Author Archives: Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram

Teaching Yoga

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

When you learn to teach others, you learn more deeply.  Why does this happen?  It’s because you care about helping other people, so you put more of yourself into your learning.  When you put more of yourself in, you get more out of what you do.  It’s true of everything in life and it works the same way in yoga.  But what you get from yoga is more of your Self.  By giving, you receive.

In Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), we make sure you know how to handle different kinds of bodies as well as different kinds of minds.  When you put your new tools to work, and you really see how yoga works, you become ever more inspired.  You truly can make a change in peoples’ lives.

I love watching new teachers transform.  After your very first training, you begin teaching right away.  Of course, when you do something a few times, you get better at it.  The real surprise comes when you realize your own students are inspiring you.  

They sleep better.  They stand taller, walk stronger and breathe more deeply.  They are less fazed by life’s surprises and more able to find answers that work.  I remember the first time a student said to me, “My back doesn’t hurt anymore.  I can pick up my grandchildren again.”  She was delighted!  So was I!

I decided to focus on teaching teachers over 30 years ago.  I could see that the world needed more of what yoga offers even back then.  It’s true now, too.  I’ve trained over 3,000 teachers, from the beginning to advanced levels.  When they share what they know, we are working together to transform and uplift the world.

Do you want to become a yoga teacher?  Now is the time…

Chant & Meditate with a Master

Meditate with Gurudevi Nirmalananda on Wednesday evenings.  She leads our evening program, which features a long chant and meditation.  Live music accompanies the chant in the traditional yoga style.  Everyone else singing along and printed words make chanting easy.   

Then Gurudevi guides the meditation, making it easy for newcomers as well as deep for everyone.  You explore the multiple dimensions of your own being. 

Attending Gurudevi’s satsang in person, I feel blanketed by profound stillness.

— Barbara B 

Join us On-Site in Downingtown for free.  Or enroll in our online Yoga Wednesday (bookends or full day); this program is included. 

Chant the Guru Gita in Your Home! 

By Amanda (Purna) Schmidt 

Bring a daily Ashram practice to your home with the Honored Guru Gita CD.  Daily chanting of this essential text steeps you in Grace.  Gurudevi’s guidance makes this practice accessible and joyful.  The melody helps you find the rhythm of your breath and the Sanskrit words. 

Free verse-by-verse pronunciation lessons are available online.  In addition, all copies of the CD ordered in July come with a BONUS.  You will receive a handout of the text, which includes Gurudevi’s English translation.  You will be chanting the entire text in no time!  Bring Honored Guru Gita into your home practice, and let Grace carry you deeper. Price: $19.95  

CD Tracks 

1. OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah 

2. Om Guru Mere Guru, Jaya Guru Om 

3. Guru Padukaa-Panchakam 

4. Shree Guru Geeta 

5. Shree Krishna Govinda 

6. Universal Prayer 

7. Jaya Jaya Aratee Nityanaanada 

Gurudevi Teaches on Sundays

Join Gurudevi Nirmalananda for her Swami Sunday meditation program.  She includes chanting, sutras and teachings from the ancient tradition as well as meditation instruction.  Each step is not only effective but also delicious.  Gurudevi’s traditional satsang format prepares you for a deep and easy meditation.  Know your own Self better by the end of the morning. 

Participating in the now familiar ritual of Swami Sunday guides my week, eases my mind, opens my heart, joins me to the community and settles me into my Self through the Grace of the Guru. — Peter G. 

No Separation

By Marie (Shubhaa) McRee

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

I am a devotee of Jesus Christ.  I hadn’t understood how a Guru fit.  When Gurudevi stood in front of me during the May Shaktipat Retreat, I knew.  Her thumb on my third eye was a vast opening to Divine communion.  There was no separation.  I was an individual, but I experienced a state beyond the individual.

Meditation has always drawn me, but it has been somewhat elusive.  During Shaktipat, I entered a deep place of meditation.  Kundalini naturally straightened my posture as Gurudevi put her hand on me.  My body was so still; I was immersed in a profound stillness.  I was aware that I was in a body, but my awareness was beyond the body.  The taste of that was absolutely incredible.

Even so, after we had received Shaktipat twice, I could feel myself contracting and fragmentation threatening.  I did not want to lose this state of Grace.  I went up to Swami Samvidaananda and asked to talk.  The expansiveness of her words allowed my mind to rest in the experience of Shaktipat.  Receiving Shaktipat synthesized Christian mysticism, yoga and all my experiences of the Divine.  It went beyond any doctrine and was the unity of all that is Divine.

This is something I’ve been seeking a very long time.  My relationship with Gurudevi goes back before 2006.  I was simultaneously being drawn to the deep nature connection movement.  In 2011, Gurudevi said I needed to make a choice.  I had to choose between deepening my studies with her and continuing my nature mentoring focus; inside or outside.

A notice about Gurudevi’s December 2021 San Diego retreat called to me.  It was partly due to some knee issues.  But there was also something incomplete in having stepped away from her.  Because of my decision to pursue nature connection in 2011, I asked Samvidaananda if it was alright to attend in La Jolla.  She said, “All are welcome.”

The first night of the December retreat, I had a realization.  My current yogic practice was not compatible with what Gurudevi was offering through Svaroopa® yoga.  During the week, I experienced a tremendous place of fearless expansion.  That retreat drew me to Shaktipat in May and brought me back into this yoga of bliss.  It also gave me big appreciation for Gurudevi’s clear and practical advice.  She guides us in flawlessly integrating yoga, family and spirituality.

After Shaktipat, I returned home to a lot of activity.  I was aware of a lightness.  It felt like I wasn’t carrying the karma I usually carry when I’m pushing my edge.  Inside I found deep wisdom and clarity, accessible as needed.  It felt like protection and guidance in every moment.  Going within, I knew what to do on the outside.  My gratitude is immense for this never-ending gift of Shaktipat.  Offered by Gurudevi through the lineage of Svaroopa® yoga, this gift gave me an experience of my own Self.

Taking MTT Shifted Me

by Chelsea (Rajni) King 

Meditation Teacher Training (MTT) was a turning point in my experience and understanding of the Svaroopa® sciences.  MTT’s length and depth settled me into a more expansive state than ever before.  I vividly remember feeling so deep and comfortable in my own Self.  It was a profound immersion in Consciousness.  

Steeping in the experience of Gurudevi’s teachings was an amazing process.  For 11 days, we marinated in the teachings and practices.  It was all easy, organic and natural.  As Gurudevi rendered the teachings and sutras of our lineage, I took notes.  Then we meditated.  With each day, I settled more and more into the state the sutras were describing.

I hadn’t thought to bring my computer to take notes and write talks.  I did everything the old fashioned, handwritten way, which helped Gurudevi’s teachings sink in.  The process of hearing the teachings and then handwriting the notes was deep and effective.  After dinner, I felt thoroughly prepared to write my talks for the next day.  They just poured out onto the paper.  

After MTT, my understanding and teaching of asana shifted and made me a better asana teacher.  As a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher, I had been teaching yoga classes for more than a decade.  The reason for the way we teach asana became absolutely clear.  The purpose of Svaroopa® yoga is to settle into Self.  

This yoga’s customized propping and precise angles in poses reliably open our spines so Kundalini can move.  I understood it in a way I hadn’t before.  I realized that it isn’t about the body, it is about the state.  Even though I had heard it over and over again, I hadn’t had the deep, tangible experience of Self that MTT gave me.  It was undeniable. 

My meditations were forever changed after MTT.  It solidified my daily practice and made it easier to sit every day.  Learning how to teach others to meditate is a great incentive to making sure that I’m doing the practices that I’m teaching.  The tangible Grace flowing through this lineage propels me on the path.  Teaching others to meditate is a gift.  I am so blessed to be a modern-day representative of this ancient tradition!

Why a Vowed Order?

I created our Vowed Order because I saw so many yogis who wanted to give more of themselves.  Why did they feel that way?  They had already figured out that when you give more of yourself, you get more of your Self.  In this way, yoga works like everything else.  When you give, you get more than if you merely try to receive.

No one has to take vows to do Svaroopa® yoga or meditation.  You can study with me for free, or you can dive into the tuition-based immersions and courses if you want more.  You can come and go as frequently or infrequently as you like.  I welcome you with all my heart whenever you give me a chance to connect with you.  I’m delighted to see you!

But those who want more need to be met where they are at.  The power of your yearning touches my heart.  I will help you fulfill it completely if you allow me to do so.  That’s what I got from my Guru.  He gave me what I wanted.  He gave me God.

Nothing else would satisfy me.  I already knew that by the time I met Baba.  I’d tried everything else and proved it didn’t work for me.  Most swamis have a checkered past, which is one reason we understand others without judgment.  I wanted God but couldn’t find him anywhere.

Baba showed me that God is everywhere!  That includes inside as well as outside.  And inside is the closest place to find God – an intimate and intensely personal experience.  That was what I wanted.  That is what I got and live in now.  

You’re not going to get there unless you apply both your head and your heart.  Vows engage both fully.  From the moment you take the vow, you are changed.  That change grows in you, blossoming like a flower, expanding you into your own inherent Divinity.

But a vow is not enough by itself.  You can make a vow, anytime and anywhere, all by yourself.  It’s powerful.  I highly recommend it!  But when you’re in a Vowed Order, you share your depth of commitment with others in the same process.  That makes it an inside-outside and an outside-inside process, which is necessary if you want to make it all the way.  Any part of yourself that you leave out of the process isn’t going to shine with light.

Being in relationship is such an important part of life.  However, if your yearning is strong, your nearest and dearest may not understand you.  The other vowed yogis do.  They meet you there.  That means sometimes you are laughing together, and sometimes crying together.  And sometimes you push each other’s buttons.  Then you turn around and help when someone needs help.  It’s real.  It’s life.  And it’s all about God.  This is what I call yoga.

More Yoga in Less Time!

In a user-friendly, deeply effective Yoga Quickies class, you discover how to make a real difference in a short time.  With a new teaching theme each week, you get variety and learn a lot of different poses.  You dissolve the deepest tensions, build strength and stamina, and enjoy a short meditation.  You float out of class with an open spine, open breath and open heart.   

I’d been taking 90-minute DYMC classes for a while and wanted to do more yoga.  But I couldn’t fit another one into my schedule.  Now I can swing into my Yoga Quickies class after work.  It’s a perfect interval before the rest of my evening.  Plus, I learn how to devise my short home practices.  — Evelyn C. 

Chant to Open Your Heart

By Amanda (Purna) Schmidt

Gurudevi’s CD Namah is the first she recorded after taking sannyas.  Its four chants echo that new promise and depth.  Introductory mantras are followed by “Om Namah Shivaya” in her own Ganeshpuri melody. 

“Nirmalam” honors Gurudevi’s own Self in the meaning of her name: without limitations.  “Om Guru Mere Guru” offers loving gratitude to the one who opens the path.  

Namah honors Guru and Self, inseparable from the mantra which carries you there.  Chant along with Gurudevi and bow, again and again, to your own Self.  Price: $19.95

Freebies: Gurudevi’s Satsang Discourses

By Agnes (Aikya) Hetherington 

I decided to immerse myself in the free library of Gurudevi’s Satsang discourses.  An important family dharma (responsibility) had pulled me away from my yoga practices for some months.  Now it was time to dive back in. 

This practice became quite challenging.  The more I listened, the more my “stuff” got churned up.  The journal became an account of the struggle between my “self” and my “Self.”  My feeling of being in the middle of a tug of war increased.  The contest seemed to be Shiva/Guru/Self versus Family/Friends/Worldly Pursuits.  Listening to Gurudevi’s discourses, I was relieved to hear descriptions of her own periods of doubt while at Baba’s Ashram.  Even better was the revelation of how simply Baba resolved those doubts, again and again (May 31, 2020: Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life). 

I began listening to Gurudevi’s discourses dating back to the beginning of pandemic lockdown.  It became natural to meditate and journal after each listening session.  Sometimes, I passed in and had to re-listen.  Other times, the message felt so personal I had to re-listen and take copious notes. 

Fortunately, as a sevite (Ashram volunteer) I am wonderfully supported by the Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram community.  Conversations with more experienced yogis brought me great comfort and insight.  I was reminded that the churning is Kundalini clearing old mind habits for me.  It’s not about leaving the world, but simply noticing who I “be” while in it.  Can I cultivate the ability to act in the world without being needy about outcomes?  The solution, of course, is to collaborate with Kundalini by “doing more yoga.”  I have doubled up on daily Ujjayi and added more online asana classes to my week. 

We are each on our individual journey towards Enlightenment.  Sometimes the road gets bumpier for a while.  At these times the Podbean platform with Gurudevi’s teachings is an invaluable source of wisdom.  The Podbean platform is a great resource for finding years’ worth of audio-recorded discourses.  They are listed by date, and have a brief written description of the subject matter.  In my journal, I noted the date of each.  Now I can re-listen to those that especially resonate with me.  Getting the Podbean app lets you follow the Podcast.  It’s great to be notified when a new discourse is posted. 

As Svaroopis we are blessed to have a living Master to follow.  She gives us the free gifts of her experience to guide the way.