Monthly Archives: November 2016

She Came Back!

vibhuti-2By Vibhuti King

Swamiji was at the culmination of a lifelong pilgrimage. In February 2009, at the end of the overnight sannyas ceremony, she was to become a swami. She and other “swamis-to-be” dunked in the sacred waters of the Tansa River of Ganeshpuri. Then they headed north, toward the Himalayas. They were free! They could travel the world completely unencumbered, never to return, if they wished.

rama_swami_ceremony_68-xl-copyAs they turned to walk away, the head swami called out loudly: “SWAMIS COME BACK, COME BACK, SWAMIS!  THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!”

Swami Nirmalananda came back! She came back for you. She came back for me. She came back to serve us. She came back to show those who want to be shown the way. She provided us with an Ashram and a retreat center, Lokananda. These places give us a tangible spiritual base. Because of her, we have a destination for our individual pilgrimages, places of sanctuary in which to find our own inner Self.

In Sanskrit, “shrama” means worldly exhaustion; an “a” as a prefix means without. So “ashram” means “freedom from the exhaustion caused by worldly-mindedness.” We wash up on the shore of the ashram, leave our worldly exhaustion behind and are restored to our own Self. How blessed are we?

While Swamiji remains personally unencumbered, she has taken on the work of giving us our Self.  This is why she has created the Ashram. She can give us the Self because she IS the Self. She is not merely free, she is freedom itself.

_mg_4475-copyShe did not have to come back. But she did, and we are privileged to be a part of supporting our kula, our yoga family. We are privileged to support all that she has provided and will continue to provide.  Let’s give so that others can receive as well.

Yoga changes the world one heart at a time. How exciting! Please join me in increasing your monthly donation. If you have not yet arranged to give monthly, please do so now. Or give a one-time donation in any amount that fits your current budget. To engage in dakshina (yoga’s practice of giving back), click here now.

The Bliss is in the Journey


By Saguna Goss, SVA Board Member

I am on a pilgrimage. I have always been on one. Until I found Svaroopa® yoga, I didn’t realize I had been on a sacred journey and searching for something my whole life.

I used to think of a pilgrimage as a long path through difficult terrain with an oasis at the end. I thought the path had to be challenging and unpleasant. I thought you had to suffer, so you could earn the oasis at the end. I thought there had to be sweat and tears before you got to the spa.

My perspective on pilgrimages has changed. Yes, there has been some sweat and tears on my yoga path, but it has also included the end of lower back pain, a calmer mind, saguna-swamicontentment and the blissful experience of my own Self. You know from your own Svaroopa® yoga practices that, along the way, even when your path is challenging, you reap deep benefits. Regardless of what you hope to get from your yoga, you are always getting so much more than you could ever imagine.

It is not only about the destination. It’s also about the journey. When I was travelling in Thailand, I visited a temple at the top of a mountain. The only way to get to the temple was to climb up 1,237 steps. Reflecting on that memory, I see that the climb itself had the biggest impact on me. If I had been dropped off by a helicopter, I wouldn’t have been ready to absorb the experience of the temple. The 1,237 steps transformed me. When I reached the mountain top, I had changed. A pilgrimage is about the journey.

lokananda front - Copy - CopyNow I am in the midst of another pilgrimage. I am relocating from my home in Canada to Downingtown PA to take on the role of SVA Business Manager. Even though there are plenty of physical hurdles to traverse, I understand more than ever that significant, sacred journeys really are internal. Ultimately, the Svaroopa® path is about taking the sacred journey within to realize who we really are — the Self, Consciousness-Itself.

Fortunately, Swami Nirmalananda and the Ashram are here to support us all in our inner journeys. I invite you to join me in the practice of dakshina to express gratitude for the support Swami Nirmalananda and the Ashram provide. We welcome one-time donations, in any amount. And we are grateful for the sustaining support of monthly donations, in any amount. If you are already a monthly donor, please consider an increase in an amount that fits your current budget. To practice dakshina, click here to donate.

Mystical Physics in Action

karunaBy Karuna Beaver

In the 70’s, a Hollywood film crew came to my college campus to shoot Animal House. In this classic time capsule movie of 1960’s frat boy fun and mischief, one scene features a group of students visiting a professor at his home. After smoking pot, a naïve freshman asks, “So, our whole solar system could be, like, one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant? And that means that one tiny atom in my fingernail could be one tiny universe?” His professor nods wisely. Mystical physics in action.

Fast forward 35 years, and I’m having that experience (minus the herbal influence) in Embodyment® training. I’d never been so profoundly peaceful and yet scintillatingly alive in my whole life. I was blown away by the experience of being, as Swami wrote last month, grounded and uplifted at the same time. And I was awed by the yogic philosophy of the Pratyabhij~nah.rdayam, the ancient Kashmiri Shavism text that helps explain the experience. Mystical physics in action.

Swami Nirmalananda and Vidyadevi, in this month’s contemplation article, “Being Here Now,” quote the fourth sutra in the Pratyabhij~nah.rdayam (Swami’s rendering):

Consciousness-Itself assumes contraction to become both the universe and the individuals, who have the universe as their bodies in a contracted form.

swami-handsThe energy contracting to become you is alive, and it is conscious. That one tiny atom in your fingernail could be one tiny universe! Swami and Vidyadevi say that your body is truly mystical. Is this how you think of your body? Perhaps you’re more likely to identify with your body’s problems than to be grateful having a body. It is a gift that allows you to experience what you are made of — Consciousness-Itself.

To discover the mystery of who you really are, you must be present in your body, and not trapped in your mind, or as Swami says, “Here, now, be.” For when you are right here, right now, being in your body and experiencing the experience, whatever it might be, the whole universe opens up for you.

Yoga gives you so many ways to “here, now, be:” asana, meditation, chanting, japa, seva, studying the ancient texts. Go ahead — dive in deep every chance you get. Let each experience tempt you to do more and show you the More that you are. Mystical physics in action!

Birthday Bliss Everywhere


8-copySwamiji is appreciated every day by Svaroopis, but yesterday we raised a carrot cake-filled fork in her name and wished her a very Happy 70th Birthday. It was a blissful and sweet day.

Swami and local yogis celebrated at Lokananda in Downingtown with dinner and homemade carrot cake. Annapurna, the dining hall, was decked with bursts of orange from the decorations to the plates and orange bouquets adorned Kailasa, the meditation hall, where an evening Satsang was held.

Rama (Ruth) Brooke and fellow Svaroopis at her studio celebrated with birthday tea and a special carrot cupcake puja after their morning yoga class. They toasted Swami with “Om svaroopa svasvabhava and words of gratitude about how Swami has downloaded this maha yoga, and all its practices so beautifully and for us to enjoy as modern day Westerners.”

Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills shared, “To celebrate I did Arati, chanted with Baba, Meditated and lit some candles on cake. What a blessing that Swamiji was born to be a Guru in my lifetime.”

Carole Balcombe and Jean Glover share “Happy Birthday Swamiji.  Thank you for the Svaroopa Sciences.”

Swami’s Birthday celebration continues!  She’s leading a satsang in the Boston area on Friday night, with cake being planned.  And this Sunday November 20th at the Calgary GeoCenter where they will share tea and cake as well as collecting a financial donation for the Ashram. Laksha (Elaine) Nesta is “so fortunate that Swami Nirmalananda has made this path accessible to us and continues to guide the community of Svaroopis.”

Namaste, Swamji. You are honored far and wide, inside and outside. Every day.

Time is a Funny Thing

By Swami Nirmalananda

Time just keeps ticking along, even though what’s inside is eternal.  I don’t feel any older today than yesterday, but the clock and calendar say I am.  So are you.   It’s a little like taking the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building:  you walk in, the doors close, nothing much happens, but when they open again, you’re in a different world.   You shiva2haven’t changed, but the world keeps moving around you.  Whether it’s changes in your family, your work or a change in the political structure – you are still who you have always been.  Consciousness-Itself.  You are Shiva.  So am I.

The sages tell us that we experience this contrast every night.  Deep sleep gifts you with brief interludes of immersion into consciousness.  You’re re-enlivened by your unconscious dip into Consciousness-Itself.  This is what makes you wake up refreshed, like a whole new person ready for a whole new day.  Life keeps moving along, but your core essence is the Unchanging Reality from which it all emanates.  Meditation is more important than sleep because it gives you that dip into consciousness, but consciously.

Today is my birthday.  Turning 70 means I have actually already completed 7 decades.  Today is day one of my 80th decade.  I’m excited!  I’m really looking forward to it!  Yoga’s promise is that it just keeps getting better and, after 50+ years of yoga, I know this to be true.  Even before dedicating myself to yoga, I figured out that each new decade was like getting a job promotion.  More responsibility, more autonomy, more freedom, more impact, more expertise to draw on, more appreciation for the others in my life, more, ramamore, more…

As an American baby boomer, I grew up with, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”  But by the time I was 25, I could see that friends, already over 30, were so much happier than I was.  They had it much more together than I did.  I began to look forward to turning 30.  And everything did get easier.  Then 40, then 50 – I really have found each decade to be better.

Of course, I benefit from many decades of yoga practice, supporting my body in its life process.  Not to mention how yoga has freed me from the mental-and-emotional baggage I’d been bound by over many lifetimes.  Most importantly, there’s Baba!  His presence in my life gave me what I’d been looking for, fulfilled my purpose for taking birth.  Now I have the privilege of serving you in the same way.

In the intro mantras I sing before teaching, one line stands out today, describing Muktananda, who I am honoring in the chant:

bhakta karyaika dehaya…

(I bow to the Guru) who remains in a body in order

to serve the needs of his devotees…

_mg_4685Once you have mastered consciousness, you can do or not do.  You can be active or still.  You can stay or go.  There is no thing you seek to accomplish, no thing you seek to own, no thing that you want to become, no place to go or to run away from.  What remains?  Why hang around?

Only to serve.

So today, on this anniversary of my birth, I thank you for giving me the chance to serve you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Pilgrimage without Travel

David King - Copy.jpgBy Dhananjaya King

On the Svaroopa® path, every day is like a pilgrimage without travel. Most people can rarely journey to a holy site. Most days they go places they have always gone. However, we Svaroopis are dedicated pilgrims on a sacred journey inward. Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings guide us in being “grounded and uplifted.” She is always just a thought or mouse-click away, serving as our compass and our map. Through her, our destination is known. This sacred journey, although not always free of troubles, is guaranteed to be one worth traveling.

a-sublime-path-1We are all together on this pilgrimage. Given the richness of the Svaroopa® Sciences, individual Svaroopis may have different paths, but our destination is the same. We are all headed to the knowing of Self. You need only change your perspective a fraction in order to recognize that everyone and everything shines with Divine Light. Swamiji’s teachings, founded in the ancient yogic texts, promise that fabulous gift.

The power of this pilgrimage etches our minds with Consciousness.  Swamiji has made it her life’s work to equip us with tools for the road. She has given us all that is necessary to live in the flow of Grace. It is our choice to accept the gift that allows the sacred to permeate our lives.

And it is this time of year when we give thanks for such great blessings. Let us give thanks for our Guru who points us toward the Light — our own inner Light and that Light in each and every other being. The practice of dakshina, financial support, is one of the tangible ways we can give back. Our donations, in whatever amount, provide what it takes to support Swamiji and the Ashram. We are supporting the source from which flows all that empowers our individual pilgrimages to the One.

You could argue that, whether you donate or not, Swamiji will do whatever it takes to show you your Self. That, in fact, is true. She has always given to us unstintingly. Yet wouldn’t it be nice for her to be able to do everything she would like, with the resources that we can provide for her to use?

If you contribute already, please considering increasing your contribution. If you don’t contribute now, please consider a donation. I guarantee it’s the best dollar you’ll ever spend.

shoesFor me it is about following my Guru’s example. The fraction I give back with a simple monthly donation gives me a sense of walking in her shoes, giving so others can benefit. It makes an immeasurable difference in my sacred journey.

Click here to arrange your donation online, or phone us at 610.644.7555.

Election & Reality

By Swami Nirmalananda

Most of the yoga world in America voted for Hillary.  Not everyone, of course!  But those who voted for Hillary are accepting of others, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation… and politics.  So they are able to accept the yogis who voted for Donald.  Still, many yogis are having difficulty accepting the election results.  More than half of our voters in this election are on the losing side, with the electoral vote trumping the popular vote once again.  How does a yogi face reality?

The reality is that we don’t know what’s going to happen.  Donald’s supporters voted for him because he’s promised to change things, but he hasn’t revealed how.  Not only those who voted against him, but his own voters are thrust into uncertainty as well.   But uncertainty is part of life, even a predominant theme.  Even when things seem predictable or reliable, they don’t always pan you.   This is something you’ve faced before.

I’m amused by how subdued the media is.  Clearly they are shell-shocked, even mourning for the way they thought it was.  However, that’s not the way it really was.  Or is.  It’s time to use your yoga eyes.  See it for what it is.  Accept that it exists as it does.  Step into an intelligent assessment of what’s going on and make your decisions based on what will be effective compared to what’s not effective.

Today’s reality may not correspond to the expectations you had, or even your hopes.  This is not the first time in your life you’ve faced this.  You may be let down, angry, disappointed or anxious, especially if you voted for Clinton.  Yet Trump’s supporters are similarly anxious, for they don’t know what he will do, and they’ve been through all the other feelings along the way.  How does a yogi deal with such feelings?

Do more yoga.  You’re bigger than any election.  You’re bigger than your fears.  You’re bigger than your past and you’re bigger than what you imagine your future to be.  You’re here, right now.  Be.

The Pilgrimage to Self

amala-photoBy Amala Cattafi, SVA Board President

I did not seek out the sacred practice of pilgrimage. It snuck up on me. In 2001, I took my first Svaroopa® yoga class, at the suggestion of a friend who found it helpful for back pain. I never imagined that would be my first step on a sacred pilgrimage to discover my Self.

You may have had a similar experience. You simply took a Svaroopa® asana class, you attended a satsang, you received an Embodyment® session. Perhaps you simply met Swamiji for the first time, and something stirred. Then you were never the same! And so your powerful personal pilgrimage to your Self began.

cimg1797I have been blessed to experience pilgrimage with so many of you on a very large as well as a very small scale. I have travelled to the home of our lineage in Ganeshpuri India, bathed my head with the sacred water of the Ganga during the Kumbha Mela, have been moved to tears by the evening arati ceremony in Varanasi, melted into the sacred mountains at Macchu Pichu, and have met and been blessed by many beings in all these great places.

And yet, I get the same experience every time I drive to Lokananda to be in Swamiji’s presence, to listen to one of her recorded satsangs, to do seva (even from home), and to give financial support to the Ashram. What a blessing it is that we can make sacred pilgrimage so easily!

As our American Thanksgiving approaches, I reflect on the pilgrims who traveled to a “new world” in search of religious freedom. They made the brave and difficult decision to leave their homes and search for a new way of life. You, too, are a pilgrim on a journey, but how beautiful that you can do so without leaving home.

x_0542.jpgThroughout time, yogis have made the brave and difficult decision to search for a new way of living in pursuit of moksha — liberation, spiritual freedom. This is what yoga promises, and provides. You know this because you feel it stirring every time you attend a Svaroopa® asana class or satsang. You even feel it after talking about your yoga experiences with someone else in our Svaroopa® community.

You, along with me and other Svaroopis, are on a pilgrimage to your Self. Through your Svaroopa® Sciences practices, you are the sacred ground in which you find your Divine Self. May this pilgrimage open you to the practice of dakshina, financial support of the source of the teachings that guide you on your own sacred journey.

Our Capital Campaign has been successfully concluded, supporting our physical home, Lokananda.  Now we turn to our Fall Fundraiser, coinciding with Thanksgiving. It gives you an opportunity to take your yoga practice off your snuggly blankets and actively into the world.

I invite you to take a look at your current monthly contribution…perhaps it is time to increase it a bit? Or, if giving monthly is not something that you already do, please consider supporting your yoga and your Swami in this way.

_mg_4685Dedicated monthly giving benefits your Ashram greatly. Your Ashram has the comfort of relying on these monthly donations to meet the monthly costs of providing the services that support you on your pilgrimage. No matter the amount on your monthly donation, you make a sacred monthly pilgrimage into your own heart. As Baba Nityananda said, “The heart is the hub of all sacred places…go there and roam.”

Thank you for increasing or making a monthly gift.  If a single donation works better for you, we deeply appreciate your generosity in any amount.  Click here to arrange your donation online, or phone us at 610.644.7555.

Om Svaroopa Svasvabhava Namo Namah

in loving service,
Amala Cattafi

It’s a Girl!

By Vibhuti King

vibhuti-2Seventy years ago on the auspicious day of 15 November, a great being was being born. Who knew then that she would follow her great love of God and find her Guru, Baba Muktananda? Yet she did, and under his love and guidance she became Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati, the great being she is today.

On her birthday, 15 November, we celebrate our relationship with our beloved Guruji. She is the Light that has lit our own inner Light. She is the Light that shows us the way. How blessed are we to know such a great being and revel in the day of her birth!  And what a celebration it is on the inside with the fruits so visible on the outside!

_mg_4438How does one celebrate such a day? Well, my idea is that baking our Guru’s favorite cake, carrot cake, is in order. Tirtha Richards will be making the cake, consciously, while repeating mantra. I am inviting yoga buddies, and we will all begin the celebration by chanting Swami Nirmalananda’s song, Sri Guru Gita. We will meditate. We will listen to one of her discourses on the Truth and take turns sharing what stands out for us in that talk.

To enhance our gathering, we will share stories of how we met Guruji. It is always so much fun to hear these stories! Then drinking chai and eating carrot cake— what delight! But before we dive in, we’ll pause just before taking that first sip and first bite, take a breath and breathe OM Namah Shivaaya into that sip or bite that has become ambrosia, the food of the Gods!

Already we are wishing, “Happiest of Birth Days to you, my beloved Guru. I am so blessed that you took birth this one last time.”

candlesWhat are YOUR plans for this highly auspicious celebration? Please plan to share it with photos on our Ashram Facebook page. Send them together with the description of your celebration to

How Japa Changed My Life!

lajjaBy Lajja (Ellen) Mitchell

Strike that title! Instead, make it, “How Japa Continues to Change My Life!”

I am not sure when I started repeating mantra regularly. It might have been after my first meditation course in 2012.  I certainly focused more on it in during my trip to India in 2013.  My first Seva after returning was to be on a team for our community-wide Japathon, a phone event where we all repeated mantra aloud together.  In a multitude of ways, 2013 was the year of japa for Svaroopa® yoga and for me. I read all the contemplation articles. Frequenting our website, I listened to Freebie audio recordings on anything japa.  I bought my first mala. And every time I saw Swami that year, I heard her said, “Do more japa!”

rudrakshaI know from experience that japa helps to quiet my mind.  In addition, japa is the vehicle to help bring me into meditation; japa is portable and I can do it anywhere. I say japa when I am happy or sad, when I am in a state of fear or love, whether my life is up or down. Japa can level-set me and take me back to a more centered space. I also say japa right before bed. What better way to quiet the mind at the end of the day? Many times, I dedicate this practice to someone else that I know may need some prayers.

Recently, while waiting for a meeting to start, I started saying japa to fill the time. Japa took me to a deep, calming place. My mind was quiet. It was meditative. I almost forgot there was a meeting to be held.

I now think that I live more in the pause and less in the reaction. I firmly believe that, as one of my yoga practices, japa has helped me to get to this place within. So that is why I say, “My japa practice continues to change my life!”