Monthly Archives: February 2014

Becoming a Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teacher by Marlene Gast

47Meditation Teacher Training, which brings forth new Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teachers, began on February 18.  It is in progress now at The Desmond through March 2.  Yesterday, students, along with Swami Nirmalananda and Trainers who are assisting, lunched at the Ashram, and Swamiji shared an update on this course.  She said, “We’re now halfway through the course days, but all the teachers-in-training are already fully deepened — as far as any group has gone before. I’ve been able to teach sections from the sutras that I always left out in the past. Their talks are so good, it’s as though the angels came in at night and wrote for them while they were sleeping — yet it is the elevated understanding their minds are reaching and the warmth their heart puts into it. I am once again in awe of these yogis, as I have been with each group before; yet this group is doing more. I’m sure the extra Trainers help: In addition to myself and Vidyadevi, we have the loving support of Rukmini Abbruzzi and Devi McKenty, so each group of students gets more coaching support on developing their talks, and from very well experienced Teacher Trainers, who are also trained as sutra teachers.

“But for me it all comes down to Baba. I walk in the room, and it feels like I’m in his meditation hall. I see the students absorbing weighty philosophy with the ease of a toddler eating cheerios from a plastic baggie. I start a chant, and the students respond; it’s all in real time and it’s all more real than real usually is. It’s all Baba.”

This 12-day immersion trains yogis to teach from the “Mantra Syllabus,” which Swamiji designed after receiving sanyasa initiation (taking monastic vows). This course is for yogis who are learning to teach meditation as well as yogis who were trained in the Master Yoga “survey syllabus” course and certified as meditation teachers through Master Yoga before 2011.  The 12-day MTT is offered every two years.  If you have already been teaching from the original survey syllabus, however, you don’t have to wait two years if you are interested in enhancing your meditation teaching now.  Swamiji’s next MTT Upgrade course starts April 30, 2014, in just over two months.  If you are still teaching from the original survey syllabus, of course you know it works beautifully, as far as it goes.  But I would encourage you to take the next giant step toward Self recognition for yourself and your students this spring: Sign up for MTT Upgrade without delay.

I recommend the MTT Upgrade based on my own experience with this combination phone course and weekend retreat. In spring 2011, when Swamiji first offered the MTT Upgrade, I wasn’t interested. In 2009 I had completed the original MTT and had been teaching from the survey syllabus for year and a half.  Students from my continuing Svaroopa® yoga classes eagerly signed up for my meditation course, and even a friend of 40 years took the course!  For me, the training itself and then the homework firmly established daily practice.  It was all wonderful!

So I didn’t see the point of an upgrade.  Yes, I knew Swamiji was now empowered to empower us meditation teachers to teach from the updated Mantra Syllabus and offer to our students the mantra from her Baba — Swami Muktananda.  But I had no idea of the power of this change — until my local Svaroopa® sister Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver returned from her MTT; it was the first MTT immersion based on the Mantra Syllabus.  To support Karuna in her MTT homework, I signed up for her series. And, as they say, the rest is history.  My experience meditating with the new mantra propelled me deeper than I ever imagined, clearly into profound levels that had I had perhaps glimpsed before or had only heard about.

The day after my last class with Karuna, I signed up for the MTT Upgrade course that was to begin in September 2011.  The phone calls were deep.  The learning was profound.  It was my first phone course with Swamiji, and, once again, I had completely underestimated the depth of the experience and the learning that I would receive — on the phone!

In February 2012, the retreat weekend that concluded the MTT Upgrade not only took me once again deeper into Self, there was an ease about it that could only have been the support of the Grace of this lineage.  In my first MTT, writing the talks was not easy.  I remember one original MTT student saying that her experience was staring at a blank page, and then looking up at the clock to notice an hour had passed with nothing being written.  I struggled in a different way — writing and revising — trying to make my talks sound elevated.  But in the MTT Upgrade, the talks simply flowed from heart into my hands and onto the page.  Now, in teaching from the Mantra Syllabus, that effortlessness continues.  Last month I taught a series, and the course filled without my even advertising.  I’m still awed by that. Of course, it’s most delicious to be in the presence of those meditation students beginning to open inward to Self from the moment they sit down for their first class.

Swamiji’s next MTT Upgrade course starts April 30, 2014, in just over two months. Allow yourself to honor that undeniable yearning to go deeper and to share this path with your students. Sign up for MTT Upgrade and then enjoy the marvelous journey.

Shivaratri and the Mysterious “Siva Linga by Priya Kenney

siva lingaWhat form of “Siva should we contemplate on the holiest night of the year?  “In all the various temples for yogis and Hindus in all the various continents around the world, “Siva will be worshipped in his many forms, but it is the “Siva linga, most of all on Shivaratri, that is the purest, most mysterious of all,” explains Swamiji.

The “Siva linga is an upright form, sitting on a base (also called the yoni) that represents “Sakti (the Goddess, or feminine expression of “Siva).  The primordial realities of “Siva and “Sakti are omnipresent in our own human forms and the world around us.  In meditation, I have experienced my upper torso as the linga and my legs and lower torso as the yoni.  It was a powerful awareness of revering “Siva within, Om Namah Shivaya.

There is a connection between the “Siva linga and the yaj~na (fire ceremony).  For many thousands of years, “Siva has been revered through the yaj~na. Those of us yogis who went to Ganeshpuri in 2013 experienced this profound ceremony. Priests presided over offerings into the fire, surrounded by tables of murtis (statues) and colorful sand designs — all underscored by hours of mesmerizing and rhythmic chanting to all the forms of “Siva. This complex and beautiful ceremony propelled us deep into the inner realms, “Siva’s vast expanse.  In ancient times, “Siva was worshipped in this way every single day.

Over thousands of years, the practice of a daily yagj~na became erratic and fell away, leaving an immense gap. “People were looking for something that they could use for their focus, for their mind and their heart to remember God,” says Swamiji. “There are a number of amazing and beautiful stories that explain the origins of the “Siva linga, about how “Siva took the shape of a mounded stone and how the flame froze and became the stone.  The “Siva linga gave people a form of “Siva they could touch and handle and carry with them,” explains Swamiji.

“The linga gives me an immediate experience of presence, in a stillness and deep silence that draws me into the innermost recesses of my own being,” says Swamiji. “The “Siva linga is the mystery, in a physical form.”  Explaining that it isn’t a statue of “Siva, Swamiji says, “It is the whole of “Siva, yet existing within “Siva.”

By including the “Siva linga in our celebration of Shivaratri, we connect with an ancient tradition and maximize experiencing our own divinity.

Watch for an article on how to have your own Shivaratri celebration.

Shivaratri: The Holy Night of “Siva by Priya Kenney

Would you stay awake the whole night long if you could recognize your own divinity?  On February 28th, millions of yogis and Hindus around the globe will stop their doing-ness and turn their awareness inside to honor and worship Lord “Siva in celebration of the Night of “Siva, Shivaratri.

You can celebrate Shivaratri with Swamiji on Saturday, March 1st, in conjunction with Meditation Teacher Training at The Desmond or you can join this great celebration, quietly, in your own home.

For yogis, the two holiest days of the year are Shivaratri and Guru Purnima. Guru Purnima is celebrated on the fullest of the full moons. Shivaratri takes place on the new moon, the dark of the moon — empty, yet so not empty. The shadow of the new moon is brimming with the irrepressible light within.

Shivaratri is a very dark and mysterious night, perfect for a deep internal contemplation on your own Self, “Siva.  Perfect for plumbing the depths of your full capacity for knowing.

We will need at least the whole night to contemplate “Siva, the One with 108 names and many forms:  Rudra, the meditating yogi; Nataraja, the king of the dance; Bhairava, the fierce form of “Siva; Ardhanarishvara, the joining of “Siva and “Sakti into one; and the purest form of all, the “Siva Linga, which holds all of “Siva within it.

Watch for more articles on the ancient tradition of Shivaratri and how to have your own celebration.

Most Influential by (Margie) Wilsman

swamiWhy did I enroll in the Guru and Self course starting next month?  Let me begin to answer by describing a personal inquiry practice that I have used for myself as well as my students in teacher education.

Years ago I picked up the practice of assessing who in my life has been most influential in my continued growth and adult learning.  This is an end-of-year review practice. When I first started it was fun to name an elementary or high school teacher, a family member, best friend, the priest who led the CYO group, a camp counselor, or a first employer.

In this practice, the next step is to write why — what about that person made them an influential “teacher”?  Why did I “learn” more readily from that person than others?

I also used this tool in my undergraduate teacher education classes to help perspective teachers realize that they have had many experiences with great teachers and many experiences with learning, which color their beliefs about teaching and learning — mostly experiences outside the school classroom.  When examining theories of teaching and learning and teaching, we continuously compared them with their learning experiences and most influential teachers.

Personally, I do this practice to see how my experiences with teachers and learning change.  It’s a dynamic process for all of us!

Why did I enroll in the Guru and Self course starting next month?  You guessed it!

The past few years, Swamiji has radically changed my experiences with learning from a most influential teacher; and she has continuously been on the top of my yearly list.  The monthly 8–12 page course readings from phone courses that I have taken with Swamiji are like receiving a gift wrapped in gold tissue and tied with silk threads.  In most fields of study, the “old” ideas are examined in history courses or tangentially in other courses.  Not so with the study of yoga’s “ancient” ideas from sages of old and our love-filled modern sage, Swamiji.

Each article is so filled with truth, with knowledge of who we are on the inside, deep inside, and how we come to experience this depth of knowing the truth.  Swamiji shares so many of her own experiences in the readings and even more in the audios.  Then in the monthly phone calls we share our experiences and hear from one another. I have first met many new yoga buddies through these calls, and then deepened our relationship at the final retreats in the year-long programme.

Teaching as clarity in delivering the ideas from ancient texts; using multiple texts for examining the same idea, providing multiple personal examples, as well as teaching as revelation — the flow of grace between student and teacher through the ideas and experiences.

Learning as experiencing the revelation again and again, experiencing the love that flows between Guru and students.  Experiential knowing as a deep level of knowledge and truth that transforms your life and view of what is most important and who is most influential.

All this and more are the reasons that I have enrolled in the Guru and Self course.  I hope you will join me for this year-long programme, whether it’s your first online, multi-media course with Swamiji, or you will be a returning yoga buddy.

U-Turns by Maitreyi (Margie) Wilsman

Early in my yoga career with Swamiji, I learned that life tells us to look outward, while yoga tells us to look inward.   At first it was the inner experience of a quiet mind, and the many gifts of final Shavasana—the MORE.  Later it became the experience of my tailbone wiggling and sacrum rocking.

Now years later, the looking has shifted to me experiencing my Self as Consciousness on the inside—another major and deeper U-Turn, one that my mind has trouble handling with ease.  Mysteries are difficult for my mind.  Meditation and the movement of Kundalini provide breakthrough experiences of timelessness, spacelessness, the unending flow of Grace and love from Swamiji that makes my heart expand and expand—all experiences beyond the limits of my mind.

Now there is the opportunity to celebrate the ancient tradition that provides the guidelines for how to do these deeper U-Turns.  In the ancient words of Sages and the current words of our modern Sage, Swamiji, I will offer the celebration of Shivaratri.  While each day I bow to my Shivalingam and Nandi that sit on my puja, on the Night of Shivaratri I will do puja to my Shivalingam for three hours, celebrating the mystery of Shiva.  Each day I wear the garland of my rudraksha beads, but on the night of Shivaratri I will wear the three strips of white on my forehead and quietly celebrate the mystery of Shiva—the formless who has taken form in everything that exists, in all my students and clients, in my yoga buddies, in my yoga teachers, in me, in all that exists and beyond, as Swamiji reminds us.  Thank you, Swamiji, for teaching us how to do puja and how to celebrate Shivaratri as well as guiding us through our successive and deeper U-Turns.

Landing In Your Mailbox Soon by Marlene Gast

new_certificatesJust mailed out! Swami Nirmalananda reports the mailing out over 50 new certificates, for yogis who completed their trainings and their paperwork in the last few months. When the Ashram stepped into the process of handling courses, there was a backlog of certificates due. It took a few months to gather the information, plus create the NEW Ashram certificate.

These certificates have been mailed out in a “Certificate Party Pack,” created, packaged and prepared for mailing by sevites, including Nandini Mermet-Grandfilleas well as Amala (Lynn) Cattafi, Board President and Swami Nirmalananda.

Describing the certificate mailing task, Amala says, “I went up to the Ashram for the day to assist Swamiji. She doubled the enticement (as if I needed any enticement!) by saying she had a sweet seva for me to assist with. How lovely to find that it was to assist her with the party packs holding the certifications for newly certified Svaroopa® yoga teachers and Embodyment® therapists. While Swamiji and I sat at the dining room table in the Ashram, she signed each certificate personally, and then I put them in the individual party packs. Before I sealed each one, into it I whispered our mantra – OM Nama.h “Sivaya – to send all of the love, power and blessing that the mantra carries.”

If you are one of the recipients of a certificate proclaiming your new achievement, heed the cover letter: It invites you to celebrate this recognition of your great achievement, and supplies streamers, balloons and confetti. Give yourself a party, small or large! You have earned it, and have patiently awaited the day.

More certificates will be coming soon, so if you know a yogi who is waiting (or you are the yogi), please keep breathing and repeating mantra…

Can Continuing Ed Be Bliss by Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

For me, meeting Continuing Ed standards has always turned out to be, not a chore, but a wonderful indulgence. I would say, in fact, Continuing Ed = Bliss.

As a studio owner living 2,000 miles from PA, I admit to never relishing the task of finding subs for my classes, coverage for the studio phone, and an affordable airline ticket to Pennsylvania. Yet once I have the “excuse” of taking a program to be in Current Standing, for serving as a Svaroopa® yoga teacher, I find that all of the potential obstacles resolve, and I am full of joy at the prospect of reviving skills and opening deeper in body and mind — and more.

It turns out that the “requirement” gives me the support I need to do what I deeply want to do: Take more training, recover from inevitable drift away from protocols, and receive for myself what I offer to students and clients — reliable opening of my spine, releasing layers of tension, immersing in the Bliss of Being. I am not alone in this experience.

Last month, during the legendary East Coast winter, Rob Gold flew from Maui to PA for Embodyment® Yoga Therapy, specifically to return to Current Standing.  Look for his full account of his increase in skill, as well as the “more” of yoga, in the SATYA! E-Letter coming to you next week. Rob was motivated by his expectation of receiving the “more” of yoga — and once again, he found the experience of a Svaroopa® yoga teacher training program to be life-changing.

So don’t delay!  Let Continuing Education standards serve you as your support in taking the step where you really want to go.  Register today for a course that qualifies for CE credits:

  1. ATT — any Advanced Teacher Training course focused on poses.
  2. YTT  — any Yoga Teacher Training course, including:

Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga

YTT Levels 1, 2, 3 or 4

Experiential Anatomy

Embodyment® Yoga Therapy 

3. EYTS — any Enrich Your Teaching Skills course that includes poses, including:

Embodyment® Weekend

Enliven & Advance – Level 1

Enliven & Advance – Level 2

Deceptive Flexibility

Foundations Review

Intro to Teaching Gentle Yogis

4. TTT — Training as a Teacher Trainer courses and interning with pose reviews

5.Pose Clinics – Complete 4 full-day Pose Clinics within 2 years.  Pose Clinics are scheduled when Teacher Trainers have available dates, offering reviews of poses you have studied in levels of training you have already completed.  To invite a Teacher Trainer to offer a Pose Clinic in your area, email us at MYX@svaroopayoga.org.

Click here to open our Events Calendar and find the course you want.