Category Archives: Ashram News

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!

The Profound Inward Path

By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast, Yogaratna

The profound inward path of Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation begins with Shaktipat.  This initiation awakens Kundalini, the spiritual power that is hidden within every human being.  She is the Divine energy of creation and revelation.  

Gurudevi Nirmalananda is a Kundalini Master, authorized to awaken your own Kundalini energy.  She says, “This is the most powerful way I can serve you, by awakening you to your own Divinity.”  This serves the highest purpose of human life — to revel in your own spiritual essence.  

Swami Nirmalananda giving Shaktipat

Yogis who have attended Shaktipat Retreats describe their experience of this profound transformation:

During Shaktipat, I felt an energy go into me.  It was extraordinary.  It felt like a faucet had turned on at the base of my spine.  It brought me inside to my Self.  When I returned home, everything there was the same, but I had changed. — Robin B.

Receiving this spiritual initiation from Gurudevi, I find my mind drawn toward stillness.  My heart is entwined in love.  The sense of contentment and wonderment knows no bounds.  — Betsy A.

Be empowered by a spiritual master who opens your access to the powerful flow of meditative energy within. Gurudevi’s next Shaktipat Retreat begins May 13, available Online.

Yoga Quickies

45-minutes ♥ $10 yoga class

How quickly can you feel better?

Join our user-friendly, deeply effective yoga classes that make a real difference in a short time.  Why?  Because that’s all you’ve got available! 

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

This fits easily into your schedule while improving your life.  Body, mind, heart and more, just as yoga is so well known for.  Your first class will prove how quickly you can feel better.

Every week features a different teaching theme.  This gives you variety while you learn a lot of different poses.  Yet it is all laid on the base of profound openings and deep inner experiences.

Can you make real progress in a short time?  Yes, definitely!  We use customized teaching protocols that dissolve the deepest tensions in your body.  It happens in the first few poses and a short breathing practice.  Then you build strength and stamina.

You end up in a short meditation.  You float out of class, with an open spine, open breath and open heart.  Svaroopa® Yoga makes this all easy. How do you find out? Come on in! Yoga Quickies start 4/11

Yogaratnas Installed

Gurudevi has bestowed the title of Yogaratna on eight more Svaroopa® yoga teachers.  They join Valerie (Atmananda) Trautlein, the first teacher honored in this way.  Please help us congratulate:

  • Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver
  • Cayla (Mangala) Allen
  • Jules (Brahmini) Watson
  • Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast
  • Melissa (Yogyananda) Fountain
  • Nirooshitha Sethuram
  • Rosemary (Rudrani) Nogue
  • Soraya Periera

“Just as in the ‘real world,’” explains Gurudevi, “the yoga world has ways of acknowledging the highest levels of leadership.  Meaning the “jewel of yoga” or a “yoga-gem,” this title honors one who has developed their inner depth in such a way that they can shine it into the world.  

Their mastery extends into the practicalities of life as well as the mystical dimensions within.  Like a diamond or ruby reflects the light, captivating all who see it, such a yogi shines Divine Light into the world in a way that heals, transforms and uplifts others.”

Gurudevi created this yogic title in early 2020.  It honors those who embody the qualities of yoga in three ways:  Commitment to teaching, quality of their teaching and their commitment and service to the Ashram.  To learn more, click here: Yogic Titles.