Monthly Archives: September 2020

Tangible Transformation

Lynn (Gurupremananda) Cattafi, SVA Board President

Look around you. Everything is in a state of transformation.  While others see chaos and uncertainty, as a yogi, you can see the Divine in all of it.

Look inside.  You are also in a state of transformation.  You are growing and changing in ways that you would never have expected.  Your inner state is deepening so beautifully.  You are handling changes and challenges with more and more ease.  Your Svaroopa® yoga practices produce this result because of the Grace that flows through them.  Yoga gives you the tools to recognize the depths of who you really are. You are Consciousness-Itself.

Describing transformation, Gurudevi Nirmalananda says, “You take on a new form.  You have a new sense of self, more true to your own capital-S Self.”  She continues, “Your ability to manage your own spiritual blossoming comes from the cosmic intelligence arising from its inner source. Your ability to go with the flow in your life, as well as with the changes in your Ashram, comes from the ever-expanding depths of your own being.” 

In response to the pandemic, your Ashram has transformed the “Grace Delivery System”.  Gurudevi and the other swamis have worked tirelessly to bring Ashram programs to all who must “stay at home.”  They bring power and depth to every interaction with you.  Whether online or onsite, what they deliver fuels your own transformation directly.

I’ve availed myself of these many Ashram offerings.  Joining the Meditation Club gave me consistent daily practice.  The Vichara Club has powered me through mental and emotional sludge.  I zoom in for the free Japa Club “online meetings.”  Twice daily, they reset my state.  I have taken several weekend retreats online.  These deep encounters with Divine teachings restored me and sanctified my home.  And I conclude each week with our online Swami Sunday, basking in Gurudevi’s teachings and darshan.  I am so grateful for these offerings.  Quite literally, they reach me wherever I am, both on the inside and outside.  I am grateful for my own tangible transformation.

As the Ashram Board President, I know the costs associated with providing the vast array of Svaroopa® Sciences services, onsite again as well as online.  As I am transformed by them, I experience an inner upwelling of gratitude.  It compels me to give back with financial support. September 2020 marks the 11th birthday of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram.  So I’m celebrating this milestone birthday as well as expressing great gratitude!  I hope you will join me in honoring the source of your transformation and give as generously as you are able.

Another Trip Around the Sun

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Today is the last day of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s eleventh year.  Tomorrow we begin year twelve, an auspicious time according to yoga and its sister science of jyotish (Vedic astrology).  Both are sciences that help you understand yourself as well as maximize what you do with what you’ve got.

As an Ashram, our work is totally dedicated to Grace, the revelatory power of God.  Revealing the Divine within you is yoga’s specialty, made even more tangible in a Shaktipat tradition.  Once you’ve received this inner awakening, your own Divinity shines brighter and brighter.  It’s an organic process, similar to how seeds sprout from the earth and grow toward the sky.  Your initiation planted the seed of your own enlightenment; that inner power is uplifting you every day.

When you cooperate with this mystical process, it’s easier and goes faster.  That’s why your Ashram offers continued studies, supporting your spiritual growth.  Technically, that growth is assured once you receive Shaktipat, but your understanding of it develops over time.  It can be hard enough to understand life, much less to understand your own cosmic and mystical nature.  Learning more about the tradition and its texts is so valuable.

The twelve-year cycle is based on the astronomical position of the planet Jupiter, named “Guru” in Sanskrit.  Returning to its home base magnifies the blessings a Guru provides:  spiritual development, growth in knowledge and insight, success in relationships and worldly activities, the spirit of generosity and service.  Jupiter also gives you the desire for liberation and the longing to know God. 

Your own birthday means you’ve made a one-year trip around the sun, riding on planet Earth.  Jupiter takes twelve years for the trip.  When it returns to its starting point, its Grace-giving power is increased.  We will all benefit from this for the whole next year, including the Ashram, everyone who participates in its activities and all who contribute to its work in the world. 

When I founded the Ashram, I was bringing twenty years of teaching experience into a new “incarnation.”  Having founded and led Master Yoga Foundation, also a not-for-profit organization, I brought a well-developed curriculum in yoga poses and Teacher Training.  But an Ashram is focused on your enlightenment, not just your health and happiness.  That new focus brought a new curriculum, welcomed with great relief by many Svaroopis though a bit challenging for others.  I was always careful to pace the changes carefully, out of love and respect for the yogis still in transition.

And then we were graced with five new swamis!  Clearly our spiritual focus was enhanced by their deep transformation as well as their dedication to work on your behalf.  The pandemic brought another surprise, not only difficulties but also many opportunities.  Making so many programs available on Zoom has been a great boon, a way to reach and serve you more frequently, more affordably and more efficiently.

I continue to be delighted to serve you in so many beautiful and powerful ways.  And I know it is made possible by our faculty, our sevites and staff, our Board of Directors and our many donors.  Thank you for making this work work!

How Long Will This Go On?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

While you’ve gotten used to the pandemic lifestyle, your mind still asks about the future. You can look at the latest statistics, find out about the vaccines being tested and learn about different types of masks.  But there’s still no way to know how long this will go on.  For now, you’re stuck.  Some say we could have a vaccine in a few months.  Others say we’re in this for two years or more.   How do you handle yourself in an unpredictable world?

Living in the future clearly doesn’t work well.  It never did.  I like to think of the pandemic as a wonderfully orchestrated lesson on how to live in the here and now.  Simplifying your life is easy when you cannot go anywhere and have to cook more.  So many yogic principles are now proving their value, not only to you but to everyone.

This feels to me like an unprecedented sacred space.  Each of us is living in our own sweet sanctuary, poking our heads out a little, crawling back in for days on end.  I feel an eerie and delicious resonance with fuzzy almost-memories of lifetimes past, being a yogi in a cave or a nun in a cell.  Time stretches into timelessness, making it hard to track the days, weeks and months.  It’s even hard to remember what “normal” was like.  Wasn’t it a bit speedy, even crazy?

I’m loving modern technology while I live in this time warp.  From the blender that makes smoothies to the internet that keeps me connected, I relax into this amazing yet ephemeral support.  Then I watch it disappear when the power goes out.  What now?  All that’s left is to delight in being cut off, settling into the stillness, even sweating through the humid night.  Yes, it reminds me of my childhood and of India, both at the same time.

What a precious time this is.  With the many challenges it brings, it’s still something to be treasured.  One day you’ll say, “I remember the pandemic…”  What stories will you tell?  Maybe you’ll talk about having done more yoga than ever before.  Maybe you’ll describe how your meditations deepened, simply because you had fewer distractions and more time.  Maybe you’ll describe the inner strength and deeper sense of purpose that blossomed forth.  Or maybe you’ll name the movies that you watched multiple times. Life is what you make of it.  You get to choose what you will focus on, what you will accomplish — or not.  It’s called free will, a Divine quality that is part of your human toolkit.  Instead of wondering when you can go back to what you used to do, you could invest yourself in what you’re doing now.  Or you could change it to something that would be more meaningful or fulfilling for you.  For myself, I always say, “Do more yoga.”

Bliss is Your Birthright!

By Ruth (Rama) Brooke

I couldn’t conceive of it when I first heard Gurudevi Nirmalananda say, “Bliss is your birthright!”  I knew the kind of joy and happiness that comes and goes.  But what was the bliss she referred to?

In a beautiful poem, the 8th century yogic sage Shankaracharya wrote, “chidananda rupah,” my nature is the bliss of Pure Consciousness.  In saying “My nature is bliss,” Shankaracharya affirms that bliss is a natural state, a birthright.  We think we need to hunt for it.  We search for it in everything and everywhere we go.  Yet it’s inherent to the human being.  Each of us has the blissful capacity of awareness and knowingness.

This bliss of Pure Consciousness is found on the inside.  You turn inward to find what yoga calls the capital-S Self.  It is so close, a breath away, just behind the mind’s thoughts and activities.  Your own Self is the Self that you were when you were a child.  You are that same Self now.  Through meditation you can experience this again and again.  Meditation quiets your mind, so you experience your own Self and its qualities of bliss, awareness and knowingness.  Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one else to be.  This is your natural state of being.  It is truly bliss-full. 

Through meditation, I now know the bliss that arises from within.  I access it daily; it’s no longer blocked from my view.  Bliss is eternal.  It need not fluctuate with the external circumstances of life’s inevitable ups and downs.  Bliss is always there, in you too.  You can reliably open into it.  This is the promise of Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, taught by Gurudevi Nirmalananda, my Guru.  Through this practice, you experience your own Self and its ever-arising qualities of bliss, peace, quietude, compassion, love and more.  Meditation transforms your mind so that you can experience your Self while still engaging in the world.  You learn to bring your bliss with you into your life.  While in this state, you remain centered.  You are the calm eye of the storm even while turbulent times swirl around you.  You are joyful, even experiencing bliss through bittersweet events.  The light of the Self shines through you in all that you do, and into your relationships.

Yummy Tofu Breakfast

By Swami Sahajananda Saraswati

When I prepared Noochy Baked Tofu for breakfast along with Couscous and Pineapple Chutney, I was surprised at the ease and delicious tastes.  The highlight was the Noochy Tofu, but the Pineapple Chutney was not far behind.  Savory and salty, the tofu benefits from nutritional yeast (a special ingredient from my old hippie days).  The chutney is sour, sweet, hot and pungent with walnuts added right before serving for the bitter taste and crunch.  The couscous cooked with some ghee gave a balance to the distinct flavors of both other dishes.

I like that this tofu recipe gives me such a simple and flavorful way to make tofu.  For years, I have worked with tofu a lot, trying to make it pleasing to those who experience it as bland and boring.  I have tried pressing the water from the tofu overnight so itcan absorb more flavor from whatever I cook it in.  I have fried, sautéed and baked it in many different marinades.  Yet this simple recipe with four ingredients does it all.  It also eliminates the work of dealing with messy marinades and standing at the stove watching that the tofu doesn’t stick to the pan.  You just pop it in the oven and bake it.

The tofu recipe’s author, Isa Chandra Moskowitz ( has written many vegan cookbooks.  She and says she ate this tofu through high school because it was so easy.  I followed her recipe as it was written, which is not usually how I cook.  But this one works, so I have no secret tips.  Enjoy!

Noochy Baked Tofu with Couscous and Pineapple Chutney

Serves: 2-4 people

Protein: 21 grams (entrée + sides)

Six Tastes:

Sweet = tofu, couscous, pineapple

Salty = tamari/soy sauce

Sour = pineapple, vinegar

Astringent = tofu, vinegar

Bitter = walnuts

Pungent = onion, ginger

Ingredients & Instructions


  • 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained and chopped into medium chunks
  • 1 tablespoon oilive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes


  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups pineapple (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

FOR THE TOFU: Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the tofu on the baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and tamari. Sprinkle with the salt and several dashes of black pepper. Use your hands to flip and coat. Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and flip again to coat.

Assemble tofu in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, until crisp and lightly browned. Use a spatula to flip and bake for 10 more minutes.

While hot, serve on a bed of cooked couscous.  Tofu may be served cold and refrigerated up to 3 days.


In a heavy saucepan, combine the onion, honey, vinegar, pineapple, curry powder, ginger, salt and red pepper flakes and mix well.

Put the pan on the stovetop and cook over high heat until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently.

Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally so the food doesn’t burn, until the pineapple is tender and mixture is thickened, about 20-30 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and allow the chutney to cool slightly. While still warm, add the walnuts, stir well and serve immediately, as a side dish with the meal.  Chutney may be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

[1] Chutney recipe inspired by