Category Archives: Svaroopa Yoga

Two Yoga Miracles

By Katharine Raczkowski

My yoga student Kris and I are both aircraft mechanics, building planes for an aerospace company.  I am also a Svaroopa® yoga teacher.

Spring 2020, I noticed Kris wasn’t breathing.  That is, he was hunched over his workbench, and his belly didn’t move. One day, I lightheartedly asked, “Are you breathing?  Do you have room for your lungs?”  Later he responded, “You asked me if I was breathing.  So I sort of wondered about that.”

Kris had noticed that when work required standing, I stood with my feet side by side and parallel.  When he asked me generally what I did, I asked, “Can I show you something?” I taught him Slow Motion Dive and Crook’t Leg in the Chair and later showed him Tadasana.  I was amazed at how quickly Kris’s spine elongated.  Right away, he had to adjust his car seat as well as rearview and side mirrors.

In September 2020, a fall down a flight of stairs seriously injured my hips.  I had to use two hiking sticks to walk.  Fortunately, my Embodyment® therapist is close to my work.  So I could conveniently have sessions before starting the second-shift.  When I would arrive for work, Kris noticed I was no longer using the hiking sticks nor limping.  “You don’t look at all like you’ve fallen!”  This was the big kick for Kris to schedule a class at his home for himself and his wife.  Plus, since Embodyment® healed my hips, I canceled the hip surgery my doctor had recommended.

Early 2021, Kris had another class.  He learned some Foundations poses and Ujjayi Pranayama to do at home.  In October 2021, I enrolled in Foundations Review, YTT 1 and Embodyment® training.  After that Ashram immersion, I returned home in a whole different place.  Kris scheduled a private class in December.

Now he is working through YTT 1 poses in his home practice.  Before Svaroopa® yoga, Kris couldn’t raise his shoulders much and one arm only 30 degrees.  He no longer protects that arm now, and his joints move together fluidly.  Last week he asked to review Seated Side Stretch.  He explained, “I just love the movement.  It feels great.  But there are a lot of steps.”

Early on, I measured his height at 5’8”; it’s now 6’1”.  His blood pressure came down 20 points in 6 months; medication is no longer needed.  He gave up snacks and went from 220 to 175 pounds.

In a session, he released traumatic memories.  His level of worry and “spinning” has decreased, a change evident to his wife and daughter.  He used to write about his spinning.  Now he’s writing a children’s book about dragons learning how to use their fire appropriately.  He is excited about moving forward and dropping his past.

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. 

Reincarnation Defined

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Welcome back!  You’ve been here before.  How fortunate that you’ve made it into a human body this time.  Congratulations!  The ancient sages of India say we are the only species with the ability to choose our trajectory, both for this life as well as any future incarnations.

What is so special about being human?  While you have animalistic instincts and urges, there is more to you.  You have the ability to rise above them, to make choices to uplift yourself and to benefit others. Your intelligence, compassion and insight are unique amongst all creatures.

It is insight that makes the biggest difference.  In-sight is looking inward, not merely to your mind but to a deeper level, where you find who you are – who are you that has this mind?  By finding the deeper dimension within, you can become free from the cycle of birth-and-death.  Technically, reincarnation is called “The Doctrine of the Transmigration of Souls.”

Two seekers were walking together, having met along the road to an important pilgrimage site.  Their animated conversation was on the verge of becoming an argument, so they were happy to see a yogi under a tree alongside the road. 

They went over, bowed respectfully and said, “Oh Babaji.  We are disagreeing about how to become free from reincarnation’s vicious cycle.  Tell us, please:  how many more lifetimes will we each have to live?”

Turning to one of the seekers, the Guru said, “You have three more lifetimes to live.”  The seeker was shocked and disheartened.  He shouted, “Oh no!  Not really?  Three more.  That’s terrible!  I thought I was almost there.  Three more lifetimes.” He wandered off in despair.

Turning to the other seeker, the Guru said, “Your future lifetimes number as many as the leaves on this tree.”  With delight, the seeker replied, “Really?  It’s a finite number?  That means I really can make it, right?”  The Guru nodded approvingly.  The seeker bowed and thanked the Guru, then walked away, heading toward his companion.

Within moments, a truck veered off the road and killed him.  OK!  First lifetime complete!  Next he reincarnated as a virus, living only a few hours.  After many virus lifetimes, he graduated to a bacterium, living a bit longer.  He moved through other lifeforms, many with short lifespans, one right after the other. 

Finally, he was reborn as a human again.  His deep spiritual yearning led him to a Guru while still young.  He soaked up the teachings like a sponge, not only learning the theory but experiencing the Inner Truth toward which they point.  By the time he was in his 20’s, his name and reputation began to spread.  People came from far and wide to sit in his luminous presence and hear him teach.

The other seeker, with three lifetimes to go, was saddened to see his friend die so suddenly.  He continued on his pilgrimage, then went on others through his long life, living over 100 years.  His next lifetime was 110 years, wherein he studied with many different teachers. His next lifetime was another long one.

Reborn as a human again, he applied himself diligently to the meditative disciplines and sutra studies.  He was in his 90’s when he heard of a young Guru, one who radiated both love and wisdom.  With the help of friends, he traveled to meet this new teacher.  They all arrived, stored their bags in a nearby guest house and rushed to the satsang hall, slipping their shoes off outside.

The aged seeker walked in the door, picking his way slowly along the central aisle toward the Guru.  As he got closer, the Guru looked closely at him and began to laugh.  “Oh my friend!  Don’t you remember me?  We were sitting under the tree together, not so long ago…”

You have lived so many lives.  You have taken birth again this time so you can do something differently than before.  What is it that you have come here to do?  What do you want to find?  What is the highest that you can become?

The answers are all inside.  Unfortunately, without proper guidance, you’re peering into an inner darkness.  You need a teacher who can shine the light all the way inward.  That’s what my Baba did for me.  I’d love to help you find you, if you will allow.

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? 

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! 

Wholeness

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

It is the inner fragmentation that is so painful.  Yoga calls this “the human condition,” and promises wholeness instead.  This is a profound state of deep peace, with inner dimensionality that extends to infinity.  You get there by doing yogic practices to invoke your inherent wholeness of being.  Like with anything you practice, you get good at it.  Thus you’re able to live in an easy inner constancy.  Yoga calls this “Self,” spelled with an upper-case “S.”

Fragmentation is also called “self,” but is spelled with a lower-case “s.”  It’s like a crystal hanging in a window, which fragments a beam of sunlight into many dots of dancing light, each one analogous to a small-s self.  Who you are as a daughter or son is different than who you are as a sibling or friend.  You have many small-s selves, some based on your occupation and your avocations, with others based on your geography.  Your many selves can make it hard for you to make choices or follow through on them.  Worse, the arguments you have with yourself can be demoralizing.

Every small-s self requires effort to sustain it.  If you are a skier, you have to buy and maintain equipment, plan winter trips and join ski groups.  If you skip a couple of seasons, or even discover that yoga makes you feel better than skiing, there’s a point where you…

NEW! Magic Four Handout 

Amanda (Purna) Schmidt 

For the Magic Four, you need only a few props and the NEW Magic Four handout!  This is the original article, published in Yoga International, with color photos of Swami Nirmalananda demonstrating the poses! 

The Magic Four is an accessible, effective set of yoga poses for everyone.  Each pose is explained in detail to help you target deep spinal release.  Along with written instructions, this handout provides background about how Svaroopa® yoga works and the outcomes of your practice.   

You only need 20 minutes a day to feel the benefits.  Ease through the Magic Four and discover your inherent bliss.  Price: $7.55 

Gentle Yoga Classes 

Your body needs help or you know someone who needs yoga; that’s why you’re here.  When you’ve got aches and pains, perhaps even impaired movement due to injury or illness, you need a yoga that meets you where you’re at.  Svaroopa® Yoga is your answer.   

This is a slower-paced yoga, using chairs and other props to customize every pose to your needs.  You can even sign up for private sessions or semi-private therapeutics classes.  All this is available Online or On-Site.  You can come to us in Downingtown PA or we can Zoom into your home through your phone or other device. 

While we meet you where you’re at, you don’t stay there.  Your condition improves quickly.  You feel better after your first class.  Within a few sessions, you have less pain.  You have more stamina and are stronger.  Best of all, you are happier and have more to share.  Everyone who knows you celebrates your improvement and enjoys your new condition. 

Our methodology is spine-centric.  Every pose decompresses specific spinal vertebrae.  With precise alignments and compassionate propping, we lead you through a full spinal series in every class.  Your spine lengthens, your breath opens up and your smile gets wider.  It’s mechanical.  It’s reliable.  It’s predictable.  And it’s fun. 

If you’ve been slowed down by illness, injury or age, we recommend you start with a private yoga therapy session.  We begin with an assessment and intake, then move you through an easy introductory yoga practice.  At the end of the hour, another assessment follows, to see if you’re getting any improvement.  We’re happy to report that 99.5% of our clients get improvement in their first hour! 

We will also give you a treatment plan.  It may include 3-8 weeks of yoga sessions, usually 2-3 times weekly.  By then, you’re usually ready for our regular yoga classes, which will continue to expand your knowledge as well as improve your condition. 

If you don’t have a specific diagnosis or limitation, you may be able to begin in regular classes.  We offer 10 or more per week, On-Site as well as Online.   

If you don’t know what your best pathway is, simply sign up for one private session to get your assessment and treatment plan.  We delight in helping you find your way to health and vitality through yoga! 

Mantra Meditation

By Satguru Swami Nirmalananda 

Meet your mind where it’s at.  Having a crazy-busy mind is normal these days, unfortunately.  You aspire to a better state, a deeper inner center, a quality of being that fills your life with light.  Mantra meditation lassoes your mind and brings it back home, to your core essence, called “your own Self.” 

You need the right mantra, of course.  And you need to get it from someone who knows it fully, inside and out.  An authorized teacher within an authentic tradition can open the inner doorway for you in amazing ways.  That’s what happened for me, an inner awakening that transformed my life from the inside-out.   

I got the mantra from a local meditation teacher.  She had been authorized by her teacher in India.  It gave me deep meditation immediately. 

It was only later that I understood the greatness of the gift I had been given – the enlivened mantra, full of blessings and grace. 

It infused me with a sense of wholeness and purpose that I had never known before.  And all I had to do was meditate daily, which renewed and deepened it. 

Now, almost 50 years later, I offer the same to those who aspire higher.  In free online programs as well as course and retreats, you can get this mantra and instruction in how to use it.  Let those who have done their spiritual work give you a head start on yours! 

On-Site Yoga at Downingtown Yoga

Your Svaroopa® yoga class begins with you lying on your back in the yoga pose named Shavasana.  After your guided relaxation, each additional pose targets a specific part of your spine, unraveling deep tensions.  

Your internal organs get more interior space for optimal functioning.  After you end with another Shavasana, you can tell that this stuff works.  Every class welcomes new students while supporting experienced yogis.

Working at home, I find getting to my weekly Saturday morning class is a great remedy for isolation.  Taught by a swami, the class has a special vibe that resonates through us students. I get a lot of relaxation and benefits including relief from a herniated disc.  Plus, I learn tools for self-healing at home. — Beth S.