Tag Archives: sevites

The Website That Seva Built by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

Our new website at www.svaroopa.org 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.

Yoga in the World by Amala (Lynn) Cattafi, President, Svaroopa Vidya Ashram Board of Directors

Amala Lynn Cattafi

Amala (Lynn) Cattafi

I have a very dear friend, a yogi, who recently described me as a “human doing” rather than a human being. That would be hilarious if it were not such an accurate description. Maybe you can relate? She and I were having a short visit this week, and out of nowhere (hmmm, really?) I broke into a million pieces, a total meltdown. All of the shrama, the layers of exhaustion, just boiled over. It didn’t have to be this way. It was all my own doing, and doing, and doing.

Then I remembered, I have all of the tools I need at my fingertips, even closer than my breath. I put my Self first and sat to meditate — the elixir, the cure. I was seated in my Self again, blissfully. And all was well again. I was able to rejoin the world as a yogi living in the world, focused, able, without limitations and in awareness of what this amazing refuge of svaroopa gives me.

How silly can I be to think that I do it all when I put meditation as the last thing on my To Do List? Sometimes, integrating yoga into a busy, worldly life can be a challenge. It takes time, it takes commitment and focus. But I am worth it! You are worth it!

While yoga in the world is beautiful, I cannot imagine a world without Svaroopa® yoga. I see what it does in the world on both a small and a large scale — transformations as small as a blade of grass and as big as the sky.

This is why I offer my time in seva (service) to the Ashram. I offer my devotion to Swamiji and the community she has created. I offer my love and devotion always. But just as important, I offer my money for the betterment and support of this amazing organization and this amazing Teacher, so that she and those she has trained can continue their work.

Please join me in giving today, and give generously. I can speak from my position as President of the Ashram Board of Directors that your donations are very much needed, in any amount, deeply respected and always handled with loving care. It is our commitment to you and our service to you.

Thank you!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah

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 seva@svaroopavidya.org so the list can be adjusted.


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 seva@svaroopavidya.org 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

Comings & Goings

With our focus on the prep and presentation of the conference as well as the follow-up, we are catching up in reporting our comings and goings.  The Consolidation still underway means we are building a local staff, who can work together as well as take yoga classes together, based in Downingtown — at Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center.

It is perfect to be announcing our new team during the celebration of Diwali, the beginning of the new year in yoga, as well as the opportunity to thank several dedicated Svaroopis their service.

kim Abplanalp1


Thank you to Barbara McCarthy for serving as our Enrollment Advisor after Caroline Kennedy. Unfortunately, Barbara is not able to continue.  Welcome to Hrdayaa Abplanalp, a long-time Svaroopi who has been a leader in the Master Yoga community for over 15 years. Hrdayaa (her-da-YAA) was the first SVA Enrollment Sevite, serving the Ashram in its founding year and beyond, and will now serve you as your new Enrollment Advisor for Teacher Training and yoga programs.  When in doubt, call Hrdayaa!  610.644.7555, extension , or email her at programs@masteryoga.org.

Our local Ashram-Master Yoga staff is expanding, creating a cohesive team who has the luxury of working together on site.  Welcome our new staff members, who have already begun their staff Svaroopa® yoga classes.


Akima Redding serves as Enrollment System & Traffic Coordinator for the organization. As the name suggests, she’s our enrollment system expert and is the staff member who processes your SATYA memberships, payment plans, monthly donations and provides clarity in the two systems’ workings. While Traffic Coordinator may call to mind a whistle, stop sign and safety vest, Akima directs the movement of the communications (including this blog!) that you receive on a regular basis, working both with staff as well as sevites to support our continuing commitment to transparency as well as to make Swamiji’s teachings easily available.

As Household Assistant, Nick Duchnesky has joined Ashram Chefs Jen & Chris in the kitchen. He provides them assistance prepping for, serving and cleaning up after meals, grocery shopping and cleaning other areas at the Ashram.

Sarvataa Christie’s name may already be familiar to you as she has been a dedicated Svaroopi and sevite for many years. In addition to her sevas, Enrollment Team and E-Group Moderator, Sarvataa is joining the staff as Personal & Events Assistant. She’s already shined the light of clarity on several areas and relieved Swamiji of several administrative projects as well as helped prepare for several special events.

Our ever-growing Seva Team has expanded with several new sevites, even while we are saying thank you to some who are leaving their positions.

Thank you to Niranjan Matanich who has kept the Downingtown Yoga website up-to-date for the past couple years,  Niranjan continues to coordinate the SATYA Q&A for Swami Nirmalananda, collecting your questions and assisting you with archival information in between the publication dates.  SATYA members, send your questions to questions@masteryoga.org.

We are sorry to see Joanna McNeal leave, as she helped build Master Yoga’s seva program by serving as Seva Coordinator, helping many of you find the right seva spot for you.   It all begins with a questionnaire, where you tell us about your skills and interests, so we can find something that feeds you while you are giving to the Ashram-Master Yoga.  Email seva@masteryoga.org if you would like to offer your time and energy to support this work.

Rudrani Nogue was an Assistant Editor for Tadaa! supervising and editing the SVA articles since its inception in January.   Rudrani continues to serve on the Ashram’s Board of Directors.

The simple word “welcome” does not seem an appropriate word as none of these yoginis are strangers to seva, but are merely stepping into new positions:

Saguna Goss, who serves on Master Yoga’s Board (for many years), is increasing her seva practice with bookkeeping support, Downingtown Yoga website maintenance, and document organization.



Karuna Beaver, who has hosted MYX programs and a Shaktipat retreat in addition to performing on-site seva at the Ashram, is joining the staff of Tadaa! as the Assistant Editor. She’ll be supporting Editor Marlene Gast in planning articles as well as coordinating writers and proofreaders.

Ekamati Tsurutani, a former E-Letter writer, is now supporting bookkeeping by helping organize and file E-documents.

Shanti Catacchio, one of the Svaroopis  who brought you September’s Japathon!, is joining the Community Outreach Team. She’ll be supporting yogis who are signed up to receive communications but are not getting them due to tech obstacles.

Gayatri Hess, another Japathon! sevite, is joining our Communications Team. She’ll be helping typeset the communications like “Spotlight on Your Yoga” and “INSIDE Yoga” that you receive in your emails.

While we know that comings and goings are part of life, it’s a little like bittersweet chocolate – to say thank you and goodbye to those who are departing for various reasons, and welcoming so many staff and sevites in new positions.  This last two months have been a whirlwind of “Sakti!  Consolidation makes things hum!  As the year winds down, we’ll be finalizing our internal systems and getting everything ready to serve you in 2014!  We plan to serve many, especially with the Discounts in our 2014 Initiatives!