What’s in It for Me?

matrikaby Matrika Gast

Since 1998, I have carefully considered “what’s in it for me” every time I’ve participated in a Svaroopa® yoga class, teacher training course or retreat.  I’ve had plenty of expectations.  “Exceeded expectations” doesn’t really capture my experience either.  It’s that my mind didn’t have the capacity to envision what I was about to get.

My first Svaroopa® yoga class was at a teachers’ conference focused on another yoga style.  I thought I was going to get a little time out, but I got noticeable release in my spine, for the first time ever.  A few years later, Swami Nirmalananda (then Rama) gave a Heart Opening weekend in the studio where I taught (a different style of yoga).  I enrolled in the workshop to “support” my colleague who was hosting Rama.  He needed no “support” as the studio filled with nearly 30 participants.  I was the only teacher in that group.

supported fish - Copy

In Supported Fish, everyone was in bliss.  Except me.  My memory still presents me with the sensation of flames licking my sacrum and lumbar spine.  That was my first taste of awakened Kundalini, because a few months later my life started to change exponentially.  My granddaughter was born in Idaho and I soon found myself migrating to live there.  That move put me close to Swamiji’s 2004 Core Opening2 (squared) week-long immersion in Montana.  I signed up, expecting to “find my center,” since my move had unraveled life as I had known it.

What I found in Core Opening2 was not merely a sense of center, but the beginning of amazing expansion and transformation.  That week-long title’s resonance with E = mc2 should have tipped me off that it was time to fasten my seat belt.  It has not been what I expected.  Instead what I have found is being supported by “that for which I have always yearned” — Self.  Wonderment after wonderment has unfolded at the speed of light.

I took Foundations about a year later, and then entered YTT. After full certification as a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher, I took Meditation Teacher Training and then opened my own studio.  That granddaughter is now 16 AND she seems to actually like hanging out with me.  After a yoga class with me, her word for her Shavasana feeling was “contented.”

It’s such subtle, even seemingly insignificant events that blow my mind.  Flying home from our annual SVA Board retreat last August, I had a layover in Phoenix.  Waiting at the gate for my flight to Boise, I conversed with a woman flying on to Spokane WA.  I don’t remember how we started talking about yoga, but when she mentioned back pain, I told her about Svaroopa® yoga and our “deceptively easy, amazingly powerful” poses for spinal release.  I also told her about Francie Light, CSYT, who teaches in Spokane.  I had no expectation that the woman would remember our conversation even five minutes later.  But today I received this email from Francie:

I wanted to tell you that a new student started yoga on Tuesday.  She met you in the Phoenix airport and said that there was just “something about her” that attracted her to you.  So you talked to her and she found me, and here she is taking Svaroopa® yoga!

alignment-with-graceSmall world, so amazingly miraculous and beautiful.

In the end, that is “what is in it for me,” witnessing the impossible-to-imagine miracles that unfold along this Grace-filled path.

How Much Is Enough?

mati-sandy-gilbertBy Mati Sandy Gilbert

Rehoboth Beach Yoga hosted Swami Nirmalananda for a free satsang.  Imagine how special that was for us! Approximately 50 people attended — some yogis, some not — all listening with rapt attention.  Everyone seemed to understand her theme: “How much is enough?” I have always marveled at how her words touch each and every one, no matter what is going on in their lives.

During my closing remarks, I asked “How Much is Enough?”  Everyone tittered — even Swamiji.  I don’t know if anyone heard my next comment: “There is never enough Swami.” Even once we are truly, fully living in our own Divinity and being able to sustain it, we still need Swami.

rehoboth-beach-yogaMy personal high was when Swami presented me with a beautiful crystal from her own puja.  I remember reveling in her praise.  Afterwards, others told me I beamed.  How could I not?

While others were leaving after the satsang, I went up to Swami to express my personal thanks for her accepting our invitation and for her words of wisdom.  She graciously acknowledged my words.  But then she asked me, “Are you still doing the poses I suggested for you to do?” I am not sure what I answered, but she knew.  I wasn’t.  Gently, she reminded me.  I was in awe.  How could she remember what she told me many years ago? Needless to say, I have been doing those specific poses every day since.  Hopefully, I know enough now to continue doing them.  “How much is enough?” Each of us should keep that phrase in mind all through our lives.

Each of us experienced Swami Nirmalananda profoundly.  Deb Norton emailed me, “The discourse renewed my awareness of ‘What is measure?’ in my day-to-day existence.  Also, Swamiji’s talk led me to appreciate the importance of regular yoga/meditation practice and its positive, cumulative effects on my beingness.  In that regard, I strengthened my Yoga Score[1] by going to class today (1.5 hrs).”

_mg_4438Ishvari (Terry) Gardner agrees that Swami Nirmalananda’s visit was a great experience for all.  She recalls, “I couldn’t help watching the attendees’ rapt attention to Swami’s discourse.  She deftly wove the question of ‘How much is enough’ through life itself as well as elements of yoga.  She encouraged us to become aware of our own Yoga Score and how it can affect our life.  Following her discourse, we all chanted the mantra of our lineage: ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’ Then we settled into a very still, silent, deep meditation.  Afterwards, there was a lighthearted joy in the room as individuals went up to kneel at her feet and share a few private words with her.  Each received prasad, an orange cord bracelet, tied on by other yogis.  The group chatted together about their experience.  I believe everyone left a little — or a lot — changed.  I am certain that all were inspired to ‘do more yoga.’ I am profoundly grateful to have Swamiji inspire all of us in so many, many ways.”

[1] Swami Nirmalananda explained how to calculate your Yoga Score in her discourse.  Click here to hear the recording.


matrikaBy Matrika Gast

In thinking about a Svaroopa® retreat or professional training , do you ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” The well-known acronym is WIIFM. Marketing professionals look for the WIIFMs that attract in potential customers, before ever talking to them.

When I first took Svaroopa® yoga classes, easy access to my own Self was on my WIIFM list, but I didn’t know it. A stack of other WIIFMs, like relief of low back pain and a more balanced life, obscured my awareness of my deep yearning. I yearned for my own essential Divinity.

sunshineWhile one set of WIIFMs got me to Svaroopa® yoga, in the process I discovered that deeper motivation to know my Divinity experientially. The paradox is that both WIIFM goals have been fulfilled again and again. And even more keeps coming. An endless stream of Grace reveals the Divine woven into all things.

Through Svaroopa® yoga and meditation, the MORE fills us to overflowing. Likely you will find, as I have, that MORE turns out to be different than what you thought you wanted.  Better than anything you have imagined! It’s almost as though your DNA begins to shift toward compassion, generosity and benevolence full time.

Love for yourself begins to arise from within your Self. From that place, an immensity of love for everyone and everything flows forth. The paradox is, asking “What’s in it for me?” regarding our Svaroopa® Sciences leads ultimately to gifts of love and service for your family, your community and the whole world.


Being a Role Model

yogeshwaree-up-to-date-copyBy Yogeshwari Fountain

While standing at the sink doing the morning dishes recently, I felt just the slightest lift of my left heel.  Normally I’d read that as a cue to relax my tailbone, pull in my abs and get back into my body.  However, having just read “Being a Role Model,” Swamiji’s and Vidyadevi’s Contemplation article, I had a different awareness.  “Ground your Shakti,” I murmured to myself, feeling a surge of joy and fullness arise from within.

In that moment, I knew it wasn’t just me at the sink, doing, but Consciousness Itself, being me, while doing the dishes.  Simply by feeling my feet again, I experienced my fully embodied spirituality: present in my own Presence once again.  I think this is what Swamiji means by “yoga is about getting beyond theory.”

_MG_4685.JPGIn “Being a Role Model,” she points out the “Truth” that I am “perfect and divine,” always, no matter how I feel, or what my mind says, no exceptions.  To live this, I need all the practices of Svaroopa® yoga to keep re-aligning myself to the Self intentionally.  But to know I AM Living Truth itself is an inner shift that develops over time.  While I have blissful experiences of it, clearly I am not established there.  But the Guru is, and because of this, she is the ultimate role model, manifesting the revelatory power of Grace.

All my life I emulated others, looking for mentors and role models to show me how to achieve worldly success, as limited as that was.  But when I met Swamiji, I knew I was in the presence of “Living Truth,” and the road ahead was going to take a sharp turn inward.

yogeshwari-ytt-2-copyThe glory of this tantric path is that you must then turn outward, and shine your light back into the world.  While Swamiji continues to model this for all of us, she exhorts every Svaroopi to do the same for others.  I’m often asked, “How many hours of yoga do you do each day?” If only they really knew! Still, being a role model is humbling, as I’ve never felt “better than” anyone.  I’m simply grateful to be on this path of discipleship.  I trust that if I cooperate with the process, and watch my motives for any given action, I will become progressively more uplifted.  I will understand what I am truly becoming, not in a worldly sense, but as embodied Consciousness, Living Truth.


amala-photoby Amala (Lynn) Cattafi, SVA Board President

Thanks to our community of loving yogis, we have met and exceeded our $150,000 goal for our Bliss Place Capital Campaign.  Your generous donations and pledges now total $180,300.00, making it possible for us to complete making Lokananda a true Bliss Place for you.  It is also enabling us to re-reroof our historic building before winter, something we really needed to do.

Your gifts are another way you show your commitment to Svaroopa® yoga and to your kula (yoga-family).  Our generous yogis ARE each 1 in 100!

Lokananda - Donor gift pictureThe depth of teachings Swamiji provides attracts yogis who yearn for the greatest that yoga offers; you belong to this exclusive segment of the Western yoga world.  This Maha Yoga is the highest yoga, which opens you on every level.  Too often, the most difficult level to navigate is about finances and money.  Over 100 yogis have done deep work here, not only to support their kula but also to support their own yoga growth, as well as the Master Teacher who serves you.

We conducted our Capital Campaign in three segments: last fall, last spring and over the last six weeks.  In each, we reached out to you through letters, blogs, email publications and telephone calls by Board members and Svaroopi sevites.  As we have more community members than callers, our phone campaign went on for a while, and we found that more and more of you were WAITING for a call, excited about the prospect of contributing.

1 in 100Personally, I reached several yogis who said, “I was waiting for you to call.  Yes, I am ready to donate… how can I help?” Their response touched me so deeply! Even those who did not receive a call simply hopped on the website and donated, or called us to have a staff member assist with their donation.  Amazing generosity, love, and support!  I love you all so dearly, my heart is bursting and I am tearing up as I write this.

I also offer kudos to our sevites and Board members who gave of their time and effort.  It’s a big deal to get over your own resistance to asking for financial support.  I saw such growth in the ability of our callers to meet this challenge.  They cheerfully placed calls and reveled in the opportunity to talk with you about what really matters to you in your yoga experience.

We all found that talking yoga with members of our kula is in itself a great gift.  Often we aren’t able to have the same type of discussions with anyone else in our lives.  Thank you to the yogis who responded so enthusiastically and generously.  This connection shone forth as reciprocal adaptation at its most splendid!

On behalf of Swamiji and your Board of Directors, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.  I am grateful to be sharing this miraculous journey with all of you, my dear family.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h


Ashram’s 7th Birthday

by Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Ten years ago, I moved to Pennsylvania.  San Diego seems like yesterday, in fact I was there recently.  They invited me to come and offer free satsangs, to again share these incredible teachings with them, these powerful practices, this deep inner experience.  It was such a treasure, to be invited to take yogis that I’ve known for decades, as well as many newcomers, to another and deeper level.  This deeper experience is what the Ashram is all about.rama-swami-ceremony-68-cropped

A little over seven years ago, I became a swami, a yoga monk, a renunciant.  I traveled for the next year, fulfilling promises I’d made before I renounced promises.

What do you do when there is nothing you seek any more?  I went in order to serve the yogis who wanted to see me, wanted to see the change that such a ceremony could create – even to see if they still wanted any of what I had gotten.  Do you want consciousness?  Do you want to know your own Self?  How could you not?!

7 birthday candles.jpg

Today is the 7th birthday of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram.  I had the great privilege of founding an Ashram!  Wow!  An organization dedicated to God.  It’s like a church in some ways, yet different.

The difference is that the Ashram is dedicated to you finding and experiencing the Reality that God is being you.  You look inside.  That’s what I’m here for – it’s what I’ve always done, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, to help you find you.  This is yoga.  This is Svaroopa® yoga.  The poses are incidental.

The Sanskrit word “Guru” is spelled, “Gee, you are you.”  As a theory, it’s incredibly inspiring, yet yoga is more than theory.  Yoga is embodied experience.  Everything the Ashram does is so you have the experience of being the embodied Divinity that you are.

Becoming a swami gave me the freedom to focus on my primary interest – the deeper practices of yoga, the teachings and meditative practices.  Plus, I had spent almost 25 years developing a community of accomplished yogis who were ready for that deepening.  Plus, I was authorized to give Shaktipat, to serve others as my Baba had served me and so many.

I’m delighted to be here, to be serving you through the structure of an Ashram, an organization dedicated to your upliftment.  I hope you can open your heart and your mind, not to me, but to your own Self.  For that’s what Svaroopa® yoga has always been about.  That’s what I’ve always been about.  That’s what yoga has always been about.

great-shots-27I know that one who knows the Self makes it easier for others to know.  I discovered that when I met Baba.  He not only explained the emptiness I felt inside – he filled it.  But he didn’t fill it with him — he filled it with me.  What a difference!  He could do that because he was established in the Self within himself.  I found that, when I was with him, I got it.  It was tangible.  It was easy.  Plus, he explained it all.

I bring this from him to you, if you allow me to do so.  If you accept the gift, from one who has given her life to the knowing and being – from one who wants you to have what I have found.  I hope to infect you with the same gift he gave me, that you catch the germs of enlightenment, and that you nurse your Divine illness until you totally succumb.

Yoga doesn’t merely offer you vibrant health.  Vitality.  Youth.  Optimism.  Happiness.  Clarity. Creativity.  An increased capacity to love – and the ability to feel the love that others have for you.  Yoga offers you you.

Happy 7th Birthday Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram!  And thank you to everyone who makes it possible for the Ashram to exist and to serve so many.  Your support makes me able to serve my Baba.  Thank you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Home Stretch

carolyn_beaverBy Karuna Beaver, SVA Board Member

We’re in the home stretch of our capital campaign to fund our spiritual home, Lokananda. A year ago, the SVA Board of Directors set out to raise $150,000 to pay for the much-needed renovation of our old Grand Dame in Downingtown PA. We came out of the gate quickly, raising more than $65,000. At the first turn, last February, we raised another $35,000 and were two-thirds of the way. This August, we embarked on the final leg of this race. Now we’re dashing along the racecourse between the last turn and the winning post — the home stretch.

It’s the tremendous dedication of you, our donors, that has sped us within sight of our goal. Thank you to each and every one of you. No matter the size of your donation, you made Lokananda happen. You ensured that we hit our stride and readied Lokananda for housing programs and participants beginning October 2015. Your generosity has enabled us to continue to make needed improvements. This means that while you are in residence, whether for a professional training or a retreat, you are at home. Your home.

1 in 100Still, there’s a bit more distance to go. If you’ve been pondering what you can do, now is the time to jump into the race! Your donation is designated for the new roof and other pre-winter needs.  You can help put that roof over your fellow yogis’ heads!

We are all together in the home stretch to securing our spiritual home’s future. The Grace that flows from Lokananda is guaranteed. Every time you visit, you come away more deeply rooted in the practices that set you free from your limitations. Every step you take towards ensuring Lokananda’s future, including the yogic practice of dakshina — financial support for the teachings — brings you closer to knowing your own inherent essence.

If you are still on the sidelines as our Bliss Place Capital Campaign draws to an end, please leap into the home stretch today. It will be great to cross that finish line all together. Know that any donation you make is really an investment in your relationship to Self, your own Divine Essence. Click here to donate. Or give us a call: 610.644.7555, weekdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern Time).Lokananda 3