Monthly Archives: March 2017

Amazing Beyond Words

matrikaBy Matrika Gast

Our Florida venue overlooked white sand and the Atlantic Ocean. Daily on the terrace, they chanted Sri Guru Gita to the sound of the waves. All appreciated the comfortable accommodations and delicious meals. Yet the deep practices are remembered as the heart of their experience.

“Three days of Shaktipat and then Shivaratri,” says Ursula Myslinski, “were vastly rewarding. The power of the sunrise Guru Gita and other chants, along with the teachings, deepened my sense of capital-S Self. The strong support of like-minded yogis was very comforting as were the splendid surroundings. It was truly uplifting and unforgettable.”

FL retreat sunrise guru gitaFollowing the Shaktipat days, the Shivaratri celebration took place on Sunday night, February 26, during new moon. Tradition promises that those who stay up until dawn can become enlightened. Retreatants listened to ancient teaching stories from the Shiva Puranam, chanted and meditated with Swami Nirmalananda, enjoyed some asana and snacked on healthy treats. Then they repeated these rounds, all night.

Rama (Ruth) Brooke describes her experience as “supremely transformative.” She notes, “The opportunity to steep after the three-day Shaktipat experience by doing another two days including Shivaratri was immeasurable. The effects will continue to emerge and evolve for a long time, I’m sure.”

With experience of several previous Shaktipat retreats with Swamiji, Saguna Goss states, “This was one of the deepest programs that I have ever taken.”  Sumati (Pat) Morrison concurs: “Incredible program! Both housing and meals were excellent. I was changed by this program and continue to feel more steady in my state. I am living from a deeper place. My husband remarked that I seem newly and firmly settled.”

IMG_20160209_092614Our next retreats with Swami Nirmalananda will be at Lokananda, our home in Downingtown PA:

Shaktipat Retreat April 14-16
Yoga Therapy Intensive Retreat April 19-23
Shaktipat Retreat June 2-4
DIY: Healing June 15-18.  DIY stands for “Deepen It Yourself,” because you go home with practices and even pose handouts that will deepen your practice tremendously.

My Inner Warrior Is Arising

By Rudrani Nogue

Rudrani_GaneshpuriMy new favorite pose is not one I would have chosen. Swamiji assigned it (and other poses) to me a month ago at our Calgary Shaktipat Retreat.  She told me that my legs weren’t strong and that I needed to do TEN standing poses a day. I never thought of my legs as strong or weak. They were just how they were. Admittedly, my standing work until this point has been sporadic. I have leaned more towards floor poses. In my personal practice, I have added standing poses only when teaching themes with standing poses.

Swamiji’s intervention took me by surprise and challenged me. But I also knew I would get more than strong legs when I followed through. I just wasn’t sure what the more would be.

So I added TEN standing poses a day to my practices. I moved out of my comfort zone. It was tapas (doing the hard stuff). I work hard to claim the extra time for this new practice. Then magically I had the time. Over the month, I have come to look forward to the challenge.

The standing pose that has emerged as my favorite is Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2). While I look forward to deeper understandings going forward, so far here is what I have discovered:

  • Not only are my Virabhadrasana 2legs getting stronger but so are my arms, shoulders, abs and feet
  • I am standing in my bones and letting them support me
  • I can stay in Warrior much longer than I originally expected. I settle and soften into it. This is the stamina that my pink sheets tell me is possible.
  • I have been discovering tight spots in my body (yet again). I had no idea they were tight. They were so tight that they were numb.
  • I am experiencing the power and comfort of repetition.
  • My physical balance is steadier.
  • I am steadier emotionally.
  • I am feeling into my body in a new way – my tailbone lengthening down sometimes, my sacrum opening, the floor of my pelvis becoming alive.

Still most exciting is finding the joy, ease, steadiness, clarity and strength in my mind. Or maybe it’s coming from just beyond my mind?

As my inner warrior arises, I am kinder, more loving both to my Self and others and more able to ask for what I need. For example, between classes some students like to stay and chat. That leaves me little time to go home and have lunch before I am due back to teach. Yesterday when that happened, I expressed to one how I would be glad to talk more at a different time (true), but that I needed to leave then, to eat and rest before returning to teach. I felt clear and kind.

RudraniGladly, I offered another Svaroopi the use of my blankets and the idea of teaching out of the community hall where I teach. Until now this has been hard for me to do. Of course, some of these changes are due to my other practices, but I am sure my Warrior 2 is a factor in these shifts.

Thank you, Swamiji, for giving me what I needed when I had no idea this was what I needed. I am, as always, filled with gratitude.

My Shaktipat Immersion

Gunaratna (Gail) HinchliffeBy Gunaratna (Gail) Hinchliffe

This February, I experienced my second Shaktipat weekend with Swami Nirmalananda in Calgary. The first was in 2014 and the most recent was last February.

For me Shaktipat unfolds a continuing process.  It gives me a different lens through which to see the world. I continue to be the high-energy person I have always been. Yet each time I see Swamiji another veil is pulled away, so I have a new perspective.

As CEO of an elder services organization, I work very full time. Yet I feel no stress in my life. I work with many people and personalities, on many different levels of interaction. the-yoga-of-grace-copy.jpgEach day Guru’s Grace from Swamiji supports my capacity for working through complexities. I do not get caught up in the dramas and emotions. I feel grounded.

Within our February Shaktipat group of 24, I felt the great blessing of being in our GeoCenter. Together, this core group, led by Rudrani Nogue, keeps the Svaroopa® Sciences practices alive and vibrant in Calgary. It was a miraculously wonderful immersion as we shared in the presence of Swamiji. It brought our community even closer, nurturing and deepening the love and respect we already have for each other.

Every Pose is for Your Spine

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

My first yoga teacher told me, “Every pose is for your spine.”  I didn’t understand, but I loved her classes.  I even started doing some poses at home.  After 2 or 3 months of taking her weekly classes, she told me I was ready to teach.  Really?  I was amazed!  This was 1976. The pathway to becoming a yoga teacher was not clearly defined.

spineI didn’t feel ready to teach, so I signed up for a local teacher training program.  It met 2 hours a week for 12 weeks.  The teacher was another wonderful yogini, who said, “Every pose is for your spine.”  She didn’t teach any anatomy, so I didn’t really understand where my spine was or how it was structured, much less how the poses were affecting it.  I began teaching, so I repeated what she said to my own students, like a parrot.  And I knew that I didn’t know.

Then I took another teacher training.  This one was in an Ashram, still in the USA.  The team of teachers took turns parroting the familiar phrase.  It never occurred to me to ask them about it.  But it certainly got my attention.  Mainly it made me feel stupid and inadequate because I didn’t understand what it meant.  Fortunately, by then I’d received Shaktipat from my Guru, so spontaneous yoga poses were moving me through a process every morning in meditation.  I was finding my spine, learning the anatomy from the inside out.

Then I took a teacher training in India.  The morning classes were outside on a cement slab from 4:30-5:30 am, with a final Shavasana during the sunrise.  Ecstatic!  And cold.  When the sun comes up, it generates a breeze.  On the cement slab, with a thin film of sweat coating my skin, that breeze was frigid.  So I learned how to relax into cold.  This wonderful teacher also repeated that every pose was for the spine, but gave no more information than my previous teachers.

I took another teacher training, in the USA.  Well, I began taking another teacher training.  They said, “Every pose is for the spine.”  By then, I’d learned to ask questions.  When I asked how the different poses were for the spine, they couldn’t explain it.  I realized that I knew more than the trainers knew, wonderful people that they were.  After a few weeks, I left the training and asked my Guru for blessings to train teachers.  I’ve been focusing on training teachers ever since, over 30 years now.

24693-501.jpgIn every pose, I tell you what part of the spine is being targeted and how it’s being affected.  I name the muscles involved.  I can also see what you’re doing to your spine, too often tightening and compressing it when you should be getting a lift and opening.  I realign your body so you’ll get the spinal release that every pose is intended to provide.  In every teacher training handout, I detail the spinal effects for every pose.  And I tell you, “Every pose is for your spine.”  Except I know what each pose is doing – and why.

When you get the spinal release that the poses are supposed to provide, you experience the mystical reality of your own Divinity.  Beginning by lengthening your tailbone, then targeting each spinal area in turn, the lift and opening from tail-to-top shows you who you really are.  Yoga is a mystical science.  It uses your body to provide the mystical experiences promised by the sages, again and again, over thousands of years.  Yoga uses body, breath, mind, emotions, words, study, music, worship and mundane daily activities to open the doorway inside.  It’s a comprehensive science of mystical dimensions.  It all begins with your mystical spine.

Join Swami Nirmalananda for her workshop, “The Mystical Spine” on March 25 at Philly Namas Day.