Monthly Archives: May 2014

There is Only Baba – by Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Swami handsWho can know the greatness of a Great One?

Who can see the brilliance of the sun?

To try to see, to try to say, to try to think — it’s all beyond my poor mind.

Baba.  There is only Baba.

 

This world is a reflection of His splendor.

He shines through your eyes.

His heart beats in mine.

Every breath is Him, giving me life.

Every thought arises from His command.  Every action is a gift I lay at His feet.

Baba.  There is only Baba.

 

Where can I go to see Him again?

He departed from this world at the end of His body’s life.

Where can I go that He is not present?

He pervades this world fully.

Yet it is inside that He is most Real, for He is my own Self.

Baba.  There is only Baba.

 

Who can know the greatness of a Great One?

Who can see the brilliance of the sun?

To try to see, to try to say, to try to think — it’s all beyond my poor mind.

Baba.  There is only Baba.

 

I am always sitting at His feet.

 

My Taste Of Ganeshpuri

GaneshpuriBy Matrika (Marlene) Gast

In late fall 2009, I took a day trip to Ganeshpuri, which gave me a taste of this sacred place. It was as though I’d touched my tongue tip to a tiny serving at a glorious feast, only to walk away. Now Swamiji’s 2015 group trip to Ganeshpuri, the home of our Svaroopa® Sciences lineage, beckons.

I have begun my planning, putting it out there that I am going. Certainly, the cost must be considered and budgeted; acceptance and emotional support from family must be cultivated; logistics must be managed — passport, visa, flight reservations, possibly vaccinations, etc. But, based on my experience of travelling with Swamiji to Kerala in southern India five years ago, I know that once you make the decision, Grace flows all the pieces into place.

It was a fluke — or Grace — that gave me my eight-hour taste of Ganeshpuri. After Kerala in 2009, others in our group of 20 yogis had wisely planned to travel to Ganeshpuri for a week’s stay. I didn’t plan so well. Ganeshpuri was an accidental boon! Months before, when I made my flight reservations, I was confused about whether US time was ahead of or behind India, so my roommate and I had 36 hours in Mumbai before our flight back to the US. We hired a taxi to drive us the 50 kilometers northeast to Ganeshpuri. Recommended by our hotel, our driver cared for us like honored aunts, respectfully escorting us everywhere.

Ganeshpuri MealWe saw uniformed school children, with shining faces and smiles, walking to classes along a dusty road thickly bordered with lush trees and trailing vines. In Ganeshpuri, we browsed in shops with cloud-soft pashmina meditation shawls, moonstone jewelry and beautifully carved murtis of deities. We had lunch, along with our driver and the other yogis from the Kerala trip, at Rosey’s B&B where they were staying. It was simply delicious — and her chai is still redolent in memory.

NityanandaYet it is the too-brief experiences of sitting to meditate in the Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the ashram founded by Swami Muktananda, and visiting the Nityananda Samadhi Shrine, that call me back for more than a taste. The quality of pervasive peace, inside and outside, is what returns to me. The Presence of the Gurus of Ganeshpuri so filled me, that in the village shops afterward I found it impossible purchase any of the beautiful wares. I was simply too filled from within on that day, in that place. There was no need. Now I want to know what it is to BE there for two weeks, with Swamiji and all of us who will immerse in practices that flow from our lineage, which arose in that place.

Swamiji KarunaOf course, accounts from the yogis who went straight to Ganeshpuri in February 2013 will tell you so much more about this experience. Over the next several months, you will hear from them as we pave the way to our trip together as a kula — spiritual family — to our ancestral spiritual home. Looking forward to being with YOU there!!

My Spiritual Birthday by Swami Nirmalananda

289My life is full of milestones, yet they all began on the day I received Shaktipat from my Baba. Everything followed so naturally, like water flows down a river. I rafted the river of Grace.

Before Shaktipat, I explored the outer universe, but to no avail. I tried everything that was available in the 60’s and 70’s, a wide variety of offerings! I came to the inescapable conclusion that nothing really worked. I began to question the value of life itself, but continued searching for something that had meaning.

After Shaktipat, I explored the inner universe under my Guru’s guiding hand. I found that the entire outer world is nestled within and all of it has meaning! Every single grain of sand, every single person and even every single problem has meaning. But I had to find it within before I could see the meaning-full-ness that was staring me in the face.

Now my life is full of Grace, every moment saturated with the Divinity that was hidden within. All revealed by my Guru’s Grace. Please join me in celebrating my 38th anniversary of receiving Baba’s gift, Saturday May 31 at Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center from 7:30-9:00 pm. Click here to register.

NOTE: Swamiji asks that you refrain from giving her personal gifts, but instead (if you wish) please support her sharing of the gift that she received with others. Click here to donate in honor of Swamiji’s Shaktipat Anniversary.

A Sweet Retreat by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Matrika (Marlene) Gast

As a yogi who teaches Svaroopa® yoga, I plan my retreat and training vacations. I do ruminate about spending time on the beach or in the mountains instead, and some years I am fortunate enough to have time for both. But if I must choose one or the other, I go for the yoga. And I have never ever regretted the choice of that gift for myself — and my students.

If you are still making summer plans, take a look at “Enliven & Advance: Level 2,” July 5-9. If you have completed YTT Level 2, this course refreshes your “current standing” date, plus you will receive so much more. Last year, I interviewed yogis who took “Enliven & Advance: Level 1.” They found this EYTS course to be a sweet retreat as well as a great way to refresh pose alignments and adjustments as well as learn new and exciting ATT variations.

Mary Carpenter said, “I was amazed again at the subtly of Svaroopa® yoga. Just a hint of support can give a huge release…experiencing layers and layers of depth in my own opening as well as gathering new information and experience with the poses.” When she registered for the course, Mary was looking forward to being a student, and her expectations were fulfilled, “We had a bunch of classes in which we could just be the student. As we were in one of these classes, I realized the pose could support me rather than me working in the pose. In the inner space that opened from not efforting, and releasing the desire to get any kind of effect, I experienced the pose as a kind of cocoon to nurture and support me…more like a spa treatment than a training class. The course was a great sweetness that provided a space of openness for the pose to grow inside you!”

Kathy Gardner said, “The first day, Vidyadevi asked, ‘Why are you here?’ and I answered, ‘To be fed.’ I felt like a dried-out sponge. Then the tailbone poses opened things up for me. Those poses were very freeing. Not only was there an awesome physical opening, but there was also the immersion in community. It was so nice to be a student again and to be with other Svaroopis.”

Joe Yezzi especially liked the “sense of Oneness.” He said, “We were all there for one reason — to deepen our openings, and experience such a high energy level.” Joe continued, “In terms of the actual teacher training, it helped me get back on track. Regarding drift, I found I wasn’t that far out, but neither was I as on target as I had thought with alignments. Yes, drift happens, and the course brought me home.” As we teachers have all experienced, through those deep openings, knowing arises. Joe said, “The course reinforced my knowing that I was meant to be a Svaroopa® yoga teacher. Svaroopa® yoga is powerful, very powerful – and so easy, so simple – just softening, less is more.”

level 2 poses 1In this training, you can look forward to being trained by Vidyadevi and Karobi. Jim Totin said, “It’s really a pleasure to take class from Vidyadevi. Whatever comes up, she knows how to answer and what to do; I am confident that she will have an answer for anything. This goes for Karobi, too…. And I am always in awe of Swamiji pulling all of this together; it’s unbelievable – I tell people this is a real gift from God. I can’t imagine life without it, and wouldn’t want to imagine where I would be without this yoga.”

How about you? Is it time for Continuing Ed? Or do you just want to treat yourself to the most splendid of vacations? How wonderful that you can do both in “Enliven & Advance: Level 2” from July 5 -9 at The Desmond. You will return home having given yourself just what you needed — refreshed on all levels, with more to give to your loved ones, to your students and to your own life as a yogi.

Happy Birthday, Baba! by Swami Nirmalananda

The full moon in May – an auspicious beginning for the baby that grew to be Swami Muktananda.  We celebrated last night at Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center, but the moon is still full tonight.  Take a look!  Maybe even whisper a thank you, from your lips to Baba’s ears.  I certainly live in a continuous thank you, for all He gave me and all that He has empowered me to give you.

mangoesMangoes!  We served mangoes as prasad at the end of the program.  Baba gave me my first mango, so I always think of Him when I have mangoes; another reason to love them.  Baba did 9 years of meditation in a small hut in a mango grove, but it was during the time period that Nityananda had denied mangoes to Baba.

Nityananda didn’t actually command Baba to stop eating mangoes.  He merely served mangoes to everyone, skipping Baba, so Baba took that as a command.  Then, even though He lived in a mango grove, where ripe mangoes fell from the trees, filling the air with their scent, but He did not eat a single bite.  Only after Nityananda called Baba back to live in Ganeshpuri did Nityananda offer Baba a mango again.  After that, Baba ate mangoes and served them to us.

To follow the Guru’s command – Baba knew how to do this.  He looked for the ways in which Nityananda was guiding Him.  He remembered Nityananda’s every word, watched Nityananda’s eyes, considered everything Nityananda did and everything Baba got from Nityananda, contemplated the experiences that happened in Nityananda’s presence.  Baba is a great model for being a disciple, a model I’ve followed for almost 40 years.

I have followed the path that my Guru trod, which is a well-worn path known through the ages.  It takes love and courage, both of which my Baba gave me.  This path gives more than you can even imagine ever being possible.  The promise of yoga is true.  Baba’s life proved that.  Happy Birthday, Baba!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

Teacher Training: A Turning Point by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

I took Foundations in 2005 and I’ve been teaching as a fully certified Svaroopa® yoga teacher since 2009. Deciding to go on from Foundations to Level 1 was the best life choice that I’ve ever made.

It took me awhile to make that decision. After Foundations I had changed so much in body and mind that I didn’t feel the need for more. As a yoga teacher in another style, I already had several classes of devoted students, and I’d learned enough in Foundation to turn them on to Svaroopa® yoga. I loved the experience of finding bliss through opening my spine, and the new pose sequences were delighting my existing students.

But then I began to sense there was “more.” It was an inkling, a hunch. And Level 1 was scheduled for summer. So why not let it be my summer vacation? Of course, signing up for Level 1 meant also enrolling for Level 2. That would be another big step. Would I need to go that far? I looked over the program description, which talked about backbends, abdominals and standing poses. These poses piqued my curiosity. What would it be like to experience that next level the Svaroopa® yoga way? How would that affect the teaching that I so loved to do?

Led forward by mere hints of something more, I found myself in Level 1 in August 2007. I began in earnest the remarkable and fully absorbing journey of finding and expanding my core physically, mentally, spiritually. My misaligned sacroiliac joint, which had previously put me belly down on the floor in pain, began to heal when Vidyadevi gave me a Sacrum Press in Half Frog. Poses, poses, poses — learning so more about primary spinal openers, both technically and physically in my own body was a huge part of my experience daily. Morning chant and meditation transported me to previously unknown depths within, and the Teacher Trainers’ anatomy and philosophy talks opened my eyes to the true wonders and possibilities of life as a human being on Earth.

Truly, if I had the time to write about the new experiences in mind, body and heart that unfolded within me each day, I could easily fill a book. Upon returning home from Level 1, I gave the Cure-All Knee Press adjustment that I’d learned to family members. They melted. Some had been skeptical about my being away for more than a week and about the cost. But what I heard after that Cure-All Knee Press was “worth every penny” and “when will you be going to Level 2?” Level 1 turned out to be a most important turning point for me, for my family AND for my yoga students, who have clearly received benefit upon benefit over the past seven years.

If you are a Foundations Grad, June 2014 is your time for a major turning point in your life. Step firmly onto the path of this yoga that you already love! Embrace this opportunity of a lifetime. Click here to enroll today.

This Stuff Works by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

Every Sunday when I was very small, I got to sit on my grandfather’s lap while he told me how things work. He described how paper is made from trees ground into wood pulp, how cheese is produced from fermented milk, and how aspirin is made from a substance found in willows. When I got a little older, I received talks on Morse code, soldering and the internal combustion engine. In my twenties when I studied poetry, I learned from my teachers how poetic language works to create a unique world of its own, conveying a particular experience, emotion, vision that tells us so much about our own existence.

At the same time I discovered yoga— a great escape from the rigors of academia. I heard from some of my teachers that yoga could take you to God.  They didn’t say how exactly, and at the time I wasn’t interested in that anyway.  At first I just wanted peace and quiet, but then somehow “deeper” experiences began to happen. When I finally happened upon Svaroopa® yoga, I had become curious about these experiences. What were they? How did they “work”?

In 2005 when I took Foundations with Swamiji (then Rama), I was grateful to receive actual explanations of the workings of Consciousness, reaching right into our human bodies. Swamiji has said that her teachings explain the experiences that we’re having and prepare us for experiencing “more.” Over time it has become clear that Svaroopa® yoga, as it opens us to Consciousness, does so much more than merely working on body, breath, and mind. It invokes and opens up experience of Divine Self, beyond body and mind. Then we see the imperishable radiance of the Divine in everyone and everything.

Through Swamiji’s teachings, at last, I can see more and more how the world works, how life works, how my life has been shaped and what that means.  I see how Divinity is the heart of all we know, all we don’t know yet, and all that is even beyond knowing. For me, that solves a lot of issues.

This is the gift from Swamiji that prompts me to donate to Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. Of course I am grateful as well for unsurpassed yoga teacher training that has prepared me to do work that I love and for healing that I’ve received in body and mind. But it’s the gift of knowing Self — of seeing how it ALL works — that I cannot do without.

What do you value most? During our Yoga in the World campaign, please join me in giving and express your own gratitude for whatever you have received from Svaroopa® yoga and meditation and the teachings of Swami Nirmalananda.

Click here  to support your Ashram and support your community.