Category Archives: Ashram News

You Will Be Assimilated

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

Those were scary words when the Borg invaded a world in “Star Trek: Next Generation.” I wondered what made them so scary. The yogic sage Patanjali answered my question. He says that you already know what it is like to be assimilated, because your mind does this to you frequently. How frequently? Anytime you’re not in a state of enlightenment, you’re assimilated into your mind. 

v.rtti-saaruupyam-itaratra. — Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.4 

At other times, you are assimilated into your mind’s activities. 

You don’t merely have a mind with thoughts in it, your experience is “I am my mind!” If your thoughts are about happy things, you say, “I am happy.” If your thoughts are about sad things, you say, “I am sad.” You don’t say, “I’m thinking sad thoughts.” Instead, you become sadness itself. 

Fortunately this only happens when you’re not in a state of enlightenment. Unfortunately, your experiences of enlightenment are too few and far between. You have already experienced enlightenment, or at least a taste of it. Everyone has these peak experiences, first researched by the psychologist Abraham Maslow. This is all explained in the sutras preceding the one we’re focusing on. 

These great moments in your life happen when you allow everything to fall away from you and you stand in your glory, with your Inherent Divinity shining through. You might have experienced such a moment when standing on a mountain peak, or when you did something amazing and wonderful. For me, it was my wedding day. As I walked down the aisle, I was filled by God. I knew I was being filled by God. And I realized that it was the only way I wanted to live. 

Yoga says you are filled by God from the inside-out, for God is inside. When you clear your mind of the unnecessary chatter (and how much of it is necessary?), your Divine Essence shines through.  

But the rest of the time, as Patanjali says, your mind takes over. You get lost in your mind’s obsessions. It probably has many of them. But Patanjali doesn’t leave us stuck here. He continues on to explain what the mind does and how to get out of the trap it lays for you.  

The rest of his text is yogic techniques and teachings for how to transform your mind so it no longer harasses you. Yoga poses are included, but the bulk of his teachings are about managing your mind differently than you have been.  

The ultimate practice for managing your mind — better yet, for transforming your mind, is meditation. In yoga-based meditation, you don’t let your mind wander all over the cosmos. You harness the power of your mind and steer it inward so you discover your own Self, your own is-ness. Once you’ve found your way inside, you can live from that Essence and Beingness, always filled from the inside-out.

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!

Online Therapeutic Yoga

By Swami Nirmalananda 

You’ve got choices. Do you want private yoga therapy sessions online? Each one-hour session is dedicated to your needs and gives you immediate improvement in your condition.

Would a semi-private class work better for you? You join in with one or two others who are also in need of healing. You share the teacher’s attention, which means there is less focus on your needs, while you have the support of others who are in the process. Also, it is less expensive because there are more of you sharing the cost.

You may find that our regular online classes work well for you, as Svaroopa® yoga is a therapeutically oriented yoga. Everything we do is about healing and upliftment. 

How do you choose? The best approach is to talk with one of our yoga therapists. She will do an informal assessment of your needs and steer you toward your best option.

If you want to make the choice on your own, use this easy guideline:

If you have a medical diagnosis, start with a private yoga therapy session.

If you don’t have a diagnosis, try out a class.

I used to think that yoga therapy couldn’t be done online, but then doctors started using TeleHealth. It was very empowering. Now we have done hundreds of yoga therapy sessions online, throughout the pandemic and continuing onward.

Many of the therapeutic tools we use are easy to implement over Zoom. You must have your video and audio on as we need to see you in order to help you.

If you are able to come in-person, we are able to do more. Being able to physically align you in your pose, even adding customized props and adjustments makes a big difference.  In addition to our yoga studio in Downingtown PA, we have many trained therapists around the country, even multiple countries. Check out our Teacher Directory.

The only way you’ll find out if Svaroopa® yoga therapy will help you is to give it a try. 

Being a Yogi in the World 

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda  

Yogis of yore left the world, the iconic yogis living in Himalayan caves since thousands of years ago. Their approach was to get rid of all possessions, leave their relationships and cease performing actions. They sought freedom. However, they discovered they could carry all that stuff in their mind, especially reactions to what happened in the past. Thus, in their solitude, they realized they had to work on clearing their mind. 

Clearing your mind gives you a moment of peace. More than mere peace, they strove to open inner access to the deeper levels of their own being. It’s like the sage Patanjali promised: 

Tadaa dra.s.tu.h svaruupe ‘vasthaanam. — Yoga Sutras 1.3 

In the moment your mind is still, you are established in your own Divine Essence.  

The rest of his text is about how to quiet your mind, including using yoga poses, yogic breathing, lifestyle changes and meditation techniques. Yet these are not exclusive to yoga. Everyone has their own little tricks for quieting their mind. One of my early favorites was to look at the sky. Something happens when your mind takes on the shape of the sky – blue, expansive and extending into infinity. 

When I began studying sutras, I wondered: If the goal is stillness of mind, then how do you manage your life? You have to use your mind to manage relationships, to pay bills and even to drive from one location to another. Patanjali’s students didn’t have that problem… 

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. 

Why Do I Give Shaktipat?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

I give this Divine Initiation out of love, pure love.  It is love for my Guru that makes it even possible.  It is love for you that makes me reach out to you.  When I see you, I see your Divine Essence, but I also see that you don’t see it.  So I offer you a new way of seeing, a new way of being, a new way of living.  Shaktipat gives you this in an instant, yet the spiritual boost keeps growing within you. 

I remember when I lived in need and fear.  I was miserable but I tried to hide it from myself.  I kept busy.  I had my favorite escape hatches though none of them were uplifting.  Only when I started doing yoga did I find something that improved my state of mind along with my body. 

Then I received Shaktipat.  It gave me a whole new dimension of myself.  Suddenly, I was alive in a new way.  And my mind couldn’t trap me as effectively as before.  I didn’t need to escape anymore because I was present, fully present, and suddenly I had the capacity to BE. 

I offer you a chance to find yourself in this whole new way.  If you want it, then I want it for you.  But I’m not going to push you into the bliss of pure Beingness.  If you don’t want it, you can say no.  You see, God always says yes.  It’s only human beings that say no. 

I had to begin giving Shaktipat because my students were getting it spontaneously.  I couldn’t explain it because I hadn’t been authorized yet, so they were confused.  They were profoundly changed but didn’t understand what was happening. 

Plus my energies were quite unbalanced.  I started blowing out watches and other battery powered devices.  I was radiating Divine Shakti, God’s energy, but hadn’t grown into it fully yet.  It’s like putting a ten-year-old behind the wheel of a truck.  They can steer as it rolls downhill, but can they reach the brake? 

I deepened my practices and went to others within my lineage and tradition.  With their support and blessing, I was authorized to give Shaktipat.  It’s like a channel opened up for the Shakti that was building in me.  It made me deeply humble, for I know that this energy is God’s power of awakening.  Do you want it? 

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.

Yoga Therapy

By Swami Nirmalananda  

In my first yoga class, the teacher said, “Just do what you can.”  It was compassionate but not very helpful. I enjoyed the classes but made little progress.  When I tried another yoga style, the teacher often shouted encouragingly, “Reach for it!”  Not at all compassionate, but she was giving me a goal to aim for.  Unfortunately, I failed.  Repeatedly. 

Yoga therapy meets you where you are at, which means it is compassionate.  And it gives you a goal, which is so important.  Yet it does one thing more.  It gives you a way to reach that goal, a step-by-step process that is custom tailored to your needs.  You can see your own progress toward the new possibilities you’re expanding into. 

Your private yoga therapy session begins with an assessment, “How are you, really?  What do you need help with?”  Then your yoga therapist creates a personalized plan for you, a step-by-step process that moves you through your needed healing. 

If you have a medical diagnosis, yoga therapy is a powerful adjunct to your medical treatment.   

If you are coming for pain relief, stress relief or deeper levels of healing, yoga therapy makes powerful changes from the beginning.

Yoga therapy is so powerful because it works in a realm that medicine rarely addresses — the source from which your own healing comes.  This is your own beingness, “svaroopa” in Sanskrit.  This is where Svaroopa® yoga gets its name.  

We usually begin with coaching your breathing, pivotal to all levels of healing.  Yoga’s gentle, focused breathing process makes you feel better quickly.  You learn how to take the practice home with you, empowering you to contribute to your own improvement.  Your pain and stress levels drop, your circulatory and immune systems begin to recalibrate themselves. All your physiological systems are gradually revitalized. 

When we incorporate yoga poses into your private sessions, they target your spinal tensions and dissolve them.  This creates interior space in your body, good for all your organs as well as muscles and bones.  Even your brain loves it!  The most important part of each session is when you settle into a deep healing state, a yogic immersion that integrates mind-heart-body in a delicious and tangible way. 

You move through the phases of yoga therapy, traversing a well-mapped pathway to health and wholeness.  A gentle self-inquiry process helps you melt mental and emotional patterns that are linked in with your physical condition.  The result is a profound paradigm shift, one that helps you make sense out of your life experiences and the choices ahead.  All systems are go! 

Wednesdays with Gurudevi!

Gurudevi especially designed Yoga Wednesday to support you in your yogic process.  Pivotally positioned in the middle of the week, Yoga Wednesday can get you over the hump.  The best part is the extra time with Gurudevi, who leads the morning meditation and evening program.

The evening satsang is free if you can join us live in Downingtown.  To join online, enroll in Yoga Wednesday.

I feel as though I’m sitting in Gurudevi’s living room.  A swami reads a teaching from Baba Muktananda.  Then Gurudevi’s teaching is based on this reading.  It is like the unfolding of a beautiful lotus flower.  

In her satsang talk, Gurudevi unfurls the lotus one petal at a time.  She reveals the deeper richness and understanding of Baba Muktananda’s words.  These talks are a Grace-filled gift from Gurudevi.  As they are not recorded, I know I will only hear these deep discourses this one time.  I am extremely grateful to be able to attend these rich Wednesday offerings. – Nancy W.