Monthly Archives: March 2019

A Yoga Intervention

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Sometimes people need help but don’t know they need it.  When it’s gone to an extreme, an intervention might be called for.  Interventions are designed to help then see how bad it is as well as show them they have other options to choose from and people who will help.  It’s a gut-wrenching, heart-opening experience whether you’re intervening or being targeted with such love.  Yoga is much the same.

The ancient sage Patanjali defined yoga as an intervention for your mind.  His second sutra is a “definition sutra,” yoga is the quieting of your mind.  All of yoga’s practices are for the purpose of quieting your mind, including poses, breathing practices, chanting, study, devotions and more.  As an intervention, yoga is supremely effective.  Do a little yoga and your mind is more peaceful.  Do more yoga and your mind settles into a deeper dimension.  It’s a doorway to meditation.

Hopefully you catch yourself before you’re lost in the extremes of what your mind can do to you.  The mind’s capacity to harass you is already proven.  Taken to an extreme, a true intervention might be called for.  But yoga pulls you back from the self-created precipice, providing not only health and beauty, but a new perspective on life that gives you sanity.  The most powerful of yoga’s tools for this purpose are things you do to work with your mind directly, the meditative practices.

To understand the importance of yoga’s intervention, simply try to meditate after a busy day.  Your mind keeps going even though your body has come to a halt, seated in your meditation pose.  Buddhist meditative systems have you watch your mind or breath.  Yogic systems have you intervene with your mind and direct its attention inward. 

It’s mystical, seeing how easily this works, especially when you’re doing it with someone who has been trained and authorized to move you through the process.  I learned from a great Meditation Master from India.  He trained me how to help you get past your mind to the deeper dimension within.  He also authorized me to share this ancient system with you, so you don’t get trapped in your mind any more.

More Than One-Per-Second

By Annie (Aanandi) Ross

Being driven to my dentist, I was feeling anxious.  A filling had fallen out of a tooth.  I didn’t know whether it could be repaired or whether it would be extracted.  I had just read Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda’s March Teachings: Elevate Your State.  I needed to elevate my state, so I took her “quick fix challenge”:

Your quick fix for the month is to do two minutes of mantra repetition.  Stop whatever you are doing and apply your mind to mantra.  Watch the clock. See if you can repeat more mantras than one-per-second!

I closed my eyes and started repeating mantra out loud, very fast — very, very fast.  Well, I never thought of going so fast.  I began to feel a sensation.  My chest vibrated, both in the front and in the back.  Inside, I felt joy, bliss, delight and laughter well up.  I knew I was the one All-Beingness.  I was both the One-All, and the One being me, in my individual form, simultaneously.  It was ecstatic.

This elevated state reminded me of a similar experience the day before.  I had visited a beautiful Hindu Temple, tucked away in a small corner room of a Dartmouth College chapel.  I go there sometimes to share in their nightly evening puja.  On the evening of March 4th, I had attended their Maha Shivaratri Puja.  During it, abhishek (a holy bath) was performed for Shiva. 

For the congregation, worshiping — in ways our Sadguru teaches us — is second nature.  Their chanting was continuous.  In this sacred space, fragrances were intoxicating.  Many candles blazed.  Near the end, bells rang and rang, from the front and back of the room.  The ringing vibrated in my ears, on and on.  I felt vibration in my chest.  I felt that everything was All One, and being all, at the same time.  I felt the vibration of Beingness.

The Maha Shivaratri Puja elevated my state.  So did my two-minute, fast repetition of the mantra I have received from Sadguru Nirmalananda.  I experienced what she describes in her March Teachings:

All-Beingness becomes pure vibration, which splinters itself into many individual vibrations.  These vibrations are mantras…

To know the “more” that you already are… you need an enlivened mantra, one passed down through the generations of yoga Masters.  Such a mantra gives you your “capital-S Self,” the experiential knowing of your own Divinity. In delight, I understand experientially.  Thank you, Swamiji.

DIY Experiences

By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast

DIY usually means “Do It Yourself” but, at the Ashram, it’s about how you “Deepen It Yourself.”  Each DIY long weekend cultivates your mastery of the practices that make the biggest difference.  Students describe their experiences below, to give you a look at the many DIY benefits:

All my DIY experiences have been wonderful.  These programs are exquisitely crafted and executed, designed for maximum results.  The teachings, the asana, the home program practice, and the follow-up phone calls.  Perfect. — Connie M.

Poses are taught and taken apart so that I could understand the subtle nuances.  The pose handouts describe each pose from beginning to end. — Deena R.

The poses, gorgeous chanting, vichara (guided self-inquiry), meditations and discourses — all conspire to take you to that unshakable depth.  And the luxury of time with Swami throughout the weekend was a great, great gift. — Deborah W.

It enlivened me on many levels: body, mind and spirit.  As a result, I am now able to practice asana and meditation daily.  I experienced the “Peace that Passeth Understanding” in a profound way and got tools to continue doing so. — Barbara B.

The balance of poses, chanting, meditation and Swami’s discourses all leads you inward to Self.  Each one builds on the next, creating “aha’s” as well as “aaaaaaaa-hhhhhhhhhh’s.” —Ellan C.

This exceptional program is well created to open you up to all levels of your being: physically, emotionally and most important spiritually.  You are carefully guided into a deeper level of consciousness, your own Self. — Loretta F.

In this immersion retreat, we spend so much delicious time with Swamiji; these programs are very personal.  These retreats are gems. — Belle M.

It was so transformational.  It has deepened my practice and my life. — Marilyn A.

Grace flows through the whole program like a river.  The more I swim in this river of Grace, the more I abide in Grace. — Judith K.

Amazing integration of Svaroopa® yoga practices and lovely interactive time with Swami. Great integration for return home.  I’m so blessed to have had this time with other dedicated yogis and the depth and length of time with Swami. — Barbara H.

Ayurveda for Kapha Season

By Maureen (Bindu) Shortt

The three Ayurveda seasons roughly follow cultivation cycles.  This means the Ayurveda seasons vary among different geographies.  In the USA, we look at Kapha season running from March through June.  This is when the earth awakens from her winter slumber.  She sends out tender shoots, which the animals eat for cleansing.  Most crop planting happens during this time.  It is a season of heavy cold moistness, both in the fields and in your body.

During winter, November through February, we eat to support the warmth and immunity needed to make it through cold months.  Winter’s cold dryness can prompt your body and mind to compensate by over-producing mucus.  It can settle in your digestive tract as ama or toxicity.  In spring, your body and mind want to clear out any accumulated ama and rejuvenate through all levels of tissues.

Your digestive tract runs from your mouth through your esophagus to your stomach and small and large intestines.  The organs that support digestion also can get congested.  These include your liver, gall bladder and your sinuses.  (Yes, your sinuses!)  Digestion is meant to contribute eighty percent of your daily energy.  Your digestion can be so compromised that it depletes eighty percent of your daily energy.  Unfortunately, this is the case for most people.

Season of renewal and growth, spring is a great time to clean out and strengthen digestion.  Agni is the Ayurvedic word for the digestive element, likened to fire.  This fire transforms food into tissues and energy.  Agni is also considered the fire of intelligence.  Certainly, your digestive system has its own innate intelligence whereby the thousands of processes happen.  In this way agni is a bridge between our physical and non-physical selves.  It ultimately digests and transforms all our experiences.  Hence the importance of keeping it running strong.  This also explains why, in Ayurveda, digestion is called “the gateway to your health.”

To support your digestion, and thus your health, stoke your agni with four simple steps:

  1. Eat your meals at about the same time each day. When you do, your digestion will start to produce its enzymes about 20 to 30 minutes before your next meal.
  2. Eat only at meals. If you snack between meals or chew gum, digestion becomes strained as it tries to produce digestive juices it was not anticipating.
  3. Choose foods that support strong digestion. Cold foods and beverages, leftovers, fried foods, heavy combinations of two or more proteins, drinking a lot with meals — all inhibit the fire of digestion. Warm, cooked meals of grains, beans, fruits and veggies are all easily and completely digested.
  4. Cultivate your digestive consciousness. Don’t read or use technology while eating. Sit still and give awareness to your digestion as divine intelligence.

To help with digestive strengthening and cleansing this spring, try Turmeric Black Pepper Tea:

Bring to a boil 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of turmeric and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.

Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Then it’s your choice whether you strain the tea through cheesecloth or, like I do, just pour it in the cup.

You can add a little sweetener such as honey. This tea is also a great anti-inflammatory drink. Once you’ve made it once and tasted it you will know if you want to adjust the turmeric for more or less bitterness and the pepper for more or less pungency.

My Favorite Pose — Lunge

By TC (Tattvananda) Richards

When I first started doing Svaroopa® yoga poses, I hated Lunge.  Now it’s my cure-all for life.  I use it for every ache and ailment.  I do Lunge when I’m not feeling well and when I’m grouchy.

I actually began Svaroopa® yoga with individual Embodyment® sessions and vichara (guided self-inquiry).  Later, for a home practice, I relied on recorded guidance to do Four on the Floor.  I avoided Lunge — the third pose in the sequence — I just lay in Shavasana instead.  When I attended an asana class, naturally, I would have to do a Lunge.  It did get easier with repeated classes.  Then I took the Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga course, and everything changed.  I found a love for Lunge.

Because Foundations is a five-day introductory teacher training, you learn to teach the primary poses to others.  Thus, you stay in poses longer and learn more about alignments and propping.  That’s when Lunge became my favorite pose.  With extra support to meet my personal needs, I was able to relax into the pose.  Then I could feel its benefits profoundly.  My legs and spine expanded.  And expansion spread into my heart and mind.

While I did not take Foundations in order to teach, the program was hugely beneficial to me.  I experienced profound opening.  I learned to prop myself in my home practice more effectively.  My feelings for Lunge morphed into love. Overall, I experienced more deeply the transformative effects of releasing spinal tension.  And I learned more about the importance of precise alignment and customized propping to meet my individual tensions.  Lunge as well as other poses in my home practice are delightful now.  It’s amazing to have such reliable tools for living life to the fullest.