Category Archives: Seva

The Website That Seva Built by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

Our new website at is my virtual Ashram and yoga center.  Along with important practicalities, like viewing the calendar, enrolling in courses and accessing on-line course materials, it is a place I can go to connect with my Guru and other Svaroopis.  As a Svaroopa® Vidya Ashramite, I can experience darshana (seeing Divine Presence) just by signing onto the home page.  Through the audio recordings I can participate in satsang (a gathering in the company of the highest Truth) or chant the Guru Gita.  The blog posts and e-zine articles provide easy access to the stories of other Svaroopis, some whom I know well and others I haven’t yet met in person.  Either way, we have important shared experiences and that makes us all like yoga siblings.  Because I live many miles away from Downingtown PA, the website is my yoga home-away-from-home.

The decision to say “yes” was easy

Last Spring, when Matrika (Marlene) Gast asked if I could help with the writing part of the website consolidation project, the decision to say “yes” was easy.  I had been resisting every time I needed to sign onto either of the old websites for practical information or to enroll in a course.  The confusion I was experiencing upon accessing the sites was probably due more to my evolving perception of the two organizations as one, rather than actual website functionalities.  Around the time of the Consolidation, I was losing track of what information belonged to which organization.  I could no longer remember which website to go to for what.  The distinctions were blurring.

I was thrilled to start working on the web project, although when I began looking at what needed consolidation and re-writing, the task looked daunting. So I was very thankful for the preliminary work that had been done by others, including Swamiji, Matrika Gast, Sharada McDonald and Jennifer Bloome, to create a template for the overall look and structure of the new site.

As it turned out, I really only worked on a few preliminary drafts for versions of the About Us and Donate pages, but I found the seva process to be valuable, as always.  To do the work, I needed to simply “put one foot in front of the other,” without getting overly wrapped up in the performance aspects of the job.  It also provided another opportunity to connect with Swamiji and the Ashram, and to contemplate how all has evolved since those early days, which were really not so long ago.

Below are the words of other sevites who worked on our website project over the summer.

I was very happy to be called on

  • Matrika (Marlene) Gast

On the Ashram Board, my Area of Responsibility and Empowerment (ARE) is Communications, so I was thrilled when the new SVA Website project began. I knew that consolidating the sites would help our whole Svaroopa® Sciences community easily get the information we need for courses and programs – and ongoing inspiration and teachings from Swami Nirmalananda.

I was very happy to organize writers to write informational pages as well as reshape existing pages to fit the new consolidated format. We have a talented and dedicated group of sevite writers as well as a splendid writer on our SVA administrative team, Jennifer Bloome, who had already drafted several core pages that had been approved by Swamiji. Our Business Administration Manager Sharada McDonald had already worked with Swamiji and the technical experts to design the outline of the web content, and Sharada gave us great guidance on the content “constellations” that we needed to populate. And, wonderfully, Karuna Beaver and Rama Brooke turned out to be the writers who were available to write over the summer.

I was enthusiastic about the project from the beginning, and I believe we four writers – Jennifer, Karuna, Rama and I – all had a great time collaborating.  Not only did we receive guidance from Sharada and Swamiji, but also from our Techno-Wizard, Prakash Falbaum, who coordinated the entire project. I believe our organization is unique in how we all collaborate. Sevites are as committed to their “volunteer work” as full time professionals on a career ladder, and our highly skilled and dedicated staff serves with joy and passion for the divine mission of the Ashram.

I am grateful for the seva that I can offer to Swamiji and our whole community, because seva continues to open and expand my heart.  Through seva I have gotten to meet and talk with most, if not all, members of our community. Every day I feel myself basking in the deep, warm, scintillating connections among us.

It made perfect sense to me

–Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

When I learned that the two websites would be consolidated, it made perfect sense to me. Why would we have two websites, when we are a consolidated organization? Less is more!

I’ve been involved in communications for both Master Yoga Foundation and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, so I’ve written articles and copy from both perspectives. But now these perspectives come under the same umbrella – the same umbrella we’ve always had, really, but made more clear by combined communications, including the website.  Because I’ve been so involved with writing for the organization, it was a natural for me to help with the website.

Because I wrote only a few pages, it wasn’t challenging from either a time perspective, or really, a content perspective. We used much of the content from both websites, and simply polished and shortened it a bit. Like every other seva I have done, this helped me understand the organization that I am involved with, and to appreciate the breadth and depth of what it offers to me and to the whole Svaroopa® community.

I get way more from the seva than I put into it

–Prakash (David) Falbaum

I had been doing website seva for MYF for a while, so I could see the need for consolidation of the five websites that made up the digital identity of SVA.  After a few false starts with outside web consultants, I became Project Manager, and worked closely with SVA’s graphic artist Kemm Sarver, web designer Jean Kindem and fellow Board member Matrika (Marlene) Gast, who oversaw the content and writing part of the project.

There was a lot of back and forth between Swamiji, Kemm, and Jean to determine exactly how the new site would look and function, so that was a major part of my work.  Swamiji was clear that she wanted the site to be a “virtual portal” to the Self, so we set that as the main focus for the project.  I live in Minnesota and don’t have daily access to the Ashram in Pennsylvania, so having this “virtual portal” was an important goal for me to keep in perspective.

I do seva to serve both Swamiji and the people who want to immerse themselves in the Self.  I get way more from the seva than I put into it.  It is such a powerful practice.  I began doing seva for Master Yoga, and now serve on the Ashram Board.  I still find that the more I put in, the more I get out.  It keeps me out of my head and immersed in my Self.  My mind becomes quiet while I am working to serve the Divine and the Guru.

Other sevites I want to thank are:  Glen Christensen, who has done a lot for the prior SVA website, and posted calendar items and pages in our new site.  Glen is also continuing to move the online library from the prior SVA site to our new consolidated home.  Also, Pam Church and Solveig Corbin have helped with link checking, which has been very helpful; an essential task for making the website user friendly.

A Doorway to the Self

–Swami Nirmalananda

I’ve always loved the truth in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I have to add that it takes a whole team to create a new website, if it is going to serve the many that the Ashram serves. When I began the virtual Ashram, before we had any buildings or even offered regular satsangs, we had a website with 5 pages.  As it grew, my rudimentary website skills grew, until the Ashram had administrative sevites who were better at it than me.  Sevites joined the team, ultimately moving and revamping the website about 2 years ago — a huge task that was very well done.

Seva Comings & Goings by Devapriyaa Hills

One of the signs of a dynamic and successful seva program is responsiveness – meaning that change happens due to sevites’ needs plus changes occur due to the Ashram’s needs. Thus we have new sevites, changing sevas and sevites that are not doing seva at this time. It has been an honor to work with so many practicing the yoga of selfless service.

Welcome to new sevites and to those that will be contributing in a new way.

Contemplations Reader Team – Pat Morrison (Coordinator), Yogeshwari (Melissa) Fountain, Kusuma (Karobi) Sachs, Rukmini Abbruzzi, Devi (Elizabeth) McKenty, Aanandi (Annie) Ross & Janaki (Janet) Ross

Downingtown Emcee Team – Kanchan (Connie) Mohn (Coordinator), Sri (Sonya) McNeil, Lisa Spangler, Devaraja (Steve) Thoman, & John Frank

Enrollment Team – Savitri (Louise) Harkema, & Barbara Hood

Gardening Team (Coordinator Assistant) – Gayatri (Barbara) Hess

Moderating E-Group – Bhanumati (Beth) Cunningham

Quotation Database – Rob Gold

Typesetting – Danielle Sarason

Spring Window Washing – Aanandi (Annie) Ross & Jim Totin

Thank you to those who have changed to new seva, worked on a special project or are not working at a seva at this time. Your dedication and service have been a gift and are appreciated.

Contact Updates – Danielle Sarison

Documentation Team – Kusuma (Karobi) Sachs (Coordinator), Savitri (Louise) Harkema, Ekamati (Diane) Tsurutani, Kirsten Hale & Kriyaa (Chris) Godfrey

Quotation Database – Adell Kochubka

Special Events Team – Ellen Mtichell & Gayatri (Barbara) Hess

Tech Support Team – Maitreyi Wilsman & Barbara Hood

Thank You Notes – Kamala (Michelle) Gross

Web Team – Saguna (Kelly) Goss & Bruce Roberts

If you notice that a sevite has been missed, please notify me at so the list can be adjusted.


Considering Seva by Marlene Gast


Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills, Seva Coordinator

Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills, Seva Coordinator

Seva — also called selfless service and karma yoga — is described in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3.  In Verse 18 Krishna instructs Arjuna that “’Every selfless act’” is ultimately a way to know yourself as Self, a path to Self-Realization, the purpose of life, the goal of all of the practices of yoga.

I’ve served on seva communication teams since 2008, and this year, since the Ashram and Master Yoga consolidation, I notice a new, powerful synergy in seva. Sometimes it feels as though I’m sailing along on rocket powered wings, both in the seva itself and in the way that seva continues to dissolve lifelong obstructive patterns, opening me inward to Self.

Since our consolidation, expansiveness is enhancing seva teams as well, including leading to the creation of new seva teams.  Seva Coordinator Devapriyaa (Denise Hills) offers this introduction to them:

Two seva teams have just gotten underway. First is the Emcee Team. Bindu (Maureen) Short was the Emcee at last Sunday’s satsang. John Frank, Sri (Sonya) McNeil & Kanchan (Connie) Mohn are also Emcee Team members. Our second new team is the Music Team, who have already brought their offering to Sunday’s Satsang, beginning last week with Vicharini playing OM Nama.h “Sivaya before meditation.

Everyone has one or more talents and skills.  Where would you like to offer your time and talent? It takes only 2-4 hours per week.  You are especially needed for the following:

  •          Web updates (we train you!)
  •          Constant Contact (we train you!)
  •          DYMC cleaning and set up (a local opportunity)

There are other seva opportunities as well. Once you make yourself available, Swami Nirmalananda reviews your skills/interests survey, working with Devapriyaa to find the seva that serves you best.

When you are ready to take on this practice, email  Devapriyaa will send you a link to complete the seva survey that Swamiji will personally review. When Swamiji suggests your seva, you decide whether it is an opportunity that you would like.  Having assisted many yogis in finding their seva, Devapriyaa says it is “quite beautiful…profound and grace filled…sometimes subtle — a beautiful spiritual practice.”  Let the yoga of seva open you to MORE!

Trusting the Process of Seva by Gayatri (Barbara) Hess


Gayatri (Barbara) Hess

I continued this path of volunteering as I grew into adulthood.  I also became part of several groups in which my spiritual growth was nurtured.  As part of my growth, I gained a deeper understanding of the concept of tithing of my time, talent and treasure.  Initially, my mind was quite contracted and controversial about giving my time, talent and treasure.  At some point I decided I needed to trust the process and “just do it.”  My life grew from volunteering to serving, and from serving as an obligation to serving from a space of gratitude in which I live to serve.

When I became part of the Ashram, the opportunity of seva was mentioned.  Initially I thought, “I do a lot of service in my other communities.   That should be enough.  I don’t have time for more seva.”  When I would sit in meditation or pause and reflect after listening to an audio recording from Swamiji, my heart would swell with gratitude.  In gratitude I was urged to serve.  Initially, my mind did what it always does.  Thoughts of doubt surfaced, “What do you have to offer?  You are not part of the inner crowd.  What if Swamiji thinks you are not good enough?”  I moved forward and offered to serve.  I trusted the process.  I did not put limits on how or where to serve.  I wanted to offer my love and gratitude to the source that was giving me so much, a path to discover my SELF.

I wanted to perform seva as a way of supporting the Ashram where it needed help.  In offering my service without attachment I have been asked to serve in various ways.  I assist Jennifer with typesetting.  I assist on the gardening team, and I have recently been asked to assist with some of the administrative tasks on the gardening team.  I am also on the special events team and helped create the Japathon last year.

In October 2013, I attended the conference as part of the seva team.   Initially, when asked to serve in three capacities, I did resist.  I did not want to commit too much!  Once again my inner voice reminded me, “Just do it.”  I can trust the process and know that I have all the time, energy and resources I need to serve.  I want to give freely to the source that has given so freely to me.  I give in gratitude, not out of obligation.  I deepen my understanding and capacity to love and grow when I serve from this space of selfless service and gratitude.  Thank you, Swamiji, for this opportunity.

If you, too, would like to undertake the ancient yogic practice of seva, send an email to our Seva Coordinator, Devapriyaa Hills, at She will get you started on your skills survey.  You can sign up for ongoing seva or for a special project. You will be contributing two-to-four hours of your time and talent per week.  Not only will you be strengthening the Ashram organization through your selfless service, you will be adding a powerful yoga practice to your life.  What new and wonderful fruits will you harvest?

Seedling Seva by Antarajna (Deborah) Mandel

flower7A few years ago, when Suchi and Dean Cilley lived at the Ashram, they built raised beds to grow vegetables and herbs for the phenomenal chefs at the Ashram to use in preparing their meals. The garden has continued to evolve over the last few years. This year we have a wonderful new opportunity to deepen our roots in this endeavor. Instead of buying plants, Swamiji has personally chosen seeds for us to start vegetable plants. In late spring these will be transplanted to the vegetable beds. We will also be starting marigolds to be used as offerings on the puja.

We will be raising these seedlings both in our homes and at the Ashram.  Those growing seedlings at home have amazing seva opportunity — to be in service to the Ashram and the lineage, with the Shakti  surrounding us in our daily lives. It brings the food cycle full circle; we grow food from seed, nurture it, transplant it to Ashram soil, harvest it, and feed the Ashram residents with healthy morsels for months to come!

Especially after this long, snowy, cold winter, I heartedly endorse Kate Morton who said in The Forgotten Garden, “It [is] such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” Starting the seedlings now is a step in that direction.

If anyone is interested in starting seedlings in their home, or helping with the seedlings at the Ashram please email me at

With love and blessings, Antarajna

Comings and Goings by Devapriyaa Hills, Seva Coordinator


Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills

There have been so many changes since the Conference in October that it will be difficult to make sure no one is missed.  The consolidation of Master Yoga and the Ashram has changed many sevas & sevites. The list has grown quite a bit since it was last printed. There are new sevites, changing sevas and sevites that are not doing seva at this time. It has been an honor to work with so many practicing the yoga of selfless service. If you notice that a sevite has been missed please notify me at so the list can be adjusted.

Welcome to new sevites and to those that will be contributing in a new way:

  • Bookkeeping – Saguna (Kelly) Goss
  • Documentation Team – Kriyaa (Chris) Godfrey
  • Downingtown Cleaning Team – Kanchan (Connie) Mohn (Coordinator), Sarvataa Christie, Kavi  Peppel, Lisa Spangler, Kalyani Wallis, Tony Stokes and Sarvataa Christie
  • Facebook Team – Ajeet Khalsa
  • File Management – Ekamanti (Diane) Tsurutani
  • Gardening Team – Tony Stokes & Gayatri (Barbara) Hess
  • Protocols & Procedures – Saguna (Kelly) Goss
  • TADAA & SATYA E-Letter – Marlene Gast (Editor), Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver (Assistant Editor)
  • Tech Support Team – Sheynapurna (Sandy) Peace
  • E-Blast Typesetter  – Gayatri (Barbara) Hess
  • Website checker – Pam Church
  • Web team – Prakash (David) Falbaum (Manager),  Vibhuti (Sandy) King (Coordinator) , Saguna (Kelly) Goss, Ron Gladski

Thank you to those who have changed to a new seva, worked on a special project or are not working at a seva at this time.  Your dedication and service has been a gift and is appreciated.

  • Bookkeeping – Amala (Lynn) Cattafi, Padmakshi (Andrea Wasserman), Devaraja (Steve) Thoman
  • Calendar Checker – Prakash (David) Falbaum
  • Data Input – Prakash (David) Falbuam, Sarvataa Christie, Louise Davis and Sally Broadhurst
  • E-Library team – Manisha (Mary Lou) Soczek
  • Ganeshpuri Music School Liaison – Antarajna (Debbie) Mandel
  • Gardening Team – Nancy Chang, Devi (Eizabeth) McKenty, & Tyagi (Tracy) Paul
  • Posting Master Yoga Listings on Philly Area Yoga Websites – Polly DiBella
  • Proofreader – Kanchan (Connie) Mohn, Theresa Morrison, Margo Gebraski & Nora Beckjord
  • SATYA E-Letter Team – Tish Roy
  • Special Events – Vicharini (Su Lee) Chafin, Deborah Woodward
  • Tech Support – Amber Quinn
  • Web Checker – Ajeet Khalsa
  • Web Team – Niranjan Matanich