more.  Easier.  Quicker.  Cheaper.  And still deep and profound.

While all this describes our YTT Upgrade, it is now extending itself to all our programs.  The force of upliftment is pouring into all our programs.  “Faster, easier?  Of course,” says Shree Kundalini.  “Deeper and more profound?  Piece of cake!”

woman surfer

I am looking forward to this.

This California girl that I am, I know how to ride a wave.

YTT Transformation

Swami Nirmalananda.jpgBy Swami Nirmalananda

An organization dedicated to transformation will undergo transformation.  Those dedicated to spiritual upliftment will transform and change.  Since an organization is made up of the people who participate in it, as they change, the organization will change.

Athleticism is leading the Western yoga world, so the emphasis is no longer on the spiritual growth envisioned by the sages of India.  Fortunately, working on stronger and ever more impressive poses gives the payoff of brief spiritual highs.  These highs happen whether you’re climbing mountains, jogging, lifting weights, playing tennis or doing Sun Salutations.

butterfly-300x119Transformation means “a new form.”  Is it possible to take a purely spiritual yoga and fit it into the athletic mold?  Yes.  That’s what I did when I taught in yoga conferences, so now I’ve done it with our Teacher Training.  While Svaroopa® yoga is a spiritual science, it provides you with distinct and tangible physical changes.  To place the benefits center stage and shine the light on them is easy.

Transformation means the underlying premise of our Teacher Trainings has been metamorphosized, like a butterfly in a chrysalis.  The same DNA turns out an entirely different creature:  a butterfly instead of a worm.

Previously, my approach was to present each pose in its fullness.  Now our trainings are about the interlinking between the poses.  This is actually how learning works.  You don’t learn all 21 variations on AltLeg in your first yoga class.  The basic AltLeg does so much for you!  All your other poses improve, as does your inner state, an opening all the way into your essence.

We’ve always focused on this opening, but do you need 21 ways of getting it in AltLeg?  No.  You only need to learn them if you want to teach advanced classes or if you want to be a yoga therapist.  Thus, our new Teacher Training gives you these opportunities without forcing them on you.  You learn each variation only when you need it.

Applying this premise to the structure of our training turns our Eiffel tower into a geodesic dome.  Instead of a pointed structure reaching for the sky, we have a dome rounding into itself, with each triangle supporting all the others.  Every pose supports all the others, and together they support you.  Every Svaroopa® yoga YTT or ATT course you’ve taken will still give you full credit toward your Continuing Ed and new certification levels.  And we’ll have more easily accessible certifications and new poses coming in.  Full information and the 2017 calendar is coming for you next week!

Not Just Any Night

matrikaBy Matrika Gast

“If you’re doing yoga, you are on the path toward Enlightenment. When you are enlightened, who will you be? What will you be like? What are you going to see when you open up your eyes?”

It can be hard to answer Swamiji’s question. But that’s exactly why we have a Guru, that’s why we are in relationship with our Guru, Swami Nirmalananda. And that gives us a lot to celebrate on Guru Purnima, the night of July 19. For thousands of years, on this fullest moon of the year, sages and disciples have honored their Masters, whose teachings gave them enlightenment. As modern yogis, we too honor our Guru, “Giver of the upwelling light/Your own Self….” (Shree Guru Gita, verse 10)

swamiInterviewing Swamiji about Guru Purnima, I confessed, “I really can’t imagine what it would be like to be Self-realized.” She replied, “It would be so easy. The way you think, breathe and live, your life now is so hard.” As she wrote in her July teachings article, we carry around a backpack full of sand. We do this even while she teaches us how to loosen the straps and set that load down for good. Swamiji shows you what being Self-Realized looks like. Talk with her, and you hear voice and words radiant with the light of consciousness. “You are the light of consciousness,” she says. All any of us needs to do is open our eyes and see it.

How fortunate to study with her! She has attained yoga’s promise of living from Self, Consciousness-Itself. Some months ago, I tearfully admitted that a life situation had made me terribly angry. She simply said, “If you were in your Self, you would not be angry.” Without a doubt, I knew that was the Truth. Thankfully, I turned to more than a decade of her teachings and her living example to get me back on track. On Guru Purnima I have much to celebrate.

IMG_20160205_205505With this festival just five days away, plan now how you will honor your Guru, her Guru, and his Guru as well. On the East Coast, the moment the moon becomes full is 6:59 pm, but it’s not yet dark! You can celebrate later, when night finally arrives, or any time in the next day and a half. During this time of the brightest light in the darkness, Guru’s Grace flows most fully. Living within driving distance of Lokananda, you have the splendid prospect of Swami Nirmalananda’s satsang on that Tuesday at 7:30 pm. Further away, plan your own festivities with Svaroopa® Science practices.

The Brightest Light

matrika.jpgBy Matrika Gast

In spiritual and religious traditions worldwide, light is a symbol or metaphor for the Divine. Yoga says light is more than a symbol. The sages say you can know your inner light experientially as your Self, which is Consciousness-Itself, your own Divine Essence. Swami Nirmalananda renders Verse 10 of “Srii Guru Gita as follows:

Birth is into not-knowingness,
spellbound by Maayaa’s worldly dance.
Giver of the upwelling light
of your own Self is called Guru.

As teacher, the Guru instructs you in the practices that open you inward to your own Divine Radiance. As conduit of Grace, the Guru transmits the powerful initiation of Shaktipat Diksha.  She also teaches how you cooperate with the inner force that is burning within you, in-light-ening you day by day.

IMG_20160209_092614The ancients celebrated the bountiful blessing of Guru’s light during the July full moon. As modern yogis, we do the same. During this biggest full moon of the year, Swamiji is offering a free satsang on July 19th at 7:30 pm, with a discourse, chant and sweet meditation. If you are not in the Downingtown area, plan your own celebration with Svaroopa® practices. On the East Coast, the moment the July moon becomes full is 6:59 pm, not yet dark! But you can plan to celebrate later, when night finally arrives, and even within the next day and a half while the moon remains full. During this time of the brightest light in the darkness, the Guru’s Grace flows most fully.