Monthly Archives: April 2022

What I’ve Gotten from Gurudevi

By Pat (Sumati) Morrison

Interviewed by Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast, Yogaratna

When I met Gurudevi, I was an avowed, proud agnostic.  Over the decades, I’ve often felt led by my nose, sometimes kicking and screaming!  Yet thanks to Gurudevi, I have been in the big-S Self so deeply that there wasn’t anything else.  Each experience has brought me closer to being in that state all the time.  I know the Self is here within no matter what.  It’s closer than my breath.  I am Self and Self is me as well as all.  From Gurudevi, I know that Self-Realization is possible in this lifetime.

Every program with Gurudevi has been wonderful.  Each was filled with profound, often blissful experiences, understandings, insights and expanded awareness.  Always, more unfolded as I returned home.

Once, arriving at my driveway after a retreat, I saw my house as an external thing.  It had no meaning for me.  I didn’t identify with it in any way.  Neither blissful nor ecstatic, this experience was a deep knowing, free of attributes.  I was present within my Self.  “Wow — this is big,” I thought.  As my mind kicked in, the house began to look familiar.

Given Gurudevi’s teachings, I understand my experiences.  In another program, Gurudevi asked a question of the group.  I answered, “I’m not sure this is germane to what you asked.  But years ago, during a training run for a marathon, I was stopped in my tracks by a feeling of intense love and caring for myself, within myself.  I wrapped my arms around myself and heard, ‘I love you. I have always loved you and have been waiting for you.’”  In that moment, I knew this love was all I ever needed or would need.

Gurudevi replied, “You pierced anava mala.”  I could not believe what she was saying.  But after she repeated it several times, I allowed myself to believe it.  I then felt something extraordinarily ecstatic.  

Recently, this memory opened me to a wisp of ecstasy.  It began expanding and filling me.  I somehow knew I’d have no room for judging and controlling if the ecstasy filled me completely.  I’d have no way to check for and insure that “I was doing what would get me what I wanted.” 

I knew I was both the small-s self and Self.  There was a sense of the glorious possibility of surrender even though there was also something akin to fear.  It seemed as though I was in a different space or dimension.  The description that best fits is Pure Is-ness: Self.

Swami Nirmalananda giving Shaktipat

Over the years, I have learned in Gurudevi’s Shaktipat Retreats that anava mala is the veil that keeps us from knowing the Self.  Once her gift of Shaktipat shreds this veil, we can never not-know our own Self, the One Being All.

In one Shaktipat Retreat, I felt the mantra flowing blissfully over me and through me.  I remember filling with gratitude in another, so much so I could barely contain the feelings.  Physical kriyas have included my spine extending upward higher than I would have thought possible, arching into a backbend and my body expanding.  Once, my hands extended straight out flat.  I was aware I could not hold on, could not grab for anything. 

So I continue to attend Gurudevi’s retreats and do the practices she teaches.  Control doesn’t matter.  Control is a figment, a smoke screen.  The only thing that stands between me and this state of Self Knowingness is my mind.  I know and feel it.  There really is “beyond my mind.”

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

By Carol Grigson
Interviewed by Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast, Yogaratna

During the pandemic, I took some online Svaroopa® yoga classes through Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center. But I really prefer in person classes at DYMC. I get more out of them. In person, I know my teacher can clearly see my pose angles. If realignment is needed, she will give me hands-on assistance, a pose modification or extra blankets. My DYMC teachers take care of me!

Plus, I appreciate the camaraderie that develops in an in-person yoga class. We’re all from different backgrounds and know one another only by first names. Yet a spiritual element, a bond emerges as we all release spinal tension together. Class is always a positive experience. In this day and age, that’s worth a lot. I can arrive nervous about things and leave feeling terrific — calm. And after my Monday evening class, I sleep really well.

Nothing succeeds like success. Because of the way I feel afterward, I continue with this yoga. Friends who see its effects in me are inspired to try it too. From a friend who joined me for a class recently, I heard “You’re right. I slept really well!” I had encouraged her to speak up in class if she needed any help. She did so when her hip was hurting. Our teacher provided extra propping. At the end of the class, my friend couldn’t believe how good she felt.

Four years ago, I began yoga at DYMC at age 76. My first class was in response to a postcard invitation. Addressed to my deceased husband, it was for a free class. With 20 years of caregiving completed, I was poised to start my life anew. It was time for me to explore and figure out who I am and where I’m going. The yoga has become a doorway.

A longtime dream was to climb Machu Picchu. My teacher emphasized regular Ujjayi breathing practice. She promised that consistency with it and other Svaroopa® yoga practices would be the key. Ujjayi breathing got me through a day-and-a-half flight that should have been only seven hours. I realized my dream of trekking the site of that ancient civilization at high altitude.

I now take two DYMC classes weekly and just completed 10 weeks of yoga therapy. Last year I required back surgery to address discs pressing on nerves in my spinal column. The surgery was successful, and after yoga therapy I can walk without pain. And more — I feel newly invigorated.

My daily home practice comprises 20 minutes of Ujjayi plus 20 minutes of spinal release poses. If I’ve had a stressful day, I feel that I’m starting over after this 40-minute practice. I have new energy, a clearer head and greater insight. I am so grateful to have shown up at DYMC.

Namah: Honoring My Own Self

By Barbara (Girijananda) Hess, SVA Board Member

How do you honor your own Self?  Asked this question, I had the answer at once, “I practice the vyutthana.”  This Sanskrit word names the threshold between meditative and wakeful consciousness.  Throughout each day, I practice staying in the vyutthana — being inside and seeing outside simultaneously.  It is Gurudevi Nirmalananda who teaches me how.  

The mere thought of her service to us brings my head into a bow.  My hands come together at my heart in deep reverence.  Gurudevi gives me my Self over and over and over again.  How do you thank one who has given so much?  

One way is through dakshina.  I gratefully give financial support to our Ashram.  It supports the worldwide reach of Gurudevi’s teachings.  Thus others can experience what I receive from her — the experience of my own Self.

Please join me in honoring your own Self.  Donate to our Ashram during our spring fundraiser.  You will be giving back in gratitude for what you’ve received.  Honoring Gurudevi in this way brings her teachings into your life profoundly.

I experienced Self the first time I met Gurudevi.  I did not understand it.  Nor did I know how to put words to it.  In time, I realized everything she says and does is for the purpose of our experience of Self.  By example, Gurudevi has taught me this tantric living.  I am more compassionate with myself and others.  I give myself space and time for yoga.  Instead of rushing, I luxuriate in a sense of Infinite Beingness.  Yet I still attend to my daily schedule.  Then the transformation occurs.

While Gurudevi freely serves, the Ashram and its programs cannot carry on without financial support.  Your donation supports Gurudevi’s teachings in reaching worldwide.  Your gift offers the experience of Self to all who step on this path.  You keep the flame that Gurudevi carries available for all. 

I am deeply grateful for Gurudevi’s teachings.  They open me into Self so that I can live from that Divine Essence.  So I put my gratitude into action by donating, and I invite you to join me.  Then all of us can continue to receive Gurudevi’s teachings, which she freely bestows.

Donate now on our website.  You can call us at (610) 644-7555.  Or you can send your check to Svaroopa Vidya Ashram, 116 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, PA 19335. Thank You,

On The Way to Self-Realization 

By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast, Yogaratna 

I am grateful for Gurudevi’s guidance in walking the walk each day.  I’m eager to register for the upcoming Telecourse: Enlightenment: Stages & Steps.  Gurudevi is including articles and videos in three self-paced modules. 

I took this course with her “live” in 2015.  It mapped where I was and how to move forward.  I saw that my practices had resulted in progress.  The course illuminated what lay ahead and how to effectively go the distance.   

The yearning is the first stage of the journey.  Again and again I return to this teaching at the beginning of Gurudevi’s first article: 

Whatever you get in life, you gotta want it or it’s not get-able.  Wanting it keeps you in the game.  Patanjali is telling you to put your heart in it.  It’s not just yoga for your body, or yoga for stress, or yoga for health, youth or beauty.  It’s yoga for consciousness.  This is the yoga that will give you your Self. 

My mind still doubts sometimes.  It can make me think I don’t have the right stuff for Self-Realization.  But this paragraph picks me up, carries me over that hurdle, and drops me in Self.  Being there all the time is all I want.  I open inward to the deep yearning.  I am on my way to Self-Realization, no matter what. 

I learned how to act on the yearning, which everyone feels.  Gurudevi’s teachings showed me how to effectively navigate the stages and steps.  Her recordings reassured me that I had the stuff to travel the path.  Finding I had already completed some stages and steps motivated me to keep going. 

In the past, I always downloaded and archived the articles.  Now I’m looking back over the articles.  It makes me eager to take the Telecourse, with new videos from Gurudevi.  I know it is just what I need.  In this form, the teachings will illuminate where I am on the path now.  Seeing any progress is deeply reassuring!  As the destination of Self-Realization beckons me, I’ll be supported in my next steps and stages. 

Doing More Yoga

Now you can do more yoga at Downingtown Yoga in our new Yoga Quickie classes.  Plus you have all the workshops and/or satsangs as well as weekly classes.  Gurudevi teaches us that the bliss you experience is a landmark on your yoga journey.  It signals you are getting ever closer to home —the knowing of your own Self.  A new student described her first class, taught by Swami Praj~nanada:

“Great … with much individual attention.” — Paula W.

Study with Gurudevi Nirmalananda directly in her Swami Sunday from 10‒11:30.  This is a traditional satsang, a Sanskrit word meaning “in the company of Truth.” Yogis describe the experience of being in Gurudevi’s presence:

“You are blessed to be in Gurudevi’s presence and learn so much through her discourses.” — Leanne C.

“Gurudevi’s very presence sparks the opening of the knowing of the Self.” — Maureen S.

“A gift to be in the presence of our Satguru, especially during these challenging times.”
— Kristine F.


Swami Satrupananda’s Half Day Program tops off your April yoga journey.  You’ll be amazed at what you get from these three hours of yoga poses plus an hour of chanting and meditation.  Going deeper into body, mind, heart and deeper, you open to the profound bliss of consciousness.  It’s all user-friendly, with nourishing, personal attention — guaranteed:

“I love doing yoga in preparation for meditation, and this half day program was just perfect. Swami Satrupananda is such an excellent teacher and delivered the program with grace and commitment.   The time just flew by.” — Gayle C.

Enlightenment: Stages & Steps

By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver 

What brings you to the doorstep of Self-Realization?  What is it about YOU that has you knocking on it, wanting in? 

Understand your spiritual yearning and how to develop your spirituality.  Gurudevi’s new Telecourse has three Modules, each with written lessons and new videos with Gurudevi.  Enroll in a single module or take them all, available May 19:

  1. The Power of Yearning 
  1. Finding Your Way 
  1. Experiencing Freedom 

Uncover what is hidden in your inner yearning to know.  It is your own Self calling to you.  Discover how a living master moves you on your path.. Learn how you can make a difference in your rate of progress.  Find out about the stages and steps of a deepening meditation practice.  Gurudevi details the freedom that comes from understanding who you really are and how this plays out in your life. 

This course begins May 19.  Move through the process at your own pace, whether you complete each module in a few days or a few months.  Once enrolled, you’ll have personal access to the articles and audios in the module for four months.  Dive in deep, reviewing each offering many times.  Shift your sense of who you are.  Support your life in the world from the inside-outward. 

Most Improved

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

You become eligible for the “Most Improved” award when you take Yoga Teacher Training — Level 1 (YTT1).  You get more physical changes in this program than any other.  However, it is your mental and emotional state that warrants “most improved.”  Your joy grows day by day.  The light shining through your eyes becomes brilliant and constant.

This is only one of the reasons that I love teaching teachers.  Well, I have to confess that I love teaching anyone, regardless of the level where they begin and regardless of how far they want to go.  I am always the most grateful person in the room.  I am grateful to my students for wanting these ancient tools for upliftment and to my Baba, who made me able to offer them.

During 15 years of teaching on the conference circuit, I taught many yoga classes with 100 or more students.  I could not get around to check everyone’s alignments, nor do adjustments for them.  In Svaroopa® Yoga, the alignments are of critical importance; I think of it as laser-beam yoga, with every pose targeting your spine.  Adding adjustments to the student’s experience opens up a whole new world for them, physically as well as deeper levels within.  In those large classes, I was fortunate to have team-teachers, graduates of the Teacher Training program I began in 1993.

Over 30 years ago, I dedicated myself to training teachers.  The improvements I saw people getting in my classes was unfortunately limited by how many people I could fit in the room.  I realized that I personally could only give so many sacrum presses and arm pulls.  

When I teach a teacher, that number expands exponentially.  So many people’s lives are improved!  Thus far, over 3,000 yogis have taken our Teacher Training programs, at Foundations or higher levels.

Yet it is YTT1 that makes the biggest difference.  Leapfrogging off what you got from your Foundations course, you’re ready for deeper openings.  Your physical changes open your eyes to new levels of clarity, as well as opening your inner eye to more expanded levels of mystical experience.

So today I thank the yogis who have requested we add a YTT1 in 2022.  Some recent Foundations grads asked us to schedule a training for them.  They want to teach.  And I want them to teach.  Teaching yoga is a way of changing the world, while uplifting yourself.

YTT1 begins September 12 2022

Preparing to Teach Meditation 

By Kristine (Dhairyavati) Freeman 

For me, Meditation Teacher Training (MTT) was a true intensive — meditation bootcamp.  For 12 days, we listened to Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s illumined talks on sutras from the sages’ ancient teachings.  We chanted and meditated longer and longer, building up to three hours in one day.  Each evening, our “homework” was writing a talk for our future “Learn to Meditate” classes. 

All the practices in the course carried me through.  I felt fully supported.  By writing the talks, I learned the language of Consciousness.  Although I had meditated regularly before MTT, I lacked the words and skills for teaching others.  Our nightly writing homework was quite practical and exactly what I needed.  They were especially essential since I’d already scheduled my first three-class series! 

The course was also a profound luxury.  Just being at Lokananda — Place of Bliss — was such a treat.  Uninterrupted time to focus on spiritual practice nourished me.  There were no competing priorities.  I gained even deeper access to my own Self, the One Self Being All. 

I steeped in the flow of Grace from within.  I could live from that inner dimension, so everything outside was easier.  I felt what it is to share the arising inner Light.  I understood that I have a responsibility to pay it forward. 

I returned home ready to teach.  Typically, doing anything the first time is challenging for me.  However, the minute-by-minute class format that Gurudevi gave us provided a perfectly reliable structure.  Through it all, Guru’s Grace flowed, carrying me and my students.  For the second series, I knew the logistics well.  I was even more aware of the Grace flowing, and it was a lovely experience!  I never got to teach the third series I’d planned, however, due to the pandemic shutdown. 

Clearly, people everywhere needed a way to take their nervous systems down a notch.  So I offered a free, online half-hour guided Shavasana and yogic breathing session.  On Tuesday afternoon for nearly two years, I’ve led attendees through the Shavasana Guided Awareness and Ujjayi Pranayama.  Describing the basics of the meditative process, I prepare them for relaxation and deep inner opening.  These meditative sessions met students where they were.  Now they are ready to sit up for meditation! 

I look forward to getting back to offering the Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation series in person.  From my personal experience and that of my students during 2019, I know the series prepares you for lifelong meditation.  I know the outcome is transformation and upliftment.  

Transformative Ashram Weekend

By Nancy (Pushkala) Wittenberg

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

Every time I go to the Ashram, something shifts.  Something has cracked open in me since my return from the Ashram Weekend.  It’s changing how I’m doing things for others.

The first evening, Gurudevi talked about seva.  She said that doing simple, mundane activities for someone else’s benefit and giving of yourself is Guruseva.  It benefits everyone and opens you in a way that doesn’t happen otherwise.

My seva was to wash windows at Lokananda.  Others washed murtis (sacred statues) and cooked our meals.  Sharing this seva while repeating mantra and sharing group meals with other yogis was enriching and intimate.  

I’m one of those people who tends to be in my head.  I especially wanted the weekend to open my heart.  Even at the end of the weekend, I still felt closed up, with my mind still extremely busy. 

The day after I came home, I realized something had shifted.  I took an elderly family member to an appointment. Often, I’ll do what needs to be done and move onto the next thing.  But I was in a different state.  I had intended to go home and do yoga afterwards, but I knew she would enjoy doing something together.  I suggested we stop for coffee.  She was so full of joy, just sitting there.  She said, “This coffee is so good.  This donut is so fresh.  I’m just enjoying sitting here talking with you.”  When I took her home, I could see how full she was.

I didn’t do it because I thought I should.  I was surrendering into the gift of the moment.  I did it out of love, making it a Divine offering to God and Guru.  It was so simple and sweet.  Doing things because someone wants me to or because I think I should drains me.  Instead, I was doing it from my heart, not from my head.  Doing it for God and Guru is a totally different way of being.

I shared this experience with a friend.  Just hearing about it, my friend said, “That is the highlight of my day!”  She was so joyful, from hearing about another’s joy.  

As it turns out, the weekend really was a great heart opening experience.  I’m repeating mantra more often and more easily.  A depth of awareness has opened, and the last few days have been more peaceful and quieter.

l felt the depth and power of the in-person meditations and chants.  I melted into the aliveness of Gurudevi’s words.  She is so vibrant in person.  Just seeing that love and light in Gurudevi’s eyes reminds me why being in her presence is so beneficial.

Feel Better Fast

Fit your yoga in easily with our new Yoga Quickies classes — 45 minutes, only $10 each.  Each class includes a short meditation at the end, made easy by the poses and yogic breathing preceding it. 

Arrive a few minutes early because we start right on time. Every yoga-minute contributes to your upgrade, an immediate improvement in how you feel. 

Body, mind, heart and spirit are interwoven into a deep and nourishing inner wholeness, called “svaroopa” in Sanskrit, meaning “your own Self.”

Svaroopa® yoga specializes in this inner opening.  It is profoundly healing and transformative, while it opens up the light of your own being to shine through.  How does it work?  Through the power of your spine.  Our poses target your spine to decompress your vertebrae, which also decompresses your mind and heart.  It’s win – win – win, all the way around.

Classes begin Monday April 11.  Choose your day & time or come to all of them, since they’re so easy to fit in.

  • Mondays from 10:30-11:15 am
  • Tuesdays from 5:45-6:30 pm
  • Thursdays from 10:30-11:15 am

Your first class will prove how quickly you can feel better.  And soon you’ll be doing more yoga, so you’ll feel better all the time!