Monthly Archives: December 2013

Standing on the Shoulders -by Swami Nirmalananda

The end of the year, a time to review what has been so far…  We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.  Today I am melting in gratitude to the yogic hearts that built Master Yoga for over 20 years, so many yogis doing so many poses and giving so much of their love and support.  It’s uncountable!

stand on shoulders gratitudehabitat-comThe work of the current Board members is just the tip of the iceberg, the part that shows, but they stand on the shoulders of the Board members who worked hard on Svaroopis’ behalf for many years.  I count myself in that group, though they tackled big chunks of the work without me in recent years.  But even those Board members were standing on the shoulders of those who worked on the community’s behalf – that’s what a not-for-profit organization does:  provide benefit to others!

While the Board members stand in the spotlight, the staff members that do all the behind-scenes work are to be honored and thanked.  And the teachers – without whom we would have nothing; how can you begin to thank your own teacher.

Swami hands

Which brings me full circle to my teacher, of course.  For me, it’s all about Baba.  What i bring you is what He gave me.  It is my honor and my duty to share.  So i thank all who support the continuing process – the consolidated process, even as we look ahead.  The Desmond awaits, our new home for consolidated programs, with housing, meals and classes all wonderfully consolidated into one location.  We begin on Friday!  The first program of the new year.  Thus one year ends and a new one begins.  With love for all that has passed, and all who contributed to its process.  With love to all that will come and all who will make it be what it will be.

Thank you, Baba.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

Comings & Goings

Welcome to Bookkeeper Peter Mallis

With over seven years of experience, Peter Mallis has joined the SVA administrative staff as Bookkeeper. A Pennsylvania native and new to Svaroopa®, Peter’s background includes working for landscapers, a nursery and car dealerships in the greater Philadelphia area.  He enjoys playing sports, especially golf & baseball, and is looking forward to trying Svaroopa® yoga. He will be working part-time to perform all bookkeeping duties for the organization, which Swamiji and other sevites had been doing as seva.  Peter’s addition to the SVA staff will continue to remove Swamiji from administrative responsibility, opening her (and you!) to more teachings.

Welcome to Staff Yoga Instructor Devaraja Thoman



Every other week, the on-site SVA administrative staff step away from their computers & meetings for Ujjayi & Shavasana. Ashram resident and Svaroopa® instructor Devaraja Thoman helps them stack their blankets at Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center and leads them through an hour and a half Svaroopa® yoga class. Nearly all the staff is new to Svaroopa®; it’s sweet to see their transformation after each of Devaraja’s classes and to hear them share their deeper understanding of the teachings they serve. Previously based in Massachusetts, Devaraja serves students full time with Svaroopa® yoga classes and yoga therapy sessions at three greater Philadelphia yoga studios, primarily at Downingtown Yoga.

Your New Home Away From Home

After conducting much research photo%2014and analysis into which local center would best support you during your trainings and retreats, we are very excited to announce your new Svaroopa®  home away from home. The Desmond Hotel in Malvern will be hosting you in 2014. An independent, family-owned hotel with a B&B feel, the Desmond is clean, inviting and cozy. You first step into a warm, open reception area desmond2where you are greeted by the joyful, family-like hotel staff and 2-story floor-to-ceiling views of the spacious outside patio. Bedrooms are fresh and pleasant within-room baths and refrigerators at request. Shared rooms feature two queen beds and singles have a 4-poster or canopy king bed. The building has free wi-fe as well as a computer room, swimming pool, exercise facility, restaurant, photo%2013and outdoor walking trails.   

While this would make it a nice place to stay, what really makes it supportive for you is your retreat & training space. Your retreat & training hall is a real room with real walls (not sliding dividers!). While the space is shared with others participating in conferences on the same floor, it is distant from regular hotel traffic and offers around the clock staff  support. desmond1Just outside your retreat & training hall is a well-stocked lounge area where hot breakfast is served in the morning, afternoonsnacks (including hot hors-d’oeuvres), around the clock coffee (including latte/cappuccino drinks), filtered hot and cold water and Tazo teas, soda, juice, flavored water, etc. are served; there are men & women’s restrooms and a spacious charming outdoor balcony with tables. It’s ideal for a retreat environment as everything you should need (including outside access for fresh air) to support yourself is only steps away from your retreat & training

A special thank you to Master Yoga Board Member, Marlene Gast, for her in depth research to find the most supportive facility for you.

Loving the Light by Swami Nirmalananda

289I’m loving the light and the dark more this year, somehow.  I am enjoying the early fall of darkness and the chill that makes me want to tuck more deeply into the layers.  Especially I delight in the glitter of holiday lights piercing the darkness.  It’s and outside-inside sort of thing — it is the work I’ve dedicated my life to, piercing the darkness.  It’s why I do yoga.

I remember a small “Siva temple that I visited in an historic city of north India, with thick stone walls and giant hallways that armies could march through.  The inside of this stone temple was 5 feet square, with hollows worn in the stone where you stand to do your candle ceremony (BYOC — bring your own candle).

deepa candle flame baganajagat-comThe small room was very dark as I placed my feet where thousands had before me, placed my heart in my hand (because I had no candle), to do the traditional ceremony, reinstalling my heart in my chest when finished.  In that space of 90 seconds, I stood in timelessness, the eternality of “Siva, which is the Reality of your own Self.  The dark had disappeared.  Even though I’d had no candle, everything was light.

These are precious and holy days, these short days at the end of our calendar year.  Especially with family, you do deep work in these times:  the work of loving and the work of living in the truth of who you are.  Whether you have a candle flame to use or not, you can honor the light in each of your beloveds, and even in those you have difficulty with — the light is there.  Even when they cannot see their own light, you are a yogi; you can see it in everyone.  You can see it everywhere.

Do more yoga!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

Yogic Hearts Together by Swami Nirmalananda


Your yogic heart continues to amaze me. While I’ve seen many of you at your best, I’ve also seen you at your worst, facing your fears, slaying your own inner demons. I hear the stories of what you have faced and are facing in your life, and still you do yoga. In fact, it might be that those things are what drive you to yoga! Your heart had the strength of a survivalist long before you began yoga. But what you’ve gotten from yoga is the growth in your resiliency (your bounce-back) and generosity. They physical opening automatically makes you more resilient and generous. It’s reliable! And our Thanksgiving fundraising campaign has shown that to be true – again. Thank you.

I’m happy to report that your generous gifts, and the monthly donations that many of you are offering, are supporting a newly reorganized structure, with a few finishing touches to complete before the new year begins. The cleanup after the storm of Reawakening has been arduous, supported by many sevites in addition to our admin team. We’re almost ready for the 2014 Initiatives to fulfill their promise: an enlivened and exciting place to study the Svaroopa® yoga sciences.  Whether working with your body or mind, all the practices are guaranteed to give you svaroopa – your own Self. All of them are guaranteed to improve your life. All of them make you feel better, look better, and be better, within yourself and in your life.

A few weeks of gathering heart-and-hand photos as well as receiving regular updates on the donation stream have propelled my own heart deeper into gratitude. Long ago I made the shift into continual gratitude to my own Guru, who gave me all I’ve got. Now I find myself in perpetual gratitude to you, to each of you and to all of you, for making this yoga organization a place that I can do my work. A Yogic Heart just keeps expanding!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

Resounding Support from Your Yogic Hearts! by Marlene Gast CSYT, MYF Board VP Communications, SVA Board Asana Committee

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

Your yogic hearts have responded to our Thanksgiving fundraising!  We have received many messages of  gratitude for Svaroopa® yoga, accompanying gifts expressing the generosity of the season, as well as photos of your hands and hearts [click to see our slide show].

We are grateful to announce an increase in monthly donations as well as the generous, total dollar amount of $18,401.  Your gifts beautifully support us in the lean months of November/December, when we cannot run any programs, while helping us prepare for the new year: 2014, a pivotal year for us! A consolidated year!!

Clearly each donation received was a holiday gift wrapped in love for your Svaroopa® Sciences practices — and for all of our teachers.  We are blessed by wonderful teachers, beginning with Swami Nirmalananda and spreading out through our Teacher Trainers, through local Svaroopa® yoga teachers and Meditation Group Leaders worldwide. With every donation that you make, you support this whole, wondrous network. In turn, all of us support the expansion of Consciousness through the unswerving avenues of the ancient teachings.  This is cause for great jubilation and heartfelt congratulations!

Thus I write today with gratitude on behalf of the SVA Board and the MYF Board.  A great deal of the Board’s responsibility is fiduciary: A board of directors is responsible for ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources, an essential part of keeping any organization robust and vigorous.  We are grateful to you for helping us fulfill this responsibility.  Your donation and commitment support the organization, which supports Swami Nirmalananda along with our Teacher Trainers as well as administrative staff that bring the teachings into the world.

Yet the organization is simply a part of the whole.  You are the essential element that completes the whole. It is you, centered in your yogic heart; you are precious and indispensable. In the words of SVA Board President Amala Cattafi, you are more precious than gold, whether or not your personal circumstances allow for financial support of the organization.

The personal pronouns of English — you, I — divide us into individual units. “Us” is the closest pronoun to present us together as community — and “we”: We are yogic family.  You are — we are — wondrous, shining threads in the imperisable fabric of essential connection.  Our connection is the relationship in consciousness, the being of consciousness, but the being of consciousness-together while being consciousness individually.  We are individual persons, choosing to be in community, as yogis who can feel the presence of one another in the depths of Consciousness to which our practices open us.  Thank you.

The More I Give, the More I Receive by Louise Davis, MYF Board Treasurer


Louise Davis

I recently received a thank you note from one of my students. She thanked me for bringing yoga to our city and shared that it has changed her life. I was so touched, and so grateful to read her words. More importantly, I was so grateful to be able to share this amazing yoga with such amazing people. This student, let’s call her Lucy, is a true karma yogi: not only at our yoga studio, but in all parts of her life. She is always looking for ways to help and give back. This got me thinking about giving: do we feel more gratitude because we give, or do we give because we feel gratitude? My short answer is yes!

Svaroopa® Yoga and Meditation has changed my life as well, in ways too numerous to mention. And I feel such deep gratitude for its presence in my life. I serve on the Board of Master Yoga, in part, as a way to give back for all that I have received. And the more I’ve given, the more I seem to receive.

I grew up in a Christian church, so I was very familiar with the concept of tithing, or donating to the organization (church) which sustains you spiritually. In the last few years, I’ve noticed that much – even most – of my spiritual nurturement was coming from yoga. Why couldn’t I divide my tithe to support this organization as well? Such a simple solution!

I invite you to consider doing this as well. In this season and spirit of Thanksgiving, would you open your yogic heart and make a one-time or monthly financial donation – or increase your current gift? Even a small monthly donation of $5-10 will make a big difference. And your giving will continue to give back.

Click here to give from your Yogic Heart.  A one-time gift or monthly pledge in any size that works for you makes a difference in our ability to serve you; thank you.  Monthly donors receive our new Namaste poster as a thank you gift, for a new or increased monthly pledge.