Category Archives: Svaroopa Yoga

Knowing the Self in Two Ways

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

You need the theory to get beyond the theory. For the knowing of your own Self, you must have an understanding of the Self, so you can get there. But you must go beyond your understanding to actually get there.

It’s like going on a long car trip to a wonderful and beautiful destination. You plan your trip: figure out your timing, pack your bags and snacks, and set your GPS. Once you get there, you have to let go of the steering wheel and get out of the car. 

You have arrived. However, being in the new location changes how you see things and what you will do next. If you’ve read about the destination, you have an idea of what to do. In this way, the teachings help you make sense out of your new state once you are enlightened.

Vitarka aatmaj~naanam. — Shiva Sutras 1.17

Right understanding is Self-Knowingness.

The sutra is read forwards and backwards. Forwards: this means you can use the sutras and teachings to get to the Self. Backwards: When you know the Self, your mind gains a new understanding of everything. In both directions, this use of your mind is called “right understanding,” meaning it is accurate as well as beneficial.

What is the right understanding? First you use your mind to understand that you are more than your mind. You are the one who has a mind as well as a body. Cultivate your ability to see that you are the one seeing through your eyes. You are the one who speaks through your mouth, hears through your ears, who does what you do.  You are you even while you do what you do. 

As you distinguish between what you do and who you are, you grow into a greater sense of being, which opens up new possibilities. The most important of these is the possibility of inward expansion, the exploration of the “who” that you really are.

And when you explore your own Essence and Beingness, you discover that you are even more than what you thought you were. You go beyond your idea of your own Divine Essence — to experience your own Self, named “aatma” in this sutra.

This inner recognition of your own Self is beyond thought, beyond hope, beyond faith and belief. You realize that your own Self knows your own Self, and always has. You are That which has always existed, and is existing as you.

All the yogic practices and teachings are for this purpose — giving you the experiential knowing of your own Self. You are in your glory, shining with the inner light of being Consciousness-Itself.

This inner experience and knowingness now shines through your mind, illumining the shadows and burning away the foggy thinking. A new clarity informs your choices. Your decisions and actions are more direct, even simplified while being made more powerful and effective.

Now you live with right understanding, using your mind as a tool to implement the Divine Wisdom that is always arising within. This is the goal. What a way to live!

What Kind of Karma?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

No one talks about their karma when life is flowing smoothly, when finances fall together and they’re getting what they want. That’s called “good karma.” But you may complain when things are falling apart and life is hard. That’s called “bad karma.” However, complaining about it does not help. You already know this. It’s like complaining about the weather. No matter what you say, it is what it is.

Where I live, the weather blows in from the Arctic or the Caribbean, sometimes from the Great Plains. Whatever blows through, all I can do is manage myself in the midst of it. Rain gear, snow gear, summery clothes and sunscreen – all are in my repertoire and in my closet.

Similarly, your karma is coming from somewhere – maybe things you did yesterday or last week, perhaps from decades or lifetimes ago. In meditation, I‘ve had clear memories of being a Greek soldier in a prior life. Karma can be nasty stuff! But it’s only if you did nasty stuff in the past. And we all have.

You have also done good things. Big stuff and even little stuff matters. Sometimes when I’m driving, I…

Surgery at Birth

By Maria Sichel

With the Svaroopa® Sciences practices, miracles happen reliably.  Encouraged by his wife, my client Marc took an introductory class last September.  With two partial knee replacements, he described himself as “stiff” and said he had back and knee pain.  After this introduction, Marc felt so good he enrolled in weekly classes.

Marc’s Svaroopa® yoga class became a highlight of his week.  He often reported with wonder that he felt so much better at the end of class.  Early on, he remarked, “I wasn’t expecting the added benefit of mental relief!  I am astounded to be calmer with less pain, more mobility and an overall good feeling.  My body has opened in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”

In February, he decided to try yoga therapy.  He described, “I was born with a double hernia.  Correction at birth created scar tissue that affected my psoas muscles.  At 26, I developed a slight herniation on the right side of the L4–L5 vertebrae.  On-and-off debilitating pain resulted.”

Marc got some relief from massage therapy and chiropractic treatments.  However, the extreme tightness on his right side from his neck down to his hip continued.  Arriving for his first yoga therapy session, Marc reported pain spreading through his neck, entire right side, sacrum and both knees.  Afterward, he reported no pain!  Being persuaded by the miracle of 20 minutes of Ujjayi Pranayama, Marc became a daily “breather” at home.

At his fifth session, Marc reports enjoying his consistent daily Ujjayi breathing.  When he fills out the initial pain scale, he now targets only two small spots.  He leaves the session with zeros. 

Marc says, “I am amazed at the breathing practice.  I have been able to stop visiting the chiropractor every week.  This weekend I overdid it and was in quite a negative state.  I did my breathing, poses and some meditation, and I was transformed.”

I say that Marc is in the “midst of a miracle.”  I don’t know how “good” good can get for Marc.  And neither does he.  But he continues to be curious and run the experiment.

A Turning Point 

By Gayle Haney

Interviewed by Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast, Yogaratna

For several years at Downingtown Yoga, I enjoyed Svaroopa® Yoga Therapy, classes and Gurudevi’s Satsangs.  I also took a Learn to Meditate course.  

Then in September 2021, I enrolled in the five-day, residential course – Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga.  My purpose was to learn more about how these practices work and design a home practice.  In addition, I reached a deeper level of Consciousness and understanding.  

Each day began with chanting and meditation.  Then we dove into the primary poses for spinal opening.  In partner-pairs, we learned how to give instructions for alignments, adjustments and propping.  

With this meticulous training I went deeper.  I learned how to lead a group in japa (out loud mantra repetition).  I learned the history and meaning of the chants and how to do arati (the flame circles ceremony).  During meals and recesses, I refrained from worrying about work and checking my email and phone.  The benefits of Svaroopa® yoga saturated me on all levels.

Several years before, back problems had led me to Svaroopa® yoga.  There were times when I couldn’t stand up or even move.  Now my doctors recognize my progress and the improvements in my health.  

After Foundations, my local Svaroopa® yoga teacher and therapist gave me an Embodyment® session, and reported a profound change in my body: “Your sacrum has never been in this position and has never moved like this.”

My Foundations immersion was a turning point for my mind as well.  I attained a deep level of inner peace and quiet.  I became aware of how much I value this calm.  To maintain it, I use the tools that Foundations delivered.  A year and a half later, I am committed to my daily practice.

While I don’t teach, I have shared Svaroopa® yoga with my sister.  She and I now attend the same weekly class, and I support her when she has questions.  We recently took a Learn to Meditate course together.

Reflecting on my Foundations immersion, I have to say it’s a big investment.  And you get out of it what you put into it.

A Yoga Breakthrough

By Lynn (Gurupremananda) Cattafi

Board Member, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram

Sometimes you really need a breakthrough.  Yet you can’t get there doing what you’ve always done.  For me, it required a “yoga rescue.”  The Svaroopa® practices are a Consciousness-based rescue kit for my body, mind, heart and more.

This is why I support our Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram.  Please join me in offering your loving donation today during our 2023 fundraiser – Body, Mind, Heart and More.

In January, I initiated my “yoga rescue” at the five-day Yoga Healing Retreat.  Each and every day included all of the Svaroopa® Sciences practices.  I fully experienced how the practices all work together.  They provided multi-dimensional healing, on every level of my being.  I got my breakthrough, the inner freedom I was longing for.  And the deepening inward continues.

Gurudevi Nirmalananda, our living Yoga Master, curated the ancient, time-tested practices into a full yoga system.  I turn to the asana (poses) and breathing practices to decompress my spine.  They release the physical tensions that cause me pain. 

I schedule a vichara session to unravel the suffering caused by the crazy, limiting ways I use my mind.  Our chanting and meditation techniques propel me inward and open my heart.  I dive deeply into the ocean of my own Beingness.  This is the source of all healing and transformation.  I am able to experience the freedom of knowing and being my own Self.  This is inner freedom!

Your own breakthrough is so close.  You don’t have to search the world over, testing out various styles and modalities.  The Svaroopa® system frees you from all the guesswork.

Your financial support of the work Gurudevi and her teachers offer to the world is so important.  The world needs their work more than ever. 

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!

Body, Mind, Heart & More

By Ellen (Lajja) Mitchell

Board President, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram

I am honored to invite you to join in our semiannual fundraiser — “Body, Mind, Heart and More.”  Please take advantage of this opportunity to support your Ashram with a financial contribution.

Look forward to hearing and reading about others’ personal experiences of the transformative power of our Svaroopa® Sciences practices.  Gratitude is the common thread in these reports from active members of our community.  

Our practices are like gems.  Gems sparkle.  And when you do the practices, you sparkle too — from the inside out.  

Physical pain brought me to Svaroopa® yoga, a bulging disk in my lower back.  Told I was not a surgical candidate, I was offered pain pills and pain patches.  I said, “Those treat the symptoms, how do I fix the problem?”  The doctor said, “You can try acupuncture and yoga.”  So I found an acupuncturist and a Svaroopa® yoga teacher.  

My first yoga class gave me more than physical pain relief.  I felt taller and I also felt different.  I remember walking through the hallway at work thinking ‘something is different’.  I felt like there was more space around me.

The spinal release also helped quiet my mind.  I used to pray nightly for peace of mind.  My mind was so busy — day and night, night and day.  One class, my teacher had us sit in Sukhasana for a few minutes.  We meditated.  

I was intrigued.  I wanted to start a home practice.  I remember repeating our mantra out loud to prepare for meditation.  Then I’d set my timer.  I started with five minutes and slowly increased it.  What a gem meditation has been for me!  

Chanting is another gem of the Svaroopa® Sciences.  It has brought me peace in times of stress.  I have chanted for hours while driving and at home.  Chanting brings me joy.  It has allowed my heart to stay open when all I wanted to do was close up and retreat from the world.  Gurudevi says, “It is chanting and meditation that fuel the deepest heart-level changes.”  I have felt this.  Have you?

Sometimes, stuff comes up and churns in my mind.  Or I become aware of a pattern that I want help exploring.  In those times, I turn to vichara (guided self-inquiry).  Private sessions guided by a Certified Vichara Therapist have helped me get past this internal churn.  Then I can see the situation differently.  

Vichara has shifted me, helping to peel layers away.  Like the other practices, vichara clears the way for the Light of Consciousness to shine from within.  It illuminates where it may have not before.  Vichara is another Svaroopa® yoga gem that allows me to shine brighter.

I remember my first Embodyment® Yoga Therapy session.  When I first heard about Embodyment® sessions, I wondered, “You lay in Shavasana and that is it?”  Embodyment® proved to be yet another scintillating yoga gem.  It has helped me both physically and spiritually.

My very first class gave me a peek into myself. And it made me want more.  For that I am grateful because that yearning was the beginning of my path.  Since then, every experience of the Svaroopa® Sciences practices has kept me going.  

I recently went through overlap healing Embodyment® sessions to help with a physical issue.  Layers shed.  Those Embodyment® sessions allowed me to continue when I thought I had no path forward.

All of these practices — asana, meditation, chanting, vichara and Embodyment® sessions — have opened me inward to the healing, transformative Light of Consciousness.  These sparkling yogic gems have allowed me to be lighter and shine brighter in the world.  I give in gratitude to our Ashram for all I have received.

Please take a moment to recall your experiences of the Svaroopa® Sciences practices.  

How have they opened you inward to healing and transformation?  

Do you now shine brighter in body, mind, heart and more?  

Let your answer guide you in joining me to support our Ashram with a financial gift.  Give back in gratitude to the source of the teachings and practices.  You’ll engage in dakshina (selfless giving) — yet another transformative practice.

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.  

From my heart, I say thank you!

Receiving More Intense Shaktipat

By Margie (Maitreyi) Wilsman

Year after year, I take Gurudevi’s Shaktipat Retreats.  I know she has awakened Kundalini within me.  In every human being, Kundalini is the cosmic, mystical, meditative energy lying dormant at the base of our spines.  When awakened, she does our inner work for us.  

Burning karmic seeds stored in the spine, she dissolves blockages to Capital-S Self within.  I now experience Kundalini arising within me, the process of enlightenment unfolding.

In my last Shaktipat Retreat, we chanted to honor Kundalini as always.  We also chanted Chidananda Rupah.  Its refrain “Shivo’ham, Shivo’ham” honors the one who chants.  It offers you the revelation “I am Shiva, I am Shiva,” that Light of Conscious, the One Self Being All.  My chanting was much more purposeful, even though I didn’t will it to be so.

In each retreat, Gurudevi gives Shaktipat two or three times.  Each time, Gurudevi reminds us that what we receive from her depends on our capacity to receive.  This time I decided to open my capacity for receiving to the fullest.

Now, even months later, I notice my spiritual process has been transformed.  Kundalini continues to clear obstacles to the experiential knowing of my Capital-S Self.  Kundalini opens me to Divine sight and heartfelt feelings.  

My inner eyes allow me to see and to feel the cosmos and world alive with the energy of Kundalini and my own Self.  Within my spiritual heart, I feel the throbbing of Pure Love, Divine Love.  I am propelled to chant twice daily.  Kundalini also propels me to meditate twice daily.  With resolve greater than ever before, I continue what Kundalini is propelling me to do.

Whether online or in person, Gurudevi’s Shaktipat Retreats transform me in unexpected ways.  Kundalini and Gurudevi know what I need in my spiritual process.  Now I have more and more capacity to receive.  Her gift of Shaktipat is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

A Yoga Warrior

By Julia (Chintamani) Wallis

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

Late last year, Yulia came to me in a lot of pain.  Since childhood, every day has brought her hip, shoulder, wrist and knee pain.  Persistent headaches and head pressure were part of it too.  She didn’t remember ever not having headaches.  Even her vision kept getting worse.  

I gave Yulia three private sessions.  She experienced mental peace and calmness immediately.  Soon physical changes started, and her pain began to subside. 

Then Swami Satrupananda came to teach some yoga programs.  Yulia enrolled in the four-hour workshop, though this was before she had done any yoga classes.  Towards the end of the yoga poses part, Yulia came to me, looking very frightened.  She said she didn’t think she could do it.  Her physical discomfort was very high.  I told her, “If you can stay with it, it will change.”  Like a yoga warrior, she stayed with it, and it did change.

Then, after two months of weekly private sessions and only one class, I noticed that the shape of Yulia’s eyes was changing.  She posted this review on my Facebook page: 

I’m amazed at my progress in the short two months I’ve been practicing with Julia.  My mind is quieter; the thoughts are not swirling around non-stop.  I catch myself being grateful more often.  The severe hip pain I’ve had for 10 years is not as bad.  My headaches are completely gone, and even my eyesight has improved.

In February, I went to Lokananda for a Teacher Training: Treating Pain TuneUp.  Upon returning to Seattle, I began doing the poses with Yulia in her sessions.  After the first one, she sent me a text.  She said it was the first time in her life that she spent a day without pain.  She said, “It’s hard to find any pain.  In the past, I’d sneeze and feel like I’m falling into little pieces.  I’m forever grateful I found Svaroopa® yoga.”

Healing on Every Level

By Lynn (Gurupremananda) Cattafi

The January Healing Retreat was the perfect way to start my New Year. The format created is powerful. The brilliantly designed practices reached me on all levels of my being.  

Doing the full-immersion online retreat in my own home was a sacred experience. I could weave the healing into every part of my life, while simultaneously being in my life. 

I went into the retreat looking for relief from foot pain that was affecting my mobility. I knew I needed the personalized help that I would receive at the Healing Retreat. And I received so much more than just pain relief! 

I was deeply healed in body, mind and heart. I started each day with the online Meditation Club. 

Then came my personalized one-on-one online yoga therapy session with one of the Ashram’s amazing Yoga Therapists. I received poses that target and heal my specific pain. 

Daily vichara (guided self-inquiry) freed me from mental tensions and blocks. As I got freer, I realized that those blocks had been adversely affecting my body. 

Our Yoga Therapists’ daily discourses on pain and healing enhanced my healing process. Plus, in Gurudevi’s group Q&A, I received her enlightened insight into my healing.

This multi-level opening and clearing prepared me for a huge inner breakthrough. It came a few days after the retreat concluded. 

I am grateful to Gurudevi as well as to my therapists, Swami Shrutananda and Swami Prajnananda. Their loving and expert guidance is priceless. I highly recommend the Healing Retreat. I am looking forward to taking it again and again. It’s that powerful. 


By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast, Yogaratna

At first, I valued this pose for its efficiency.  Your sacrum, waist and ribcage area of your spine all get a deep release at the same time.  Now I’ve learned to savor the true power of Virasana (Hero Pose) with Seated Side Stretch (SSS).

Virasana SSS opens me inward to exuberance!  On my upper arm side, the whole side of my torso lengthens and expands.  While extending my straight-elbow arm diagonally, I ease my navel inward.  Then my torso extends on both sides.  The sense of lengthening and expansion is delicious.

Moving in gradually gives me a sweet transition from computer work — from “busy mind” to minding my body.  Sitting in the middle of my blanket stack, I soften both legs.  One at a time, I lift them into the crossed-leg alignment.  Relaxing my legs, I can more easily line my knees up.  Pausing with my hands resting on my knees, I settle into easy breathing and inner awareness.  I drop down from a hectic day into the eternal peace of my own Self.

Then I silently coach myself with tips.  “Use elbow muscles” to keep your upraised arm straight.  “Align your upper arm parallel to your spine line.”  I feel both sides of my torso as well as my upraised arm lengthen more.

After moving out of the first side, I pause to sit, resting with my stacked hands again on my knees.  My mind settles down and inward.  I sink into noticing my body inside more deeply.  I feel the ongoing changes.  

The feeling of warm upliftment continues.  A sense of renewal spreads all the way up to the side of my face.  It’s a delicious interval.

For my other side, I repeat the step-by-step process of moving in, staying in and moving out.  The luxurious openings unfold on my second side.  Yumm…