Author Archives: Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram

Gurudevi Is Teaching at SYTAR

On Saturday, June 15, Gurudevi is teaching a workshop Entitled “Ending Back Pain,”at the conference of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). This is their annual event titled SYTAR — Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research. 

Gurudevi’s experiential workshop demonstrates how Svaroopa® Yoga Therapy works, through spinal decompression.  She describes that she is “putting the pathway to healing in the hands of the one who needs it — the patient/client.”

Participants will experience Svaroopa® Yoga therapeutic tools for relieving back pain.  In supervised partner-pairs, they will also learn how to give a Svaroopa® Yoga therapeutic technique.  In addition, Gurudevi will addresses the multiple roots of back pain from a tantric perspective, as a model for how healing must address the person’s multiple dimensions, interweaving them into wholeness.  This is a tantric therapeutic paradigm.  The individual is restored to their essential wholeness, and empowered to navigate whatever arises in their life.

Workshop attendance is limited to 40.  Thus, Gurudevi’s workshop is not for those already trained as Svaroopa® yoga teachers.  However, attending the conference is highly recommended.  If you already teach Svaroopa® yoga and/or offer sessions, SYTAR will expand your perspective.  Through the other workshops and classes, you can explore the latest trends in yoga therapy.  Moreover, attending lets you know where you stand in the growing yoga therapist profession.  Gurudevi says, “The biggest boost is seeing how much you know.  You hear about the struggle of others figuring out how to do therapeutic yoga.”

The location is the Hyatt Reston in Virginia — convenient to Washington DC and Dulles International Airport.  Learn More.

Sukhasana: Settling into Stillness

By Melissa (Yogyananda) Fountain, Yogaratna

My favorite Svaroopa® Yoga pose is Sukhasana, the sweet and easy pose.  While sitting in this level and stable seat, I teach as well as meditate.  When I get propped just right, I experience both sublime comfort and inner stillness.  Inner stillness offers me everything I’ve ever longed for.  I become physically still, and my mind is quiet.  It’s guaranteed.  And then I experience Self: the still center of my own Beingness.

The more I practice Sukhasana, the more I learn about myself.  Its subtle refinements and power have been growing within me for 26 years.  It’s not always been easy.  In chasing down my Deceptive Flexibility, I’ve raised and lowered my blanket stack for my seat many times.  I’ve squirmed my way into what feels comfortable, finding comfort to be elusive. 

To meditate, I’ve even sometimes chosen to sit in a chair instead. But the effects are not the same.  Sukhasana grounds me inside.  I can attune myself to the inner energies that are balancing and flowing up my spine.  It’s reliable, blissful and always informative.

Sukhasana is ever new, never static.  I roll my knee blankets into just the right support my body needs, at that moment.  I alternate my front foot placement, so my muscular patterns stay more fluid.  With my knees’ condyle bones propped, I feel a direct line to my sitbones and into my tailbone.

These small adjustments bring profound results.  It’s like my brain is being rewired, my mind expanded.  The best part is, I feel supported by my spine’s verticality.  I can let go of my internal tensions.  Then like magic, my base is stable; I’m ready to settle into my own Self.  I have found my “Dream Sukhasana.”

Gurudevi’s Light 

By Soraya (Sudevi) Pereira, Yogaratna 

Every time I participate in a Shaktipat Retreat, Gurudevi transforms my unknowingness into knowingness. I experience Gurudevi’s light shining into a different blind spot concerning my experience of my own Self.  

My September 2022 Shaktipat Retreat was no different. During our first meditation, I experienced lots of Kundalini movements, some familiar and some new. My left shoulder felt tight and painful. Those Kundalini movements seemed to focus on my neck and shoulder area. So I wondered whether they were really Kundalini movements. Or were they simply my own attempts to address my shoulder pain? 

After that meditation session, Swami Prajñananda delivered a talk comparing our spiritual journey to a road trip. She mentioned the benefit of road signs along the way. She said Kundalini movements are road signs, as they show us the right direction. She also said that the road signs are NOT the destination itself. She urged us to not “hug the road sign thinking you have arrived. Keep going.” 

Great talk, I thought, but didn’t feel a personal connection to it ― yet. 

In my next meditation, I rested in a deep, delicious quiet. My shoulder discomfort remained. Kundalini started to move me exactly as before. However, within me at that moment was only the awareness of the sacredness of each movement. All movement was Hers. I no longer nitpicked or judged Kundalini’s movements. I no longer hugged the road sign. I experienced how awareness, my own true Self, validates and affirms the worth and sacredness of everything. 

This experience is still with me. It has drawn me closer to the mantra, swadhyaya (study of the sacred texts) and meditation. 

My gratitude to Gurudevi for shining her revelatory light and to Swami Prajñananda for prompting my recognition!

Two Yoga Miracles

By Katharine Raczkowski

My yoga student Kris and I are both aircraft mechanics, building planes for an aerospace company.  I am also a Svaroopa® yoga teacher.

Spring 2020, I noticed Kris wasn’t breathing.  That is, he was hunched over his workbench, and his belly didn’t move. One day, I lightheartedly asked, “Are you breathing?  Do you have room for your lungs?”  Later he responded, “You asked me if I was breathing.  So I sort of wondered about that.”

Kris had noticed that when work required standing, I stood with my feet side by side and parallel.  When he asked me generally what I did, I asked, “Can I show you something?” I taught him Slow Motion Dive and Crook’t Leg in the Chair and later showed him Tadasana.  I was amazed at how quickly Kris’s spine elongated.  Right away, he had to adjust his car seat as well as rearview and side mirrors.

In September 2020, a fall down a flight of stairs seriously injured my hips.  I had to use two hiking sticks to walk.  Fortunately, my Embodyment® therapist is close to my work.  So I could conveniently have sessions before starting the second-shift.  When I would arrive for work, Kris noticed I was no longer using the hiking sticks nor limping.  “You don’t look at all like you’ve fallen!”  This was the big kick for Kris to schedule a class at his home for himself and his wife.  Plus, since Embodyment® healed my hips, I canceled the hip surgery my doctor had recommended.

Early 2021, Kris had another class.  He learned some Foundations poses and Ujjayi Pranayama to do at home.  In October 2021, I enrolled in Foundations Review, YTT 1 and Embodyment® training.  After that Ashram immersion, I returned home in a whole different place.  Kris scheduled a private class in December.

Now he is working through YTT 1 poses in his home practice.  Before Svaroopa® yoga, Kris couldn’t raise his shoulders much and one arm only 30 degrees.  He no longer protects that arm now, and his joints move together fluidly.  Last week he asked to review Seated Side Stretch.  He explained, “I just love the movement.  It feels great.  But there are a lot of steps.”

Early on, I measured his height at 5’8”; it’s now 6’1”.  His blood pressure came down 20 points in 6 months; medication is no longer needed.  He gave up snacks and went from 220 to 175 pounds.

In a session, he released traumatic memories.  His level of worry and “spinning” has decreased, a change evident to his wife and daughter.  He used to write about his spinning.  Now he’s writing a children’s book about dragons learning how to use their fire appropriately.  He is excited about moving forward and dropping his past.

Meditate with a Master Every Sunday 

Join Gurudevi Nirmalananda for her Swami Sunday meditation program.  She supports you in the process of learning to live in the recognition of your own Divinity. With her as your teacher, the inner process is deep and easy.   

Our traditional satsang format prepares you for a deep and easy meditation. Gurudevi includes chanting, sutras and teachings from the ancient tradition as well as meditation instruction. Know your own Self better by the end of the morning. 

Attending Swami Sunday is the fast track to Self-Realization. In an hour-and-a-half, I am transmuted: every cell, realigned. — Madelyn J. 

Miraculous Shaktipat

By Robin (Nityaa) Blankenship 

Interviewed by Margie (Maitreyi) Wilsman 

In my first Shaktipat Retreat with Gurudevi in 2013, I had an intense experience.  I was changed.  The retreat made a strong sensory impression on me.  I was in a room with 40 or 50 other people.  The energy was high.  I could feel Gurudevi’s energy as she walked around from person to person.  I could sense her getting closer to me.  I had physical kriyas, body movements and different breathing patterns.  When Gurudevi waved her peacock feathers at me, I could smell the distinct scent of the special oil on them. 

There was also a physical sensation when she put her thumb on my forehead.  With her touch, I felt an energy go straight down within me.  The energy then traveled up my spine and through my arms and hands, and my fingers extended out.  It was extraordinary.  It felt like a faucet had turned on at the base of my spine.   

This experience stayed with me.  Afterwards, I remained focused in that area of my body at the base of my spine.  The opening remained as a physical space to soften into.  That physical awareness brought me inside to my Self.   

When I returned home, everything was the same except that I had changed.  The sensory experiences made it tangible to me and imprinted the experience in my mind.  Recalling those sensory impressions brings me back to the experience again and again. 

In an online Shaktipat Retreat with Gurudevi, she gave Shaktipat to the whole group of us at one time.  Preparation for the retreat included receiving instructions on how to prepare our room at home.  We online yogis also got recipe ideas for Ashram-style meals.  I cleaned my yoga room.  I set up my blankets and puja (meditation altar).  I brought in more pictures of the Gurus.  I sealed the room with incense and mantra repetition. 

I discovered that Shaktipat can be transmitted online through Zoom!  A wonderful benefit is that it brought the shakti into my home.  I could feel it build up in my yoga room and into my whole house. 

A Complete and Utter Knowing

By Joanne (Jayeshwari) Kirk 

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney  

My Shaktipat experience was beyond my mind.  What I got was a complete and utter knowing of the Self.  I don’t have any doubts anymore about the Self being there.  It’s not that I’m in the Self all the time.  But I know that the Self and the flow of Grace are always there.  

I am more grounded and clear-headed because I’m coming from Self more than I was before.  It was happening before, but I didn’t recognize it.  I didn’t see it.  Now basing myself in the Self comes easier, and I recognize it when I’m there.   

This makes me feel younger.  I can see the limitations I put on myself, but they’re not as tight.  I feel more open to changes and different ways of seeing things.  My reactions don’t seem as important as they did before, so they go away sooner.  And I’m not as hard on myself when I catch myself reacting.  I have faith that I will have less and less reactivity by being on this path. 

I made a decision before this Shaktipat retreat to stay open to whatever happened.  I see now that expecting certain results is a way of putting up fences.  It blocks the Grace.  This big part of my personality is slowly melting away.  It doesn’t have to be there anymore.  I’m not fussing as much about what’s going to happen.  I’m not living in the future as much.  I know it’s all going to work out.  

I feel so much closer to Gurudevi since Shaktipat.  I feel the river of the Guru’s Grace.  I feel part of it.  I don’t have to analyze it to know it is all That.  I feel the Guru in me.  I feel the lineage and Grace more than I did before.  It’s beyond the mind, but the feeling is there and it’s real.

Celebrating Grace & Generosity

By Ellen (Lajja) Mitchell, President

SVA Board of Directors

It is hard to believe that our fall fundraiser, themed Guru’s Grace, is coming to an end.  However, the Grace is still flowing. It continues to flow every day, everywhere and in everyone.  Grace is always there for us.

I greatly appreciate your generous support of our Ashram’s mission through donating to the River of Teaching, the River of Freebies, and/or the River of Community.  Swami Samvidaananda wrote, “It’s a tricky balance between taking care of your needs, your family’s needs, taking care of your future, and giving some away.  The good works in the world won’t happen if you don’t support them.”  (June 2015 Contemplation)

I feel such gratitude to all of you who give and support our Ashram. Donations make up a significant portion of the funds that support Gurudevi’s teachings.  They reach seekers far and wide, through programs, satsangs and free podcasts, other Freebies and more.

I hope that Board member articles over the past few weeks have helped you contemplate the Grace in your life.  Can you feel the Grace flowing?  I hope that you were able to give in gratitude for all that you have received.

Your Ashram donation, in any amount that fits your budget, is a great benefit to the world.  Even when you don’t expect a benefit for yourself, it comes to you as well.  In his great poem Mukteshwari, Swami Muktananda writes:

Give freely, as God gives.

If after giving, you forget about it,

Then that gift grows fully. (verse 145)

May your gift grow fully as you deepen into yourself.

How Deep Will You Step into the River of Grace?

By Ruth (Rama) Brooke

We are in the home stretch of our River of Grace fall fundraiser.  Stories abound on how easy it is to access Guru’s Grace.  Lately, I’ve spoken with many Svaroopis on this topic.  Whether they’ve dipped their toes, or are in up to their knees, or are fully immersed in the river of Grace, they’re in the flow!  The stories take different forms, but the effect is the same — uplifting, transformative.  Gurudevi describes:

My ability to serve you is like a tributary of a great river.  I am the riverbed.  That flow of Grace comes from my Guru, and I am a wide-open channel for that flow.  So are you.

So is our Ashram, our teachers, and our whole community.  We are all part of the network of tributaries through which the river of Grace flows.  This network needs support.  With it, we’ll continue to receive, give and keep these Grace bestowing teachings alive.  Financial support of the Ashram is crucial to our Svaroopa® community, especially in these challenging times.  Please join me in contributing to the River of Grace fundraiser.  

Guru’s Grace is so reliable.  It’s like the sun, always there, shining and providing warmth even when behind the clouds.  At times, I forget to look for Grace at work in my life.  Or I’m blocking it so I can’t see it.  Yet Guru’s Grace is always there.  It’s a matter of opening my aperture (Disciple’s Grace).  

Then I step back to receive a more expansive perspective (Guru’s Grace).  For it to manifest in my heart and life, I need only call out to the Guru to ask for Grace.  It is undeniably reliable.  It is the gift of having received Shaktipat — Guru’s Grace.  What a blessing!

I am filled with gratitude, and it motivates me to give back.  Thus, I participate in the ever-flowing exchange of Guru’s Grace and Disciple’s Grace.  In this season of giving, Disciple’s Grace takes the form of dakshina, yoga’s practice of financial giving.  

Money is energy, as Gurudevi has said, and dakshina is a divine energy exchange.  Through dakshina we shine the light of Consciousness into our finances.  And as the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, promises, in giving we shall receive.  So I contemplate, and ask you to contemplate:  How deep will you step into the flow of Grace?

Donate today 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!

It’s Never Too Late

By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver, Yogaratna 

SVA Board Member 

Along with our calendar year, our Ashram’s fall fundraiser is coming to an end.  In the words of poet Maya Angelou, as long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good!  It’s never too late to be lifted and carried by the Grace flowing through the Svaroopa® practices.  Donating to the Ashram and being carried by the river of Grace are mutually inclusive activities. 

You know how good it feels to do some good!  You know how good it feels to be the recipient of some good!  When your heart and your pocketbook open, it’s uplifting.  And when you receive, it’s uplifting.  In the moment that I donate to the Ashram’s fall and spring fundraisers something is set free within me.  When I bask in the warmth of my Guru’s Grace, something is set free within me.  What a win-win. 

It’s not about how much you give or receive.  It is the acts of giving and receiving themselves that put you in the river of Grace.  Grace flows through the Svaroopa® practices and through their creator, Gurudevi Nirmalananda.   

But Grace is even greater than the Guru.  It’s everywhere, and it finds you when you need it.  It’s Grace that has led you to the Svaroopa® practices.  The Guru’s teachings are designed just for you.  Take them to heart.  Trust that Grace is available.  Gurudevi says, “The Guru always gives the full flow of grace.  The differences come from the capacity of the receiver.”   

Guru’s Grace is like the sun. It never stops shining, even when you cannot see it. You can feel with warmth of Guru’s Grace at any time, you just have to be open to it.  Free your heart and mind to donate today to support the gift that keeps on giving to you and to so many others. 

Your financial contribution of any amount helps support the source of the teachings.  When you support yoga and meditation teacher training, you keep the river flowing.  When you support Gurudevi’s free teachings ― online and in person — you keep the river flowing.  When you support the administrative and physical structure of the Ashram, you keep the river flowing.  

As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.  Please consider a year-end donation to your Ashram. 

Donate today 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!