Category Archives: Courses

Turbo Charge to Spiritual Progress

By Janet (Janaki) Murray

I took Meditation Teacher Training in 2005.  After 17 years it is still a memorable event for me in so many ways. For starters there were nearly 50 people on the course. The Shakti (energy) was incredible! And what an experience! I cannot say it was easy – far from it; but it gave a turbo-charge to my spiritual progress. 

It was hard work. Ten days of early mornings, late nights and every minute filled through the day. Yet it was truly a Grace-filled course, and it was certainly Grace that carried me through. The course kick-started a whole new range of personal shifts and changes.  The baggage of life, and lifetimes, fell away – and continues to. 

As I write I am filled with gratitude, once more, to Gurudevi for the gift of this course. And for her presence in twenty plus years I have known her.

Through the deep experiences during the course, I not merely learned but imbibed the philosophy. I became able to talk about and write about Consciousness with joy and confidence. Previously, I had not been much of a meditator.  Yet 17 years later, meditation remains the keystone of my practices. I cannot imagine not meditating. 

MTT gave me all the tools and confidence needed to teach the three-week introductory meditation course. And I am still teaching it. It is such an amazing course to teach, particularly for beginning meditators. It is well conceived and constructed and includes everything needed to get people started. 

Straightaway, students get a deep understanding of what meditation is. This is important as many come in with a range of misunderstandings. Sometimes both the student and I are blown away by the depth of their experiences.  This happens even in their first week. 

Many come to the course thinking meditation is somehow a difficult thing. The course soon teaches them that it is really quite easy. It also includes lots of practical tips to support their meditation. These things are very motivating for beginning meditators. Almost everyone who takes it loves this course! 

I love teaching it too. I find it such a delight to sit with a group of students who are getting so much. Yet it is so simple. When I sit with them, the Grace that flows through these teachings is palpable. 

The Continuing Education for Meditation Teachers is also excellent. I have taken two MTT updates since 2005. They were quite different from each other, though both completely relevant. They were really well worth taking both to my own development and to my Meditation teaching.

Deepen It Yourself!

Reported by Vibhuti King & Matrika Gast

lloyd dharma apirian“These have been my deepest Svaroopa® yoga experiences yet,” says Dharma (Lloyd) Apirian.  He took all three DIYs last summer and has just completed June’s DIY: Healing which focused on deeper variations on our Magic 4 sequence.

Especially powerful for Dharma was the training in Lunge. “First,” he describes, “my legs were aligned too close, as though on a tightrope, and I was lifting my ribs in the wrong direction. I was able to remedy these misalignments. Even more remarkable was an adjustment from another student. She placed one hand on my sacrum and the other behind my heart. I felt her hands grow hotter and hotter. I was no longer in the realm of time. Suddenly I realized someone was talking to me. Though I still felt her hands on my back, she was actually sitting in front of me. This was my first ever experience of a comfortable and easy yet well-aligned pose. It brought to life Patanjali’s sutra “Sthira sukham asanam” (the pose is steady and easy). In my home practice now, Lunge feels brand new.

“During each DIY, Swamiji gives us a Q&A session. I asked whether I am starting to access the Self, and explained how I am easing into That. She helped me go deeper and verified my experience, reducing my self-doubt. She clarified that this is what I was experiencing, while I thought it was fear. Receiving such profound guidance is one of the great benefits of have an accessible living Guru.”

swami-sittingThe day after the program, Dharma says he “eased into my Self” just before entering his workplace. He shares, “The receptionist is a ‘difficult’ person for me, and has been for more than a decade. As I approached her desk, I saw her with a deep love — love that I have never experienced before. Love without attachment or desire. My love for my wife has deepened. And it’s the same with everyone I see, when I am in that place of Self, my home. This is a transformative path. I have been searching since my teens for a path that would truly change me and Svaroopa® yoga is it. I am deeply grateful for my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda, and for my Teacher Trainers. I am also profoundly grateful for my fellow students. They supported and encouraged me. I hope I supported them too.”

saguna-gossAlso a longtime practitioner of Svaroopa® yoga, Saguna Goss is the Ashram Business Manager as well. She says, “Since the opening of the Ashram, I’ve been prioritizing the meditation retreats and sutra courses. In the DIY weekend, I had the opportunity to focus on the asanas. It was a real treat! Having the opportunity to dive into a sequence of poses and do them again and again provided a beautiful support for my body. That experience has helped my meditation practice. It was a gift to be reminded about the importance of supporting your body during this process of inner opening that comes from meditation. The beautifully deep Q&A session with Swami, followed by a Swami Sunday, completed a weekend full of Bliss!”

amala-photoSVA Board President Amala Cattafi says, “The DIY retreat reconnected me to the importance of making my yoga practice ‘full-spectrum.’ I have always favored meditation and seva over working on my body. Yet they are all connected. The DIY retreat not only reminded me of that, but gave me an easy home program that does not take any more time than my usual morning practice!”

DIY is for anyone interested in yoga and meditation. There are no prerequisites. Meticulous pose instructions are included as well as pose handouts for your personal practice. Chanting, meditation and group sessions with Swami Nirmalananda take you deeper and deeper into Consciousness. Everyone experiences amazing transformation in body, mind and heart.  Our next one is August’s DIY: Connection followed by October’s DIY: Fulfillment.

YTT Streamlining?  Upgrade!

By Swami Nirmalananda

I was looking for words.  Words to describe the incredible change in our YTT program.  Words that convey my delight about how much more powerful it will be than ever before.  Words that help you understand the new levels that will open for yogis who dive into the deep end with me.  I was looking for words.

I always begin with contemplation, letting my mind be filled with consciousness.  Consciousness-Itself is the source of words, the form of intelligence itself.  “New” and “improved” doesn’t work any more, not even when they put it on the outside of a box of detergent or package of munchies.  Plus we have the move toward heirloom veggies and Grandma’s original recipes.  Who says “new” is at all “improved?”

So I won’t say that this incarnation of YTT is improved over the previous one.  I stand by all I’ve done to marinate the teachers I’ve had the opportunity to train.  But marinating has to happen faster.  This is Kali Yuga.  Time is of the essence.  After all, this is the age of the quick pickle!

pickling cucumbers on the vine pinterest.comMy dad used to grow cucumbers, the little pickling cucumbers, and then make his own concoction for the pickle juice.  It took a couple of months for them to come to perfection.  Every summer day, as a kid on that interminable summer vacation, I’d ask, “Are they pickles yet?”

Are they teachers yet?  How quick can a yogi be transformed into a teacher?  The first Teacher Training I took was 25 hours.  I graduated with a certificate but didn’t feel ready.  I taught, but felt like we were all just going through the motions, a pantomime.  So I took another Teacher Training.  And another one.  And then Kundalini showed me the way.  Thank you, Baba.

Now you can make pickles in a couple of hours.  And they’re good!  Is this “new” and “improved?”  We have to turn out teachers this way.

So I was looking for words.  I could see the whole of what I’ve birthed, but how to describe it?  “Streamlining” is what I’ve been calling it; it’s the word that Chiti (consciousness) keeps giving to my mind.  So I went to the thesaurus.

Modernize, update — yes, I’ve modernized our Teacher Training, but that could easily mean dumbing it down.  Modern doesn’t always mean improved.  And yoga doesn’t honor the updates; it honors ancient knowledge and systems.  Yet the sages, through the ages, came up with new and updated ways of teaching the ancient truths.  So this is modernized and updated, yet the essence is unchanged.  A tricky thing to accomplish.

Reorganize, rearrange, reschedule, move around, reorder — yes, I reorganized the schedule, moving things around, putting them in a new order, so all these words are true.  Yet they don’t cover an essential piece, which is that the new order gives new meaning to all of it.

Revolutionize, reform, restructure — ah, this is closer.  It is a revolutionary new way to approach it, but it’s not new information.  It’s revolutionary information, spinal release, tail-to-top, core opening, but we already knew that.  Yet the re-forming of it, into a new structure, gives it a new power.  New potential.  Amazing new vitality!

Make more efficient, sort out, simplify — check.  More efficient, as in getting there quicker, with less energy expended.  Making it easier and more accessible.  Simplifying the profound.  Isn’t that what shaktipat is all about?

Develop, upgrade — yes, these are best.  Develop means that everyone who has ever taken one of our programs has contributed to our latest development.  Upgrade means you get a new system, one that does the things you already relied on and yet offers more.  Easier.  Quicker.  Cheaper.  And still deep and profound.

While all this describes our YTT Upgrade, it is now extending itself to all our programs.  The force of upliftment is pouring into all our programs.  “Faster, easier?  Of course,” says Shree Kundalini.  “Deeper and more profound?  Piece of cake!”

woman surfer

I am looking forward to this.

This California girl that I am, I know how to ride a wave.

Choosing to Grow? – by Swami Nirmalananda


You sculpt time by your choices.  This is obvious when you miss your turnoff, especially when the next one is 20 miles ahead.  It will take 45 minutes longer to get there.  While you might not say you made that choice, you had been choosing to pay attention to something else or simply to be unfocused while cruising along.

Yoga is the science of consciousness.  You spend time doing practices which make you more and more conscious until you go beyond merely conscious and become Consciousness-Itself.  No amount of thinking can get you there, yet you must not abandon your mind along the way, so beautifully described by yogis in the personal stories they share in this issue.

Becoming conscious is not always easy.  You begin to notice things you didn’t notice before, including tensions or pains in your body, your mind, your heart or your life.  You’ve got work to do and it’s all inner work.  I’ll compare it to the remodeling we’ve undertaken in our “new” 130-year old building, Lokananda.

Fortunately the structure is sound.  Our town required structural testing, which the grand old dame passed with flying colors.  But her plumbing was leaky and her nadis (energy currents = electrical systems) needed some work, plus her roof will need some TLC soon.  But she’s coming along well.

Even more heartening, response to our Capital Campaign is building.  Yogis have already given and pledged almost $30,000.  On October 10, we will house our first immersion at the Ashram’s new campus!  Not only will you will enjoy reduced Housing & Meals costs, you will stay in a dedicated spiritual environment.

In the same way, the remodeling you’re currently undergoing absolutely leads to where you want to go.  There’s some debris to clear, new ways to see and be — yoga makes you all new.  Do more yoga.

Click to donate or for more info, or call us at 610.644.7555

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Stepping into Teaching Meditation – by Louise Davis CSYT

louiseWhen I first encountered Svaroopa® yoga and attended yogimmersions as well as yoga teacher training, Swami Nirmalananda (then known as Rama) would say, “Get a guru, get a mantra.”  So I found a meditation group with a guru in the same lineage as our Svaroopa® Sciences. Since then I have meditated. Now, as a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher as well as a Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teacher in the Florida Panhandle, I love teaching meditation to my asana students.

Over the years, my asana students have had deep internal experiences in Shavasana as well as seated poses. They know through experience that when you get the junk out of the way, meditation is natural. By the time they take meditation with me, they’ve already heard the quotes — much of the “knowing” is already there for them. My students know that meditation is NOT lying on the floor. They know that sitting in meditation is the next step forward on their path.  It totally deepens their experience. So I give them a special deal on asana classes during their series of meditation classes: they can come to asana classes as often as they like, and that gives me a chance to talk with them about meditation when I see them in between the Learn to Meditation classes.

I teach that series quarterly, with one already planned for the fall. So the next step on my path is the Meditation Group Leader (MGL) course in February, since I have been wanting to lead a group for years. Having a weekly group meditation — satsang — is the next step for my students as well as. But they can’t go forward until I go forward.

If you are interested in Meditation Teacher Training, you need the preparation of a weekend Shaktipat Retreat with Swamiji within 18 months prior to January 25, 2016. The next one is next week, September 18-20, at The Desmond in Malvern PA, and there is one more – in Boston MA October 23-25.

My experiences of receiving Shaktipat from Swamiji in her retreats have been life changing. The magnitude of receiving the Grace of the Guru is beyond the capacity of words to express. Going so deep inward to Self is profoundly healing and illuminating. Receiving Swamiji’s clearly conveyed teachings lets you know the dimensions of inner transformation that you are experiencing.

If any of your “stuff” arises, you find that being in a group meditation gets you through it more quickly and easier. And then you experience meditation at an even deeper level. You are supported in going through the cycle, peeling the onion. And that makes you ready to help your students and share with them in a supportive way. You know, and you can tell them, that “this too shall pass.” Everyone has their own individual path, but the stations on the path are very much the same for everyone. Your personal experiences can be a source of support for your students and keep them moving forward.

Your immersion in the a Shaktipat Retreat as well as one or more MTT programs will give you a deep dive within yourself, to access your Self. These programs make it so easy to get into your own body and mind, and then go beyond them into the deeper dimensions of Self. Swamiji is such a great teacher at so many levels — deeply inspiring and at the same time completely practical. She’s is genius. She’s totally human, too. Our teacher training, including MTT, is far superior to any mind-body techniques training today, in my experience. We receive immense support including comprehensive handouts, experiential learning and wonderful supervised practicum pieces, all integrated.

I fondly remember my “empowered mantra”  MTT training in 2010, the first Swamiji taught upon returning from India where she took sannyasa (swami) vows. All of us MTT students experienced profound changes from the beginning. it was challenging but I really enjoyed it. In our classes, I wore out three pens as I filled two notebooks with Swamiji’s “download” of teachings about the Self. At night in our rooms, we digested and condensed these teachings while they were still percolating. It felt like a college dorm experience. Practicing the talks with colleagues in class the following day was wonderful. I was so ready to teach at home.

If you are a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher, or if you are a Meditation Teacher trained to teach the syllabus course before 2010, taking the whole MTT package is a unique opportunity not to be missed. You will dive deep. Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teacher Training will build on all you have already learned and experienced in the Svaroopa®  Sciences. And it serves as the foundation for Leading Short Meditations as well as Meditation Group Leader Training. You will be prepared to enable your students to expand exponentially in their experience of Self. And you will empower yourself at the deepest levels in the knowing of your own Self.

Taking the Step to Teach Meditation by Medhira (Trine) Larsen

medhiraFor 13 years I practiced Svaroopa® yoga poses daily. Yet I still felt something was missing. I knew there was something more to discover. Even having so much love in my life, including my wonderful kids and my husband, still I was in pain, physically and emotionally. Then my yearning for Self-discovery drew me forward to Meditation Teacher Training (MTT).

Since then my journey has been intense. To dissolve the veil and free my Self from being hidden within has sometimes been tough. I have experienced lots of tapas (inner fire).  But as Swamiji has told me, “Tiny openings equal tiny progress. Whereas deep openings give you fast progress.” So I decided to go for fast progress. Now that I have completed MTT and teach meditation, I am unfolding my Self more and more rapidly. To be able to be who I am, to live from that deeper knowing and to show the people I love who I really am (and always have been) — that is one of the greatest benefits to me of being a Meditation Teacher.

I began preparation for MTT in 2014. It included Embodyment® Yoga Therapy Training, and then a seven-day Ashram stay ending with a Shaktipat retreat with Swamiji. That gave me a lot of openings. Being in the presence of Swami Nirmalananda for 10 days, and receiving Swamiji’s teachings was profound and amazing. My meditations became deeper, and I was able to sit without kriyas moving me too much. I did at times have a headache, but when I came out of meditation, it was gone.

Every evening during MTT, we students were writing our talks on sutras for the next day. Even though I did not have as much sleep as usual, the most amazing thing was, I stayed open through the whole training. Working with the other students, getting the support and feedback in our groups when we did our talks and having the support from the other teachers—Vidyadevi, Rukmini and Devi—made it a very deep and beautiful training.

When I returned home to Denmark, I had a lot of writing and translation to do, in order to get ready for my first meditation course. At first I felt it was very challenging to understand the sutras and put them into my own words in a way that would make sense to my students. Teaching the meditation classes, however, was joyful. I continue to find an ease as I teach meditation. Grace makes it flow smoothly.

After MTT I find that my yoga classes are deeper; my students go deeper and have more openings because I am more open. I feel calmer, more present in the midst of life. When I bike through my city, walk my dog, clean my house, cook, I am in the now. Before, I had to do my spinal opening at least once a day to feel okay. I still do poses, of course, but I might just take a long Shavasana, do some japa, listen to a chant, chant a few verses of Shree Guru Gita, meditate, practice Ujjayi pranayama or listen to one of Swamiji´s talks. I have so many options, and they all support me in accessing my Self with ease. Even as I write this blog, it is also a practice that makes me aware of what a long way I have come.

When I began my journey inward to Self, I was so far away. MTT and teaching meditation to my students has brought me so much closer to my Self. And what joy to see how my new students as well as my experienced students receive the benefits of meditation, and to hear them all as they enjoy saying the mantra!

The Wonderful, Personal Benefits of Teaching Meditation

By Bindu (Maureen) Shortt

binduIn Meditation Teacher Training, I remember Swamiji saying, “You have to KNOW more than you TEACH.” Our lineage is one of knowing through experience. As I speak the words that describe my knowing, the knowing that reaches back through the ages, I draw myself deeper into that knowing. In our amazing lineage, teaching meditation opens me to another experience of “the more.”

As the students move from meditation neophytes to experienced meditators, sitting more solidly and consciously in their own Self, I take that ride with them. Yet because I started deeper already, I end up deeper. Their journey carries me deeper. I ride the powerful current of them awakening to their own knowing, then I know more. As they become more clear, I become more clear.  With their classes week by week, I dive deeper into my inner absorption through appreciation of their process and admiration for their courage. They reflect back to me my own process of becoming a competent, confident meditator, and I mark how far I’ve come, which then becomes my jumping off point to dive even deeper.

I have moments in life of knowing that I am fully enlightened already. The catch is how to weave that inner knowing into the outside, into more and ultimately all of my life. Being a meditation teacher offers this to me as a wonderful personal benefit. As a result I now do more frequent trainings, but with a maximum of 6 students. This way the students have more time to say whatever they need to about their experiences, as well as their home efforts and challenges. More people can take the trainings because I vary the days and times. These smaller, more frequent courses are precious to me as part of my sadhana, and I look forward to riding the waves of Grace deeper within as I invite more people into the ocean of Consciousness.

As a meditation teacher, I go deeper into my own Self by leading students in the grace-infused mantra and by teaching them about the five steps to making meditation a daily routine.  By serving as the conduit of these practices and teachings for my students, that flow of Grace affects me also. In the tantra of being a meditation teacher, when I speak the words of the state of the Self, I become able to BE more of my own Self. As I am speaking the sacred words, I am imprinting them further on my own mind. As I am facilitating the students going beyond their mind, I am also facilitated in going beyond mine and into my Divinity.  What a way to serve!

Graduation! by Swami Nirmalananda

IMG_9779My heart is deeply touched – again – yesterday, by the amazing and committed yogis who completed YTT Level 4, now trained in 12 teaching themes, 108 poses and over 350 adjustments for their students. We held their Completion Ceremony in the afternoon, after they shared the teaching in a grand finale yoga class, with each of them teaching part of the class.

While they still have DTS (DTS (Develop your Teaching Skills)) to complete before they become certified, they have completed a grand undertaking, a milestone, a great accomplishment in their life. And they will serve the world, offering others what they have themselves received through their studies: healing, transformation and illumination.

Thank you to our new grads!

ATT DTS: Just Do It! by Ruth Brown, CSYT


Ruth Brown, CSYT

Once upon a time, completing an ATT program required that you do homework, and then send that homework to a Teacher Trainer for review and feedback. But now there is DTS.  I just completed the ATT 262 Treating Pain immersion, and I’m finding that the DTS calls have helped me use the “therapist” title with confidence.

For this DTS there are homework assignments followed by phone calls, and my first assignment was to give five pain treatment sessions to a single client. After our second DTS call, Matrika Gast (who serves our Board in the Publications role) heard from one of my DTS partners that I had “pain clients coming out of the woodwork.” So Matrika asked me to share my success story.

To begin to attract pain clients I found that you must become a walking, talking billboard for “what you can do for them.”  You do so gently and with care… sharing how others have benefited from what you do. To make your current yoga students aware of your pain therapy training, you can say “This therapy may be something that you and/or someone you know could use. Feel free to share this with those you know who are in pain.”

I also created a small, purse size flyer that to pass around to those whom I would talk with. The front side includes vital details about pain therapy the Svaroopa® yoga way, and back side includes a couple of testimonials from existing students/clients.

The next thing to do is list people you know … no judgments… just write. Then take that list, beginning with those you think are the least likely to be interested in what you are doing, and contact them, sharing with them what you are doing. Proceed through your list with enthusiasm and sincere caring about what you can do for them or for those they know.

With my first pain client, even though there was that tinge of anxiety, I felt assured and confident in the training I had received a week or so before. Yep — I read and reread my ATT “blue sheets” before each session, and I completed all five sessions with that client as well as my first DTS report before the first DTS call.

I so appreciated that call. While it is good to receive feedback on your sessions, it is just as informative to hear what others are doing.  Invaluable, in fact. Kusuma, our ATT DTS Mentor, gently guides us through evaluations of our sessions, encouraging where appropriate and asking us to re-think our sessions where necessary.

My second assignment was exciting because I was working on a real person with tightness, pain and cramps. The assignment helped me gain confidence in my ability to write a plan and tweak as needed in the moment, especially when my client seized up with a cramp and pain. Our training met reality in this second assignment. I was working with “real folks” who were not loosey-goosey yogis! I laughed at myself several times along the way, noting how many times I was holding my breath!!!

After the second DTS call, there were massive revelations. As slowly as I thought I was proceeding in a session, on this call I realized that I needed to move forward even more slowly…right up there with watching paint dry! With this guidance, I’ve found after several more sessions that my clients feel the difference, the shift from pain to relief.

After a couple of weeks providing pain therapy to clients who are non-yogis, I realized that I could almost repeat the Treating Pain training with a whole new perspective. The partner pairing in training with fellow-yogis can give us a false sense of movement.  On the DTS calls, it helps so much to hear that other budding therapists are working through the same issues.

Through this process, I have personally experienced some significant openings, too. How much fun to realize that the leg you were holding in Alternate Leg was REALLY not softened and released!

Deceptively Easy, Amazingly Successful by Abby Chemers

When I enrolled in ATT 262 Treating Pain last March, I was daunted by the prerequisite of giving 50 Embodyment® Yoga Therapy sessions in the 6 months before the course. I am a rule follower, and I could see that I needed to give two Embodyment® sessions per week. Figuring that out was my way of keeping on track without getting anxious or worried, but I still didn’t know exactly how I would get my existing students to make appointments for these private sessions.

My first approach was to give Embodyment® sessions to friends and family.  Travel to Hawaii and then to Australia in March gave me that opportunity.  On my way to Australia, I had a few days with my daughter and son-in-law in Hawaii. A busy and active couple, they were more than happy to accommodate my need to give them sessions! And the same was true of Australian friends when I arrived there.

When I returned home, there were real surprises. People just showed up at the right time.  For months I had wanted to be able to give an Embodyment® session to a student who came regularly to class and had been getting spinal opening, but still had some pain. I knew an Embodyment® session would help her move through her partial opening to full release, but I had been unable to persuade her to schedule a private session. Then one day she showed up to class and was the only student as her usual classmates were playing hooky.  So I was able to give her Embodyment®. At another time, a young woman who was getting married and had a lot going in her life showed up as the only student for a class, and she enjoyed a soothing and restorative Embodyment® session with me instead. It was a blessing for me as well as for her!

Then for the next six weeks, clients just arrived on my doorstep. To use an old idiom, it was as though they just came out of the woodwork! I was surprised, because usually it seems my regular class students simply can’t afford more yoga.  Yet they began to schedule Embodyment® sessions to celebrate their birthdays or because, unfortunately, they hurt themselves and came in to help an injury heal.  A couple of these clients came four times.  Other clients were brand new and had found me through my website. Many found me simply by word of mouth, and one week I had 4 brand new clients.

It was curious. It seemed to me that the universe knew I needed students and sent them to me.  Instead of being a daunting task, this ATT prerequisite turned out to be a blessing on many levels. It brought in money, and helped to offset the cost of training.

But giving these Embodyment® sessions regularly, on a range of clients with different needs, was great to do as well. They benefited me as a therapist as well as my clients. I had already been giving Embodyment® sessions for at least 3 years, and I was very comfortable with my body mechanics. But through giving 50 sessions within 6 months, Embodyment® became easier and easier for me.  I became able to stay in stillness. I became more effortlessly able to sink and settle into my own bones and spine. Quite often I would get release in my own body.

Settling in is so important, I found, in Treating Pain as well. With experience and regularity come ease and comfort, and my confidence as a yoga therapist grew into greater and greater ease. Now I am grateful for the required preparation as well as the training itself, in which I, myself, experienced such profound healing as well as learning that will serve my clients with more — and More.