Monthly Archives: January 2014

Comings and Goings

snowEarly yesterday morning before the Guru Gita, there was no snow on the Ashram lawn. And suddenly, along with half of USA residents, we were in a flurry of activity, a beautiful blowing snow world of white. Today, three foot snowdrifts blanket the lawn. In contrast to all the dazzling whiteness, the crystal clear skies are bluer, the sunlight brighter. The evidence of this change is deep and stilling. Such is the change with comings and goings.

You recognize this in your life, and it is the same at SVA: someone steps into a new role with new duties, their actions become a flurry of activity within the organization. When the flurry of activity ends, the affected change is evident. It makes the organization look different from before they arrived.

We would like to thank Pix Monaco for helping SVA look a little different than it did 3 months ago. After serving in a temporary position as Enrollment System Coordinator to help get us caught up on data input during the consolidation, Pix returned in November and December to continue with important, additional input. Courses in the Enrollment System, SATYA and payment plan processing are clearer and more accurate thanks to the time and attention she brought to them. And if you had the pleasure of speaking with Pix on the phone, you were sure to be touched by her gentle kindness. Thank you, Pix!

Some a snow flurries last all day and night, some last moments. Such is the case with recently-announced Bookkeeper Peter Mallis. While he learned the ins and outs of SVA bookkeeping for about a week, he felt the position did not align with his professional goals. While we thank Peter for his time and bid him good luck, we would like to welcome SVA’s new Bookkeeper Christie DeLaney.

Christie brings great skill to the SVA administrative staff as Bookkeeper. With 13 years’ experience in all areas of bookkeeping, she will be performing our bookkeeping duties. Welcome, Christie! We look forward to experiencing how you will help shape SVA’s bookkeeping.

New Retreat Environment by Marlene Gast, Board, VP, Communications


The Desmond Dining Room

Pennsylvania Svaroopa®  programs are now being held in a luxurious retreat environment. The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center in Malvern provides beautifully appointed guest rooms, dining room, and other spaces, both inside and outside, that form our “temporary Ashram,” in Swami Nirmalananda’s words.

As I write this blog, the ATT 201: Teaching Half Day Workshops course is in its last day in our temporary Ashram. Student Sarvataa Christie has been posting food portraits on Facebook. The vegetarian meals are sumptuous!  Yesterday, another student said, “This is so wonderful, like a retreat even while I’m learning so much. I really needed this.”  The “A” in Ashram is translated as “away from” and “shrama” is the fatigue that can accumulate from the daily routines of driving, working, shopping, caring for others, etc. As 2014 begins, we yogis can all look forward to immersing in that Ashram experience, whether we are in professional teach training or immersing in a program to support and expand our capacity to live in Consciousness. Check out our 2014 Calendar to make your plans today!


Breakfast at The Desmond during ATT: 201 Teaching Half Day Workshops

The consolidation of Master Yoga with Svaroopa®  Vidya Ashram has been the impetus for this move to a retreat environment. Because Svaroopa® YTT and retreats are now organizationally under the “sacred umbrella” of the Svaroopa®  Vidya Ashram, explains Swamiji, “The Grace flows more powerfully…With your inner processes fueled by Grace, the outer environment needs to be one that provides more support.  We cannot provide a cocoon, nor do we want to create isolation from the rest of life, but we must begin with providing you with shelter and food.”

Now yogis can look forward to freedom from the chores of daily living and more time for deep immersion in the “yoga” of it.  Our new retreat environment will support us as the unfolding of transformation takes place from the “inside-out,” as Swamiji describes it. Especially in Teacher Training, programs have always been immersions, but change and growth have progressed from the “outside-in” — through being taught “breathing practices, poses, anatomy lessons, philosophy discourses, teaching theory and experiential processes,” as Swamiji summarizes it.  This approach enabled us to “get inside.”  Now being trained under the “sacred umbrella” of the Ashram will mean, according to Swamiji, that “Grace creates the inner opening, and then you do the outer work, trying to keep up with the internal shifts that are happening…”


Lunch: Black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, and artichoke hearts

Ample support and downtime for this process will be a significant part of YTT going forward. Those of us who fly into Philadelphia will no longer have to rent a car; the Ashram will shuttle you. Instead of rising early to drive to class, all of us will commute in slippers from our hotel rooms to early morning classes; we will be served fresh, hot meals on china in a beautiful dining room, just an elevator ride from the classroom; at evening’s end we need travel only a few hundred feet from class to bed. As Swami Nirmalananda describes, “Lunch breaks can include a nap, some time outside (depending on the weather) or a walk on the hotel’s footpath.  The yoga classroom will be a quiet room during meal breaks, both for yoga therapy sessions with the Trainers as well as for those who might want to do Shavasana, Ujjayi or extra meditation.” And sharing a room with another yogi undergoing the same process offers the support of heartfelt connection.


Fruit Cup with Sherbet

Swamiji explains that the goal of Svaroopa® YTT is the same as before: “That you get beyond technique and theory, as important as they are, so you experience the ‘yoga’ of the yoga.”  Now, clarifies Swamiji, “when teacher training is an Ashram program, you get the ‘yoga of the yoga’ through Grace.”

Photos from this first week of January plus student comments say it all: The move into our “temporary Ashram” it’s going just the way Swamiji predicted.

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 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

Be Aware by Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

Think about your shoulders, perhaps think about where they are in relationship to your torso or your arms …try to relax your shoulders, soften into them…now become aware of your shoulders. What do you notice?

I did this simple practice, based on Swami Nirmalananda’s January contemplation article, “Relaxation and More,” with meditators in my weekly Satsang. They were amazed at the differences between thinking, relaxing and being aware. One person said that when he became aware of his shoulders he became aware of an expanded sense not only of his shoulders, but of his whole body. He was present in his body in a wholly different way.

As Swamiji says in the article, our Guided Awareness is not a body inventory or analysis. It’s not a thought practice, or even a relaxation practice. It is a consciousness-practice, a training in consciousness, a training in pure awareness.

That is the Svaroopa® difference: whether it’s poses or breathing or chanting or meditation, it’s a consciousness practice, a training in consciousness. Whether you are a teacher or student, Svaroopa® Yoga and Meditation draws you inward, enabling you to experience your body and mind in a wholly different way —an embodied way. If you’re a teacher, the courses you’ve taken prepare you to work with other’s bodies and minds, while you gain a deep experiential knowledge of your own. If you’re a student, you receive the benefits of your teacher’s training as you deepen your personal practice.

The Svaroopa® Sciences underscore yoga’s promise, that as your body becomes still and at ease, as your mind begins to quiet, as you become more aware, there is, as Swamiji’s article points out, “a tangible opening to something more, something greater, something more core to your being, something more essential – an opening to the something that is called your Essence. It’s called svaroopa, your own Self.”

While I receive so much from teaching both poses and meditation, and from my continuing teacher education, I continually crave that “something more, something greater.” I know I need to immerse myself on a more personal level more often! So this year I have planned for both professional training and immersion courses. My students will benefit from what I’ll learn in the teacher training course. I will blossom into my own Essence with the immersion course, and of course, my students will benefit from this as well! It adds more expense to the budget, but as the classic cosmetic company tagline says, do it “because you’re worth it.” I’d change that tagline to capitalize You — the larger sense of your own Self is worth every penny!

Whether you are a teacher or student, consider the investment you will make in your Self this year. As Swamiji says, “consider how you will cultivate a new way of living with your mind and living in your body as well as sharing the light of your own divinity with those you care about the most.”

There are Shaktipat retreats and week-long Yoga and Meditation retreats on the 2014 Calendar, as well as phone courses and related retreats. Help yourself to a larger serving of Grace this year, because You’re worth it!

Audited Financial Statements by Bob Nogue, SVA Board Treasurer


Bob Nogue

Our annual audit is complete!  Early on, the Board of Directors of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram made a commitment to maintain transparency about our finances.  An important step in accomplishing this is the independent audit, which we have done annually since SVA was established.  This provides assurance from an independent source that financial statements accurately represent our financial position and that we are following legal and ethical principles in our operations.  Click here for our detailed financial statements through December 31, 2012.

You will be heartened by the surplus our activities have been generating, ensuring that SVA is becominghealthy from a financial perspective.  This contributed to our ability to consolidate with Master Yoga in 2013.  We recognize that SVA’s financial health is thanks to your generosity as well as the paid programs that you attend, plus the immense value of sevites’ support (including our own Swami).  In addition, careful stewardship by Swami, our staff, sevites and Board of Directors is an important building block.

After you have reviewed the financial statements, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I Love Feeding You! by Swami Nirmalananda

food4It was one of the first things I noticed when I returned to the USA after becoming a swami – my great delight at feeding you.  Never having been a particularly-talented cook, nor an enthusiastic baker or even a great sandwich maker, all of this was a charming surprise.  My mind and heart seemed to have grown a new capacity.  It was as if you walked into your same old home and discovered a new wing had been added onto it while you were at work.  I still laugh with delight when I get to feed a crowd!

food1Of course, I have the wonderful help of skilled chefs, now both at Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram and our campus, The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center.  I love working with people who know more about it than me.  We plan and serve your meals according to Ayurvedic principles, while using organic and local produce as much as possible, and providing all six tastes in your meal.

The tie between feeding you with food and feeding you the teachings is direct and clear.  There’s even a sutra about it:

J~naana.m annam. – “Siva Sutras 2.9

Knowledge is food.

I’m working with our teaching and administrative staff to organize the teachings flow for this year – so you get a smooth and integrated flow in this river of Grace.  Our contemplation theme for the year is “Body, Mind & More.”  I will be exploring this in both the Ashram and the Master Yoga publications and programs, and our free Daily E-Quotes will also continue the flow.

We have consolidated some of our communications, so you get timely information at a comfortable pace.  And we have a newly    consolidated calendar!  Our full year of programming is listed at – completely searchable, by location, by teacher, by title or program type, whatever way makes it easiest for you to figure out when you can do more yoga.  And you can let us feed you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h