The “Real Deal” of Inner Unfoldment

yogeshwari

By Yogeshwari Fountain

“Your spine is the main energy channel (nadi) of the 72,000,000 nadis that make up your body.”  — Swamiji & Vidyadevi

As I read this quote to my students, their eyes grew wider in amazement. They were seated in Sukhasana, having just finished Seated Side Stretch. It was the perfect moment to check in with them about what they were experiencing. “I feel bigger, front to back and side to side,” said Nancyjo. Hadley added, “My breathing has opened up. I feel lifted and centered in myself.” My students’ descriptions also come from their pose practice, which had balanced their ida and pingala nadis (left and right energy channels).

nadis map kundaliniyoga-homestead-comThe deep inner explorations of yoga’s ancient sages revealed the cosmic internal mapping of our body’s subtle energetic template. When I turn inward to perceive this inner Reality, I see that it is larger than I yet fathom. I can get caught up in the world, looking for balance and stability on the outside, yet I feel the truth that Shiva has designed it all for the inner unfoldment of Consciousness.

From teaching Svaroopa® yoga and my own experiences, I know that every time you lengthen your tailbone, you are opening up the energetic pathways of the nadis. I also experience this opening in Ujjayi Pranayama and more directly when I meditate. Meditation is the most powerful practice for Kundalini, who arises freely when ida and pingala are balanced or when you use the mantra of our lineage.

I was a seeker from early on. I’d heard about “chakra balancing.” I saw the pretty, artistic t-shirts with (inaccurate) renderings of the inner chakra colors. Yet they didn’t really resonate with me. Then I met Swami Nirmalananda, and knew I’d found the “real deal.” She had something I wanted. I felt grounded and embodied from my first taste of Svaroopa® yoga. As soon as I let my tailbone muscles soften, a corresponding release would climb my spine, and I felt a blissful realignment that was both physical and spiritual.

When I first discovered yoga, my primary drive was improvements in my life and relationships. If I felt more manageable on the inside, then who I was on the outside would be happier. And I could make others happy as well. Fortunately, Svaroopa® yoga and meditation has changed all of that for me. This yoga points me inward. As Swamiji and Vidyadevi explain, “The chakras are about your inner work, a map of the mystical process of spiritual growth that reliably unfolds when Kundalini is awakened.”

Shaktipat SwamiAll along, that’s what I had wanted. Kundalini is the energy of the universe, embodying you! Opening your tailbone moves the energy through your nadis, but it is Shaktipat initiation from Swami Nirmalananda that has taken me from half-baked (in Consciousness) to fully baked. Because of this, I am no longer satisfied by Svaroopa® yoga’s physical benefits alone. They serve as a launching pad for the blast-off into Consciousness. Swamiji’s Grace provides the jet fuel.

When you receive Shaktipat, you don’t become Divine, since you already are Divine. Instead, the Grace she injects clears away the obstacles that prevent you from knowing your Divinity. Your inner Radiance is lit from within.

My Favorite Foundations Pose

Priya KenneyReported by Priya Kenney

Saying Half Frog is her favorite, Dianne Sass explains, “I have always had issues with my SI joints.  When I go into Half Frog, I feel a huge release.  I also love the Sacrum Press and Thigh Twist adjustments that a teacher can give students.  It is a very effective tailbone and sacral opener.”

Half FrogLikewise, Wendy Miller names Half Frog as her favorite.  She describes it as “one that I routinely incorporate into my daily practice.  It’s straightforward, and reliably releases my sacrum.  On a good day, I can also release my tailbone!  Half Frog effortlessly gets the job done.”

Tammy Browning declares, “The Foundations course was amazing.  I left feeling rejuvenated and energetic.  I had so much opening and felt so good.  I have an absolute passion for this yoga and had such a great time that I am enrolled in Level 1.  As far as my favorite pose, I loved them all!”

Maria Sichel repeated Foundations recently for her continuing education as a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher (CSYT).  She, too, says, “It is impossible to pick one favorite pose.  My favorite part of studying and reviewing the poses is the process of refinement — experiencing and understanding alignments in a more precise way.  For example, when we learned Garbhasana, Child’s Pose, our Teacher Trainer had me shift my elbows so they were under my shoulders.  I immediately experienced a softening and release through my lower spine.  The pose became more settled and soothing.  This powerful effect came from ‘simply’ aligning more precisely in the pose.”

Foundations YogaAsked to choose her favorite pose, Jane Rubenstein reflects that the choice is hard.  Yet she says, “Shavasana is my favorite.  I become aware of stuck areas I didn’t even know were there.  I enjoy feeling my back relax, become fluid and sink to the floor.  It is an interesting body awareness practice in and of itself.  And I always get a lot out of Lunge.  It creates openings up my entire spine as well as my hip creases.  When I first started Svaroopa® yoga, I found that Lunge unlocked spots that hadn’t moved in years.”

Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga is for everyone — yoga students, yoga teachers and new yogis.  It enlivens and deepens your yoga practice for your home practice, to share yoga with others, or to prepare you for Teacher Training.  Share the experience; invite a friend to join you at Foundations.  Support yourself and your loved ones in soaring to new levels of practice and living.

Fall 2017 — Two Dates/Two Locations:

October 7–11:  Downingtown PA

November 9–13:  Corpus Christi, TX

Click here to enroll.

Miraculous Japa

matrikaBy Matrika Gast

In my early twenties, summiting a 6,000 foot mountain, I first experienced my Self.  The vastness of land below and the embrace of sky above stopped my mind.  Bliss filled me.  I didn’t yet know that this was my own Self.

Thirty years rolled by before I found the Svaroopa® Sciences.  Through Svaroopa® yoga poses and meditation, I again experienced bliss upwelling within.  This bliss was so profound and vivid, I knew it could only be the Divine.  And through Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings, I learned my experience was my own Divine Essence, the One Self Being All.

Svaroopa® yoga poses and meditation continued to take me deep inside to Self again and again.  The promise is that “again and again” will become always, which has motivated my daily practices.  At the same time, I realized that I depended on “things going right” in my daily life in order to really feel inner peace.  So I knew I was a long way from the promised Self-Realization.  Still, I would imagine that if I were in a truly difficult situation – like prison – I would be able to release spinal tension with poses and meditate to reliably access my Self.

West African Students

Courtesy of http://www.un.org/

Unexpectedly, I got the chance to test my theory…  A couple of years ago, I volunteered to help teachers in a West African village school learn to use educational aids for teaching English.  There are 30 to 60 kids in each class with minimal teaching supplies.  The teachers were great and the kids were eager to learn.  But heat, dust, noise from other classrooms and lack of supplies, along with my inexperience, created daunting challenges.

I had counted on “being in my Self” throughout my 5 weeks.  But my daily Svaroopa® yoga practices were scant, with no space in my room for poses and little privacy for meditation.  I also quickly learned how much I depend on American comforts like indoor flush toilets, showers and a sink with bacteria-free running water for brushing teeth.  These luxuries are unheard of in a rural village in West Africa.

One night, frustration and fear of utter failure got the upper hand.  Then I remembered Swamiji’s teachings about japa.  Repeating the mantra given by your teacher opens you inward to your Self in the midst of your daily activities.  Classically, the practice begins with repeating your mantra out loud 108 times, which takes about 5 minutes.

Swamiji japa mala croppedLuckily, other project members were gone for the evening.  My first round took my mind off my overwhelming sense of loneliness and incompetence.  To my great surprise, the next two rounds opened me inward to a sense of joyous inner expansion.  I still marvel at the shift japa gave me that night.  Japa opened me to inner Presence.  Through it, I discovered a strength that my mind’s negative chatter was blocking.

I learned the immense value of japa.  It opened me to an experience of Pure Consciousness, that which created the universe and continues to bring the whole universe into being.  Japa is a technique I completely trust to give me my Self, under any circumstances.

Thursday is Guru Day

By Vibhuti King & Swami Nirmalananda vibhuti-2

Using every opportunity to bring the mind and lifestyle back to  the Divine is an ancient spiritual practice in authentic system.  In India, each day of the week is a Divine day, an occasion for worship. With each day dedicated to an aspect of the Divine, Thursday is Guru Day.

It began with Bṛihaspati, a great sage born from the first great light, to drive away darkness. Bright and pure, he carries a special bow whose string is “.rta” or cosmic order. With revered knowledge and character, he is the Guru of the many celestial divinities (gods).

Guru DayBṛihaspati has a golden body and wears golden or yellow clothing. He was worshipped by the Greeks as Zeus, by the Egyptians as Ammon and by the Romans as Jupiter.  Just as Sunday is named for the sun, and Monday for the moon, Brihaspati’s name is the root of the word for Thursday, Bṛihaspati-vara.  It is also known as “Guruvara,” with “vara” meaning day and “Guru” meaning spiritual teacher. Bṛihaspati or Guru is also the name of a planet, cited in the Vedas as the auspicious and benevolent Jupiter. In Vedic astrology, a sister science of yoga, Jupiter is known as a great giver or granter of fortune.

SwamijiOn Thursday, the Guru is most accessible. Devotees often wear yellow and offer yellow flowers. Swami Nirmalananda says, “I know other swamis who observe a fruit-and-dairy fast every Thursday.  I do not, as my Baba recommended that we do not fast.  Yet I think of my Guru more on this day as well as make special practices and teachings available to Ashram members and residents.  It makes it a very sweet day!”

You are invited to join us on Thursday mornings for chanting of Sri Guru Gita at Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center.  This is also available by phone for Shishya members.

Playing Hide & Seek

karunaBy Karuna Beaver

“Shiva is having a good time being You, even when You are not having a good time.”

When I first heard Swami Nirmalananda state that, I thought, “Where’s the fun in that? Isn’t having a good time about having fun?” My idea of having a good time was anything that was pleasurable. It was definitely not about pain and suffering. If yoga and meditation gave me pleasure, great. If they pushed me into uncomfortable stuff, not so great!

Svaroopa® yoga and Svaroopa® Vidya meditation have given me so much pleasure and satisfaction. But they’ve also pushed me into all sorts of “stuff.” This has included physical, mental and emotional reactions and relapses. Yet a decade later, I’m still at it. Why?

tech timesThese practices give me a deeper experience of my own essence, my own Self. When I feel reactive and relapsed, I am thinking too small. I’m not seeing the big picture. I am forgetting who I really am. The big picture is that I AM Shiva, Self. I am Consciousness Its-Self. I am Chiti, conscious energy, made of the same stuff as everyone and everything in the universe.

I just don’t always remember that. I forget who I am, again and again. It’s kind of like spiritual amnesia. When I forget, I think I’m “just” Carolyn, who lives in Boise, is married, has a daughter and teaches yoga. Based on these identities, I easily slip into reactive mode, causing myself (and often others) distress. In my “cautious driver” identity, I yip at my husband for driving too fast or too close to other cars. In my “protective mother” mode, I try to over-control my disabled daughter’s choices.

When I remember who I am under all these layers, I have a new perspective on my human experience. When I am not caught up in the malas, I feel more my Self. Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini write about these layers of limitations in our August contemplation article, Nirmala: Without Malas.

A local Indian girl peeking out from behind her veilAanava mala is the layer of Self-forgetfulness. Who am I? It’s the existential question we were born to answer.

Unfortunately, we answer by constructing identities that create a smaller sense of self. This is maayiiya mala. It doesn’t really answer the larger question, so then we create activity to fully inhabit these constructed identities. This is called karma mala. Not all of these layers are negative. Some are enjoyable. But none of them scratch the surface of who I really am.

Chiti, Consciousness, made the choice to take on limitations, for the experience of being human. Chiti IS having a good time being you, when you’re not having a good time and when you are. This is a grand cosmic game of hide and seek. Chiti has set you up to uncover the layers and find Her. In doing so, you find your own Self.

Swamiji KarunaThe game is a quest. To uncover who you really are, you must have a game changer, a Shaktipat Guru. Swami Nirmalananda is empowered to give you the initiation that pierces the first mala, the not-knowing. While the piercing isn’t a complete dissolving, it’s enough for you to glimpse your greatness.

Once you’ve received Shaktipat, yoga keeps you in the game. The process of radical discovery continues the rest of your life. The more you seek, the more you find. It’s a quest worth embarking upon.

What a Day!

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

 

I began as a seeker

before I knew what I was searching for:

something I could not name or describe

even beyond the possibilities my mind could conceive.

Yet my heart cried out…

I knew there must be something more.

The answer was laid out for me

seventy years ago,

when my Baba’s yearning was answered

by the gracious and glorious gift

given by his Guru — Shaktipat!

The inner awakening of his own Divinity

by one who could give such a gift, Nityananda.

nityananda-muktananda

I was not yet a toddler,

yet the trajectory of my life was laid before me

like a shooting star illumining my path.

All I had to do was find it.

But I didn’t know where to look.

Muktananda shaktipat

So Muktananda came looking for me.

He brought the gracious and glorious gift,

that only such a great Guru could give — Shaktipat!

And changed my life forever.

For the better.

For the discovery of what I had sought for so long.

For the opportunity to serve him

And to serve you…

Shaktipat!

August 15 1947

What a glorious day!

swami-hands

 

Yogic Warning about Eclipses

By Swami Nirmalananda

Swami smilingNot everything that is fun is also beneficial, surely you’ve learned that by now.  Just because something is unusual or interesting doesn’t mean you should get involved.  This is also true of eclipses.  The footprint of an eclipse is that of darkness overtaking light.  Don’t expose yourself to it!

This means stay indoors.  This is a time to do Consciousness practices, especially mantra, chanting and meditation.  Don’t eat.  Don’t sleep. Some say you shouldn’t even drink water during an eclipse.  Just as if a police helicopter were circling your neighborhood, it’s time to protect yourself.

The ancient sages warned that the sun emits abnormal radiations during an eclipse.  Even if you look at it merely metaphorically, if you are in the path of the eclipse, you are plunged into darkness during the usual time of light.  Darkness propagates fear and unconsciousness, the loss of Self and being entwined in Maayaa.  While an eclipse doesn’t last long, the imprint that it makes in your mind lingers, leading to harmful or painful results later.

In addition to the event in the sky, www.dictionary.com defines “eclipse” as “a reduction or loss of splendor, status, reputation.”  Examples include, “Scandal caused the eclipse of his career,” and “a soprano whose singing eclipsed that of her rivals.”  You don’t want to be eclipsed.  We are closing Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center during the eclipse and sending our staff home early enough that they can avoid even the earliest edge of the sun’s darkening.

devapriyaaAt the Ashram, we will be doing Consciousness practices throughout the whole time period.  Chanting, mantra, meditation – a lovely immersion at a critical time.  We will be doing the mantra of our lineage, as well as the Gayatri mantra and the MahaMrtyunjaya Mantra (easily available online).  I invite you to join in.  After the eclipse, you should bathe and change your clothes.  Emerge back into the world slowly, as everyone else has been affected by the dark.

The traditional guidelines are:

  • Do not eat or drink, not even water;
  • Do not sleep;
  • Do not work;
  • Stay inside and protect yourself from the darkening of the sun’s rays;
  • Chant mantras and meditate;
  • When it is over, bathe and change clothes.

These are wonderful yogic ways to take care of yourself!

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah